Welcome to my newsletter for November. I would like to wish a very Happy Diwali to all the Sikhs, Hindus, Jains and all others celebrating. We will also mark Bonfire Night, although as the pandemic continues, public celebrations are limited. Advent will commence towards the end of November as we approach Christmas.
This newsletter will cover a portion of what I have been doing to represent Lewisham East inside and out of Parliament. As ever, if you need my assistance with anything, please contact my office via email@example.com.
After almost two years of Boris Johnson’s government showing utter contempt for the standards and decency we expect, in the first week of November they really exceeded themselves. Owen Paterson, a long-term MP who has been found to have committed gratuitous paid lobbying. You can be an MP or you can be a paid lobbyist, but you cannot be both! Boris Johnson and his colleagues attempted to stop Paterson facing the consequences of his dishonest, corrupt actions – then ended up reversing their decision the next day. Paterson then resigned and a by-election is underway.
Flu Jabs and Covid Booster Jabs
If you are usually contacted by the NHS to have a flu jab, hopefully you will have been administered yours by now. If you have not, please contact your GP to arrange this, as combatting cold & flu season is especially essential this year.
It is also time for the booster jabs for the Covid-19 vaccines to be rolled out to more of the population. This will give us stronger resistance as the weather gets cold and more germs spread. Please take your opportunity to receive this jab as soon as you are offered. More information here.
High Streets Debate
After holding a public consultation on the state of our UK high streets, I held a debate in Parliament to discuss the issues they face and what support they need. I raised struggles that small businesses in Lewisham East are dealing with, particularly with high business rates and taxes, while large online businesses can avoid tax and grow their empires.
I also raised the need to stop the closures of so many high street bank branches, as plans are underway to close the HSBC branch in Catford. I will continue to press the Government on this issue. Watch my debate in full here.
The Budget 2021
In October the Chancellor of the Exchequer released yet another budget which does not serve the needs of our country. In a year when the Tories have cut Universal Credit by £20 a week and a raising National Insurance, this budget will only hit the poorest even harder. In addition, there was absolutely no mention of the climate crisis – despite the fact we are currently holding an international summit to address that very issue. It was astonishing and embarrassing.
His offerings to small businesses needing support were feeble, and he focussed his efforts instead on subsidising alcohol and domestic air travel. I gave my response to his trivial budget in a speech which you can view here.
Bakerloo Line Extension
I was pleased to see that TfL have re-committed to pursuing an extension of the Bakerloo Line. I have long campaigned for the Bakerloo line to be extended to Catford, which would open up a variety of opportunities for local people to work in central London, explore the city or have easier routes to major train stations and airports. Consultants have been instructed to start planning a route from Old Kent Road to Lewisham, and when a consultation is next announced I encourage all constituents to engage with it.
Borough of Culture
Lewisham has the fantastic honour of being London’s Borough of Culture for 2022! We have been granted around £1m in funding to throw cultural events and programmes. This will celebrate the rich cultural diversity we enjoy in our Borough, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store. Find out more about this exciting opportunity here.
NHS Charges for Migrants
I was proud to join a protest last month outside Lewisham Hospital, where I have stood many times to call for its protection and investment. I was joined by the Patients Not Passports campaign and the Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network. They spoke about the traumatic experiences of people who do not have settled status in the UK but need to access healthcare, and I am determined to champion their cause in Parliament.
In October I held a public meeting for residents of the Corbett Estate to hear their experiences of rising numbers of Houses for Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) in their neighbourhood. The Police and councillors attended as well as residents. I have been hearing reports of very concerning ASB, excessive rubbish, burdens on the waste system and other issues.
These homes when poorly converted are often not fit for those living in them, as well as making their neighbours’ lives miserable. I’m campaigning for the Government to raise the level of Local Housing Allowance so renters can afford better housing, and stronger licencing schemes to challenge dodgy landlords. You can see my contribution on this issue in the chamber here.
By-elections and Local Elections
As mentioned above, a by-election in North Shropshire following Owen Paterson’s resignation will soon be taking place. We are awaiting news of a possible by-election in Leicester East. There will also be a by-election in Old Bexley and Sidcup following the death of James Brokenshire MP, and a by-election in Southend-On-Sea after the horrific murder of Sir David Amess MP.