Welcome to the October edition of my Lewisham East Newsletter. It has certainly been quite a month.
I am sure that many were saddened by the passing of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She served for 70 years and has left behind her 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. On the day of the funeral my thoughts were with her loved ones as well as all those who were mourning her death.
Due to the 10-day period of national mourning and the party conference recess, Parliament only sat for 9 days this month. Nevertheless, I spoke in the Commons Chamber about Liz Truss becoming the new Prime Minister, the cost-of-living-crisis, the situation for people with district heating networks as well as the horrendous situation faced by Afghan refugees who have been neglected for over a year.
I was deeply disturbed to learn that with no consultation Southeastern are making major changes to its timetables from 11th December. This will see further reduction in the frequency of trains as well as direct trains from stations such as Blackheath to Charing Cross and Catford Bridge to Cannon Street. I have written to the Managing Director to express my concerns and I am liaising with other local MPs on this matter. If you would like to raise concerns with Southeastern directly, then please use this link.
I am always wanting to hear from constituents, so if there is anything that you would like to make me aware of, please email email@example.com
The death of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The death of the late Queen was an incredibly sad day for so many across the country. The day after she passed away, I made my tribute to her on behalf of Lewisham East. I spoke about her many visits to Lewisham and how memories were created when we marked her, Silver, Gold, Diamond, and Platinum Jubilees. You can watch my tribute here.
Many diverse communities came together to celebrate her life. I saw this by reading through Lewisham Council’s book of condolence which I signed, speaking to local people, and visiting local faiths groups who told me how the Queen meant so much to them.
May she rest in peace.
The fourth Conservative Prime Minister in six years
It is simply shocking that after six years the Conservative Party are on to their fourth Prime Minister. This does not sound like a strong and stable Government, but rather an incompetent and chaotic party trying to cling to power for as long as possible.
After months of pandering to the right wing of the Tory Party, Liz Truss was elected as Prime Minister. Rest assured, throughout her tenure as Prime Minister, whether that will be for a long time or a short time I will hold her to account.
My statement reacting to Liz Truss winning the Conservative leadership election can be read here.
Cost-of-Living-Crisis and the Mini Budget
The number of constituents contacting me asking for assistance because of the cost of living crisis has risen drastically over the past year. This crisis is stripping people of their dignity. The crisis is creating real and painful tradeoffs between the choice to eat and the choice to heat your home. It is causing mental health problems for many people, and it is creating barriers for people in unlocking their potential.
Yet this Government are failing to take notice. In their mini, but unfunded budget, the new Chancellor chose not to impose a windfall tax on energy giants. Instead, he decided to shield the eye-watering windfall profits of these energy firms and recklessly borrowed billions of pounds to cover these costs.
To add insult to injury the top 45p income tax rate on earnings of more than £150,000 a year will be scrapped. In no way will a £2billion tax giveaway to the richest 1% help the very poorest in society.
When I return to Parliament after the Conference recess I will be battling against this Government’s deeply damaging policies.
Labour Party Conference
On Tuesday Keir Starmer then set out his vision to create a Britain that delivers for working people. I am excited about the new policies announced at conference such as the target of 70% home ownership and Labour’s GB Energy company. This will ensure that that British people have a share in the wealth creation of this country.
I was also inspired by Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy on his commitment to continue to support Ukraine. It was great to hear him say that the next Labour Government’s foreign policy will be green focused, because climate change is already devastating the lives of millions of people across and this needs to be addressed.
I was pleased to see Labour announce a raft of policies at conference which included:
- Establish the Great British Energy (GBE), a new national champion in clean power generation, to become an energy superpower and support clean power target
- Create an additional 10,000 nursing and midwifery placements every year
- Setting a 70% homeownership rate
- The creation of a National Wealth Fund so that when we invest in new industries
- A plan for clean power by 2030
- Deliver breakfast clubs for every primary age child in England
- A value for money guarantee on procurement
Overall, I left conference feeling that Labour is a party that is on course for Government and ready to live up to its challenges. In contrast, all we saw from the Tory party at their conference was infighting and their inability to clearly set out how people will benefit from their administration.
Death of Chris Kaba
This month I was shocked, along with many other Londoners by the death of Chris Kaba. He was an unarmed black man who was shot dead by a police officer in south London. Situations like this rip through the heart of Black communities and cause so much anguish and pain.
The officer involved has been suspended. The Independent Office for Police Conduct will examine whether race was an influence in the fatal actions taken by police. The investigation is said to take six to nine months. This is too long, and such a case should be fast tracked so that justice is done without delay.
Consequently, I will be writing to the new Chief of the Metropolitan Police to ascertain what are his plans are to restore confidence within black communities in London following the death of Chris Kaba that the police are on their side. I will also keep a close eye on developments on the inquest of Chris Kaba very closely.
District Heating Networks
Over the past few years I have been representing people in Lewisham East who get their heating from District Heating Networks. These networks are not regulated and those on them are not covered by the energy cap. Some people on these networks have told me they are paying 13 times the energy cap.
It was right the Energy Bill Relief Scheme will give these households financial support. Nevertheless, I was concerned to hear that the Energy Bill could be paused or even scrapped. The Bill would implement long term regulation of these networks. Unless these regulations are enacted then the fundamental issue of unregulated prices which causing so much anxiety to many residents will remain.
In response I wrote to the Business Secretary, and I raised the matter in Parliament. You can see my question by clicking the link here.
The Government have continued to leave Afghans, who fled the Taliban, forgotten in hostels. I decided to speak out in the Parliament about my visit to an Afghan family. They are prevented from earning a living and providing for their family. Other than their hostel the only help they have had from the Government is a supply of antidepressants. This is no way to treat refugees. You can see my question by clicking the link here.
I did receive a response to the letter I sent to the Home Office last month on their Afghan Refugee policy. It does not answer many of my questions. I will therefore be putting more pressure on the Government until this issue is addressed.
Black History Month
October is Black History Month. I am black Asian and of British, Jamaican and Guyanese Indian heritage and it’s time to reflect on all the achievements the black community has made. I congratulate Lewisham Council and the councillors involved who have supported local events and cultural programmes that promote black history being held during October.
On that note, please see the flyer above to see details of a fundraising event to celebrate Black History Month which is being organised by Lewisham East BAME. I hope to see you there!