Today we start back in Parliament so here’s my summer update. It covers the last frenetic weeks of the Parliamentary session and the no less important summer Recess.
Heathrow: The threat of an additional runway is perhaps the most significant issue for our area – and one that is a step closer, but by no means a done deal. The Davies Commission report was released in July saying that all three options are deliverable but that Heathrow is preferable. My views are set out in an article for “Progress” magazine that (if you are on-line) you can see here. The final decision will be made by Cameron, apparently before Christmas. A cross-party campaign is building up, led by our group of West London MPs and the campaign groups including HACAN. Our letter to the PM calling him to re-open the commission on the flawed area of air quality was published in the Evening Standard.
With HACAN we have produced a leaflet that will go door-to-door in each borough, with a map showing how the new flight paths will affect each area and announcing the big London rally taking place on Saturday 10th October. The leaflet delivery costs money that HACAN doesn’t have so support is welcome. I have contributed towards this from my “pay increase”. You can help too by sending a cheque to ‘HACAN No Third Runway’, 13 Stockwell Road, London SW9 9AU. Or a Direct Bank Transfer to Barclays. Account name: HACAN Sort Code: 20 72 17. A/c no: 83261271 It helps HACAN to have your address and your email address.
NHS Issues: Concerns about hospital changes in West London continue, and with four other West London Labour MP’s, I met Jane Ellison the Health Minister and senior NHS officials in July to express our concern about the implications of the continuing programme to downgrade the A&Es at Charing Cross and Ealing and move services to St Mary’s and other sites. Jeremey Hunt still refuses to meet MPs representing affected constituencies. As things stands the plans are going ahead but the timetable is slipping. The business case for the whole “Shaping a Healthier Future” project looks risky as there does not appear to be the capital or revenue costs to make it work.
Hospitals are by no means the only health issue around and I have had really useful meetings with the Clinical Commissioning Group (the GPs holding the local health budget), West Middlesex Hospital, the Community Mental Health Trust and Healthwatch Hounslow. There is lots of work going on to keep older and frail people from spending time in, or returning to hospital, unnecessarily, through community-based joint work between medical and social care services. It’s also helpful to know that the desperately under-funded mental health service here is to get a significant budget uplift. It remains to be seen, however, whether this will be enough. On September 1st the West Middlesex Hospital was taken over by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The proposal has been to Hounslow and Hammersmith Council Scrutiny committees and there appears to be no risk that services will be lost from West Mid, in fact the opposite as there is more physical room there than at Chelsea to expand services. Nevertheless I will continue to monitor the situation, to ensure that promises are kept and that West Mid does not become the “poor relation”.
Cycling: My role as co-chair of the All-Party Cycling Group meant I met the Prime Minister following yet another death-by-lorry to discuss the issue of cycle safety in our towns and cities. We are seeking enforcement of existing safety regulation for lorries, better cab design but most importantly, peak hour lorry bans. He was definitely listening and spoke to the Secretary of State for Transport immediately afterwards. This will be a key issue for our autumn programme of meetings. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson released a number of measures on September 1st including a ban on left-turns at key junctions. It’s a start, but still not involving the ban.
Housing: It will come as no surprise that Housing problems top the list of issues that constituents bring to my surgeries, brought about by an absolute shortage of suitable affordable housing and the withdrawal of housing benefit and tax credits. Many working families can no longer afford to pay local rents and they join the many sick and disabled people who are being evicted and having to move either a long way away, or to wholly unsuitable housing. I attended a debate in Westminster on the housing crisis in London and I am working with Hounslow Councillors on solutions, including to increase the number of affordable homes delivered in new developments. It goes without saying that I am wholly opposed to the Government proposal to force the Right-to-Buy on Housing Associations as it will further diminish the stock of affordable housing but the scheme is also expected to force Councils to sell their most valuable homes when they fall vacant. Complete madness.
Community events and meetings: Over the last couple of months I have been to a host of wonderful community events; school, community and street fairs, festivals; Iftar and Eid meals and the London Mela. I’ve cycled to central London with fellow Hounslow Cycling Campaign members for Ride London, met politicians and diplomats from Pakistan, Somalia, the Netherlands and India, welcomed the Irish Guards to Hounslow barracks, and celebrated Brompton Bikes Queen’s award for Industry. I have met community volunteers at the British Heart Foundation shop, Super Saturday of Sport, Brentford Festival, Friends of Beaversfield Park and celebrated the 30th anniversary of Gunnersbury Triangle nature reserve. I have also met local residents’ campaigners from Brent Lea, Keep Osterley Green, Great West Quarter and Mogden.
Meeting residents: I go out every other weekend, often with local Councillors, meeting voters on their doorsteps and following up the issues they raise with me. These range from rubbish and potholes, to Heathrow noise and the Refugee crisis. I’ve not been able to sort all of the problems immediately although we have had some victories with grotspots being cleared up and people in need of help getting the right support.
Labour Leadership elections and Mayoral selection: I am supporting Yvette Cooper because she has the best chance of being Labour’s next Prime Minister, Stella Creasy because of her ability to turn local campaigns such as pay-day loans, into legislative success and Sadiq Khan, because like me, he opposes the third runway at Heathrow and that will be the biggest issue in the Mayoral election.
MP’s Office: We are seeking a suitable space in the constituency to use as an office and place to meet constituents, meanwhile my staff are all based in Westminster. I hold fortnightly surgeries in different venues, where I see people who have contacted my office and would like to meet me.
I hope you find this update helpful, feel free to share with friends who may not see it and do contact me if you have any comments or I can help.
Ruth Cadbury MP