April 2023 Update
I am pleased to bring you my April 2023 Update. As ever, if you would like to sign up to my mailing list, you can do so on this page or by emailing email@example.com.
Despite the Easter recess, April has been a busy month both in the constituency and in Parliament. In brief, in addition to regular engagements across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, campaigning has continued against the ULEZ expansion and the debate around the Illegal Migration Bill has been a focus in Parliament.
Outside of politics, the run-up to the Coronation of King Charles III continues across the country. In Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, high streets are decked out with Union Jack flags in anticipation of this weekend’s historic celebrations, and I look forward to attending events being hosted within the community.
In the Constituency
My regular surgeries have been as busy as ever, and have kindly been hosted by businesses across the constituency. This month, my team and I have been welcomed by Village Express in Northwood, Bucket List Coffee in Eastcote, Vito’s Café in Ruislip and Café Amici in Pinner.
I see surgeries as a great opportunity to meet with residents face-to-face, as well as to show my support for some of the wonderful local businesses across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.
If you would like to make an appointment to meet with me at a future surgery, please email [email protected] or telephone 0203 545 2462.
Speaking with a resident at my surgery in Northwood this month
It is always a pleasure to visit schools in the constituency to meet with staff and pupils. Residents will be aware that challenges within the education sector have been the topic of many discussions and debates, following a series of recent strike action. Unsurprisingly, I have corresponded on this issue with a number of schools across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, and was glad for the opportunity to have some in-person conversations on visits to several schools.
Firstly, I met with Rachel Blake, Headteacher, and Pamela Hanly, School Business Manager, at the Bishop Winnington School in Ruislip. We had a useful discussion about the particular challenges they are facing, which provided me with some valuable insights which can be fed back to Government.
Something else that was raised with me was the proposal to build a SEND school onsite. I recognise the value in increasing SEND school places within the local area and will be discussing potential plans with colleagues at Hillingdon Council.
With Rachel Blake and Pamela Hanly at the Bishop Winnington School in Ruislip
I also visited Coteford School in Eastcote, where I met with Joanna Martin, Headteacher, and Roald Vertseeg, Chair of the Finance Committee. Top of the agenda was teachers pay and how this is funded, as well as the importance of increasing funding for primary schools and concerns around the fall in student numbers, something I have called attention to in Parliament recently.
On the visit, I also had the pleasure of meeting with pupils in Year 4, who had kindly written some letters for me on the subject of palm oil. We had the opportunity to discuss their concerns around the use of this in products such as chocolate, shampoo and conditioner, as well as ways in which we can sustainably source palm oil to lessen the impact on, and increase protection of, the rainforests.
I am grateful to the staff and students for their time, and the useful first-hand experiences I can share with colleagues on the front benches.
With Joanna Martin and Roald Versteeg at Coteford School earlier this month
The last school visit of the month, but by no means least, was to the brilliant Pinner High School on Beaulieu Drive. This was my third visit to the school, and it is always such a pleasure to meet with the pupils there who are so engaged in the world of politics.
Firstly, I met with a group of Sixth Form Politics students, whose questions led to a varied and interesting discussion about the education sector, legislation going through Parliament, such as the Illegal Migration Bill and Public Order Bill, and diversity within the Conservative Party.
Following this discussion, I also spoke with the Headteacher, Raj Patel, who echoed many of the concerns raised by other schools on issues such as teachers pay and the stretching of school budgets. It was another informative conversation with plenty to relay to Ministerial colleagues.
Speaking with Politics students at Pinner High School following the Easter Recess
Sacred Heart Church Thursday Lunch Club
I was delighted to accept an invitation to meet with parishioners of Sacred Heart Church in Ruislip at their Thursday lunch club.
I was met with a wide range of interesting questions from residents living in and around the local area, which meant covering a lot of ground on the most pressing issues of today. Among the topics raised were small boat crossings, the impact of the rising cost of living and access to healthcare.
It was a pleasure to engage with parishioners from across Ruislip and the surrounding area and am grateful to all for their time.
Answering questions from residents at the Sacred Heart Club in Ruislip
I have received a number of correspondence recently in support of community pharmacies, particularly following the challenges of the pandemic.
I would like to acknowledge the valuable and skilled work undertaken by pharmacists across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, and indeed across the country, and to recognise the hugely significant role pharmacies play in the community, offering advice and care.
I was therefore delighted to visit Carters Pharmacy, a long-standing business on Bridge Street in Pinner. We had an informative discussion about the pharmacy business, and I am grateful to the team for their time.
Discussing the pharmacy business with the team at Carters Pharmacy in Pinner
Residents will be interested to hear an update on the work to prevent the Mayor’s expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). As we move closer to the date on which the Mayor intends to press ahead with the expansion, it is of increasing importance that his plans are brought to a standstill.
I am aware from the ongoing influx of correspondence from constituents that there is a clear consensus on this issue. While not all residents are opposed to the expansion, most of the correspondence that I have received from constituents has relayed the damage that the Mayor’s decision will have on their lives or those they know.
We are fortunate in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner to have two fantastic councils who have been taking their resident’s objections to the highest levels. Constituents may be aware that Hillingdon and Harrow have, together with a number of other boroughs, taken legal action over the Mayor’s decision.
I was delighted to learn that the High Court had granted permission for a Judicial Review into the proposed expansion on the two grounds: the consultation process and the scrappage scheme. I understand that the hearing of the claim is likely to be listed in the week commencing Monday 3rd July.
The Mayor has failed to consult and listen to residents about his plans. Hillingdon and Harrow were right to press the legal challenge and I am grateful for their leadership in this matter. I expect the Mayor to await the outcome of the judicial review prior to proceeding with the expansion, however, it remains a decision for him to make.
Illegal Migration Bill
Constituents will be aware of my longstanding interest in the matters of immigration. The Illegal Migration Bill, having completed its scrutiny in the House of Commons, is now with the House of Lords. The Bill is part of the Government’s plan to halt small boat crossings in the English Channel, protecting the lives of the vulnerable and breaking the business model of the people smugglers.
As some will know, I am broadly supportive of this Bill and have voted in its favour during its progress in the House of Commons. I do, however, have a number of reservations about certain provisions in the Bill. In the past, I have seen first-hand the situation around the beaches surrounding Calais, and I have heard from asylum seekers directly about the effect of people smuggling gangs preying on the vulnerable there.
The Illegal Migration Bill is the latest in a series of pieces of legislation that the Government has brought forward to help solve this delicate issue. Like many of my colleagues in Parliament, I agree with the aims and objectives of the Bill, fixing our asylum system and protecting the most vulnerable fleeing from persecution and conflict across the Globe.
In my speeches on this Bill, I largely chose to focus my remarks on the provisions for the protection of children travelling alone. My chief concern arises from a conflict with the Children’s Act 1989 and the issue of age assessment. I know from my time in local government that each local authority has statutory duties of care for underage children regardless of their immigration status. As the Bill currently stands, I am concerned about a future scenario where a local authority faces judicial review for failing to perform its duty to underage children, while trying to meet demands placed by this new legislation.
It is important that Ministers take this back to their Departments so that they can remedy this prior to the legislation being passed into law. I am grateful for Ministerial engagement on these matters so far, and I look forward to the Bill returning from the Lords for further scrutiny at the proper time.
You can watch my contribution to the latest debate on the Illegal Migration Bill here.
Meetings in Westminster
When I meet with residents or community groups in the constituency, often part of the follow-up is to seek meetings with relevant stakeholders in order to progress the concerns raised.
Following my visit to Broadwater Lake with Lesley Davies and Tim Hall from the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, I welcomed Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, to Parliament. We discussed the impact of deer on nesting birds and plans to ensure wildlife corridors are maintained.
Something that is raised with me quite regularly by residents are issues with housing association A2 Dominion. This month, I met with Ian Wardle, Chief Executive, to discuss how we can put in place a more efficient way to progress constituents’ cases to ensure a satisfactory outcome in a timely manner.
I will continue to work hard on behalf of my constituents. If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to get in contact with my office.
Whatever your plans, I hope that you have an enjoyable weekend celebrating the Coronation.