July 2023 Update
I am pleased to bring you my July 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, several key pieces of legislation completed their passage through Parliament and three by-elections took place across the country, including in our neighbouring constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. To say it was a busy few weeks is certainly an understatement, but Parliament has now risen for the summer recess.
Readers will be aware that I supported Steve Tuckwell in his campaign to become the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and I was delighted with his victory after a hard-fought campaign. At the centre of which was a resolute opposition to the Mayor's expansion of ULEZ into outer London, sending a crystal clear message to City Hall about residents' views on this issue.
I am therefore disappointed by the High Court's ruling that the expansion is 'lawful' following a legal challenge by five Conservative-led councils, including Hillingdon and Harrow, which has given the greenlight for the Mayor to press ahead with this ridiculous policy.
I would like to be very clear that we all have a right to clean air and Conservatives are relentless in pursuit of improved air quality. However, by Mayor Khan's own admission, ULEZ does little, if anything, for air quality and nothing for climate change, whilst penalising everyone who relies on an older vehicle. This is especially true for people in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, where public transport is not as accessible as in central London.
I stand with my Conservative colleagues seeking solutions that work for the suburbs, where Heathrow and motorway emissions dwarf those from residents’ older cars and are ignored by our inner London Mayor. We will continue to work on behalf of our constituents who will be unfairly impacted by the expansion.
Meanwhile, the work has continued in both Westminster and locally, and I am pleased to share with you what I have been up to in my July update.
In the Constituency
I have continued to hold my regular surgeries this month. These are always a great opportunity to meet with residents at venues across the constituency, and to catch up with local business owners.
I am grateful to the teams at Village Express in Northwood, Café Amici in Pinner, Al Forno in Ruislip, We Love Coffee in Harefield and Bucket List Coffee in Eastcote for hosting me this month.
If you would like to make an appointment to meet with me at a future surgery, please email email@example.com or telephone 0203 545 2462.
At Village Express in Northwood after one of my surgeries this month
Joy of Moving Programme
Encouraging an active lifestyle is paramount to the mental and physical wellbeing of children. As such, it was a pleasure to join the Ferrero team at Cannon Lane Primary School to see their Joy of Moving programme in action.
The Joy of Moving is part of Ferrero’s corporate responsibility programme, which promotes an active lifestyle and inspires a lifelong positive approach to moving. We know that school closures and closures of sporting and leisure facilities over the pandemic had a detrimental impact on the activeness of children and young people, which is why programmes such as this are more important than ever.
Visiting Cannon Lane Primary School and watching Watford FC Community Sports & Education Trust, one of the charity’s club partners, deliver a joy of moving festival to students in my constituency was inspiring. It was fantastic to see how much fun the children were having whilst learning how to lead an active lifestyle through Ferrero’s corporate responsibility programme.
With Issy Pugh-Cook from Ferrero at Cannon Lane Primary School in Pinner
Northwood Town Cricket Club
In Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, we are fortunate to have many grassroot sports clubs and facilities. Northwood Recreation Ground is home to a host of sporting activity, including Northwood Town Cricket Club which caters to a range of individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
I was pleased to accept an invitation to meet with Jack Daly (Secretary), Keeran Sudagaran (Social Secretary) and Andrew Burt (Commercial & Grant Secretary), as well as Cllr Jonathan Bianco, Deputy Leader of Hillingdon Council.
A productive conversation took place about the club’s vision to create a better environment for the local community by improving the facilities. This must be supported by an open dialogue between Northwood Town Cricket Club and Hillingdon Council, which I know Jonathan will work to maintain.
I was pleased with the positive outcome of the meeting and look forward to following the progress.
With the team at Northwood Town Cricket Club, Northwood Recreation Ground
Guide Dogs Fundraiser
It was fantastic to join the Guide Dogs Tea Party fundraiser on Ruislip High Street at the start of the month.
The event was organised by resident Christina Seago and was in memory of two residents who were well-known to the community and are sadly missed.
I understand that the event raised £250, which is a fantastic local effort. A huge congratulations to all involved for raising so much for such a worthy cause.
With Christine Seago (and guest!) at the Guide Dogs fundraiser on Ruislip High Street
St Mary's Ukrainian School
Residents will be aware that I worked for a number of years in education and children’s services at Hillingdon Council. In this role, I engaged with many different organisations, including St Mary’s Ukrainian School. Now, as Member of Parliament for a constituency covering parts of Hillingdon, I met with Inna Hryhorovych and Orysya Novetska at Al Forno Cafe in Ruislip to discuss how I can support the school to establish an operational presence in the borough.
In addition to serving children of Ukrainian heritage for many years, fresh impetus has been given to school’s activity as it works to provide the necessary support to displaced children fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. I understand that the long-term objective is to be able to adapt their model in order to help all displaced children who come to the UK to find refuge.
Following this meeting, I will facilitate the necessary conversation between St Mary’s and Hillingdon Council and will also extend this discussion to Harrow Council. I look forward to catching up on progress in a few months’ time.
With Inna Hryhorovych and Orysya Novetska from St Mary's Ukrainian School at Al Forno Cafe in Ruislip
Parliament has now adjourned for summer recess, allowing MPs to return to their constituencies until September. Prior to recess, a number of important debates took place in the House of Commons, and I was privileged to speak on a few matters of interest to my constituents.
Uxbridge Police Station
Perhaps the most important local matter discussed in Parliament was the future of Uxbridge police station. Thanks to the sterling work of Hillingdon Council, Uxbridge police station has now been saved from closure, which has been welcomed by many in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, as well as those across the borough. I am pleased that the Mayor has made a U-turn on this matter and applaud all my Conservative colleagues who have been leading this challenge in both Hillingdon and Westminster.
Last month, regular readers will know that I raised this issue with the Prime Minister during his weekly session of Prime Minister’s Questions. At the time, the Mayor was resolute that the station’s closure would be going ahead. However, thanks to the work of the new MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Steve Tuckwell, among others, the station will now remain open.
In a recent Home Office questions, I asked the Minister about the Mayor’s U-turn and highlighted the support already given by Hillingdon Council to keep the doors open. As I set out, in 2017 the council offered to buy the site at market rate and provide a £500,000 revenue contribution and leaseback arrangement, so that essential police services could continue to be available. At the time, the Mayor said that this was completely impossible and yet he has now chosen to reverse his decision, coincidentally at the same time that the Uxbridge by-election entered a critical stage.
In his response, the Minister thanked Steve Tuckwell and Hillingdon Council for their work on this matter. The Minister went on to urge Sadiq Khan to go further and U-turn on his decision to shut police stations across London.
Now that the by-election is complete, it is vital that Uxbridge police station remains open and for the future of other police stations in London to be revisited. Nowhere is this more important than in Northwood, where the Mayor has already disposed of the old station site. Shortly before polling day, I had the opportunity to raise the matter in Westminster during an adjournment debate on the future of police stations across London. Here, I raised not only Uxbridge police station, but also the fate of Northwood police station.
Constituents will be all too familiar with the closure of our local station in Northwood. The station was shut a few years ago under the guise of budget cuts. As the Mayor has now shown, he can reverse this closure, I asked my fellow parliamentarians whether the Mayor should now replace those closed police stations with local operational stations.
While I am not holding my breath, I would urge the Mayor to commit to the future of Uxbridge police station and to reassess the need for an operational station further north in my own constituency.
Road Charging Schemes
On a similar topic, residents will be aware of the looming expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone. Even as the Mayor prepares to expand this zone, it has become evident that he is already planning to extend the scheme and create a pay-per-mile charging system across London.
This month, I had the opportunity to ask the Secretary of State for Transport about these plans. Following on from a written question on this topic, I pressed the Minister about the state of Transport for London’s finances and what money they anticipated to receive from the expansion of ULEZ.
I was deeply concerned to learn that, with falling revenues from ULEZ anticipated in the coming years, the Mayor has instructed TfL to investigate the technicalities of introducing road charging schemes across London in the future. City Hall continues to deny that this is the plan, and I hope that this is a sincere pledge not to implement such a scheme in the future.
Residents will know that the ULEZ expansion is due to come into force at the end of August. As we move closer to the date on which the Mayor intends to press ahead with his plans, it is of increasing importance that they are brought to a standstill.
You can watch my question to the Minister here.
Constituents will be aware that I have a longstanding interest in immigration policy, and I have spoken at length throughout my time in Parliament on these matters. Those that have read my recent newsletters will know that I have spoken in a number of debates on the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill during this legislation’s passage through Westminster.
It is my view, that all legislation must, fundamentally, work on the ground. It is especially important that this legislation succeeds, so that we can stop the boats and break the business model of human traffickers operating on the continent. Parliamentarians are united in our wish to see these goals fulfilled and are certainly united in our efforts to end human misery. I know that this is a sentiment shared by my constituents who share the ideals of a compassionate asylum system. That being said, I have always been eager to voice my concerns about certain aspects of the Bill that require further refining. As I have set out, the practicalities of how this legislation will operate on the ground is yet to be seen.
This month, I had one final chance to contribute to the debate on this Bill. In my speech, I set out my own experience with legislation having worked in local government for 24 years, where I have seen the real-world impact of successive Government policy. I saw how policy was implemented on the ground and how it often fell short; leaving those on the front line at places like Heathrow Airport unable to enact a fair asylum visa system.
These conflicts led me to my final point. The Bill does not take away the obligations of local authorities under the Children Act, the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 or the Modern Slavery Act, or the other many obligations on local authorities, yet places opposing obligations on the same authorities. I remain concerned that in six months’ time, there will be a flurry of judicial reviews due to this conflict.
We have heard that this legislation will clash with other pieces of important legislation, such as the Modern Slavery Act and the Children Act. It is the victims of trafficking who are the most vulnerable. I have seen first-hand at the Margaret Cassidy House and at Charville Lane children’s home in Hillingdon the risk they still face upon arrival. In my time on Hillingdon Council, I saw the frustration of local services as we were unable to arrest those actively seeking to traffic children both here in the UK and across Europe.
You can watch my contribution to the Illegal Migration Bill debate here.
Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill
One final matter in Parliament that I wish to draw attention to is what is commonly being referred to as the 'anti-boycott bill'. My constituency is home to a large and established Jewish population, and I have heard both from members of the community and members of the APPG on British Jews that I co-chair about the impacts of the long-standing boycotts, divestment and/or sanctions (BDS) campaign. As a result, the state of Israel and communities of British Jews can feel singled out for criticism and discrimination.
Some voices have proposed BDS against Israel as a means of pressuring its Government into making concessions. The campaign has often distracted attention away from constructive dialogue and impacts not only the Israeli population, but also Palestinians involved in Israeli businesses. The one-sided nature of the campaign is particularly alarming for the Jewish community, evoking memories of the use of boycotts during some of the saddest parts of Jewish history. Indeed, in recent times the BDS campaign has led to large parts of the UK Jewish community feeling isolated and intimidated.
Therefore, the Government has introduced the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill. This Bill seeks to remove the possibility for public bodies, including councils, to campaign against, boycott, seek divestment from, or sanction a particular territory internationally, unless it is in line with the Government’s foreign policy.
Earlier this month, this Bill came before the House to receive parliamentary scrutiny. As residents may be aware, this Bill has attracted some controversy in the media and among the supporters of the BDS campaign. I broadly welcome this legislation, yet I do harbour a number of concerns with how it has been drafted.
In my speech, I outlined my concerns about the Bill. As the former Deputy Leader of Hillingdon Council, I am conscious of the impact that this Bill could have for local authorities across the country. First, I urged the Government to drop clause 4(1)(b) in its entirety. This clause places pressure on ill-defined local decision makers who are more likely to be part of a committee system, creating a system by which disruption by a sole individual could lead to them being in breach of law as a result of their opinions. By removing this clause, we can show colleagues in local government that we trust them to use their powers reasonably and sensibly.
The second issue that I raised was in respect of contractors and subcontractors. It is my opinion that by including these powers, an undue burden will be placed on the investment and procurement committees of local authorities. Elected members of these committees would be required to scrutinise every aspect of the companies in which they might be investing. Given the number of these companies and the wider policies of those companies that will not be under the same statutory duty, there is scope here for mistakes to be made. Removing this burden from the legislation will not take away from the bill at large, and I hope the Government will look again at this matter.
You can watch my contribution to this debate here.
Elizabeth Tower tours
A reminder that tour bookings have reopened for the Elizabeth Tower from September.
As with PMQs, my office will receive a yearly allocation of tickets for free constituent tours. For further information, or to be placed on the waiting list, I encourage you to get in contact with my office via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that if you are not a constituent of Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, you should contact your own Member of Parliament. Tours are also now available for purchase. Further information can be found here.
As I have mentioned, we have now entered the summer recess and so my newsletter will take a break for August.
My office remains open, so please do get in contact should you require assistance or support.
Lastly, I wish you a wonderful rest of the summer.