Annual Report 2020
At the end of an incredibly unconventional first year in Parliament, I am pleased to share with you my annual report for 2020. If you would like to join my mailing list, please click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month marks a year since I was first elected as your Member of Parliament and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s historic victory in the 2019 December General Election. Like my colleagues, I was looking forward to honouring manifesto commitments and to continuing the hard work of my predecessor, Nick Hurd, on behalf of residents in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.
Whilst I did not expect this to be easy, the Covid-19 outbreak has brought with it an unprecedented set of challenges, unparalleled in peacetime, which has seen Parliament work at breakneck speed to ensure that my work as your MP has been able to continue.
These extraordinary efforts have meant that constituency and parliamentary work has carried on, albeit in a very different way, and as we find ourselves near the end of a year like no other, I would like to share an annual report of the past 12 months with constituents.
Speaking with residents at one of my telephone surgeries
This year has been challenging for us all, not least for our local healthcare providers. Over the past 12 months, I have remained in close contact with NHS Trusts serving the constituency, as well as Hillingdon and Harrow Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). Our fantastic local health services have been vital in our fight against coronavirus and I know I speak for the community when I commend the heroic response of all those on the frontline.
Maintaining the delivery of quality health services for residents was at the centre of my election campaign, and included the walk-in service at Pinn Medical Centre. One of my first meetings as MP was with the trustees of the Patients’ Association, including chairman Joanne Daswani, where we discussed their progress and the active role I could play in keeping this valuable service open for patients in Harrow.
In Parliament, I called for certainty about the future of the walk-in service and asked the Minister for Care to support me in encouraging the local CCG to protect access to GP appointments at the walk-in service. This was followed by a series of constructive conversations with Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
I was delighted when Harrow CCG made the announcement that the walk-in service at the Pinn Medical Centre would be maintained for all patients. This was a local triumph, which follows on from the incredibly hard work on the part of the practice, residents and local campaigners, and very useful input from the Health Secretary.
I will continue to follow discussions between the CCG and partners on the key issues relating to the future funding of the walk-in centre.
With Partners at the Pinn Medical Centre in March
I’m also pleased to have been able to visit other local healthcare providers. Earlier in the year, I met with Sarah Tedford, who up until recently was the CEO of the Hillingdon Hospitals Trust, to discuss the valued services provided at both Mount Vernon and Hillingdon Hospital. Following my visit, in the Chamber I called on the Secretary of State and the Minister for Care to work with me to secure long-term funding of hospice services at Mount Vernon, which you can view here. This was followed by a meeting with the Health Secretary and his PPS where I received a commitment to the future of services at Mount Vernon.
I know that, more recently, there have been some concerns amongst residents about the Mount Vernon Minor Injuries Unit. I have received confirmation from the Hillingdon Health and Care Partners that the Hillingdon Hospitals Trust will host an Integrated Response Hub (IURH) at Mount Vernon Hospital, which will be very similar to the minor injuries service. The hub will be managed by The Confederation, an alliance of Hillingdon GP practices, and will be staffed by the same team as the Minor Injuries Unit, providing continuity and with the ability to see and treat the same conditions.
I have been assured that the Trust is working to enhance the services offered at Mount Vernon Hospital through the Integrated Urgent Response hub, which is currently open. Shortly, this hub will include the wound management and minor injuries service. In line with the NHS nationally, services will be bookable by calling 111. The hub will also include virtual support and advice.
With Sarah Tedford, now former-CEO of the Hillingdon Hospitals Trust
In March, I also visited Harefield Hospital where I met with Nick Hunt, Director of Service Development and Site Director, and Derval Russell, Hospital Director at Harefield Hospital, and had a productive conversation about future plans of the hospital.
Once again, I would like to extend my gratitude to all those who work in our healthcare sector and I hope to be able to speak with them in person once again next year.
Visiting Harefield Hospital at the start of March, prior to social distancing rules
Support for Businesses in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner
This year has not been without its challenges for individuals and businesses in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. With two national lockdowns now behind us, it has been encouraging to see industries that have been amongst the hardest hit, such as hospitality, retail, leisure and beauty, making plans to start opening up more widely. However, I know this progress has now been curbed by the announcement of further restrictions, placing these sectors under pressure, with more challenges ahead.
Over the course of the pandemic, I have spoken with many local business owners, including members of Ruislip Chamber of Commerce and Pinner Business Club. They have told me how vital the unprecedented package of support provided by the Chancellor has been to their future prospects. At this challenging time, this support is vital in maintaining solidarity, as some businesses report that they are growing and prospering; Meat Like It Used to Be, a family-owned butchers in Pinner, informed me on a recent visit that they have been able to take on additional staff in order to meet increased demand. In contrast, there are sadly many who are continuing to face a calamitous loss of income. I have voiced the concerns of these businesses in the Chamber and in conversations with Ministers. As local MP, I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that businesses and employees across the constituency receive direct support.
As someone who has lived locally for many years, I know that our independent retailers, small local businesses and family-run hospitality venues are cherished by residents. These businesses play a huge part in shaping the unique character of our high streets and are seen by many as the beating heart of the local community in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. This has been made palpable, not least by the stream of correspondence I have been receiving from residents in support of local businesses and the importance of ensuring that they outlive the pandemic. This was also highlighted in a recent virtual surgery that I held with hospitality business owners in the constituency, who told me that, when they have been able to reopen, the support from residents has been overwhelming, which is incredibly pleasing to hear.
On behalf of the community, I thank businesses and workers for their contributions to our high streets and for the measures that have been put in place to enable residents to enjoy their businesses safely. I know how important these places will be in our local and national recovery and I will continue to support them in any way I can.
Speaking with Bridget at Meat Like It Used To Be in Pinner during National Game Week last month
A very productive and helpful conversation with hospitality business owners in the constituency who raised some important points to feedback to government
Back in March, it was with a heavy heart that I announced that I would be changing the format of surgeries to telephone-based for the foreseeable future. This decision was taken in line with social distancing advice, to protect ourselves and those most vulnerable in our community against the virus.
Before this, I was glad to be able to hold in-person surgeries at local coffee shops across different wards in the constituency. My first surgery took place at We Love Coffee in Harefield, where I was joined by Cllr Jane Palmer to speak with constituents about their individual issues and concerns. Following this, I hosted at a number of different venues: Daisy’s in the Park in Pinner with Cllr Richard Almond; Caffé Pascucci in Hatch End with Cllr Jean Lammiman and Cllr John Hinkley; Palma Delicatessen in Eastcote with Cllr Becky Haggar; Maison du Soleil in Ickenham and Village Express in Northwood.
I am grateful that I was able to meet with so many residents and to hear about issues affecting different areas in the constituency. If I was not able to visit your area before restrictions were imposed, please be assured that I will do so once it is safe to resume in-person surgeries. I look forward to meeting with many more of you then.
In the meantime, I am continuing to hold telephone surgeries on a regular basis. From speaking with residents at these surgeries, as well as via my inbox, I am aware that there are a wide range of topics of interest in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. I would like to assure you that, as your MP, I am available to provide the support that I can and to hear your views.
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Supporting constituents at my Eastcote surgery, which I held at Palma Delicatessen in February
With owner Carlos at Maison du Soleil in Ickenham on Small Business Saturday, where I hope to be able to host another in-person surgery in 2021
At Caffe Pascucci in Hatch End with local councillors, Hatch End Association Chair and local business owner in February
Discussing the Vyners School Admission Change at my first surgery in Harefield, which I know was an important issue for many residents
In the Constituency
Whilst circumstances have meant that in-person constituency work has curtailed, I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to make some valuable visits over the past 12 months. In addition to some productive introductory meetings with various resident associations and our local police contacts for Hillingdon and Harrow, I had a very warm welcome from residents at Heath Lodge in Pinner, a tour around the fantastic new facilities at Northwood School and an introduction with owners of the excellent Queen’s Head in Pinner, where I was joined by Chair of Pinner Business Club, Cllr Norman Stevenson.
One of my first meetings was with the Queen's Head in Pinner with Cllr Norman Stevenson
Discussing pressing local and national concerns with the residents of Heath Lodge in March
With Chief Superintendent Peter Gardner, West Area BCU Commander
Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner is home to many charities, and I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre in Harefield at the start of the year. I met with the hardworking staff who are dedicated to helping unwanted dogs in Harefield find their forever homes. Additionally, following the reopening of charity shops in summer, I met with the team at Scope in Ruislip who carry out some fantastic work to raise funds for the charity. After a difficult period for the sector, I am heartened to see such overwhelming support from the local community.
With Honey, the lovely greyhound, at the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre in Harefield
Joining the wonderful team at Scope on Ruislip High Street
Despite the challenges presented this year, it is wonderful to see entrepreneurs investing in our high streets and new businesses thriving. I paid a visit to fresh produce store Fruity Fresh on Green Lane, a wonderful addition to Northwood, and Code Ninjas in Pinner, who are helping to teach coding for children in an engaging and innovative way.
Meeting the team at new business Code Ninjas in Pinner
At the excellent Fruity Fresh on Green Lane in Northwood earlier in the year, before masks became mandatory in shops
I was also glad to speak with businesses who have managed to reopen safely after the period of lockdown. I was pleased to join Cllr Duncan Flynn at Fit Club Northwood on Joel Street to hear about how they were bringing fitness opportunity to residents, and Jungle Monkeyz, a soft-play venue in Eastcote, who were met with a weekend of bookings when they reopened earlier this month.
One of many visits this year to Jungle Monkeyz in Eastcote
Speaking with owner Puneet at Fit Club Northwood on Joel Street in September with Cllr Duncan Flynn
The Covid situation this year has seen communities pull together. I was pleased that I was able to support good causes where it was safe to do so, including joining constituent, local business owner and president of the British Bangladeshi Caterers’, Salim Chowdary, delivering a lockdown treat to residents at a local care centre back in April (below).
Lastly, I joined local councillors in laying poppy wreaths at war memorial sites across the constituency and attended a socially distanced Armistice Day Commemoration, organised by the Eastcote Branch of the Royal British Legion. Despite the difficult circumstances, I was pleased to still be able to pay tribute to all the servicemen and women who sacrificed so much for our country, and to whom we owe our freedom and gratitude.
It has been an extraordinary year and I do hope to be able to make more in-person visits in 2021.
With West Ruislip Councillor Philip Corthorne at Ruislip War Memorial in November
As former Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Hillingdon Council and as member of the Education Select Committee, our local schools remain a high priority for me and, during the Covid-19 outbreak, the ability for children to access their school or nursery has been vital. It has enabled children to keep progressing in their education and has helped working parents. Whilst I was able to make visits to schools at the start of the year, I have taken the opportunity to continue catching up with our local headteachers on calls and in virtual meetings, and I have paid tribute to the vital work they have done to keep our schools up and running, despite many challenges, during parliamentary debates. This has been a year in school unlike any other – described to me by one local head as ‘like a snow day every day’ – but the feedback I have received from local families has been largely very positive and, despite the cancellation of the exams earlier in the year, local young people were able to get their grades and move on to university courses and apprenticeships that they had been aiming for. With the Covid vaccine being administered by our local NHS, our schools are looking forward with the hope that a more normal pattern of education will be able to resume. I will continue to keep in close contact with schools across the constituency and will carry on holding the Government to account where necessary, in my capacity as local MP and member of the Education Select Committee.
You can see me questioning the Rt. Hon. Gavin Williamson MP, in the Chamber on the subject of protecting against any risk to children in September here and speaking in the Chamber during the DfE Exams and Accountability Debate earlier this month here.
Visiting Northwood School at the start of the year to speak with Headteacher Mr Anderson, and to look around all the fantastic new facilities.
Speaking with headteachers at a virtual surgery last month
It is very clear to residents across the constituency that the works on building HS2 are well underway and are continuing to impact many people’s lives on a daily basis. Despite the often good intentions of individual employees, HS2 Ltd are repeatedly seen as a poor neighbour.
Since being elected last year, I joined the HS2 Review Group, formed by a group of colleagues from across the country who were keen to see the Government look again at the need for this project. We made direct representations with both the DfT and No.10.
While I was disappointed with the decision to go ahead with HS2, I do believe this marked the end of the eleven-year campaign to stop HS2.
Despite this decision, I continue to take up matters with both HS2 Ltd and the DfT where they are impactful to our area. The most high profile and long standing point of contention is the relocation of the HOAC site in Harefield. This has been an incredibly drawn out affair but I am pleased to see that we have overcome all the previous sticking points and HS2 Ltd have offered technical assistance to the London Borough of Hillingdon Council for any of the initial works that now need doing.
Elsewhere, I commend the work of the many active residents’ groups, who are always very helpful in feeding back the lived experiences that you all face. I know there have been ongoing issues with mud on the roads, but I am hopeful that we have made progress on this with HS2 Ltd and their various contractors committing to remedy the situation. The state of the roads has improved, and I hope this is to continue.
Most recently I have also been in discussion with HS2 Ltd and Thames Water about the sewage diversion works that, if they go ahead, will have a very heavy impact on the Ickenham Green allotments and its plot holders. In my most recent meeting with HS2 Ltd we discussed this at length, and they are going to go away and see if any mitigations can be put in place to save as much of the sight as possible. This would hopefully allow as many plot holders as possible to stay on sight throughout the works. I have also asked them to look again at alternative plans or sites to see if this really is the least impactful option. I have also raised this with the Minister responsible, Andrew Stephenson, and am hoping to meet with him again in the near future.
I know everyone is affected by this project in different ways and so please do get in touch with me if I can be of any assistance. Alternatively, all the resident’s groups are incredibly on top of the local issues in their areas and I am sure will be a great help.
At the HOAC site in Harefield with Neil Maddock earlier this year
Over the past year I have been very keen to bring local voices into the discussion on national policy. Most recently I met with Residents’ Associations to discuss local housing needs. This was all fed into the policy discussions which happened in Westminster surrounding the Planning White Paper. In particular, it helped shape the report which the APPG on Housing and Planning produced in response to the MHCLG White Paper.
Similarly, the conversations I have had with local nurseries and early years care providers have been central to the work I am doing with the APPG on Childcare and Early Education. We are calling for a full policy review of how this sector is managed and funded. We need a long-term policy solution to this incredibly broad sector. You can watch my contribution to the Nursery and Childcare Settings Westminster Debate here.
I have also been engaging in discussions with the Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner Climate Coalition about key environmental issues which have provided food for thought in upcoming legislation. I have also spoken with Harrow Biodiversity and Environment who are launching an excellent initiative 'Harrow Go Green 2021', which you can read more about on my website here.
These are just a few recent examples and I am very keen to continue this work with local groups to ensure their views are considered when national policy decisions are being made.
Speaking at one of my virtual meetings with the RNP Climate Coalition Group
I was delighted to be selected to serve as a member of both the Education Select Committee and the Finance Committee in the House of Commons. Additionally, I serve as a Chair, Co-Chair, or Vice-Chair on several All Party Parliamentary Groups, including: the APPGs on Heathrow Expansion and Regional Connectivity; London; Housing and Planning; Refugees; and Migration.
Recently in the Chamber, speaking in my first adjournment debate
This year has been far from conventional, but I am glad to have had meetings with ministers and to make a number of useful contributions in parliamentary debates on issues affecting the local area, such as healthcare services, business rates, our transport network, grassroots sport and funding for local authorities. During a recent DCMS Urgent Question, I paid tribute to the fantastic work that has been put in by community organisations and local authorities to ensure that sport remains accessible. You can view my contribution here.
In addition to the national 'headline debates' we have seen this year, such as Brexit, the Internal Market Bill and Covid-19, I have also spoken on a number of issues that are closely aligned with key policy areas. This includes education, and ensuring children get the best start in life, through to issues surrounding refugees and migration. As well as using my first appearance at PMQs to highlight the success of the Syrian Resettlement Scheme, which can be watched here, I also recently made the case for a change in position on permission to work for asylum seekers, which can be viewed here.
Whilst in-person meetings and events have been limited, I have been able to show my support for animal welfare campaigns, which I know are very important to constituents, such as Battersea's call to increase sentencing for animal cruelty and Dogs Trust fight against puppy smuggling. I have also taken part in numerous virtual roundtables, Q&As and debates, organised by various organisations and covering a wide range of issues.
With cross-party colleagues at the APPG on Heathrow Expansion and Regional Connectivity earlier this year
Showing my support for Battersea's call to change the law to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty
At the start of the year, with Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and Alan Mak, PPS at the Department, to discuss issues affecting Harrow and Hillingdon, and constituents
Joining Dogs Trust's campaign to stop puppy smuggling
Local Council Information
At a local level both Hillingdon and Harrow Councils are continuing to deliver support to our community. To access their information pages concerning the local response, and to find out more about assistance you can access, please visit the frequently updated pages on their websites here:
Although this period has brought many challenges, it has also inspired a sense of incredible community spirit. I have been heartened by the kindness and solidarity we have seen over the past few months, in the face of hardship and uncertainty. Community led initiatives – the compassionate response of so many, as well as the critical work undertaken by frontline and essential workers – represents the very best of us.
I take this opportunity once again to thank key workers for keeping the country moving, the many business owners who have worked hard to make sure customers can visit their premises safely and individuals for their patience and efforts in keeping the virus under control. The rollout of the vaccine brings with it a sense of hope and optimism that, by this time next year, we will have returned to life as we know it.
I know it will be a difficult one this year, but I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Hopeful 2021.