September 2023 Update
I am pleased to bring you my September 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.
Since my last newsletter in the summer, we have seen the impact of the ULEZ expansion on the streets of Hillingdon and Harrow. As I have said in the past, this policy has little impact on air quality, doesn’t have the support of local residents and does little to tackle the actual causes of air pollution in our area of London.
We have seen no effect on air quality since the zone’s expansion and in cases it has worsened in the weeks since. In particular, I am concerned about the levels of Nitrous Oxide that data shows have increased at the South Ruislip monitoring station in the first days of September.
This for many will confirm their opposition to the policy’s expansion. Constituents have continued to contact me about the impact ULEZ is having on their lives and many elderly residents are facing tough decisions at a time when the cost of living is impacting all our lives.
What residents would rather see is meaningful action being taken to tackle the causes of air pollution. Increasing traffic on residential roads and more cars idling in that traffic is causing serious concerns for many. The Mayor must do more with the clean air grant that he has been given to provide meaningful alternatives and to encourage the uptake of cleaner methods of travel.
Elsewhere, Parliament returned from the summer recess break and local engagements have continued, and I am pleased to share these with you in this month's newsletter.
In the Constituency
It was good to be back holding my regular surgeries following the summer recess. As ever, I am grateful to the local businesses who have hosted me this month: Bucket List Coffee in Eastcote, Café Hills in Northwood Hills and Maison du Soleil in Ickenham.
A particular thanks to first-time hosts Marjan's in Northwood. Previously Village Express, the site has now been turned into a Persian-influenced café restaurant with a fantastic menu. I encourage residents to give it a try if they haven't already.
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 Marjan's - the new café restaurant in Northwood
British Values Day at Whiteheath Junior School
Prior to the summer break, I visited Whiteheath Junior School in Ruislip to speak at their morning assembly as part of their British Values Day.
I focused my remarks on law-making and the role of Parliament in our democracy, as well as the role of local government. The pupils then asked questions on a range of topics, including lowering the voting age and electricity costs.
I am grateful to the pupils and staff for their time, and look forward to visiting the school again in the future.
Joining Whiteheath Junior School for their British Values Day in July
Arts for Life Project
This month, I met with Beth from the Arts for Life Project, the recent recipients of National Lottery Funding, at their studio in Northwood.
I have spoken previously about the benefits of National Lottery Funding in supporting community projects. I was interested to learn how it would support Art for Life's objective to help vulnerable young people and their families’ health and wellbeing through the therapeutic value of the creative arts, across both the Hillingdon and Harrow boroughs.
I was also pleased to hear about the positive outcomes of the project. Young people who were being home-schooled have been provided with the confidence to return to the classroom, and those of school leaving age equipped with the skills to find work or volunteering opportunities that they may not have otherwise.
If you would like to read more about the project, you can visit their website here.
Looking at the fantastic art produced through the Arts for Life Project
Pinner Rotary Village Show
It was a pleasure to open this year’s Pinner Village Show at the Pinner Memorial Park.
Residents will be familiar with this fantastic annual event, organised by Pinner Rotary, which is not only a great day out, but also fundraises for various charities.
It was great to see the representation of so many local organisations and businesses, and to catch up with both local government colleagues and residents. I was also interested to speak with volunteers from the Pumpkin’s Wildlife Hospital to hear more about the work they do to support and rehabilitate local wildlife.
Last year, the event raised over £5,000 for Harrow Young Carers and the Renal Unit at Northwick Park Hospital, as well as other charities supported by Pinner Rotary, and I know that similar success will have been had this year.
With the team from Pumpkin's Wildlife Hospital at the Pinner Village Show
Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce
Following my surgery in Ickenham, I met with the Chairman of Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce, Andy Sharma, and Chamber Manager, Kim McGearty.
We had a useful discussion about the ways in which they are working to support local businesses across the Borough, as well as plans to expand their network to bring about more collaboration and synergy across the community, and how I can help to support these aims.
If you are a local business in the Hillingdon Borough and are interested in getting involved or setting up a chamber of commerce for your particular area, I would encourage you to contact Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce here.
Discussing support for local businesses with the Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce
Parliament’s summer recess came to an end at the start of the month. It has been a busy session in Parliament that is expected to formally end at the end of October ahead of November’s State Opening. This will be the first of the new King’s reign and likely the last before the next General Election.
Parliament is busy concluding all outstanding pieces of legislative business. The next few weeks are set to be busy with long sessions that will go late into the night. This includes the landmark Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that has been fiercely debated in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. I am glad that this Bill has received such scrutiny, in part because several colleagues have sought to use this Bill to pave the way for the ULEZ expansion to be reconsidered.
It is yet to be seen what the outcome of this legislation will be, but in the meantime, I have been working to represent my constituents in Westminster.
This month, I had the opportunity to ask a question to the Minister of State for Defence about the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
Since our withdrawal from Kabul, 12,200 people have been resettled through the ARAP scheme and 9,100 have been resettled through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS). Prior to summer recess, the Government set out its objective to process all outstanding ARAP applications by the end of August. It is for this reason that I chose to ask the Minister for the Armed Forces how effective he considers this scheme to have been.
93,000 applications were made to the Government under the ARAP scheme, and I am glad that the Government has been able to issue over 58,000 decisions to applicants in the past three months. Ministers informed me that there are just 2,000 of the most complex cases left to receive a response.
This is welcome news, and I am proud of the work done over this summer in tandem with local authorities to rehouse those in bridging accommodation. I know that Hillingdon and Harrow – along with others – have been working tirelessly to move people away from such accommodation. We owe a great debt to those Afghans who risked their safety to support our armed forces, and I implored the Minister to continue their work with local authorities to provide future support.
You can watch a video of me questioning the Minister on my website here.
Airport Communities APPG
Earlier this month, I was delighted to chair two meetings of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Airport Communities. The meetings were just a fortnight apart and provided the MPs present to hear from experts from the aviation sector and local campaigners on the National Aviation Strategy.
Both meetings were well attended by MPs from all parties with an interest in protecting our communities from the impact of airports, such as Heathrow.. I am delighted that for both sessions this month, I was joined by Steve Tuckwell, the new MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington. Having a strong representation from Hillingdon is vital to the group’s success.
It is important that the group hears both from those impacted by the airport and those who rely upon the aviation sector for work and travel. At our first meeting, MPs were joined by activists fighting the expansion of Bristol, Liverpool, and Gatwick airports. These campaigners, like those in Hillingdon, are keen to ensure that disruption from the airports is kept to a minimum. At the later meeting, we heard from Christopher Snelling at the Airport Operators Association and Chris Cain from the Regional and Business Airports Group.
Representing Hillingdon at the Airport Communities APPG this month
Christmas Card Competition 2023
Earlier this month, I invited schools across the constituency to take part in my annual Christmas Card Competition. The winning design will be printed and sent to local stakeholders to wish them a Merry Christmas from their Member of Parliament. Since its launch, I have received many fantastic entries and I am thrilled that so many children have decided to take part.
There is no particular theme this year, so children are encouraged to be imaginative with their festive designs. These can be designed either at school or at home, and all entries should be sent to my constituency office at 10 Village Way, Pinner, HA5 5AF with the child’s full name, age and school on the back of the design by Friday 3 November.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Good luck!
Last year's winning design for 'Pets at Christmas' by Ava, Age 4 from Northwood College for Girls
Parliament has now taken another break for the conference season, but my office remains open for residents who require assistance or support. My surgeries will also continue for anyone who would like an appointment to speak with me directly.