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I joined an emergency response team in on Southwark yesterday. It was a positive experience and it was good to pass on people's gratitude for their response to the London Bridge terror attack in June. The extreme end of police work is all taken in their stride, as are the daily offences they witness.

At the station we discussed the proposed borough merger, the rise in knife crime (including the recent SE17 weapons haul pictured), and gangs encroaching in Southwark as well as moped crime - a significant feature of yesterday's ride-along.

Since 2010, Southwark has lost over 200 police officers and PCSOs due to Government cuts. In London, we have seen a rise in a range of crimes, including violent crime, but there is a shortage of 700 detectives in the Met. Our police are simply under-resourced and over-stretched with the inevitable knock-on effect to public safety.

I joined Dan and Regan in their car and the first call was to a group of young men attempting to steal a moped. They didn't manage to take it thankfully but mopeds are a massive problem in London and were a regular issue on the walkie talkies as well as in my inbox. Mopeds are too easy to steal, with Vespas being particularly pathetically protected apparently. Manufacturers must do more to make them harder to pinch. Once taken, they are used to mug people of phones primarily. But the police are also hampered by rules preventing chasing those who steal them. The safety of the criminal is sadly put before tackling crime for the wider community. This must change.

I have already called on the Government to give our police the resources and powers to tackle all crime. This includes thieves stealing mopeds. Nor can the police keep picking up the pieces of other failing services. Another feature of the shift, and reports to me from local officers, is the number of incidents involving people with mental health problems. Yesterday, the only arrest I witnessed included a man with a mental health condition. His care package simply wasn't working, resulting in him causing problems for others in an unvirtuous circle.

I will be raising the issues seen yesterday when I meet the Deputy Mayor for policing, Sophie Linden and will ask how the Mayor's commitment to delivering more Dedicated Ward Officers will be rolled out to improve police visibility. I will continue to work with the Borough Commander, safer neighbourhood boards and others to help tackle the community safety challenges we all face.

I am grateful to all officers I met yesterday, and especially Dan and Regan for putting up with my questions in their car.

Mopeds, mental health and the Met in Southwark

I joined an emergency response team in on Southwark yesterday. It was a positive experience and it was good to pass on people's gratitude for their response to the London...

Broadband

Many local people have contacted me about poor broadband speeds and coverage in some areas locally, especially in Rotherhithe. Bermondsey and Old Southwark was recently ranked 595th of all UK constituencies for superfast broadband availability, with only 80% of households having coverage. The national average is 92% and it is appalling to see our part of central London so poorly served, with some wards having the slowest speeds in the capital. 

In the last Parliament and during the campaign I spoke to many people who had struggled with slow broadband, including local businesses, self-employed people working from home, and students. Many people depend on broadband and it should really be seen as a new utility: an essential rather than some kind of luxury bolt-on.

Since 2015 I have been pushing BT to get better coverage and further booster cabinets installed in Bermondsey and Old Southwark. They confirmed they would be installing a further 28 cabinets in Southwark but have failed to deliver on these plans. I met with BT representatives again this week to relay concerns and push for faster and further work. They have agreed to deliver 17 further units to provide coverage for 5,000 more premises by the end of this financial year. The council is working with BT to ensure these plans are met. 

I have also pressed the Government to meet its own target for coverage by investing in our area. The Chancellor has pledged an additional £400m investment in fibre optic broadband roll out as part of the Government’s Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund. I hope we see this funding deliver the broadband speeds we need here.

I will continue to update you on this matter and hope we see further improvements soon.

Broadband

BroadbandMany local people have contacted me about poor broadband speeds and coverage in some areas locally, especially in Rotherhithe. Bermondsey and Old Southwark was recently ranked 595th of all UK...

I welcome the Government’s announcement of banning unnecessary leasehold sales in new builds. The Government have rightly recognised that many face unjustified fees and uncertainty about management issues in properties people should own outright.

The same level of exploitation and rip off fees is prevalent through the installation of district heating systems. I raised these concerns in the last parliament and am aware of other MPs acting on this issue.

There appears to be a very significant difference in cost, transparency, regulation and consumer choice within the district heating industry and Government action along similar lines as their recent announcement would be very welcome given the increasing number of new home developments with district heating schemes.

I have now written to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, to highlight these concerns. 

District Heating

I welcome the Government’s announcement of banning unnecessary leasehold sales in new builds. The Government have rightly recognised that many face unjustified fees and uncertainty about management issues in properties people should...

The Taylor Review into modern work practices has been published. It aimed to tackle some of the issues that leave working people unable to cover living costs, reliant on foodbanks and on housing benefit and tax credits. It has taken the Labour movement a century to secure basic employment rights that have been rolled-back by some of the less responsible companies in the gig economy.

I am pleased the Taylor Review builds on recommendations made by my Work and Pensions Select Committee in May, but companies like Deliveroo and Uber are, in my opinion, failing to acknowledge their responsibilities as employers. It is unacceptable that a million workers fall into this grey area in the new economy and are denied access to basic rights, leaving them and the taxpayer worse off.

The Review calls on the Government to define people who work for gig economy companies as ‘dependent contractors’ to secure some access to sick pay and holiday leave. Simply pushing for a change in status does not go far enough or answer the challenges faced or the shirking of responsibilities by some rogue companies.

Whilst Uber have not embraced the precepts of the Taylor Review, many people have been in touch to suggest that companies like it have been let off very lightly. I hope the report on the future of the UK Taxi Trade, to be published next week, will go much further and pressure Ministers to devolve greater powers to the Mayor of London.

The Review also recommended more widespread digital transactions take place, eventually phasing out the largely untaxed ‘cash-in-hand’ economy which would raise around £6bn in tax revenues, tackle crime, and drive up employees’ rights.

The Taylor Review provides a basis for addressing many of the issues presented by the growing gig economy, but ensuring working people have access to a stable career, fair pay, and the fundamental rights we expect from employers warrants firmer, swifter action.

Workers’ rights in the gig economy

The Taylor Review into modern work practices has been published. It aimed to tackle some of the issues that leave working people unable to cover living costs, reliant on foodbanks and...

borough_market.jpg

It is one month since the horrific terrorist attack on London Bridge and Borough Market. On the night, in the immediate aftermath and ever since the response from local people has been incredible. Our community has pulled together magnificently and shown why terrorists will fail to beat how we live and who we are.

We witnessed an inconceivable degree of bravery and commitment from our emergency services and NHS as well as huge amounts of generosity from local people, businesses, Southwark Cathedral (also directly affected and forced to close briefly as a result of the attack) and the wider public. I thank everyone for making me even prouder to be the local MP!

8 people were murdered, 48 injured and about 160 have sought counselling or other support since the attack. British Transport Police offered their counselling support to people directly affected and traumatised by what they’d seen and, four weeks on, some people are unable to return to work yet.

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced £300,000 towards all three London major incidents, the Borough Market Traders Support Fund has raised over £100,000 in donations, and News UK have provided help worth about £25,000 through all staff being given market vouchers. Many of their staff were directly affected by the attack as their office is at London Bridge station.

Despite the amazing response to the attack from so many, some of the independent local traders and businesses have been in touch to outline the impact. The attack was over in under ten minutes, but the site was locked down for ten days due to the investigation. This has caused some small traders to lose out, including fruit and veg sellers at the Market who’ve lost £17,000 and Applebees restaurant who have lost closer to £40,000. It is estimated that the attack cost about £1.4 million in total to local businesses putting at least two in touch with me at risk of closure.

Ministers – and Theresa May – have stated that the ‘terrorists cannot win’. I agree, but extend ensuring they lose to protecting jobs and businesses if/when attacks occur. I wrote to the Prime Minister urging her to visit the area and speak with those directly affected. This has not yet happened. I also asked the Business Secretary to meet with local people affected and one of that Ministerial team is coming. I hope the Government responds with the same generosity and spirit others have shown and acts now to protect everyone affected by the attack. To date, their response has been slow and limited.

This article highlights concerns of some traders towards the lack of support they are receiving from the Government and insurance companies. Insurers need to pay out asap to prevent any firms and jobs being lost. I have called on the Government to pull its finger out and for insurance companies to properly cover all those affected by the ten-day closure which followed the attack.

London Bridge one month on

It is one month since the horrific terrorist attack on London Bridge and Borough Market. On the night, in the immediate aftermath and ever since the response from local people...

Empty speech from an empty vessel

Theresa May made the Queen read an empty speech today. The speech was supposed to set out the Government’s agenda for two years despite May not having a majority or mandate for one.

After seven year as Home Secretary and Prime Minister, Theresa May is showing she has learned nothing from losing her majority and is out of tune with voters’ wishes. On 8th June voters rejected her hardline approach to Brexit and to more austerity. Today’s speech shows May wishes to continue with both.

A grubby and uncertain pact with the DUP to try and deliver a disastrous Brexit won’t wash with voters. The speech also covered some Brexit plans but also claimed our economy will be ‘strengthened´ and that the UK will attract further investment – despite the Bank of England warning yesterday that Brexit will make all of us worse off. It will be harder to attract investment outside the EU and companies in Southwark are already disinvesting or expanding elsewhere in the EU sadly. The Government should be listening and not risking further damage.  

The Tories did not win a majority on 8th June after seven years of austerity. Southwark has lost out heavily in those seven years – police cuts, long delays to seeing GPs and in hospital waiting times, a national drop in home ownership and huge cuts to our council. May wants to continue with this agenda. The speech today includes very few Bills but managed to announce plans to push ahead with vicious school cuts which could cost Southwark schools £5 million and court closures that risk denying even more people access to justice.

May has learned nothing from her rejection by voters. She is an empty vessel Prime Minister with yesterday’s agenda and no guarantee she has a tomorrow. I hope her Government’s speech is defeated next week. 

Empty speech from an empty vessel

Empty speech from an empty vessel Theresa May made the Queen read an empty speech today. The speech was supposed to set out the Government’s agenda for two years despite...

 

Today I wrote to the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, and asked her to visit Borough Market to speak to the traders and local residents following the horrific terror attack on our area on 3rd June. 

Letter to the Prime Minister

  Today I wrote to the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, and asked her to visit Borough Market to speak to the traders and local residents following the...

 

Thank you!

On 8th June more than half of all the voters in Bermondsey and Old Southwark chose me and Labour. I am hugely grateful and proud for the continued support and for the overwhelming result: a vote for the positive, transformative agenda Labour offered and trust in me to keep my promises.

There are so many people to thank but all those who gave an hour, a day or more to the campaign have made such a difference. We knew we could win but the hours of campaigning made such a difference. There were many people who volunteered for the first time - and I hope enjoyed it!

My young team stepped up to the plate and delivered a professional, positive campaign based on my track record of reaching 30,000 people in two years and a positive offer on housing, policing and education. My caseworkers deliver results daily and work their socks off for the local people who need my support.

After seven years of Tory and Lib Dem cuts and damage to Southwark, local people overwhelmingly voted for something different. 53% voted for something better and more positive and helped me almost triple the majority I won in 2015. An incredible result and one for which I am proud.

I will keep working hard for our community and will continue to keep my promise. Thank you once again for the privilege of serving our brilliant part of London.

Thank you!

  Thank you! On 8th June more than half of all the voters in Bermondsey and Old Southwark chose me and Labour. I am hugely grateful and proud for the...

Bermondsey and Old Southwark stands shoulder to shoulder with all the people of Manchester following the murderous and cowardly terrorist attack.

All responsible political parties chose not to campaign yesterday after the targeting of children and young people out for an evening celebrating music, culture and their youth. The pain inflicted on the families who have lost loved ones, the city of Manchester and our country collectively is hard to comprehend. Our thoughts and prayers must be with all those affected.

But we will never be cowed and must show in how we choose to continue living our lives that we cannot be intimidated or prevented from sticking to our values. We should also recognise that, even at the height of the attack and when many people were terrified, we also saw some of the best of British values in the cabbies who gave free rides to help people escape and reunite families; the homeless man who ran towards danger to help injured people; the hotels and restaurants who opened their doors and provided food, a safe haven and accommodation; and also the hundreds of Mancunians who were queuing to give blood as soon as they could. We must also thank and commend our brilliant emergency services who not just responded so swiftly in Manchester, but keep us safe and work to prevent further attacks every day. They are the best; they represent Britain and our values.

Some will attempt to use the attack to provoke division and further hate. But hate cannot conquer hate and in dark moments like this, only love and unity can triumph.

I thank my volunteers and all those helping campaign locally for acknowledging yesterday's pause. Today the national party will remain paused but locally we must get back to work and continue to fight for the very democracy that terrorists wish to undermine and overthrow.

Bermondsey and Old Southwark stands shoulder to shoulder with Manchester

Bermondsey and Old Southwark stands shoulder to shoulder with all the people of Manchester following the murderous and cowardly terrorist attack. All responsible political parties chose not to campaign yesterday...

 

 

 

Despite the hectic campaign schedule, with nine teams of volunteers out campaigning with me yesterday, it was also important to show my respect at important local events.

First, the Imperial War Museum in SE1 hosts the 9th May 'Victory Day' celebrations. This is attended by veterans and representatives of the former Soviet countries to mark their equivalent of Victory in Europe Day and is a tribute to the 27 million citizens of those states who gave their lives fighting fascism and Nazism. Their contribution deserves recognition and their sacrifice deserves our respect.

 

It was also great to mark the unveiling of a blue plaque at the Surrey Docks Farm. The Farm is a wonderful burst of life on the riverside in SE16 and attracts huge numbers of visitors to see their pigs, sheep, donkeys and more right opposite Canary Wharf on our side of the river. The Farm is very close to our Mayor's heart and has been one of the charities she's been fundraising for this year. I've promised to muck out the pigs at some point - and I keep my promises!

Neil

Showing respect

      Despite the hectic campaign schedule, with nine teams of volunteers out campaigning with me yesterday, it was also important to show my respect at important local events.... Read more

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