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Last night, I voted again against leaving the EU. My short comments below were designed to flesh out some of the reasons why (in the limited time MPs get to speak – which could be just 3 minutes).

Over summer I spent a lot of time discussing the Bill and Brexit with people across Bermondsey, Walworth, Rotherhithe, Borough and the Elephant, especially those who voted to Leave. I remind them I made a promise in both 2015 and 2017 to all constituents: I will never support anything in Parliament that could harm our community. It is a simple promise made in replacing a Lib Dem who voted for policies that did severe damage to local people left paying the Bedroom Tax, denied access to justice under legal aid cuts, or paying extortionate tuition fees. But it equally covers Brexit: the biggest issue facing our country and which would leave the whole UK worse off.

  • I also met further constituency employers about the Bill.      Businesses like ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents) who      highlight that it is EU not WTO rules that cover transatlantic flights and      fear the Bill may not keep UK-US flights airborne.
  • I met organisations like the British Toys and Hobbies Association      who fear the UK could: lose trade we currently do within the EU; lose our      place as global leader in this sector; and be flooded with counterfeit      toys from new deals outside the EU.
  • And met employers who worry the Bill does not answer fears about      future workforce issues. The Bill and leaked Home Office proposals pose      new concerns for employers and taxpayers. The Government wants a new      expensive registration and visa system. The NHS alone would have to foot      the bill for 54,000 new visas for existing staff. The taxpayer would pay      for this, but loses doubly: also funding extra civil servants to      administer the new system. And businesses would lose out by paying for      employees’ visas and being less competitive with rivals within the EU and      facing lengthy delays to get visas for new recruits. It often takes over 6      months for my constituents to get visas currently.  

These are all issues which the advocates of Brexit should have had the answers to before the Government irresponsibly triggered Article 50. Big Ben might not be bonging but the clock is now ticking on leaving the EU and Ministers still don’t have a clue.

In June voters may have shorn the Government of its majority, but didn’t dent its arrogance, as we see from Henry VIII clauses and attempts to dominate Bill committees. But we shouldn’t be surprised at this authoritarian streak from a Government that tried to:

  • rig electoral registers;
  • inflate the number of unelected Lords whilst reducing elected MPs;
  • cut funding for opposition political parties;
  • gagged charities from speaking up about the impact of Coalition and      Tory policies;
  • and had to be dragged through courts to allow MPs to even debate      Brexit, let alone scrutinise any detail.

And look at the people who try to justify this shoddy approach. They’re the same people who told us this would be easy. The same people who said we needed to ‘take back control’ but now say Parliament should adopt 40 years of legislation without scrutiny. And the same people who said they wanted the UK ‘Parliament to be sovereign’ who now try to impose a tinpot Maybot dictatorship over the Commons having ignored voters’ rejection of a hard Brexit in June.

It wasn’t just hard Brexit rejected though, it was ‘neglexit’ – the Government’s complete neglect of a positive domestic agenda, instead offering:

  • More foodbanks for working people;
  • Less chance to own your own home;
  • Cuts to schools and social care;
  • Longer NHS waiting times.
  • A Government bereft of ideas, dominated by men with 1950s mindsets.     

In failing to respect June’s result, in continuing to fail to have positive policies for British people, and in banging the drum for the hardest of possible Brexits and all the damage it would cause, Ministers and their backbenchers appear to be fighting amongst themselves on how best to lose the next general election.

 

 

Voting against Brexit again

  Last night, I voted again against leaving the EU. My short comments below were designed to flesh out some of the reasons why (in the limited time MPs get to...

Recess is a fantastic time for young adults, who are on their summer holidays from school, to come into my office and gain some work experience. I try and accommodate everyone who asks and am so grateful for their fantastic input! Below is a blog from Joseph from Elephant and Castle who came in last week to gain some experience before going on to study Politics in sixth form.  

Knife Crime by Joseph

Knife crime is on the rise and not much is being done to stop it. In Southwark alone the amount of knife crime incidents in the last year has risen by 48%. The latest Metropolitan police statistics show that there were 254 knife crime with injury incidents in the last year. It is clear to see that knife crime is a major concern for our community and it needs to be tackled.

It was reported recently that Southwark has the worst record in London for solving knife crime cases. The current conviction rate for Southwark knife crime cases currently stands at 15.4%. This statistic is horrifying as it means that the majority of people who commit these crimes are never brought to justice and face no punishment. This also includes murders, which means that parents who will suffer for the rest of their life as a result of losing their son or daughter will also have to live with the pain of knowing that justice was not served and their child’s murder was left unsolved.

These tragedies are occurring more and more often, there must be an explanation for this. Well, there is really only one real explanation to why knife crime is on the rise and why conviction rates are falling. The Metropolitan police simply do not have the resources to solve these tragic cases. This is because since 2010 when the Conservatives regained power to run the country, instead of making citizens feel safer they have made citizens feel less safe and have placed crime along with other youth issues to the back of their priority list. Under the Conservative government the number of police officers have been cut by 20,000, while in Southwark the number of police PSCO’s in local areas have been reduced by 200. Crime has increased because there is no longer a police presence in the local area due to police cuts by the Tory government, and the conviction rate has fallen due to the lack of resources in the Metropolitan police due to cuts by the Tory government.

It is clear that to see that knife crime is not on the government’s agenda and so it is clear that the best way to tackle knife crime is to place it on the government’s agenda and make it the government’s priority. The job of the Tory government is to represent the people and so we, the people must make it clear that we want more police officers on our streets, more opportunities made available for us young people so that we do not need to result to crime to make a living, and regular engagement with the youth in the local community. Our local MP Neil Coyle will continue to question Prime Minister Theresa May on this issue to ensure that knife crime is placed on the government’s agenda, while we, the local community must get in contact with the local council, and ensure that crime is placed on their agenda. I believe that once knife crime is given priority there will be a change.

As a young person in the local community I think there are two main ways to solve knife crime. Firstly on a practical level I think that there needs to be more police officers in local areas to prevent knife incidents and ensure safety among citizens. Secondly, I think that there needs to be more opportunities and education provided for people, such as more youth clubs and events to push people young and old away from crime but towards a brighter future. There needs to be an understanding among the community that no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, there is a place for you in society and that not everyone will become a millionaire but that there is an opportunity to move away from a life of crime to a happier, more fruitful life.

Joseph

 

Knife Crime by Joseph, Work Experience from Elephant and Castle

Recess is a fantastic time for young adults, who are on their summer holidays from school, to come into my office and gain some work experience. I try and accommodate...

 

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I’ve been in touch with many people over the Tideway Tunnel construction works and went on site to raise concerns and see how the site is developing. I met with the site project team and Tideway Chief Exec, Andy Mitchell.

The tunnel, when finished, aims to prevent almost all sewage entering the Thames from London’s Victorian-era sewers and was welcomed by many environmental groups for its long-term benefits. The Chambers Wharf site selection for a major works site was opposed locally however and has a significant impact on many local people.

I was given a tour of the construction site with Tideway showing me some of the extra measures they are taking to minimise noise and local impact – like bringing more materials by river and not road, using the first electric hydrofraise (excavating machine) in the world, and adding additional insulation to some of the pipes pumping materials around.

The scale and complexity of the project inevitably mean it will continue to have a significant impact and I raised several people’s specific concerns about the works – and proposed extended work times. Some evenings, work will continue to 10pm – an issue opposed by Southwark Council and many local people. Around 180 households have already received some form of extra help as a result of the current works and longer hours on site may cause the number to rise further.

Tideway emphasised their other contributions – in creating jobs and apprenticeships for local people, as well as funding local projects and part of the Thames Skills Academy to create even more work on the river with a skilled workforce for the future. However, it is essential that disruption and noise for local people is minimised and adequately compensated given the potential disruption to people’s lives on and around this compact site.

I will continue to monitor the site and if you have any concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Tideway construction

    I’ve been in touch with many people over the Tideway Tunnel construction works and went on site to raise concerns and see how the site is developing. I...

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...

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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...

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