One Year as MP: Thanks again!
On 7th May 2015 I was elected MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark with 43% of the vote and a majority of over 4,000. It was a huge result for Labour – 32 years after we first lost the constituency – and against many people’s predictions. Over 22,000 people put their faith in me and Labour locally and I remain honoured and privileged to have won their trust and support and to serve our fantastic area in Parliament.
It’s been a very eventful first twelve months. First and foremost, I’ve helped over 15,000 people in the constituency. I hold weekly surgery meetings in the constituency office as well as regular ‘outreach’ sessions across the constituency in venues ranging from churches and mosques to community centres, tenants’ halls and even the Old Kent Road ASDA. If you’d like an outreach session near where you live in the constituency please drop me an email at: Neil.Coyle.MP@parliament.uk
The issues I commonly help people on through surgery are housing, homelessness and repairs which is easily the top concern. Sadly, the Tory Government agenda will make matters much worse – both by directly affecting council housing and housing association sell offs but also through further assaults on the overall council budget and ability to meet needs and demands.
Benefits and the immigration system all too often come up in surgery sessions and leave a lot to be desired too – with delays and mistakes all too frequent from a Government that doesn’t appear to care about in-work poverty or the visa delays affecting people seeking to work in the UK.
Locally, campaigns have included tackling knife crime (which I raised at Prime Ministers’ Questions), trying to save a local crown Post Office, seeking to improve air quality, and pressing BT to deliver the faster broadband local people and businesses need. I’ve taken on roles locally including President of the Chambers of Commerce and a Patron of the Friends of Southwark Park and have remained a Trustee of the North Southwark Environment Trust. I helped raise funds for the homelessness charity the Robes Project by sleeping out at Southwark Cathedral and I also help the local foodbank by donating the increase in MPs’ salary to their coffers.
In Parliament it has also been an eventful time. It has been a steep learning curve in terms of the rules of the House, but I have served on a Bill Committee and won a place on the Work and Pensions Select Committee. I technically joined the frontbench team by becoming a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Leader of the House, Chris Bryant MP – which included speaking at the Despatch Box on one occasion so far, which got some positive coverage.
I’ve held Tories to account on a number of issues, including on proposed forced academisation plans that would have affected local Outstanding schools like Charles Dickens Primary. I’m glad the Government have now u-turned on this policy. I also helped highlight Zac Goldsmith’s breaches of parliamentary rules on declaring donations and exposed the Culture Secretary’s apparently similar failure to declare a gifted trip to Amsterdam courtesy of MTV in potential breach of Commons rules.
On a personal level, I was delighted to secure an amendment to welfare policy that provides an additional £1 million of support to terminally ill people at the end of their lives. This has already been implemented and it is a great feeling to have made a difference to people’s lives and changed the law within a year of entering Parliament. I hope to be able to do much more for constituents in the rest of this Parliament – and beyond if the voters of Bermondsey and Old Southwark choose me again in 2020.
There are, of course many issues of concern facing our community and I’ll continue to work hard for our community. My daughter, Esme, was born early in April and the next year looks even busier but I remain deeply proud and honoured to serve such a fantastic community at the heart of the best city in the world. Thank you all, once again, for electing me last May.