Opposing Train Station Ticket Office Closures

Govia Thamelink Railway which now has responsibility for the majority of stations in my constituency is proposing to close the ticket offices at Gipsy Hill, Tulse Hill, West Norwood and Loughborough Junction, as well as Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye which are outside the constituency but used by many residents.  Many residents have contacted me to express their concerns about these proposals.  I think that it is entirely unacceptable for GTR to be cutting ticket offices when we are experiencing such poor rail services with daily delays, cancellations and overcrowding.  Please see below the full text of the letter that I have written to GTR today:

‘Modernising Stations’ Consultation

I am writing on behalf of my constituents to respond to the current consultation on the ‘Modernising Stations’ proposals.  I am also grateful for the opportunity to discuss my concerns with you at the recent drop in session for Members of Parliament.

As the Member of Parliament for Dulwich and West Norwood I represent residents and businesses across Dulwich, West Norwood and parts of Brixton, Camberwell and Crystal Palace. Of the stations at which it is proposed to close ticket offices, Loughborough Junction, Tulse Hill, Gipsy Hill and West Norwood lie within my constituency, while residents from my constituency also use both Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye stations.

Based on the feedback that I have received from many local residents I am opposed to these proposals.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

South London Cares

South London Cares is an extraordinary organisation working in my constituency and beyond, that links young people in our community with older people who would benefit from company, entertainment and an enriched social life. I recently wrote the following blog for their website.  Please get involved and lend a hand if you have time, it's a rewarding enriching experience for everyone:

As the new MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, I see every day the enormous strength and talents of so many people and groups from our local communities in my part of South London.

But I also know that there are many challenges facing our neighbourhoods. One of the less talked about aspects of the housing crisis is the weakening of the day-to-day support some older people receive as their families are dispersed because younger generations can no longer afford to live in the area they grew up in. The NHS and our local councils also face serious challenges when it comes to the resourcing of social care and support for older people.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

My views on Syria

I have received hundreds of emails about the situation in Syria asking for my views on the government’s proposal that the UK should join coalition forces and undertake airstrikes in Syria. I am grateful to everyone who has got in touch to share their views, both for and against airstrikes and those who have thoughtfully set out the complexity of the decision and the finely balanced nature of the arguments.

I attended the Prime Minister’s statement on Syria in Parliament last week, participated fully in the discussions and debates within the Parliamentary Labour Party, have been briefed by senior military officers and have listened carefully to the views of all of the local residents who have contacted me about this matter.  I am writing to set out my views and my voting intention.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Why We Need to Support Our Solar Industry

The government is proposing to cut the subsidy for solar energy by a shocking 87% in one go.  This is an irresponsible decision to make at a time when reducing carbon emissions in order to address climate change could not be more pressing.  The solar industry supports 35,000 jobs in the UK, up to 20,000 of which would be threatened by this proposed cut. I have written to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change asking her to think again about cutting the support for solar energy.  Please see the text of my letter below:

Dear Ms Rudd, 

CONSULTATION ON THE SOLAR FEED IN TARIFF (FIT)

I am writing in response to the government’s consultation on the feed in tariff scheme, and specifically the proposal to cut the feed in tariff by up to 87%, coming after the decision in September to stop pre-accreditation.  I have received a very significant level of correspondence in opposition to these proposals from my constituents, from local and national businesses and also have very strong personal concerns about these proposals.

The growth of solar energy has been a huge British success story since 2010 and installation costs have reduced by over 70%.  The Feed In Tariff has underpinned this success, providing 700,000 homes with low-cost, carbon free electricity and helping to create 35,000 jobs, almost all of them in small and medium enterprises.  There is little disagreement that the Feed In Tariff can come down as the cost of installing solar continue to fall, but I have very serious concerns about the extent and timing of the proposed reduction

Read more
Add your reaction Share

The government's cut to tax credits is unfair and unnecessary

Today the government will formally introduce its proposal to cut tax credits.  50% of families with dependent children in my constituency rely on tax credits, the majority of these are families in work.  On average, the cut will see over 3 million families, 7,700 of them in my constituency, losing £1,000 a year.

During the General Election campaign, the Prime Minister and the Conservatives misled voters across the country over tax credits, consistently denying that the £12 billion of proposed welfare cuts would affect tax credits.  The government’s justification for the cut to tax credits is the increase in the statutory minimum wage which will be introduced from April 2016 and phased in over four years.  The cut in tax credits is a one off cut which will be made next year.  The government’s argument that families will not be worse off as a consequence of the cut in tax credits because of the increase in the minimum wage is entirely false.

Read more
1 reaction Share

My Views on the Assisted Dying Bill

Today, the House of Commons is debating draft legislation to introduce assisted dying for people who are terminally ill with less than six months to live, who have mental capacity.  Many constituents have got in touch about this Bill, expressing strong views – in relatively even numbers, both for and against.

This is an issue which I have thought long and hard about and which arouses very strong emotions.  I recognise that there are very strong arguments on both sides of the assisted dying debate, and I have carefully read every letter and email that I have received on this issue.  These include extremely harrowing accounts from people who have witnessed their relatives die in agonising pain, as well as heartrending letters from constituents who fear that if assisted dying is made legal, they would feel under obligation to make that choice themselves.

I have decided that I will vote against the Bill today.  This is not a decision that I have reached lightly, and it is not a clear cut choice, but I have tried to explain my reasons below.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Syrian Refugee Crisis - a letter to the Prime Minister

Thank you to the hundreds of constituents who have written to me about the refugee crisis in Europe over the past few weeks.  The compassion and willingness of residents in Dulwich and West Norwood to help is very moving.  I am clear that the UK government must do more to help those fleeing conflict and persecution.  I helped to secure the debate which will take place this afternoon in the House of Commons, adding my name to the list of back bench MPs calling for the issue to be discussed in the Chamber.  This morning I took part in a moving vigil, attended by MPs of all parties, to remember the plight of refugees, and I have also signed an Early Day Motion which will be published tomorrow morning. 

I am unfortunately unable to take part in this afternoon's debate myself due to an important session of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee which I have to attend at the same time.  I have instead written to the Prime Minister, setting out what I would have said, had I been able to speak this afternoon.  Please find the text of my letter below:

Dear Prime Minister,

I have been contacted by hundreds of my constituents in Dulwich and West Norwood regarding the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe and as I write the emails are still pouring in. They share my concern that the UK has so far not done more to support people in perilous conditions fleeing conflict and persecution, despite the fact that the scale of the crisis in Europe has been evident now for some months. 

The small number of refugees who have been resettled here under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme is in stark contrast to the clear leadership shown by Germany on this issue. The UK can be rightly proud of the role that we have played in supporting previous refugee crises and I would urge you to rekindle the spirit of the Kindertransport and help to demonstrate once again our leadership on the world stage.

The reaction of my constituents to the refugee crisis has been overwhelming and very moving. Many are offering space in their homes to refugees so that when they arrive in Britain they have somewhere safe to go. Local groups are organising collections of essential items to be taken to refugee settlements throughout Europe.

I welcome your change of heart on this issue in the context of intense public campaigning, and I am pleased that the UK will be accepting more refugees.  I also welcome your commitment to the provision of aid for the hundreds of thousands of refugees overseas who, although less visible in the media, must also remain a priority for us all. The images of the body of Aylan Kurdi are heartbreaking, but thousands of refugees have been in situations of comparable personal devastation and loss over many months, and it is deeply regrettable that you are only now taking action in the face of intense public pressure.  It is also regrettable that the language you have used to describe this crisis has sought to mask the individual, personal tragedies like those of Ayan Kurdi’s family, labelling refugees a ‘swarm’.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

My views on the Tories' welfare reforms

One of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government was the progress we made in reducing child poverty.  600,000 children were brought out of poverty through a combination of the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, increased employment, tax credits to support families on low incomes, an expansion of childcare and the creation of Sure Start.  You can only reduce child poverty if you measure it in the first place.  That is why I am deeply opposed to the government’s proposed abolition of child poverty targets in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.  It is also entirely wrong that the government is proposing to reduce the support available to sick and disabled people who are not fit for work, by reducing the level of the Employment and Support Allowance.  I am also opposed to a reduction in the benefit cap in London, when insufficient account is taken of the significantly higher housing costs which residents in London face.  These measures will make life worse for many people in my constituency and I am vehemently opposed to them. 

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill also proposes some measures which I agree with.  The Bill proposes to introduce 3 million apprenticeships and to create a statutory duty to report on their delivery.  There are young people in Dulwich and West Norwood who would dearly love the opportunity afforded by apprenticeships which are currently scarcer than they should be.  The Bill also proposes to provide additional support for troubled families.  I have seen many families in my constituency who need compassionate and intensive support to address issues and challenges which have devastating consequences for them.  And the Bill proposes to cut rents for Council tenants, many of whom have been hit by the rising cost of living under the last government.  While I believe that urgent action is also needed to address rents in the private sector and to change the definition of ‘affordable’ housing, I won’t argue with a proposal which provides a little additional help to Council tenants.  It is, however, imperative that the government provide full financial support to fill the funding gap left by the reduction in rent, otherwise this will merely translate into an unsustainable cut to the funding available to maintain existing Council homes and build new Council homes.

Read more
1 reaction Share

Fracking

Several residents have contacted me to ask about my views on fracking in relation to a campaign being led by Greenpeace asking candidates to sign the 'Frack Free Promise'.  I am pleased to confirm that I have signed the Frack Free Promise and I have set out below my views in detail below. 

My day job for the past 17 years has been as a town planner, and I spent 18 months working on a major project which helped built environment professions to better address climate change.  It was a really significant project until the Tory Lib Dem government archived it in 2010.  Climate change and our response to it is a top priority issue for me.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Calling on the Tory Secretary of State to Urgently Address Rail Chaos Locally

Passengers across Dulwich and West Norwood have experienced a completely unacceptable level of rail service since the start of the year.  The problems are particularly acute on the lines into London Bridge following the introduction of a new timetable to accommodate the major works to London Bridge station.

Problems are also being experienced on other routes as passengers seek to avoid London Bridge, resulting in already crowded services becoming unbearable, for example through Herne Hill and Loughborough Junction.  Every week, I hear more stories of passengers stranded, unable to get to work on time or unable to get home in time for their children's bedtime at the end of the day.  The situation is causing misery for everyone, but for passengers who are disabled or frail it has become almost impossible to contemplate a journey on our rail network, particularly at peak times.

Read more
Add your reaction Share