Save our ticket offices

The government announced plans last week to close thousands of ticket offices at stations across the country.  The train operating companies have now launched a rushed consultation exercise, giving passengers just 21 days to respond.

The plans will see the ticket offices in all but one of Dulwich & West Norwood’s train stations closed, leaving passengers unable to access help to purchase tickets.  One in eight tickets are still purchased from a ticket office, where staff are also a useful source of travel advice and assistance.  These plans have not been the subject of any equalities impact assessment, but they will have the greatest impacts on disabled passengers and older people.  Staff are worried about what this means for their job security.

 

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Helen calls on the government to protect bereaved families from tenancy guarantor schemes

In May, a first year university student from my constituency tragically died by suicide. He had already signed a contract with a private lettings agency for accommodation for his second year with his parents acting as a guarantor. Despite knowing of the devastating circumstances, the lettings agency are shamefully pursuing the bereaved family for rent payments.

In addition to the devastating loss of their son, my constituent’s parents now face severe financial hardship. Today I called on the Deputy Prime Minister to act to ensure bereaved families are protected from this cruel practice >>

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Helen speaks in debate on Tory mortgage premium

9,400 households in Dulwich and West Norwood are facing a mortgage cliff edge this year as fixed term mortgages come to an end, facing an average increase in payments of £6,300 a year as they negotiate new deals.

At the same time, private renters locally are seeing their rents continuing to spiral to wholly unaffordable levels, often accompanied by the threat of a section 21 eviction if they refuse to sign up to the higher level of rent. 

My constituents are already facing sharp increases in food and energy bills, and I know how worried many people are about how they will keep a roof over their head.  

The Prime Minister’s shameful response to this crisis is to tell people to “hold your nerve”. It was the Conservative Party’s recklessness which has driven interest rates to record highs and now they are refusing to act.

Without robust action, families across my constituency are facing the risk of insecurity and homelessness. Labour has set out a comprehensive plan to provide real help to homeowners and protections for private renters. You can see my speech in Parliament here >>

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Windrush 75 in Lambeth

Last Thursday, 22 June, was the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks.

It is an incredibly important anniversary for my constituency of Dulwich & West Norwood which includes Coldharbour Lane where many of the passengers who had found temporary accommodation in the Clapham South Deep Shelter went to the Labour Exchange to find work, Somerleyton Road where many found homes to rent and Windrush Square which was named for the 50th anniversary.

In commemorating the arrival of the Windrush, we also remember people from the Caribbean, Africa and the wider Commonwealth who came both before and afterwards and the immeasurable contribution they have made to our economy, culture, communities and public services.

We cannot commemorate Windrush Day without also remembering the racism and injustice so many of the Windrush pioneers and their descendants have faced, and continue to face.

We have had a wonderful few days of events in my constituency and it was also a real privilege to host an event for constituents with connections to the Windrush story in Parliament.

But as we commemorate we also remember and commit to the work that must still be done to ensure justice for the victims of the Home Office scandal which denied so many Windrush generation pioneers and their descendants their identity as British citizens.

Thank you to everyone who made these brilliant events happen!

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Windrush 75

Thanks to all who came to my Windrush 75 reception in Parliament this week, a time to honour the Windrush pioneers & their descendants & continue the call for justice.

I was glad to welcome representatives from local community organisations, staff from King’s College Hospital & South London & the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts, youth organisations, faith communities and granddaughter of Windrush passenger & RAF Airman Sam King. Thanks to my Lambeth colleagues Florence Eshalomi MP and Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP for supporting.

Special thanks to Dawn Hill CBE, poet Jenny Mitchell, Lisa Anderson from the Black Cultural Archives, poet David Neita, Arthur Torrington from the Windrush Foundation and the brilliant students from St-Martins-in-the-Fields High School for Girls for inspiring us all.

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Helen questions the Minister on the gaps in the government's childcare plans

Over the three months since the government’s childcare announcement, I’ve spoken with many early years professionals in different parts of the country.  They tell me that the sector urgently needs a plan to develop the workforce and the premises needed to expand childcare, and the government’s plan to relax childcare ratios won’t deliver affordable childcare for parents or high quality early years education for children. 

Labour knows that the system is broken and in need of reform and we will set out our plans to deliver the change that is needed, starting with fully funded breakfast clubs for every primary school in the country >>

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Foster Care Fortnight

Foster Care Fortnight is an important time to recognise the vital, often lifechanging work of foster carers and to raise awareness. I was glad to meet with the Southwark Council fostering team at the Goose Green fair who were speaking to local people about the importance of fostering and providing information on how to find out more about it.

Foster families do amazing and rewarding work to provide stable, loving homes for some of our most vulnerable children. Unfortunately, there are currently not enough foster carers in the right places across the country. You can find out more here: southwark.gov.uk/fostering

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Helen calls on the government to fix the leasehold crisis

Leasehold is the main form of tenure for people who own their own homes, but it operates on a feudal model which is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.  Our leasehold system denies leaseholders control over what happens in the buildings in which they live, and leaves them exposed to catastrophic costs with little recourse to redress when things go wrong.  The Tories have dithered and delayed for years and have failed to bring forward the reforms that are needed.

It has been clear for years that reform is needed and successive Housing Secretaries have promised reform without taking any action. Today, Labour forced a vote in Parliament calling on the government to implement the urgently needed changes as recommended by the Law Commission including ending the sale of new private leasehold homes and a crackdown on unfair fees and contract terms.

You can see my speech from the debate, including calling for action to support leaseholders on district heating networks, here>>

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Statement on closure of St Martin in the Fields School

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Helen speaks with Sky News about the housing crisis and Labour's plans for build new homes

We face an unprecedented housing crisis. Across Dulwich and West Norwood, people are facing soaring rents and the insecurity of knowing that they can be subjected to a section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction. The Renters’ Reform Bill is welcome but it is long overdue

We need urgent action to fix the housing crisis, building both new genuinely affordable homes which are desperately needed and homes to buy so that younger people can get on the housing ladder. Scrapping housing targets will simply reduce the number of homes being built even further.  The Prime Minister might be too scared of his own backbenchers to act, but Labour has a plan. You can hear me speaking with Sky News below >>

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