Constituency update – December 2021
As the year draws to a close, this will be my last newsletter of 2021. From my family to yours, I wish you a very peaceful and happy holiday, Christmas and New Year, with good health and much love and joy. The emergence of Omicron has been fast and alarming, and I was proud to vote in favour of some new restrictions last week – the Labour Party was able to step to fill the leadership void left by Boris Johnson. The evidence is clear that we need to do what we can to stop our health and social care workers getting covid and the NHS becoming overwhelming. I hope you are all managing to keep safe.
I am sure that you, like me, have been angered with the reports of multiple Christmas parties, and my inbox has seen constituents reporting their frustration, anger, and disappointment that the Conservatives seemed to think that the guidance did not apply to them. It really was a case of one rule for them, and one rule for the rest of us.
Happy Christmas one and all and please stay safe!
All adults over the age of 18 are now able to book in for a vaccination appointment through the National Booking System. It is advised that everyone book to reduce waiting times. Nonetheless, there are walk-in slots available. More than 397,800 booster jabs have already been given by the South West London Clinical Commissioning Group.
The National Booking System can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/
The recent step-up in vaccinations in South West London comes the week after marking the one-year anniversary of delivering the first Covid-19 vaccinations outside of a clinical trial on Wednesday 8 December 2021. Over this year we are very proud to have administered over 2.5 million vaccines in South West London.
Scientific evidence has shown that receiving a booster jab provides greater protection against the new Omicron variant, and I encourage everyone to go out and get boosted as soon as possible.
A link to walk-in clinics can be found here: https://swlondonccg.nhs.uk/covid/where-can-you-get-vaccinated/vaccination-walk-in-clinics/
Old Bexley and Sidcup By-Election
It was great to get out and door-knock in Old Bexley and Sidcup with my team at the beginning of the month. Labour made real progress, and the mood was positive. A positive swing of 10.3% towards Labour shows that people are fed up with this sleaze-ridden Government.
Proud to stay on as Policing and Fire Minister in the reshuffle!
I will be continuing as Labour’s Shadow Minister for Policing and the Fire Service after the reshuffle in early December. I am delighted to continue in this job: it’s one that I love and take real pride in. It’s also a pleasure to serve in such a strong Frontbench team and it’s great that Yvette Cooper has taken on the role of Shadow Home Secretary.
New beat bobbies for Croydon town centre.
I’ve recently been travelling around the country to see how Labour Police and Crime Commissioners and Mayors are rebuilding neighbourhood policing after 10 years of cuts.
I am delighted that Croydon is among the first parts of London to get its town centre ‘beat bobbies’ back. These really are the eyes and ears of their communities, and in Croydon they’ll be in the town centre around the clock, ready whenever the public needs them. They’ll do great work tackling knife crime, violence against women and girls, and shoplifting.
A serene evening at the LFB carol service
It was a huge honour and privilege to attend the London Fire Brigade Carol Service at Westminster Cathedral. Wonderful readings and beautiful singing: a really calming and enjoyable way to get into the festive mood!
Christmas festivities at Peony Court care home
I visited the Peony Court care home in the run up to Christmas. With rising Covid cases, they set up a hospitality table outside their front door. I dropped in to involve myself with the very festive atmosphere, drank in the Christmas Cheer and bought raffle tickets in aid of the Food Bank!
A feast at the Monks Hill Christmas dinner
I had a lovely time at the St Francis Monks Hill Christmas dinner last week in the new hall that the community has fundraised for and built over the last few years. It’s a great resource for Monks Hill. There was a warm and festive atmosphere, and I was able to catch up with constituents over a warming – and very welcome – plate of turkey and all the trimmings.
Supporting small businesses in Croydon
It was great to be out on Small Business Saturday on the Lower Addiscombe Road with Cllr Madie Henson and newly selected candidate Tom Bowell.
High street businesses are the heart of local communities. Too many have been let down by Conservative complacency. Labour would scrap business rates and replace them with a fairer system. Businesses also need support now to get through the next phase of the Covid pandemic.
Holding the government to account on human rights
I was proud to challenge the Government in Parliament on behalf of my wonderful Tamil constituents and the Tamil diaspora worldwide.
Much more must be done to ensure freedom and justice in Sri Lanka. I will continue to press for sanctions against General Silva. The Tamil community deserves truth and justice.
You can watch my intervention at Foreign Office Questions here: https://twitter.com/LabourSJ/status/1465742200487260164
My speech responding to the new Government drugs strategy
I responded to the Government’s new 10 year drugs strategy for the Labour Party. I welcomed the introduction of a new plan to tackle drug abuse, but this is a Government which has dropped the ball on drugs, and on crime. Drugs flow in through our borders, and the use of Class A drugs has risen every year since 2011.
Whatever the Government says, this new drugs plan is not “levelling up”, but compensation for lives lost and communities blighted.
You can read my speech here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-12-06/debates/54065168-8B45-47B1-BEEB-1BA4B49DB4AF/Ten-YearDrugsStrategy#contribution-E7FA8BA3-59D7-4271-8668-0380195070CD
Final legs of my antisocial behaviour tour
I was delighted to be invited to open the second enforcement hub in Redbridge, accompanied by the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper. The hub is part of the council’s bid to tackle antisocial behaviour in the borough.
I also visited South Wales as part of my antisocial behaviour tour. It was great to hear about the good work being done in the upper Rhymney Valley to build safer communities – initiatives tackling antisocial behaviour which face the axe when the one-off pot of Government money dries up. We need longer-term thinking.
Casework Update and Christmas
My office is always incredibly busy at this time of year with constituents contacting me for support. The case enquiries range from housing maintenance right through to families requiring quarantine assistance. With the winter weather I have noticed a rise in water leaks, heating, mould and damp related issues.
It is always nice to be able to share some success stories at this time of year. For instance, I have been working on a Windrush case and am delighted to have helped my constituent finally win his compensation appeal. Another moving case was an elderly man with cancer with no access to his pension. He has now accessed his pension payments and has successfully moved to dignified accommodation.
I know that local food banks are under pressure this Christmas and I encourage anyone who is able, to give generously over the festive season.
I am continuing my regular zoom surgeries by appointment and I will provide assistance wherever I can.
My office will not be able to monitor emails over the Christmas period, but all emails will be read and responded to after my office opens again on Tuesday 4th January.
If you are contacting me because you have an urgent housing matter, please contact Shelter’s emergency helpline on 0808 800 4444 or alternatively you can present yourself at Croydon Council who will be operating an emergency service.
If you are experiencing Domestic Violence Croydon Family Justice Centre (FJC) domestic violence support team can be reached on 020 8688 0100, or you can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 which is open 24 hours a day.
In an emergency call the police on 999.
If you have an urgent immigration matter the Law Society will be able to give you the details of a solicitor that specialises in this area and they can be reached on 0207 242 1222. The Home Office can be contacted on 0300 123 2241 and if you would like other advice over the holiday period you may find the Migrant Helpline useful on 0208 683 4767.
If you live in a Croydon Council property and have an emergency repair issue, the out-of-hours repairs team can be contacted on 0208 726 6000.
For recycling and waste collection dates please visit: https://www.croydon.gov.uk/environment/rrandw/collection/resident/bin-collection