April 25, 2017
I wanted to update you on the work I am doing as your MP. Since I last wrote, we have had a Budget; the triggering of Article 50; a tragic terrorist attack on Parliament, considerable instability overseas and the announcement of a General Election on June 8th.
Key local Issues
HS2 has now received Royal Assent, and will go ahead. As you know from past bulletins, we have worked very hard to secure commitments that will reduce the impact on the area. These include a cap on HGV movements at peak times; a commitment to minimise soil dumps; to relocate HOAC and drop the Heathrow Spur. We have had some very frustrating moments along the way, which have required high-level meetings between myself, Boris Johnson and Sir David Higgins, the Chair of HS2. As a result, I believe we are now close to an agreement between HS2 and Hillingdon Council. The next step will then be engagement with HS2 contractors to consider whether plans can be improved further in a way that is in everyone’s interest.
I went to see the Mayor of London to make sure that he understood local concerns about the impact of HS2 vehicles on roads and air quality. He is now much better informed and has responded with this letter.
Many residents, especially in Harefield, will be very concerned about the impact on the beautiful Colne Valley. You may be aware that there are some funds available on top of the budget that HS2 has allocated to mitigate the environmental impact of the proposed viaduct. There has been consultation on some projects that could use this money to enhance the area, which can be accessed here.
Pinner Wood School
Pinner Wood School is very popular – so the news that it would have to close temporarily because of geological concerns was a major shock. A number of parents wrote to me and I attended one of the early public meetings. Harrow Council, the school and parents deserve credit for the way they have responded to the crisis. New locations have been found to educate pupils for this term with transport arrangements laid on. Options are being explored for a solution in September onwards. I am in very regular contact with the Chief Executive of Harrow Council and have made it clear that the preferred option would be a single site, close to the current location. I will also support the Council in any bids for funding support to meet additional costs incurred.
Harrow Arts Centre
This is a very important and popular community asset, so many of us were very concerned about the threat of closure. There was a protracted negotiation that would have seen a charity take it over with some interesting plans, including a community cinema. These talks have now fallen through as it proved impossible to find agreement on what would happen if the charity failed. The CEO of Harrow Council has assured me that the Council will maintain the status quo for the current year at least, and will explore options to bring in a partner to run the site and perhaps incorporate some of the new ideas. I know how important this is to many Harrow residents and will stay close to it.
TfL will come back this time next year with a new application to redevelop the centre of Northwood. It will contain more affordable housing, which people will have views on. I have suggested that they consider sheltered housing given the growing need in the area, but they are not sure they can make it work financially. I have spoken to the Mayor to make sure that it is on his radar screen and make clear that we want to avoid a situation where he overturns a local planning decision.
Northwood Pinner Cottage Hospital drags on. I am assured that we will hear “shortly” what NHS Estates propose to do, and I remain hopeful that they will agree to our proposal that any development upgrades the Health Centre and provides new community health facilities.
Northwood Scout Hut appeal
There has been a scouting movement in Northwood since 1914. There is a big community drive to raise £100k in 12 months to redo the Scout Hut. I am supporting this as you can see from this video link and details of the fundraising appeal can be found here.
Pembroke Park – Eastcote
I have been working for some time with local Councillors and the Residents Association to get A2 Dominion to take seriously the persistent complaints from residents about the management of this important estate. Finally, we managed to get one of the senior Directors to walk around with us to hear directly about the problems, and I hope that we will see some progress and pick up in performance.
Ickenham Neighbourhood Plan
Neighbourhood planning is a community right that is designed to give local people a more direct say over the future of their area. It is a very demanding process to put a plan together and demonstrate community support for it. Ickenham have made impressive progress towards this goal, and it was a pleasure to meet representatives of the team and offer my support. For more information on what they are doing click here.
As you will know Article 50 has now been triggered and Brexit negotiations can now start. A number of constituents who like me voted to Remain contacted me to ask why I was voting for it. My answer is a simple one. Whatever my personal view, the outcome of the referendum was clear and in a democracy the wish of the people needs to be respected. My sense is that most constituents think we just need to get on with it, and that is my view too.
Thank you to those who have shared their views directly with me – the Government consultation closes on 25th May and I would encourage you to have your say via this link.
I combine being your MP with my duties as Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Since the last bulletin, I have been involved in a range of things including the development and launch of our Industrial Strategy Green Paper; negotiation at the EU on various energy and climate issues; representing the UK at the G7 meeting of Energy Ministers, and responding to debates on the disposal of the Green Investment Bank; Fuel Poverty and Smart Meters.
Out and about
Since the last bulletin, it has been a pleasure to visit Heathrow Aviation College,
Vyners School, Douay Martyrs Secondary School, Haydon School, Pentland Field School and Frithwood Primary School.
Thank you to members of the Northwood and Pinner Liberal synagogue who as usual made me and many others so welcome at their fabulous Civic Service.
Thanks also to staff and customers of Tesco Pinner for making us so welcome for my first supermarket surgery.
As usual, please do not hesitate to contact me if you think I can help with anything or if you simply want to express a view.
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