December 2017 Update
December 21, 2017
I hope you and your family are looking forward to the festive period. This bulletin is part of a regular series that updates you on what I am doing as your Member of Parliament.
I also send this update by email. If you would like to be added to the mailing list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to access my latest bulletin on the work we are doing to reduce the impact of HS2 on the area and to get better information from HS2 Ltd. The situation remains very frustrating, but Hillingdon Council, local MPs and resident groups continue to work well together.
More positive news is the agreement that Hillingdon Council will be given £26.5 million by HS2 to replace Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre (HOAC) when it is forced to move because of construction work. I recently visited the proposed new site just outside Denham and it has great potential (below).
The Mayor wants to rationalise police real estate and recently proposed the sale of Ruislip; Uxbridge; Northwood and Pinner stations. The idea was to concentrate on operating “front counters” at Hayes and South Harrow, with local neighbourhood teams having access to new, cheaper “touch points” within 20 minutes’ walk of their wards. I was very concerned that this did not make sense for the north of Hillingdon Borough, and I share the concern of Pinner residents that not enough thought has been given to the listed status of Pinner police station. I have spoken directly to the Deputy Mayor, Sophie Linden, and the Met Commissioner, Cressida Dick, to press for a rethink. You can read my letter to Sophie Linden here.
Since then, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) have announced that they recognise the argument about the north of the Borough and will keep Ruislip police station open. They have also agreed to consult again on Pinner. I regret their decision to continue with the sale of Uxbridge, but fully support the proposal from LBH that the Council should buy it and contribute to its running costs. I know that this is being taken seriously and I hope to see a positive outcome. A number of residents have also contacted me about Northwood station. My priority at the moment is to clarify who owns the station and what covenants apply, as I have received conflicting messages. Either way, I will be pushing for greater reassurance that neighbourhood teams in the most northerly Hillingdon wards, and in Pinner, will still be visible and easily accessible.
In other news, it is very welcome that burglaries across Hillingdon have fallen 15% in recent months, but this is a time of year when burglaries tend to rise. I would echo the message given by police that constituents should take this opportunity to review their home security ahead of Christmas.
And finally, it was a pleasure to welcome Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, to Ickenham recently for a walkabout and chat with residents and shop keepers (below).
For some time now, I have been trying to make progress for residents on three fronts:
1. Redevelopment of the dilapidated Northwood and Pinner Cottage Hospital in a way that respects the war memorial and provides the community with better health facilities
2. Encouraging both Hillingdon Hospital and East Herts Trust to pay more attention to Mount Vernon and agree a plan that would allow an upgrade of facilities.
3. A new Hillingdon Hospital – the current site is not fit for long term use and staff do a good job despite the facilities not because of them. Hillingdon will need a new hospital probably within ten years.
I am seeing slow but real progress on all three:
1. The latest news from NHS Estates is that they intend to proceed with a planning application that will move Northwood Health Centre to the main cottage hospital building and upgrade it. They assure me that the facade of the building will be restored and maintained, not least to respect the war memorial. The rest of the site will be developed for residential use, which may include accommodation focused on residents who require extra care. They have had constructive conversations with the GP partners of the practice, and there are further conversations to be had with the local CCG about whether they want to add to the NHS services available on the site. If all goes well, I would expect a planning application in the early autumn.
2. I understand that both Trusts involved with Mount Vernon are close to a formal agreement which may result in some land being redeveloped to inject fresh investment into the Mount Vernon site.
3. I visited Hillingdon Hospital recently and received updates on their plans to apply for funds to deal with backlog maintenance and A&E improvements. I also visited the Vice Chancellor of Brunel University who told me of ambitious plans for the future, which include a collaboration with the Hospital to establish an Academic Centre of Health Sciences.
The Metropolitan Line
I know how important the Metropolitan line is to many constituents. Good news then that a recent customer satisfaction survey shows the Met line coming joint top (compared to bottom in 2016)! A few bad days can change all that of course, but the improvement is welcome. You may not know that there are proposals to see new Met stations at Watford High Street and Junction, which I am supporting alongside Richard Harrington, MP for Watford, and David Gauke, MP for South West Hertfordshire.
You can read our joint letter to Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, here.
A number of constituents continue to raise concerns with me about the future of RAF Northolt. I have taken this up with the Ministry of Defence who confirm that there is no intention to operate bigger commercial aircraft from the Station. The same stringent terms and conditions on civil aviation movements will remain.
You can see a copy of this confirmation from Tobias Ellwood MP, here.
Supporting young residents
Ever since I led the work that resulted in the setting up of the National Citizen Service, I have been passionately involved in supporting opportunities for our young people to develop their confidence and life skills. We are lucky in the area to have a rich network of uniformed organisations, not least the Scouts and Guides, supported by experienced community volunteers. We also have a Council that has been prepared to invest in supporting our young people. I recently wrote to Hillingdon Council leader, Ray Puddifoot, encouraging him to consider giving more support to local Scout and Guiding organisations, not least those such as Northwood Scouts who are raising money for new facilities.
You can read the full text of my letter to Mr Puddifoot, here.
Life in Westminster
Recent months have been dominated by the Budget and Brexit. In the former, I especially welcomed steps to make it easier for young people to get onto the housing ladder. In relation to Brexit, I know from my inbox that this continues to divide opinion in the constituency at the extremes. However my sense is that most people now want us just to get on with it. I am pleased that we have got to the end of the first stage of the negotiations and I remain optimistic that a sensible deal will be struck, because I think there is so much mutual benefit in that happening.
Over the last six months, I have spoken to every Police Force in England and Wales as part of my duties as Home Office Minister for the Police and the Fire Service. It was clear from these conversations that demand on the police is rising and changing. This is not just about the shifting terrorist threat: it is also about more police time being spent investigating complex crime like sexual violence and modern slavery. On the 19th December I was able to announce to Parliament our plans to increase our investment in policing by up to £450 million in 2018/19. This would include an increase of over £40 million in cash available to the Met next year.
If you would like to follow the debate around the new police settlement, you can read my full statement to Parliament, here.
As you may recall the Prime Minister has asked me to act as Grenfell Victims Minister. My role is to engage with the bereaved, survivors and the wider community to help where I can, and to make sure that their feelings and needs are understood. I am sure that many of you were moved as I was by the memorial service at St Paul’s, which I attended alongside the PM.
Out and about
Joining the Tesco Annual Winter Food Collection with Fareshare and The Trussell Trust.
Attending the Hillingdon Borough Commander’s Commendation Ceremony.
Supporting the Dog’s Trust campaign to end puppy smuggling
With the Premier League supporting our local schools through the Primary Stars scheme
Attending the Pinner Pantomime.
Meeting students from Hatch End High School at Parliament with the ONE Campaign