February 2018 Update
February 28, 2018
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: email@example.com
There has been a great deal of concern about the action taken by HS2 against protesters on the Harvil Road site and what that might mean for residents.
On Monday 19th February, HS2 won their bid at the High Court to impose an injunction on the Harvil Road site. The injunction serves two purposes: to prevent illegal trespassing on the construction site, and to prevent anyone from obstructing access. Chiefly this injunction has been awarded on the basis of health and safety concerns and I have been assured that the existing protest camp will not be dismantled or moved. I have also been assured that the injunction will have no impact beyond the existing perimeter of the construction works.
I continue to be in regular contact with HS2 and am hoping to receive a copy of the exact wording of the injunction imminently.
You should have received a leaflet from Heathrow Airport opening their first public consultation on the proposed expansion of the airport. They want views on proposed physical changes on the ground and the potential principles that could be applied in designing new airspace. The documents can be found on their website here.
I was surprised and disappointed to see that Heathrow were not planning a community engagement event in the North of the Borough. At my request, they have offered to come and answer questions at a public meeting in the constituency if that would be of interest to residents. Please let me know your views and whether you would be interested in attending.
Many residents will share my surprise and frustration that Heathrow have nothing to say about proposed flight paths at this moment in time. Indeed they are telling me that we will not know before 2020! It’s not clear to me how we can be asked to have a fully considered opinion on something this important when we do not have critical information on how it may impact the community. However they assure me that they don’t have a fixed view yet, and so perhaps we should see it as a genuine opportunity to shape opinion.
Some residents will be concerned about the impact on RAF Northolt, which is already the subject of misinformation about future plans (as explained in my last bulletin). I am assured by Heathrow that their current planning assumption is that Northolt will continue as is, given its strategic importance to the Ministry of Defence. However this clearly depends to some degree on future decisions on flightpaths.
So this is a frustrating process, but I would encourage those with views to participate in the consultation. I know from my correspondence and conversations that opinion in the constituency is divided on the merits of expanding Heathrow. People will also have different views on what we are being consulted on. Given my responsibility to try and represent local opinion as best I can, I would be very grateful if you could share with me your responses and opinions, as it will help me shape my own response to the consultation. We have until 28th March to respond to this first consultation. Heathrow are committing to run a second consultation next year, if this remains the preferred scheme for expansion of airport capacity in the South East. This in turn will depend on their ability to meet some very big challenges, not least that of air quality stemming from road traffic .
I will of course keep you informed.
Extension of Met Line to Watford
I have been working with Richard Harrington, MP for Watford, to press for an extension of the Met Line into Watford Central and Junction. Sadly, we do not seem to have the support of London Mayor, Sadiq Kahn, as you can see from the letter that I received from the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It is an opportunity missed and Richard and I will persevere.
Northwood and Pinner Cottage Hospital
I continue to press for this historic site to be redeveloped in a way that respects past promises to protect the war memorial and deliver an upgrade of community health facilities. I am pleased to report that the NHS are proceeding with a Plan A that will preserve the facade of the building and see the existing Northwood Health Centre upgraded and moved into the main building. The rest of the site will be developed for accommodation, which I hope will included sheltered and extra care accommodation. I have spoken to the GPs who are keen to do it, and my understanding is that our local commissioners are supportive. I expect a planning application in the spring.
Support for local young people
I am a strong believer in giving young people the opportunity to stretch themselves and learn new skills and values which will help them in later life. That mission is at the core of the National Citizen Service which I helped set up and which many local young people have benefited from. However I am also a huge admirer of our local uniformed organisations, whether it be Scouts, Girl Guides or Cadets.
Hillingdon Council have long been a leader in developing local services for young people. They now recognise that the old model of local authority youth clubs may be out of date. I wrote a letter to Ray Puddifoot, the leader of the Council, encouraging him to give more support to existing uniformed organisations because of their popularity and track record. I am delighted that he has responded with a commitment of £3 million to support local groups including the Scouts, Guides and Cadets.
Local Police update
We have suffered a very disturbing and unacceptable spike in street robbery in the Ruislip area, targeting young people. This is absolutely out of character with an area that enjoys very low levels of crime. I quite understand the anger and frustration that a number of residents have expressed to me. I released the following statement last week on the action I and local police are taking. The police too have tweeted here.
In relation to The Mayor’s proposals to close local police stations, as you may recall we have persuaded him to keep Ruislip open, re-consult on Pinner and look seriously at the counter offer from Hillingdon Council to buy Uxbridge Police Station and contribute to some of the running costs. In relation to Northwood, the Police seem confused about who owns the site, and I will continue to press for it to continue as a post for local neighbourhood teams. I can’t see anything happening very soon and continue to believe that this was not a very well thought through consultation.
National Police update
Public safety is the priority for any Government. As Police Minister, I want to make sure that the Police have the resources they need to do a very difficult job. At a time when public money is very tight, I was pleased to take through Parliament a funding settlement for the Police which will see investment grow by £450 million next year, including an uplift in counter terrorism policing. It means that in 2018/9 we will be investing over £13 billion in our police system, which is an increase of over £1 billion on 2015/16. It means an additional £49 million for the London Met, which has over 1.5 times the national average in terms of funding and police officers per head of population.
Out and about
I was very honoured to go to Buckingham Place recently to be presented to Her Majesty the Queen and be sworn in as a Member of the Privy Council.
It was also a huge pleasure to visit two excellent local primary schools, St Teresa’s Catholic Primary School & Nursery and West Lodge Primary School.
Holocaust Memorial Day is a hugely important moment to remember and reflect on events that must never be forgotten across the generations. As usual, I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Remembrance on behalf of constituents.
I was very impressed by the passion of the Friends of Pinner Village Gardens who have ambitious plans to improve the park. You can support them through Tesco Blue tokens in Pinner and follow them at @friendsofpvg or friendsofpvg.org.uk
Usually I do my surgeries in the Northwood office but I like to vary it so as to offer easier access for constituents. My thanks to the staff of Harefield, Ickenham and Eastcote libraries for helping me set up in those great facilities.
As ever, if you have any comments, or if I can help you or a family member with an issue, I do hope you won’t hesitate to contact me.