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News The latest from the constituency

Statement on the Withdrawal Agreement

November 30, 2018

Nick Hurd Despatch Box

Update: On 10th December, the PM made a statement to the House in which she demonstrated that she was listening to strongly held concerns about the Withdrawal Agreement, especially in relation to the controversial backstop arrangements that are designed to guarantee no hard Irish border. I support her decision to seek further assurances from the EU before putting the Agreement to a vote. 

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Brexit divides the constituency as it does the country. Some people, on both sides of the argument, have strong opinions which seem to have hardened in an increasingly angry way. For the majority in the middle, I sense growing confusion and dismay.

I am grateful to the many constituents who have written to me with their views and am genuinely interested in hearing more.

I will be supporting the PM, and not just out of loyalty as a Government Minister, or out of respect for her tenacity and resilience, which have been admired by many.

I was a marginal Remainer. I saw strong arguments on the Brexit side, not least on the opportunity to take back more control and have more flexibility in a fast moving world. However, I thought the balance of risk weighed in favour of staying in a relationship that was very important to our prosperity and security.

Now I believe that the result of the referendum needs to be respected.

I can persuade myself that we will be better off over time, especially given the difficulties that the EU face. However, I want any deal to minimise the short term risk to our economy and security.

I believe the Prime Minister has worked tirelessly to try and strike the right balance. I can see that the Withdrawal Agreement will deliver on many things that mattered most to those who voted Leave. The agreement will allow us to have our own immigration policy. We will come out of the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. We will be free to make our own trade deals. Once we have met our obligations in the Withdrawal Agreement, we will stop sending large amounts of money to the EU. At the same time the Political Declaration sets a positive framework, rooted in strong mutual interest, for reaching agreement on the terms of ongoing trade and security cooperation.

It is a negotiation and therefore involves compromise. So of course it will not please everyone. I understand concerns about important details such as the backstop arrangements to avoid a hard border in Ireland. However, it is just that – a backstop insurance policy which everyone wishes to avoid. I think the big picture is set about right.There is still a lot to negotiate but I can see a sensible outcome that gives us our long term freedom without creating damaging short term shocks.

My absolute priority is to avoid a No Deal scenario. When I was Industry Minister I spent time listening to the concerns expressed by our largest employers about a No Deal Exit. I am clear that it will cost jobs. Now as Policing Minister, I am involved in our contingency planning for No Deal. Over time we have built with our EU partners a set of tools that help us share crucial information to identify and arrest criminals. They are important and the PM has quite rightly stressed the mutual need for an ongoing security partnership that preserves these capabilities. However if we lose access to those tools in a No Deal scenario, I am very clear that our contingency plans represent a step backwards at a dangerous time. So for both economic and security reasons, we need to avoid a No Deal exit.

I understand the argument in favour of a second referendum. However it is not helped by the fact that the loudest voices in favour of it clearly disagree with the verdict of the people in the original referendum. I fear that it will exacerbate already bitter division and uncertainty. I think that our priority at this time is to give our representative parliamentary democracy the opportunity to agree a solution that has the best possible chance of bringing the country together.

Disentangling ourselves from the very complex web of agreements we have with our EU partners was never going to be as straightforward as some of the Brexit prophets would have us believe. The PM has delivered something many thought impossible. Her critics have failed to come forward with an alternative that is credible or delivers on the referendum. At the moment, I can only see one deal on the table and that is the one I will be backing.

My primary concern about Brexit is about the division that it has created. It is not that long ago that we hosted the Olympics in such style. There was a spirit of confidence and unity in the country that I wish we could have bottled. How different it feels now. I know Brexit is a critical step in our proud history. I know how important it is to get right, not least for our children. I know the negotiation is not complete, but like many people I want us to move on, make the best of it and heal the division.

I will be supporting the Prime Minister.

August 2018 Update

August 22, 2018

2018 Harefield Academy

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: nick.hurd.mp@parliament.uk 

HS2
  • Colne Valley Viaduct 

Many of us argued that HS2 should cross the beautiful Colne Valley in a tunnel rather than a viaduct. HS2 persuaded Parliament and the Government that it would be too expensive. I have always felt that decision was taken without sufficient analysis. Wendover tunnel is now being referred to the Infrastructure Projects Authority and our question is whether the government is prepared to do the same for the Colne valley. I have written to the Department for Transport to ask for clarity.

You can read the full text of my letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, here.

  • HOAC 

One of our biggest local priorities was to preserve the HOAC experience for local youngsters. We got a “win” when HS2 agreed to hand over £26m to Hillingdon Council and asked them to take responsibility for relocating the facility to Denham Quarry. Current plans are for HOAC to open on the new site in Spring 2019: however this timetable is tight and I will be pressing HS2 for an extension on the current site.

  • Working with contractors 

I always hoped that we would have constructive conversations with the HS2 contractors. It is in their interest to minimise traffic and keep good relations with the community. So I am very pleased to hear that they have agreed with us that it is not necessary to build a concrete segment factory in the fields outside Ickenham. We argued this in Parliament but were ignored by HS2. Common sense has prevailed and the segments will be brought in from outside. I think the traffic impact will be neutral but the overall impact on Ickenham will be reduced.

HS2 continues to attract very negative headlines for budget overruns and a high turnover of senior management. These are sources of real concern but I am continuing to assume that it will go ahead. My priority remains to work with residents and the Council to minimise the impact.

Heathrow

I have opposed further expansion of Heathrow for many years.

As a former Climate Change Minister, I remain very concerned about the implications of airport expansion for our ability to meet our long term and legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On balance, I accept the argument that our economy does require new airport capacity. However, I think there are better options than Heathrow and increasing the volume of flights over a densely populated London. While I recognise that opinion in the constituency is divided, this is a long held personal position.

I did not take part in the recent vote in Parliament, which the Government won with a majority of 296. However my position is unchanged.

As this process grinds on through the law courts, I will continue to press Heathrow very hard as a constituency MP on the issues that will directly affect residents. Top of my list is a clarification on flight paths and the implications for RAF Northolt. I will also be working with Hillingdon Council to press for credible plans for meeting air quality commitments that, quite rightly, are very demanding.

Michael Sobell Hospice

Many constituents will have supported the Michael Sobell Hospice at Mount Vernon and will know how valued it is. It was alarming to hear that structural problems with the main building have required the inpatients to be moved to the cancer wards. I would be very concerned if we lost a much loved hospice, and I am in contact with the trustees of the charity and the management of East Herts NHS Trust to seek reassurances about a long term plan to retain both the inpatient hospice services and the day centre.

You can read a statement on the hospice from Nick Carver, CEO of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, here.

Templeton Centre

I have also been informed that the Alzheimer’s Society are withdrawing support for the Templeton Centre in Joel Street. I know how important the Day Centre has been, not least for carers, so I am keen to help find a solution. I have written to the Alzheimer’s Society who have explained that not enough people were using the service to justify ongoing donations. However, a local group has come forward who want to try and keep the service going and I will do what I can to support them .

You can read the full response from Jeremy Hughes CBE, the CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society, here.

Marks and Spencer 

Marks and Spencer play a crucial role in helping to keep Ruislip High Street vibrant. They draw in customers who then go on to use other shops and restaurants. So their decision to close came as a terrible shock to other traders and was a surprise given that the store appeared to be hitting its targets. I wrote to the Chairman of M&S but their decision seems final. I will now work with the local chambers and the council to try to attract a good name that will keep people coming to the High Street, as well as press for changes that will make the High Street a bigger draw.

You can read the full response from Sacha Berendji, Operations and Property Director at M&S, here.

Police stations 

You may recall that the Mayor wanted to close all the Police stations in Hillingdon and Harrow, except Hayes and South Harrow. Since then, we have made and won the argument that they should keep Ruislip open and re-consult on Pinner. Hillingdon Council made an offer to the Mayor to buy Uxbridge Police Station in a deal that would have allowed the Police to stay there at a fraction of the current cost. This felt like an offer that could not be refused. However seven months later, we still don’t have an answer, which I find extraordinary. I have written to the Deputy Mayor, Sophie Linden, pressing for a decision on Uxbridge and asking for clarity on plans for Pinner and Northwood which remain uncertain.

You can read the full text of my and Boris Johnson MP’s letter to Sophie Linden, here.

Local crime 

We have seen two stabbings recently in the area, and I know that some constituents are concerned about crime and antisocial behaviour. The truth remains that this is a low crime area. However, the police are stretched as demand on them has risen and become more complex. In recognition of this, I took steps last year as Minister for Police that will see an additional £460m of investment in our police system this year. The Met is getting an additional £50m from an increased precept which is being topped up by the Mayor, and the Commissioner has confirmed that she is recruiting an additional 500 officers, which I am sure constituents will welcome.

Ruislip Lido 

In this amazing weather, our beautiful Lido has been heaving with people. This causes a number of problems for local residents, not least around parking and antisocial behaviour. I met with community representatives and Cllr Philip Corthorne to discuss what action is being taken, including tow away schemes for illegal parking, to ensure that we get the right balance between welcoming visitors while respecting the rights of residents.

Work as a Minister

In recent months my work as Home Office Minister has focused on our Serious Violence Strategy and urgent work to change the rules around accessing medicinal cannabis.

Everyone is determined to end this terrible cycle of violence, not least in London. Our strategy combines robust law enforcement with more work on community-based initiatives to steer young people away from violence. You can find a link here.

On medicinal cannabis, recent high profile cases have made clear to me and the Home Secretary that too many people are suffering needlessly because of rules and processes that have not changed for 40 years and are out of date. We sought advice from the Chief Medical Officer and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs who agreed. So in the autumn we will be changing the rules so that clinicians will be able to prescribe cannabis-based medicines if they believe that is the right thing for their patients.

You can read my recent “Red Box” article on this issue for The Times here and the Government announcement here.

I continue my work as Minister for Grenfell Victims, leading community engagement on sensitive issues such as the long term future of the site.

Out and About 

I do my best to get out and about to visit our schools and local organisations. Thank you to the following for inviting me over the last couple of months:

  • Northwick Park Hospital
  • Hillingdon Hospital
  • Harrow Mencap
  • Vyners School
  • Glebe Primary School – Green for Grenfell
  • The Breakspear School


Eastcote Beavers


Pinner Wood School


Harefield Academy


Hatch End High-school, The Brilliant Club

Thank you also to the staff at Eastcote and Harefield libraries for helping to organise my surgeries. 

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.

February 2018 Update

February 28, 2018

Pinner Village Gardens

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: nick.hurd.mp@parliament.uk 

HS2 
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.

Heathrow 

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.