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.
February 21, 2018
“I am deeply concerned by the recent muggings in the area, not least as Ruislip is an area of low crime with very little history of these types of unacceptable events. I recognise that it is very upsetting for the young people and families involved, as well as unsettling for residents.
I have spoken directly to the Borough Commander. He has assured me that his officers are attaching a high priority to getting the police response right. That involves an intense effort to identify and hopefully arrest the thieves. It will also involve a step up in local patrols to deter future activity. The Borough Commander has undertaken to keep residents and myself regularly informed of police action, and I understand they are preparing a statement.
I am of course available to speak to any constituents who want to speak to me personally.”
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