The work goes on in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.
This bulletin is a regular update on my work as your MP. I hope you find it interesting and would welcome your feedback.
I have argued directly to the new PM that HS2 should be reviewed and I am pleased that is now happening and in quick time. If we need new rail capacity to improve North-South links, then we should invest. However, we owe it to taxpayers to make sure that investment is smart and focused on best value. I have always been sceptical about the marginal business case for the original HS2 proposal and since then costs have escalated alarmingly. It is right to look at it again. In the meantime, I continue to engage with HS2 on a range of issues that affect the community; whether it be their negotiations with the Ryall family in Harefield, or their proposals to close or dig up local roads, which I know infuriates residents.
Since my last bulletin, we have a new PM and a new approach to sorting out the Brexit mess. I consistently supported the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May, as I thought it delivered on the referendum and provided for a smooth and orderly exit. I have to accept that the failure to get it through Parliament means that a new approach is needed. As things stand, the legal position is that we will leave on October 31st. Like the PM, I want to leave on negotiated terms. He is right that the old deal needs to be changed to have any chance of approval by our Parliament. At the heart of it is the need to find an alternative to the so-called backstop arrangements (to avoid a hard border in Ireland), which too many MPs believe will lock us into the EU. The best way of getting that change at this very late stage is to persuade our EU partners that we are very serious about being prepared to leave on terms that they themselves do not want – i.e. so-called “No Deal.” Some people argue that we should ask for another extension or indeed call the whole thing off. I do not agree. I voted Remain but I accept the referendum result and now believe that we have to Leave and focus our energy on making a success of it. I do not want a No Deal exit, but I think we have to be more prepared for it than we were in March. I am part of that planning and I am confident that we will be.
I fully recognise that there is a lot of frustration and concern out there, especially among the many constituents who are opposed to Brexit or are concerned about No Deal. The reaction to the announcement today about the controversial decision to end a historically very long parliamentary session ahead of a new Queen’s Speech is evidence of that. There will be plenty of turbulence as we head to the vote on that Queen’s speech, which will in effect be a confidence vote in the new Government. By then we will have a clearer idea whether we are heading for a Deal or No Deal and I am sure that Parliament will make its views known. I will do my best to keep you updated on what will be a dramatic period.
Law and Order
I am sure many constituents that are concerned by crime will welcome the commitment by the new PM to give the police more resources and powers. As Police Minister, I kicked off a process that will see over 3,500 more officers and staff recruited this year. I was arguing the need to go further and I am delighted that this is now Government policy. I expect the Met to get a significant proportion of the 20k new officers that will be recruited and I will be arguing with colleagues for fair allocation across London, so that we get more consistent and visible local policing across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.
Touching base with the local police team patrolling Ruislip High Street.
All change at Hillingdon Hospital with a new CEO. I met Sarah Tedford and believe that she has a handle on the many challenges faced by the Hospital. I believe that Hillingdon needs a new Hospital. However, that will take time and the existing building is in an unacceptable state. There is more public money going into hospitals which I welcome. So, my priority is to support the new team pressing for additional short-term budgets to upgrade the critical infrastructure.
I was recently at Mount Vernon supporting the scanner centre. Every time I visit, I regret the lack of a joined-up plan for the future of this historic site. I remain concerned that the latest in a long line of NHS reviews of cancer treatment will conclude that Mount Vernon should not carry on as a stand-alone site. We have been here before and mobilised as a community to make the case for keeping the cancer centre. I am watching it closely and will keep you informed.
I continue to support the Pinn Medical Centre appeal, which was submitted on the 19th of July, to maintain the walk-in centre in its current form. I am in contact with the Clinical Commissioning Group and I am awaiting the outcome of this stage of the dialogue between them and the Pinn. I support the Partners and the Patient’s Association in protecting the interests of patients, and I committed to doing so at the Patents’ Association’s AGM. I am prepared to work with the Pinn and the NHS to ensure patients are able to access care and treatment in a way which works best for our community. I will always advocate on behalf my constituents in favour of funding and resources, wherever they are needed.
With Sarah Tedford, the new CEO of Hillingdon Hospital.
My biggest concern remains Northwood and the plans of TfL to redevelop the Town Centre. It’s on a slowish burn but the impact of the application, if successful, will last for a long time. I know that residents are especially angry at the Mayor’s apparent policy of doing away with station car parks, which seems very flawed. I will be taking this up alongside other MPs in affected areas.
Residents have also written to me recently regarding Joel Street Farm, raising concerns over a future change of use. One of my first campaigns as Member of Parliament, in 2005, resulted in the Council rejecting planning proposals to convert the farm into a cemetery. I joined with a great many in the local community in objecting to the application, so as to protect green spaces in the green belt – including this special spot in Northwood Hills. In conjunction with the Residents’ Association, I lobbied the Council and led and supported a large petition which reflected the majority’s wish to protect the character of the area. I stand prepared to support the community again. I will closely follow any discussion surrounding the future of Joel Street Farm, to ensure that the community’s wishes are represented and respected.
On Green Lane and Northwood High Street to discuss TfL development plans.
New Ministerial Role
A new PM means a new Government. I have been asked to serve in Northern Ireland. Given that Brexit is at the centre of politics and the island of Ireland is at the centre of Brexit, this is a great challenge. I am part of a team working to try and restore a devolved Government; help Northern Ireland prepare for Brexit; support the peace process, and help communities move on from the past. I combine this with my pre-existing responsibilities as Minister for London and Grenfell Victims.
Meeting with business leaders in Belfast to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Northern Ireland.
Out and About
This summer I hosted busy coffee morning drop-ins at Maison Du Soleil in Ickenham and BrOOK's in Pinner, and a packed surgery at Manor Farm Library on Bury Street. I have met with many constituents to discuss their concerns and priorities, on both local and national issues.
I was also delighted to attend the 'Pentbury Festival in a Day' at Pentland Field School, to mark the end of a wonderful school year and to celebrate the hard work of all the staff and pupils. Pentland is a superb school for pupils with severe to moderate learning difficulties. I have met with a number of teachers and school leaders to discuss their funding needs of their schools, including with Mr Greig, Headteacher of The Breakspear School. I paid a farewell visit to Laraine Smith, who has done a wonderful job for many years as head of Uxbridge College. She leaves it now in good shape and good hands. I was pleased to be able to say goodbye and to thank her for her efforts. I am very proud that Uxbridge College is at the forefront of delivering new technical qualifications.
I also joined Cllr Devi Radia to speak to businesses and their customers on Ruislip High Street. I met with Daisy Chain, an independent florist, Hair by Giovanni and Action Replay Sports. These are strong local independent businesses, with a loyal following from residents, who shape the unique character of our high street. We discussed changes in the area and the local business environment.
I was pleased to attend the recent fundraising event at The Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, an important and valued part of Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood. I was delighted to support their latest push to acquire the most modern scanning technology available, for the benefit of the community. I was impressed by the work of all the staff who support the Scanner Centre.
Checking in on the independent shopkeepers and local businesses who help shape the unique character of Ruislip High Street, along with dedicated local Cllr Devi Radia.
Glad to be joined by Cllr Ray Puddifoot MBE, Leader of Hillingdon Council at a very successful coffee morning in the constituency hosted for the first time by the excellent Maison du Soleil in Ickenham.Catching up with Cllr David Simmonds - excellent Deputy Leader of Hillingdon, deputy chair of LGA and, of course, Ickenham Ward Councillor.At 'Pentbury Festival' at Pentland Field School. A very special school that has been brilliantly led by Audrey Pantelis.
Saying goodbye and thank you to the brilliant Laraine Smith. She has done a wonderful job for many years as the head of Uxbridge College.
Delighted to support the Paul Strickland Scanner Centre's latest push to add the most modern scanning technology for the benefit of the community.
With residents at the opening of the Paul Strickland Scanner Centre at Mount Vernon.
Best Small Shops Competition
I am supporting the Best Small Shops Competition and I would encourage local businesses in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner to enter before entries close in two weeks’ time. The competition has been launched to promote local independent retailers and to celebrate the hard work of businesses in local communities across the country. Coverage of last year’s competition reached 3.25 million people and over 600 shops entered the competition.
Entries must be a non-corporate business selling goods or services for consumption, rather than resale, and submissions will be judged based on a shop's entrepreneurial activities, their impact within the community, and innovation in their business. If that sounds like your business, please enter here: https://www.indieretail.uk/best-small-shops/. The final of the Best Small Shops Competition is due to be held in Parliament on the 5th of November and I hope to see businesses from Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner represented there.
If you think I can help you, or you simply have a view, please do not hesitate to contact me via my website, by using the contact details in my signature block below. I am in the process of moving constituency office so, if you wish to write to me by post please do so at: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.