I am very proud to represent Islington North: our communities, mutual aid groups,community centres, faith groups; our voluntary legal advice organisations, Islington Council, the Whittington Hospital and all NHS, public services and key workers. Many continue to work effortlessly to ensure that we all have access to essential services. The positive bonds of mutual aid and solidarity that have grown throughout 2021 will be built upon to give us an even stronger sense of community in the future.
I will continue to highlight the devastating impact that a decade of government cuts has had on local authorities, public services, and schools, children, families, and the wider community. Many on Universal Credit (UC) are worse off, especially since the Government’s callous and cruel decision to scrap the £20 uplift, and in not applying the uplift to legacy benefits, affecting the disabled, and the most vulnerable.
Schools, teachers and other staff, pupils, and parents have faced enormous challenges. The pandemic brought additional tasks of having to study and/or teach from home, return to school, and with ongoing limited resources. I will recommence regular school visits very soon because I’m always inspired by the students.
Our NHS deserves better than more privatisation, and clapping never was going to pay any bills. To all our health and care workers at the Whittington and elsewhere, my enormous thanks for all that you do.
Islington Council continues to provide new housing, despite its very limited resources – and that’s a tough call. For many years I’ve lobbied the Government on this, especially for more regulation and secure tenancies in the private rented sector, and more and better Council Housing for all.
Cladding is a very high priority for many Islington residents who have this ongoing hardship to cope with. It is wrong that leaseholders are left to pay for building safety works that have arisen through no fault of their own. The situation of freeholders passing on costs to leaseholders,many of whom will challenge these charges, will mean we continue to see works delayed, and all residents, including private renters, will remain at risk. I will continue to raise these concerns at any given opportunity.
Well done to all those who do so much positive campaigning on behalf of women. We have witnessed atrocious acts of violence against women, no doubt exacerbated by the pandemic and lockdowns. Trust in the police has suffered enormously, and more needs to be done by the Government and the police to ensure women’s safety: investing in local services that provide support to the victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence, and ensuring all legislation protects their fundamental right to protest.
We must also honour and remember the 27 people who expected safety in the UK but who lost their lives in that tragic November channel crossing, and at the end of a year of disturbing humanitarian emergencies, Afghanistan being the most memorable and for all the wrong reasons. Many Islington residents contacted me seeking help for their family members who were frightened in the face of a Taliban led future. I stand in solidarity with the global community and everyone who continues to face human rights abuses as a result of war, poverty and hostile immigration policies. A humane government approach and a constructive role is needed so that we can address the underlying causes of international human rights violations.
If you haven’t yet seen the Windrush memorial statue outside the Whittington Hospital do go along. It had a truly memorable unveiling as many of the Windrush generation and their descendants worked in the hospital over the years. I thanked them for their work in the NHS and other services. The racism they faced was abhorrent. Racism faced by anyone is appalling.There is no place now, or ever for any form of racism in our society.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which is the United Nation’s environment body, issued a (June 2021) report declaring a“Code Red for humanity” due to quickly rising global temperatures. We know the severe impact a 1.5 degree global raise in temperature will have on the environment. The future of our planet depends on the choices we make now.
Then, at COP (Conference of the Parties) 26 global leaders were called upon to commit to more ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and prevent a global temperature increase above 1.5 degrees. This didn’t happen because too many world leaders are more interested in representing the interests of fossil-fuel exploiting billionaires, than in people and the planet. So leading up to COP27, while the UK shares the presidency with Egypt,we’ll have a lot of work to do in setting ambitious emission targets. This past year motivated so many more people on the environment and we must harness that enthusiasm.
I fully supported Nadia Whittome’s Private Members Bill to have climate education included in the school curricula.
It is important to remain hopeful here, and the school student climate strikes showed that the next generation cares about putting the interests of people and planet ahead of those of corporate greed; their message must be heard.
Low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) must be seen in the above context and for this reason I support their rollout in Islington North, in consultation with local residents. LTNs meet legislative commitments for citizens to live in a clean and safe city, by decreasing thru traffic on certain roads and thus making our streets friendlier and safer, especially for cyclists,wheelchair users, mobility scooters, and babystrollers.
I am pleased that our council has agreed the installation of an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system, allowing registered blue badge holders to move through restricted areas of traffic. Islington Council and Disability Action in Islington met with me to discuss these issues.
Alongside other MPs, GPs, residents and campaigners, I have publicly expressed my opposition to the ongoing development of the Edmonton Incinerator. I cannot support a project when there are serious health concerns about the ultra-fine particulate emissions on local residents. Burning our waste is also too carbon-intensive at a time when we should be reducing waste and increasing recycling; an urgent pause and review is essential.
Let’s look toward 2022 with optimism, and build on the mutual compassion and respect we share. We must build back better, to create a more equal, prosperous and hopeful future for all.
I am pleased to represent our community, locally and in Westminster. I wish everyone a safe and happy festive season and look forward to meeting up in 2022.