Welcome to my regular newsletter, keeping you updated on my work as Luton South’s Member of Parliament.
The Prime Minister has finally admitted that he attended a party in the Downing Street garden when the whole country was locked down. I believe he has shown a complete disregard not just for his office, but also for the British public who have made sacrifices to abide by the rules. I believe his position is untenable and I have publicly called for his resignation.
New Shadow Minister Role – Cabinet Office
Last week I made my first appearance speaking from the despatch box as a Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office.
I criticised the government’s use of emergency procurement regulations. The government’s VIP contract lane for suppliers of PPE was found to be unlawful. Despite this ruling, the government is still allowing emergency procurement that bypasses open competition and scrutiny. As a result, public money is being wasted
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has now announced that his department will finally investigate how to make developers pay for the remediation of dangerous cladding on flats between 12 metres and 18 metres.
I asked the Secretary of State about mental health support for leaseholders. Fear of debt and living in an unsafe home have inflicted a huge toll on innocent leaseholders. After previously raising this issue at the Bill’s committee stages, I’m pleased it will now be considered by the government.
Cut VAT on Energy Bills
In Parliament, Labour put forward a motion to cut VAT on energy bills. Soaring energy costs will hit households in Luton South hard, with ordinary people paying the price for a decade of failed energy policies.
I voted for the motion that would introduce a windfall tax to fund the cut to VAT on energy bills, helping offset the expected energy price rise in April – saving most households around £200 or more.
I was not called to speak in the debate, but you can read my speech here.
A railway fit for the 21st century
My latest Luton News article addresses the state of our railway and the 3.8% fare rise coming in March.
Broken promises and years of inaction have shown that the government cannot be trusted to deliver the wide-scale reform needed. I am committed to bringing our railway back into public ownership, investing in rail and infrastructure – including in Luton Station – making it fit for the 21st century, delivering value for money, and supporting our journey to a net-zero transport system.
Visit to Samaritans
Last Friday, I visited the Luton, South Beds and Harpenden branch of the Samaritans to hear from volunteers about the great work they do. I met with the current branch director Larry and Julie who has been volunteering with the Samaritans for over 30 years.
During the visit, I heard about the great work the volunteer-run branch does year-round to support our communities. We discussed Samaritans’ “Brew Monday” campaign that encourages people to have a cuppa with someone they care about to see how they are doing.
Learn more about ‘Brew Monday’ here. If you or a friend need someone to talk to in confidence, Samaritans are available at anytime on 116 123.
Epiphany Service in East Hyde
It was lovely to join the Greek Orthodox Community of St. Charalambos in East Hyde at their Epiphany service in the first week of January. The Epiphany service was followed by a procession to the nearby River Lea, where Father David blessed the river and waterways. You can learn more about the Epiphany in the Greek Orthodox tradition here.