Welcome to my first update of 2024!
It’s been a busy month in Parliament and Luton South, here’s an overview of what I have been up to this month.
Calling for a Ceasefire in Gaza
It has now been over 3 months since the most recent escalation of hostilities in Israel and Palestine. Throughout this time, we have witnessed tens of thousands of civilians murdered, the blocking of aid and resources to Gaza and the West Bank, and almost 2 million people now displaced.
Sarah Owen MP and I wrote to the Foreign Secretary on the latest situation in Gaza and the Israeli Ambassador’s recent inflammatory remarks. The UK must show international leadership by supporting a ceasefire in Gaza.
You can read our letter here.
Labour’s Plan to Rescue NHS Dentistry
In my latest Luton News article, I wrote about the crisis in NHS Dentistry and Labour’s costed Dentistry Rescue Plan.
Our plan will provide:
• 700,000 more urgent appointments, for patients in need of things like fillings and root canals.
• Incentives for new dentists to work in areas with the greatest need, to tackle the emergence of ‘dental deserts’.
• Supervised toothbrushing in schools for 3–5-year-olds, targeted at the areas with highest childhood tooth decay.
• Reform of the dental contract to rebuild the service in the long run, so NHS dentistry is there for all who need it.
Supporting the Ban on Live Exports
Earlier this month, the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill returned to the House of Commons for its remaining stages.
I know many of my constituents across Luton, Caddington, Slip End and Hyde feel strongly about this issue. Whether they are farmers who care deeply for the living standards of their livestock or consumers who expect to be able to buy ethically reared produce.
Banning live exports for slaughter and fattening is long overdue and I am pleased that this Bill has now passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons. As a nation of animal lovers, we must remain committed to improving animal welfare standards.
Commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day
This Saturday is Holocaust Memorial Day, where we commemorate the lives of those lost in the Holocaust and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. In Parliament, I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, pledging to honour those who were murdered during the Holocaust, paying tribute to those that survived, and committing to fighting against antisemitism and hate today.
Pressing the Secretary of State on Local Government Funding Cuts
The Local Government Association currently say there is likely to be a £4 billion council funding gap over the next 2 years. This week, following a number of the Government’s own MPs writing to the Prime Minister concerned about the financial situation facing councils. I pressed the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on funding for vital local services.
Watch my video here.
BBC Politics East
Last weekend, I appeared on BBC Politics East, where I spoke about potholes and how Conservative’s cuts to Local Authority funding over the past 14 years has had a real impact on our day to day lives.
Watch my full interview with BBC Politics East here.
Joining the Samaritans on Brew Monday
Monday 15 January was ‘Brew Monday’, I joined Samaritans’ excellent volunteers at Luton Station and in Parliament to learn more about their immensely important work.
On ‘Brew Monday’, Samaritans remind everyone to put the kettle on and reach out to friends, family, or work colleagues for a cuppa and a catch-up.
Whatever you are facing, you can call Samaritans any time, for free on 116 123, on Jo@samaritans.org
Visiting Luton Specsavers
I met with Specsavers in Luton to discuss their work on increasing access to care for vulnerable groups. They gave me a tour of their Luton store and showed me the wide range of services they provide locally. It was fascinating to see their workshop in action and learn more about how lenses are cut and installed into frames.
I also met some of their apprentices and heard about the apprenticeships they provide, including in audiology, optometry and customer service.
Putteridge Primary School
Putteridge Primary’s School Council gave me a good grilling with lots of intelligent questions about Parliament, elections, and politics. They also shared with me all the reasons they love their school!
I was delighted to speak to the pupils at assembly about my role as their Member of Parliament. The school had such a warm, welcoming atmosphere and the pupils were all so well behaved.
Celebrating Epiphany in East Hyde
I was delighted to join St Charalambos Greek Orthodox Church, in East Hyde, for their annual Epiphany Celebration.
The celebration included a church service followed by a procession to the nearby River Lea, where Father David Somalis conducted a service of blessing, praying that the River Lea, and all waterways, will be ‘fruitful for the environment, advantageous for all who make their living through them and safe for all who encounter their depths’. I was honoured to have been invited to take part in the blessing.