I hope you find this monthly update helpful, as you may have seen in January, I am producing a monthly update for residents to let them know more about my work in Parliament and in Reading and Woodley.
It has been a busy and difficult start to the year.
While we have now left the EU, there are many unresolved issues. Constituents have also contacted me about a variety of other issues including Trump’s Middle East peace plan, environmental legislation such as clean air and the Global Ocean Treaty and medical supplies after we leave the EU.
Leaving the EU
Like many people I was saddened when we officially left the EU on January 31st. The UK has now moved into the transition phase and the Government now faces the challenge of negotiating a deal.
Over 7,000 EU citizens in Reading East are facing an administrative nightmare in order to prove they have a right to live here.
I will be writing to all EU citizens in Reading over the next month to assure them of my support and understand more about the difficulties they are having applying to remain in the UK.
My team has been dealing with issues with the settlement scheme, some of whom have been living here most of their lives. Some of them are truly heart-breaking, from the French citizen who has lived here all his life fearing a hostile environment to doctors potentially forced to request permission to stay in the UK despite caring for our neediest.
I want to assure EU citizens and their families that I am on their side and will be working hard over the next few months to ensure that all who want to live here are able to do so. Please contact my office by phone on 0118 206 2966 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are concerned about your right to stay here.
Fire Safety in Flats
I was able to participate in the Grenfell Debate in Parliament earlier this month. I find it simply staggering that two and a half years after Grenfell, the Government is only beginning to address fire safety and cladding removal.
Royal Berks Fire and Rescue identified four blocks with ACM cladding and there are concerns about wooden cladding and other composites.
Speaking directly to the Minister for Housing, I told her that local residents who live in blocks with ACM cladding face significant stress and concern. Many of the people affected are private tenants or leaseholders, who have little recourse to take any substantial action on their own. They are often locked into a situation where the freeholder has the power to remove the material but is struggling to do so. They may need to come together with other leaseholders, and it may be difficult in practical terms to agree a way forward.
I will be writing to all residents who live in flats to ask for their views over the next few weeks and will be working hard to ensure all ACM cladding is removed from buildings in Reading East.
I have been raising the issue of the sale of Reading Gaol with the Government on a number of occasions. In Parliament I asked the Prisons Minister whether she would consider meeting me, local campaigners and representatives before any sale is made.
I support Reading Borough Council’s bid to keep the Gaol in public hands and I am helping to organise a further protest on February 29th, more details of which will be announced soon. In the meantime, please continue to sign my petition against the sale.
Being MP for Reading East and a Junior Transport Minister means that our municipal bus services is a tremendous source of pride. Earlier this month I asked why the Government won’t allow local councils to bring their transport networks back into public ownership.
Supporting National Campaigns
I was delighted to offer my support to some outstanding national campaigns this month.
First, I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment, in doing so pledging my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people today.
I also attended a Parliamentary reception hosted by Macmillan Cancer Support to discuss their Save Our Support initiative, a campaign to ensure that the country has a fully funded and sustainable cancer workforce in order to support the millions of people living with cancer across the UK.
I am keen to assist constituents with their problems and hold surgeries every Friday in different parts of the constituency. If you would like an appointment, you can contact my office by phone on 0118 206 2966 or email email@example.com. My staff handle most queries directly, but they can arrange appointments if you need one.
During the passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill, it became apparent that the Government had reneged on its promise to allow unaccompanied child refugees to join their families in the UK after Brexit. An effort was led by Lord Dubs to correct this, and I was proud to vote in favour of his amendment. However, I’m afraid it was defeated by the Government.
I will be working to ensure that Britain remains an open and welcoming country. Allowing for unaccompanied child refugees stranded in Europe to be able to join relatives here should be a policy we are proud to promote.
On your side in Reading East
MP for Reading East