As your MP my first priority was always to local residents. I helped thousands of residents during my time in Parliament by raising their concerns with local authorities, the GLA, Ministers and officials. I also lobbied on a huge range of issues to make sure the voice of Kensington was heard in Parliament. Detailed below are some examples:
1. Casework – As an MP my number one priority was helping constituents. I helped thousands of constituents, corresponding directly with over 5000 local residents. Living locally in Kensington I was able to meet fellow residents every day and see for myself our local issues.
2. Housing Legislation – I met every Housing Association who has properties in the Borough so as to go through residents’ specific concerns. Through working closely with local partners and housing associations, I helped secure a number of changes to the regulations of the Housing bill, to take into account the regional variations and property values. I worked with the Council, housing associations and the Government to highlight Kensington’s uniquely complex housing situation. I secured a number of concessions in the final bill, including changes to the ‘Pay to Stay’ element of the legislation. I also lobbied for the income threshold to be increased to take account of local housing values. Together we achieved a number of concessions in the final bill, including changes to the ‘Pay to Stay’ element of the legislation.
3. Local Business Rates – Having conducted a survey of local businesses and the impact of the increased regulations and business rates, I lobbied Ministers on behalf of local businesses to demonstrate the huge impact the increases would have on Kensington, especially when combined with the National Insurance changes. Since campaigning on this issue the proposed changes to National Insurance contributions have been dropped and a £300m relief fund has been announced giving local councils discretion to assist small independent businesses.
4. Disability/Supporting older residents – Supporting disabled and older residents in the constituency is a top priority for me. In response to the Government’s Disability Green Paper, I organised a tri-borough event with local groups and the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure our local views and concerns were fed into the proposed legislation. The DWP agreed to consider the suggestions made at the meeting, and we are hopeful these will make it into the legislation. Locally, I also sit on the panel for Disabled People Question Time (Action Disability for Kensington and Chelsea), the Carers Forum and the Healthwatch committee.
5. Royal Brompton – I was the Local Authority appointed Governor and am now an elected Governor and I have consistently worked with the NHS against the closure of the Royal Brompton. I campaigned against proposals to change commissioning processes which would effectively close the hospital, with the effect this would have on other services, such as their world-renowned work on Cystic Fibrosis. I continue to campaign to keep the Royal Brompton and the services it provides with the Marsden hospital next door and Chelsea and Westminster.
6. Carnival – Following several residents meetings I worked with the Carnival organisers, the Police, local resident groups and the Borough to try to improve safety, whilst retaining the unique nature of the Carnival we enjoy. I organised several local meetings and undertook a survey of 1,000 local residents and 100 businesses directly affected by Carnival. All parties are working towards improvements and more funding with resident and Carnival Organisers input.
7. Schools’ Funding Formula – Representatives of the Council and I met with the Minister and his team on several occasions to warn of the negative effect the reforms would have on schools in Kensington. As a result, we secured a commitment from the Government not to cut any funding to schools including in Kensington.
8. Superfast Broadband – We formed a local lobbying group which met with BT and Council officials to overcome the obstacles for improving local broadband coverage. After several years of stalled progress, superfast coverage in the Borough has increased to 96.2%.
9. Holiday Rentals – I have helped to raise the profile of the problems of properties on Airbnb and their complaints procedure and sort assurances that properties can not be advertised on Airbnb without the landlord’s consent.
10. Pedicabs – Safety is an important issue for me. In Parliament, I campaigned with the MP for Westminster for greater regulations on pedicabs including the need for them to have insurance and be licensed. I asked several written questions to the Minister to publicly highlight this important issue to him.