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. I met and spoke to local residents weekly.
2. Housing Bill – I met every housing association who has properties in the Borough 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 bill, to take into account the regional variations and property values. I worked with the Council, local housing associations and the Government to highlight Kensington’s uniquely complex housing situation. I advocated for an increase in social housing provision and raised particular concerns over the ‘Pay to Stay’ element. I also lobbied for the income threshold to be increased to take account of local housing values. 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 increase regulations and business rates I lobbied the 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 was 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).
5. Royal Brompton – As the Local Authority appointed Governor I have consistently worked with the NHS. I campaigned against proposals to change commissioning processes which would effectively close the Brompton Hospital, with the concomitant effects this would have on other services, such as their world-renowned work on Cystic Fibrosis. The first campaign secured a reprieve for the Hospital, the second is ongoing and I recently attended a march against the proposals. I have also signed a cross-party letter to save the Brompton which secured important concessions from the Department of Health.
6. Carnival – Following several residents meetings I have worked with Carnival organisers, the Police, local resident groups and the Borough to try to improve safety, whilst retaining the unique nature of Carnival. I organised several local meetings and undertook a survey of 1000 local residents and 100 businesses directly affected by Carnival. As a result dialogue started between all involved parties to work towards improvements and more funding, with resident and Carnival input.
For 2017, I am delighted that the Carnival organisers (LNHCET) have said they will respect the Grenfell Tower site when planning the Carnival arrangements.
7. Schools’ Funding Formula – Representatives of the Council and I met with the Minister and his team to warn of the negative effect the reforms would have on schools in Kensington. As a result we secured a commitment from the Government in the 2017 election manifesto to not cut any funding to school 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 this year 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.