DevComms director, Maria Allaway, looks at what the region’s MPs have been focusing on in February.
In the sphere of property and planning, over the last few weeks, West London’s MPs have been debating issues such as Levelling Up, investment in sustainable transport and electoral boundary changes.
On the thorny subject of Levelling Up, Ruth Cadbury, Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, stated in Parliament that whilst ‘Hounslow is the second most prosperous UK sub region by gross value added’, up to 40 per cent of Hounslow’s children live in poverty which she attributed to 11 years of Conservative Government policy. She asked Michael Gove at what point does levelling up deal with ‘inequality within communities as well as between them?’.
In response, Michael Gove pressed the importance of working with Hounslow Borough Council, the Mayor of London and those ‘involved in the communities the honourable Member represents, to give them a better chance in the future’.
On the subject of sustainable transport, Ruth Cadbury asked when the Government is likely to publish a second cycling and walking investment strategy. First published in 2017, the strategy outlines the government’s ambition to make cycling and walking a natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of longer journeys by 2040.
Following confirmation from Trudy Harrison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, that a second strategy would be published in the Spring, Ruth Cadbury highlighted concern that the Treasury has only ‘ringfenced’ £2 billion in funding for the strategy. She argued that the Department for Transport had commissioned research a number of years ago pointing to £2 billion being only a quarter of what was required ‘to meet the stated aims of the Government to increase cycling and walking by 2025.’
Staying with the issue of transport, Ruth Cadbury has written to Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, asking for a ‘fair funding deal for Transport for London, with the current funding programme set to end on Friday 18th February’. In her letter, she highlighted the need to support TFL investment, to ensure that local improvements such the ‘long overdue’ Piccadilly Line upgrade can go ahead.
In Chelsea and Fulham, Conservative MP, Greg Hands, highlighted concerns around potential boundary changes which would result in the Chelsea and Fulham constituency split into two new constituencies of Westminster & Chelsea East and Fulham & Chelsea West. He called for residents to make oral representations at the forthcoming hearings.
In Chipping Barnet, Conservative MP, Theresa Villiers, clearly stated her dissatisfaction at the decision by Enfield Council to approve 351 ‘high rise flats’ at Cockfoster’s tube station. She flagged the level of opposition to the plans and the impact on the ‘suburban identity’ of the area. The committee’s resolution was passed with the Chair’s casting vote.
In Harrow East, Conservative MP, Bob Blackman, also raised the issue of Levelling Up and what it means for London. He stated that despite many regeneration projects taking place across London over the last 30 years, the deprived areas are the same ones that were deprived back then. He asked for reassurance that the Levelling Up initiative will not just be a justification ‘to deprive London of money’ but that it will be ‘new investment in the north, midlands and across the UK’.
Michael Gove responded that ‘levelling up is not about dampening down the success of London or overlooking the needs of disadvantaged communities in London.’
In Richmond Park, Liberal Democrat MP, Sarah Olney, expressed her delight at the submission of a planning application for the new leisure centre on the Kingfisher site, stating that it will transform the heart of Kingston and will deliver new leisure and cultural facilities for residents.
Sarah Olney stated that there were over 7,000 responses to three stages of public engagement on the proposals which helped to inform the plans.
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