Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

Member of Parliament for Streatham (and parts of Balham, Clapham Common, Tulse Hill and Brixton Hill)
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Clapham & Brixton Hill

16th September 2023

Sep 16, 2023 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

16th September 2023

Dear *|FNAME|*,

This week has brought no respite from cost of living pressures. Analysis by the Campaign for Better Transport found that rail fares will rise by 8% if the government uses the same measure of increase as last year. Meanwhile, analysis of SpareRoom data revealed a £207 gap between the average Lambeth rent and the average Lambeth renter’s budget. Thirteen years of the Tories has left people less resilient than ever. It has meant 13 years of soaring rents, rising costs, and declining public services.

I voted against the government’s plans to criminalise possession of nitrous oxide (also known as NOS and laughing gas). Criminalisation is a blunt tool for dealing with what is ultimately an issue with complex social causes and where the main problems are not harm to users; but some of the behaviours associated with use. The UK Government’s own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended that sanctions were disproportionate with the level of harm associated with nitrous oxide. Health professionals rightly point out that it is likely to stop those who are harmed to come forwards and seek treatment. It will also complicate matters for businesses that supply the gas for commercial and other purposes.

We know this change has more to do with electioneering than efficacy for an embattled government and that it will fall on the same minoritised and working class communities that already face the brunt of criminalisation. We don’t need more criminalisation; we need a new approach to drugs policy altogether.

Protecting Young People from County Lines

A packed out room in Parliament watching a panel of five people speak, including Bell.

Thank you to everyone who joined this week’s parliamentary panel discussion of ‘Trapping’, a new film from two-times BAFTA and GRAMMY nominated filmmaker Penny Woolcock. It was great to see a a sneak preview of the film, which stimulateda thought-provoking discussion around gang violence, structural inequality, and drugs policy reform. It’s absolutely vital that we ensure young people are protected from county lines and criminal exploitation.

Children who are in state care or excluded from schools are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by criminal gangs. Gangs know that these children, who have often suffered trauma and been uprooted from stability, will be searching for a sense of belonging. Any solution to county lines has to tackle the issue of school exclusions and protect looked after children.

Royal Fail: Meeting Citizens’ Advice to Discuss Royal Mail’s Shoddy Local Delivery Performance

Royal Mail logo replaced with the words "Royal Fail"

I met with Citizens’ Advice representatives to discuss Royal Mail’s failure to meet its 2022/23 performance target. 12.3 million people in the UK have experienced letter delays in the last month, with Streatham among the 20 worst affected constituencies. The company missed its delivery targets for four out of the last five years.

As the statutory advocate for postal services, Citizens Advice are calling for Ofcom to launch a wider, multi-year investigation into Royal Mail’s performance, a recommendation also advanced by Parliament’s Business and Trade Select Committee. Although Ofcom, the regulator, has announced an investigation into Royal Mail’s performance during the year 2022/23, this is not good enough.

The company’s recent management teams have made a very good case for taking it back into public ownership. I would urge Ofcom to take stronger enforcement action as a regulator and investigate Royal Mail’s performance across multiple years, while also accepting evidence directly from postal workers. It’s also vital that they look into Business and Trade Select Committee allegations that that Royal Mail has systematically deprioritised letters.

Visiting the Horniman Museum

Bell stands in the Horniman main gallery with Museum staff

It was great to visit the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill on Thursday to attend the Ode to the Ancestors exhibition, commemorating and celebrating the African Kenyan archaeologists whose names are absent from archaeological archives. The Horniman is not only returning these priceless artefacts to Nigeria, the country they were looted from in the nineteenth century; but returning ownership of them. If only other museums would take the same approach.

Showing Racism the Red Card

SCG MPs stand with Show Racism the Red Card placards inside Westminster Hall.

It was great to join Show Racism the Red Card in Parliament this week ahead of the 9th annual Wear Red Day. Racism is ignorance. Education is the absence of ignorance. For years now, SRTRC has been working to educate people about racism through football, right down to the grassroots. I’ll be supporting them next month again on the 20th October 2023, when hundreds of thousands of people will wear red to show our opposition to racism and support for education initiatives aimed at tackling it.  

Save Camberwell Dialysis Services

I met with two constituents this week who are long-term NHS haemodialysis patients to discuss their concerns over the proposed relocation of Camberwell Dialysis Services to a privately run practice in Brixton. Members of the Kidney Patients Association outlined how they have been notified that these services will be relocated from March 2024, with the current building they are housed in no longer fit for purpose. From their new Brixton site, they will be outsourced to an international company called Diaverum. Staff are being asked to give up their NHS contracts and transfer to Diaverum, raising the very real possibility of losing a dedicated team of experienced specialist staff.

On the same week NHS waiting lists hit record highs of 7.6 million, I am very concerned about these proposals. I’ve agreed to support my constituents in their campaign to save Camberwell’s Dialysis Services and maintain the provision of the high-quality NHS dialysis care. The money we spend on our NHS must go into the essential health services we all rely on, not into the coffers of multinational healthcare corporations.

Supporting Serco Workers

When Serco took over Lambeth’s Waste Management contract in 2021, there were concerns around the company’s track record running other contracts – in particular, asylum accommodation contracts with the Home Office and Test & Trace. I met once again with local refuse collectors this week, who raised issues they are having around personal protective equipment (PPE) from their employer. I raised these issues with Serco last summer and will be raising them once again. I will also be discussing this in my next meeting with our local Council leader and if things don’t improve for workers, then I will be calling on Lambeth Council to withdraw Serco’s contract.

As ever, if you have any questions about the work I’m doing as MP, please get in touch at this address:

Best wishes,

Bell Ribeiro-Addy,
Labour MP for Streatham

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