Bell Ribeiro-Addy

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour Candidate for Clapham & Brixton Hill
From Clapham & Brixton Hill, For Clapham & Brixton Hill

Please note: Parliament has now been dissolved until after the General Election, meaning I am no longer an MP.

Bell’s Regular Newsletter – 17th June

Jun 17, 2023 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

17th June 2023

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Next week will see the UK celebrating the 75th anniversary of the first Windrush migrants arriving in the UK aboard the HMT Empire Windrush. It was great to be present at several events kicking off a range of local celebrations befitting this important date in British history.

Bell with fellow MPs Helen Hayes and Florence Eshalomi, Lambeth Mayor Sarbaz Barznji, Levi Roots, and Dawn Hill CBE.

On Thursday morning, I was invited to the Black Cultural Archives by Royal Mail for the official launch of eight commemorative Windrush-themed stamps. It was great to meet with the artists who created these stamps to discuss how they produced their designs.

Bell speaks at a podium in front of the Black Cultural Archives in Windrush Square.

On Thursday evening, I was delighted to attend the official launch of the Windrush Voices Festival, curated by human rights lawyer Jacqui McKenzie. She has put together an incredible selection of conversations, panels, theatre, spoken word, workshops, and celebrations, to mark the occasion. You can find full details on the programme and on how to book at the website.

Bell with Diane Abbott MP and Jacqui McKenzie next to a Voice of Windrush Festival banner.

On Friday evening, I joined historian Kwaku and Councillor Sonia Winifred for a discussion of what happened to the first Empire Windrush passengers housed in the Clapham South Deep Shelter in June 1948.

Brixton Hill Studios Update

Bell speaks to the Brixton Hill Studios team in a rehearsal space with Councillor Olga Fitzroy.

I was back at Brixton Hill Studios on Thursday to discuss our next steps in the campaign to save the studio, which is currently facing an 133% rent hike from its landlord, Leadon Property Group. Last week, I wrote to Lexadon urging them to rethink the rent rise, or, failing that, to extend the lease and give them time to find new premises. After a decade of giving so much to our local music community, this is the least they deserve. We should be really proud of the creative scene in our constituency and do all we can to protect it.

Supporting Striking Cleaners

St Leonard's Councillor Martin Abrams with striking cleaners from SCHS outside the Department for Education

Outsourced cleaning staff at Streatham and Clapham High School were striking on Tuesday and Thursday to ask for a fair pay rise and the same sick pay and annual leave entitlements as other school employees. Local newspaper South London Press has reported that some cleaners are struggling to afford the basics on their current salaries.  Ahead of the strikes, I wrote to the school urging them to negotiate and meet what are entirely modest and reasonable demands. When the GDST Trust that owns the school turned a ÂŁ27 million profit last year, there’s no excuse for them to be outsource their cleaners to the lowest bidder.

School Visits

Bell and Sadiq talk to kids about the mentoring programme as Lib Peck and Cllr Ben Kind look on.

It was great to start the week with a school visit to meet City Heights Academy pupils alongside The Mayor of London. I got to see how they benefit from High Trees Community Development Trust’s mentoring scheme, which has been funded by City Hall. It’s vital that every child has this kind of support to help them navigate the challenges of growing up in our area.

Bell with teachers and pupils in the reception of Elm Court Primary.

On Friday, I visited Elm Court School to see their social enterprise project in action. They’re making flower pots from plastic bottles, taking a problem (plastic waste) and solving it by turning it into a product to sell. I put an order in for my new constituency office – in red of course! Great to see them thinking about how to tackle social issues and developing skills for life and work.

Panel: Colonial Legacies in our Public Realm

Bell speaks on a panel in a gallery to an assembled audience on green chairs.

On Tuesday, I was invited to participate in panel discussion at Brixton Tate Library exploring the legacies of colonialism in our public realm. It’s important to discuss who we honour in our public spaces: the people who were at the forefront of horrors like slavery and European colonialism, or those who fought to overcome them. We can’t change what happened in the past. We can reimagine our future. I hope we will also see other concrete social changes as a consequence of the discussion about reshaping our public spaces. I also hope national government will follow the example of local counterparts like Lambeth Council by acknowledging the horror of slavery and colonialism as part of efforts to tackle inequality and racism in the present.

International Domestic Workers’ Day: Fighting Exploitation

Bell with the Kalayaan Team and domestic workers fighting for dignity at work.

Behind closed doors in some of Britain’s wealthiest homes, domestic workers are trapped in some of the most abusive and exploitative conditions anywhere in the UK. Ahead of International Domestic Workers’ Day, it was great to host Kalayaan in Parliament this week, a charity which has provided advocacy and support services to these workers for over 35 years. We’ll keep fighting to amplify the workers calling out the abuse and exploitation they face and for the restoration of the rights they enjoyed under the last Labour Government.  

Meeting Colombian human rights defender

Bell in the Portcullis House Lobby with Colombian human rights defender, Darnelly RodrĂ­guez.

On Monday, I met with Darnelly Rodríguez, a Colombian human rights defender who works with political prisoners and documents violence against activists in the country. I heard about some of the work going on to build a fairer, more peaceful Colombia, and about the threats those involved in this have been receiving from armed groups. Colombia is still one of the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist or an activist. This week’s peace agreement is a step forwards but there is more work to be done to ensure that right-wing paramilitaries aren’t left free to intimidate social activists.

Black Child Clean Air Conference

Bell speaks on a panel at the Black Child Clean Air conference alongside Wendy Olayiwola (National Maternity Lead, Equality), Kelechi Okafor (Cultural commentator), Dr Karen Joash (obstetrician & gynecologist), Christina Calderato (TFL Transport Strategy & Policy Director) and Afua Hagan (Journalist & broadcaster).

On Clean Air Day, I joined Global Black Maternal Health (GBMH) for the first annual Black Child’s Clean Air Conference. We know that Black people are more likely to live in areas with higher concentrations of air pollution. Our own borough of Lambeth has one of the largest Black populations anywhere in London and was also home to one of our city’s most polluted roads. It was great to hear about GBMH’s extensive report into the impact this is having on pregnant Black mothers and their babies. As well as taking the necessary action at scale to tackle outdoor air pollution, it was also good to discuss the need to increase awareness around the risks of indoor air pollution like damp and mould, household chemicals, and smoke exposure. Like the climate emergency at large, these things require a joined-up approach from across government departments.

We Are Not Robots: Meeting the Workers Taking on Amazon

Bell signs an MPs' pledge: 'I back GMB's fight for union rights at Amazon'.

Hundreds of Amazon workers walked out of a Coventry fulfilment centre earlier this year, in the first official Amazon strike in UK history. As they voted this week to continue their strike action for another six months, the company is throwing everything at them to try and stop them from unionising and winning the rights and pay they deserve. I was proud to show solidarity with them at this week’s GMB drop-in organised by my colleague Taiwo Owatemi MP. Amazon has been making huge profits by squeezing its workers and shirking its tax obligations for too long.

Grenfell: Six Years On

Bell and other Labour MPs participate in a minute's silence for Grenfell.

This week marked anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which led to the deaths of 72 people. Six years on, nobody has been held personally accountable, still less criminally liable for the negligence that led to these deaths. Meanwhile, across the country, people are still living in buildings that have fire safety defects or dangerous cladding, and don’t have decent sprinkler systems or fire. The Government needs to implement the full findings of the Grenfell Inquiry: personal emergency evacuation plans for disabled residents. More broadly, we need action to boost fire safety standards, end overcrowding in housing, reverse the disastrous cuts to the Fire Service, install sprinkler and fire safety systems and prosecute the companies and individuals behind this tragedy.

A New Low in the Tory Attack on our Democratic Rights

This week, the Government rammed through draconian anti-protest laws that were voted down by Parliament just weeks ago. The passage of the Public Order regulations via secondary legislation is the first time a government has reintroduced changes to the law previously rejected in primary legislation. Unlike primary legislation, secondary legislation cannot be amended, nor is it subjected to the line-by-line scrutiny or legislative back and forth between MPs and peers. Worse still is the substance of the law changes, which gives Police “near total discretion” over which protests to ban, according to one legal expert. The government shouldn’t be able to bypass elected MPs like this. Equally, it shouldn’t be up to senior police officers and government ministers to dictate whether people can exercise their democratic rights.

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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