23rd September 2023

Sep 23, 2023 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

23rd September 2023

Dear *|FNAME|*,

A year ago this week, Liz Truss brought the British economy tumbling down around us as she announced a series of £70 billion tax giveaways to corporations, high earners, landlords and shareholders. This sent prices and mortgages soaring even higher and forced the Bank of England into a £65 billion pensions bailout. Truss’s premiership may have been short-lived but Rishi Sunak’s actions this week show it’s still the hardline right calling the shots in the Conservative Party.

I thought it would be difficult for the Tories to find someone¬†more incompetent than Liz Truss or¬†more¬†duplicitous than Boris Johnson.¬†Sunak’s¬†bonfire of key climate commitments¬†this week¬†gives¬†his predecessors a¬†run for their money.¬†Many of these promises¬†were¬†expressly¬†set¬†out in the¬†Tories‚Äô¬†2019¬†general election¬†manifesto¬†and are now being junked by a man¬†who couldn‚Äôt even win an internal Tory Party election; let alone a national one.¬†Instead of¬†admitting¬†this head-on, Sunak hid behind claims that he was cancelling non-existent plans to introduce meat taxes and¬†roll out seven bins.

Labour graphic of a small blue monopoly house with the following text above it: 'The price of the Tories' Economic Failure: People in Streatham will pay an extra £5,900 per year on their mortgages.'

The Tories want people to think they are doing something to tackle the cost of living crisis. The reality is the same as ever. It is about helping the Tory Party and key donor interests like landlords, developers, and the fossil fuel industry. The main drivers of the cost of living crisis are fossil fuel inflation and profiteering. Scrapping targets to phase out petrol cars and build more energy efficient homes will do nothing for the average household; it will only keep our economy more beholden to volatile fossil fuel markets and periodic spikes.

Mortgage holders in Streatham have faced average annual increases of ¬£5,900 thanks to Liz Truss’s kamikaze budget last year.¬†UK households paid an extra ¬£2.5¬†billion¬†on energy bills last year because¬†of¬†the Tories‚Äô ideological decision to¬†“cut the green crap”¬†and¬†doubled down on fossil fuels.¬†We¬†don’t¬†need more Tory false economies.¬†We need¬†urgent action¬†that¬†recognises that¬†recognises¬†that alleviating future cost of living crises requires us to tackle the climate emergency.

I’ll keep fighting for a Green New Deal which centres workers’ rights and is premised on the principle that polluters must pay and that the costs of transition must be borne by those with the broadest shoulders. By improving public transport, insulating draughty buildings, and transitioning to renewable energy sources in this way, we can play a meaningful part in tackling climate breakdown whilst delivering real improvements to quality of life for most people. 

Responding to Thames Water Outages

Picture of the entirety of Brixton Hill fenced off for major works just by the junction with Endymion Road.

We were left without water yet again this week after a mains burst on Brixton Hill.  People across the constituency faced further disruption due to the serious flooding and subsequent road closure. The unacceptable lack of communication, realistic time frames and delayed emergency support from Thames Water in the aftermath of this problem was sadly typical. The latest I have heard from Transport for London is that these repairs are likely to run for at least a further week. During this time, there is still likely to be significant disruption on the A205, Tulse Hill, Norwood Road and Kings Avenue.

These repeat leaks are incredibly frustrating given the amount of money we give to Thames Water every year through our bills, the vast debts they have taken on, and the egregious payments have made to shareholders since privatisation. Thames Water reported a £500m profit in the first half of 2022. The year before, the company leaked the equivalent of 245 Olympic sized swimming pools and dumped raw sewage into rivers 5,028 times. In the 30 years since the privatisation of water in England, infrastructure investment has been cut by a fifth. We should take water into public ownership and stop rewarding failure like this.

I would encourage anyone in the area with a medical issue or young children to register for priority services in the likely event that your water supply is interrupted again in future.

Register for Thames Water Priority Services

Justice for Chris Kaba

Picture of a makeshift graffiti tribute to Chris Kaba: with flowers and candles lined up against a wall beneath text that says 'Justice for Chris Kaba'.

The officer who fatally shot Chris Kaba¬†was¬†formally¬†charged with murder by the CPS¬†this week¬†in a historic decision. In England and Wales, over 1,800 people have died in state custody or at the hands of the police since 1990. It is highly unusual for police officers to face charges and still rarer for officers to face convictions. Of¬†just¬†11 cases brought against police officers for custodial deaths, there¬†has been just one successful manslaughter prosecution while no officer has been convicted of homicide. My thoughts¬†and¬†prayers¬†go out to¬†Chris’s loved ones¬†and especially his immediate family,¬†who have had to campaign so hard to ensure this basic accountability.

MSI Clinic – Upholding Reproductive Rights

Bell sits at a table in front of a small audience which includes local councillors, police officers and MSI staff.

On Thursday, I hosted a meeting with local residents, councillors, NHS staff and police to discuss the what we can do to tackle escalating anti-abortion protests outside our local abortion clinic. Staff need to be able to do their jobs and women need to be able to access reproductive healthcare without being harassed.

During my time as an MP, I’ve supported measures from central and local government to introduce safe access zones around abortion clinics. One silver lining of the otherwise dreadful Public Order Act was that MPs voted through provisions to introduce safe access zones around abortion clinics. However, these powers need to be brought through via statutory instrument and it is currently unclear when the Government intends to do this. I will be calling on them to do so again when Parliament returns.

An alternative model for introducing a buffer zone, which I have discussed with local councillors in the past, is the option of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). As of October last year, 5 abortion clinics in England had PSPO enforced around them, including clinics in Bournemouth, Ealing, Twickenham, Manchester and Birmingham. With the Government dragging its feet, I’ll be helping the council to explore the implementation of this alternative option.

Supporting Right to Food Week

Bell sits in front of a Labour sign holding a sign that says 'I support Right to Food Week 2023'.

Right to Food Week is a reminder that too many people struggle to afford the basics, with millions facing food insecurity. Our local Lambeth Foodbank Partnership reported that it has delivered a 15% increase in emergency food parcels compared to last year. I’m so grateful to the local food banks and organisations who have stepped up to support our community since the Tories took power. But the level of precarity that exists in the UK after 13 years of austerity, public service cuts and inequality is simply unacceptable. It is an indictment of government policy. I am proud to support the campaign to enshrine the Right to Food in UK law and work to address the root causes of hunger: poverty and inequality. People shouldn’t have to rely on charity for basic sustenance. 

Lambeth UNISON Black Workers Event

Bell addresses an audience in Lambeth Town Hall in front of a Lambeth UNISON Black Workers banner.

It was a pleasure to join Lambeth Unison Black Workers at their AGM this week.¬†¬†This year has been a watershed moment for our trade unions, with many fighting and winning¬†important strikes.¬†Trade unions are vital vehicles for Black workers to raise awareness around the challenges they face and the change they need to see.¬†The government‚Äôs denial of the existence of institutional racism and its destruction of the right to strike are two sides of the same coin.¬†It’s¬†absolutely vital¬†that we link up the struggles against this, campaigning for a better deal for all workers.

As ever, if you have any questions about the work I’m doing as MP, please get in touch at this address: bell.ribeiroaddy.mp@parliament.uk.

Best wishes,

Bell Ribeiro-Addy,
Labour MP for Streatham

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