Bell’s Regular Newsletter – 24th June

Jun 24, 2023 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

24th June 2023

Dear *|FNAME|*,

This week saw the long-awaited publication of the Privileges Committee Report into Boris Johnson’s statements to the House of Commons regarding Partygate. Of course, we didn’t need another report to tell us that serial liar Johnson knowingly broke the stringent Covid rules he imposed on the rest of us and knowingly lied about it. However, it was important to hold him to account for lying to Parliament and the public that voted us in.

Privileges Committee Report: Tories are Complicit in Johnson's Constant Lies (19th June 2023)

I voted to accept the report’s findings. Whilst 118 Tory MPs also joined me, the vast majority abstained, and seven rebels even went so far as to reject the findings in a last stand for their beloved former boss. Rishi Sunak, who abstained, claimed that he “didn’t want to influence” proceedings. This excuse is about as plausible as his predecessor’s claims that he didn’t know there were parties going on in his own home. As I said during the debate, the entire party has been complicit in this scandal from start to finish, going along with Boris Johnson’s lies until it became apparent just how unpopular a figure he had become.

Windrush 75

Bell stands next to an image of the Empire Windrush arriving in Britain 75 years ago. Bunting with Caribbean flags is wrapped around it.

This week, we celebrated 75 years of the Windrush generation’s contribution to Britain. It was a bittersweet commemoration as we reflected on all that the Windrush generation have given to this country and all that has been taken from them.

Bell, Helen Hayes MP and Florence Eshalomi MP walk with flowers to place on the African and Caribbean War Memorial in Windrush Square.

Lambeth claims a special place in Windrush history, as one of the first places that people arriving from the Caribbean into the UK settled. Many on the crossing which docked 75 years ago today first slept in the bomb shelter beneath Clapham South station. More still on subsequent crossings eventually settled in and around Brixton, which was the site of the nearest labour exchange. We are proud to be the place that so many Windrush pioneers arriving in Britain first called home, and proud too of all they have contributed to the culture and ongoing successes of our area.

Read my South London Press Column celebrating Windrush 75
Bell with Cllrs Jacqui Dyer, Donatus Anyanwu, and a group of people wearing vintage 1940s and 1950s apparel.

It was an honour to be involved in celebrations across the borough this week to mark Windrush Day and see so many people proudly celebrating the Windrush history and culture that has made Lambeth the area we love to live in today. On Tuesday, I was honoured to lay a wreath at the African and Caribbean War Memorial in tribute to the often forgotten Commonwealth servicemen who served and died during both World Wars. On Windrush Day itself,  I joined Corpus Christi Primary School for an assembly and display of drumming, joined Stockwell Good Neighbours and Tony’s Happy Drums for their Windrush celebrations, joined a vibrant and joyful Windrush Procession, and joined the hundreds who gathered in Windrush Square to watch a display of music and dance in appreciation of Lambeth’s rich Windrush heritage. Thank you to everyone in our community for coming together and putting on a celebration worthy of this momentous date!

Read my Write-up of Windrush Day 2023

Stop and Search

Community Safety: Let's Focus on Solutions that Actually Work (19th June 2023)

This week, the Home Secretary was once again setting out her stall for the inevitable Tory leadership election. I was present in the House for a statement on her decision to ramp up the use of stop and search. As an MP in a borough with one of the highest stop and search rates in London and the lowest police confidence levels in London, I have long called for a review of these powers. I believe that judicious, evidence-based stop and search can play a role in keeping us safe. But suspicionless stop and search powers are clearly counter-productive. There is very little concrete evidence to suggest they do much to keep us safe but plenty to show how disproportionately they are deployed.

As I pointed out in my intervention, this decision will do nothing to repair strained relations between people and the police. If the Government was focused on keeping all our young people safe, they would be looking to reverse cuts to education and youth services, tackle the issue of school exclusions, expand mental healthcare provision and address the deprivation and inequality that drives people to commit crimes.

Supporting Striking Cleaners at
Streatham & Clapham High School

Bell stands on the picket line surrounded by striking cleaners holding placards and several large banners.

On Tuesday, I joined a rainy picket line with cleaners from Streatham and Clapham High School during their third day of strike action. These outsourced workers are asking for a fair pay rise and proper sick pay and annual leave entitlements from the contractor that employs them. I’ve written to the school asking them to facilitate this. As part of a network of schools that continues to turn a healthy profit, there is no excuse not to negotiate with the cleaners and try to meet their demands. If the contractor refuses to meet them, then the school should bring these workers back in house.

Lambeth Council Pride Reception

Bell, Florence Eshalomi MP and Helen Hayes MP hold Pride tote bags, standing in the lobby of Lambeth Town Hall

It was wonderful to be at Lambeth Council’s first ever Pride reception on Wednesday night with my fellow Lambeth MPs Florence Eshalomi and Helen Hayes. It was great to pay tribute to some of the local activists who fought and continue to fight to overcome prejudice. Thank you to Clapham Town Councillor David Robson for organising an amazing celebration of our thriving LGBTQ+ community.

SportInspired: Improving Young People’s Wellbeing

Bell and Florence Eshalomi MP talk to the head of SportInspired inside the sports hall at Brixton Rec.

On Thursday morning, I also managed to squeeze in a visit to Brixton Recreation Centre at the invitation of SportInspired, alongside my fellow Lambeth MP Florence Eshalomi. It was great to observe the work SportInspired does to bring young people together in our area through sport, putting them on a pathway to a better future. Giving children these opportunities early in life has so many positive implications for their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Save Brixton Hill Studios

Bell in Brixton Hill Studios with two men. She holds a Brixton Hill Studios branded mug.

I continue to push Brixton Hill Studios’ landlord, Lexadon Property Group, over their disgraceful 133% rent rise, which is jeopardising the future of this cherished community asset. In response to my earlier letter, I was disappointed to receive a response from the CEO which completely failed to acknowledge the importance of this site to the local community. I am concerned that this does not seem to factor into the business plans of a landlord which owns huge swathes of commercial property in our area. I wrote to Lexadon once again, urging them to extend the lease and save Brixton Hill Studios. I’m very pleased to see the campaign picking up traction in the press and among local councillors.

Important Votes

Bell holds a sign saying Defend the Right to Strike

On Wednesday afternoon, the EU Retained Law Bill was back before MPs for consideration of Lords amendments. I voted in favour of amendments that would have made it harder for the Government to tear up baseline environmental protections and enhanced parliamentary scrutiny over scrapping other laws. Sadly, the Tories voted them down. The Right’s vision of post-Brexit Britain was never really about parliamentary sovereignty or pursuing higher standards.

Wednesday afternoon also saw the return of the Anti-Strikes Bill for consideration of Lords amendments. I voted in favour of several amendments that would have stopped nurses, teachers and other public service workers from facing the sack and stopped their trade unions from facing sanctions when these workers call strikes. As I’ve maintained throughout this Bill’s passage, it’s not an attempt to ensure minimum service levels, it’s about stopping workers from using the best tool they have to demand them.

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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