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

Bell’s Regular Newsletter – 3rd December 2022

Dec 3, 2022 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

3rd December 2022

Dear *|FNAME|*,

A recent OECD report found that the UK faces the worst downturn of any major economy and a recession which most of the world will avoid. The Tories like to pretend the economic problems wer are facing are entirely global. In reality, the UK’s staggering economic decline is inseparable from Brexit, the last 12 years of Tory economic mismanagement and the last 12 weeks of Tory economic chaos.

I had a chance to hold the Tories to account over the Autumn Statement last week, pointing out failures to level up and support the poorest in our society in particular. I focused on real cuts to benefits and the minimum wage, soaring housing costs for renters and mortgage holders and the elephant in the room: Brexit.

Autumn Statement 2022: Real Income Cuts, Soaring Housing Costs & Brexit (22nd Nov 2022)

Brexit has been a complete and utter disaster but this Statement didn’t contain a single mention of its disastrous impact. Whilst this Government continues to ignore the elephant in the room, we’re all paying the price: spiralling inflation, travel chaos, labour shortages, crops rotting in the fields, plummeting exports, a loss of work and opportunities due to visa restrictions, rising food prices, and the sharpest fall in living standards on record.

Renters are seeing some of the steepest increases on record thanks to the Tories’ refusal to give our London mayor the power to cap rents and their delay in scrapping no fault evictions. Homeowners have seen their mortgage interest payments shoot up because of the economic damage wrought by the last Tory Government’s unfunded tax giveaways to the super rich. Whether you own or rent your home, the vast majority are worse off as a result of their policies.

Labour Graphic which reads, Pay More, Get Less: Inflation at a 41 year high. The lowest predicted growth in the G7. The highest taxes for over 70 years. An economy heading into recession. And thanks to Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak, yet more austerity. Only Labour will deliver a fresh start for Britain.

45 Bus Route Saved

Bell standing in Parliament Square with Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Lambeth Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Clean Air, Rezina Chowdhury. Rezina stands with placard listing the bus services protected from cuts by Sadiq.

I’m pleased to report that our campaign to save the 45 bus has been successful! This will come as a massive relief to everyone who relies on the service. Losing this route to Tory cuts would have made it harder for our community to access affordable, sustainable transport. Thank you to everyone who campaigned for this alongside me to protect local bus routes and prevent these cuts.

At a time when we should be encouraging more people onto public transport. The Tories’ refusal to agree a fair funding deal for TfL after Covid decimated its finances, leaving our city facing the loss of 4 per cent of our bus network. Contrast this settlement with the no-strings bailouts dished out to failing privatised rail franchises. Talk about rewarding failure.

End Unfair Tax Breaks and Loopholes

This week, Labour pushed the Government over two unfair tax breaks and loopholes that benefit a wealthy elite. We voted to close glaring loopholes in the Tories’ Windfall Tax, which currently lets oil and gas giants off the hook for as much as ÂŁ17 billion. These companies’ rising profits are our rising energy prices. It’s wrong that the Government is leaving the burden on struggling households whilst fossil fuel companies are raking in staggering profits and getting great tax benefits.

We also pushed the Government to end charitable status for private schools, which would raise £1.7 billion every year to be pumped back into the state sector. Private schools aren’t charities. The funding gap between kids in state and private schools has doubled since 2010. Rishi Sunak’s impassioned defence of these unjustified tax breaks at PMQs whilst he attacked key workers for calling strikes show how out of touch the Tories are. They would sooner see state schools with overworked teachers, hungry pupils and crumbling buildings than end subsidies for private schools.

Attending the Funeral of Chris Kaba

A picture of candles lit around a floral tribute at the site of the fatal police shooting of Chris Kaba.

I attended Chris Kaba’s funeral last weekend. On Monday the 5th September, the vehicle Chris was driving was brought to a forced stop by police on Kirkstall Gardens, a quiet residential road in the heart of our constituency, where he was shot in the head through the front windscreen. He was not a suspect and was followed in a police car without lights or sirens. The car he was driving, which led them to follow him, was not registered in his name.

Chris was studying to be an architect and looking forwards to becoming a father and getting married. It’s absolutely vital that the state learns lessons from Chris’s killing and starts to put them into practice. As Chris’s cousin Jefferson put it, his family’s struggle for justice is “not just for Chris, it’s for all the other brothers and cousins and uncles”. We continue to push for answers and accountability for what happened on that night.

Fighting for the Future of Higher Education

It was great to speak in support of one of the largest strikes in higher education history at this Wednesday’s packed-out University and Colleges Union rally. Maximum solidarity with university and college staff, who are not just fighting for pay, pensions, job security, but for the future of their sector. Theirs is a story that has become all too familiar in some of the most important jobs in our society.

The last two weeks have also seen nurses and ambulance workers add their voices to the ranks of workers taking strike action. Since 2010, paramedics’ real pay is down £5,600 whilst nurse pay is down by £4,300. These strikes are about low pay but they are also about its consequences: falling standards of patient safety, which is compromised by staffing shortages and under-resourcing. NHS workers have my full support and solidarity.

Hearing Evidence of Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

Picture of Olena Zelenska addressing MPs in a parliamentary committee room, flanked by the Union Jack and the Flag of Ukraine.

I was at Olena Zelenska’s parliamentary address on Tuesday afternoon. The Ukrainian First Lady reported on damning evidence of Russian troops using sexual violence as a weapon of war and the perpetration of other war crimes in areas recaptured from Russian control. These are war crimes and must be treated as such.

Pushing for Safe Routes for People Seeking Sanctuary

Bell at a protest calling for safe routes. She holds a Stand up to Racism placard which reads: 'Migrants & refugees welcome here. Blame austerity, not migrants.'

On the 24th November last year, 31 people slowly froze to death in the Channel whilst British and French authorities argued over whose responsibility it was to save them. Last week, I joined their loved ones in writing to Rishi Sunak to call for the solutions to stop people being forced to make these dangerous journeys.

At a Select Committee appearance last week, the Home Secretary was asked how a teenage orphan from a warzone could seek asylum alongside family members living in the UK. She was unable to answer this question, because the Government has closed off safe routes for children in most of the world.

As well as safe routes and answers over the deaths of those who lost their lives last year, we need an end to poisonous rhetoric describing people as “illegal” or “invasions”, a timeline for publishing the inquiry into these deaths and quicker processing times for asylum applications.

Protecting the Right to Protest

Bell attends a protest in the aftermath of Chris Kaba's death, speaking up on instutional racism in policing.

I wrote for the Daily Mirror last week, setting out my concerns about the Public Order Bill. The Government is rolling back our civil liberties, without any care for the further the damage it will do to already marginalised voices in our society. Instead of trying to shut down important discussions, they should be safeguarding everyone’s right to stand up for what they believe in.

Read my Daily Mirror piece

Visiting Asylum Accommodation (or trying to)

Urgent Question on Asylum Hotels in Streatham (7th November 2022)

Last week, I visited local asylum accommodation to support the local families currently resident there but was asked to leave shortly after my arrival. It is worrying that Home Office contractors continue to try and stop MPs scrutinising conditions and talking to constituents. This is becoming a bit of a theme. The same thing happened when I attempted to visit the other asylum accommodation in our constituency last year to check-in with families and help them access healthcare and education.

As the Government fails to address the backlog of asylum claims, people are being warehoused in increasingly dangerous conditions (as we saw at Manston) or stuck in hotels and hostels with very little regard for their health, dietary, cultural & personal needs. Meanwhile, the outsourcing companies responsible for these sites are making a mint. Whilst people live off ÂŁ1 a day in miserable conditions and are denied refugee status by delays in the asylum system, directors of Clearsprings, the company responsible for asylum accommodation, were treated to eye watering dividends of almost ÂŁ28 million last year.

We need to replace this inhumane profiteering with a system which enables people to rebuild their lives in safety. That means safe routes, faster claims processing, closing down death traps like Manston and Napier, and allowing people to work whilst claims are processed.

Justice for Bhopal

Bell at a parliamentary drop-in holding a sign that says: 'In Bhopal for nearly 40 years some of the world’s poorest people have been fighting one of the world’s richest corporations for justice. We must support them #Justice4Bhopal'

38 years ago this week, the world’s worst ever industrial accident took place in Bhopal, India, after a pesticide plant leaked highly toxic gas into the surrounding area. The Union Carbide disaster left tens of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands chronically ill and has poisoned the area for generations. This week, I joined my colleague Navendu Mishra MP to raise awareness of this tragedy and echo the voices of some of the poorest people in the world in their fight against one of the richest corporations.

World AIDS Day

Picture of Bell holding a World Aids Day placard, which reads: 'Let's make U=U a reality for everyone'.

We have the tools to end UK HIV transmission in the next decade. What we need to achieve this goal is a laser focus on addressing unequal access and getting them to everyone who needs them. In a local context, one of our priorities has to be increasing awareness and access around PrEP. Local services need proper funding so they can engage with communities at risk of HIV and roll out routine HIV testing. And all schools need resources to deliver quality relationships and sex education that includes up-to-date information about HIV. I’m proud to represent a party that champions these things.

Orchards Visit

On Tuesday, I visited the head office of Orchards in Streatham Hill to find out more about their safe housing programmes for women who have experienced sexual exploitation. Established in 2019, they provide supported move-on housing to help women achieve a sustained exit through a holistic support plan that involves trauma counselling.

The lack of affordable housing is one of major reasons that women enter into sex work. It is also one of the biggest barriers to leaving sex work. Many women face the unenviable choice between selling sex to pay rent and falling into debt, a situation which is only getting worse with the rent crisis currently unfolding before our eyes. Orchards are currently receiving an uptick in enquiries and having to turn women away due to funding shortages.

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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