Green Party mailing
Many of you will have heard that there have been further cases of
coronavirus in the city. I'm doing everything I can to put pressure on the
authorities to be more open about the information they give to people.
Public Health England is following up all those who may have been in
contact with the confirmed cases, and the local NHS has given very clear
advice on how to minimise the very small risk of catching the virus - you
can find it here . You can find my statements on the outbreak on my
website here.  I know that people in Brighton and Hove will look out for
each other, as you always do.
I was delighted to attend the launch of Nature2020 at Brighton Marina, the
start of a year-long community led celebration of biodiversity. The aim of
Nature2020 is to encourage local communities and organisations to protect
their local environment. We are lucky that we have a UNESCO World Biosphere
region - the Brighton and Lewes Downs - one of only seven in the UK. There
are lots of events planned over the year, which I hope many of you will be
able to support, and Brighton Festival is backing Nature2020 by giving the
children's parade the theme Nature's Marvels. As the launch was on January
31st, the day we left the European Union, I was glad to have something to
cheer me up.
I was pleased to speak during the Second Reading of the Agriculture Bill
last week, as MPs debated how rules governing food and farming will change
post-Brexit. While I very much support the concept of public money for
public goods, I'm concerned that the Minister was unable to confirm that
the higher standards our farmers are expected to meet won't be undercut by
unfair competition from imports which don't meet those standards. You can
read my speech here  - I spoke just after 8pm.
WESTMINSTER HALL DEBATES
I also spoke at two important Westminster Hall debates. During the first,
on climate justice, I talked about how the climate emergency is a huge
international injustice as those who did the least to cause it are the ones
who stand to lose the most. As the host of this year's UN climate summit,
we have an incredible opportunity to reach out internationally in true
climate leadership. So it is deeply worrying that preparations for this
summit, known as COP26, seem to be way off track. I wrote about my concerns
in the Independent here .
The second debate, which I opened, was about the discrimination against
homeless young people who are paid a much lower rate of housing benefit
than those over 25. There are so many iniquities in our benefits system but
this is one of the worst. Homeless people aged under 25 who have spent time
in hostels can't afford to move into alternative because the benefit they
can claim in Brighton and Hove would not cover the cost of a room in a
shared house - it barely covers the cost of a garage or parking space. So
they end up trapped in hostels, or sleeping on the streets. Young people
leaving care, who are especially vulnerable, can initially claim the higher
rate but then lose it on their 22nd birthday - a loss of £330 a month in
Brighton and Hove. I was glad to see both the Daily Mirror  and The Sun
 - not newspapers who normally cover Westminster Hall debates - report
on my speech and treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves.
TRAIN SERVICES BETWEEN BRIGHTON AND LONDON VICTORIA
Train passengers travelling to and from London already face over-crowded
trains and high fares. Now they will be losing direct off-peak Southern
services altogether during the upgrade work at Gatwick, which will mean no
direct service to Clapham Junction during off-peak hours and having to take
the Gatwick Express to Victoria - which costs more than the usual off-peak
fare. This is completely unacceptable.
I have met the CEO of Govia Thameslink, urging him to introduce a stop at
Clapham Junction for the Gatwick Express (apparently this isn't possible
for complex timetabling reasons), and for off-peak fares to be reduced to
the same level as that available on Southern. He was sympathetic to the
issue. Ticket pricing is a decision for ministers, however, not GTR, so I
have asked a series of parliamentary questions  to try to highlight this
and to put pressure on the real decision-makers.
END OUR PAIN
I heard some very powerful stories from families trying to access medicinal
cannabis for their sick children when I attended a drop-in session at
Westminster organised by the campaign group End Our Pain. One family have
sold their house and are spending £2,000 a month buying medical cannabis
for their daughter who has severe epilepsy. The stories I heard showed how
life-transforming medicinal cannabis can be, yet although it's been legal
for it to be prescribed on the NHS for more than a year, these families are
unable to obtain it. I signed a letter to the health minister urging him to
get these prescriptions flowing as soon as possible.
I am pleased to be a top sponsor of an Early Day Motion , calling for a
ban on the use of whips in horse facing. There is nothing sporting about
animal cruelty and it's encouraging to hear that there's such strong public
support for a ban. The next few weeks are a particularly critical time for
this issue, since the BHA's Horse Welfare Board will shortly be publishing
its welfare strategy.
SAVING OUR LOCAL PUBS
Even though there have been changes in taxation and planning law recently
to help pubs, we are still losing as many as 18 a week. The loss of a local
pub can be devastating for the community, so with the Budget fast
approaching, I signed an Early Day Motion calling on the Chancellor to take
further steps to support pubs by reducing their tax burden. I've also
written to the Chancellor asking him to cut beer duty. You can find the
letter on my website .
EXTRA TIME PROJECT
I was pleased to visit a pioneering new education initiative, The Extra
Time Project, launch by the Russell Martin Foundation and backed by the
Council and 8 local secondary schools. It's aimed at KS3 pupils and offers
a term of intensive support for pupils finding themselves falling into
negative routines in their daily school lives. Although the Project has
been running for only one term, early results have been very encouraging.
It was particularly inspiring to talk to some of the young people and with
apprentices working with them, and to hear about the difference the Project
BRIGHTON BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
I met with Gavin Stewart, Director of the BID, to discuss challenges facing
the city, in particular the rising number of empty shops. Although we're
still faring better than many other areas, I'm worried that so many parts
of the city, like Duke St, are losing vital small businesses. The Council
has agreed to pilot a scheme to help with "meanwhile use", but what's
really needed is a much wider review of business rates and greater
engagement with landlords over spiralling rents. I'll continue to push for
this in parliament.
It's always a pleasure to visit the Foyer - Sanctuary supported living in
Brighton, which provides support for 50 young people aged 16-25 to
encourage them to develop their skills and live as independently as
possible. They do brilliant work. The cost of housing was the main focus of
our discussions, and the difficulty it presents for young people trying to
move on into more independent living - I'll continue to campaign for higher
rates of LHA to reflect the real cost of living in this city. They also
mentioned how much they'd appreciate the offer of a couple of good bikes,
so they could organise cycling around the city. So if you've got one in
good working order that you no longer need, please get in touch with me!
If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]
I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.
If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]
You can also keep up to date with my news on:
My Website: www.carolinelucas.com
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