Welcome to my e-newsletter. Inside you'll find information about my work during April and May 2021.
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Tommy Sheppard MP Newsletter
Due to the Scottish parliament election I didn't send out an April newsletter - so below I'll try to cover key activities from both April and May. It certainly feels like there has been a lot happening!
While we are starting to see Covid-19 restrictions ease, we know that this isn't over and, as ever, the best place to get the most up to date advice about Covid-19 remains the government and council websites:
Scottish Government: www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/ ([link removed])
UK Government: www.gov.uk/coronavirus ([link removed])
Edinburgh Council: [link removed]
You can also find a list of further helplines on my website ([link removed]) . While I'm hopeful that I might be able to start doing socially distanced surgeries during the summer, for now my office remains closed to the public. You can still contact myself and the team on 0131 661 8023, or by emailing [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .
I have been inundated this month with emails about the ongoing situation in Palestine and Israel. Regular readers will know that I have long been an advocate for the Palestinian people and am Vice-Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).
The escalation of tensions and loss of life in recent weeks has been horrifying and I welcomed the ceasefire. However, that cannot and will not be the end of the matter.
The reality is that this situation will only be resolved when Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory ends and the international community recognises a state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. I want to be absolutely clear; I regard the failure of the international community to properly recognise and respond to the demands of the Palestinian people to be in large part responsible for the current situation. It has turned ordinary Palestinians to despair, sabotaged their democratic leadership and opened up a vacuum which Hamas is filling.
Last week I released a video statement of solidarity with the people of Palestine, which you can watch ** here ([link removed])
. The Britain-Palestine APPG) also released a ** statement ([link removed])
calling on the UK to ensure full accountability and compliance with international law in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. I also used my monthly Edinburgh Evening News column to outline some of my thoughts on the situation in the region which you can read ** here ([link removed])
The House of Lords is an archaic disgrace that should have been swept into the dustbin of history long ago. My latest report - published in April - highlighted just how unrepresentative of Scotland the institution is. Read it ** here. ([link removed])
This week marked the 50th anniversary of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The All Party Parliamentary Group held a briefing with an impressive line-up of speakers. The evidence continues to mount behind the case for change - the Misuse of Drugs Act is not fit for purpose.
While the vaccination programme is going well across the UK (I was delighted to get my second dose this month), the reality is that none of us are safe from Covid-19 until we are all safe from it. A global pandemic needs a global response, yet the UK remains one of the loudest voices blocking an intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines - something I am campaigning for.
I also met with ** Unicef UK ([link removed])
to mark World Immunisation Week and discuss UNICEF’s work to vaccinate the world against COVID-19 and protect children from other deadly diseases.
I was pleased to be among over 100 MPs and Peers who have signed the APPG For Medical Cannabis cross party letter. Boris Johnson must urgently intervene and grant access to compassionate funding for families who can't afford to keep paying for prescriptions, such as those who are part of the End our Pain group.
This week I attended a briefing to hear from Thierry Henry about the abuse he suffered as a player and the need to kick racism out of football - the social media aspect will be a big debate as we get into the Online Harms Bill.
As I have highlighted before, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their families need to apply to the free of charge EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline of the 30th June 2021 - only a month away. However much I don't like the system, it is important that people are aware of what action they must take in order to be able to remain in the UK.
The Scottish government has funded support services offered by ** Citizens Advice Scotland ([link removed])
, including a free and confidential helpline on 0800 916 9847 and a factsheet detailing your rights can also be found ** here ([link removed])
It has undoubtedly been a very difficult time for retail and hospitality businesses - I've been doing my best to visit a wide variety of local businesses across the constituency to offer my support and hear about any challenges they are facing. It was a real pleasure to meet Michele, owner of ** Civerinos - Prom Slice ([link removed])
which has opened on Porty prom and already seems to be a great success.
Below are a range of other visits including ** The Portobello Bookshop ([link removed])
, ** Ten Hill Place Hotel ([link removed])
, ** Skylark ([link removed])
and ** Holyrood Distillery ([link removed])
It was great to meet Amanda, Nic and Chrissie at The Pavilion Cafe at the Meadows. Exciting plans to takeover and develop it as a community hub. Find out more ** here ([link removed])
Back in April I met with ** Edinburgh Food Social ([link removed])
who have teamed up with the ** White House Kitchen ([link removed])
to offer superb low cost food made by apprentices Liam and Ally. I visited during a trial week but they are now putting in place a summer schedule as lockdown eases.
Thanks to lead consultant Alex MacGruer and Edinburgh Futures Institute
director Jude Henderson for a tour of the new Edinburgh University site at Lauriston. Extremely impressive. Not just a massive development but one of the biggest restoration projects in Europe.
Thanks to Martin Gray and Gary Love from ** Historic Environment Scotland ([link removed])
for showing me behind the scenes at Holyrood Park. Stone surveys complete and the fencing is due to be removed next week.
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Our mailing address is:
94 Portobello High Street, Edinburgh, EH15 1AN
0131 661 8023
Up to date information about regular surgeries can be found ** here ([link removed])
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Tommy Sheppard MP . 94 Portobello High Street . Edinburgh, EH15 1AN . United Kingdom
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