Green Party mailing
This will be my last newsletter for a few weeks, as I switch from being an
MP to being a parliamentary candidate, working to get myself and other
Greens elected. I hope to meet some of you on the campaign trail.
Now that Parliament is dissolved, I am only able to respond to urgent case
work, ie issues that are time-dated and cannot wait. The main contact email
address during dissolution will be [email protected]
Don't forget to make sure you are registered to vote. You have until
November 26th and can do so here 
On the last day of this Parliament, I raised the disturbing issue of the
Government's refusal to publish a report from the Security Committee about
possible Russian interference in our electoral process. It won't publish
the report until after the election, which is clearly completely
unacceptable given the subject matter of the report. You can see my
question to ministers here 
I've also asked ministers a number of written questions on subjects
including the rights of EU citizens in Britain, local housing allowance and
police numbers in Sussex. The Government is recruiting 20,000 officers over
the next three years - to make up for the 20,000 posts they've cut since
2010 and say Sussex Police will be able to recruit 129 officers. On local
housing allowance (which sets housing benefit levels), ministers said it
would cost £800 million in 2020/21 to restore the allowance so that it
covers the cheapest third of local rents - which shows how far it falls
short of covering existing rents. The lack of affordable housing in
Brighton remains a huge issue, and ther eis nothing the Government is doing
to address it.
Many of the local issues raised with me fall within the Council's control,
rather than Parliament, it was helpful to have a catch up with Geoff Raw,
the Chief Executive at Brighton and Hove City Council to discuss some of
the key issues coming up locally and being raised in the correspondence I
receive from constituents.
A pressing item on the agenda was FIRE SAFETY and building standards. I
asked him to confirm that issues identified in the fire safety assessments
in the Council-owned high-rise building in my constituency had been
addressed and asked for an update on the plans to introduce sprinkler
systems. I also expressed my concerns about the lack of Government
attention to standards and safety in low-rise buildings, which I have
written to the Housing Minister about. I continue to follow up casework
arising from the Pankhurst Avenue fire, and to seek answers to bigger
questions about outsourcing and accountability.
Most weeks I'm contacted by residents experiencing problems with their
RECYCLING AND REFUSE collections, and I frequently lobby Brighton and Hove
City Council about the dismal service they receive locally. The meeting
with Geoff Raw was a further opportunity to highlight the need for the
Council to resolve the deep-rooted issues that have resulted in
unacceptable service disruption in recent years.
I also asked him whether the Council would be in a position to acquire the
land at the Brighton General Hospital site so that it can be retained in
public hands and used for much-needed social housing. With the NHS Trust
looking to sell part of the site to generate funds to create a Community
Health Hub, there is a risk that the land, which is currently publicly
owned, could be sold to a private developer.
STRIKES AT BHASVIC AND VARNDEAN
Teachers at both these colleges went on strike on Tuesday to defend their
pay, working conditions and employment. The funding cuts for 16-19 year
olds have been worse even than the cuts suffered by schools, and it's had a
huge impact. BHASVIC and Varndean together have lost a total of £1.4
million in real terms since 2016 alone, which adds up to around £350 per
student. It means jobs have been lost, class sizes are bigger and teachers'
workload has increased. I fully support members of the National Education
Union who are demanding that funding is restored so that our sixth form and
FE colleges can continue to provide quality education.
FORMER THOMAS COOK EMPLOYEES
I've written to the minister at the Department of Work and Pensions about
problems some former Thomas Cook employees are facing over Universal
Credit. Aside from the waiting time it takes to access Universal Credit,
which I've long been lobbying the Government about, I'm concerned that some
Thomas Cook employees are struggling to get the support they need. It's
down to questions arising from the way the company folded and issues
between HMRC and the DWP - all completely outside the employees' control.
Yet again, UC is failing to be the all-encompassing benefit that the
Government so boldly championed. The growing list of errors, delays and
problems makes it clear this flagship welfare reform needs to be overhauled
so that it stops pushing people further into financial hardship and
BRIGHTON STATION TAXI RANK
In recent weeks I've been going back and forth between the Council and GTR
about GTR's plans to move the taxi rank from the front of Brighton station
to the rear. While there are some very practical reasons for GTR looking to
make this change, including some lobbying from residents living nearby who
have suffered significantly from traffic backing up in Surrey St in
particular, I'm concerned that the plans have not been more widely
communicated to local residents, passengers or businesses.
It will be vital to put a review in place to ensure that the proposal
doesn't simply shift the problem from one part of the city to another or
create additional pressures on surrounding streets around North Laine.
I had a meeting with the new Chief Exec at for the i360, Ian Hart, and
Julia Barfield from the design team, Marks Barfield Architects. With
tourism being so important to the local economy, I was interested to hear
from them about their marketing strategy and their plans to further promote
the attraction. There are robust plans in place, and the attraction
continues to bring significant economic benefits to the city.
PRESTON PARK STATION
There is some good news for Preston Park commuters, which they've waited a
long time for - as they sometimes do for a train! I had a letter from GTR
responding to issues raised by me and the tireless Preston Park Train
Campaign. There are details on my Facebook page , but in the short term,
the defective doors on the shelters at Preston Park should be repaired
soon, and hopefully all the stations in the constituency will benefit from
the station improvement fund.
On the subject of trains, I've been pushing for the Government to require
train companies to offer season tickets for part-time workers. "We continue
to challenge the rail industry to develop proposals for more flexible
ticketing options" was ministers' response, which is both pathetic and
completely inadequate. It just requires a change in the regulations.
Part-time workers deserve better.
PLANTING TREES IN BRIGHTON
Kate Bradbury, who's a TV presenter on Springwatch and Gardener's World,
has come up with a wonderful idea of planting 10,000 trees across the city
in one day. The trees she has in mind are small native ones like silver
birch, hawthorn, hazel and rowan. It would send such a strong message about
Brighton's commitment to biodiversity and our environmental health. Kate is
planning to crowdfund her idea, and to work with CPRE's Plant Your Postcode
campaign, though she's also hoping for support from the Council. Needless
to say, she has my full support.
BEST SMALL SHOPS COMPETITION
It was a real pleasure to welcome Oliver Dall to the House of Commons
terrace for a reception for the finalists in the Best Small Shops
competition. His shop, Oliver's Brighton, on the edge of North Laine has
only been open for two years but it's thriving! There are so many wonderful
independent shops in Brighton, which can face a tough time with high rents
and business rates. But they are a huge asset to the local economy and I
was delighted to see one of them make the final of the competition.
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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