Green Party mailing
A happy new year to everyone. I hope many of you enjoyed a break and time
with family and loved ones over Christmas and New Year, and managed to
avoid catching Covid. Sadly, I did not and have been unable to be in
Parliament for the first two weeks as I self-isolated at home.
COVID, THE OMICRON VARIANT AND VACCINE ROLLOUT
This month we passed the grim milestone of 150,000 deaths from Covid,
making the UK the country with the highest number of deaths in Europe. That
is a devastating indictment of the Government's mishandling of the
pandemic, its poor decision-making, delays in taking action and muddled
messaging. It's also placed extreme pressure on our NHS.
I've kept in close touch with local NHS providers throughout the pandemic.
Last week the Royal Sussex introduced a range of new measures to ensure it
maintains safe services for patients as pressures on hospitals continue to
mount. An unprecedented delay in discharges due to a lack of capacity
across our local NHS and social care services, combined with a high number
of staff absences dues to Covid, is particularly challenging. As a result,
some less urgent clinical work and planned procedures are being postponed.
But I'm assured that this will be rescheduled very swiftly.
THE DOWNING STREET PARTIES
It's hard to exaggerate the anger I feel hearing the revelations about the
parties that went on in Downing Street over the past two years, when so
many people were following government rules and were separated from loved
ones, even when they were dying. The Prime Minister's lies and dissembling
has been utterly shameful. It's hard to know what's worst: the rule
breaking, the lying to Parliament about what went on, his very belated and
hollow apology when he's found out, pushing blame on to his own staff or
the smirking when questioned about it. He is trying to hide behind the fact
that a senior civil servant is conducting an inquiry but this will not
wash. He has lost all credibility and should resign.
It's also very disturbing that the police seem to have turned a blind eye
to these illegal parties, even though their officers on duty must have been
aware of them. I'm very glad that the Green Party's Jenny Jones is taking
this up with the police watchdog.
ACTION AGAINST THE POLICING BILL
I joined the Green Party's peers, Jenny Jones and Natalie Bennett, and a
group of supporters in a protest in Parliament Square against the Policing
Bill. This bill is a direct attack on one of our most fundamental
democratic rights: the freedom to protest. It gives the Home Secretary
powers to ban protests which are too "noisy" or "disruptive", criminalising
those who take part with sentences of up to 51-weeks in jail, as I wrote in
my column in Metro .
What's worse is that many of the most draconian aspects of the bill have
been introduced by the Government in a series of last-minute amendments
which were slipped in after the bill had completed its passage through the
Commons, in a cynical attempt to avoid parliamentary scrutiny. But because
they've not been debated in the Commons, a majority vote in the Lords
against them would stop these amendments in their tracks. Natalie and Jenny
are doing all they can to put together a coalition to defeat them.
MINISTER’S STATEMENT ON BUILDING SAFETY
The Government has finally recognised that it has to act in response to the
failures in building safety which led to the tragedy of Grenfell tower, and
left thousands of people living in flats which are not safe. The Housing
Minister, Michael Gove, told MPs that people living in blocks below 18
metres would not now have to pay for dangerous cladding to be removed.
During questioning by MPs, he also said that where the fire hazard was not
cladding-related, leaseholders would also be protected by the law. But he
was vague about how this would be achieved.
I have been working with the residents of 13 blocks in the constituency
given the lowest safety ranking, meaning the fire safety measures are
inadequate and remedial work is required because of missing fire break
cavities or fire doors. Mr Gove's statement did not give them the
assurances they need and I will continue to press ministers on their
behalf. You can read my response on my website .
THE GAS CRISIS
After months of warnings about steep rises in energy bills, the Government
still hasn't come up with a solution to protect the millions of people who
are in fuel-poverty now and whose situation will become much worse when the
energy price cap is raised. Meanwhile, some Tory MPs are trying to use the
gas crisis to slow down the essential transition to net zero, ignoring the
fact that we are so vulnerable to gas price shocks precisely because of
climate action delays by Tory governments. I wrote about the gas crisis and
what the Government's response should be for New Statesman .
THE STATE OF OUR RIVERS
There was widespread coverage  of a report from the Environmental Audit
Committee, of which I'm a member, about the shocking state of our rivers.
Only 14% of rivers in England meet good ecological status and not one river
has good chemical status. The ability of the Environment Agency to do its
job and police pollution incidents has been severely undermined by years of
funding cuts. Our outdated and inadequate laws and monitoring system need
RESETTLING REFUGEES FROM AFGHANISTAN
It has taken nearly five months for the Government's Afghan Citizens
Resettlement Scheme to actually get up and running, an inexcusable and
unforgiveable delay. I welcome the announcement of support in principle for
some of those still in Afghanistan, including the alumni of Chevening
scholarships, but am deeply worried by the lack of detail on the numbers
who will be given sanctuary in the UK and how much support will be given to
people still stranded in Afghanistan or neighbouring countries.
Anyone who saw my end of year message will have seen that it was filmed in
Brighton's Hippodrome which is slowly restored and brought back to life. I
had a meeting with the Theatres Trust who have campaigned for the
Hippodrome to be restored as a large-scale theatre and I will shortly be
catching up with the developers Matsim to discuss in more detail their
plans for the building's future.
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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