It was National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and I spent an enjoyable morning at the Breastfeeding Drop-in Clinic at Hornsey Central meeting some of the fantastic staff and volunteers working so hard to support families in West Haringey. It saddens me that the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, and eight out of ten women say they stop breastfeeding before they want to. There’s a massive disparity between London boroughs on the support they provide new mums, yet it’s so crucial. I’m very grateful to Haringey’s team, which relies heavily on volunteers, for everything they do to help new families (however they choose to feed).
On Tuesday, I took part in a Westminster Hall debate on Phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare but potentially very serious inherited condition which prevents those affected from breaking down the amino acid phenylalanine, which is found in proteins. The condition is controlled through a strict dietary programme. If the condition is not properly managed, it can lead to brain damage and other neurological conditions, many of which are sadly irreversible. My 11-year-old constituent Olivia has PKU and I spoke about how it has affected her and how important it is she receives to the drug Kuvan, which has been proved to be incredibly effective to help treat the condition. It’s already available in 25 other European countries as well as the USA. I called on the Minister to confirm an exact date by which NICE will review the commissioning policy for Kuvan.
I voted against a third runway at Heathrow and am disappointed it got the go-ahead this week. The Government has completely failed to show how it can be compatible with our climate change obligations and the National Policy Statement does nothing to address the huge increase in carbon emissions that will result. We have a duty to future generations to take our climate responsibilities seriously and this vote was a dereliction of that duty. I support the Mayor of London and the four local councils who have launched a legal challenge and think they’ve got a strong case.
It is 15 weeks since I raised the epidemic of violent crime in Haringey with the Prime Minister and in response she instructed the Home Secretary to meet with me. Despite chasing, it has failed to materialise, so I raised a point of order with the Speaker which you can watch here. It’s not acceptable to fob me and the people of Hornsey & Wood Green off when this is such an important issue for our community. I welcomed the Speaker’s support on the matter and hope my public reminder will spur the Home Office into action.
I caught up with local arts groups on Friday to discuss Hornsey Town Hall. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what the arts offer there will be, which is concerning at this stage of a process that’s already been going for many years. I want to see the maximum amount of community space for the arts, micro businesses and start-ups – particularly protecting the courtyard area for community use.
I also had a productive meeting with the architect and developers for the old BHS site on Wood Green High Road. I’ve formally objected to the derisory 7% affordable housing offer the developers of the neighbouring old M&S site have put forward, so I was very pleased to hear that this scheme will have a minimum 40% affordable housing with a 60:40 mix of social to intermediate rent and no divisive “poor doors”. It’s a positive start and hopefully means the message is getting through. Having a Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who is committed to increasing the amount of affordable housing and using planning powers to achieve this makes a very welcome change after eight years of a Tory Mayor.
I joined a large group from Hornsey & Wood Green at the NHS Rally to celebrate our National Health Service and show this Tory Government that we will always fight for healthcare as a right to all and in public hands. It came just two days after the welcome news that the Whittington Hospital it going to go ahead with their improvement works using in-house resources. Together with Jeremy Corbyn MP and Emily Thornberry MP, I’d raised concerns about the proposed deal with Ryhurst, a subsidiary of Rydon, and I’m very glad the senior management team have listened.
The sunshine made it a perfect weekend for the Sandlings Residents Association fun day, Friends of Chapman Green summer event and the Myddleton Road Festival. I had a great time at them all.