On Monday the terms of reference for the contaminated blood inquiry were finally published – one year after it was first announced and six months after responsibility shifted to the Cabinet Office. It has been a frustratingly slow process for survivors and family members, but I hope this will be the start of them finally receiving the justice they deserve following what is the biggest treatment scandal in the history of the NHS. I spoke up about the importance of ensuring survivors can make their own representations independently of third sector groups such as the Haemophilia Society.
I went to Treasury Questions on Tuesday to ask the Chancellor what he’s doing to abolish the borrowing cap on councils so they can build more social housing. The cap severely restricts the number of houses councils can build, irrespective of demand, and is one of the (many) reasons the Tories are woefully failing to meet even their own housebuilding targets. It’s something the Local Government Association, of which I’m a Vice President, has been arguing for some time and even the Treasury Select Committee has said the same. We desperately need homes that people can actually afford to live in.
As a Patron of Haringey MIND, I made sure I was in Parliament on Friday to speak and vote in support of “Seni’s Law”, restricting the use of force against mental health patients. I am delighted it passed its third reading. Thousands of patients have suffered from abusive restraint, with too little guidance and supervision for police and mental health professionals on how best to manage mental health crisis. This new law will disproportionately protect the high number of young women who are restrained and black and ethnic minority patients who suffer the highest number of injuries whilst in mental health facilities. It’s a real tribute to the work of my Labour colleague Steve Reed together with Seni’s dedicated family, who fought so hard to ensure that no-one else loses their life in such a needless way.
I also held one of my busy pop-up advice surgeries on Friday at the Sandbunker in Wood Green, with lots of people coming to talk to me about housing issues. I also went along to the Abide carers’ coffee morning to meet with local carers and discuss housing and social care. London’s local authorities will have had 70% cut from revenue budgets between 2010 and 2018 and it’s really showing in constituency work where older people and disabled people are having to fight so hard for the basic human right of a roof over their heads.
Housing is consistently the biggest issue in my casework bag, but this month concerns over crime and safety ran a close second. I held my second violent crime roundtable on Saturday afternoon, together with David Lammy MP and Cllr Mark Blake, Haringey’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety & Engagement. The fact that so many people turned up to join the discussion on a scorching hot Saturday an hour before the England game kicked off shows how seriously our community takes these issues. The good news is that my public attempt to chase the meeting I was promised with the Home Secretary seems to have paid off and I’ve been given a date later this month. I’ll be pushing for the next round of Met Police cuts to be reversed and for our stretched police force to be given the resources it needs to keep our community safe.
What a joy to see England through to a World Cup semi-final for the first time since 1990! I don’t want to jinx anything but I’m fully behind Jeremy Corbyn’s call for the Government to declare a public holiday for a day of national celebration if we do lift the trophy. Haringey’s local team Tottenham hold the proud title of still having nine players left in the competition, more than any other club in the world.