Upminster Around Town - November 2019

Julia Lopez MP's column for the November 2019 issue of the Upminster Around Town Magazine:

In mid-September we hosted our first-ever Older People's Fair at Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, to bring together a huge range of support groups from across Havering. The fair was incredibly well-supported by the community and we are very grateful to Queen's for hosting, for all those stallholders and residents who joined us for the afternoon and to the local choir who entertained visitors with their repertoire of show tunes. We hope now to make this an annual event. The Fair was designed to assist older people within the community, those caring for an elderly friend or relative and those preparing to retire to meet and engage with key public services and organisations that may be helpful to them.

Over the summer Julia was thrilled to announce the Government’s £17m investment in the new health and wellbeing hub on the St. George’s hospital site and last month, the Government announced a further £2.8b for the building of 6 new hospitals, including a rebuild at Whipps Cross Hospital. Whilst not within the constituency, this rebuild will help reduce the pressure felt by North-East London Hospitals and our local Queen’s Hospital. As we look forward to these future health centres, it is important that we ensure our existing services are operating well and are responsive to constituents’ experiences and Havering Healthwatch perform a vital service in supporting this. We were pleased to attend the launch of their Friends Network last week and encourage constituents to share their experiences, positive or otherwise, with Havering Healthwatch so that they may be relayed to service providers.

It is a passion of ours to engage with the young people in the constituency and to encourage them to get involved in politics and know that their voice matters. We are therefore, very excited to be launching our new Primary Schools Debating Competition and our Secondary Schools Essay Writing Competition. We have written to all schools in the constituency to gauge the level of interest in participating and are thrilled to have had a number of positive responses. It is our aim to bring Westminster closer to the constituency and to familiarise young people with the workings of democracy. We will be holding a grand final in the glorious surroundings of Westminster for our debating teams and for the winner of the essay writing competition there will be a week’s internship in our Westminster office.

In other news, we had a very productive meeting with TfL in Westminster and impressed upon them our determination to see the improvements at Gallows Corner realised. We also attended The Thames Estuary Growth Day aimed at encouraging stakeholders to work collaboratively to deliver vital infrastructure, homes and jobs to achieve the growth and exciting potential of the Thames Estuary.

Finally, we are aware that residents in Upminster and across the constituency remain concerned regarding the Council’s car parking charges. In addition to regular meetings with Upminster Traders and representations to the Council on the matter, Julia and the team are actively engaging with central government to see if we are able to secure additional resource to ease pressure upon Council finances. We will continue to represent constituents’ views on these charges to the Council and we are pleased that, following Julia’s lobbying on the matter, the Leader of the Council announced at Full Council on 25 September that they will be subject to review.