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October 2022 Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Thank you for taking the time to look at my latest newsletter.

I hope you enjoy this update of some of the work I have been doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.

As ever, if you want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me using the email address: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Abena

Current Political and Economic Crisis

For the second time this year we have a new Prime Minister. I congratulate Rishi Sunak on becoming Prime Minister and making history as the first British Asian to hold the position. It is an important milestone which I welcome.

However, while we have a new Prime Minister, we must not forget the political and economic crisis of the last month.

The decisions recently made resulted in unprecedented turmoil leaving many in the country feeling angry and worried about the future of our economy and the state of our politics. The Mini-Budget deeply undermined Britain’s standing on the world stage, damaging our credibility as a place to invest and the finances of families across the county.

I believe we need a fresh start.

As part of my frontbench role, I have been setting out Labour’s plan that would tackle rising prices and support people through the coming months. The Opposition has a plan to build a stronger economy and stop bills going up this winter by taxing the record profits of oil and gas producers.

This plan is based on our belief that economic growth doesn’t trickle down from the top, it comes from the talent and efforts of working people and thousands of businesses.

Abena in Parliament

Campaign to stop Southeastern Cuts

I believe rail timetables need to be reliable, well organised and best serve the commuters, constituents and public who use them.

As you may be aware, on 28th September, Southeastern released their December timetable changes. These recently proposed changes have come with a lack of consultation, cooperation and engagement. It is extremely disappointing to see these announcements made in this way. 

One year ago this month, the Government took over Southeastern in order to “protect taxpayers’ interests”. I have written to the Transport Minister responsible, and am following up with his new successor, to confirm our upcoming meeting and express my anger on the changes.

You can see my recent letter here:

In response to my original letter, the Department for Transport confirmed it had agreed to continue to allow train operators to implement demand-led timetables without consulting formally during this period.

I acknowledge that the pandemic has placed major challenges on train operators and timetables, however, I am still very concerned about the lack of consultation given to this new timetable that provides major alterations to the current system.

I am therefore supporting residents and commuters who are calling for Southeastern to reverse the proposed cuts in services.

You can see my campaign webpage here and find out how the timetable impacts you and how you can campaign against the cuts.                                                                                                                                         

Abena at train station in Erith and Thamesmead

Black History Month

As many constituents will know, this month was Black History Month. I have said it time and again, but Black history is British history. We should be talking about Black history week in, week out, rather than just once a year.

This year’s theme is ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’, which focuses on how we must honour the past, while taking action for the future. It is a time to celebrate the continued achievements and contributions of Black people to our society, while calling for continued action to tackle racism and ensure Black history is celebrated year-round.

So, in keeping with this year’s theme, I thought I would highlight a group that tirelessly works to tackle racism and update you on what I am doing to push for change within my role as your MP.

Sistah Space is an organisation I am proud to support and whose work I commend. They raise the issue of the lack of specialist training for police and other agencies supporting Black women who are victims of domestic abuse. In March of this year, I was pleased to be able to lead a debate on this issue, after a petition to the House of Commons had been signed by people up and down the country, championed by Sistah Space. The petition considered Valerie’s Law, a proposed law that would make specialist training mandatory for all police and other government agencies that support Black women and girls affected by domestic abuse.

Valerie’s Law is named in memory of Valerie Forde, who was murdered by her former partner in 2014 alongside their 22-month old daughter. She had previously asked the police for help after her ex-partner had threatened to burn down her house with her in it, but it was recorded only as a threat to her property. This story is shocking but very sadly not uncommon. I have consistently urged the government to adopt Valerie’s Law and this is a cause I will continue to champion as we are faced with a new Conservative government.

I know that this isn’t the only example of positive action being taken, nor is it the only way to push for change. I am consistently inspired by constituents taking action at every level to tackle racism and discrimination, as well as celebrating the achievements of Black members of our community. This should be a commitment we uphold throughout the year, and not just in the month of October. It is a commitment I will continue to honour here in Parliament.

 

The Cost of Living

Inflation is soaring, hitting hardworking people across Erith and Thamesmead. Food, fuel, and household bills are up, but wages and benefits are not keeping apace.

People are worried about how they will pay their bills, especially with the astronomical prices energy companies are expected to charge.

I know people are scared about getting through the winter. While there’s lots of advice out there, it’s not always in one place.

I’ve decided to put together a cost of living booklet that will be able to assist constituents in these difficult times. I have gathered information about many of the agencies, organisations and charities that are out there and can provide help, information and support for managing your bills.

The booklet is available on my website here and I will be providing the information directly to constituents who have recently been contacting me about their need for additional support. 

Visit the website here or download the full booklet here.

Casework Update

I continue to deal with a high amount of casework from constituents who are facing a number of important and difficult problems. Issues include housing insecurity and disrepair, Home Office delays, challenges caused by the rising cost of living and anti-social behaviour.

My team of dedicated Caseworkers and I will continue to assist constituents on these issues and my office can be contacted using the following channels:

Email: abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Telephone: 01322 342991

                                                                                                                                           

Happy Diwali

This was also the month in which we celebrate the festival of Diwali.

Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil, lightness over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. I hope all those in our community and across the county had a peaceful and very happy time.

I congratulate the Royal Borough of Greenwich Nepalese Society (RGNS), who organised a special event on the eve of Diwali to celebrate. I would like to thank them for their work in the community and for organising the event after years of being stuck inside during the pandemic.  It is amazing, once again, that so many have been able to gather in person to celebrate.

Christmas Card Competition

I am once again pleased to announce that I’m holding a competition to design my Christmas Card. I am inviting students from schools across Erith and Thamesmead to take part. 

The theme for this year is: ‘Love Erith and Thamesmead’. I would like pupils to draw or paint a design that shows what they love about places in our constituency. This might include the parks or open spaces, local communities, shops, landmarks or even family and friends. 

Entries must be accompanied by a few sentences explaining what the landmark means to the young artist and why they chose to draw it. The artwork will be assessed by a panel of judges, and the winning design will be used as my Christmas Card and sent to more than 1,000 local people and groups.  

We had a great turnout last year for this competition and I am looking forward to seeing all the unique designs that students come up with.

If you would like to know more information about the competition, email me at abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk.

Sign up to my Coffee Morning

If you are interested in coming along to a future Coffee Morning, I’ve just launched my webpage where you, your family and friends can sign up to register your interest in attending a meeting.

Sign up:  https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/upcoming-events/coffeemorning/

Stay updated on social media

For regular updates on my activities, follow me on Twitter (@abenaopp), Facebook (Abena Oppong-Asare MP, Erith and Thamesmead), and Instagram (abena.oppongasare.mp).

You can also sign up to my digital newsletter at www.abenaoppongasare.com/get_in_touch