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Crossrail opening date set for 24 May

Crossrail to open on 24 May, with local bus route changes from 14 May – Abena responds

 

At long last Crossrail, or the Elizabeth Line as it will now be known, is opening. I know that for people living in Abbey Wood and nearby places this has been a long time coming. The initial planned opening date was nearly four years ago!

Since being elected in 2019, I have pushed TfL and Crossrail Ltd to open this vital new railway as soon as possible. I’m glad this is now happening, and I know it will benefit people and businesses in our area.

I’ve also been clear that TfL must ensure that local people across Erith and Thamesmead can benefit from Crossrail by ensuring that there are good bus links to Abbey Wood from across the constituency. I have written to TfL and recently met with the Deputy Mayor for Transport to discuss this.

TfL have now published changes to local bus routes. You can find the full details of changes here and the main changes affecting the constituency are in the table below.

If anyone has any concerns about these changes, or further suggestions for bus route changes, please do not hesitate to contact me at abena.oppongasare.mp@parliament.uk

Finally, I am continuing to campaign for better transport across our area including the extension of the DLR to Thamesmead and beyond. I will keep you updated with this campaign as it progresses.

Abena

 

Route and destinations before change take place  Change  Date 
180 (Lewisham Shopping Centre to Belvedere Industrial Estate) Route 180 will be rerouted from Woolwich Road, Charlton via the current route 472 to North Greenwich Bus Station. Route 180 will also be extended from Belvedere Industrial Estate to Erith Quarry via Church Manorway and Erith Town Centre. Buses will no longer run along Mulberry Way and onto Fisher’s Way where the current route terminates. However, new bus stops nearby will come into operation when the changes to the route come into effect on Church Manorway through the newly created link through the Erith Quarry development which will help serve businesses and large distribution centres in the area. There will be no change to the current frequency of the route.

 

Customers can change at Stone Lake Retail Park for route 177 to Westcombe Park and Greenwich Town Centre or at Ikea on Greenwich Peninsula for route 129 to Greenwich and all stops to Lewisham.

14/05/2022
469 (Queen Elizabeth Hospital to Erith Town Centre) A new link to the Elizabeth line station at Abbey Wood will be created with route 469 rerouted between Abbey Wood station (for the Elizabeth line and National Rail) and Belvedere Station via New Road, Woolwich Road and Picardy Road instead of Abbey Road and Gilbert Road. There will be no change to the frequency of the route.

Customers can continue to use route 229 instead, which will continue to serve Abbey Road and Gilbert Road.

14/05/2022
472 (North Greenwich Station to Thamesmead Town Centre) 24 hour bus route 472 will be rerouted from Central Way to Abbey Wood station (for Elizabeth line and National Rail services) via Crossway, Carlyle Road, Harrow Manorway and Knee Hill. It will not serve Thamesmere Drive or Bentham Road. Customers can use route 301 instead, which will continue to provide a link to Abbey Wood along these roads as well as the previous route 472 link between Plumstead Bus Garage and Thamesmead Central Way via Nathan Way.

Buses will run every eight minutes instead of every six minutes on Monday to Friday daytimes, every 10 minutes instead of every seven to eight minutes on Saturday daytimes and every 12 minutes instead of every 10 minutes on Sundays. The night service routing will change as per the day service with buses continuing to run every 30 minutes on all nights of the week.

14/05/2022
B11 (Bexleyheath Bus Garage to Thamesmead Town Centre) Route B11 will no longer run between South Thamesmead, Yarnton Way / Harrow Manorway and Thamesmead Town Centre. Customers can use routes 177, 229, 244, 301, 401 and 472, which will continue to provide a link between Harrow Manorway / Yarnton Way and Thamesmead Town Centre. Buses on route B11 will run every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes during the day Monday to Saturday. There will be no change frequencies at any other time. 14/05/2022

 

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Passport Office Delays

Abena Oppong-Asare MP calls on Minister to get a grip of Passport Office delays

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Ukraine Questions

Abena Oppong-Asare MP raises urgent case of a Ukrainian refugee struggling to get proof of address 

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Visit to St. Fidelis Primary School

Abena Oppong-Asare MP visits local school with Shadow Schools Minister

Erith and Thamesmead MP Abena Oppong-Asare today brought Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister, Stephen Morgan MP, to Erith to visit St. Fidelis Primary School in her constituency.

Abena and Stephen met staff and pupils at the school to hear about the challenges they faced during the coronavirus pandemic.

They discussed issues such as ventilation, staffing issues, and action to help pupils catch up from lost learning.

Abena also presented the winner of her annual Christmas card competition with a prize, as well as presenting certificates to the pupils who took part.

 

 

 

Abena Oppong-Asare MP said:

“The teachers and support staff at St. Fidelis Primary School are doing an excellent job to ensure that pupils receive a well-rounded education.

“They have faced challenges over the last two years, but like schools across our area they have responded amazingly.

“They deserve more support from the Government to ensure that children and staff are safe in school and receive all the help they need.”

Stephen Morgan MP, Shadow Schools Minister, said:

“Labour wants children to be in school, learning together and playing together.

“I pay tribute to all the staff working right across our country’s schools, whose commitment, dedication, and hard work makes that possible.

“Every day missed from school is a day they do not get back.

“Last term alone, children in England missed over ten million school days for Covid-related reasons. Over a million children have left secondary school since the pandemic began. Almost two million of our youngest children have never known a normal school year.

“That is why Labour has set out a clear, costed, and ambitious Children’s Recovery Plan that would support our children where they have missed out with after school activities, breakfast clubs, and small group tutoring.

“It was a pleasure to visit a school in Erith and Thamesmead today with local MP Abena Oppong-Asare MP who is a tireless champion for schools in her community and is speaking up for children that are too often an afterthought by this Government”.

  

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Visit to Abbey Wood Crossrail station

This week I visited the Abbey Wood Crossrail station to see first-hand the progress that has been made on completing the station and beginning services on the Elizabeth line.

 

This week I visited the Abbey Wood Crossrail station to see first-hand the progress that has been made on completing the station and beginning services on the Elizabeth line.

It was great to see the progress that has been made in finishing the station before Elizabeth line trains are due to start running in the first half of 2022. When this happens, Abbey Wood will be less that half-an-hour away from Paddington.

I am also calling for TfL, local councils and the Government to work together to ensure that residents in Erith and Thamesmead feel the full benefits of Crossrail by improving local bus links from Abbey Wood station.

I met with staff who have been working hard to ensure it is ready for passengers. I also heard about the challenges they have faced over the last year and the work they are doing to ensure it is operational as soon as possible. As always on these visits, I raised local concerns and received reassurances they are being addressed.

I am determined that as many local people as possible benefit from this new line, and therefore I am calling for better bus links from Abbey Wood to other places in the constituency. I will be working with local partners to ensure that this happens.

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Small Business Saturday Constituency Tour

Usually Small Business Saturday would be a day of celebration of the our great high streets and community businesses. This year has been tremendously difficult for businesses and my whistle stop tour of the constituency highlighted just how difficult this year has been.

Small Business Saturday occurs every year on the first Saturday in December. This year on Saturday 5 December shops, restaurants, bars and gyms were able to open for the first Saturday after the second UK wide lockdown during November. I visited 6 local businesses as part of Small Business Saturday to show my support and also hear first hand what help is needed from the Government.

The first stop on my tour was to see Charlie and Kim who run ‘CrossFit Against the Fire’. New Government restrictions have allowed gyms to remain open but for much of the year this important part of people’s daily physical and mental health routine has been cut off. Charlie told me that it was her gym members who have kept the business afloat this year. Over 50% of CrossFit Against the Fire members, were able to continue to pay their membership fees even when the gym was forced to close. This generosity, compassion and commitment by members of our community, is something that the Government should mirror nationally to ensure that gyms like CrossFit Against the Fire can survive.

Crossfit Against the Fire Visit on Small Business Saturday

From the gym, I went to meet another couple working together, Claire and Laurence, the owners of the Theatre Street Dance Company at The Link. Claire is a Chorographer and Laurence is a composer. Working in the arts has enabled them both to tour the world and for the last 20 years, they have been broadening the horizons of Erith and Thamesmead’s young people by supporting them into careers in the arts. Thanks to the Theatre Street Performing Arts, you’ve seen our young people on TV in shows such as Tracy Beaker and on stage, in the West End.

Theatre Street Dance Company Visit Small Business Saturday

Next up I visited Phoenix Tours – a local, multi-generational family run business owned by the lovely Patel family. They have been transporting our children to school, taking community groups for day trips to the beach and providing touring holidays to the Highlands and Europe on their luxury coaches, for over a decade.

Phoenix Tours are a creative and resilient business, but they need support. They need the Government to step in and ask the finance companies and insurance companies to go-easy. They need Local Government to be efficient and proactive with business rates relief. They need a responsive testing system that allows employees to feel safe and secure – because people want to work, but inefficient test and tracing is preventing them from doing so. Following this visit I spoke in a Parliamentary debate to urge the Government to unveil a plan to support coach companies.

Visit to Phoenix Tours Coach Company Small Business Saturday

I then went to the wonderful Abbey Wood Christmas Market where I enjoyed browsing the great variety of local vendors. I also met with the organisers of the market Chris and Catherine, who recently won a local business award for services to the community. I stopped to talk to Dean from Tree Wise Men who was selling Christmas Tree’s outside the Abbey Arms who told me about his plans to build his business for next year.

Tree Wise Men Small Business Saturday visit

I then went in to the Abbey Arms to discuss their challenges during COVID-19. Pubs are at the heart of our communities and are places where we connect but many are struggling after being closed for months.

It was great fun to be able to visit so many amazing businesses as part of Small Business Saturday and get into the festive spirit. However, it is really concerning to hear first-hand how much businesses are struggling. Business owners have been severely impacted by gaps in Government support, rising business costs during the pandemic, a lack of communication from the Chancellor and the inability to trade for many months of the year.

My biggest concern is that after Christmas we will see lots more members of staff laid off and huge numbers of local businesses forced to close. People in Erith and Thamesmead benefit from great local traders who are the heart and soul of our community. This pandemic must not mean the end of the local high street and I will be ensuring that the Chancellor realises just how bleak the future looks for local businesses if more support is not offered.

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Are you Erith and Thamesmead’s Best Small Shop?

I’m calling on Erith and Thamesmead small shopkeepers to enter the Best Small Shops Competition, celebrating the successes of small shops and the central role they play in their local community, particularly in response to COVID-19.

The Best Small Shops Competition is open to any small shop* operating in the UK. The competition is free to enter and all shops who enter will also be promoted to consumers through an online Indie Retail Directory.

Shopkeepers can nominate their businesses until Friday 11th September 2020 via www.bestsmallshops.co.uk. A shortlist will be announced in October with winners announced in November.

The judges will be looking for evidence of a small shops’ entrepreneurial spirit, ways that they have been innovative in their business and what they have done to have a lasting positive impact on their community.

The shortlisted small shops will then be in with the chance to win one of five awards, including the newly launched award for small shops response to COVID-19.

Whilst COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on people’s businesses and livelihoods, there are many ways in which businesses in the constituency have been creative in working safely around the COVID-19 measures. There have also been many small businesses that have contributed to the effort to support our community through the crisis.

As Erith and Thamesmead begins to re-open it is important we recognise and celebrate the achievements of businesses in the constituency and support our local economy.

Submit your entry

The entries for 2020’s Best Small Shop competition are now open. Submit your entry at www.bestsmallshops.co.uk.

Entries close on Friday 11th September 2020.

More entry guidance is available here.

*For the purposes of the competition, a small shop is defined as a non-corporate business selling goods or services to the public for use or consumption rather than for resale, from a business rated premises in the UK.

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Monthly Newsletter – May 2020

Newsletter header

Throughout May I’ve been active in Parliament and the constituency helping represent issues that matter to you. I’ve received hundreds of emails campaigning for better Covid-19 support measures, support for businesses, issues around schools re-opening, safety measures at work and much more.

I am looking forward to getting back into the constituency but during lockdown I’ve still been keeping up to date with local issues virtually. I have met with teachers and unions to dicuss how we can safely re-open schools and it is clear parents and staff are worried about the current measures in place. If you’d like to make your voice heard on this issue you can complete the survey here. I will be calling for better support for vulnerable children and standing alongside teachers calling for risk assessments and clearer guidance. I also had the chance to meet with some great local voluntary groups including, Our Heritage UK and Greenwich Association of Disabled People.

We’ve had some major local successes this month! Thamesmead Now started their new weekly TV broadcast on Youtube which you can check out here. My office have also had some major successes in helping people return to the UK  from abroad. We have now helped everyone stranded in Australia, Bahamas, Canary Islands, Cyprus, France, India, New Zealand, Sierra Leone and Tunisia return home.

Despite Parliament operating virtually throughout May, I’ve had the chance to raise a variety of issues effecting people in Erith and Thamesmead. I represented Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple by calling for a Sikh ethnic tick box on the Census 2021. I received over 40 requests from constituents to speak on the Agriculture Bill. In this speech I asked the Government to protect British farmers, animal welfare and the environment. I also spoke on the Fire Safety Bill and asked the Government to protect all victims of Domestic Abuse including those with NRPF in the Domestic Abuse Bill debate.

Belvedere Incinerator

Sadiq Khan calls for judicial review into second Belvedere incinerator
Several constituents raised concerns regarding the construction of a second incinerator in Belvedere. This would be harmful to the environment and public health which is why I joined residents in calling for a review of this project. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has asked for a judicial review to take place.

 

Abena speaking in Parliament

I raised concerns about rising care fees following Covid-19
After speaking with Inclusion London and Greenwich Association of Disabled People I raised concerns with Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about fears that care home fees are likely to rise. This would have a huge impact on many constituents and I will continue to hold the Government to account over any rise in fees.

 

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MP tackles Covid-19 casework

Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, Abena Oppong-Asare, updates local people on her work to address their concerns about Covid-19.

 

March saw the takeover of our lives, news and parliamentary business with Covid-19. This led to lockdown by the government and myself and my office are working from our respective homes. My team and I have been working hard to support constituents of Erith and Thamesmead at this difficult time.

Getting people home

This was a big issue this month. I have had numerous queries from constituents stranded overseas, from cruise ships in the Caribbean to holidays in New Zealand, India, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and elderly people in Cyprus. Many of them I have been successful in assisting, and they have either returned home or are en-route. I have had to use many different methods, from simple conversations with travel agents to smooth the cogs, to asking questions in the Chamber and writing to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Supporting the self-employed

Whilst the budget saw many welcome financial measures (from a government that once insisted on harsh austerity!), it soon became apparent this was not nearly enough. The Chancellor and PM rolled out further support for the employed, which will be a great help for many. However, we have so many self-employed people in our constituency who will not be supported. Therefore, I have written to the Chancellor on this issue, to implore him to take further action with regards to the self-employed.

Religious rights

In the government’s emergency Covid-19 legislation there was a potential issue regarding religious burial rights: that these could be removed and enforced cremations placed in place. However, my colleague Naz Shah MP wrote an amendment to the legislation to allow religious burials to take place; I was one of the first signatures to this. Luckily, the government took note and actually tabled their own amendment, which allowed the opposition to focus on other important matters rather than forcing this to go to a vote.

Panic buying and stock piling

I have written to the Business Secretary calling for concrete measures to limit panic buying & stockpiling. Trade unions, major supermarkets, and the Food and Drink Federation must be central to any decision to improve conditions for emergency workers and keep the shelves stocked. Naturally, this is also an area of focus for the Shadow Defra team, and I am fully engaged on this issue. You can watch this space for further action on this in the coming days and weeks.

Scrutinising the Covid-19 Bill

The opposition made the sensible decision not to have all MPs attending these parliamentary sessions. Instead we passed our concerns onto the front bench, who put those to the government on our behalf. My particular concerns relate to the mental health powers, as well as the way that the care bill has been repealed and the impacts this may have on some of our most vulnerable residents.

If you have any questions or concerns during this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and my team and I will do what we can to support you.

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Housing a key priority for new local MP

Abena Oppong-Asare MP has pledged that housing will be one of her top priorities as your MP over the course of this Parliament.

Housing is an issue raised often by local people with Abena and she knows that people care passionately about improving housing, tackling homelessness and addressing safety issues like cladding in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy.

Abena met with John Lewis, Executive Director of Peabody, earlier this month to discuss working together to address issues raised by local people with housing.

She also attended Peabody’s community event to hear the results of their survey of 1,000 Thamesmead residents and commit her efforts to bringing the DLR to Thamesmead.