I hope you enjoy this regular update of some of the work I have doing in Erith and Thamesmead and in Parliament over the last month.
As ever, if you want to get in touch please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Campaigning Summer School
In this final week of July, I organised the second year of my Campaigning Summer School.
At this jam-packed 3-day summer school, young people aged between 16 and 18 had the opportunity to gain the skills needed to make a real difference in our community.
This was a hands-on, first-hand insight into the exciting world of political and social campaigning. The school brought together a wide variety of speakers from businesses like Graylings UK, showing the students tools they can use to influence the Government and make change, and from Meta, to discuss how important Facebook and social media is to campaigning in the 21st Century.
We were also joined by important influencers who have been at the frontline of campaigns that have caught the public’s attention. We heard from Laura Coryton, who started the very successful #EndTamponTax petition, and from former Love Island contestant Shaughna Phillips, who is now advocating for a better public discussion on body image and mental health.
I know from my own experience that whether you’re dealing with environmental issues, crime, or education, effective campaigning is the key to influencing and challenging those in power. So, I am determined to do all I can to empower our young people to be the change they want to see in the world.
Over the course of 3 days, attendees designed their very own local campaigns on important issues such as women’s rights and increasing accessibility access in our community. What’s more, I am personally helping action the best ideas into real campaigns to benefit our residents.
For the students, this was a unique opportunity to see their ideas turned into action and to learn how they can make their voice heard in our democracy.
Windfall Tax Bill
The cost-of-living crisis remains the biggest issue facing the country right now. While the Tory leadership candidates trade insults and trash their own Government’s woeful record, I know that many families across Erith and Thamesmead are still struggling to make ends meet.
On the 11th July I closed the Second Reading debate of the Windfall Tax Bill on behalf of the Shadow Treasury Team.
In that debate, I spoke about the financial pressures that many people in Erith and Thamesmead and across the country are facing. Food, fuel and energy bills continue to rise, and I know many are already worrying about the winter that lies ahead.
So it was a relief that the Government finally followed Labour’s lead and u-turned on the windfall tax. However, since Labour first called for the windfall tax on oil and gas producers, energy bills for typical households have risen by a shocking £700, inflation has rocketed to its highest level in 40 years, and, of course, people’s taxes have gone up as the Government have pressed ahead with the national insurance increase. In that period, oil and gas producers’ profits have soared. Indeed, we estimate that between Labour first calling for the windfall tax in January and the former Chancellor and soon-to-be former Prime Minister finally accepting our arguments at the end of May, nearly £2 billion of tax revenue could have been raised to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.
In that time, Conservative MPs voted against our plans for a windfall tax not once, not twice, but three times. Ministers repeatedly claimed that such a plan would not work. Famously, the current Chancellor said that oil and gas producers were “already struggling”.
It is shameful that it took the Government so long to come to their senses and finally do the right thing. That is yet more evidence, if we needed it after the past couple of weeks, that this Tory Government is on its last legs: out of touch, out of ideas and now truly out of time. With the windfall tax and with so many other issues, it is Labour that leads and the Conservative party that follows.
My ‘Meet your MP’ Coffee Morning
This month I organised my first ‘Meet your MP’ Coffee Morning.
I’m always looking for new ways to engage with constituents and so I’ve decided to start a series of these coffee mornings events to meet and talk about all the issues that impact our community.
From issues such as local transport links and housing, to wider issues like the cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine and recovering from the pandemic, I want to hear more about how together we can improve our local area.
It was great to spend the time to engage further about the many pressing matters and also the great opportunities available in Erith and Thamesmead.
I was very impressed with how passionate everyone was, and I hope all constituents can feel like they can reach out to me as I hold further events in the future.
If you are interested in coming along to a future meeting, I’ve just launched my webpage where you, your family and friends can sign up to register your interest in attending a meeting.
Here is the link: https://www.abenaoppongasare.com/upcoming-events/coffeemorning/
Stagecoach Performing Arts Erith
It was lovely visiting Stagecoach Performing Arts Erith and to meet all the performers who took part across all ages. It was amazing to watch some of the performances they have been working on this term and hear how the classes have helped them develop confidence, public speaking and decision making – all essential life skills.
I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of all the Stagecoach Erith teachers. It was wonderful to learn of the work they do to support these young members of our community.
Visit to Crossness
I also visited The Crossness Engines Trust Pumping Station, one of London’s hidden gems in the heart of Erith & Thamesmead. The beautiful Grade 1 Listed building was built for London’s sewage system in 1865.
Find out how to join their fantastic team of volunteers and become part of preserving this unique bit of South East London history.
Their website is: https://www.crossness.org.uk/
Unlikely Mummy Family and Community Market
It was lovely to attend The Unlikely Mummy Family and Community Market at Lesnes Abbey Lodge this month.
The event is for individuals and businesses who want to support a community and is a one-stop shop for families from classes to organising birthday parties. They say if you can provide a service such as mental health, breastfeeding, scouts, first aid, etc. then this is for you.
I really enjoyed the visit and I encourage others to join them in future. Follow their website for future events: https://theunlikelymummy.co.uk/marketplace
Alcohol Duty Debate
As part of role as Shadow Exchequer Secretary, I have been scrutinising the Government’s planned changes to alcohol duty. On the 7 July, I led for Labour in a debate on this issue.
The alcohol duty review represents the biggest change to alcohol duty in decades Over recent months, I have engaged with representatives across the alcohol sector on these significant changes.
Pubs and other alcohol businesses play an important part of local communities and economies. But we recognise that there is a balance to be struck between supporting businesses and consumers, protecting public health and maintaining an important source of revenue for the Exchequer
In the debate, I welcomed measures to help our local pubs which are know are still struggling from the effects of the pandemic and inflation.
Over the last few weeks, I have also had the opportunity to attend parliamentary receptions and speak to a number of charities, stakeholders, as well as chatting to residents and businesses from my constituency.
- I visited my first Kabaddi Tournament at Erith Sports Centre and was joined by Tan Dhesi MP and Cllr Baljeet Singh Gill. It was great to see people from across the country taking part in the national tournament.
- It was also great to be with an amazing group of changemakers for the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Scheme. Congratulations to Cohort 4 and thanks to the Labour Women’s Network trainers.
- Congratulations too, to the Bexley Youth Band and Orchestra, who performed fantastically.
- Finally, I visited the ‘In the Black Fantastic’ exhibition this month which was a fabulous collection of contemporary artists exploring myth, science, fiction and the legacy of Afrofuturism. Brilliant work from the writer and curator Ekow Eshun.
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