“I am grateful to have the privilege of representing the people of Harrow West for another year. 2020 was a year like no other; if there has even been a year that we owe so much to our frontline workers and key workers, it was this one but moving into 2021, our health teams will never stop deserving our continued gratitude and support.”
Here is a small overview of my Gareth’s year representing Harrow West.
Gareth started the year working closely with the Co-op party and USDAW campaigning for easier prosecution for those who attack retail workers. Following a successful petition, a debate has been scheduled for later in 2021.
In February, Gareth raised the closure of valuable walk-in services in and around Harrow, as well as the increasingly difficult financial pressures placed on Harrow Council. This was as a result of long-term Government underfunding, which I raised in Parliament.
Early in March, Gareth hosted the fourth annual University Fair at Whitmore Highschool. Every year the event gets bigger and bigger, and alongside staff at Whitmore he bought together students from across the borough with over thirty universities.
In Parliament, Gareth led the debate on the future of the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre. Shortly after, Northwick Park Hospital declared a critical incidence due to rising Coronavirus patients, which Gareth called for greater safeguards and PPE for NHS workers.
Gareth returned to the front bench in April, as he was appointed Shadow International Trade Minister. April also marked the transition to weekly online Zoom surgeries with constituents, as he adapted to the pandemic.
During Parliamentary recess in May, Gareth continued to engage with important conversations regarding Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of teaching Black history in schools.
In June, Gareth represented Labour on the front bench for the Trade bill, where he scrutinised the bill in great detail. He was concerned that our NHS would be on the bargaining table and sadly Gareth was the only MP in Harrow who voted to protect our NHS from future trade deals.
Throughout July Gareth met with local communities groups across Harrow, including Harrow Mencap. He backed the successful campaign led by the group, which resulted in another specialist nurse for the borough. Gareth also wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, on behalf of young people across Harrow, saddened by the proposed removal of free travel for under 18s.
In August, Gareth reacted fast to the A-Level results fiasco by writing to ministers on behalf of students disheartened by the algorithm used to award their exam results. This fight was taken up by a number of other MPs, and resulted in an important Government U-turn.
Back in Parliament, Gareth challenged the Government on the importance of the procurement of medicine and how critical it was to lower the prices to ensure everyone had access to them.
During PMQs, Gareth raised concerns for funding of schools as well as the importance of ensuring free-school meals during the half-term holidays. Gareth later voted for the motion to ensure children across the country were fed over the holidays.
Due to rising concerns for anti-social behaviour and theft, Gareth began holding road meetings with the safer neighbourhood team in November. This was an opportunity to discuss the matter and look to improve the safety of residents. Gareth plans to hold more of these events in the new year, depending on Covid regulations.
In Westminster, Gareth highlighted that the UK-Japan trade deal signed by the Government failed to prioritise farmers and exporters. the deal itself disproportionately benefits Japanese exporters five times more than British ones.
Gareth wrapped up the year with a busy December. He began by showcasing small businesses in Harrow in celebration of Small Business Saturday. Following this, he invited businesses to a roundtable to discuss concerns regarding the pandemic and Brexit. This was a chance for local companies to ask Gareth what he and Harrow Council could do to support them.
Gareth continued to work closely with the efforts of local food banks and community kitchens. He joined Harrow Labour volunteers in making and delivering Christmas hampers to hard working carers across the borough.
Gareth ended the year writing to the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, calling for a delayed return to schools in Harrow. This resulted in another last minute Government decision to push back the return to schools.