In 2022, my casework team and I have worked hard to help those in Harrow West with the issues that they care about and that impact them. This has included responding to over 12,000 e-mails and taking up over 5000 new cases, as well as continuing to assist with many ongoing cases. I have held walk-in surgeries in every Harrow West ward – speaking to hundreds of residents in person, from the North Harrow Methodist Church to the Siddhashram Shakti Temple in Wealdstone, to Christ Church on Harrow on the Hill, to the Beacon Centre in Rayners Lane, as well as in my West Harrow constituency office on Blenheim Road. I have attended regular residents’ meetings and public meetings with the police to discuss concerns about crime, anti-social behaviour, and women’s safety.
We have organised a number of litter-picking sessions across parks with the Harrow Litter Pickers, collecting over 70 bags of rubbish from Alexandra Park to Byron Park and up to Headstone Manor Park. While a great effort, this is only a small proportion of the astonishing 9734 bags of rubbish collected and reported by this incredible volunteer group, which does not even include a number of unreported litterpicking efforts by other excellent volunteers.
Over the past year, the use of Harrow Foodbanks, Warmhubs, the Babybank and debt and advice charities has continued to rise, confirming the growing cost of living crisis here in Harrow. I will keep arguing for more support for Harrow residents. We clearly have a growing issue with food poverty and food waste in this country. While we shouldn’t be in the situation we are in, we’re very fortunate to have the support of many great local charities and faith groups.
It was good to have King Charles visit London Community Kitchen, to acknowledge directly the huge volunteer effort that sustains so many people and the importance of the work there. I continue to keep in close touch with Northwick Park and other NHS staff and know just how much pressure these most fundamental of services are under at the moment. More investment is overdue at Northwick Park and I will be pushing on this in the New Year
As I mentioned in a Parliament debate at the beginning of the year – Harrow residents who are worried about anti-social behaviour do want to see more police, as we still don’t have the level of local policing that we had under the last Labour government, when each ward had a Sergeant, 3 police constables & 3 or 4 PCSOs to get better policing outcomes. Video here: https://twitter.com/gareththomasmp/status/1481317485878071301?s=46&t=0H UntEZJIVbGIlujLMFwGQ
If you haven’t already – a reminder to sign my petition calling on the new Met Commissioner to deliver our own dedicated Town Centre police team to Harrow Town Centre: https://www.gareththomas.org.uk/town-centre-police-team- campaign/ – Hundreds of residents have signed and I will be pushing this even more in the new year. While I welcome the announcement of a dedicated team for Uxbridge and Wembley, given that Harrow is both a significant commercial district, has an increasing nightlife and is an important transport hub
with Harrow Bus Station and Harrow on the Hill Station both within the town centre, I struggle to understand why it hasn’t been prioritised for its own dedicated team of police officers.
Due to the work of a number of residents and local community groups, we were able to make a strong argument against the Plymouth Brethren’s plans for development at 265, The Ridgeway. Following the Brethren’s expensive appeal, I made the case once again over a 5-day hearing to the Planning Inspectorate.
I understand that the inquiry agreed with many of my points, that this development would have had a significant negative impact on the character and appearance of a fundamental part of our community; and would too have had a sustained and negative ecological impact. Following successful campaigns to reject other planning proposals, such as the 11-storey Aparthotel on Vaughan Road, it is clear West Harrow needs its own Neighbourhood plan. I have written to the new council Chief Executive, Patrick Flaherty and you can sign my open letter calling for this here: https://www.gareththomas.org.uk/west-harrow- neighbourhood-plan/
Earlier in the year I worked with Rooks Heath School for its second virtual careers fair which I’m delighted to say will be returning next month in person on Wednesday, January 18th. We are hopeful that representatives from a number of occupations will be present as well as a workshop from Google. Open to any young person in Harrow and if you know someone willing to share details about their occupation, please do get in touch.
In Parliament, it has been a strange and confusing year to say the least – while we started 2022 with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, we have finished with Rishi Sunak, not to mention a short but catastrophic Liz Truss stint in between. In all this time it’s not surprising to let residents know the Government’s Parliamentary agenda has been a slim one. A Conservative MP this week described the 12 years of Government as “one of the least successful governments in modern Europe.” I can’t help but agree. I have voted in a number of significant votes against this Government’s agenda – in May, I voted for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies and in October, I voted for a ban in hydraulic fracking in the UK (this is after the Conservative’s own 2019 manifesto pledged to ban fracking).
This year, in my role on Labour’s Front Bench as Shadow International Trade Minister, I have met with a variety of stakeholders from across the constituency, and beyond, to hear their concerns at the inadequacies of the Trade deal that the Tory Government negotiated with the E.U. in addition to further concerns regarding the lack of support for small and medium sized business who wish to export across the world. Available here: https://twitter.com/GarethThomasMP/status/1588152194737528834
My office reopens on January 3rd – if you live in Harrow West and have any concerns or issues you wish to raise with me, please do not hesitate to get in touch, by sending an email to me via: email@example.com or call my office on 0207 219 4243.
Wishing a very happy New Year and a great 2023 to everyone in Harrow – here’s wishing a particularly happy New Year (hopefully) to all those working on the 31st and early January 1st!
Want to help clean up Roxeth Recreation Park? Join me and the Harrow Litter Pickers on Thursday 19/01 from 9:30AM.
If you don’t have a litterpick and/or bag, we will aim to provide you with one in the Park carpark at 9:30AM. Open to all!
Next Walk-In Surgery:
I will continue to hold more roving surgeries in locations across Harrow throughout the New Year. Keep up to date with all of my walk-in surgeries on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you need to book an urgent appointment – please get in contact via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling my office on 020 7219 4243.