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Sarah Jones - Constituency Newsletter

Dear friend,


With the first month of the new decade now over, I am pleased to be writing my first newsletter of the year to update you on what I have been up to so far. 

Always Here to Help

After a hectic 5-week election campaign, I am grateful to be back in parliament representing the people of Croydon Central who have put their trust in me once again. Croydon is a great place to live and now I can continue to fight in parliament, working with our Labour council, for better services and funding.

In Croydon Central we were one of only a handful of Labour seats to secure an increased majority, and one of only two leave voting Labour seats that achieved this feat. You can read my article for the Independent on the election here.

My door is always open for constituents. If you think I could help with an issue, please do get in touch; I'm always more than happy to help. I also hold surgeries every Friday across Croydon Central. If you want to book an appointment, you can sign up and find out more details on how to get in touch here. 

 

The Murder of Louis Johnson 

After the tragic murder of 16-year-old Louis Johnson, at East Croydon station last Monday evening, I have been liaising closely with the British Transport Police and the MET police. They have arrested a 16-year-old suspect who appeared at the Old Bailey on Monday 3rd of February charged with murder. He is currently being held in custody and will next appear at the Old Bailey on April 21st. 
 

Croydon is such a wonderful place to live, we never expect to see these kinds of tragedies. As we know, violence has doubled nationally, and knife crime is at record levels. We made progress here in Croydon by securing more funding for police, prevention work, community projects, and creating a new Violence Reduction Unit. But we have to do so much more. Overall, knife offences in Croydon are now falling, but last week’s tragedy shows we still have so far to go. 

 

I’m working as hard as I can in Westminster, with young people and experts – campaigning all the way to Downing Street – and have published research into the impact of school exclusions and youth service cuts. The APPG on Knife Crime held our inaugural meeting on Tuesday 4th February, and it was fantastic to hear voices from across all parties reaching a consensus that things need to change a lot quicker if we are to stop this problem from escalating further.

 

But we need stronger action from the top of government down into the heart of our communities. With potentially five more years of Conservative government ahead of us, it is more important now than ever before to continue the fight to get communities like our own the support that they need to ensure that tragic incidents like these do not continue to rise in number. 

Westfield

I have secured a meeting between the government and Unibail-Rodamco, the French company that bought Westfield, in an attempt to push forward progress on the issue. The meeting is now being organised and we hope that the government can offer reassurances over Unibail-Rodamco’s concerns including worries about business rates, the state of retail and the impact of Brexit. Hopefully, after this meeting, we should start to see real progress on this long-awaited project.
 

Cladding

Since returning to Parliament I have been working hard on matters related to the flammable cladding that was responsible for the Grenfell fire in 2017. I first attended a meeting of leaseholders on 9th January, where we heard from leaseholders living in buildings that were covered in similar flammable materials, left in limbo at the hands of the unclear government policy on which materials are legally deemed dangerous or not.
 

I also spoke at a Westminster hall debate on building safety, where we heard from many MPs on their local experiences of fire risks in flats and shared housing. With continued pressure on this matter we will see change, but it is certain the government must act with greater speed than it is at the minute or else there is a great risk of another tragedy occurring. The ongoing Grenfell Inquiry will hopefully make great steps towards bringing justice for the victims and their families, and I will be watching how this unfolds with a close eye.
 

I am also working with the residents of a block in Croydon that is covered in ACM Grenfell-style cladding. The cladding is still in place and we are pushing as hard as possible to get it removed. The delays have exposed weaknesses in both building regulations and the legal status of leaseholders that must both be reformed to stop such tragedies happening again.

Northern Ireland

I asked the Prime Minister at PMQs on 15th January to clarify his position on legacy cases from the Northern Ireland conflict because he has been giving different messages to the people of Northern Ireland and his own back benchers. His answer gave no clarity and I will continue to raise this issue. I work closely with the Labour Irish Society, in part because I used to work for Mo Mowlam, but also because there is a large Irish diaspora in Croydon. I was delighted to host a welcome event for the two new MPs from the SDLP party – our sister party in Northern Ireland, where I was honoured to meet Michael O’Hare, whose 12-year-old sister was shot in the back on her way to church by the army in 1976. Their case is one of the outstanding legacy cases that we all hope will be fully investigated.

 
Question Time Appearance
On Thursday 30th January, the day before we officially left the European Union, I made my second appearance on Question Time which was held in Buxton. 

I had the opportunity to discuss HS2 and the failing British rail system, and of course Brexit amongst other issues. You can watch the whole show here. 

 

Green Belt

I also recently sent a letter to the Croydon Council spatial planning team expressing my opposition to any council plans to build on Croydon Central’s green belt. I feel it is really important that we protect our green spaces, the lungs of our community, in order to keep the character of different areas distinct and to help with mental health, well-being and pollution. With that in mind, I support strategic spatial option 2 of the Croydon Local Plan, which can be read here, since I could not support the building of houses on parts of the green belt in my constituency.

In addition to this, Croydon central has many green spaces that are not technically ‘green belt’ but green areas in our community, and I wish to see these protected further to ensure that much-needed green spaces are kept for the community to enjoy.

Other things I've been up to over the last month:

Elsewhere, on the 15th January I welcomed students from Woodside primary school to parliament for a tour. On the 16th January I attended the official opening of the newly built New Addington Leisure Centre and was impressed to see just what a great job has been done there. Last Friday 24th January I was pleased to have visited Forestdale School for a community surgery, where I got to speak to a number of residents about important local issues. On Wednesday 29th January I attended Archbishop Tenison’s CE school to speak to year 11 students about politics and to stress how important it is that young people vote. 

Casework
 
I've dealt with over 16,000 pieces of casework since being elected in 2017. I continue to work on a large variety of casework for constituents with issues spanning Universal Credit, housing, health and education. If you or anyone you know in Croydon central has an issue they would like to raise, do get in touch via email (sarah.jones.mp@parliament.uk).

I run a weekly surgery in different locations across Croydon, to find out when I will be near you, and how to book an appointment click here: http://www.sarah-jones.org/surgery
Community meetings and tours of Parliament
 
I'm always delighted to attend residents’ association or community meetings and hear the latest news from across Croydon. If you would like me to attend your residents’ association or community meeting do get in touch at the email above.
 
Likewise, I personally run regular tours around Parliament. If you would like a tour of Parliament, please do get in touch via email or by phoning 0208 191 7066.

Best wishes,


Sarah Jones
Member of Parliament for Croydon Central
Shadow Housing Minister
 
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Remember, if you have an issue you would like help with, please get in touch via email.

I'm also conducting surgeries around the constituency every Friday which can be booked by contacting my office.
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