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Dear friend,


I hope you’ve been enjoying the relaxation of some of the lockdown rules. It has been good to see our pubs and restaurants operating a little bit closer to normal again.  But of course, as ever it is still very important to remember to stay vigilant, particularly as the new Delta variant is circulating. It is great news that so many young people under 30 have already signed up to get the vaccine. I encourage those who haven’t had the vaccine yet to take the opportunity to protect yourselves and those around you.
 
Urgent – please respond to children’s centre closure consultation by this Sunday
 
Croydon Council is consulting on children’s centres in Croydon. It is crucial as many people as possible respond to the consultation. One of the suggested closures is Shirley Children’s Centre which I believe would be a major mistake.
 
Croydon’s children’s centres support thousands of families with young children every year through services such as parenting support, early years activities, baby massage and supporting reading. They are at the heart of our community.
 
We know that there are many families who rely on the centres – perhaps because they need extra support, or they have English as a second language, or they are struggling to cope with the modern pressures of parenthood. Getting support before problems escalate is so important.
 
The consultation is due to shut on Sunday 13th June, so please make your voice heard by filling in the consultation here. 

 
Libraries saved!
I am delighted that all our work on libraries has paid off and the council has taken closure off the table. Well done to all those who have campaigned.  The Council has secured some capital funding to do some basic repairs and maintenance work on the libraries to make them fit for purpose which will happen this financial year.  A second consultation has begun on three potential ways forward - reducing the hours of opening, securing a charity or social enterprise to run the libraries, or looking at a hybrid model with form of community involvement in running the libraries and some reduction in opening hours. Please do respond to this consultation here. 
 
Croydon tram crash inquest
Hearing and reading the testimonies by the families impacted by the Croydon Tram crash was extremely moving and powerful. I know everyone will have the families of the victims in their thoughts: Dane Chinnery, Philip Logan, Philip Seary, Dorota Rynkiewicz, Robert Huxley, Mark Smith and Donald Collett all lost their lives in tragic circumstances. I hope that the inquest will give the families answers that they have waited so long for.
 
Very significant changes have been made to the tram and its infrastructure since the crash - like automatic braking systems - which would mean a crash like this could not happen again. However I am calling on the Government to work harder to ensure all tram systems across the country make the same changes. The lessons must be learned to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.
 
Local Elections
The Mayoral election on 6 May saw Sadiq Khan re-elected as Mayor of London. There were also some by-elections in Croydon which means we have some new councillors.  Kola Agboola is the new Labour councillor in New Addington North, Mike Bonello is the new Labour Councillor in Woodside, and Jade Appleton is the new Conservative councillor in Park Hill and Whitgift. Well done to all who stood – it’s not easy putting yourself forward for election. For councillor contact details, please click here. 
 
 
Leading the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill through Parliament
 
As Shadow Minister for Policing and Fire, I am leading the Bill through its Committee stage where I am working to win much needed improvements. In a country where stalking can get a shorter sentence than fly-tipping, this Bill was a big opportunity for meaningful sentencing reform that the government has blown. There has been widespread condemnation of the Government’s failure to protect women and girls in the Bill. The last thing the Government should be doing is rushing through poorly thought-out measures to impose disproportionate controls on free expression and the right to protest.
 
I have tabled a package of strong measures to improve the Bill, including amendments to better protect the rights of victims, protect key workers, support the police, learn the lessons from serious violence, safeguard children, prevent violence against women and girls and tackle child criminal exploitation across the county.
 
I wrote an article for Labour List with Bambos Charalambous MP on the concerning public order proposals in the Bill.

 
Fighting to protect retail workers
 
I am pushing the government to do more to protect retail workers with my amendments in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
 
2020 saw a spike in abuse, threats and violence against retail workers. But whilst the Government have failed to get a grip of the crisis, I have a ready-made solution to deter offenders, break the cycle of abuse and deliver justice to victims.
 
There is a growing epidemic in the heart of our communities, one of abuse and violence against retail workers who are the backbone of this country and who kept our country moving and our families fed during the pandemic.
 
My amendments would create a standalone offence and a 12-month prison sentence for abuse, threats, and violence against retail workers.
 
Read more here.

Speaking up for police under pressure at the Police Federation Conference
I thanked over 1000 police officers for their service at the Police Federation annual conference.  I talked about the huge amount of pressure that police officers have been under through the pandemic, after years of cuts to the service. Hopefully next year the conference will be physical and not virtual!
 

 Calling for better protections for Emergency Service workers
Shocking new figures show that assaults on police officers have been rising steadily since 2015 and there has been a 26% increase in assaults on emergency workers in the month leading to April 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. There were 30,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales in a year.

I am glad that the Government has finally listened to calls from Labour to increase sentencing for people who assault emergency workers. But the government is doing nothing to stop the assaults in the first place.

If I was in Government, I’d commission Home Office research into exactly who is assaulting our officers and why. I’d tackle single crew patrols. And I’d make sure officers have the right kit to protect themselves. At Home Office questions this week, I asked if the Minister will do the same. But I did not get the commitment that officers deserve.
 
 
Supporting safer communities in Croydon
It is so important that our communities feel safe after the incident on Alpha Road where two young people were tragically murdered within weeks of each other. I have been continuing my work with the emergency services and local councillors. As part of making our community safer, we’ve worked hard to get the installation of CCTV but there is much more we need to do. I am grateful or our local police and councillors who have worked hard to reassure residents and make their street safer. I will be meeting residents again this week.
 

Cut It Out 2: Croydon Community Football Match
It was brilliant to join Croydon Police, community leaders, local charities, businesses and politicians from across political parties for a community football match, hosted by the Palace for Life Foundation.
 
The match was all about coming together to raise awareness of knife crime. We also saw the launch of the My Ends Project, a £750,000 project funded by the Mayor of London to raise reduce violent crime in Croydon. It was a great evening- I even got to watch my husband play football opposite my ex-political opponent, Gavin Barwell!

 
Continuing the fight for fire safety
I have led Labour’s calls to secure further protections for leaseholders, to prevent freeholders from passing on fire safety remediation costs to leaseholders. The Fire Safety Act 2021 has now reached Royal Assent which means it has passed and exists in the legislature. This should have been a moment of great relief for leaseholders up and down the country. Instead, the Government has chosen to deny leaseholders the protections they deserve. I will keep pushing for change.
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Calling for better housing provision in Croydon
I was horrified to find out that residents in Bridge House in East Croydon were left without water for days. I repeatedly contacted the flats’ managing agents, The HML Group, who provided a disgraceful service to residents. They made minimal effort at communication, forcing the residents to go and buy bottles of water themselves while they waited for help. I have met with the management company along with our local Councillors Caragh Skipper and Chris Clark to talk further about the situation.
 
You can read an article about what happened here.
 
An independent report into Regina Road highlighted the areas for improvement so an incident like this never happens again. It is vital that the residents of Regina Road get the support they need, and the Council Housing Services listen to all the recommendations from the independent investigation. However, I’d like the Council to go one step further and implement a new Tenant’s Charter which would enshrine and protect leaseholders. I’m calling for:
  • A tenant’s charter of rights and responsibilities where tenants are equal partners with the council
  • An investigation into repairs and maintenance, including the conduct of Axis, the company contracted to carry out council housing repairs.
  • A new forum for people in temporary accommodation to raise concerns and seek advice
  • A review of how many other London boroughs are placing families in temporary accommodation in Croydon
  • A review of the housing association provision within the borough
  • A regular routine of walk-abouts with Cllrs, MPs, housing officers and the police across the borough
  • 500 people have asked for my help on housing issues since 2017, it is clear that we have a housing crisis, and the fundamental lack of affordable housing and government policy is driving a lack of decent housing.
 
Cricket club opportunities for children of low income
The English Cricket Board national cricket programmes have 50 free places for primary school children at locations across Croydon for low-income families.

Please email my office and I can provide more details on how you can get your child signed up this summer.
 
All the best,
 
Sarah
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