Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Current News

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After 5 months of detention in an Indonesian prison Camberwell journalist and resident Rebecca Prosser finally returned home to her family on the 11th November.

Rebecca and fellow journalist Neil Bonner were arrested by the Indonesian Navy while filming a documentary about piracy in the     Malacca Strait. They were doing their jobs and were not criminals.

I pressed for Rebecca’s release and met with FCO Minister Hugo Swire MP, the Indonesian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Thayeb and asked the Secretary of State at Foreign and Commonwealth questions to do all he could to support Rebecca whilst she was detained and to ensure that she was allowed to return home.

On her return I was delighted to welcome, Rebecca, her family and Neil to Parliament for tea.

 

Welcoming Home Camberwell & Peckham resident Rebecca Prosser

After 5 months of detention in an Indonesian prison Camberwell journalist and resident Rebecca Prosser finally returned home to her family on the 11th November. Rebecca and fellow journalist Neil...

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Chaired by Jackie Ashley, President of Lucy Cavendish College. I joined the shared celebration of the 50th anniversary of the BBC's The World at One, Lucy Cavendish College and Carers UK at an event to debate Gender Inequality. I participated in an Q&A session with Martha Kearney, presenter of BBC's The World at One to reflect on 28 years in frontline politics. 

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The programme also included sessions from leading women who discussed some of the issues and choices facing women from work to the challenges of caring to public life.

 

Where Are The Women? - Debating Gender Inequality

Chaired by Jackie Ashley, President of Lucy Cavendish College. I joined the shared celebration of the 50th anniversary of the BBC's The World at One, Lucy Cavendish College and Carers UK...

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At Borough High Street war memorial I joined local people, the Mayor, Councillors, civic leaders and members of our armed services to pay tribute at a service of remembrance.

 

Remembrance Sunday Service

At Borough High Street war memorial I joined local people, the Mayor, Councillors, civic leaders and members of our armed services to pay tribute at a service of remembrance.  ...

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This afternoon Camberwell and Peckham Labour women met for a drop-in social and snack lunch at the Peckham Liberal Club. It was a great chance to meet and get to know each other. We were also joined by:

*          Dora Dixon-Fyle, long-standing local councillor for Camberwell Green and current Mayor of Southwark

*          Jo Baxter, Secretary of our Constituency Labour Party and member of the National Executive Committee

*          Fiona Colley, local councillor for Nunhead and Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Finance & Modernisation

Camberwell & Peckham Labour Women's Event

This afternoon Camberwell and Peckham Labour women met for a drop-in social and snack lunch at the Peckham Liberal Club. It was a great chance to meet and get to know...

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Rye Lane Chapel was the venue for todays New Members Event. We were joined by Guardian columnist Owen Jones and were delighted to welcome so many new members to the Labour Party.  A great event arranged by Jane Bevis, Chair, and Johanna Baxter, Secretary of Camberwell and Peckham Labour Party.

Camberwell and Peckham New Members Event

Rye Lane Chapel was the venue for todays New Members Event. We were joined by Guardian columnist Owen Jones and were delighted to welcome so many new members to the... Read more

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 Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights Harriet Harman has written to Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, setting out several issues which the Committee is likely to take an interest in.

More here incl letter to Michael Gove.

 Questions which the Committee is keen to explore include:  

  • Can the Government confirm that it has officially ruled out withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)?

  • Is the Government ruling out ending the UK obligation under international law (ECHR Article 46) “to abide by the final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in any case to which they are parties”?

  • What consideration has been given to the possible impact of changes to human rights framework on Britain’s standing abroad, and role of the Foreign [and Commonwealth] Office in the consultation?

  • What are the proposals – and budget - for wider public consultation?

  • What approach will the Government take to consultation of devolved institutions and ensuring that views of different parts of the UK are heard?

 

Committee Chair Harriet Harman said:

“In the first six months, Government proposals have gone from a Bill in the Queen’s Speech, to “proposals” to “a consultation.” The timescale has moved from the first 100 days to “this autumn” and then “in a few months’ time.” There is no more clarity about the government’s plans than there was back in May: we have no indication as to whether the Govt intends to publish a White Paper, draft clauses or indeed a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. It’s essential that such a vital issue is widely scrutinised and debated – and not just by politicians and lawyers. 12 weeks is not enough.”

 

@UKParlJCHR

#HRA and #BoR

 

Bill of Rights: Joint Committee on Human Rights has five questions for Michael Gove

 Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights Harriet Harman has written to Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, setting out several issues which the Committee is likely to...

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Earlier this afternoon I was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at The Spectator magazine annual awards ceremony in central London.

A full list of The Spectator awards 2015 recipients can be found here: http://blogs.new.spectator.co.uk/2015/11/spectator-parliamentarian-of-the-year-2015-the-winners/

The Spectator Awards 2015 - Lifetime Achievement Award

Earlier this afternoon I was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at The Spectator magazine annual awards ceremony in central London. A full list of The Spectator awards 2015 recipients can be found...

 

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Drones inquiry: Joint Committee on Human Rights asks for clarification of Government’s policy, invites witnesses

 

 

Following the announcement of the drones inquiry by the Joint Committee on Human Rights last week, Committee Chair Harriet Harman has written to the Attorney General Jeremy Wright, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and and Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon to indicate some of the ways in which the Committee  has asked the Government to assist the Committee with its inquiry.The letter is published on the committee’s website.
 

In view of the centrality of the legal framework to the subject-matter of the Committee’s inquiry, and the importance of legal advice in the decision-making process leading to the authorisation of a drone strike, the Committee has invited oral evidence from Government lawyers and the military on this matter.  The Committee will also be inviting several leading experts in the field and military personnel with operational experience of drone strikes to give evidence and intends to conclude its inquiry by taking evidence from the Attorney General, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence.

 

The Committee also intends to visit RAF Waddington, the base from which drone strikes are launched in the UK, to see for themselves the physical setting from which strikes are launched and the conditions in which the personnel work.

 

The Committee has requested from the ministers a clear statement of the Government’s policy on the use of drones for targeted killing; a comprehensive description of the legal framework, the existing guidance, the decision making process which precedes ministerial authorisation, and a summary of the existing accountability mechanisms.  It has also asked a number of detailed questions which the Committee wants answered by the Government.

 

Committee Chair Harriet Harman said:

 

“The Human Rights Committee has begun its inquiry into the Government’s policy on the use of drones for targeted killing.  In view of the strong public interest in clarifying the legal basis for the Government’s policy, we want to hear from the principal lawyers involved in advising the Government and the military on this issue.  We will visit the RAF base from which drone strikes are launched.  We look forward to receiving the Government’s response to the detailed questions we have asked in our letter.” 

 

The committee has requested a response by Thursday 19th November 2015.

 

 

 

Drones inquiry: Joint Committee on Human Rights asks for clarification of Government’s policy, invites witnesses

    Drones inquiry: Joint Committee on Human Rights asks for clarification of Government’s policy, invites witnesses     Following the announcement of the drones inquiry by the Joint Committee...

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This morning I met with Junior Doctors at Kings College Hospital to talk about the Governments proposed changes to their contracts. 

My article following the visit:

“A paediatrician, an anaesthetist, a psychiatrist, a geriatrician, a medical registrar...these, and many others are the doctors that at any time we or our families need.  And we should be falling over ourselves in gratitude to the junior doctors who work at Kings. Recently some of the junior doctors at Kings broke away from their vital work to tell me how Jeremy Hunt's imposition of a new contract will mean their pay is cut.  We gathered in the board room, but unlike when I meet the local managers, their phones were ringing and their bleeps going constantly demanding their attention.  The doctors I met had studied for years, at our top universities, and then carried on training and studying so that they can give the very best care and contribute to research.   We are lucky to have them but Hunt risks us losing them.  Australian hospitals are luring many away - so are pharmaceutical companies. 

What will happen to research if to do it they face a pay cut? Why should they?  How many of them can rely on their partners income to make up for their fall in pay?  Where are we going to get the consultants for the future if the junior doctor’s morale continues to be crushed?  It’s not fair on the doctors who've studied so hard and care so much.  It risks serious doctor shortages in the future which will cost more in agency fees and incentives for overseas doctors, let alone in the cost to patient care.  And the way the contract discriminates against those who work fewer hours - usually women with children - is surely in breach of the Equality Act.  I'm calling on the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate this.  And I'm asking Jeremy Hunt to meet these doctors who spoke to me.  He should see for himself their anguish for their patients, their concern for the NHS and their dismay at how badly he is treating them.  I'm totally on their side, so are local people and he should be too.“

Junior Doctors at Kings College Hospital

This morning I met with Junior Doctors at Kings College Hospital to talk about the Governments proposed changes to their contracts.  My article following the visit: “A paediatrician, an anaesthetist,...

“I'm delighted to have been elected chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights today.

It’s an important time for the Committee.

Our first inquiry will be into government drone strikes.

The Government is "reviewing" the Human Rights Act. This is a major constitutional issue and we must make sure that there is proper consultation and vital rights are not watered down.

There's a great team of both MPs and peers on the committee - including former Lord Chief Justice Harry Woolf, former deputy chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Margaret Prosser, Doreen Lawrence, Fiona Bruce MP who this week led a debate on human rights in China.

I look forward to working with them and with all the organisations and individuals who care about human rights.

This will be familiar turf for me, having been 

*legal officer of Liberty which argued from the 1970s for a Human Rights Act, 

*having taken my own case to the European Court of Human Rights when I was prosecuted by the Home Office for contempt 

*and having been in the Cabinet of the 1997 Labour Government which introduced the Human Rights Act.”

 

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Ends

 

 

For further information contact Rachel Smethers on 0207 219 2057 or email harriet.harman.mp@parliament.uk

 

 

Notes to Editors

1. Full list of committee members

 

Lords                                                                          Commons

 

 Baroness Buscombe (Con)                                   Fiona Bruce MP (Con)

 Baroness Hamwee (LibDem)                                Karen Buck MP (Lab)

 Lord Henley (Con)                                               Harriet Harman MP (Lab)

 Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Lab)                 Jeremy Lefroy MP (Con)

 Baroness Prosser (Lab)                                        Mark Pritchard MP (Con)

 Lord Woolf (Cross-bench)                                     Amanda Solloway MP (Con)

 

2. The Joint Committee on Human Rights was established in 2001. It’s an unusual select committee as it consists of Lords as well as MPs.

 

 

Press release: Harriet Harman, former Labour Deputy Leader, takes up Chair of Select Committee on Human Rights

“I'm delighted to have been elected chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights today. It’s an important time for the Committee. Our first inquiry will be into government drone...

Parliamentary Report - September & October

You can read my Parliamentary report for September & October here  

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The Worshipful Mayor of Southwark, Councillor Dora Dixon-Fyle hosted a civic celebration to mark the Golden Jubilee of Southwark Council at Southwark Cathedral today.

Southwark at 50 celebration

The Worshipful Mayor of Southwark, Councillor Dora Dixon-Fyle hosted a civic celebration to mark the Golden Jubilee of Southwark Council at Southwark Cathedral today. Read more

This morning in the House of Commons I asked the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to do all he can to ensure that he and his Government stand up for human rights in this country, as part of our policy of championing them in other parts of the world.

Full text:

 

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): 

I warmly thank the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) for bringing this issue to the House. I am sure that this debate will be watched by people in China, so this is an important occasion. I also thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting the urgent question. Does the Minister agree that our ability to raise our voice and put pressure on China because of its gross violations of human rights is in part based on the recognition that this country has itself made a commitment to human rights? Does he recognise that the increasingly negative tone being used in this country to describe human rights as a problem—even to the point of describing the legislation as “Labour’s Human Rights Act”, which I cannot believe is a compliment—undermines our ability to champion human rights abroad? We cannot champion human rights abroad if we regard them as a nuisance at home. Will he ensure that he and his Government stand up for human rights in this country, as part of our policy of championing them in other parts of the world?

 

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr Hugo Swire): 

The right hon. and learned Lady is absolutely right. It is incredibly important to have good human rights in our own country before we preach to others, and I believe that we do. In my travels around the globe—looking after two thirds of the world, as I am obliged to do—I have observed that our own human rights are way better than those in the majority of countries. A second thing that gives us a huge moral case when we go round the world is that this Government have pledged to spend 0.7% of our GDP on international aid. Those two factors give the United Kingdom a good say at any table.

 

Question to the Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

This morning in the House of Commons I asked the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to do all he can to ensure that he and his Government...

Earlier in the House of Commons I asked the Foreign Secretary to do all he can to support my constituent British journalist Rebecca Prosser who has been detained in Indonesia since May 2015. Full text below: 

 

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab):

 

May I draw the Foreign Secretary’s attention to the worrying situation of my constituent Rebecca Prosser? She was working in the Strait of Malacca on a documentary about piracy for Wall to Wall productions. She had the right visa for Singapore and Malaysia, but it had not yet been authorised for Indonesia. She was arrested in May and has been detained there ever since. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet the Minister and I have met the Indonesian ambassador, but my constituent is on trial right now. She is a hard-working, law-abiding young woman who has committed a visa breach. Will the Foreign Office do everything it can to support her, and at least have a consular presence in the courtroom where she is on trial?

 

 

Mr Swire:

 

The right hon. and learned Lady came to see me about this matter, and quite rightly so. I personally raised their case with the Indonesian Foreign Minister at the UN General Assembly in September. She knows that immigration offences are taken very seriously in Indonesia. The trial is progressing at the moment. As I said to her at the time, their lawyers judge that a low media profile is the best way of bringing this immigration case to a conclusion, so it is probably better not to say more than that at the moment.

 

 

 

Question to the Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

Earlier in the House of Commons I asked the Foreign Secretary to do all he can to support my constituent British journalist Rebecca Prosser who has been detained in Indonesia...

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Many children across Southwark have just started secondary school and I wish them all the best for their future.

It is impossible to overstate how important it is that when it comes to secondary school, a child is safe, happy and learning.  They need to be able to develop all their talents and abilities and get the qualifications they need to take them on to their next stage.

And schools is one of the biggest issues parents raise with me when I meet them out and about in my constituency.  Many parents are more than happy with the school their child goes to.  But all too often I meet parents who say, while they were perfectly happy with the local primary school, they are not happy with the local secondary school, they’ve applied to schools further away but did not get in.

So we should all be concerned about what it’s telling us about the local school if the local parents don’t want to send their children there.  There are a number schools for children living in Camberwell and Peckham which are popular with local parents and which are over-subscribed – meaning they have more applications than they have places including Kingsdale, Sacred Heart and the Charter School.  But 6 schools have fewer first choice applications than they have places.  That’s not because there aren’t any children in the area, it’s because the parents are choosing not to send their children there.

It’s no good the school and Ofsted saying it’s a great school and the parents have just “got it wrong”.  If there’s something about the school that is worrying the parents then the school should address that.  The local school needs to command the confidence of the local community. If there are fewer children applying than there are places, they should take that seriously, understand the concerns of parents and put it right.  Filling up your places with children who have made it their second or third choice doesn’t solve the problem.

In some areas the overwhelming majority of parents get their first choice of school.  I Central Bedfordshire for example 99.7% of parents got their first choice of school.

Whereas in Southwark just 59.6% of parents got their child into their first choice of school. This in not just a problem for parents in Southwark but in London as a whole, and particularly inner London.

When Labour was in government we set up the London challenge which did so much to improve schools.  The Government should do something like that again, not wash their hands of parents’ concerns.  And while the education of London’s children is crucial, Mayor Boris Johnson has done nothing about it.  I hope the next Labour mayor will.  And I want Ofsted to take this issue on board when they inspect a school, looking not just at exam results but also at parental preferences.   I’m calling on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education to conduct an inquiry into why so many children across London don’t get their first choice of school.

Southwark News Column - Secondary School Choice

Many children across Southwark have just started secondary school and I wish them all the best for their future. It is impossible to overstate how important it is that when...

OCTAVIA.png 

Today is polling day in the South Camberwell by-election. Earlier I joined the great Southwark Labour team to get out the vote for local candidate Octavia Lamb.

Polls are open until 10pm.

Octavia Lamb said: “I am standing to be a councillor in South Camberwell because I want to represent my local community and bring improvements to the local area. I will work to improve local housing, work with local businesses and get transport improvements to make roads safer. I will also work to ensure that the new secondary school on the Dulwich hospital site is delivered on time."

Polling Day - South Camberwell by-election campaigning

  Today is polling day in the South Camberwell by-election. Earlier I joined the great Southwark Labour team to get out the vote for local candidate Octavia Lamb. Polls are open until...

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Rye Hill Tenants and Residents Association Hall was the venue for the Rye Hill Estate Surgery today and many thanks to Miriam Facey, Vice Chair of the Tenants and Residents who helped with arrangements and refreshments.

35 tenants and residents attended to seek advice and discuss with the team issues ranging from housing, immigration, employment, benefits to anti social behaviour.

Councillor Renata Hamvas, Monika Gonzalez Tabar - Southwark Council Resident Officer, Paul Thomas from the Council's major works investment team and Lola Lakoja from the Southwark Council Anti Social Behaviour Unit also joined us to listen to tenants and residents concerns.

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Miriam took us on a walkabout of the Estate to show us the recent improvements that have been made under the major redevelopment works but also raised concerns about matters that still need to be addressed.

Rye Hill Estate Surgery & Walkabout

Rye Hill Tenants and Residents Association Hall was the venue for the Rye Hill Estate Surgery today and many thanks to Miriam Facey, Vice Chair of the Tenants and Residents who...

“Almost a third of parents in London did not get their first choice of secondary school for their child this year. This means 25,931 children across London missed out on their first-choice of school.  London, and in particular Inner London, is right down the bottom of the league table for parental choice (4).

“David Cameron said parental choice was one of his priorities but the Tories’ education reforms are failing to deliver this in London, and are letting children and parents down." said Ms Harman.  "It’s one of the biggest concerns for parents in my constituency of Camberwell and Peckham that they don't have confidence in their local school and either their children have to travel miles to go to a school they do want, or end up in a school which they didn't choose."

Ms Harman is today calling for action from the House of Commons Education Committee, The Secretary of State for Education and the London Mayor. She has

- written to the chair of the House of Commons Education Committee Chair Neil Carmichael MP to ask him to conduct an inquiry into the issue of parents not getting their first choice of secondary schools.

- written to the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan MP repeating her demand that Ofsted’s terms of reference should be widened to include the issue of parental preference in their inspections.  

Currently when inspecting a school, Ofsted talk to staff, pupils and to parents who do send their child to a school but not to those parents who live locally but don't want their children to go to that school. "The views of parents who want to avoid the school are every bit as important as those of parents who do send their children to a particular school," said Ms Harman.  “Ofsted should survey and report on the views of parents who don’t want their children to attend that school”.  

And Ms Harman is calling on the candidates for the new Mayor of London who'll be elected next May to commit to making this issue a top priority.  "This is a London-wide problem which Boris Johnson, the current Mayor, has shown no interest in and on which he has taken no action."

Ms Harman has published a report on parental choice in her constituency showing the oversubscribed and undersubscribed schools. (1)   For Harris Academy in Peckham, there are only 41 first choice applications for 180 places.  “It's no good Ofsted and the school saying what a great job they do.  They must understand and address the reasons so many parents don't want to send their children there."

 

ENDS

 

For further information contact Rachel Smethers on 0207 219 2057 or email harriet.harman.mp@parliament.uk

 

 

Notes to Editors:     

 

1.         Harriet Harman MP today publishes her annual school choice report ‘Are parents in Camberwell & Peckham getting the choice of secondary school they want for their child?’ A copy of the report can be found here

 

2.         In 2015 only 59.6% of parents in Southwark got their first preference secondary school, compared to the national average of 84.2%. That is the fourth lowest of all the local authorities in the country and means 1,049 children in Southwark were left without their first choice school. 99.7% of parents in Central Bedfordshire got their first preference.

 

3.         The lowest 10 local authorities across the country are all London boroughs. In London as a whole only 68.9% of parents got their child into their first-choice secondary school this year. In inner London boroughs the situation is even worse – just 65.8% of parents got a place for their child in their first choice of secondary school.

 

4.         Offers for entry to secondary schools in England in academic year 2015-16

Top and lowest 10 local authorities by % of highest preference offers made

 

Rank out of 151 local authorities:

 

 1. Central Bedfordshire      99.7%

 2. Northumberland            98.5%

3. Cornwall                         97.3%

4. East Riding of Yorkshire  97.1%

5. Wakefield                       96.2%

6. North East Linconshire  96.1%

7. North Tyneside             96.0%

8. Devon                          96.0%

9. Derbyshire                    95.8%

10. Somerset                   95.8%

 

 

 

142. Hackney                   65.0%

143. Brent                        64.3%

144. Merton                     62.8%

145. City of London          61.9%

146. Lambeth                  61.8%

147. Lewisham                61.5%

148. Southwark               59.6%

149. Wandsworth            57.8%

150. Westminster            57.0%

151. Hammersmith and Fulham 55.3%

Source: Secondary school applications and offers in England: June 2015, DfE. Data collected from local authorities on Secondary National Offer Day on 2nd March 2015

 

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Press Release: More than 25,000 London children miss out on their first choice of school: Harriet Harman MP calls for action.

“Almost a third of parents in London did not get their first choice of secondary school for their child this year. This means 25,931 children across London missed out on...

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This afternoon I joined Justice for their Annual Human Rights Conference.

An audience of 160 people registered for the event and I was delighted to join the panel for the plenary debate entitled 'What next for human rights?'

Chairing the panel discussion was Andrea Coomber, Director of Justice and other panellists were, Lord Lester QC, Joanna Cherry QC MP, Anthony Speaight QC, Carl Gardner, Head of Legal Blog and Alison Gerry, Human Rights Lawyers Association (Chair)

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*Justice is an all-party law reform and human rights organisation working to strengthen the justice system - administrative, civil and criminal - in the United Kingdom.

Justice Annual Human Rights Conference 2015

This afternoon I joined Justice for their Annual Human Rights Conference. An audience of 160 people registered for the event and I was delighted to join the panel for the...

South_Camberwell_By_election.jpg

Ahead of the South Camberwell by-election on Thursday 15th October I joined Labour candidate Octavia Lamb and a great team of local members and councillors to campaign on the doorstep. We talked about a range of issues affecting residents from, housing, transport, schools to road safety.

Campaigning South Camberwell by-election

Ahead of the South Camberwell by-election on Thursday 15th October I joined Labour candidate Octavia Lamb and a great team of local members and councillors to campaign on the doorstep.... Read more

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