In the face of this unprecedented Coronavirus crisis the government is rightly telling people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, to protect our NHS and to save lives.
However for many families in Camberwell and Peckham this is much harder than it is for others. Camberwell and Peckham has, of all the constituencies in the country, the highest number of families living in council or housing association flats. It is really hard for parents with young children who live in small flats with no outside space. During this lockdown here’s no nursery or play group and no chance to pop round to hang out with a group of friends. For these families it’s crucial to have the opportunity to spend one hour getting a breath of fresh air and for the children to be able to run around.
We have wonderful green spaces in Camberwell and Peckham, from big areas like Burgess Park and Peckham Rye to little gems like St Giles Churchyard and Lucas Gardens. But as it the weather gets hotter they’re getting more crowded. Our parks are a precious public asset. In this lockdown they need to be for those who need them most, local people who don’t have gardens.
I’m suggesting that there should be a rota for our public green spaces. So that you would know that on a particular day your estate would have priority on a park.
What about advising those who live in houses with gardens not to use the parks? They can use their own gardens and walk on the streets.
And what about having a radical extension of road closures? There is so little traffic. Side roads could be closed except for access. That would take the pressure off the parks as people could walk in the street instead of crowding onto pavements. It’s hard to keep 2 meters apart when you are wheeling your buggy on a narrow pavement. And a rota would reduce the danger of the few cars that are on the road speeding dangerously because of the lack of traffic. Let’s give the roads over to people walking and cycling.
Most people are abiding by the social distancing rules. The police are there to check up on those who don't. Let’s make this lockdown more bearable for children cooped up in flats by giving them the freedom of our parks and let’s make out streets safer by giving children, not cars, priority in our streets.
In the face of this unprecedented Coronavirus crisis the government is rightly telling people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, to protect our NHS and to...
Careworkers might not be the first people we think of when we picture our vital workers leading the fight against Coronavirus. But they are very much on the frontline looking...
Read my Coronavirus Crisis Report 1 - 2nd April 2020 here
Full text below:
Fairness for the Self-Employed and Freelancers in the Creative Industries throughout Coronavirus Crisis - Letter to Chancellor
Link to letter here Full text below:
Helping Constituents Stranded Abroad Get Home - My Letters to Foreign Secretary and Transport Secretary
I have been contacted by a number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who are understandably very anxious about empty shelves, the lack of key groceries and cleaning products and delivery slots. I appreciate this is a very difficult and unsettling time.
I have written to the 10 major supermarkets with one or more stores in Camberwell and Peckham to ask what reassurances they can offer local people about the steps they are taking to ensure shelves remain stocked with food and essential supplies throughout the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.
I've also asked supermarket chief executives to let me know what adjustments they are making to ensure elderly and vulnerable people can get the supplies they need, including prioritising them for online food deliveries and creating designated shopping hours.
I enclose the determined and sensible response I've received from Iceland below. I share Iceland's frustration with those whose actions threaten others.
I will post the other supermarkets' replies I receive as they come in.
I have been contacted by a number of people in Camberwell and Peckham who are understandably very anxious about empty shelves, the lack of key groceries and cleaning products and...
The government is rightly taking tough powers to enable it to take action necessary to cut the number of deaths in this corona virus crisis. And they are rightly giving...
Coronavirus is a new virus, there is no vaccine or treatment and we don’t know what path it will take.What we do know, though, is that it spreads rapidly and the elderly and ill are most at risk. So every action possible must be taken to contain it and care for those who fall ill.
King’s College Hospital will be in the front line.But King's is already overstretched after years of cuts from the Conservative government and with more people needing care. People already regularly wait longer than 4 hours in A & E and bed occupancy levels are 94%, well above the 85% limit So it’s vital that the government give Kings more money to bring in more staff and open up more beds. And they need to give extra resources to the Maudsley too so that people in mental health crisis are cared for there and not left waiting in Kings A and E.
King's was the first hospital to report that patients had contracted coronavirus and everyone saw that on the. But there was no information to tell patients whether they should go in for outpatients’ appointments or if planned surgery was going ahead. Nothing to tell visitors whether they should come as usual or stay away. And no information to GPs on whether they should continue to refer patients to Kings as usual despite the coronavirus outbreak. The NHS communications system needs to be much quicker so everyone knows they can just look on the website for the up to date position.
The Prime Minister has promised that people who stay off work because they are ill with suspected virus or if they are “self-isolating” will get Statutory Sick Pay from the first day off.But we need to ensure that that change actually happens on the ground. We don’t want people feeling that they have to go in to work when they are feeling ill or risk infecting others because they can’t afford to stay off. And there will need to be help too for people who are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, because they are self-employed or on zero hours contracts. There are 2 million people in this country who don’t earn enough to qualify for sick pay. The government must set up a special fund and payment system for them. Nor must the government cancel the benefits of people who are unable to go to Job Centre appointments or job interviews because they are ill but can’t get a doctor’s certificate or self-isolating. The benefit sanctions regime can be a blunt instrument at the best of times but it must take account of coronavirus.
Coronavirus is hitting businesses too as they struggle as supplies from abroad dry up or employees have to take time off. So they will need compensation too.
It’s inevitable, as the virus progresses, that there will be new challenges and unforeseen problems.And there have been reports that Parliament will be shut down so that we don’t spread the virus to the 650 different constituencies represented in Westminster. But we must keep the pressure on the Government to help people who need it and back up the NHS and that’s Parliament’s job. It makes sense to consider that at some point we might need to stop the thousands of visitors who come every day to Parliament. And we might need a slimmed down version of Parliament, with fewer MPs (nominated from each country, region and party) operating out of our mini-chamber in Westminster Hall. But the Government need to be accountable publicly for what they do in this most challenging of times. And Parliament must be able to continue to effectively scrutinise it.
Coronavirus is a new virus, there is no vaccine or treatment and we don’t know what path it will take. What we do know, though, is that it spreads rapidly...