Reporting Back - February 2019
This will no doubt be another momentous and busy year in British politics, both locally and nationally. This is reflected in this edition of my community email, with news on Brexit, Mucky Merton, Town Centre regeneration and more.

You can also keep up to date with my work locally and in Parliament by following me on Facebook or on Twitter. You can also contact me about any issue by replying to this email.
Exiting the European Union
I have always argued that a Hard Brexit and no deal are not acceptable outcomes from the Brexit process.

Three weeks ago, I voted for the Withdrawal Agreement, and you can read my statement on that vote here. Weighing heavily on my mind for that vote was the fact that if nothing happens, if Parliament and the Government cannot decide any course of action, the UK will leave the EU with no deal in March; this is the default option and would be a catastrophe. Indeed, as businesses say to me, this deal allows us to move forward, protects jobs and rules out no deal.

Since then several things have happened. The Government has struggled to unite the House of Commons, and both political parties are split. The second referendum campaign decided not to put forward an amendment to enact their wishes as there was too little support.

Meanwhile March 29 th hurtles towards us and there will be a no deal Brexit if nothing else is agreed.

It has been widely reported that I worked on the beginnings of the “Malthouse Compromise”. I have always been clear that I would support a deal that allows me to campaign for my vision of the future relationship with the EU. The compromise that I have worked on does not change the fact that once we have agreed a Withdrawal Agreement it would allow us to negotiate a future relationship with the EU27 and makes no prediction about what that might be.

Please be in no doubt that I shall argue for close alignment both on customs and regulation as I have always done – a Single Market and Customs Union style solution.

The compromise makes a hard border in Ireland unnecessary, guarantees citizens’ rights and extends the transition period to December 2021, giving more certainty to people and businesses.

Whilst I know some people are always critical of efforts to find a solution, this is not a sell-out nor bowing to the Brexiteers, who have accepted the financial settlement with the EU, a longer transition period where EU law applies and the need for a backstop style arrangement.

I could not be clearer that I regard no deal as a disastrous outcome for the country and my constituency. People may lose their jobs through the damage to the economy, our international credibility would be devastated, the Good Friday Agreement would be tested to its limit, there would be a legal vacuum with the loss of hundreds of treaties we are party to by virtue of EU membership, and complex supply chains would be disrupted overnight.

The effects of no deal are so damaging that I cannot take any risks advocating solutions that are unlikely to succeed. I am a pragmatist, so I am working with what is possible in the House of Commons. This was made clear three weeks ago when the House of Commons both voted against no deal and in favour of a deal with a revised backstop – the best possible way to avoid no deal is with a deal.

Attempting to extend Article 50 does not stop no deal, non-binding motions do not stop no deal, creating days for debates does not stop no deal, another referendum certainly does not guarantee no deal is avoided. The only way to stop no deal that the House of Commons will support at present is a deal.

It may be that this compromise might not be successful, and if that is the case there will be a chance for the House of Commons to vote on an amendable motion on 14 th February. I will take whatever action is necessary and likely to succeed at that point to avoid no deal. 

This compromise also does not mean I am ruling out any other options. I have worked on and investigated other alternative compromises, which ultimately did not gain enough support in the House of Commons, including EFTA/EEA.

This country and my constituents need a solution to avoid no deal and it is only prudent that I pursue options that do this.

Everyone, including the Queen, has urged politicians to come together and find a solution and this is exactly what I am trying to do. 
Mucky Merton
One issue that remains at the top of residents’ list of frustrations and dominates my inbox is the lack of cleanliness of our streets and the poor refuse collection service. Labour-run Merton Council continues to neglect our area and let residents down by neither listening to nor caring about our concerns. The Council needs to invest in street cleaning, providing a better refuse service and provide a waste/recycling centre in Wimbledon.

For this reason, I have made my New Year’s resolution to make 2019 a year of civic pride across Wimbledon, Raynes Park, Morden and Motspur Park.

To do my bit, over the course of the year your local Conservative councillors and I will be organising clean-up sessions across our area. Together if we commit to making 2019 a year of civic pride we can turn Mucky Merton into Wonderful Wimbledon.
Regeneration of our Town Centres
After a long wait, at the end of last year the Council released and consulted on their Masterplan for Wimbledon. Now that the consultation has closed I have asked for feedback on the consultation as soon as possible.

There is no doubt that a plan for the future of Wimbledon is needed. We need a consistent approach to office, retail and residential space that ensures Wimbledon remains a fantastic place in which to live, shop and work which enhances and supports Wimbledon’s globally recognised and respected brand.

My priorities are high quality buildings that are in keeping with the character of the area, and the provision of green spaces to help improve both air quality and quality of life.

I am concerned that we have not seen any plans for the regeneration of Morden, despite it being given Housing Zone status in 2015. This is something I will continue to raise with the Council alongside Cllr Nick McLean of Cannon Hill ward. 
NHS Long Term Plan
It was a great honour to be appointed Minister of State for Health at the end of last year. While Brexit dominates the headlines, we must not lose sight of the fact that ‘normal’ Government needs to continue, and being responsible for ensuring the NHS can continue to be there for everyone while always improving is a vital job.

I am proud to have contributed to the NHS Long Term Plan. The Government will invest an additional £20.5 billion per annum in the NHS by 2023/24. This will enable the NHS to address the growing challenges of an ageing population and properly plan for the future.

I am also delighted that the South West London Health and Care Partnership has secured £1.85m of funding for children and young people’s mental health. This funding will help to create enhanced mental health support teams locally.

Finally, it is great the see the Patrick Doody Clinic on Pelham Road up and running, incorporating the new Wimbledon Medical Practice (formerly Princes Road Surgery). The move will benefit patients and staff by providing newly refurbished and modernised consulting and treatment rooms; waiting areas and reception on the ground floor. It also sees more health services in the same building, in a very convenient location between Wimbledon Town Centre and South Wimbledon. 
Merton Council increasing parking charges
It is disappointing, but not surprising that Labour-run Merton Council is set to increase parking charges for people in Wimbledon and Raynes Park. This is on top of the “diesel surcharge” has already increased the cost of parking permits. 

The Council want to hike up permit fees from £65 to £120 or £150 depending on where in Wimbledon you live. That is an increase of 185% and 231% respectively.

The Council provided no evidence to show that taxing Wimbledon will help improve air quality across Merton or the public health of residents.

GIven most of the Borough's Controlled Parking Zones are in the Wimbledon area, this is effectively another tax on the residents of Wimbledon.

Conservative councillors Daniel Holden and Nick McLean argued against the increase and put forward motions to scrap it – but were defeated by Labour councillors. 
Heathrow Expansion Consultation
I recently organised a public meeting with representatives from Heathrow Airport. To find out more about their consultation on Heathrow expansion please go to:
Crossrail 2
I met with the Chief Executive of Crossrail 2 last Monday, but there was nothing new to report. Crossrail 2 continue to work on their “Independent Affordability Review" to examine ways of making the scheme more affordable. It may not be until the Comprehensive Spending Review later this year until we hear more news.

At previous meetings with Crossrail 2 I raised the news that Crossrail 2 are considering permanently closing the level crossings on West Barnes Lane and Motspur Park when the line opens. I said that any permanent level crossing closures in the area will be completely unacceptable without full plans to address both the road and pedestrian traffic needs. 
Improving access at Raynes Park and Motspur Park Stations
The Department of Transport has announced funding to make railway stations more accessible and Network Rail have asked for nominations from MPs for stations to benefit from this.

I nominated Raynes Park and Motspur Park Stations and I am delighted to say that Network Rail have included both in their submission.

The Department for Transport will announce the successful stations in April this year. This is a highly competitive process and funding is not guaranteed, but Network Rail have said they will continue to work with me to consider other possible funding sources if necessary.

Raynes Park – I made the point the station is only partly accessible for wheelchair users, and I have had reports that passengers are often guided to Wimbledon to change platforms. Furthermore, Raynes Park has many young families and I regularly receive requests from constituents for step free access from those with pushchairs. The station benefits from a very active residents group dedicated to upgrading the surrounding area and campaigning for improvements for the station.

Motspur Park – This station offers a vital public transport service in the middle of a residential area. The lack of step free access renders Motspur Park inaccessible for wheelchair users and again is difficult to access for those with pushchairs. Moreover the station is adjacent to Blossom House School for children with speech, language and communication difficulties, some of whom would benefit from better accessibility.
Motspur Park Station Waiting Room
The waiting room at Motspur Park station has been closed for far too long and I have raised this with South Western Railway and Network Rail.

Network Rail agreed, and undertook the necessary work to reopen the waiting room.

After some more chasing, I am pleased to say that Network Rail have confirmed that the repairs have been completed to Motspur Park Station's waiting room, and it is at long last ready to be used again.

However, while the Network Rail works were complete I had to chase South West Railway to open the waiting room. I am pleased to say that it should now be open during booking office opening hours:

  • Mon to Fri: 06.30 to 13.00
  • Sat: 08.00 to 13.00
  • Sun: 09.00 to 14.00
Parliamentary Pub of the Year
I nominated the Alexandra Pub on Wimbledon Hill Road in the Parliamentary Pub of the Year Awards, in recognition of their fantastic work fighting loneliness in the community. I am delighted that their hard work was recognised and they won the award for best pub in London. 
Local Events
I am always happy to highlight local events in my community email, and if you would like me to do so, please let me know by replying to this email. Below is a message from Wimbledon Theatre about their upcoming productions.
Wimbledon Theatre
February at New Wimbledon Theatre will be a month of great musicals including Avenue Q, The Rocky Horror Show, Fame and Rock of Ages. Plus ballet from the Russian State Ballet and comedy with the Stand Up for SeeAbility charity event on 25 February. Looking further ahead, the theatre will be premiering a new production of the classic musical Hair in March and sees the welcome return of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake in April. A new website for the theatre is also about to be launched.
JS Bach Mass in B minor at St Matthew's Durham Road, SW20 0DE
Saturday 2nd March at 7.30pm

Performed by the Ariel Consort of London with Belsize Baroque and directed by Douglas Lee - Bach's magnificent B minor Mass, the culmination of his life's work in choral music.

Tickets are £15 and can be ordered online here:
Promoted by David Jones on behalf of Stephen Hammond MP, both of 3 Summerstown, London, SW17 0BQ