Monthly Round Up

Working for You – July and August 2019

In the Constituency

Over the summer, much of the communication from constituents has been about Brexit, with several residents contacting me recently to share their views about the proroguing of Parliament and a no-deal Brexit.

There is real concern about the tactics of Boris Johnson and what this could mean, not only for Brexit, but for democracy. I have written my views about how, without your consent, Boris Johnson has prevented me from doing my job.

Constituents have contacted me with continued reports of poor train service along the Thameslink and Bletchley lines. The recent hot weather caused delays and cancellations and I wrote to the Chief Executive to express my frustrations and ask what they are doing to ensure the efficient running of the service during extreme weather conditions. Over the weekends and evenings Bedford continues to be poorly served for both North and Southbound trains and the rail replacement bus services are struggling due to road closures.

My team have been busy helping constituents with a range of other issues. We have had a number of health and NHS related complaints recently including long delays for GP waiting times and concerns over delays to orthopaedic surgery at Bedford Hospital as well as the future of the hydrotherapy pool at Gilbert Hitchcock House. We are seeing the result of Government cuts to patient experience and access to treatment locally.

The Government approved the funding after months of delays for the merger of Luton and Dunstable Hospital and Bedford Hospital. I continue to be advised by hospital bosses that this is the only way to secure acute services in Bedford. I have been reassured that A&E, full maternity and paediatrics are safe. I am watching closely and will do all I can to ensure that there are no cuts to services at Bedford Hospital, and will campaign for the retention of the Hydrotherapy Pool, which I know is an important  service for to many of my constituents.

It has been my pleasure to attend several events across Bedford and Kempston this summer including, but not limited to, the Bedford Eid Festival, the Italian festival in Harpur Square, the Queens Park Allotments open day, the Bedford Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support AGM and the Bedfordshire Police Family Fun Day.

In Parliament

I made a representation that was recorded on the Hansard prior the House of Commons prior to recess:

25 July 2019: Priorities for Government (Bedford Hospital funding) 

This week MPs have returned to the House of Commons, and it has been a very difficult few days. At the time of writing this, Boris Johnson has lost his majority and reduced it yet further by expelling 21 MPs from the Party, neighbouring MP Alistair Burt has confirmed that he will not stand in the next General election, and there is a steady flow of Conservative MPs handing in their resignations, the last of which was the Prime Minister’s own brother, Orpington MP Jo Johnson. This week MPs have voted in favour of legislation which aims to prevent No Deal, which is now making progress through the House of Lords.

In order to prevent any risk of a no deal Brexit happening, Labour party MPs abstained from voting in favour of a General Election, and will likely decline to do so before the withdrawal date of the 31st October, however the prospect of a snap general election continues to loom large.

Monthly Round Up



Last month 336 cases were opened on a range of subjects.

Nearly 20% of those who wrote in were concerned about International Affairs, in particular about stopping British arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the the news that the Court of Appeal ruled that British government sales of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in the ongoing war in Yemen are ‘unlawful’. Several wrote to me concerned about the welfare of Nazanin Ratcliffe after the British/ Iranian citizen went on hunger strike in prison in Iran.

12% wrote to me about tougher sentences on animal abuse by supporting the animal welfare Bill which I did.

Another 12% wrote to me about climate issues, and many asked me to attend the mass lobby for climate, nature and people – the Time Is Now on 26 June which I did.

8% of constituents writing in last month raised their concerns about the case of a mother with severe learning disabilities who was in danger of a forced abortion at 22 weeks. I am pleased the ruling was overturned by 3 Court of Appeal judges who found the original ruling infringed human rights.

Emails on Brexit were a bit quieter this month – accounting for only 5% of emails – the majority of which were calling for a second referendum following the EU election results. Several wrote in complaining they’d been disenfranchised from the EU elections – a matter I have taken up in Parliament.

Parliament is virtually at a standstill while the Tory leadership contest dominates the Parliamentary and political landscape. The contest is a macho event with the two remaining contenders trying to out do each other on who can offer the most destructive Brexit. In their attempt to appeal to the tiny majority of Conservative Members who will vote for their leader, we have now the dog whistle politics of fox hunting back on the agenda – a policy that the majority of the public were glad to see the back of.

My team have been busy helping constituents with a range of issues. Housing (particularly issues with allocations), concerns about crime, transport difficulties and Universal Credit problems have all featured.

I’ve continued to carry out my regular surgeries across the constituency.

In the community

It was great to celebrate Eid Mubarak at the beginning of June and I also enjoyed joining the Bandhan group for their Queens birthday tea party event.

On Armed Forces Day 2019 I met service men and women, Veterans and Cadets in Bedford town centre. It is right that we recognise the personal sacrifices so many make to keep our Country safe. We must do all we can to support our armed forces personnel both during their service and after.

I was proud to be a part of the multicultural parade organised by the Queens Park Community Orchard. The theme this year was reduce, reuse, recycle – with a plastic octopus highlighting the damage plastics can do to animals. It was a great event to bring people from a variety of backgrounds together to highlight this issue.

I met with Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire at The Kempston Police HQ where we discussed the problem of unregulated children’s homes – an issue that Jackie has been working hard to expose, because of the extreme vulnerability of the young people who live in some of this supported accommodation. Knife crime remains a focus for the force, but inevitably, with reduced numbers of Police and inadequate funding, other types of crime reports (vehicle theft and burglary for example) don’t always receive as much attention as the force would like

I had a great time at Priory Primary School, meeting students during Aspiration week. We talked about their hopes and aspirations for the future. It was also a pleasure to talk to Beech Class in Goldington Green Academy about climate change. I got the chance to answer some very insightful questions from the students about what more we can do to protect our environment and eradicate plastic pollution.

In Parliament

I received this letter from the Royal College of Physicians asking me to raise their concerns about the extent of the recruitment crisis.

I had an excellent meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses’ where it was great to see Charlie Walker of Tax Assist Bedford.

And HCLG Select Committee this month took evidence from Government Minister Rishi Sunak on local government finance and the future funding gap which according to a report by the LGA and independent analysis from PwC is set to rise to around £8 billion in 2024. It also continued its inquiry into the implications of the waste strategy for local authorities and discussed the HCLG Committee report and Government response into the future of High Streets and Town Centres. Given last month’s news on the closure of Topshop and Topman in Bedford, it was a timely opportunity to debate the huge pressures facing the retail sector, the changing face of our high streets and what we can do help the retail sector have a level playing field with online retail and how we must quickly adapt to the new ways people shop and to think about what we want from our community hubs in the future.

I have spoken a number of times in the House of Commons on other issues. Click on the following links to read in full:

4 June: Privately Run Prisons –

11 June: Free TV Licenses: Over 75s –

9 June: Inequality and Social Mobility –

13 June: High Streets and Town Centres in 2030 –

Working for You – May 2019

In the constituency

Many constituents have written urging me to push the Government to implement a new housing regulator, in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy. Several constituents have written calling for an ambitious Environment Bill that can restore our countryside to its full glory and halt the current crisis. Others have written on the topic of beer duty, which they wish to see cut in the Autumn 2019 budget and several have contacted me to condone the use of torture; I agree that torture is inhumane and I will continue to press the Government to raise this at an international level. Many constituents have written to me on the subject of Brexit to express their desire for a second referendum, or ‘People’s Vote’.

Bedford Borough reflected the national picture at the local elections earlier this month, seeing gains for the both Liberal Democrats and Green Party, and in consequence we lost some excellent Labour Councillors. I extend my deep commiserations to my colleagues who lost their seats and offer my thanks on behalf of the constituents who they served so diligently. They have left both their mark within their wards, and large shoes to fill to the incoming incumbents. I also want to thank the candidates who campaigned tirelessly, yet who weren’t successful on this occasion.

I offer my congratulations to all Labour councillors who gained new or held their seats to serve the community for the next term. I am particularly delighted that constituents have voted in Bedford’s first two Muslim female councillors, Fouzia Zamir and Nesreen Akhtar, councillors for Cauldwell and Queen’s Park Wards respectively.

Thanks are also due to all the volunteers who knocked on countless doors, delivered literature, brought people out to vote on the day and more besides.

I was also very disappointed to see former MEP Alex Mayer lose her seat in last week’s European Elections: she worked tirelessly to represent this region in Brussels and to champion the needs of the many according to the Labour Party’s principles.

I have been busy of late within the constituency. It is currently Ramadan, and I have attended a number of community iftar events, where we end our daily fast for Ramadan at sunset. I helped at a litterpick with the Riverfield Residents Association and was honoured to speak at their recent meeting and I was also pleased to speak at the recent International Workers Day celebrations. It was great to catch up with Doris Sharp at her 105th Birthday celebrations at Salvete Care Home, and I was proud to support the young people of Bedford who went on strike last week to urge the Government to address the climate emergency.

I continue to hold busy surgeries around the constituency, usually in supermarkets where a great number of people come to discuss a range of issues with me. Follow this link for details of where and when these take place.

In Parliament

I have now joined the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee. Having seen the effect of Grenfell and the lack of affordable housing in Bedford and Kempston, I fully intend to hold the Government to account as part of my new role. It is important that the department is questioned thoroughly on its policies. Furthermore, I hope to be at an event in parliament to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of Grenfell, where survivors and relatives of those who lost their lives will be in attendance.

I have spoken a number of times in the House of Commons on other issues. Click on the following links to read in full:

18 March 2019: Far-Right Violence and Online Extremism

4 April 2019: Topical Questions on Brexit

4 April 2019: Loan Charge

9 April 2019: Rwandan Genocide Alleged Perpetrators

1 May 2019: Environment and Climate Change

14 May 2019: Prisons and Probation 

20 May 2019: Medical Cannabis Under Prescription

Working for You – March 2019

In the constituency

Over the past month many constituents have been writing to me about to me about the debates scheduled for yesterday, 14th March, worried about the effect future trade deals could have on our NHS and other public services, and regarding the Agriculture Bill, concerned with protecting our high food standards, post Brexit.  I was able to ask questions in the House of Commons on this. I continue to be contacted each week by a large number of constituents sharing a range of views on Brexit, over half of which include a call for a second referendum.

A number of constituents have written to share their views that schools must be given funding for the safe removal of asbestos and several constituents have requested I put pressure on the Prime Minister to ensure the rules on earthquakes in our fracking legislation are not watered down.

My team have had a busy month with casework on behalf of constituents, with requests for help with Home Office issues, and yet further incidences where constituents’ fluctuating income or employer pay schedules are leading to indefensible losses of Universal Credit income.

I was pleased to see a great turnout for the DKMS Bhangra Ball event at Empire at the beginning of March which raised much needed funds to increase their register of stem cell donors, and it was inspiring to see the talent on display at last week’s Bedfordshire Festival of Music Speech and Drama at the Corn Exchange.

Tomorrow I will be attending the Rail Campaign public meeting at Trinity Arts & Leisure and over the weekend have been invited to celebrate with Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha Bedford for the 642nd Birth Anniversary of Sat Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ji, at the procession through the town centre tomorrow, Saturday, and at the temple on Sunday. I will attend Holi celebrations on the 24th March at Goldington Green Cricket Club.

In Parliament

Brexit debates continued to dominate proceedings in recent weeks, resulting in a series of votes across three days this week. Incredibly the Prime Minister looks set to bring her botched deal back to the commons for a third vote next week, but last night Parliament supported an extension to article 50, which will be requested of the EU if her deal is not agreed. Yesterday was not the right time to call for a second referendum, but I will set out my thoughts on Brexit in a separate post which I will publish later today.

I have spoken a number of times in the House of Commons on other issues. Click on the following links to read in full:

25 February 2019: Relationships and Sex Education

26 February 2019: Jammu & Kashmir

28 February: Net Zero Carbon Emissions: UK Progress

04 March: School Funding

04 March: Planning Reform – High Streets

14 March 2019: Leaving the EU: Agricultural Sector and Overseas Goods

Working for You – February 2019

In the constituency

I’ve been contacted by a number of concerned constituents in reaction to news that M&S in Bedford town centre will be closing on the 4th May, and have been in contact with senior M&S staff urging them to reconsider their decision. Many will have been following the M&S campaign online. M&S bosses told me this week that this is a commercial decision which is not influenced by high business rates or the market being held outside the store, and although the high rental costs were something of a factor, it’s simply the case that people do not spend enough money in town centre M&S stores any more, throughout the country.

I have received many more emails from constituents regarding Brexit, again representing a range of views. Constituents have written concerning amendments to the Agricultural Bill to control the use of pesticide, also regarding amendments to protect the environment to reverse the decimation of wildlife populations by restoring nature.

I have also received emails about CAMRA’s campaign to protect British pubs, and by constituents expressing differing views regarding assisted dying, and emails in support of the NSPCC’s campaign to stop people in positions of trust taking advantage of minors.

I was also contacted by a number of constituents after speaking about ME treatment, and I have received emails reflecting both sides of the debate regarding Parliamentary prayers.

My team have been working with constituents to support them with casework, as usual dominated by issues with immigration, housing, and antisocial behaviour. We have new medical cases revealing potential issues with Circle MSK, and issues with combined GP surgeries highlighting the impact that has on patients being sent to appointments across different locations.

In Parliament

Whilst Brexit continues to dominate proceedings, I have made the following appearances:

24/01/19 –  Joint HMI Prison and Probation Report 

24/01/19 –  Appropriate ME Treatment

05/02/10 – Prison overcrowding

06/02/19 – Public Sector Procurement

07/02/19 – Caste based discrimination

07/02/19 – Antisocial behaviour

11/02/19 – Universal Credit: Fluctuating Income

11/02/19 – Free TV Licenses for over 75s


Working for You – December 18 & January 19

In the constituency

Emails continue to flood my inbox on the subject of Brexit, and very many constituents wrote to express their concern about the rollout of Universal Credit. A significant number of people wrote to me to ask for a ban on trophy hunting imports into the UK .

Constituents have written to me calling for pressure to be put on the Financial Conduct Authority to enforce their rules on affordability checks for payday loans, and about the Immigration Bill which had its second reading this week, prompting fears that Government plans will worsen NHS and care sector staff shortages. I’ve heard from a number of people who have asked me  to put pressure on the Government regarding long-term plans for the NHS and their failure to address waiting times for treatment, and an Alzheimers Society campaign regarding dementia care prompted a number of people to contact me too.

The cases that my team have been working hard with constituents to address continue to be varied, but with several local authority issues including housing and Special Educational Needs. My office has also taken up cases relating to mental health provision, Bedford prison and issues with DWP and the Home Office, amongst others.

I have met with constituents at my drop-in surgeries and continued to knock on doors and meet constituents across Bedford and Kempston.

In Parliament

Please follow the following links to Hansard to read about my recent appearances in Westminster.

In December, I was able to ask questions about the administration of Johnston Press, the plight of the Rohingya, the adequacy of the breast cancer screening programme, the state pension issue for women who were born in the 1950s, and raised a question relating to the lack of enforcement of existing legislation relating to the use of fireworks.

At the debate for the NHS Long-Term Plan on the 7th January I raised the issues of the lack of in-patient beds for male adults in Bedford, which has led to a struggle in terms of the care constituents are able to access. Following this, I was able to ask a question on the Secretary of State’s plan regarding this issue and whether they would reinstate in-patient mental health facilities in Bedford.

I raised a question on 15th January about a specific incident involving ambulance response time when called from a GP surgery. I expressed my concern about this issue and asked a question about future action in terms of the wellbeing of patients, regardless of where they call from.

On 17th January I spoke in a debate on children’s social care, raising the issue of unregulated semi-independent living homes for children leaving care, which are often unfit for purpose and leave vulnerable young people at risk.

On 24th January I posed a question about the impact on local residents as a result of intimidating behaviour from prisoners inside Bedford Prison, and as a result of the dilapidation of the Prison estate, to which Rory Stewart MP promised to seek a solution. I also spoke in the debate on the medical condition ME, sufferers of which are often stigmatised and marginalised, and which requires urgent funded research into finding appropriate treatments.


Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards

Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards

Last week I attended the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards and was proud to have been shortlisted in the category of Political Supporter of the Year.

The Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards are held annually to celebrate, recognise and thank the outstanding supporters who keep the pioneering blood cancer charity moving forward. Over the last year my team and I have supported Anthony Nolan in a number of ways, from promoting their education programme, The Hero Project, to leading a debate on black, Asian and minority ethnic blood, stem cell and organ donation.

It is a privilege to be able to use my position as an MP to raise awareness of stem cell donation among people from ethnic minority backgrounds – because no person should be faced with the prospect of being told that they have no match on the register.

Bedford Group, Bandhan Bedford, led by local woman Poonam Chand, did some fantastic work this year, organising blood stem cell drives and raising awareness around blood cancer and what it means to join the stem cell register. Inspired by the story of little Kaiya Patel (who has now received a potentially life-saving transplant and is now recovering) the support that they have given to this vital cause saw a tremendous increase in stem cell registrations in the constituency.aced with the prospect of being told that they have no match on the register.

Pictured here with Kaiya Patel’s Aunt and Uncle and Anthony Nolan chair of the Board of Trustees, Ian Krieger.

Getting in touch

Getting in touch

I’m receiving a high volume of email correspondence from constituents at the moment about a wide range of issues. I’m always happy to hear from people so please do continue to get in touch with your views.

Some newer campaigning organisations that have been inviting people to submit emails to MPs do not include a return email address however, so it’s tricky to respond. We’ll get responses out on paper to those without full contact details, (if they have sent a postal address) as quickly as we can, but if you have sent me an email recently, you may wish to check that you included all of your contact details when you did so.

The best email address for me is:

Others ways to contact me can be found here.

Working for You – October & November 2018

In the constituency

I have been contacted by many constituents regarding Brexit, and the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement. Large numbers of constituents contacted me wishing to see the rollout of Universal Credit halted, and we have received several emails from constituents concerned that the Environment Bill must be fit for purpose to meet environmental challenges. Many concerned constituents wrote to us to share their anger at confirmation in the budget that the reduction in Fixed Odds Betting Terminals maximum stakes from £100 to £2 would be delayed. I am pleased to see the Government has responded to pressure and made a welcome U turn on this decision, and the reduction will be implemented in April 2019. Good news not only for the individuals and families directly affected, but for the wider community.

Locally, we are seeing several cases related to housing, many of which relate to issues regarding housing allocations. We are also being contacted by local landlords and tenants alike affected by Universal Credit/Housing Benefit direct payments, with Landlords unwilling to rent to claimants leading to tenants facing discrimination.

I attended several moving Remembrance Day services and memorials within the constituency, and I have met with several constituents during busy drop-in surgeries at Project 229, Morrisons  and at Tesco Riverfield Drive.

In Parliament

Please follow these links for my recent appearances in Parliament.

11th October: Transport Questions: Access for All Programme –  lifts at Bedford station 

16th October:  BEIS Questions: Sainsbury’s Asda merger – impact of takeover on workforce

26th October: Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill – Registration of Stillbirths

29th October: Budget – Bedford Police Funding

30th October FCO Questions: MET investigation into Rwandan Genocide suspects in UK

6th November: Urgent Q Police Pension Liabilities – emergency funding for Bedfordshire Police

13th November: Opposition Day Debate: School Funding – Bedford funding allocation


Public Losing Confidence in Police

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts published a report on the financial sustainability of police forces this week which should act as a stark warning to Government that cuts to Police funding must be reversed, and our police forces resourced properly. With a fifth fewer officers and staff since 2010-11 making fewer arrests despite a rise in violent crime and sexual offences, it is no wonder that the public are losing confidence in their police forces.

Despite the Chancellor’s false claims of an end to austerity, the recent budget failed to address the issue of police funding. The report suggests the problem goes even deeper than cuts, claiming that Government ‘does not have a national picture of demand for police services and so has a limited understanding of what resources forces need’.

Having spent a day with Bedfordshire Police not that long ago, I know only too well how hard the officers work to deal with as many issues as they can, but there’s only so much they can do with such depleted resources.

I’ve been calling on the Government to address Bedfordshire Police’s funding crisis since before my election, and I’ll keep doing it. I support their bid for funding from the Police Special Grant too, but that needs to be as well as, not instead of, a proper long-term funding settlement.

It’s sad that public confidence is waning but it was perhaps inevitable in the face of such a complete refusal by Government to accept the facts.

All I can say is I’ll keep fighting, but please don’t stop reporting crimes. Without the data about what’s happening on our streets, it will become harder to make the case that there’s not enough resource.