I am aware that many local residents are concerned about the proposed Tooting Triangle development. Plans to upgrade the site’s facilities and amenities – replacing the artificial football pitch with a modern surface, and building new changing rooms, public toilets, a children’s play area, and a café – are welcome. However, the proposal to fund the improvements via a 25-year lease of the new facilities to TFL Leisure – a private company – is more controversial.
The fence set to be constructed around the new football pitch, and the lack of clarity as to whether the upgraded children’s Stay & Play facility will remain free to use, have prompted concerns that the development will put public land behind a literal paywall. I am sure you will agree that if the recent lockdowns have taught us anything, it is that there is a need for more publicly accessible green spaces – not less.
As it stands, the proposed development would see a reduction in the area available to the Balham Boxing Club compared with their current provision. Issues have also been raised regarding the smaller size of the female changing rooms compared to the men's, and the impact floodlighting could have on the Triangle’s resident bat population, among other things.
I understand that discussions on the proposed development are ongoing.
Please be assured that I am keeping a close eye on this evolving situation - we all want what's best for our local community.
I have written to the Housing Secretary to outline residents concerns about EWS1 forms and cladding.
The latest NHS data shows that from July to September this year the number of urgent referrals for children and young people suffering with eating disorders has almost doubled from the same period in 2019.
On 9 December, Alex Norris MP and I spoke with Dr Agnes Ayton, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Eating Disorder Faculty, mental health campaigner Hope Virgo, the Centre for Mental Health, Beat and Young Minds UK to discuss eating disorders and explore ways to alleviate them.
We urgently need a public mental health strategy which supports people with eating disorders. Christmas can be an especially difficult period, and it is vital that we remain sensitive to the fact that the focus on food and indulgence can cause individuals suffering with eating disorders real distress.
Young people struggling with their mental health need urgent support. Please rest assured that I will continue to press the Government for it.
I look forward to the New Year, where I will be looking to engage further with the sector as well as individuals with lived experience of eating disorders.
A number of local residents have reached out to ask me why my name was not included in a letter signed by 61 out of 650 MPs about the very concerning deportation flight to Jamaica. I wanted to explain how the process works.
Firstly, let me say that this was an incredibly serious matter, which is why I was pleased to see my colleague, Holly Lynch MP, the Shadow Immigration Minister, send an urgent letter to the Government raising concerns. I added my voice to her letter by writing to Priti Patel myself - requesting that the points Holly Lynch raised were answered urgently. A copy of that letter is below:
As a member of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, my role is to intervene in matters related to mental health (because I am the Shadow Minister for Mental Health). Members of the Shadow Cabinet do not speak in debates, sign letters, sign EDMs or intervene in matters which are not related to their role. This rule has been in place for as long as I know, it was the same when Jeremy Corbyn was leader.
I have noticed that my name was put on a list along with 12 colleagues, suggesting we were the only people not to sign this letter. No member of the Labour Shadow Cabinet signed the letter, indeed, almost three quarters of Labour MPs didn't sign the letter. Does that mean that they don't care? No, of course not. Sometimes they miss the deadline to sign, sometimes they can't sign, sometimes they make representations in different ways. It's very disappointing that some would single out me and 12 other colleagues, suggesting we were the only ones not to sign - simply to fit their political agenda.
My background has seen me work in war torn countries, disaster zones and refugee camps helping the world's most marginalised and vulnerable people. I always care deeply about these issues and to suggest otherwise is incorrect. I'll continue to liaise with my colleagues in the Home Affairs team with regards to this, and other important issues.