Update: Grenfell Tower

I have been contacted by many constituents following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, North Kensington last Wednesday.

 

Many who have contacted me live in tower blocks across the local area, and are concerned at the safety and security of their own buildings. I, alongside local councillors, have been in touch with various housing stakeholders across Erith and Thamesmead to see what action, if any, is being taken to re-assess fire risk and to communicate with residents in tower blocks.

 

Greenwich Council have provided reassurances that fire safety is of the highest priority and that the Housing Service has a framework in place for management of fire safety, was comprehensively reviewed following the Lakanal Tower fire in Southwark. All the 93 high rise blocks across Greenwich are fire risk assessed annually, and the council are carrying out additional checks on the cladding materials used for external wall insulation on eleven of their high rise blocks.

 

Bexley Council have published a statement noting that although they do not own or manage any high rise tower blocks, they have contacted all of the main housing providers in the borough to ensure that they are all complying with the relevant fire safety requirements. They have also joined a pan-London team working with the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea offering the services of trained Council staff to work at a rest centre in the area.

 

I note that Peabody have issued a statement and are writing to residents in tower blocks including details of extra inspections, how residents can stay safe in their homes, re-confirming what to do in case of fire, and to confirm that they are reviewing proposals to clad the outside of existing tower blocks in Thamesmead. Detailed questions have also been raised regarding the design of the towers in Thamesmead and I await full responses to those questions.

 

Orbit have provided reassurances that all of their maintained blocks have up to date fire risk assessments in place and have visited the 10 high rise blocks they maintain in Bexley to give reassurance to residents.

 

My thoughts remain with all those affected by the fire in West London last week, and I pay tribute to the emergency services who responded with such courage and professionalism. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has now decided to hold a full and independent public inquiry into the fire, and I look forward to the publication of its terms of reference and to reviewing its final recommendations.

 

In recent years in Parliament I have been a member of the All Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group, and have proposed amendments to legislation to ensure that fire safety is integral to all building and housing. In April 2016 I contacted the Minister regarding the outstanding review of Building Regulations Approved Document B which covers fire safety and was told that they would make an announcement of their plans in due course. Sadly no announcement has come forward. I will continue to pressure Ministers to urgently come forward with plans to ensure that building works are done to the highest possible standard and with concern for everybody’s safety at their heart.

 

If you live in a tower block and have concerns about your block, please do contact me and I will raise your concerns with the relevant local authority or housing association.

 

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Teresa re-elected with increased majority

 

Teresa was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Erith and Thamesmead with an increased majority and vote share at the General Election on Thursday 8th June 2017.

Speaking about the result, Teresa said:

“I am delighted and honoured to have been re-elected as the MP for Erith and Thamesmead. I would like to thank everybody who once again placed their trust in me to serve and represent our community in Parliament.

 

“The country and our local area face enormous challenges, whether it is Brexit, the housing crisis, Southeastern rail, or the NHS and social care, and I am looking forward to working in Parliament and in the local area to support and represent local people.”

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Teresa Slams Flawed Rail Franchise Consultation

Consultation and Response from the Minister

Consultation and Response from the Minister

Teresa has today slammed the flawed Department for Transport consultation on the future of the South East Rail Franchise.

The public consultation document – ‘Shaping the Future – March 2017’ sets out the existing service, the challenges facing the South Eastern Service and future proposals regarding South Eastern rail network.

The consultation document detailed the likely increase in population in South-East London and the impact upon rail services. However the number of new homes considered is significantly underestimated at 36,000.

teresa-pearce-mpTeresa wrote to the Department for Transport for clarification regarding this figure, who acknowledged that the figure was too low and that the correct figure is around 68,400. The consultation documents have not been changed to reflect the admission of this error.

Speaking about the flawed consultation, Teresa said:

“We all know the historic issues of delays, overcrowding and cancellations on the current Southeastern service, which is why it was so shocking that in 2014 the Government renewed their contract, to the ire of commuters and rail users across the south-east. Since then these problems have continued, and with the contract due to end in 2018, there is an opportunity to bring the service up to scratch.

 

“Sadly this flawed consultation on the future of the service is based on incorrect information and massively underestimates the number of new homes to come in the local area and the number of people who will be using the service in the future. Failing to assess the service level needed accurately will only exacerbate the problems and leave rail users paying more and more for less and less.

 

“I am not confident that the future demand for rail services in South East London is being fully considered and consulted on, and if they have made mistakes on this, what else have they made mistakes on?”

The consultation document also makes a proposal to limit the choice of central London destinations for rail users, so that trains on some lines would only go to one central London station, such as Cannon Street.

Speaking about the proposal for trains terminate, Teresa said:

“This proposal would drastically limit the choice and options for rail users in my constituency and across the South-East. It would significantly increase journey times, and would lead to major problems of overcrowding and further pressure on already busy interchange stations like Lewisham.

 

“Losing direct connections to certain central London stations would be a major change to the service and I would encourage everybody to respond directly to the consultation on the Department for Transport’s website.”

You can respond to the consultation on the Department for Transport’s website here, or by email to BetterSouthEastern@dft.gsi.gov.uk, and sign the petition against the proposal here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/190894

 

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Teresa pledges to help end the ‘cold homes crisis’ in Erith and Thamesmead

 

EndFuelPoverty

Teresa (centre) with Labour’s Shadow BEIS Ministers, Alan Whitehead MP and Gill Furniss MP.

Teresa is supporting charity National Energy Action’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day by pledging to do more to ‘tackle cold homes’.

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is a national campaign to highlight the problem of fuel poverty, which currently sees over four million households unable to afford the energy they need to stay warm and healthy in their homes. It is a particular problem for those in low incomes living in energy inefficient homes that are difficult and expensive to heat. Fuel Poverty Awareness Day will be held on the 17th February 2017.

Speaking about the crisis, Teresa said:

“Living in a cold damp home can lead to extremely poor health, especially in those who are vulnerable such as older people, young children, and those with long term sickness and disabilities. Not only will it be causing misery for millions of people this winter, but also placing a huge strain on our already stretched health services. In Erith and Thamesmead, 3531 households are believed to be in fuel poverty.

 

“More needs to be done nationally, however I know that there is excellent work going on in my constituency and across the UK to tackle this issue, and I look forward to working alongside others in the community to help raise awareness of the problem and the solutions available.”

Jenny Saunders OBE, Chief Executive of National Energy Action commented:

“Fuel poverty is a serious problem and one that we cannot tackle alone. I am delighted that Teresa Pearce MP is supporting the campaign and helping to ensure that her constituents can live warm, healthy and happy lives.”

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Teresa urges constituency groups to apply for National Lottery First World War Centenary money

 

teresa-pearce-mpTeresa has today urged local community groups to apply for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) money available for projects exploring the First World War during the current Centenary commemorations.

At present, no groups from the Erith and Thamesmead Constituency have received money from the Fund.

Following the phenomenal success of its community grants programme First World War: then and now, HLF has made £2 million available this year for communities looking to explore, conserve and share local heritage of the First World War. Grants are available between £3,000 and £10,000.

Thanks to National Lottery funding, thousands of young people and communities throughout the UK have already been involved in activities marking the Centenary such as: researching and recording local heritage; conserving and finding out more about war memorials; and using digital technology to share the fascinating stories they uncover.

Teresa said:

“Community groups up and down the country have been using the Heritage Lottery Fund to commemorate the Great War and run fascinating events based on local histories of the war. Erith, Belvedere and the surrounding areas have a rich local history and there is a fascinating story to tell about our local area and the Great War.

 

“It is so important that we remember the impact of this war one hundred years on.  There is still time to apply for National Lottery money and I would urge anyone with an idea for their own project to get in touch with the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

There are now more than 1,620 First World War projects taking place across the UK, thanks to more than £82million of investment from HLF.

More information on how to apply for HLF funding is available at www.hlf.org.uk

 

 

 

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Teresa raises awareness of new funding pot for local charities

 

teresa-pearce-mpTeresa has said that 2017 could be the year for local charities to help get a special project off the ground by applying for a share of a £6 million funding pot, raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The funding will be allocated through three Trusts, which support different categories of projects. There will be two opportunities for groups to apply in 2017 (January and August) and £3 million will be available for each funding round.

The application process is simple. The first round – which opens from 23 January until 10 February 2017 – starts with organisations being encouraged to submit an ‘expression of interest’ form. Charities will then be shortlisted to complete a full application for funding.

In August, interested groups and organisations can apply or re-apply when a second pot of £3million will become available. The maximum a project can receive is £20,000.

Teresa urged local charities to tap into this exciting funding stream:

“2017 could be the year to get a special project off the ground to benefit the local community.

 

This funding will be allocated to lots of different types of initiatives and it’s such a fantastic opportunity for local charities to get additional support. Don’t miss out, apply now.”

 

People’s Postcode Trust seeks applications for projects that focus on the prevention of poverty, promotion of human rights, equal rights and conflict resolution for some of society’s most vulnerable groups. Postcode Local Trust supports wildlife, sustainability and volunteering initiatives. Postcode Community Trust focuses on grass-roots sports, arts, recreation and healthy living programmes.

Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised more than £168.4 million to date for over 2,800 good causes across Great Britain and internationally.

For more information on how to apply for funding, please visit the Trusts’ websites: www.postcodetrust.org.uk www.postcodelocaltrust.org.uk www.postcodecommunitytrust.org.uk

 

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Teresa calls for clarity over future of Abbey Wood Post Office

teresa-pearce-mp

Teresa has today called for further clarity over the future of Abbey Wood Post Office.

The Post Office has announced that 37 Crown Post Offices are earmarked for closure or franchising, with a total of 300 staff and 127 financial specialists facing redundancy. The Abbey Wood Crown Post Office based on Abbey Wood Road is among those listed to be franchised out, with the process to find a partner likely to take months of uncertainty.

Speaking about the announcement, Teresa said:      

“Post Offices are a key part of any community, and many residents and small businesses in Abbey Wood rely on this local post office.

 

“It is a worrying time for the future of the high street Post Office, with disputes over staffing cuts and cost-cutting measures while many branches have been privatised in recent years.

 

The Post Office urgently needs to provide clarity over the future of the post office services in Abbey Wood and the staff that work there, and to keep the community updated over the coming months of uncertainty.”

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Teresa responds to the Transport Secretary’s announcement that TfL will not take over Southeastern services from 2018

teresa-pearce-mpTeresa has today criticised the Government’s announcement that Transport for London will not take over Southeastern services from 2018.

Speaking about the announcement, Teresa said:

“I am bitterly disappointed by this announcement, which is a slap in the face to all those people locally who have to endure the misery of travelling on a truly substandard rail service in south east London.

“Transport for London put forward a good business case for taking over suburban rail services, which would have brought proven rail management to a network that has floundered under Southeastern Trains. Devolution had won support across the political spectrum, such is the degree of anger and frustration about the performance of Southeastern Trains.

“There is widespread recognition of what TfL has achieved with London Overground in a short period of time, and I had hoped the same service improvement could have been achieved for people in Erith and Thamesmead.

“The decision is a missed opportunity at a time when London is experiencing substantial new growth and more than ever needs a rail service fit for purpose. I am not convinced that the Secretary of State’s alternative is going to achieve that.”

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Teresa raises awareness of the dangers of counterfeit electrical goods

teresa-pearce-mp-electrical-safety-first

Teresa today welcomed research by the charity Electrical Safety First which raises awareness of the dangers of counterfeit electrical goods.

Research by leading safety charity Electrical Safety First found that 1 in 6 consumers in the UK have bought a fake electrical item as a Christmas gift – and most of us are unable to identify a genuine electrical product from a fake.

Speaking at the launch of the research, Teresa said:

 

“Christmas is always expensive, and we are all keen to get a bargain. But Electrical Safety First’s research makes clear that there are real dangers to fake electrical goods.

 

“I was shocked to find out that 3 out of 5 fake electrical goods are purchased online and a third of buyers experience a major problem with the item. Almost half of all domestic fires in the UK are caused by electricity.

 

“Fake goods are often cheaper because they omit key components which can affect the safety and the functionality of the product. If unsure of whether the product you are buying is a fake or not, I would urge you to use Electrical Safety First’s online advice – it could be the difference between a Happy Christmas and not!”

Electrical Safety First has developed advice to help people spot a fake electrical product.

Visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/guides-and-advice/electrical-items/safe-shopping/ to find out more.

 

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Teresa joins call for Pension Credit to be extended to WASPI women

 

teresa-pearce-mpTeresa today welcomed Labour proposals to help end the plight of the tens of thousands of women abandoned to live in poverty by the Tory Government’s changes to their state pension age.

The Government’s changes have affected 2.6 million women, who would have retired under the 1995 Pensions Act.

Under the plan, Pension Credit will be extended to those who were due to retire before the pension age increase of the Conservative-led Coalition Government. This would alleviate the worst of the impacts for the most vulnerable women, and restore some of the dignity many of them feel they have been robbed of.

Speaking about the proposals, Teresa said:

 

“The lack of notice given to 1950s women regarding changes in the state pension age by the Government has left many facing real hardship. It is vital that action takes place now, to end the hardship faced by women in Erith and Thamesmead who have worked all their lives, but find that they cannot retire as planned.

 

“It was disappointing that the Government did nothing to help affected women in this week’s Autumn Statement. The government has completely failed to act to address the plight of these women. I call on the Government to address the concerns that are being raised by thousands of women up and down the country by implementing Labour’s proposals.”

 

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