Press Releases

Update: Brixton Tube Escalator Works

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Local residents using Brixton Tube will be aware of ongoing escalator works at the Station – TfL have been in contact with me to explain their reasons for these works, and I wanted to share the information. TfL have said that they will keep me updated so I will post here if there are changes tot he schedule below.

TfL tell me that:

  • They are refurbishing the escalators at Brixton in order to ensure they continue to provide a reliable service.
  • Two of the three escalators at Brixton station (escalators 1 and 3) were installed in the early 1970s and over the years have been put under great pressure by the increasing volume of passengers using the station. They were last refurbished in the late 1990’s.
  • To minimise disruption and to keep the station operational, the escalators will be refurbished one at a time so that there are always two escalators running – one in either direction.
  • It recently became apparent that work was also needed on the third escalator, (escalator 2) which was installed in 2004. They need to reinforce its mechanical components to ensure its continued reliability while we work on the other two. This work began last Friday 14 November.
  • Once escalator 2 returns to service, the full programme of works will start with escalator 1 (from 28 November until 31 March), then escalator 3 (from 1 April to 27 July 2015).
  • Refurbishing Tube escalators is a lengthy process because they are custom built for each station and because of space and access constraints.
  • They have implemented customer communications to advise Brixton station users by posters, announcements, targeted emails and online.
  • To help ease crowding, they have provided additional staff at the station and have enhanced local bus services between Brixton and Stockwell Tube station.
  • They will keep these arrangements under review and modify them as required. TfL tickets are also being accepted by Southeastern Rail at their Brixton station.

If you wish to contact TfL for help or to make a complaint, click this link for details as to how.

Best wishes,

Chuka

Chuka Umunna MP
Member of Parliament for Streatham
covering Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton

Chuka’s South London Press Column: We’ll seek to end the fear that UKIP exploits

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP wrote the following column for the October 31 edition of the South London Press:

When this government ordered vans to be driven around emblazoned with the words of an old National Front slogan – ‘Go Home’ – they didn’t send those vans to Clacton, where UKIP recently won its first MP, they sent them round six London Boroughs.

I am incredibly proud to represent one of the most diverse communities in Britain – my constituency in Lambeth includes Streatham as well as parts of Brixton, Balham, Clapham & Tulse Hill – and one of the reasons I travel around the country and campaign for Labour and against UKIP is because I know we do not live in isolation, and that if the politics of fear are allowed to take hold in other parts of our country then they will affect us here.

Today is the final day of Black History Month – this year I wanted to use the opportunity to talk about not just the great history of the area that I represent but of the huge opportunities that our diversity gives us, and the challenges we face in overcoming the politics of fear that threaten the values that so many people in our area hold.

One of the reasons I am Labour is because Labour is a Party that says that you deserve the opportunity to get on in life, no matter your background. We have done more than any other political party in the UK to further the cause of racial equality, and to help people of every ethnicity to make more of their own ambitions.

We have acted decisively on gender equality, on equal rights regardless of sexuality, regardless of disability, regardless of background or of class. It is perhaps too easy to forget how appallingly single mothers were treated before Labour came into office in 1997, or how much progress has been made since then on gay rights, or on the rights of those with disabilities – which  are now in extreme danger of falling back.

For Black History Month this year, I spoke at the Impact Hub Brixton – an initiative by Lambeth Council to provide a space in the Town Hall for entrepreneurs and people going into business for themselves to work and expand their businesses. I spoke about the history of our area, and the opportunities of the future.

I spoke about how, for all the progress there has been, there is still undoubtedly a glass ceiling which needs to be smashed, in the professions, in academia, and across all walks of life, and that we cannot succeed as a country when people are locked out from playing a part in building that success because of the colour of their skin.

I do not exclude politics from that. Labour itself has a lot more work to do, but it is far ahead of the other Parties. Conservatives have long lagged behind Labour, and there is not even a single Black Lib Dem or Green Party MP, MEP or London Assembly member. UKIP target areas that have little ethnic diversity – they seek to exploit fear of ‘the other’, scaremongering and distorting reality.

This Black History Month, we have been clear that if Labour are elected into office in 2015, we will act to ensure race equality. We will embed a comprehensive race equality strategy at the very heart of government, reaching across all government departments. And it is because we are more representative of the British people than any other political party that we will act on the issues that matter to people of every race – on childcare, employment, rights at work and the ability to get on at work or start a successful business.

Where UKIP seek to exploit increasing insecurity, we will seek to end it. We hear the rhetoric that is being used about people from Eastern Europe, and we recognise it as the same language used in the past against the parents and grandparents of people who’ve now been living in our area for decades.

We have heard this rhetoric before, and will not stand for it. If Labour does not make the case then there is no one else in politics who will do so, so that is why in six months time when I am campaigning for re-election, I will be seeking a mandate that stands up to racism and fear, and values the diversity of our area – Not fear of ‘the other’, but faith in one another and in our ability to build a common future together.

Statement from Chuka Umunna following the inquest into the death of Dr Abbas Khan

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Statement from Chuka Umunna MP:

I welcome this ruling today concerning the death of my constituent, Dr Abbas Khan, whose death whilst in the hands of the Syrian regime was a terrible crime, not just against a British citizen but against compassion and the principles of justice.

Dr Abbas Khan was a medical doctor who was prepared to work selflessly for the needs of others, both here and abroad, and in the direst of circumstances. Today’s ruling is a vindication of the family’s determined fight for truth and justice – today, the Syrian regime’s false claims have been clearly rejected by a British court.

The tragedy currently engulfing Syria may mean that the fight to ensure Dr Khan’s killers are brought to justice is longer and more arduous than most, but that means only that we must be prepared to pursue that justice for as long as it takes and no matter the obstacles.

Chuka Umunna MP – Response to the launch of the consultation into the extension of the Bakerloo line extension

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Commenting on the launch of the consultation on the extension of the Bakerloo line, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“It is outrageous that Boris Johnson – who seems less focused on his duties as Mayor and more focused on his parliamentary ambitions – has failed to ensure that a South West London option is properly consulted on despite London’s Transport Commissioner confirming to me that this would be possible.

“Whatever Boris may think, we are not so easily silenced in Streatham. I will be campaigning so that as many people as possible locally respond to this consultation and tell the Mayor that it is unacceptable for him to bypass Streatham and that we need a tube.”


Message to Constituents on today’s vote in Parliament concerning military action against ISIL in Iraq

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Three times since I was elected to Parliament in 2010, I have been asked to vote on whether the UK should intervene militarily overseas: in Libya in 2011; in Syria in 2013; and, today, when the Government asked us to support a motion in the House of Commons concerning military action against ISIL in Iraq.  As I intimated earlier this week on the BBC and other broadcast outlets, voting on such matters is one of the gravest decisions one makes as an MP; it is certainly not a matter of party politics and – ultimately – one makes a personal decision on how to vote.

I take full responsibility for the way that I vote on these matters and it is not lost on me that the decisions Parliament makes on military intervention are acted on by the dedicated men and women in our armed forces, who have always shown such bravery and commitment in defending our country, and who in my view should always have our full and wholehearted support, whether one agrees with any particular military action or not. Our armed forces are of fundamental importance to our liberty, our freedom and carrying out the democratic will of our Parliament, our people, and our country.

When I decide how to vote, at the forefront of my mind is to consider what action I believe to be in the best interests of the people who elected me to serve on their behalf – the people of the parliamentary constituency of Streatham – and of the role they believe Britain should play in the world.

I have read carefully the messages that have been sent to me from constituents regarding today’s vote and taking action against ISIL. I know that some constituents believe strongly that we should not take military action in Iraq, believing we would be failing to learn the lessons from the mistakes of the past.  Some have made it clear to me that they believe military action is always wrong.

Other constituents believe that we should take military action which they see as necessary, in particular constituents have written to me about the terrible acts ISIL have committed against Yazidis, Sunni and Shia Muslims, and Christians alike, as well as those terrible acts of murder they have committed against our fellow countrymen.  Some argue that Britain would be shirking from its responsibility to the world if we did not act.

I have considered these and the other points carefully, as I did in relation to the other votes I’ve mentioned.  On the question of action in Libya in 2011, I decided that British action was necessary to protect civilians who I considered would otherwise have had little defence from indiscriminate and brutal reprisals from the Gaddafi regime, who were intent on power at any cost to the Libyan people.  On the question of action in Syria last year, I considered that we simply did not know enough about the situation to act nor did I believe that we had yet exhausted the international process sufficiently to justify what we were being asked to sanction. I am conscious also of the previous debates our country has had on matters of peace, war and military action, in particular the decision in 2003 to invade Iraq.  I was not a public figure at the time but, for what it is worth, as I have said previously I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

As a member of the Shadow Cabinet, I play a part in making the collective decision Her Majesty’s Opposition reaches on such matters.  Constituents will probably mostly see me in the media talking about the brief I have particular responsibility for, which includes matters of business policy, skills and universities, but as a Shadow Cabinet we take decisions and discuss the whole range of Government decisions together. This week we met to discuss our view of the proposed action against ISIL. I was conscious throughout our deliberations – as is always the case – of its impact on those I represent, and of the views constituents have expressed to me on the matter.

We examined the case for military action against ISIL in Iraq very carefully, using the criteria Ed Miliband has set out publicly today – it is the same criteria we applied in Libya in 2011 and to Syria last year. The six criteria, are as follows: first, for any action we take there is a need for just cause; second, military action must always be a last resort; third, there must be a clear legal basis to provide legitimacy and legal force to our actions; fourth, there must be a reasonable prospect of success before we take the grave step of committing our forces; fifth, there must be broad support in the region for reasons of legitimacy, because this action must not be seen as a new form of imperialism; and, sixth, the action must be proportionate.

I and my colleagues believe that all of the criteria have been met in this instance and therefore it was the right thing to do to support and vote for the motion put forward today regarding military action against ISIL in Iraq.

On the first, there is clearly a just cause – we can all see that from the media reports and intelligence from the region.  The brutality of ISIL is truly shocking, barbaric, and totally inexcusable.  Also, the international instability that would be created by the overthrow of the democratic Iraqi state would clearly have implications for the stability of the region, and it would become a haven for those who wanted to commit acts of terrorism directed at the UK.

On the second of the criterion – military action being a last resort – ISIL’s current actions are those of an organisation we should not negotiate with nor could we. On the third criterion – that there must be a clear legal basis to provide legitimacy and legal force to our actions – that has been met, not least because we have received a request from the democratically elected Iraqi Government for assistance.

In our view it is the fourth criterion, which is that we must believe there is a reasonable prospect of success before we take the grave step of committing our forces, which is the hardest to judge. I have no doubt that the mission is a difficult one and will take time. The aim is to reinforce the democratic government of Iraq, prevent the advance and help roll back ISIL at the invitation of that democratic government by using international military air power while the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga conduct a ground campaign against ISIL. Whilst this fourth criterion is the hardest test to meet, there is already evidence that the US action is having the effect of holding back the advance of ISIL. Prior to that action, ISIL was advancing with catastrophic consequences for the Iraqi people, like what we saw when ISIL took Mosul. In our view, failure to act would mean more of what we saw in Mosul and more killing of the innocent than were we not to act.

On the fifth criterion, of the need for regional support, there are many countries now involved, including Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Arab League made a statement calling for comprehensive measures to combat ISIL at the end of August. I believe that this will increase the effectiveness of the action taken against ISIL and meets the fifth criterion.

Finally the sixth criterion – that the proposed action must be proportionate – we believe has been met.  It is essential that make sure that innocent civilians are protected. We know that there are strict conditions in place to ensure proper targeting and to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. I know that when military actions are taken there are terrible risks, however I believe that without this action there will be far more innocent deaths than otherwise will occur, and I believe that the action envisaged will be proportionate.

To be explicit in addressing some of the other concerns that constituents have raised with me, I do not believe that this is an example of making the same mistakes that were made in 2003. Whatever your view of the consequences of that invasion, I believe that given the situation now faced by those in Iraq, this is the right action to take. I also want to make clear that this motion explicitly states that we will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations in Iraq, nor will we use military force in Syria without further consideration by Parliament.

I disagree with those who say that military action is never necessary, because I believe that the world we live in means it is sometimes necessary to take military action for our own national interest and for our fellow human beings.  To those who say we hesitate too much before taking military action, I say the case must always be strong enough before doing so.  I also want to make clear that we do not take this action against ISIL because they call themselves Muslims – we take this action because ISIL are a threat to our country, and to people of all faiths in our country and in Iraq. There is absolutely nothing Islamic about ISIL or the acts of murderous violence which it has committed.

For these reasons I supported and voted for the motion put forward by the Government today. I voted this way in the belief that I am doing the right thing for our country and for those who would otherwise face the terrible consequences of our not doing so.  Inaction is not something I could support in this instance – we have seen the consequences of the international community failing to act when it could save lives in Bosnia and Rwanda, and we must not repeat those terrible mistakes.  I believe that this is a decision that many in the constituency will support, though I know that some will not do so. I hope that this post has made clear my reasons for voting as I have, and that it is clear that I have done my very best to take account of all the different arguments put forward by constituents.

The text of the motion I voted for is below. Thank you to constituents who have taken the time to read my thoughts, and to all those who have contacted me about these issues, I will reply to each of you who have as above over the coming days.

Best wishes,

Chuka

Chuka Umunna MP

Member of Parliament for Streatham

covering Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton

 

 

Today’s motion:

That this House

Condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognizes the clear threat ISIL pose to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support; further recognizes the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq, including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens, and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.

Chuka writes for the Brixton Blog on the Trinity Academy Free School

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Chuka has written for the Brixton Blog on the Trinity Academy Free School in Brixton. You can read the piece in full by clicking on this link.

Response on Cherry Groce inquest verdict

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Commenting on the verdict of the inquest into the death of Cherry Groce, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“In pursuing justice for their mother and fighting to ensure they received legal aid to be represented at the inquest into her death, my constituents – the family of Cherry Groce – have been completely vindicated by the jury’s findings.

“It is a disgrace that my constituents – all innocent victims of a grave injustice – have had to wait almost three decades to get to the bottom of what happened that fateful day in 1985 when their mother was shot by the Metropolitan Police.  That Cherry Groce never lived to hear the jury’s findings today compounds the injustice my constituents feel.

“The findings of the jury are very welcome and resounding.  The staggering ineptitude and incompetence of the police at the time – who should have called off the raid they carried out and did not properly check who lived in the home – are astonishing.  The family now deserve nothing less than a full, proper, formal apology on behalf of the Met by the Commissioner for what happened.

“Much progress has been made with regard to police community relations since the 1980s. But cases such as this and ongoing injustices surrounding issues like stop and search and deaths in police custody, highlight there is still a long way to go before we reach the levels of trust in the Police that we all want to see.”

ENDS

Chuka: Police Must Film Every Stop & Search in Lambeth

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Lambeth MP Chuka Umunna has called on the Metropolitan Police to extend a body worn camera pilot to the borough, arguing that increased scrutiny of stop and search actions is necessary to ensure trust between the police and those in his Streatham parliamentary constituency.

Mr Umunna has written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, asking him to extend a Metropolitan Police pilot in which officers are equipped with body-worn cameras that can be switched on to film their interactions with members of the Public.

The pilot, launched in May this year, is operating in the London boroughs of Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Brent, Camden, Croydon, Ealing, Havering, Hillingdon and Lewisham. During the pilot officers are using the cameras to both collect evidence in incidents such as domestic abuse and public order but also for potentially contentious interactions such as the use of stop and search.

Mr Umunna argued that introducing the pilot to Lambeth, which has had an historically poor relationship with the Police in comparison to other areas, would help to build trust between the Police and the people he represents, particularly with regard to the relationship between the police and the black community in Lambeth.

Research collated by the House of Commons library has shown that a black person is at least six times more likely than a white person to be stopped and searched.  Lambeth has a high black population. Over 25% of people in Lambeth identified themselves as black in the 2011 census.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“When people are the victims of crime, or witness to crime taking place, we need for them to feel able to trust the police in order to build a safer community, so we need to act to resolve anything that corrodes this trust.

“Some of the distrust comes from what has happened in the past, but whilst we have come a long way from the dark days of the 1980’s, there is much more that still needs to be done, particularly around stop and search.

“In my view, the Met should record every stop and search in Lambeth, both because it will help increase trust in the police and because it will help ensure the Police are accountable should they fall short of that trust.”

 

Chuka writes for the South London Press on the Living Wage

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP wrote the following column for the June 30 edition of the South London Press:

Pay; Promotion; Politics; Safety; Security; Family; Community; Society; the Elderly. Ask most people in my South London constituency to put these in order of how important they are for them and it’s a safe bet that politics will come out bottom of the list.

And that’s as it should be – people rightly care far more about their jobs, families, local community and society, ahead of how much they care about the latest ministerial pronouncements or the ins-and-outs of party politics.

The time people most care about politics is when it impacts most on these more important priorities. The creation of our local SureStart centres by the last government, say, or the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.

That’s why the focus for politicians must be on making sure that government helps where possible, does not act where acting would make things worse, and that when government does act it acts in the best possible way.

Pay needs to be a huge part of that focus, because getting people better paid jobs has a huge effect on the other things that people think is important, our ability to look after our families, share experiences with our children, and have a sense of security in the future.

It’s for these reasons that the fact that pay has fallen by £2300 since 2010 in my constituency is such a concern, and needs government to act to help where it can, and stop doing things that are making things worse.

One of the Campaigns that’s been most successful during my time as an MP has been the campaign for a living wage, and I think that is because it is a campaign focused relentlessly on ensuring that pay works for more people in our society – that more people earn a wage that means they can have a reasonable standard of living, instead of working constantly but not earning enough for the basics.

That campaign’s not been a political campaign purely focused on government, but a civil society campaign working with some of our most important institutions, like the Church of England & our businesses, charities and local councils. It shows the best of our society where we can all recognise that we rise and fall together and that we can also work together to improve things. The Archbishop of York, launching the Living Wage Commissions final report this week, called it a “beacon of hope for millions of workers”.

I think it’s important that government works to support the living wage campaign. It’s particularly important for the area I represent, where there are many people earning less than the living wage, and where some of our local communities, like our local Latin American community, are disproportionately not earning the living wage.

That’s why if elected next year, Labour will introducing Make Work Pay contracts, so that every employer who moves to offer a Living Wage to those on less than that wage a tax break; The saving this brings to government through less money being paid out in in-work benefits, isn’t kept only by government but shared with companies as well.

It’s not just on the living wage where we need to act to help people’s pay and prospects, but it is a very important part of it. And what people get paid at the bottom of the pay spectrum effects not just those people, but also has an impact on the ability of our businesses to grow and for everyone to get on at work.

It’s easier for everyone to achieve prosperity if there are less people in poverty, and that’s one of things that I think politics can help achieve.


Fantastic News on the Megabowl

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Chuka Umunna MP said:

“It is fantastic news that London Square have exchanged and should complete on the purchase on the Megabowl. Getting the Megabowl redevelopment built has been one of my top priorities for the local area and this news has been a long-time coming.

“The Megabowl has been too long an eyesore and I’ve lost count of the number meetings I’ve had to try and get this development going – I know local residents will be pleased that we finally seem to be getting back on track. ”