• July
  • 24th
  • 2014

Message to constituents on Gaza: This death and destruction needs to stop.

Over the last few weeks, a huge number of you have written to me to express dismay about the violence in Israel and Palestine. I know many constituents have seen the photographs circulating on social media of the injured and those who have lost their lives; I know too that many have read the reports over the last few days and weeks of the loss of Israeli and Palestinian life.

Most constituents who have written to me have asked me for my view on the conflict as their MP, and as hundreds have written, I thought it best to write this post to set out my view. I am not surprised that more people have written to me about this than about most other issues. I have seen the same reports and the same photographs, and have been horrified and dismayed by what I have seen.

In the events following the indefensible murder of three innocent Israeli teenagers, more than 600 Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and more than thirty Israelis have died. The death and destruction needs to stop. There needs to be an immediate end to violence, and a return to the negotiating table. This crisis – with so much death and destruction in the Gaza Strip and rocket attacks against Israel continuing – must stop.

The failure to resolve this conflict and its causes need to be brought to an end.  Having met with both Palestinian and Israeli leaders on two trips to the region in the last two years, I am all too aware that the road to peace is a difficult one and there are no easy, quick solutions. But it is in all our interests to find a way out of the current impasse.

We live in an increasingly interdependent world, and we cannot think that the violence is something that affects only those living in Palestine and Israel. The conflict has reverberations that echo around the world, to the detriment of us all, and resolving the conflict is not the responsibility of those in Israel and Palestine alone. I passionately believe that the capacity to end this conflict, and establish peace and material security for Israeli and Palestinian alike, exists, but that the whole world needs to work with them towards it.

Labour is clear that we oppose the Israeli incursion into Gaza. At the same time the attacks on Israel by Hamas are wrong, and should end.

The current violence is not in my view a durable solution to this which is why I oppose any further escalation of this conflict and believe there needs to be an immediate ceasefire. There then needs to be the intent and work needed to realise a solution – a durable two state solution that brings prosperity, peace and security to both Palestinian and Israeli alike.  I hope sincerely that this can be achieved, and that the world will continue to work until there is lasting peace and material security for all.

 

  • July
  • 9th
  • 2014

Local MP Pressures Minister to Hint at New Hope for Thameslink

Following a demand from Streatham MP Chuka Umunna to make a statement regarding the sufficiency of Streatham’s transport links, Transport Minister Stephen Hammond has suggested in Parliament that additional peak trains may run on the service through Streatham station.

Mr Umunna has fought a long-running campaign, from 2008, to secure the future of the Thameslink service from Streatham station since proposals emerged to end the through-London service from Streatham and Tulse Hill stations on the Wimbledon loop section of the Thameslink franchise.

Mr Umunna set out four key tests for the future of Thameslink services on the Wimbledon loop: That a cross London service be maintained; the frequency of services be increased; that longer trains should run on the route; and that new trains be provided.

Following the decision by Ministers at the Department for Transport, announced in January 2013, that the Wimbledon loop section of the Thameslink franchise would continue unchanged without the frequency of service increasing, Mr Umunna said that:

“The possibility that our through-London service might be cut was always an absurd proposition so the most I can give the government for this announcement is half-marks but what we really need is newer, longer, more frequent trains”

Now, in a response to a demand from Mr Umunna for a statement from the Secretary of State for Transport on the sufficiency of Streatham’s transport links, transport Minister Stephen Hammond hinted at a u-turn on the frequency of services, saying to Parliament that:

“Network Rail is currently undertaking a Sussex Route study, to develop options for improvements on rail services in the Streatham area. It is due to report its findings next year.

“Residents and transport users in Streatham will also benefit from the higher capacity trains that will operate across the Thameslink network. Furthermore, as part of the new franchise, there are proposals to provide two additional trains in the peak.”

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“That the Minister, in a statement specifically about Streatham’s transport links, has hinted about a u-turn to provide additional peak trains, will provide new hope for Streatham commuters using Thameslink.

“It remains to be seen whether what the Minister has suggested will be delivered, but what the Minister has said is clear and on the record – The onus is now on Ministers to back up that statement to Parliament with action and ensure more trains from Streatham and Tulse Hill.

“I will not stop fighting for better transport links for our community, including but not limited to better and more frequent Thameslink services.” 

  • June
  • 11th
  • 2014

Umunna demands action from TfL on Crossrail, the Tube, and an end to Streatham Transport snubs

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has demanded TfL take action over continued snubs to the needs of local residents in the Streatham part of his constituency by TfL and other transport providers – and has demanded a ministerial statement be given to Parliament regarding the area’s insufficient transport links.

Mr Umunna wrote to the London’s Transport Commissioner saying: As I have said publicly many times, it is my strong view that the Streatham part of my constituency is insufficiently served by local transport connections when compared to other areas. Given the obvious benefit there would be to the area I represent, I wish to reiterate my view that a Streatham Station be included within the scope of Crossrail 2.’

Regarding Crossrail 2, Mr Umunna went on to write:What research has been carried out as to the benefits of a station in Streatham being included in the route for Crossrail 2 and what consideration has thus far been given to including Streatham on the route? Will you ensure not only that consideration of a Streatham Station, which would clearly seem to benefit the area I represent, is taken forward, but that the decision making process in this regard treats and is seen to treat this proposition more seriously than the current consultation process seems to me to imply?’

Concerning TfL’s failure to properly prioritise Streatham Transport, Mr Umunna wrote: Given the historic lack of an underground link, the rejection of the possibility of increasing the frequency of Thameslink trains travelling through Streatham Station, and other concerns such as the lack of coverage locally of the Barclay’s Cycle Hire Scheme – all of which have cumulatively given rise to a view locally that Streatham is too low a priority for TfL and that the needs of the community are being ignored – what priority will you give to improving transport generally in the Streatham area and how will you guarantee this to the satisfaction of the people I represent?’

Mr Umunna demanded that TfL look afresh at the case for extending the underground to Streatham, writing:  ‘Notwithstanding decisions taken by central government in relation to infrastructure spending, will you examine afresh the case for extending an existing underground line to Streatham?

Mr Umunna also demanded answers on other options to improve Streatham’s transport links, such as a tram link, writing: ‘What plans do you currently have regarding the extension of the Tramlink or the provision of new tram lines and will you provide me with your assessment as to the benefits of such to the Streatham as well as a detailed overview of the options in this regard?’

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“Of all the meetings I have, I think the ones in respect of Transport are the most frustrating – we cannot continue to ask politely for our areas needs to be met and then have nothing happen, something has to change.”

“The situation with respect to Streatham is so bad we even had to fight incredibly hard last year just to keep our existing Thameslink service – whilst we saw off the attempt to make the service even worse, our plea for more frequent trains was ignored and I doubt anyone who uses the service to and from Streatham thinks it is good enough.

“There comes a point where you come to the view that enough is enough, TfL are not properly prioritising our area. Even the tone used in public consultations like on Crossrail 2 – which is supposed to be an opportunity for people who don’t normally have access to Transport officials to advocate their views– is too dismissive of even the idea that Streatham could get better transport.

“We cannot continue to suffer these constant snubs to our transport needs in Streatham – I have asked the Secretary of State for Transport to make a statement to Parliament.”