MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Many years ago I got a mortgage for my first flat (off the Archway Road) – which enabled me to get a first foot on the property ladder.
Owning a house is still an aspiration for many young people, who want properties as big, or bigger, than their parents. But times are tough – particularly for many young people in the private rental sector who cannot afford to save for a sizeable deposit.
The bottom line is that, up until 2010, not enough houses were built. Prices of existing properties have spiralled out of control and the younger generation have been frozen out of the market.
That’s why the Coalition Government introduced a number of measures to ease the housing crisis, build new homes and give young people assistance in getting on the property ladder.
And we are starting to see some changes. Housing supply is now at its highest since the end of the unsustainable housing boom in 2008, with 334,000 new homes built over the last three years. The number of first-time buyers is also at a five-year high.
Please do take a look at this document – which gives details of the schemes introduced by the Coalition Government to help first time buyers and ease the housing crisis. If you’re looking to buy your first property, or know someone who is, this is a must-read!
Any questions – just ask!
Our local trains serve thousands of residents every day – including me! It’s great when they run smoothly, but all too often our current trains into Moorgate are overcrowded, delayed or even cancelled.
Last year, the Haringey Lib Dems and I welcomed the coalition government’s announcement of a massive £6billion investment in rail services in and around London – which will mean new, longer trains and more services at peak times.
It’s part of the largest investment since Victorian times – which is great news.
But, at stations like Hornsey and Harringay, platforms are too short for longer trains to stop. We became worried that these stations could end up receiving fewer services, while the new, longer trains whizzed by.
So, we launched a campaign opposing any service reduction at Hornsey and Harringay. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 98 per cent of residents agreed with us!
We sent all of your responses to the Department for Transport (DfT), and on the day of the announcement, I went down to the department to make one final plea to save our services.
In addition, the DfT also confirmed that, under the new franchise, evening and weekend services would now run into Moorgate as well as King’s Cross, and that Hornsey and Harringay stations will now be permanently staffed.
This is a great victory for local commuters, rail users and the Lib Dems – our train services will be improved and no services will be lost!
Last week, there was also very good news about Pinkham Way. The local Lib Dems and I have campaigned for years against the North London Waste Authority’s plans to build a huge waste plant on the site, which is situated just off the North Circular.
For years, residents lived in the shadows of this thoroughly unsuitable plan – worried about the effects on the local environment and property prices. The Labour council also turned their backs on us – waving through the plans without question.
But after years of Liberal Democrat and Pinkham Way Alliance campaigning, countless petitions, legal challenges and more, the waste authority has finally seen sense and cancelled plans for the Pinkham Way site!
We still remain vigilant on both issues. We will keep an eye on plans for the rail services and on the Pinkham Way site, to ensure that local residents’ voices are heard.
But for now, the battles have been won. I’d like to thank every single resident who took part in these campaigns. The local Lib Dems and I have worked tirelessly on them – but couldn’t have achieved success without the significant support from local residents.
The combination of Liberal Democrats and people power in Haringey strikes again!
Have you ever thought that you could run local services better? Wanted to save a local shop that was facing closure? Or wanted to see a idea to improve your community put into action?
With new community rights, you can do all of this and more.
As a Lib Dem, I believe that local people know what’s best for the area they live in. Previous Governments have centralised too much power, with people in Westminster offices making decisions about places they’ve never been to.
In the Coalition agreement, the Tories agreed with Liberal Democrat plans to give people the power make (or oppose!) changes to their community. This led to the Localism Act 2012.
These community rights granted in the Localism Act have now been in place for the past year, and have been used thousands of times by hundreds of local groups.
For instance, the Localism Act gives local groups the chance to purchase community assets before they’re sold to external developers.
A great example is the Ivy House pub in South London. Local residents found out it was going to be sold for redevelopment, so they got together to raise the funds to buy it. Almost 400 people bought shares in the pub! It has just reopened as a co-operative pub, with music and comedy nights, real ale and food.
If you and a number of your fellow residents want to make changes, you can. To do this you will need to organise, plan, and have a local vote to ensure your ideas are supported by the rest of the community. For the most part this will go through the Local Authority, but once approved by the public you will be in charge.
This means that you can take over local services through the Right to Challenge, build new houses with the Right to Build, or if a park is being sold you can protect it using the Right to Bid.
Additionally, the Neighbourhood Planning scheme allows residents to decide what facilities should be built, and the Right to Reclaim Land means that unused Council property can be put to better use.
You also have the right to create Community Shares for their community project, and if there is not already one in place you can set up a Town or Parish Council.
A full leaflet and guide can be found here.
This is a great opportunity to make positive changes to your local community, so go get involved! If you want to let me know what you’re doing or would like some advice – contact me!
Here’s my latest Muswell Flyer article (originally written in August) on Apprenticeships in Haringey. Since the event – companies have been in touch to let me know that they have now taken on young people they met at the event!
I was so happy when I got my first job with a small design and advertising company in the West End – and my first pay packet. I remember feeling so grown up as I caught the tube to work along with the rest of the world. That sense of somewhere to be and something to do has always been incredibly important to me – as it is to everyone.
And that sums up why we work. It pays the bills, gives us purpose and fulfilment, and provides security for our long term futures.
That’s why it’s particularly important for young people leaving schools or universities to have options available to them. We have so many talented and ambitious young adults here in Haringey, and should be doing all we can to give them the best chance to succeed – which will benefit our economy too.
But – it’s not long since youth unemployment was rising fast under Labour, leaving so many young people without the opportunity to get on in life.
That’s why creating more jobs – particularly for young people – during these tough economic times is top of the Lib Dem’s list of priorities.
Our focus on this is working. Here in Hornsey and Wood Green, youth unemployment has fallen by a third – and 530 new apprenticeships have been created since 2010 too.
But we want to go even further. That’s why I decided to put words into action, and hosted an apprenticeship event at Haringey Civic Centre, in tandem with Wood Green Jobcentre plus. The aim was to match up employers looking for apprentices with young people looking for apprenticeships.
Apprenticeships are a great way to kick start a career. They take between one and four years to complete and combine practical training in a job with study. That means you get paid to study and learn a trade, whilst also being able to make contacts in an industry.
It was a really fantastic afternoon. The event was attended by 18 organisations – including Barclays, Tottenham Hotspurs and the National Apprenticeship Company – and packed with over 130 of Haringey’s young people, who were keen to find out more about the hundreds of apprenticeship opportunities on offer.
Gordon Birtwistle MP – the Government Apprenticeship Ambassador – was also present to discuss the value of apprenticeships and to meet the young people and companies.
I will be keeping in touch with the people and organisations who attended so we can track how many apprenticeships have been created as a result. I’ll also certainly be hosting more of these events in the future.
In the meantime, if you or someone you know wants any further information about apprenticeships, just email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and ask!
Here’s an article I wrote following Lib Dem conference in Glasgow last week. You can also read it in the Ham and High here.
It’s party conference season, and this year the Liberal Democrats met north of the border in Glasgow. Along with my colleagues from Haringey, I participated in the many debates and events that make conference what it is.
Unlike the other parties, the Lib Dems use our conference to give members a say in our policies. Local parties can bring forward ideas and motions, which are debated and voted on. It can be a very lively affair, with strong views on both sides!
But once passed, these ideas can go on to form our party policy. When I became a Home Office minister, I took a conference motion on equal marriage, and – with a huge amount of help from other MPs, activists and supporters – turned it into UK law.
This year I contributed to a motion on preventing domestic and sexual violence against women. It’s an area I have been working hard on since entering government – in the Home Office and now in the Department of International Development.
During the debate, I spoke about the government’s work on tackling female genital mutilation (FGM) at home and abroad. It’s so important that any party policy on tackling gender based violence recognises the devastating effects of FGM – and commits to preventing it and supporting the victims.
I also took part in fringe events with Amnesty and Oxfam. These events are based on specific issues, where ministers and organisations can discuss the way forward with party members.
At Amnesty, the focus was on how to change perceptions and attitudes to promote women’s rights in the future. We discussed ways to empower women economically, and also how to educate men and boys in women’s rights.
At Oxfam the focus was on food, and how to ensure that there is enough food for everyone in a changing climate which could cause more natural disasters.
Ministerial work was not the only thing on my agenda. Such a wide range of topics are discussed at conference, and I also took part in a fringe event looking into the housing crisis in London.
Along with the Lib Dem minister for communities and chair of the National Housing Federation, I discussed ways we could address the current problem of having too little social housing. In Haringey we have a chronic problem – nearly 20,000 individuals and families on the waiting list for properties which do not exist.
Building more is obviously necessary – but in the short term we also discussed bringing empty homes back into use and encouraging home swapping within local boroughs, to try and ease the problems of overcrowding.
Unfortunately, our local Labour-run Haringey Council is failing miserably to address the problem – having not built any new homes in 25 years, overseeing nearly 2,000 empty properties and not holding any home swap events. But I will certainly be taking some of the ideas from the fringe event and pushing them to act.
All in all it was a fantastic five days, full of what the Lib Dems do best – debate, democracy and action – and I am already looking forward to next year’s conference!
To hear of their amazing work helping young people in Haringey who find themselves in difficulties to get back on their feet again, Lynne Featherstone MP recently met the dedicated team at local charity Catch22.
The charity works with 50 local young people aged 10-19, who have got into trouble, often with the police, and are showing challenging behaviour. A team of key workers and volunteers work intensively with the young people and their families, for as long as it takes, to help them get back into school or work and to integrate back into society.
Apart from hearing of the successful work from the local Catch22 team led by manager Angela Francis, the Liberal Democrat MP also got the opportunity to speak to two young people who have made fantastic progress since joining the programme.
Catch22 also helps young people in Haringey who have been arrested, and who don’t have an adult who can help and guide them through the police process.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“Catch22 really does fantastic work here in Haringey, helping those young people who find themselves in difficulties, and who haven’t got the help and support they need from local services.
“Angela and her dedicated Catch22 team is there for the young person, at any hour of the day, and for as long as it takes to help them get back on their feet.
“It’s clear, from speaking to the young people involved that the programme really works. Hats off to the local Catch22 team for very impressive work.”
The previously fire-damaged property on Hawthorn Road, owned by Metropolitan Housing Trust, has been done up according to the Passivhaus model. With high levels of insulation, air-tightness and triple-glazing, the house will drastically cut its carbon footprint by using 80% less energy than its neighbours.
The home will need almost no extra heating, using solar gain from windows, people themselves, and their electrical goods, to keep warm. The house also has a heat-recovery system for fresh air in the winter without opening windows, and solar panels to heat 60% of the hot water.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“This warm, comfortable house has been done up beautifully, and is a great example of what can be done to cut energy in Haringey’s many Victorian properties.
“Many local residents really want to be green and cut their carbon-footprint, but don’t know where to start. I’m delighted that the Hawthorn Road house will stand as a shining example of how it can be done.
“I’m sure that Angela, the new tenant, will be very happy here. Well done to Metropolitan Housing and Anne Thorne, the architect, for doing such an amazing job!”