Latest news and updates

Walthamstow Town Centre Update - Public Services Impact Update

Below is the latest update I have sent out to residents in Walthamstow about the proposed redevelopment of Walthamstow Town Centre- it contains the further details of information provided by Waltham Forest Council about the public services impact of this development. If you are a local resident and want to receive these updates directly please email 


Update to Walthamstow Residents sent Saturday March 17th 2018 

As someone who has emailed me about the proposed development of Walthamstow Town Centre, please find below the latest update of information I have received about this development. Please be aware this is a long email -  you can find the last update I have sent out on this matter on my website here which sets out my concerns about this development and the information residents have access to on which to assess it. This email is a follow up to this one and my request for further detail from the Council on specific points. 

Further to my previous correspondence to local residents regarding the proposed town centre developing, residents will know that I have proposed four tests to assess whether any proposed development is of a standard suitable for Walthamstow. One of these tests relates to the impact of any development on local public service provision. This test is as follows:
With any major development can come investment in supporting services- whether money provided for healthcare and education facilities or for physical and environmental improvements. Our local voluntary and community organisations are struggling to find premises in our community due to the high rental costs of our limited office space too. No development in Walthamstow should stand alone- it has to make an active contribution to supporting the wider provision of services and community services residents require and supporting its impact on our area.”
 In a previous update, I noted that the Council had stated they had been provided with an update from the local healthcare service providers as to their assessment of need in our local area, and had also undertaken this in relation to schools:
The number of children likely to be living in the proposed development is anticipated to be fairly low given the mix of the units and the quantum of larger family size units being proposed as part of the development. The education department were consulted and they have advised that there would be a sufficient number of school places within the local Walthamstow area to serve the additional child population that would arise due to the scheme. Further to this the WFCCG were also consulted and have advised that there are sufficient doctors’ surgeries within the local area to cater for future residents within The Mall development. In these respects, there would not be a strain on public services.”
Following this, I asked for further details of this statement and the Council have now responded to me with the following statement,
Given the likely property type provided through the new development it is not anticipated that the development will put significant pressure on local school places. The table below sets out that there is significant surplus capacity at primary and secondary school level, and that there will be surplus capacity across local schools at all year group levels even after the anticipated increase in the number of school aged children linked to the Mall development is taken into account.

Walthamstow Region Year Group
R 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Current surplus 163 125 149 269 152 156 181 44 24 29 26 48
Estimated development yield 6 4 4 3 3 3 4 3 3 3 3 3
Remaining surplus 157 121 145 266 149 153 177 41 21 26 23 45

In regards to proposed pressure on local GP practices, the Council have provided the following statement after seeking advice from WFCCG,
Short to Medium Term
There are a number of GP practices s in the vicinity of the development. North of The Mall, Forest Road Medical Centre has capacity. Around The Mall, The Firs Practice, Queens Road Medical Centre and, slightly further away, Grove Road Medical Centre  have recently been successful with NHS Premises Funding to enable them to be more compliant and have increased capacity. Works  should commence and finish by March 2018.
Longer term
WFCCG have been working closely with LBWF to ensure the re-provision of St James Medical Centre which continues to face exponential growth due to the regeneration in the area. The medical centre, which is located in the heart of Walthamstow, is in need of significant modernisation. The new St James Medical Centre will operate as a health ‘hub’, which will offer multiple health services in a fit for purpose build. As part of this process WFCCG will undertake an engagement exercise in the area to gather the views of residents.  This will be used to help plan appropriate healthcare for the future.”
I hope this information is of interest in understanding the Council’s statements on this particular test – I am still awaiting further details as to when the viability assessment that they have committed to sharing will be made public too, to enable residents to consider what possibility for alteration- if any- there is to these plans. As soon as I have this information I will also share it with those who have been in touch and please do feel free to share this update with other residents interested in this matter.
With kind regards

Fighting for Fairtrade: Complaint against Sainsbury's Upheld

In the summer of 2017, Sainsburys announced it was withdrawing from Fairtrade and setting up its own range of ‘Fairly Traded’ tea in place of Fairtrade certified tea, a decision that will impact an estimated 229,224 farmers and workers.

The Fairtrade model has been developed over the last 25 years and core to Fairtrade are the principles of producer empowerment through the control of the financial investment - the Fairtrade Premium, and independence, underpinned by fully transparent, industry endorsed, standards of certification. In contrast the Sainbury's scheme is self certified and the Fairtrade Foundation are clear it does not meet their own standards.

Sainsburys met with MPs in September 2017 to discuss this scheme and hear the concerns of MPs that in withdrawing from the scheme not only were the standards Sainsburys set not as good for producers as Fairtrade, they were also undermining the Fairtrade scheme itself. In response a group of MPs took a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority that Sainsbury's 'Fairly Traded' tea was misleading in its advertising by appearing to compare 'Fairly Traded' tea with Fairtrade certified tea. 

In March 2017 the Advertising Standards Authority upheld the MPs complaint, reflecting that Sainsbury's scheme is not to the same standard as the Fairtrade Foundation. The MPs involved- Holly Lynch, Stephen Timms, Stephen Doughty and Stella Creasy welcome this decision and call on Sainsburys to rethink their approach to Fairtrade for the benefit of those farmers and workers affected by their decision. Speaking on behalf of the group Stella Creasy said:

‘When Sainsburys came to explain to us why they were abandoning Fairtrade Tea, we warned them that it wasn’t fair to consumers who trust these ethical standards to try to sell them their own tea under a similar name so we’re pleased to see the ASA take action following our complaint.

This ruling should be a wake up call for Sainsburys that backing out of the Fairtrade movement and pretending their Fairly Traded tea is the same won’t wash- the ASA agree how Sainsburys present their products will confuse consumers. Put simply, their ‘fauxtrade’ tea is not the same thing and consumers deserve the right to know.

We hope this will encourage Sainsburys to reverse their decision to stop working with the Fairtrade Foundation and get back round a table to renegotiate- on behalf of our constituents we will certainly continue challenging them to be part of this important scheme which helps food producers around the world’

Walthamstow Town Centre Update: February 2018

A number of residents have used social media to contact me regarding the proposed development for Walthamstow Town Centre - I've been providing regular updates for all those who have emailed me about this issue regarding the information I have received and the questions I have put to the Council. If you are a Walthamstow resident and want to receive these directly please email with your name and address to 

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The Luxembourg Tax Loophole: Deadline Friday 16th February 2018!

There is a country that taxes British residents, and British companies, when they make money on selling commercial real estate, but doesn’t tax anyone else. That country is the UK. And as the Paradise Papers showed this loophole is widely exploited, with almost every large building in London held by an offshore holding company. Not only is that unfair to British businesses who have to compete with these companies, it costs us billions in lost tax revenue each year.

Last year we campaigned to close the loophole - and we won! From 2019, The Government has agreed to make sure offshore companies holding UK commercial real estate will be fully taxed. But there is a problem: the “Luxembourg Loophole”. It will be easy to avoid the new rules by using “brass plate” companies in Luxembourg. Despite highlighting this to the Government, they have no plans to change this and so prevent companies continuing to avoid this tax. It could be the difference between raising £5bn and £0.5bn a year for our public services.

We need to keep up the pressure on the Government to do better. Please send the below response to their consultation to ask them to act by Friday 16th February 2018. 

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Jenny is this year's Christmas Card Winner


Stella gave a surprise visit to Greenleaf Primary School to announce the winner of the annual Christmas card competition. The winning design was drawn by Jenny Williams aged 10 from class 6LG depicts a scene of celebration and unity, her design will feature on the front of this year’s Christmas card. Stella said on her visit:

'This year, my office received hundreds of beautiful and festive designs from very talented children all across Walthamstow which made choosing just one very difficult. However Jenny's colourful design really stood out. We loved the wonderful Christmas message she had written to reflect our local community. I want to thank all the children across Walthamstow for sending us their designs, we had great fun looking at all the different ideas and designs you came up with. I'd also like to thank the local businesses and organisations without whom this wouldn't have been possible because of their generous sponsorship of this project. The support of Sodo Pizza, Lee Valley Estates, Vinn Garment Care Centre, Yard Sale Pizza, Mother’s Ruin, Today Bread, Incoming Coffee, Riney, The Mall Walthamstow, Bates of London has been brilliant and has made it possible for 4,000 local and national people to receive Jenny's fantastic design.'

Jenny and all the children at Greenleaf Primary School were very excited to hear the card was going to be sent to 3,500 people, including local residents, Members of Parliament and the Prime Minister. The competition was open to all children under 12 across Walthamstow, Greenleaf Primary school won the competition for the first time with Jenny’s entry. Jenny and her family have been invited to Parliament with Stella.

Taking on the Legal Loan Sharks of the Public Sector- How We Can End the PFI Rip Off

Next time you have an appointment cancelled at hospital, or a headteacher tells you their school will be losing staff because of budget cuts, ask how much PFI debt they have – the answer may surprise you. My hospital trust, in north-east London, spends nearly £150m a year repaying its PFI debt – nearly half of which is on interest payments. If Theresa May is serious about taking on the unacceptable face of capitalism, she could save Britain a fortune if she goes after the legal loan sharks of the public sector.

New research from the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) shows just how much these debts are hurting our NHS. Over the next five years, almost £1bn of taxpayer funds will go to PFI companies in the form of pre-tax profits. That’s 22% of the extra £4.5bn given to the Department of Health in the 2015 spending review, and money that would otherwise have been available for patient care.

The company that holds the contract for University College London hospital has made pre-tax profits of £190m over the past decade, out of the £725m the NHS has paid out. This alone could have built a whole new hospital as 80% of PFI hospitals cost less than this to construct. This is not just about poor financial control in the NHS – UK PFI debt now stands at over £300bn for projects with an original capital cost of £55bn.

Private finance initiatives are like hire-purchase agreements – superficially a cheap way to buy something, but the costs quickly add up, and before you know it the debt is crippling.

For decades, governments of both main parties have used them for the simple but ultimately short-sighted view that it keeps borrowing off the books – helping reduce the amount of debt the country appears to have, but at great longer-term expense. Its now painfully clear that the intended benefits of private sector skills to help manage projects have been subsumed in the one-sided nature of these contracts, to devastating effect on budgets.

No political party can claim the moral high ground. The Tories conveniently ignore the fact that these contracts started under the John Major government – and are expanding again under Theresa May, with the PF2 scheme. Labour veers between defensive rhetoric that PFI was the best way to fund the investment our public sector so desperately needed during its last government, and angrily demanding such contracts be cancelled outright, wilfully ignoring what damage this would do to any government’s ability to ever borrow again.

It’s time to grasp the nettle and get Britain a better line of credit. That requires both tough action on the existing contracts to protect taxpayers’ interests, and getting a better deal on future borrowing. Some have already bought out contracts – Northumbria council took out a loan to buy out Hexham hospital’s PFI, and in doing so saved £3.5m every year over the remaining 19-year term. But as the National Audit Office has shown, gains from renegotiating individual contracts are likely to be minimal – what is saved in costs is paid out in fees to arrange.

However, the CHPI research also shows up another interesting facet of PFI. Just eight companies own or appear to have equity stakes in 92% of all the PFI companies in the NHS. Renegotiating not the individual deals done for hospitals or schools, but across the portfolios of the companies themselves could realise substantial gains. Innisfree, which manages my local hospital’s PFI and others across the country and has just 25 staff, stands to make £18bn alone over the coming years. If these companies are resistant to consolidating these loans into a more realistic cost, then it’s time to look again at their tax reliefs, or – given the evidence of excessive profits in this industry that shareholders have received – resurrect one of New Labour’s early hits with a windfall tax on the returns made.

Longer term, we need to ensure there is much more competition for the business of the state. Despite interest rates being low for over a decade, these loans have stayed stubbornly expensive. The lack of viable alternatives – whether public borrowing or bonds – gives these companies a captive market. If the government wants better rates, it needs to ensure there are more options to choose between, whether by allowing local authorities to issue bonds, or reforming Treasury rules that penalise public sector borrowing in the first place.

As our public services struggle under the pressure of PFI, Labour must lead this debate to show how we can not only learn from our past, but also provide answers for the future too. The government has already spent £100bn buying the debt of banks through quantitative easing. With Brexit expected not only to add £60bn to our country’s debt but also affect our access to European central bank funds, taking on our expensive creditors is a battle no prime minister can ignore in the fight to stop Britain going bust.


This article was originally published by the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday August 30th 2017. 

Anti Social Behaviour and Crime in Walthamstow: Police Public Meeting July 2017

Thank you to everyone who attended our follow up meeting with our local police senior leadership team to discuss their progress in addressing anti social behaviour and crime in our area. This is an update on what was discussed at this meeting and the information provided to residents,  and an alert for local residents regarding possible further changes to our policing provision in Walthamstow.

The Borough Commander Richard Tucker led the meeting along with Superintendent Paul Clements. He started meeting by acknowledging the progress that has been made with policing in Walthamstow since the previous meeting, and that it had made him realise previously removing the dedicated high street team was a mistake. As a result, since the meeting in May, there is now one Sergeant and six police officers dedicated to the High Street and St James area.

Paul Clements explained that since last meeting, police have made fifty five arrests in the area involving drugs, and executed five warrants for house searches for drugs. They have also seized eight knives and made 170 stop and searches on drug-related grounds. Superintendent Clements reports that of those who have been arrests a significant number have been for those with possession of enough drugs to suggest they are supplying.

Both Superintendent Clements and Commander Tucker discussed the twin challenges they face of addressing the underlying causes of drug led criminality in Walthamstow and the impact of a 40% cut to the Metropolitan police in the next four years. They also explained they were seeking public support for the continued use of targeted stop and search based on intelligence from the public.

Superintendent Clements also discussed recent concerns about increases in crime using corrosive substances such as acid or bleach and mopeds. Superintendent Clements highlighted that attacks involving corrosive substances are still rare in Walthamstow and that the Met Police have a central team looking into increase of the use of such substances. He highlighted that stop and searches now include looking for corrosive substances and that any one carrying a liquid may be asked to consume it. He also said that the police are asking local businesses to exercise their responsibility to question why they are selling such substances to young people.

The Borough Commander pointed out that police are now prioritising tackling the 3,500% increase in use of mopeds to commit crime in London and asking for reports from public to help improve intelligence on who is using these vehicles for such purposes. Residents then asked a range of questions which can be groups into three categories:  

Concerns about inappropriate use of stop and search and the importance of involving young people in policing

  • As of Monday all police in the borough now have body cameras, police want to listen and learn about how to improve stop and search in way that is targeted
  • Police are working with spark2life who are working on gang issues in Walthamstow and ask for patience from community
  • Youth Engagement team from the council are working on ‘Detached’ project – joint work between police, young people, ex-gang members and council
  • Lighting will be improved in high street area to reduce spaces for criminal activity

Concern over increase in knife crime and young people carrying knives

  • The police highlighted that there are twenty two schools officers in borough working with young people. Parents are encouraged to cooperate and search their children if they are concerned.

Concern over drug use and anti social behaviour on housing estates

  • Police have identified 150 long term drug users who need intervention and are working with the Council and healthcare services. They are also seeking to ask Housing Associations to address their failure to tackle ASB behaviour

The Borough commander pledged to continue the deployment of resources in the High Street and St James area – but also warned he has to play his part with central London policing requests and cuts and so this will impact on other services the police provide. Residents were encouraged to be part of safer neighbourhood panels and become active in helping to address local challenges and the date of the next High Street Ward Panel was given as Tuesday 12th September.

I will continue to liaise with the police on these issues and update residents on them via my weekly e-newsletter. If you don’t receive this – which includes the dates of Safer Neighbourhood Panels- please do email me and I will add you to that mailing list.

At the end of the meeting, the Borough Commander announced that the police were considering the closure of the Walthamstow police contact point, which would mean residents would need to go to Chingford to report issues to the police. Since the meeting my office has been seeking urgent information about these proposals to share with residents and details of who will make this decision. I will be asking for the help of Walthamstow residents to fight these proposals as soon as I receive this information. 

Here's how you can make sure all UK women are treated equally when it comes to access to abortion..



With your help, next week the UK Parliament can right a 50 year old wrong and make sure equality isn't ignored in the Queen's Speech

Email your MP now to ask them to support #mypledgeherchoice 

Its 50 years since the 1967 Abortion Act, which granted reproductive rights to women. 

However, abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland (except in the most extreme circumstances), and as a result hundreds of NI women travel to England for an abortion every year. 

Despite being UK citizens and UK taxpayers, NI women are not entitled to NHS funding for their treatment, and therefore must meet the cost of both travel and treatment personally.

This month Jeremy Hunt fought and won a court case on his right to charge Northern Irish women for abortions if they have them in England and Wales, claiming he was doing so out of “respect” for the Northern Irish assembly.

Unless he changes his mind a decision made in Belfast has consequences for UK citizens choosing to access services in Birmingham, Blackpool or Brighton. 

Email your MP now to ask them to support #mypledgeherchoice 

So whilst the UK funds access to abortion through its overseas aid budget, we deny our own citizens the same support. 

I have tabled an amendment to the Queens Speech to address this which has received cross party support. 

Now we need your help to ask other MPs to join the call for equal treatment. 

Please use this link to ask your MP to support this change and to commit to backing legislation in principle if the Secretary of State won't change his mind. 

Email your MP now to ask them to support #mypledgeherchoice 

Together we can ensure equality is on the agenda and all UK women are treated fairly.

Animal Welfare and the General Election: Where I Stand



The humane treatment of all animals should be a benchmark for any civilised society. 

Many Walthamstow residents have written to me about the Prime Minister's recent proposal to hold a vote on overturning the ban on foxhunting- if I am re-elected as the MP for Walthamstow, I will always vote against any attempts to overturn the ban on foxhunting. 

In the last parliament I also supported attempts to increase the penalties for animal cruelty brought forward by my colleague Anna Turley- The current penalties for animal welfare cases in England are amongst the lowest in Europe. It is time this changed.  

I have also repeatedly voted to ban the use of wild animals in circuses, and would support a total ban on the trading of ivory in contrast to the decision of the Conservatives to abandon their pledge on this issue. I would also support a ban on the third-party sale of puppies and live animal exports. 

During my time as an MP I have also opposed the culling of badgers to control bovine TB. If Labour wins the election we would immediately end the ineffective and cruel badger cull, instead focusing on an evidence-based approach driven by science, not ideology.

So too many residents have raised with me concerns about antibiotic resistance. It is a major public health concern, and awareness is still too low.  I am concerned that antibiotics are employed too liberally, including whilst rearing animals and so if I am re-elected I would raise this with the Secretary of State for Health and investigate what measures we might take to protect the public. 

Finally, given the decision of President Trump to reject the Paris Accord and the impact this could have on our food production, if re-elected I will work with other MPs to challenge this and ensure that our farming practices promote high animal welfare and environmental standards. 

I ask for your support on Thursday to be re-elected as our local MP. If you are voting for me, you can let me know by clicking here.  

SEe17: Walthamstow's Union for the Self Employed - How to Join!

Thank you to everyone who came to our meeting to discuss the new union for the self employed

Join the Union for the Self Employed here. 

At the meeting Community Union and Indycube explained this will offer services to its members including a factoring system to chase invoices so they can be guaranteed payment, and legal advice. 

With £56 million owed to 6,000 businesses in Walthamstow each year in late payments, and £12 million spent chasing these funds, it is clear helping to tackle late payments could make a big difference to many local businesses as well as bring more money to our local area. 

Join the Union for the Self Employed here. 

We are also developing more Walthamstow specific services too including seeking premises and business start up support. 

If I am re-elected, supporting and developing this project in partnership with Indycube and Community to help the self employed in Walthamstow will be a priority for me

Please feel free to share the details of this initiative with other local self employed people and small businesses, and to ask them to email if they would like to receive updates on this project as it develops