LETTER TO SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT: ACCESSIBILITY FOR PEOPLE WITH SIGHT LOSS
12 August 2020
I have written to the Grant Shapps MP
Secretary of State for Transport, regarding support for blind and partially sighted people following the easing of lockdown regulations.
You can read the letter below, or take a look at a copy here.
Re: Accessibility for people with sight loss
Covid-19 has exacerbated many of the challenges faced by people with sight loss as they try to navigate their local communities. Social distancing has proved largely inaccessible, as it relies on being able to see where others are and use visual cues to navigate layout changes – something which is impossible for many people with sight loss. Research from RNIB shows that two-thirds of people with sight loss feel less independent than before lockdown, and many are not leaving their homes at all.
Many recent Government policies - from e-scooter trials, to street changes, to increased pavement dining - are having an unintended negative impact on the ability of blind and partially sighted people to navigate safely and independently by affecting the accessibility of local streets. You have taken action to prevent parking in cycle lanes by giving local authorities new powers to use CCTV to identify and fine drivers parking or loading illegally in mandatory cycle lanes. I would like to understand your next steps to tackle pavement parking, which has been being raised by sight loss charities for years.
Moving around safely on pavements is essential for blind and partially sighted people, but pavement parking puts them at risk of injury and loss of independence. The Transport Committee’s 2019 inquiry into pavement parking called for a nationwide parking ban in England, along with a supporting public awareness campaign. This would be a clear, practical, and effective way to ensure people can move around safely and independently. It would also help enable social distancing for all pedestrians.
Although accessibility issues have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis, they will not disappear once it is over. Blind and partially sighted people will continue to experience barriers to freedom of movement, limiting their opportunities and choices.
The Government must demonstrate its commitment to ensuring the accessibility of our local communities long-term, by responding to the Transport Committee’s recommendations on pavement parking and committing to legislate for a nationwide ban before the end of this Parliament.
I would be grateful for an update on the progress your department is making with regards to this issue, and the timelines for next steps.
I look forward to your response.
Bambos Charalambous MP
BAMBOS ASKS PM FOR SUPPORT FOR CHICKENSHED THEATRE
1 July 2020
Bambos Charalambous MP, Enfield Southgate, questioning Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the survival of Chickenshed Theatre and the Arts sector, said:
“Enfield Southgate is home to Chickenshed Theatre, an inclusive youth theatre company open for over 40 years and now struggling financially.
“Despite the Arts sector contributing over £5.2billion each year to our economy, the Government has failed to assist as it hurtles towards the brink of collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“So, will the Prime Minister heed the calls of the Musicians Union, BECTU and Equity and provide the financial support to ensure the survival of the Arts sector?”
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26 June 2020
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JOB RETENTION IN ENFIELD SOUTHGATE
16 June 2020
Bambos Charalambous MP, Enfield Southgate, commenting on local unemployment figures, said:
"Up to 31st May 2020, 13,700 jobs had been furloughed in Enfield Southgate and 6,200 claims were made for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme. A further 4,700 are now claiming unemployment benefits - a huge 3,170 higher than before lockdown.
“These figures are deeply troubling. The Government’s slow response to the coronavirus pandemic is risking mass unemployment on a scale not seen for decades once the furlough scheme is withdrawn.
“We need a Back to Work Budget focused on stimulating our economy to protect jobs and prevent mass unemployment.”
CALLS TO IMPLEMENT LAMMY RECOMMENDATIONS
15 June 2020
Bambos Charalambous has said that the 35 recommendations in the Lammy Review must be implemented. Charalambous explained:
Bambos Charalambous, Shadow Minister for Crime Reduction and Courts, has written in The Independent (28 May) about the rise in Hate Crime directed at minority communities.
"Before lockdown, blame for coronavirus was already being directed at the British Chinese, East Asian, Muslim, Jewish and LGBT+ communities. Chinese and East Asian people in the UK endured physical and verbal attacks, Muslims were accused of ignoring lockdown and spreading the virus by visiting mosques, and vile antisemitic conspiracy theories blamed Jews for engineering the virus and deliberately causing the spread."
Bambos Charalambous questions Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on test and trace in Enfield
23 June 2020
Bambos Charalambous MP, Enfield Southgate, questioning Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on funding for test and trace in Enfield, said:
“My borough of Enfield, has been allocated the equivalent of £4.58 per head to support the national test and trace programme which is a third of what some other London Boroughs have received despite having the 12th highest number of covid-19 cases in London.
This exacerbates the unfair share of the public health grant received by Enfield and fails to fully take into account Enfield’s health inequalities.
Will the Secretary of State meet with me to discuss the allocation of funding for Enfield’s needs?”
Ahead of the Planning Committee meeting scheduled for 23 June, Bambos Charalambous MP, Enfield Southgate, has lodged a letter with Enfield Council stating his objections, and the response from the local community:
"I am writing today to lodge my objections to the proposed development of Southgate Office Village.
Having attended a community event in Southgate, organised by Southgate Civic Trust and independently facilitated by Civic Voice, and after receiving letters and emails of concern from local residents, I am adding objections to this planning application on the following grounds:
- The proposed 17-storey height is excessive, an overdevelopment and out of character for the area, especially as this would be on a hill top in an area where no other developments are higher than six-storeys.
- This proposal would result in overdevelopment and local infrastructure would not be able to keep pace with the added pressure likely to be placed on for example, schools and GPs surgeries.
- The development is close to a conservation area and the proximity would adversely impact on views and light for surrounding properties;
- There is a lack of genuinely affordable accommodation and much of the development will comprise one-bedroom flats, which does not meet the need in the area for housing for local families.
Following on from the Council organised Planning panel meeting, constituents of Enfield Southgate have made the strength of their objections clear since that time, and I fully support them in their objections on the above grounds.”
FREE SCHOOL MEALS DURING SCHOOL HOLIDAYS
16 June 2020
Bambos Charalambous has written to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education on behalf of the 1,311 children who are eligible for free school meals in Enfield Southgate to ask for confirmation that free schools meals and vouchers will provided during the summer school holiday.
Bambos Charalambous MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Crime Prevention, responding to the announcement of a review into legislation loopholes exploited by extremists, said:
“For too long individuals and groups have been stoking community tensions, inciting racial hatred and encouraging violence and extremism against communities with impunity. The coronavirus pandemic has been no exception. Extremists have placed blame on different ethnic groups and whipped up hatred online with vile conspiracy theories.
“The review is an opportunity for the Commission for Countering Extremism to listen to organisations that support victims of hate crimes, to truly understand the hostility being sown in our communities and the deep wounds caused by Government inaction to prevent hate crimes.”