March 2021: News from your local MP
The ‘Bristol variant’ of Covid-19
A new variant of COVID-19 was found in Bristol recently, making it even more important that we do all we can to control the virus. The ‘Bristol variant’ is a mutation of the more infectious version of the disease first identified in Kent.
As a ‘variant of concern’, the mutation may be more resistant to the vaccine, potentially setting back efforts to get back to some kind of normality.
However, I know that our scientists are already working on how to adapt the vaccines – and that this is entirely usual with some vaccines, such as the flu vaccine, which has to be adapted each year.
In Bristol, the Council and local NHS have been working to capture more data on the new variant with a rapidly-rolled out programme of ‘surge testing’. They set up new testing sites across Bristol and invited everyone in specific postcodes to get tested.
By the time you read this, the surge testing will have finished, but public health officials tell me there has been a fantastic response. As I write, over 36,500 tests and counting have been completed across Bristol and South Gloucestershire, through the in-person and collect and drop centres across the city. Thank you to everyone who took part, you can be proud to have helped fight back against this virus.
Four years after Grenfell, we must end the cladding scandal
As Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, I am leading the Opposition’s efforts to get justice for the many thousands of people still living in homes with dangerous cladding and unacceptable fire risks, almost four years after the Grenfell Tower disaster.
I have heard terrible stories from constituents - people trapped in dangerous buildings they cannot sell, while being hit with escalating bills and eye-watering service charges. It is ruining people’s lives.
In February my team and I forced a parliamentary vote on the scandal, demanding that MPs vote with their conscience and decisively state that blameless leaseholders should not be left with the bill.
Unfortunately, the Tories refused to support our motion. The government came forward with its own proposal the following week, which will leave many people burdened with unfair debts. This is not good enough.
I will keep pushing for justice. It is incredible to me that after almost four years, we still do not accurately know the number of people affected or the actual risks, because the government has not done any comprehensive evaluation of the scale of the problem.