Monday, 29 February 2016

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow, this week

  • Monday 29th February - Participating in a statutory instrument debate on changes to funding for health services in parliament 
  • Thursday 3rd March- visiting Manchester with the Science and Technology Select Committee and then running a Circular Firing Up Squad women's event. To book a place click here.
  • Friday 4th March - holding a residents advice surgery. To book an appointment please call 020 8521 1223
  • Saturday 5th March- running the Walthamstow Feminist Boot Camp and marching to tackle street harassment. See below for details.
On Saturday 5th March we will be holding a march to support local community activism to tackle street harassment. In partnership with the local police and the Take Back the Streets community group I'm asking residents to join us at 12.15pm at the Bell Corner (the corner of Hoe Street and Forest Road) to march along Hoe Street to raise awareness of this work and join the call to make all of Walthamstow's streets safe for everyone. We are currently finalising details of this march and would welcome support through volunteer stewards. If you can help steward please email

Then at 1.30pm we will be holding a ‘Generation to Generation: Feminist Bootcamp’ as part of seeking to encourage women to take up leadership positions. This is a women’s only event and we will be joined by a variety of speakers including Leyla Hussain, Charlene White, Jack Monroe, Ava Vidal, Reni Eddo-Lodge and many more. There will also be a special children's activity room at this event run by Walthamstow Toy Library and the Waltham Forest NCT, so if you would like to come and have young children please do let us know. Jack Monroe will be judging a cake competition (both vegan and non vegan entries welcome) with a Jack cake as the prize for the winner. ImageE17 and the local women's history project will also be on hand to capture the views and stories of participants.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow, this week

  • Saturday 20th February - holding the E17 Housing Awards at 11am with Sadiq Khan MP. 
  • Tuesday 23rd February - meeting with the Women for Women International and then running a phone bank in support of Sadiq Khan for Mayor of London
  • Thursday 25th February - attending the Walthamstow Labour Party General Committee Meeting at the WF Hub on Orford Road 

Saturday, 13 February 2016

20 February - Help us help Sadiq Khan make housing a priority for London

E17 Housing Awards: Help Us Tell Sadiq Khan to Make Housing A Priority for the Next London Mayor

Next Saturday 20th February 2016 at 11am Sadiq Khan, Labour's candidate for London Mayor, will be joining us to announce the winners of our E17 Housing Awards. This is our opportunity to show Sadiq first hand how important it is to make tackling London's housing crisis a priority for the potential next London Mayor and to ask for his support with the challenges we face here in Walthamstow. All Walthamstow residents are welcome to attend to show their support for this campaign, but to help us with logistics for the day please email to RSVP and for further details of the venue. 

Your chance to vote:

All residents of Walthamstow are welcome to vote for their local housing heroes and horrors-you can vote using this link. The ballot will close at 12pm on Friday 19th February 2016.

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow, this week

  • Sunday 14th February- attending the Waltham Forest Young Labour meeting at Waltham Forest Town Hall 
  • Tuesday 16th February - Please note my office will be closed for staff training. We will not be answering calls on the day. If your query is urgent please email me and if it is a query regarding the Local Authority please call 020 8496 3000. As next week is also half term please note we will be short staffed all week. I apologise in advance on the delays you may experience in getting a response from my office to emails and casework queries.
  • Wednesday 17th February - running a Cooperative Action Network Training event in Chelmsford. To book a place click here
  • Thursday 18th February - running a Cooperative Action Network training event in Oxford. To book a place click here
  • Friday 19th February - speaking at the Active Change Foundation training event for Walthamstow young leaders in Luton, and then holding an appointment only residents surgery in Walthamstow. To book an appointment please call 020 8521 1223
  • Saturday 20th February - holding the E17 Housing Awards - click here to book a place, and  see here how to take part in the vote for housing heroes and horrors

Sunday, 7 February 2016

PFI, PMQs, spending cuts and Stella Creasy MP

Following MP Stella Creasy's parliamentary question last week on the possibility of a better deal on paying off PFI debt, below is the text of her article from last November in the Huffington Post. At a campaigners' workshop session yesterday in Walthamstow management of PFI debt was one of three key healthcare issues, and a number of initiatives were proposed for work over the coming weeks. The scale of debt faced by Bart's Health, which includes Whipps Cross hospital, makes this of particular local relevance. For more information on these initiatives email:

Tackling PFI - A Public Spending Cut We Could All Get Behind

"With the spending review looming there is one budget cut we should all get behind. Britain is paying out £10billion a year on PFI loans taken out to build schools and hospitals. With so many public institutions in financial difficulty, tomorrow Labour needs to offer both an expose of Osbourne's fiscal callousness and credible and radical alternatives for securing value for money for the British public. Renegotiating repayment of these debts could not only save money - it could also be an opportunity to protect public services from privatisation. Just as we took on the payday lending companies, so now Labour should lead the fight against those bleeding our public sector dry.

The sums involved are eye-watering. Currently UK PFI projects are worth £57billion, for which the Government is committed to paying back £232billion by 2049/50. The Treasury Select Committee concluded borrowing in this way was double the cost of the long term government gilt rate. And it is not just the interest that is extortionate. Once these companies have a contract, most squeeze more money out of the public sector in overpriced service charges and maintenance. One hospital was charged £52,000 to demolish a £750 shelter for smokers. Another school had to pay £302 for a new plug socket, five times the cost of the equipment it wanted to plug in. In total PFI will cost every household £4,000 a year for the next eighteen years - equivalent to the entire school refurbishment programme budget, or the gap between local and national government spending itself.

Barts Health Trust in East London has the largest UK PFI deal made at £1.1billion. By 2049 the amount paid back will total £7billion. Last year alone the Trust shelled out £148million - equivalent to the salaries for 6,000 nurses - of which half paid for interest accrued on the loan alone. Barts has a deficit of £90million which lead managers to downgrade nursing posts - little wonder the CQC placed my local hospital into special measures as the quality of care has declined and it struggles to fill vacancies. But whilst Barts faces an uncertain future, its creditors do not. Innisfree owns 50% of the Barts deal and expects to make £18billion from eighteen different PFI projects across Britain. It has just twenty five staff, one of whom earned £2million last year alone.

If Labour can be fairly criticised for using PFI, the sight of hospitals struggling with such debts make the lack of the current Government's action all the more galling. Their own review failed to secure any savings in 82% of deals. Little wonder some are taking matters into their own hands - Northumbria Council took out a loan to buy out Hexham hospital's PFI, and in doing so has saved £3.5million every year over the remaining 19-year term.

Some argue for these deals to be written off altogether - risking the chance no one would ever lend to the public sector again lest it defaults or higher rates of interest in future to compensate. Instead, we need to give local communities the tools - and money - to renegotiate these debts in the best way for them. This means exploring how and if we could convert the Public Sector Works Board into a credit union for the public sector. This could then offer PFI stricken institutions loans at lower rates of interest. Turning these into Cooperative trusts as a condition of such a bailout could give local residents the power to borrow and buy out services directly and own them - thus also putting them in the hands of their users and beyond any possible future threat of privatisation.

The experience of the cooperative finance sector shows renegotiation of debt is both possible and effective. If the Chancellor is serious about sorting out public finances he would pilot a scheme to enable this in the public sector to demonstrate the wider potential of such models. Reforming PFI to make it better value for money and people led is just one of many examples where applying insights from the co-operative movement offers a way forward. When it comes to slashing public spending, tackling these loans is one change we can all sign off."

Stella Creasy 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Healthy E17 campaign: PFI, Nurses & GP Access - Planning Workshop Saturday 6 February 5pm

On Saturday 6 February at 5pm as part of our Healthy E17 campaign, we are organising a healthcare policy seminar. In this session we will focus on three key local concerns- the impact of PFI on healthcare funding, changes to nursing training bursaries and what this will mean for recruitment of staff, and access to GP services in Walthamstow. In looking at healthcare & public finance models we'll be joined by macroeconomist Professor Pearlman of City University.

Barts Health Trust, which runs Whipps Cross hospital, has the largest UK PFI deal made at £1.1billion. By 2049 the amount paid back will total £7billion. Last year alone the Trust shelled out £148million – equivalent to the salaries for 6,000 nurses – on this loan, of which half paid for interest alone. When the hospital downgraded nursing posts to try to save money to pay such costs, staff morale plummeted. Now regulators have highlighted that frequently at Whipps Cross 66% of nursing cover was provided for by agency nurses, increasing the staff costs for the hospital. Whilst the quality of care at our local hospital suffers and its resources are stretched, its creditors thrive. Innisfree is the company that owns 50% of the Barts deal and expects to make £18billion from eighteen different PFI projects across Britain. It has just twenty five staff, one of whom earned £2million last year alone. Meanwhile, the Government has announced plans to cut the bursaries that enable students to study to become nurses and many residents say they cannot get appointments at our GP practices.

On Saturday 6th February, we will be working together to analyse the problems PFI loans cause, and develop our own proposals for renegotiating this debt with expert academics who specialise in public finance. So too, we’ll hear from nurses about the consequences of the Government’s decision to scrap bursaries for students and local campaigners involved in improving access to GP surgeries in Walthamstow. All participants will get a chance to contribute to each area of policy and we will be devising plans for how to campaign on all three.

This event is free and open to all residents of Walthamstow to attend, but to help us manage the organisation of this event please RSVP to Lindsay, one of the event organisers, to confirm your place with your name, address and details of any others who wish to attend with you. Those who RSVP will be sent full details of the venue and event. Please feel free to share this invitation with other local residents who you believe would like to participate in this discussion.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Stella Creasy MP on the Prevent Strategy (in Huffington Post)

Prevent and Prejudice: How the Government Is Missing the Point

'Non-whites don't wipe their bums'; refugees are a 'bunch of migrants', 'don't sit next to muslims with a bag'. Not anonymous below the line comments in a tabloid newspaper. These are views expressed to me recently in situations as diverse as a community workshop, the House of Commons or from fellow commuters.

This is why Prevent is a missed opportunity. Britain requires a conversation, not an exercise in finger pointing. We need to both address common fears of 'the other', and promote the best of our abilities to work together. There are extremists in all communities who need to be identified and challenged. A truly inclusive approach would recognise combatting this is a job for us all, not just the government or those targeted alone.