McDon­nell fight­ing from the shad­ows

Hayes and Har­ling­ton MP talks about whirl­wind year af­ter be­ing thrust onto the front bench

Uxbridge Gazette - - NEWS - By Alexan­der Ballinger alexan­der.ballinger@trin­i­tymir­

HAYES and Har­ling­ton MP John McDon­nell has had a whirl­wind year.

Mr McDon­nell, who has been MP for the con­stituency since 1997, was cat­a­pulted to front­line pol­i­tics last year when his close po­lit­i­cal ally Jeremy Cor­byn was elected leader of the Labour Party.

Just over a year af­ter Mr McDon­nell was ap­pointed as the Shadow Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer, the Gazette sat down with him in his West­min­ster of­fice to dis­cuss the is­sues that mat­ter most to you in Hayes and Har­ling­ton.

Sit­ting in his Portcullis House of­fice, just across the street from the Houses of Par­lia­ment and in the same cor­ri­dor as the of­fice of the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, Mr McDon­nell men­tions the third run­way ex­pan­sion of Heathrow Air­port as prob­a­bly the big­gest is­sue af­fect­ing the con­stituency.

Out­lin­ing his cur­rent sched­ule in ad­dress­ing the air­port’s ex­pan­sion and res­i­dents’ concerns, the Labour MP said he has met with lo­cal res­i­dents who have shared their fears over the de­mo­li­tion of houses in the con­stituency, but also the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of the in­crease in flights that would fol­low.

Mr McDon­nell added that he be­lieved the le­gal ac­tion from a coali­tion of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing Hilling­don Coun­cil, would suc­ceed in stop­ping the air­port’s ex­pan­sion.

He said: “I’m cer­tain we’re go­ing to win.

“The op­po­si­tion is not just on the ba­sis of peo­ple los­ing their homes, but peo­ple un­der­stand the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts.

“Peo­ple are rais­ing the ques­tion of cli­mate change. It’s not just a Nimby cam­paign.

“I think the le­gal chal­lenge is likely to be suc­cess­ful. If this one doesn’t oth­ers will.

“I’m wor­ried about the blight on the area.”

Hilling­don Coun­cil re­cently fired an ul­ti­ma­tum to the gov­ern­ment, giv­ing min­is­ters 14 days to re­verse their pref­er­ence for ex­pand­ing Heathrow Air­port be­fore for­mally launch­ing their le­gal chal­lenge, but proHeathrow cam­paign­ers have sug­gested the coun­cil should spend its money on pub­lic ser­vices, not on fight­ing le­gal bat­tles.

Mr McDon­nell, who as Shadow Chan­cel­lor crit­i­cised the gov­ern­ment’s au­tumn state­ment given by Phillip Ham­mond last week, said he was also con­cerned about health and so­cial care across the UK and in Hilling­don.

Speak­ing about gov­ern­ment cuts to coun­cils across the coun­try, he said he is con­cerned about the im­pact on so­cial ser­vices and on el­derly peo­ple be­com­ing ‘trapped in the NHS sys­tem’ when ser­vices fail.

He said: “Hayes is no dif­fer­ent to the rest of the coun­try, which is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing so­cial care cuts.

“This isn’t party po­lit­i­cal. I’m con­cerned for coun­cils what­ever po­lit­i­cal party they are.

“If there isn’t the so­cial care avail­able to pa­tients af­ter they leave hospi­tal they be­come trapped in the NHS sys­tem.”

Hilling­don Coun­cil has faced around £73 mil­lion in fund­ing cuts from cen­tral Gov­ern­ment since 2010, but the leader of the coun­cil, Ray Pud­di­foot, said ear­lier this year there are no planned cuts to ser­vices or fa­cil­ity clo­sures.

In an­other is­sue, Hilling­don Hospi­tal, last re­built in the 1960s, is in dire need of an­other to­tal ren­o­va­tion, ac­cord­ing to Mr McDon­nell, who is lob­by­ing the Sec­re­tary of State to visit the fa­cil­ity.

Work­ing with Uxbridge MP Boris John­son and Ruislip, North­wood and Pin­ner MP Nick Hurd, Mr McDon­nell said he wants Jeremy Hunt to visit the site to see its cur­rent con­di­tions.

Mr McDon­nell said: “I think peo­ple at Hilling­don Hospi­tal are do­ing a fan­tas­tic job.

“I think they’re ex­pe­ri­enced, ded­i­cated, and work­ing long hours in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

“The fa­cil­ity has gone be­yond its use­ful life and we need a new hospi­tal.

“We hope we can get Jeremy Hunt down to see the con­di­tions peo­ple are work­ing in, with the cracks in the build­ing and the win­dows that have been taped up.

“It’s one of the top pri­or­i­ties in the coun­try for in­vest­ment.”

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