With the recession still in full swing, my constituency surgery remains very busy.
Despite the MPs’ expenses scandal affecting almost every other part of the country except Hammersmith & Fulham, the number of people wanting to see their MP shows no sign of declining.
So, as a reminder, any Hammersmith & Fulham resident can attend my surgery, held each Monday morning (except Bank Holidays) from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., at Bishop Creighton House, Lillie Road, which is close to the junction with Fulham Palace Road. It is helpful to make an appointment, mainly so I can have the necessary paperwork with me. Please phone 020 7835 5446.
Since I was elected in May 2005, I have held over 200 of these surgeries. Each week, around 40 people come, so that is around 8,000 people seen. This is some 10% of the adult population of the constituency, so a lot of local people have had face-to-face contact with their Member of Parliament, which is one of the great strengths of the British parliamentary system.
The most frequent reasons for coming to see me have been housing issues and those seeking to clarify their immigration status, but the subject to be discussed could be almost anything. In the last four years, I have had inventors seeking to patent their ideas, through to neighbour disputes, through to those who have had great misfortune whilst travelling abroad. A growing number have problems with benefits claims or with Job Centre Plus, brought on by the recession.
The only thing predictable about the work is that it is unpredictable. On rare occasions, the person attending will turn out to be unbalanced or even dangerous, and twice now the police have had to be called. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that as an MP, you have to make yourself available to people to see you.
Parliamentary boundaries change at the next General Election, which will be held within the next six months. Thanks to population growth, my Hammersmith & Fulham constituency will be divided. The Fulham part will join Chelsea, where I will be the candidate for the Conservatives. The Hammersmith part will join Shepherd’s Bush, where Shaun Bailey is hoping to succeed me.
Until the election, I will continue to represent all of Hammersmith & Fulham, and I welcome all residents getting in touch. Returning to my Monday morning advice session, this is the only MP’s surgery in the Borough, and it is vital that MPs remain accessible to their constituents. I know Shaun Bailey will carry on that tradition in Hammersmith if he is elected to serve. I am looking forward to doing the same in Fulham & Chelsea.