• Monday, January 30, 2023

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Gareth Thomas MP reveals election pledges for Harrow West

Gareth Thomas with Harrow students at the university fair.

By: ReenaKumar

by REENA KUMAR

LABOUR’S Gareth Thomas MP has revealed how he returned from paternity
leave just an hour before prime minister Theresa May called a general election, forcing the new father to get straight back onto the campaign trail.

Thomas has represented Harrow West for the last 20 years, which is home to
three large migrant groups from India, Kenya, and Sri Lanka, who represent 18 per cent of the local population according to the last Census.

In the 2015 election, Thomas gained a majority of 2,208 ahead of Conservative candidate Hannah David, who will be running against him again next month.

He spoke to Eastern Eye about his key campaign pledges and told of his shock at discovering another election had been called.

“I had just got back from paternity leave and was an hour into my surgery
when Theresa May announced the election. It feels entirely unnecessary, the government should have been getting on with sorting out the best possible deal with our European allies on, for example the critical issue of access to the single market.”

The father-of-two said he would be campaigning to protect Harrow Police
Station, which is at risk of closure if further cuts to Metropolitan Police funding
go ahead.

“I am also determined to champion Harrow schools, which have seen their
budgets squeezed. A new funding formula means we risk losing £15 million from Harrow schools if the Conservatives go ahead with their plans.”

The former teacher, whose youngest is just six weeks old, said unlike his opponent, he lives locally, and grew up in the area, “so what happens in Harrow affects my young family and I too”.

He recently secured a partnership agreement with Oxford University which
saw representatives of the university attend an annual fair in Harrow for prospective students.

They also led a session on how to apply to Oxbridge. Representatives from Oxford, Cambridge and more than twenty other universities attended, giving year 12 students in Harrow the opportunity to find out more about which courses might be best for them and the application process.

Oxford University has confirmed its commitment to attending the fair for the next three years at least, along with a number of other Russell Group universities.

Thomas explained: “I hope the Asian community will respect my work to bring
Oxford University to Harrow to drive up standards further and increase opportunities for Harrow’s young people at Britain’s best universities. I hope they will remember that while I always put Harrow first, I have a long-standing interest and commitment to the people of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in particular.”

He told Eastern Eye that the area’s schools were one of the best things about
Harrow, and the initiative would enable more pupils to have a better chance of
getting into the top universities.

Health is another key priority for Thomas, who says that Harrow has received
the lowest level of funding for the NHS than any other London borough.

“When Labour was in power I helped secure extra doctors and nurses at Northwick Park Hospital, but now the hospital is running a huge deficit, is cutting staff and waiting lists are on the rise. I will keep fighting Northwick Park’s corner too,” he added.

The London politician served as the shadow minister for Europe between October 2013 and October 2014, and in 2014, Thomas was appointed the shadow minister for the Middle East and Africa.

He also serves as the shadow deputy minister for London, and threw his hat in
the ring to represent Labour in the London mayoral election in 2016.

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