I note from Hansard that on Wednesday you spoke up in Parliament as part of the debate on the budget as did my own MP, Caroline Lucas. Hansard lists your role as shadow Education Minister this suggests you are one of the leading lights in the Labour Party and that your words carry significance. According to Hansard Caroline appears to have spoken whilst you were making a much longer speech
CL: With those cuts decimating some of the poorest people in society and the need to leave at least two thirds of fossil fuels in the ground if we are to avoid dangerous climate change, does the hon. Lady agree that handing out yet more eye-watering tax breaks to multinational oil and gas companies is a deeply irresponsible use of public money?
AM: I am glad that the hon. Lady focuses on those with the least. I have been to Brighton and seen people rough-sleeping, and it worries me greatly that the council there is insufficiently focused on those with the least. She also mentioned wrong choices, and I want to say a little more about the right choices. First, we need to focus on the financial services industry……….
I write as someone who has lived in Brighton all of my adult life and the challenge of rough-sleeping has existed throughout that time. I work as a volunteer Street Pastor in the City and because of that role I meet many of the cities street sleeping community when I go out on a Friday night. I also have privileged knowledge of how hard the City Council and Sussex Police work together along with the Voluntary Sector to end rough sleeping in our city. That hard work is not limited to Brighton & Hove, it extends through an initiative called SHORE to other local authorities in Sussex. I know that you represent Wirral South as an MP and as someone who lived in Liverpool until I was 18 with close relatives still living across Merseyside I am familiar with the evident and hidden poverty in communities on both sides of the Mersey. It seems rather odd for you to single out one local Government agency as lacking a focus on street sleeping simply because you have visited our city and presumably seen some of the evidence of those who do treat our streets as their home. Of course all organisations could do more and work more effectively. However over the last 12 years we have elected 3 minority led Councils which has included 4 years when the Labour Party tried to run the city. Before that there were many years of a Labour majority led Council. Street Sleeping has been an issue throughout that time and as a local activist I cannot see evidence of any less focus under our current administration, despite the last 5 years of national austerity. I find it deeply offensive for you to use your position of prominence to state that our Council is not focused on this vital work, yet to be unwilling to defend that accusation. I have twice tried to question you on twitter which like Parliament is a public space. This letter is an attempt in more than 140 characters for me to express how unhappy I am with your speech and to ask you to justify your accusation or apologise and withdraw your comments.
If you really do have the courage of your convictions I invite you to come out from your cosy Hotel and comfortable fringe meeting one night when you are in Brighton in September to meet some of the people who do sleep on our Streets and also to meet some of those people who work with the Council to address the needs of these vulnerable people.