Missing MEP reappears to highlight vice campaign

But residents are bemused by lack of contact on local issues HAMPSTEAD and Highgate residents were shocked to find their Labour MEP sprout out of the woodwork this week. MEP Mary Honeyball last week contacted the Ham&High to highlight her campaign to sto

But residents are bemused by lack of contact on local issues

HAMPSTEAD and Highgate residents were shocked to find their Labour MEP sprout out of the woodwork this week.

MEP Mary Honeyball last week contacted the Ham&High to highlight her campaign to stop prostitutes being trafficked to Switzerland and Austria for the Euro 2008 football championships.

The Labour MEP lives in Bloomsbury when she isn't at the European Parliament in Brussels discussing women's rights and paper pushing.


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Ms Honeyball revealed she has actually been representing the residents of Hampstead and Highgate in Europe for the last three years, much to the surprise of local people.

Gordon Forbes, chairman of the Highgate Society, said: "How do you spell her name? Sorry, I have no idea who she is. She has never contacted us. She really should make herself known.

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"If she has any wish for a unified Europe it may be an idea if we see her once in a blue moon, otherwise it might be a blue moon before Europe gets unified."

And Tony Hillier, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, suggested some local causes to interest her: "The chances are that although there are many negative aspects of what goes on in Brussels, I would think there would be much more enlightenment on tree management and excavating basement developments."

Ms Honeyball was first elected MEP in 2000, and is the Labour spokeswoman at the European Parliament on women's rights and culture and education.

Whilst a perusal of Ms Honeyball's website reveals she has a special interest in Cyprus, there is no mention of Hampstead or Highgate.

Alan Caras, who works in the Antique and Craft Emporium on Heath Street, said: "Her name may ring a bell but I'd be fibbing if I said I knew who she was."

Adam Matheson, another Hampstead resident, said: "We should know more really about MEPs."

Amidst the recent furore over MEP's expenses, residents will be delighted that her greatest achievement last year was cutting the cost of overseas mobile phone charges.

She says: "One of the biggest successes during my year on the industry committee has been the action taken to slash roaming charges on mobile phone networks. Some users were paying over £1 per minute to call back home. The price limits restrict networks to charging the consumer no more than 38p per minute to make a roaming call anywhere within Europe, and no more than 19p per minute to receive a call in Europe."

When contacted by the Ham&High, the Eurocrat was waiting for a flight to Naples. Keen to talk about her Euro 2008 campaign, she said: "There is a lot of information that there will be an influx of prostitutes to Austria and Switzerland from Eastern Europe, and the government and Europe should be doing more.

"Trafficking is a huge international crime often run by gangs of multinational criminals, making it very difficult to deal with."

On her lack of visibility in the area, she said: "The set up is confusing. I am in Brussels from Monday to Thursday which doesn't leave a lot of time to meet with people. That is probably why they haven't heard of me in the constituency.

"It's a Labour party arrangement. We are the only party in Europe with that set up. People can contact me through the website.

A senior source in the Camden Labour party, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I do know who she is. She has not done a huge lot over the years. Women's rights is pretty much her thing.

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