Our Restart Party in Parliament

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Yesterday we fixed electronics together with MPs and their staff, hosted by Helen Hayes MP (above), who we met last year. It was great to be fixing in such a prestigious location as part of our Restart the Capital Tour of London, supported by the London Waste and Recycling Board and East London Waste Authority.

As ever, fixing is a way into important conversations about why so much breaks and why we discard so much.

Labour and Tory MPs fixed with us – Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood), Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) and Scott Mann (North Cornwall) all came to tinker with their broken stuff and Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) and Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) dropped in to see the fixing and chat. We also had the pleasure of meeting David Natzler, Clerk of the House of Commons and staff from a number of other MPs.

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We talked about the need to help revive certain commercial repair sectors, and about the viability for longer-term work on reducing the VAT on repairs (following Sweden’s lead).

We had chats about important work on ecodesign standards for longevity – still in development in Brussels. Most MPs were interested to hear that, while in the EU manufacturers must provide documentation for disassembly to recyclers, those who repair and reuse must simply guess. We need access to official repair documentation so it does not take us 45 minutes to open a hand blender, like it did with Helen Hayes’ own.

And if you are wondering, we fixed Sharon Hodgson’s clock on the spot and took away Helen Hayes’ hand blender and Scott Mann’s headphones for some more TLC. Other items diagnosed – some fixed – included iPods, a compact camera, a paper shredder, a wireless keyboard, and two iPhones.

Thanks to our dedicated Restarters (including a crew from Leicester!) and allies – including researchers – who joined us. And a special thanks to London repair company Lovefone for coming and helping with mobiles.

We must be the first to bring in a such a huge repair kit into Portcullis House… we found that the logistics contractor had left our bag in a hard-to-find area of one of the building’s kitchens.

And lastly, a sincere thanks to Helen Hayes and her assistant Shadi Brazell, to the Serjeant at Arms office and the Fire Risk Management Team for making our event possible. We hope it is the first of more hands-on events in Parliament.

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2 responses to “Our Restart Party in Parliament”

  1. Paul Winstone says:

    I’m keen to get involved but concerned by the initial startup costs. If my mp Christina Rees and am Jeremy Miles were to get involved in an initial project then this could take off in Neath

    • janetgunter says:

      Hi Paul, Perhaps you’d like to link up with friends in Swansea? Startup costs are relatively low, if you can find a local group to cover the event and a free venue. We estimate the basic kit you need to help people to cost around £70 – and often fixer volunteers will already own some of the kit. More in our how-to document: http://rstrt.org/RestartParty

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