|Tuesday, 03 October 2006 14:52|
One of the big political issues of today is
the environment. However, there is a common misconception that
this massive issue effects countries and business, and is solely to do with
greenhouse gases and renewable energies. One of the biggest concerns I have is
the amount of water that is wasted by leakages or by our use of water. The
hosepipe ban that was introduced in Tooting, a number of months ago, brought
home the problems of water usage to many Tooting residents during the summer. I
have been in constant touch with Thames Water to see what they
have been doing. One of the things I agreed to do was to spend an evening with
their special water leakage team. You can find out more about this here.
The new Department for Communities and Local Government is an exciting step forward which I welcome. DCLG has a powerful new remit to promote community cohesion and equality, as well as responsibility for housing, urban regeneration, planning and local government. A lot of these issues are of paramount importance to Tooting so I have been keen to meet with the DCLG team to discuss the range of issues facing our community in Tooting. I have met with the Minister for Local Government and Community Cohesion Phil Woolas MP and advisors from the department.
I also spoke at and chaired events at the Progress Annual Conference – on ‘Security versus Liberty: Will we be forced to choose?’ and a Question Time panel with Peter Hain MP, Estelle Morris and Tristram Hunt. More details available on the newly re-launched Progress website.
I was the chief guest speaker at the AGM of the Wandsworth Bengali Welfare Association on Trinity Road. More than 40 users turned up to the AGM. I used the opportunity to pay tribute to all the volunteers, trustees and staff who make the centre such a huge success, notwithstanding the yearly threats of cuts from the Council.
The last week of September was spent in Manchester for the annual Labour Party conference. This year was busier than usual for me as I was speaking at more than 10 fringe events ranging from the NHS to Higher education, from the conflict in Palestine and Israel to community cohesion and much more. It was a really enjoyable week. There was not the civil war that the so called experts had predicted! The highlights of the week were clearly the speeches from three of the biggest statesmen of the last generation; Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. I have been present at every party conference speech made by Tony Blair as leader of the Party and Gordon Brown as first Shadow and then Chancellor over the period. It is sad that this will be the last year that these two play these roles but the week has renewed my confidence that we have the team and the policies to govern this country successfully for at least another ten years. Another highlight of the week is the annual MPs vs Press football match. The MPs have not won this fixture for the last 5 years… until this year! We won 6-4 but surprisingly no coverage was given to this victory in the press unlike the years when the press win.
On Friday I took part in the Macmillan coffee morning at St Georges Hospital. The World's Biggest Coffee Morning is Macmillan's biggest fundraiser and breaks world records every year with the number of people taking part. The money raised goes to support vitally needed cancer services across the country. The efforts of the Macmillan medical team at St George's Hospital make a real difference to the local community. The success of the Coffee Mornings shows how much people care about raising money for cancer services
On Saturday, I attended the 27th Dirga Puja – the annual autumn festival of the local Hindu Bengali community at Bina Hall on Upper Tooting Road. The Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth, Tooting's excellent Labour Councillor Nick Bowes and Honorary Alderman Dilwar Hossain were also present along with more than 200 locals.
On Monday I held an assembly with pupils from Fircroft Primary School where I was pleased to hand out the 16 footballs I had been given by McDonalds. As a member of the UK Parliamentary Football Club, I recently played in a competition against teams from the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament. As well as raising £1,000 for the UKPFC’s good causes, I was invited to donate a variety of footballs to a primary school in Tooting.
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