|An Advice session, Southern trains and Tooting fire station|
|Thursday, 08 June 2006 11:54|
Although last week was the Whitson Recess, when Parliament does not sit for a
week, the last fortnight has been a hectic as ever.
As well as attending my appointment only surgeries at Tooting library and my walk in advice session at Balham Community Centre and Earlsfield Library I have been busy in Tooting and Westminster.
I met with the Managing Director of Southern Trains, Chris Burchill, to discuss facilities at Balham Railway station. The meeting was very useful and informative. I was able to provide Mr Burchill with concerns that many of my constituents have raised about security and Oyster pre-pay. I was extremely pleased to hear that Balham will become the first station in Southern London later this year to introduce a trial of using pre-pay Oyster cards between Balham station and Victoria station. The final plans are currently being worked out for what will be a real win for Balham constituents. I was also pleased to hear that Balham station’s accessibility is very well managed, with every member of staff receiving training for helping disabled passengers. The station has also been awarded the Secure Station Status Mark, which I hope will comfort regular and irregular users of the station.
The Public Accounts Committee examined ‘Out of hour care provisions’. We examined why out of hours services changed, the commissioning problem, current performance levels, costs of the service, good practice and international comparisons. The transcript of the meeting can be read here.
I also attend an adjournment debate called by my good friend Keith Vaz MP, to raise concerns about detention without trial at Guantanamo Bay. Unfortunately, only thirty minutes was set aside for this debate and I was not able to make an oral contribution.
I attended the funeral of Haydon and Muhammed Ali, two brothers tragically murdered In Tooting recently. The funeral was held in Wimbledon Park Mosque with a massive turnout from locals around South London (and future afield) of all different ages and background. Their murder was absolutely futile. The police have charged a number of people with their murders, and are continuing their investigations into concerns about a delay in police reaction.
On a happier note I attended Tooting Fire Station to see for myself the new Solar Panels that are helping to heat the station. Tooting now has the first fire station in London to have solar heating. This will not only help them to save £3400 on their annual gas bill, but will also ensure that carbon dioxide emissions from the station are reduced by sixteen tonnes per year.
I hosted a launch of a book published by The British Council entitled ‘Media guide to British Museums’ written by Ehsan Masood.
I took part in an adjournment debate outside that raised concerns in Sri Lanka called by a good colleague Andy Love MP. Andy is the Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sri Lanka and recently returned from a visit to Sri Lanka. I made a couple of interventions to raise concerns highlighted to me by constituents in Tooting. For a full transcript of the debate please click here.
I also attended the monthly General Committee meeting of Tooting Labour Party.
I met with Yvette Cooper MP (who in her capacity as Minister of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government is responsible for Housing matters) and discussed the concerns around housing in London and Tooting in particular. One of the regular gripes raised with me by local residents is the lack of affordable housing in Tooting.
The supply of social housing within the borough of Wandsworth is extremely restricted following decisions taken by the Tory council. Over the last 25 years, the Tory Council have sold off thousands of Council flats without replacing them with new affordable properties or making developers who build new properties locally do so. I have already raised the issue of the Council’s policy in Parliament and the general lack of affordable housing available for local residents like you. I will continue to campaign for the necessary increase in affordable housing throughout Tooting.
Although progress has been made in recent years, this is a major problem. I have met many young professionals on decent wages unable even on two incomes to afford to buy a property in Tooting. Families in Tooting are being separated by a number of miles with others living in worryingly over crowded accommodation.
I am confident that Yvette will soon return with new initiatives to address these problems that the local Tory Council has neglected for the last 28 years.
I was also the main speaker at the joint Annual Public Meeting held by the Wandsworth Teaching PCT Patient and Public Forum (PPIF) and St Georges Hospital Trust PPIF.
PPIF’s are statutory bodies and both are working closely and constructively with the PCT and St Georges trust to improve health and NHS Services in Tooting and the borough.
The meeting was extremely well attended with members asking me many relevant questions about local health provisions.
I attended a reception assembly at Fircroft Primary school as part of their Science Week.
I visited Penwortham Primary School. Although I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the excellent Headteacher, Mrs Annwen Rigby, the teachers, staff and pupils and inspecting the building works. The highlight was a session with the School Council. The range of issues raised by students in the years 6, 5 and 4 stretched from climate change to litter and included topics such as racism, local art, play facilities the environment, walking to school, the role of Parliament and much much more. Any pessimism I have about low turnout and apathy amongst young voters at elections is soon turned to optimism when I meet articulate, conscientious and switched-on young people such as the students of Penwortham. The school deserves huge credit for participation encouraged of students by school council.
Another highlight was being asked to cut the ribbon, and officially open, the Ronald McDonald House at St George’s Hospital. This house has eight separate ensuite bedrooms with two communal bathrooms, two sitting rooms, a dining room and kitchen and is open to the families of children being treated at St George’s who may live long a distance from Tooting.
I met the Brooks family from Farnborough, who have stayed in the House on two occasions while their beautiful son received treatment at the hospital for Hydrocephalus – a build up of spinal fluid inside the brain.
As Tooting residents living so close to St George’s we often forget how lucky we are to live within a few minutes of a centre of excellence. Having met the House Manager, Jeanette Hill, the Trustees and visited the rooms I am extremely proud that our hospital can now provide a ‘home away from home’ for the families for the families of sick children being looked after and treated by St George’s.
The Royal College of Nursing and Unison recently organised a lobby of Parliament to highlight concerns they had. I met with Karen Barrett who is a nurse at St George’s Hospital and the RCN representatives to discuss serious issues and concerns to frontline staff as St George’s. I am taking these up with senior management at the Trust and the PCT and also with Ministers.
I attended an Independent Monitoring Board meeting at Wandsworth Prison. The IMB is comprised of independent and unpaid members of the public, who monitor the day-to-day life in the prison and ensure that proper standards of care and decency are maintained. It will produce an annual report for the Home Secretary, which will also be available to the local community.
I took part in an excellent discussion with Board members about the provisions and premises at the prison and how steps can be taken too make more progress. I met with the Governor, Ian Mulholland, as well as with staff on the Healthcare Unit.
I also attended the AGM of the Muslim Council of Britain. Sir Iqbal Sacranie stepped down after four years a Secretary General and Dr Abdul Bari (A fellow south Londoner!) was elected to succeed Sir Iqbal. I wished Dr Bari the best of luck in his new practice and paid tribute to the excellent work Sir Iqbal has done in recent years in particularly difficult circumstances and in challenging times. For more information about the work of the MCB please click here.
Promoted by Tooting Labour Party on behalf Sadiq Khan and Tooting Labour Party, all of 273 Balham High Road, London, SW17 7BD. Hosted by 34SP.com, 349 Bury Old Road, Manchester, M25 1PY.