On Monday I held my usual advice surgery at Earlsfield Library.
I then went to Earlsfield Police Station to meet the Acting Borough Commander, Guy Ferguson. I have known Chief Superintendent for some time now as he has been based locally for a while. I was really pleased with his local knowledge and that he understood the priorities local residents have. Burglary has been a particular problem in recent months and steps are being taken to address this. I recently made a speech about policing in London, which you can see by clicking HERE. Obviously, those of us who know Joe Royle (the outgoing Borough Commander) will wish him well in his new job and thank him for all his hard work over the last 3 years. I understand that the new permanent Borough Commander should be on post by July. You can see a photo of my meeting by clicking HERE.
In the afternoon, I attended the Public Accounts Committee, which examined "Tackling Rural Poverty in Developing Countries ". The World Bank has estimated that 1.1 billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty. Some 75 per cent of the poor currently live in rural areas. It is clear that unless the needs of the rural poor are explicitly considered and targeted, they tend to lose out. You can see a transcript of the hearing by clicking HERE.
On Tuesday, I had a personnel Sub Committee meeting at Fircroft Primary School, where I am a governor.
I also met with UNISON officials from the local Health sector to discuss a variety of issues ranging from St Georges budget deficit, reforms, Springfield Hospital and changes around the PCT. I regularly meet all local and national stakeholders in the NHS to make sure that the views on the ground are passed on and improvements can continue to be made, not just in the quality of care patients receive but also in the conditions of all the hard working staff in our NHS.
I met with a senior representative of Tubelines to discuss the Northern Line. Literally thousands of local residents use Balham, Tooting Bec and Tooting Broadway station. Over the last couple of years I have managed to secure some improvements in the service of the tubes as well as our stations, however, there is still a long way to go. We will be getting a major refurbishment of our stations but I am keen for this to happen sooner rather than later. You can see a photo of me meeting Paul Lehman, of Tubelines, by clicking HERE.
There was a very important debate on the floor of the House of Commons on Darfur. The situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is the world’s biggest humanitarian crises, with more than 2 million Darfuris displaced from their homes. I was able to make an intervention to the Speech by the Secretary of State for the Foreign Office, Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP (Click HERE) and on the speech by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon William Hague MP also. You can click HERE to see this intervention.
On Wednesday, my highlight was attending the Annual conference of the Communications and Workers Union (CWU) in Bournemouth. I spoke to the Telecoms conference on "Temporary and Agency Workers". This is a major issue of concern as vulnerable workers continue to be exploited by some employers. I was a supporter of the Private Members Bill moved by Paul Farrelly MP. You can see a transcript of my contribution in the House of Commons by clicking HERE. I was pleased to share a platform with Richard Howitt MEP.
I also spoke at a fringe meeting entitled "Reconnecting with Labour". I shared a platform with the General Secretary of the CWU, Billy Hayes who reminded CWU members of the progress made in the last ten years by trade unions working constructively with the Labour Government. This was also the main message of my speech although I also focussed on how trade unions and the Labour Party can look forward to working even better than we had over the last few years.
On Thursday, I undertook my duties as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Rt Hon Jack Straw MP.
I was also pleased to host a meeting in Parliament for members of Furzedown Ward Labour Party to meet Minister of State for Education Jim Knight MP. A variety of issues were discussed including the benefits of the Building Schools for the Future programme for local secondary schools, admissions policies, how to improve standards and the National Curriculum, to name just a few. You can see a photo of some of the members meeting the Minister by clicking HERE.
On Friday, I visited the excellent St Boniface School in Tooting to watch a Musical assembly and also to see for myself the important work being done by Volunteer Reading Help (VRH). VRH volunteers go into primary schools and spend half an hour twice a week with each child reading, talking and playing games. The aim of the sessions is to boost the literacy skills, self-confidence and self-esteem of the children. VRH currently help 5,000 children across the country and volunteers work in two schools in Tooting.
In the evening I had the pleasure of watching the Magdalene Players production of "Run for your Wife". The Magdalene Players have been presenting amateur Drama in St Mary Magdalene Church Hall in Wandsworth Common for a quarter of a century. The play was extremely entertaining and enjoyed by hundreds of local people across three nights.
On Sunday, I joined Cllr Andy Gibbons, Cllr Rex Osborne and Cllr Billi Randal (the three hardworking Labour Councillors in Graveney) and local members, in Graveney ward for an afternoon of canvassing. The main issue that was raised was the lack of action by the Council in dealing with fly tipping and also the poor quality of street cleaning. The Councillors and I are taking up these issues with the Council.