|Friday, 15 February 2008 17:25|
In the afternoon, the Secretary of State for Justice, Rt Hon Jack Straw made a statement about allegations of the bugging of conversations I had with a constituent, Babar Ahmad, who is detained at Woodhill Prison. You can see the Statement and debate by clicking HERE.
On Tuesday, I met with the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities, Skills, John Denham MP, and to discuss plans to expand and strengthen apprenticeships. The number of young people and adults successfully completing apprenticeships has risen from around 40,000 in 2001/02 to over 100,000 per year now. This represents a major boost to our national skills base, and it’s encouraging that the government are investing even more in apprenticeship schemes. You can see a photo of our meeting by clicking HERE.
I also met with the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, to discuss policing and transport issues affecting Tooting residents. He took a keen interest in the matters I raised and has agreed to come to Tooting shortly to see for himself the situation in our local area. I will keep readers updated about this.
On Wednesday, I took part in Sainsbury’s “Active Kids 2008, Skip2bfit” challenge. Skip2bFit is a fitness initiative designed to motivate children to eat healthily and exercise more. I competed against other MPs to win ‘Active Kids’ vouchers for local schools. I came 4th overall and won 1,000 vouchers for Tooting primary schools. You can see a photo of me taking part by clicking HERE.
On Thursday, I attended a special Chinese New Year Assembly at Fircroft Primary School.
I also met a senior representative of Marks and Spencers to discuss their plans for Tooting. M&S will be opening a much larger store in the Colliers Wood Retail Park, so are closing the Tooting branch and unfortunately, there is no prospect of a U turn. I have received assurances that all staff will be offered jobs in the new branch, or other local stores and will be working closely with the Tooting Town Centre manager. However, it is important that the Council is pressurised to do more to help Tooting Town Centre. A laissez faire approach is not the way to encourage “brand names” to Tooting.
In the evening I attended a Commendation Ceremony at the Town Hall to honour Wandsworth Borough Police. Some extremely, dedicated and conscientious Officers and Community Support Officers were commended. It was quite humbling hearing some of the stories behind the actions of the Officers which lead to the commendations; from professionalism, determination and tenacity in tackling violent and threatening suspects to partnership building skills in working with young people locally. It really was a moving night and I really hope the local press relay to the public the sort of work local police and PCSO’s do on a daily basis to make us safer.
On Friday, I hosted my 3rd annual Warm front event. I hold the event annually to ensure that older people in our community are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to. Record numbers termed up to Balham Library, where the event was held, to receive free benefit checks. I also arrange for local community organisations and services to be at the event to offer support and advice. To find out more click HERE. To see a photo of this year’s event click HERE.
In the afternoon, I visited the Furzedown Project and helped launch a new mini bus that users of the Project have been given thanks to generous donations from a number of charities including “Stage for Age” who are the celebrity wing of Help the Aged.
I also visited Springfield Hospital to discuss their plans to build a mixed development on the site for housing, a hospital as well as some retail and community aspect. I have a number of concerns about the current plans and have asked for further information on a variety of matters.
On Sunday, I joined Councillors Billi Randall, Rex Osborn and Andy Gibbons, along with a number of local Labour Party members, speaking to residents in the Graveney part of the constituency. There were still many complaints about poor street cleaning and fly tipping as well as concern about the future of Tooting Town Centre. As normal, I have agreed to take up individual casework on behalf of constituents.
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