The biggest event over the last couple of weeks was clearly the Mayoral elections in London. Ken Livingstone visited Tooting during his campaign and got a great reception at the coffee morning I organised for him and on the walk we took up Tooting High Street. You can click HERE to see a photo of his visit. I am really disappointed that an excellent Mayor has been defeated. Ken has left many legacies to London and Londoners. I have already congratulated the new Mayor and hope that he will also be a good servant to London and work constructively with all London MP’s.
I held my normal surgeries at Balham Community Centre, Earlsfield Library and Tooting Library.
I have been mentoring and helping 3 undergraduates on a project they are conducting in Tooting. The students are part of an innovative scheme called “ParliaMentors”, organised by the Three Faiths Forum. 9 MP’s from the 3 main parties have been assigned a group of three students (one Jewish, one Christian and one Muslim) to mentor through a project on political engagement which they will be working on together. You can read more about this project by following this link to an article in the Times week.
Over the last fortnight I have also hosted local constituents in the Commons, including having tea on the House of Commons terraces with them. Mrs Riding won the raffle at my Warm Front event in Balham Library. You can see a picture of us by clicking HERE. The Joseph family won a raffle at Penwortham School. You can see a photo of us by clicking HERE.
I am pleased that this years Tiffin Cup Competition was the most fiercely competed so far. This is the third year I’ve run the competition and saw the largest number of nominations from local residents so far, with thousands of votes cast for the many excellent South Asian restaurants in Tooting. In an unprecedented result the competition produced not one, but two exceptional winners. Al Mirage was voted the best restaurant by Tooting residents, while Lahore Karahi received the most votes from locals and visitors alike. Lahore Karahi will also receive a special commendation for the role it plays in attracting business to Tooting Town Centre. You can see a picture of me with the staff of Al Mirage HERE.
I always enjoy working with local schools. Recently, Burntwood Secondary School have had a visiting academic from Australia working on a project. As part of this project she asked to interview me, which I was happy to do. You can see a photo of us by clicking HERE.
The Khalsa Centre in Tooting organise some really interesting projects for local youth including Punjabi classes, youth work and dance classes. They have recently been involved in a project with Wandsworth Drugs Project and held a celebratory event in Wandsworth Town Hall. I was really pleased to attend and speak to the hundreds who attended. The Khalsa Centre is a very active Sikh organisation in Tooting. They have excellent links the local police, and advise them on matters involving members of the Sikh community. They also run a Youth Group and Medical Group where people can get advice on health matters.
As my colleagues in Parliament keep reminding me, I am always boasting about something or another about Tooting. Well, I recently discovered that one of the (if not the oldest) Scout Group in the world is from Tooting! The 1st Balham and Tooting Scout Group (King of Siam’s Own) celebrated their centenary year by a St Georges Day Parade at St Marks URC.
The Reverend Andrew Fairchild, delivered an inspiring Service, which was both moving and also great fun. I managed to remember my own Cub promise. I enjoyed sharing with the many cubs, scouts and guides the fact that not so many years ago I was a proud member of the 4th Balham and Tooting Cubs! The scouts really are an amazing organisation. I’d just stress that the scouts are all part of a world-wide brotherhood, with shared values and beliefs. It teaches practical skills and encourages making new friends (through national and international Jamborees), and cooperation. There are more than 400,000 members in the UK and more than 28 million around the world. At a time when young people are often demonised it is worth remembering that the vast vast majority are a real example to the rest of us.
What has made the 1st Balham & Tooting Scout Group (King of Siam’s Own) last for 100 years will no doubt keep them going for another one hundred.
I also met with residents who live around Springfield Hospital to discuss their concerns about current plans to redevelop the site the 80 acre site, creating 1400 new housing units and building several high-rise apartment blocks. I am really keen to make sure that local residents’ voices are heard by the Developers and the Council, who will ultimately decide on whether or not the application is given planning permission. I urge all the affected residents to write to me, Wandsworth Council and their local Councillors opposing the development.
You can also fill in my online survey and tell me what you think about the development HERE