|New Year News|
|Monday, 10 January 2011 18:05|
Though Parliament only returns from recess today, the first week of 2011 was a busy one, with lots of constituency correspondence to catch up on after the Christmas break and work on my Shadow Justice and Constitutional Reform briefs – which includes working on opposition to cuts to the South-West London Law Centre and the closure of Balham Youth Court.
VAT up to 20%, fares up above inflation
David Cameron and Boris Johnson seem to have made a joint New Year’s resolution to hit squeezed Londoners in the pocket – the government has put VAT up to 20% - hitting those on the lowest incomes the hardest, but raising day-to-day costs for all of us (it will cost the average family £450 a year, and £275 a year for a pensioner couple – painful increases in these difficult times). Boris Johnson has raised fares above inflation yet again. Since 2008 the Mayor has raised the price of bus fares 44% - meanwhile he’s scrapped the Western Congestion Charging zone, losing £50-70 million which could have helped soften the blow of fare increases. Zone 1-3 Travelcards have been abolished, forcing Tooting and Balham residents to buy a more expensive Zone 1-4 Travelcard. Cheaper travel for Londoners avoiding Zone 1 has also been hit, as the Zone 2-6 Travelcard was scrapped, forcing passengers to purchase a Zone 1-6 Travelcard – which is a whopping 76% more expensive.
Wandsworth's 'Free School'
Locally I’ve been contacted by dozens of residents who are dismayed at Wandsworth council’s plans to spend £13 million of our money on a new school on the old Bolingbroke Hospital site, when there are places available at existing schools in Wandsworth, all of which are in desperate need of investment and improvements. Many feel that the new school (which is being built as part of the government’s ‘free school’ programme) will be ‘exclusive’ due to the area it’s located in and the planned admission criteria – I’d be interested to hear your views on this.
Consultation on library services
Finally, Wandsworth Council are making cuts to library services across the borough, and are currently consulting with local residents on how these cuts should be made. More information is available at wandsworth.gov.uk/libraries – including dates of consultation meetings (Tooting’s is on the 20th January, 2pm-4pm in the children’s library). I’d urge local residents who value the library services in the borough to make their views known before the consultation deadline on the 6th February.
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