|Monday, 08 May 2006 14:57|
The last two weeks have been taken over by
campaigning around Tooting in the lead up to the council elections held
on Thursday 4th May. In Furzedown, we added an additional Labour
councillor. Cllr Judi Gasser joins Cllr John Farebrother in the ward.
Unfortunately, Cllr Stuart King lost his seat in Tooting ward to the
Conservatives. The number of Labour councillors in Tooting falls from 7 to 6.
Although the results locally are disappointing with excellent Labour councillors
and candidates not winning, there can be little doubt that events nationally had
a disproportionate effect on voting intentions locally. The results in London
were mixed, but Labour did gain control of Lambeth, and made significant
advances in Islington and Southwark, as well as holding on to Hackney, Tower
Hamlets, Greenwich, Newham, Barking and Haringey
I have attended two separate meetings with senior police officers in relation to the murders of Hayder and Mohammed Ali. The police are continuing to investigate these murders. Eight separate people have been charged and the police are calling for more witnesses to come forward to help them with their enquiries. I have met with the bereaved family at their home who have demonstrated a remarkable amount of dignity at what must be a horrendous time. In addition to meeting local residents and retailers, I addressed a public meeting at Tooting Islamic Centre, and I have been in regular contact with the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who will be conducting their own enquiries into the horrific events of 21st and 22nd April.
I held my usual surgeries over the last two weeks at Balham Community centre, Earlsfield Library and Tooting Library.
The Public Accounts Committee has examined two separate areas over the last fortnight. We looked at enhancing urban green space. Good quality green space plays a vital role in improving the quality of urban life and contributes to wider government objectives such as improved health, more sustainable neighbourhood renewal and better community cohesion, especially in more deprived communities. Neglected parks attract anti social behaviour and have the potential to undermine the regeneration of deprived neighbourhoods.
We have also investigated the Department for Work and Pensions support for disabled people gaining and retaining employment. Between 1979 and 1997, the numbers in receipt of incapacity benefits rose from 700,000 to 2.5 million, and has currently stabilised at around 2.6 million. These benefits cost £12bn per year. We looked at the Department’s Employment programmes for disabled people, finding and retaining work, the quality and accessibility of support and the cost effectiveness of the schemes.
I also attended Roshni House which is sheltered accommodation for elderly people in Graveney ward. Cllr Billi Randell attended with me. A number of issues were raised – in particular the extension of a bus route through Longley Road, the condition of pavements, interpreting services at the GP surgery and local policing. I am making representations on behalf of the residents on these issues.
I attended the inaugural annual ball of the Hindu Forum of Britain. The evening was enjoyable and gave me the opportunity to boast about the vibrant Hindu community that we have in Tooting.
I sat on the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.
I also had an opportunity to ask questions to the Secretary of State for Transport in relation to passenger safety. Details here.
I spent two days campaigning in Newcastle in the lead up to the council elections. The BNP put up six candidates in the city, and there was a real concern that they would make gains. I met residents of all backgrounds, committed to fighting the far right, and avoiding divisions in the community caused by some of the BNP vitriol. Fortunately, no BNP councillors were elected in the city.
On Sunday, I played for the parliamentary football team in a charity match against the Cystic Fibrosis Eleven. Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited disease which affects vital organs in the body, especially the lungs and digestive system. It is the most common life-threatening inherited disease, and affects 7,500 babies, children and young adults in the UK. There is no known cure at present. Details from the football match are here.
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