|Monday, 20 March 2006 17:08|
On Saturday 11th, I joined local children,
parents and elderly residents with Judi Gasser, Mark Thomas and Cllr John
Farebrother (the Furzedown candidates for the local election) to highlight the
dangerous position on Thrale Road and Furzedown Road near Tooting Bec
common. More than 20 residents joined the hundreds who have signed the
petition calling for a crossing. This is urgent – we shouldn’t wait for someone
to be hurt before any action is taken, and residents have been asking the
Council to put in a crossing for years.
On Sunday I joined local members in Graveney ward. Common issues raised were the state of the town centre, litter on the pavement and streets and the general lack of cleanliness. These are common complaints and are to a large extent due to the fact that when choosing a service, the Council looks at how cheap the contract is over the quality of the service provided.
On Monday 13th, I joined local primary school children at Balham tube station celebrating the great news from the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone giving all under 11 year olds free off peak tube travel. This is part of the Mayor’s strategy to improve young people’s access to education, sport and leisure facilities in London, and will have real benefits for children in Tooting constituency.
Later, I joined members of a local football team, Balham Blazers, the Secretary of State for DCMS, Tessa Jowell, at the Football Association HQ to lobby the FA to change their rules around boys and girls playing in mixed teams after they reach 11. At the moment, the current arrangements are sexist – once girls turn 11 they are no longer allowed to play football alongside boys. The Balham Blazers were very successful in putting their point across to the FA about how unjust this situation is.
On Tuesday morning I attended two separate seminars. The first organised by Progress (details here) looking at democratic renewal and the second organised by The Smith Institute (details here) looking into the economic and political prospects of the Middle East.
I later met with representatives of Stagecoach to discuss my campaign to improve Earlsfield Station. I have been regularly lobbying for step-free access to the platforms. Towards the end of last year South West Trains agreed to give all disabled passengers from Earlsfield Station a free taxi to the nearest accessible station. At the meeting on Tuesday I sought assurances that posters advertising this will be put up around the station.
I also met with representatives of the Disability Rights Commission (http://www.drc-gb.org) to discuss the wider issue of the appallingly way disabled people are treated by public transport, not just in Tooting, but throughout the UK. The meeting was extremely useful and allowed me to understand, even further, the extent to which people with disabilities struggle as a result of companies disregarding their needs. I will be able to raise this issue even further in Parliament through oral and written questions. For an update on my questions asked in parliament see http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/sadiq_khan/tooting
On the 28th March I will also be meeting representatives from the DRC, along with delegates from 23 other UK organisations, to primarily raise awareness of the issue and to move towards creating a coalition group with an interest in improving access to railway stations, particularly those representing the disabled, the elderly, and parents with young children. I will keep you informed of how the meeting goes.
Wednesday was the 2nd Reading of the Education and Inspection Bill. I made three interventions during the debate, which you can read here. First intervention; second intervention; third intervention.
On Thursday I attended a briefing organised by the Institute of Fiscal Studies on their preview of the Budget. In the afternoon I chaired a conference looking at the confidence building measures and human aspects of the Kashmir dispute. Speakers included the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, John Denham MP, Tory Defence spokesperson, Gerald Howarth MP, Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir as well as other parliamentarians and experts on the topic.
I also meet with a reprehensive of the Association of Chief Police Officers to discuss policing issues.
On Friday, Mark Lazarowicz’s Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Bill (which I discussed in my last blog entry) returned again to the Commons to debate the amendments made in Standing Committee. Some Tory MPs were intent on talking out the Bill, but the debate on the Bill will continue now on 12th May.
As well as spending most of Friday in Parliament supporting this important Bill, I also attended an assembly at Fircroft Primary School where Reception class children aged 4 and 5 performed a wonderful play about how a beanstalk is made.
In the evening I attended the Yahweh Christian Fellowship (details here) conference at Lola Jones hall off Garratt Lane. YCF are members of the UK Evangelical Alliance. Pastor Noel and Sharon Mclean were very impressive as were the band and the singing. Pastor Noel emphasised that the conference has a two fold emphasis which is "to bless and impact our community and local church." There were over 150 in the session I attended and impressively, many young people were present too.
St Patrick's Day was on the 17th, and I fully support the anti racism theme for this year's celebrations. Things are definitely better now than they were in previous decades. However it is important not to be complacent and to remember that progress has been made by a coalition of right-thinking members of our society coming together and saying that racism is unacceptable.
On Saturday I had one of my regular surgeries at Tooting Library.
After this I went canvassing with Furzedown Labour Party members on The Aldrington Estate in Furzedown. The response on the doorstep was very positive. The Safer neighbourhood team have been a huge success but residents in Furzedown are keen, understandably, to get their full compliment of 6 officers as soon as possible. Details of my campaign are here. There was also support for our campaign to persuade the Council to have a pedestrian crossing at the end of Thrale road and Furzedown Road approaching Tooting Bec Common.
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