Why vote for me?

The Haringey Indepedent asked me to outline reasons why people should vote for me… Here’s my response!

“Starting with the very basic – I am local! I grew up in Haringey, went to Highgate primary, and still live in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green today.

“It’s so important to know the area you want to represent.

“I also have a 20 year record of working with residents and campaign groups to protect and improve our local services.

“If I had to pick the single most important campaign – it would be saving the Whittington A&E from the previous Labour Government’s closure plans. The second I got wind, I posted the information on my website (where it remains today!) and kicked off a massive campaign.

“Joining forces with local residents and campaign groups – I marched, I petitioned, I secured a debate and asked questions in Parliament, and together we were successful and Gordon Brown’s Government backed down. If we hadn’t saved it – I don’t think we’d still have a hospital.

“Nationally, I’ve fought for policies that benefit our borough. The Lib Dems in parliament have taken the lowest paid workers out of paying tax, and introduced the Pupil Premium to get extra money to schools in more disadvantaged areas.

“These measures mean that thousands of low-paid Haringey workers have be taken out of paying income tax altogether, and £13 million extra has been given to our local schools, teachers and pupils.

“In Government, I’ve used my ministerial positions to push a progressive agenda. As Equalities minister, I was the originator and architect of equal marriage. I then moved to the Department for International Development, where I announced a £35 million programme to end FGM within a generation, and protected the aid budget.

“Finally, I would like you to vote for me because there is still more that needs to be done – for all the reasons I got into politics. We need stronger public services. We need to continue to promote fairness and equality. We need to fight for a community where we take care of those less able than ourselves. I’d like to be a part of that work for the next five years.”

Muswell Flyer article – A Fairer Society

Here’s my latest Muswell Flyer article, also available here. Nb – since the time of writing – the campaign for fairer health funding has been successful, and we’ve secured an extra £23.5 million for our local health services!

As a Liberal Democrat, I believe in creating a fairer society. And in a fair society, rail services should be accessible for everyone – including the elderly, the disabled, and those with heavy bags or pushchairs. That’s why I started the campaign to make our local stations step-free and accessible (which I wrote about in the last edition!)

Almost 800 local residents agreed and signed the petition. I met with Network Rail, Department for Transport ministers, and anyone I thought might be able to help.

And I have some great news – we’ve been successful in securing the extra funding for improvements at Alexandra Palace. The station will be step-free and accessible for all by 2019.

Lynne Featherstone MP with Dawn Barnes and Councillor Gail Engert, campaigning for step free access at Alexandra Palace Station

Of course, there are a number of other local stations – both rail and underground – which also need improvements. But this is a great step in the right direction, and hopefully a sign of more to come!

In other campaigning news – local residents and I are also working hard to secure fairer health funding for Haringey’s health services. At the moment, Haringey unfairly receives less funding per person than boroughs like Islington and Camden.

This is unfair and really has a negative impact of Haringey residents – increased waiting times, limited access to services, the list goes on. That’s why I exposed the unfairness and launched the campaign years ago – and I will not stop until the problem is fixed!

Last year, our campaign secured an extra £7.6 million for Haringey’s health services – but we are still underfunded compared to other boroughs.

I recently met with NHS England to put forward the case for Haringey. Good news – they agreed there is a serious problem – and they will meet with local health chiefs to try and move some money from other boroughs to Haringey.

I’ve also collected some evidence on hidden populations and mental health service funding to support our case and help secure more funding for our services.

I am confident of getting a result for Haringey – particularly as the Government has just announced an extra £2 billion in funding for the NHS – with a huge chunk earmarked for frontline services.

Just before Christmas I also launched a campaign to save Muswell Hill Library. Budget documents revealed Labour-run Haringey Council’s plans to close the current service and spend £30,000 on relocating the service (possibly away from Muswell Hill). I think they should keep the service where is it, and spend a smaller amount on making the library accessible. Over 1000 local residents agree.

 Lynne Featherstone MP, Lib Dem councillors Gail Engert, Pippa Connor and Viv Ross, protesting outside the library in Muswell Hill

I hope, by the time this is printed, Haringey Council will have scrapped the plans. If not – you can join that campaign here.

Working together to End FGM

In a truly fair society, no woman or girl would be at risk of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It is gender-based violence – it is unacceptable and it needs to stop.

But over 60,000 girls in the UK are vulnerable. That’s why I recently held a conference for North London professionals to discuss working together to end FGM.

You can watch a video from the conference here:

As you can see, over 100 health workers, social workers, teachers, police and community group representatives gathered at Hornsey School for Girls.

It was a great event – with sessions for each sector, mixed sessions to discuss an integrated approach to tackling FGM, speeches from survivors and a presentation from students.

There is still a lot of work to do to raise awareness and to protect vulnerable girls. But conferences and conversations like this are important steps in the right direction.

Tackling extremism and intolerance in Haringey

Earlier in the week I posted a video of Paddy Ashdown and Maajid Nawaz talking about tackling extremism. I’ve received some very interesting feedback – thank you for your views!

I agree with Paddy and Maajid – that tough conversations and community cohesion are the best ways to respond to extremism and to prevent radicalisation.

That’s why I’ve put words into action in our local area. Here’s a video featuring just some of my local visits to Mosques, Synagogues, community groups, youth groups and more:

This is just a starting point. There is still a long way to go, even in a place like Haringey, where we have such a proud tradition of standing up to both extremism and intolerance.

If you part of a community or religious group, and would like to hear more about this work to promote unity, or even take part, please let me know!

Have you seen the news?

The news is currently dominated by reports of hateful actions, terrorism and conflict. Radicalisation and the rise of far right movements – these are happening in our society and it is terrifying.

And the emerging ‘dialogue of division’ from some media outlets and parties like UKIP is not helping – it’s pushing communities apart and will make the situation worse.

Please do watch this video, to see what Paddy Ashdown and counter-extremist Maajid Nawaz have to say about the situation:

As Paddy says, the Lib Dems are uncompromising when it comes to standing up to UKIP and the dialogue of division.

We are the polar opposite of them, and we will continue to search for solutions to extremism by having tough conversations. We’ll also tackle racism and hate crimes by promoting unity within our communities.

On Wednesday, look out for a post from me. It will contain another video showing the work my team and I are doing locally to put these words into action.

In the meantime, can you share this video on both Twitter and Facebook?



Time to talk

Last week was ‘Time to Talk’ week run by Mind and Rethink as part of their campaign to end mental health stigma.

The Time to Talk campaign encouraged everyone to take 5 minutes to have a conversation about mental health.

Ordinary people are the drivers for change – and telling people how you feel, or listening to someone, can make a huge difference.

Mental health is too important to fall off the agenda. One in four will have a mental health condition at some point in our lives – so all of us will know someone affected.

The most recent statistics for Haringey show over 8,000 people have been diagnosed with depression. The real figure is likely to be much higher.

Lib Dems will stamp out the mental health stigmaFor decades mental health was pushed aside in favour of physical health. Successive governments let the stigma continue, and none of them tried to break down the barriers to treatment.

When the Lib Dems entered Government, we were determined to change this. We’re providing £400 million more for talking therapies, £54 million for children’s mental health, and £1.2 million in staff training.

Perhaps most importantly we’re introducing ‘parity of esteem’ for mental health. This means that mental health must now be given the same priority – fixed waiting times etc – as physical health.

The stigma around mental health must end, and that’s why the Lib Dems in Government will always make sure that mental health is given the attention it deserves.

Unemployment Drops in Haringey

Here’s my latest Muswell Flyer article – also available here. Since I wrote this article, unemployment has dropped even further to 2.6% – halved since 2010!

Having a job is so important – it gives us a purpose and means we can provide for ourselves and our families. And for Government – helping people into work should always be a priority.

Before 2010, in the midst of the recession, unemployment rose and young people found it difficult to start their careers.

But things are looking up – unemployment in our constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green has now dropped to just 3%. That’s down from 5.2% in 2010.

Haringey’s young people are leading the way – youth unemployment here has halved since 2010. That’s a real testament to the ability and ambition of the bright young people in Haringey.

In August, I held my annual apprenticeship event at the Civic Centre. Just like last year, over 100 young people came through the doors, looking to kick start their career. I was so impressed with the way they approached the organisations at the event, securing interviews and places on courses.

These were organisations such as Barclays, the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and the National Apprenticeship Service.

One person who came to the event secured an interview at a local restaurant, six people signed up for a stewarding course at Tottenham Hotspurs, and local organisation 5e enrolled 15 people on their ‘skills boost’ programme.

25 of the people who attended expressed an interest in a community cadet course with the London Fire Brigade, and 14 signed up to attend an open day at North London Garages.

Apprenticeships are a great way to learn a trade and gain contacts in an industry. Like jobs, they are becoming more and more popular, and more available to young people.

And the growth in the number of available jobs and apprenticeships hasn’t just happened by accident.

When the Lib Dems entered Government in 2010, getting people into work and increasing the number of apprenticeships was a priority. Since then, my Lib Dem colleagues in Government have worked with businesses to help create a million more jobs and over 1.8million apprenticeships.

The story is the same across the UK – not just in Haringey (though – we are lowering our unemployment at a faster rate than many other areas!)

Employment figures released in October show that 30.76 million people in the UK are now in work, the highest level on record.

The number of people unemployed has fallen below 2 million for the first time since 2008, while youth unemployment has seen the largest annual fall since records began.

It’s really no surprise, with nearly 1.3 million more people working full time since 2010!

There is still plenty more work to be done to build the economy and create opportunity for everyone. But over the coming months and years I hope to see the situation improving even more.