A varied Monday

Open London Region Conference on the Ethiopian Community Centre in the UK’s Regional Development Project – a mouthful I know, but really some much needed support for this community struggling through the maze of health, benefit, housing and other hurdles to life in this country.

I stay for the morning to listen to the distinguished panel of speakers – all deeply involved in immigration and asylum and all of whom know much more than a nine-week old MP! Given that something like 75% of people coming to see me in person have issues to do with asylum and immigration, I am keen to understand as much as I can as soon as I can.

What I do know from nine weeks of holding surgeries is that the Home Office is a mess. Initial decision making is extremely poor quality and vast numbers of appeals succeed because of this. There is a random nature as to who stays and who goes – which leads to upset when what seems like a precedent – isn’t. Far too often it takes years before decisions are made, leaving people living in limbo. The misery caused by the protracted system is appalling to see.

My afternoon is filled with a series of meetings in the pub – as our new office upstairs is not ready and flat pack furniture is being assembled. First in line is Groundwork – a federation of trusts who go into an area and support a range of sustainable projects. I try to persuade them to focus on Hornsey – both the council estates and the High Street which are in need of loving care.

Followed by a woman who is writing a report for Haringey Police on issues such as where road works are, where trouble spots are, where youths have nowhere to go but on the streets – presumably so that the police can then plan their work better.

Then an interview with N8 magazine, after which off to a meeting in N8 (coincidentally) with residents against the concrete factory proposed to be dumped in the middle of a residential area. There is a train track – so theoretically aggregates can come in by rail but they would still go out by HGV lorry – not at all suitable for the area, and would get stuck as they try and do the turn from Church Lane back on themselves into Tottenham Lane. Outside of the increased vehicle movements, the pollution, the noise and the general unsuitability of the location – jamming up the roads is probably the best hope for refusal of the planning application (there are quite strict rules on what issues can or can’t be considered when deciding on a planning application) – as this area comes to a standstill with traffic snarl-ups on a daily basis already. I undertake to write a variety of letters to Mayor Livingstone, Peter Hendy and Haringey Council’s Planning Department.