Local services for local people

Interesting meeting with the committee running the St James Pre-School playgroup. Squeezed by Government and local council so that they can barely function. Too complicated to go into here – but long and short is that funding follows the child. The funding for those on Income Support falls short of the real cost of paying for the staff . So in order to fund the differential gap – the other parents have to make voluntary contributions – and most are willing. This school has only four on income support – so the other parents fund their own extra costs and sub these four – but in playgroups where there are overwhelmingly kids from families on income support – the whole thing is getting completely untenable. I suspect that is the Government’s intention – to squeeze until they are all forced to close or become private nurseries. They can then force everyone into schools or childrens’ centres and never mind the loss of the wonderful local groups in the community. I really hate this government at times.

Then I dash to see a man who is unhappy about parking. I know – there are lots out there. He lives on a main road and bus route and is cross that Haringey Council have brought in pavement parking outside his house to stop buses getting stuck in Middle Lane and speed their progress. He doesn’t like the noise the buses make now they go faster and believes that the Council have lied on the their consultation document where they say that the pavement parking and double yellows on corners will improve things for residents. Well – I’m not the one to defend the Labour Council and they do lie. However, speeding up buses is necessary so that more people use public transport. But as a car and motorcycle enthusiast – he was not truly sold the argument that we need more and better public transport and the logic was lost on him. However, he is right about needing signs for school children, and better design of the pavement parking and am happy to take that up.

Then on to the TreeHouse Trust. This is an organisation formed out of desperation by parents of autistic children because the state offered care was hard to get and not necessarily the best. So some years on, TreeHouse have developed into a really fantastic group who have now built (temporarily in temporary buildings) a school for autistic children in Muswell Hill. It is fabulous. The care, the education, the pastoral care, the staff, the atmosphere, the ambition for the children was absolutely fantastic.

My fury is reserved for the trouble they have getting local councils (and they take from across the whole of London) to fund a child to be placed there. Yes – they are a bit more expensive than council places in special schools – but the care is so much geared to that very special condition.

Currently, I have been trying to get Haringey to fund a local child place there – but they refuse. The family are going to go into debt to send their son there.

Flew in and out of my youngest daughter’s school for a meeting about forthcoming art trip to Berlin and then met a delegation on behalf of Greek Cypriots.

And of course – today was Tony’s revenge. He always caps Brown. On the Monday you think Brown has got it in the bag – and damn it – by Tuesday lunchtime Tony has the conference eating out of his hand again. Gordon must be spitting as I reckon that was quite a clear indication that Blair is not hanging up his hat in the near future…