Early meeting with the head of the local CAB. The Citizens Advice Bureau is such a vital resource for this borough and I learn that Haringey Council wants to squeeze them down to two outlets – Tottenham and Wood Green. Must fight to retain the one in the west. Two to one is probably the right ratio in placement – but to take away the CAB entirely from the west of the borough would be wrong as there is so much need there too. The CAB are committed to staying in the west as well- but they are so overloaded with work and under-funded in terms of human resource. We exchange views on a whole range of issues – as people come to my surgery and to them – and often we refer to each other. The queue outside is already as long as you can imagine – and people often have to wait hours and hours. So – how to attract more resource for the CAB?
Onto Hornsey School for Girls. What a treat this was. To spend a couple of hours talking to the senior girls – the Head Girl and her deputies and four from the elected school council. Bright and interesting and interested. We range over the whole gamut from lack of facilities for young people (who are just thought of as trouble if they hang around – but they have nowhere to go), to behaviour out of school, to what they think of politics and so on and so on. I invite all of them and any other pupil of sixth form who is interested to come up to Parliament and to come for work experience.
Hornsey High is a very interesting school because it does not take from a catchment around the school itself – it takes from the whole borough and consequently only a few girls come from nearby. The school’s ethnic mix is striking – 92% black and ethnic minorities and 8% white. We have an interesting conversation in which I am told that drink and drugs problems happen much more at the parties that the white girls have/go to than those the black girls go to or have. So much for stereotypes!
It is clear that the Education Bill, which passed its second reading, finds no favour. Firstly the girls are angry that they were not consulted – nor the staff – and I suggest that I put down a Parliamentary Question to find out who was consulted. It is an important issue as the Bill will mean the school taking on extra burdens currently borne by the Local Education Authority.
The Bill is all about structures rather than resourcing quality processes – which is my new mantra as to why everything has gone wrong everywhere. Anyway – a really interesting time and enjoyable.
Then it is off to surgery at Hornsey Library followed by session at my constituency office. Also today – latest newspaper column is out, about the future of police stations.