Surgery all morning at Wood Green Library. Got more information now about the death of Joyce Vincent – the woman found in a Wood Green flat having been dead for two to three years. She had been housed by the Metropolitan Housing Association. In the end it was their bailiffs who went in because of the need to repossess the flat due to rent arrears. Her rent had been party paid by benefits and, I believe, started off in credit. Anyway – seemed to me that three years was a very long time to wait to chase up money owing and neighbours reported that usually – if they owed money – Metropolitan was on to them quite quickly. Well – I had an example walk through my surgery door where Metropolitan were going for eviction after three months of a new tenant. I am trying to stop it because – as is so often the case – the problem was with their benefits not being paid properly. But the point is – if they were so quick off the mark in this instance, what happened to make them wait three years in Joyce Vincent’s case? A question for the Chief Exec next week at our meeting I think.
Rush on to a meeting of Highgate Woods Committee (run by Corporation of London and local residents who are community minded). I just really wanted to show my support for the work of these dedicated souls who watch over our precious woods and care on our behalf. Highgate Woods are beautiful – they have that special atmosphere that you only get in woodlands (Queens Wood has it too). Sometimes I think we don’t really know how lucky we are – or all use it to best advantage. In fact the Corporation are to do a survey around people who live near the woods. I think it will be very interesting to learn what use people who live right there make of the woods – and if they don’t, why they don’t. Up to now surveys have been of users. Just as with buses – my old argument with Transport for London bus surveys was that they were always preaching to the converted in their surveys. What you really want is a survey that goes to everyone who lives within 5 minutes of a bus route to discover why they are not using their local services.
Anyway – I told the committee that I had actually mentioned Highgate Woods in my maiden speech – albeit only to mention that that is where I used to play kiss chase with other kids from Highgate Primary!
Just a footnote on the rolling news re Charles Clarke and the released murderers, rapists and so on. Several have now turned up and turned out to have been reconvicted for new offences. I’m sorry but this is hardly a surprise when there is a recidivist rate of 60% within two years. This was inevitable. And as to the view that Clarke is the best person to sort this out and therefore he should stay in post – this is a ridiculous hypothesis. Firstly – he didn’t tackle it effectively – even though he knew. Secondly it would seem that there is a view that there is no one better who could take his place anyway – a sad reflection if the case.
(You can sign the petition calling for him to go at www.libdems.org.uk/charles-clarke.html)
What I will say for Charles is that he has not tried to shift the blame to his Ministers. ‘Cos basically it’s the two Macs. McNulty and McTaggart in the Commons and Baroness Scotland in the Lords who between them have the responsibility for prisons and immigration. Clarke is right to take it on his shoulders – for that at least, I give him credit.