The thing that gives me the most pleasure as an MP

Am really cross that despite best efforts cannot find time to meet up with Jenny Gillies. She’s the South African women that I met when I went to look at AIDS projects in South Africa. Jenny left a message on my phone – and as good as her word – the roof of the terrible shack I visited has an interim replacement which will keep the rain off of him during the rainy season and will be replaced with a proper roof thereafter – and going that extra mile – the walls are to be built of brick! Thanks Jenny – and see you next time!

Lunch yesterday was with the High Commissioner of Cyprus to the UK – Georgios Icovou. Well – what an interesting man (was Foreign Minister in Cyprus for 15 years). I learned so much of the history (obviously from his perspective).

It seems to me that there were many lost opportunities along the road to where we are unhappily now. I have both Greek and Turkish communities in Hornsey & Wood Green – and it seems to me that our Government does not take a really pro-active role in trying to move the impasse. In the end – it is the people (both communities) who suffer and whilst there are certainly barriers to achieving the breakthrough – there must be a way through.

In the evening was the long-awaited ‘workshop’ by the London Development Agency at the Chocolate Factory. The open session was to show the current tenants and other creative businesses in Haringey what is intended for the future for the creative industries, what the development plans for Haringey Heartlands are, what support there is available to creative businesses and so on. I think the audience appreciate the workshop and found some of the plans very exciting.

Not going to raise all the issues here as it was a closed session. However, the crux of the issue for the current tenants was the closed session where they got to question the LDA on their investment and monitoring. It was clear however, that the LDA is not going to get involved in the key issue – which is the 50% hike in rents by Collage Arts for their studio licenses – as that is a legal and contractual matter between individuals and Collage.

All I would say though, is we all hope that Collage and the tenants can find a better way forward where the tenants are not fearful the whole time and where they feel that the future envisaged by the LDA includes them rather than gets rid of them in favour of new businesses. The existing colony of artists – the artistic jewel in Haringey’s Crown – could be in jeopardy if they cannot afford the 50% hike in rent. It will be a crying shame if any of the artists have to go.

Of course – the area will be worth a fortune when Heartlands kicks off!

Last stop of the day – speech night at St Thomas More School. This is a Catholic secondary school in Wood Green and this was its first ever speech night and prize giving. I was absolutely thrilled to be there to give out the prizes and make the keynote speech.

There is nothing, quite frankly, in my role as MP that gives me more pleasure and satisfaction than seeing young people get rewarded for effort. The Head, Mr Hickey, is clearly completely committed – as are the staff. And that spirit of enthusiasm is echoed as each ‘winner’ came up shyly or boldly to receive their award – proud of themselves.

St Thomas’s has not always had the reputation of saints – but it seems to me as if there is a real ethos of achievement being instilled throughout everyone at the school – students, parents and teachers – and it’s not just academic, but it’s about creating thinking, respectful individuals who try their best. Way to go!