Yesterday first meeting of the day was with Transport for London (and Cllrs Martin Newton and Gail Engert) with regard to the bus stop (W7 and 144) sited about 100–150 metres down Muswell Hill from the roundabout.
The problem is that older people, mothers with buggies and those with mobility problems have real difficulty getting to this crucial bus stop because of the gradient of the hill. It is a very busy bus stop – and it becomes even more crucial with the imminent opening of Hornsey Central Health Centre, as it is only this bus that goes directly from Muswell Hill to the centre.
A little child coming down the hill towards the bus stop fell over whilst we were standing there – as if to illustrate the point. TfL understood the issue. They have now gone away to see which option might be possible: resiting the bus stop (unlikely), adding in a stop at the roundabout (most possible of the alternatives), extending the route to enable a bus stop along Broadway or Fortis Green (less likely). Anyway – as I said – TfL have now gone away to look at the options. Let’s hope that they take the proper action – because it really is a huge issue for older people who have to get to their doctor or to the centre for other health checks and cannot negotiate the hill safely.
At lunchtime I went to a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIV/AIDS. One of my constituents was there – and we are going to meet up locally to see how we can take forward both the normalising of HIV / AIDS so that the stigma is further reduced and more people learn that there is really no difference between someone with HIV/AIDS and someone without the chronic disease – except the illness, which isn’t catching and no longer means dying. We have let this slip off the agenda a bit – but I think it needs another awareness campaign. And perhaps even more importantly – a campaign to get people to come forward for testing. There is still a reluctance – but if tested early – the treatments now are fantastic (although tough at times). There is no longer a death sentence to having the disease – but you have to get tested to get the medicine!
Then it was off to New Scotland Yard to meet with the Trafficking Unit. I wanted to meet with them because locally I have been concerned about the girls working in a massage parlour and the extent of the adverts in the back of some of our local newspapers which blatantly advertise things like ‘new girls arriving all the time’.
In fact, in terms of the newspaper ads (which I thought would be an easy thing for the squad to tackle) they say it’s a difficult line between trafficking and prostitution, and chasing down ads doesn’t really address the organised crime and the challenges of bringing and persuading trafficked girls and women to safety. The unit is really targeting enforcement and has had some success. Sadly – the Government seems keen to stop their funding – which is clearly insane given they are the only unit tackling this and it is highly, highly specialised.
We looked also at the issues around trafficked children – and Haringey is an area where there are some concerns around this issue. I remember there was always discussion as to whether Victoria Climbie had been trafficked. Having met her parents I find it hard to believe. But there definitely is a trade in trafficked children and I will be setting up some meetings (hopefully) with someone who can get into that community and help the police. Anyway – a very interesting briefing – and hopefully very useful.