Friday is constituency day

It’s a much more divided week than before I was a Minister. Basically now – Monday through Thursday is Government/Parliament – and Friday, Saturday Sunday is constituency as a basic rule of thumb.

So yesterday (Friday) as usual I did my advice surgery in Wood Green library in the morning and then a number of engagements.

First off was a visit to Area 51, a relatively new Learning Difficulties Service which has just moved to new premises next to the Chocolate Factory in Wood Green. Nicki Quarterman (who started it with George Chrysostomou) – showed me around the most fantastic spaces (old warehouse converted) where young people with complex – really really complex needs – were doing art, computers, cleaning and so on. It’s a kind of university for this very very vulnerable group, for whom generally facilities once leaving school are very limited and unchanging.

Here, in what Nicki described as a second window of opportunity to develop their skills, these young people are able to develop. It is a real challenge to provide for young people and adults with severe or profound learning difficulties in a mainstream environment because of the high level of resourcing required compared to other areas. Here there is the specialist training actually needed. For example – several of the young people eat through tubes. You can’t have the specialised individuals needed in every further education establishment or give the same degree of supervision and care.

Anyway – it was a real pleasure to meet such a dedicated and committed team of people.

Funnily enough – I also visited Treehouse (our exemplar autism foundation) in Muswell Hill a bit later – to meet the relatively new Chief Executive, Jolanta Lasota. Area 51 had just that morning made contact about some possible link ups. As well as meeting the new CEO – there were a number of pressing concerns about how things will work under the new-coalition government. It wasn’t just about funding per se – but a concern that without protection to the funding for their services – local authorities might not continue to fund their placements there in the same way as before. This is all authorities – not talking about Haringey in particular.

I will raise the issue with the Government – but ultimately giving power back to local areas and removing ring-fencing is to enable local areas to make those decisions locally. I trust that all local authorities given back power – will use it wisely and will of their own volition ensure that those providers for the most vulnerable are able to continue to provide such vital services.

The last stop of the day was to be one of the judges at Mecca Bingo in Wood Green. They had a ‘Mecca’s Got Talent’ contest (yes – obviously based on Britain’s Got Talent -who they sponsor). It was clear from the judging that I was the Simon Cowell one (I would have liked to have been Amanda – but am just not that nice). I did mention that one of the very brave contestants was a bit ‘pitchy’. In the end – a very talented and engaging young singer, Aisha, was our winner – who performed a song she had actually made up. It was only the second time she had ever sung in public.

So – it was a yes from me!

0 thoughts on “Friday is constituency day

  1. You say “I will raise the issue with the Government”. Just a reminder – you are the Government.

    Interesting to note that your visit was on the same day your Government colleague Eric Pickles announced £1.16bn cuts to Local Government. Cuts you didn’t support prior to the election, but presumably do now.

  2. Indeed – raise it with the appropriate part of the government – ie not the Home Office.

    As for supporting things that I didn’t support prior to election – what part of coalition is it that you have trouble understanding?

  3. I struggle to understand:

    1. How the Lib-Dems have jettisoned policies such as PR.

    2. How the Lib-Dems can support a right-wing Government which is beginning to hack away at public services in a way that Thatcher could only dream of.

    3. How you can support cuts which, days before the election, the Lib-Dems said would lead us into a double-dip recession.

    4. And I struggle to understand how comfortable your leader looks while doing all this.

    Simon Hughes seems worried that Lib-Dems are at risk of losing their distinctive values and policies: that’s the part of coalition I have trouble understanding.

  4. You could have had a Tory government – bringing in all the things in their manifesto. That would have been a right-wing government bringing in cuts possibly to public services a la Thatcher. Now you have a coalition government (and do try to understand that this is a coalition and not a Tory government with LibDem support) in which the cuts will avoid the frontline – with health etc completely protected.

    PR was not on offer from either Labour or Tory parties – and sadly – we didn’t win the election so it wasn’t on offer from us either!

    But we will see the tax threshold rise – which will help the lowest paid workers. We will see the pupil premium bring funding to those in most need.

    We won some and we lost some. It’s really no use just going on and on and on like a stuck record – when the country delivered the verdict it did. We have made the best of it. So should you.

  5. The country didn’t deliver a coalition verdict. People voted for the various parties on the basis of their individual manifestos. What is the point of the election process if, as under the current scenario, manifesto commitments are simply abandoned – with the convenient excuse of ‘it’s the coalition, stupid’.

    People are entitled to be dissatisfied because what we now have is a fudge, with the Lib Dems, who marketed themselves as a progressive party, now aligning themselves with a regressive Tory party which looks set to undo many of the progressive policies of the last 13 years. Please, Lynne, don’t write off all dissent and disagreement as being due to people not understanding the coalition – you insult our intelligence. The Lib Dems may have made the best of it in terms of their own personal careers, and the survival of the party – which, may I remind you came third – but not for many of those who voted for them.

  6. Not writing off dissent – but pointing out that simply saying Liberal Democrats are supporting some things they campaigned against over and over again is a statement of the obvious – given we are in coalition.

  7. Sounds like you are very busy Lynne. Life must be really hectic. However it must bring its rewards. I think working with people with leaning disabilities is very rewarding, we have just completed filming a group for our disability hate crime programme and although the content was not remarkable or different from other content we have for the programme, the people involved were. Working with this group gave all of us involved a different perspective of how life is for this group of adults. Having a neice who has a learning disability it is important to ensure equality is for all of us including the most vunerable.

  8. But you are writing off dissent Lynne. You have already characterised it as a bunch of miseryguts who have the temerity to think that the dross you are blogging about is inconsequential.

    You can expect people like me to continue reminding you what you once stood for before you entered into a “coalition” having come a distant third in the election.

    We are entitled to disagree with what you are doing and contnuously to challenge it.

    We are entitled to remind you what the “cuts” that of course go unmentioned by you – and that your party has bought into wholesale- are going to mean to the people we live with directly and in our wider commuinity.

    We are entitled to remind you that you are failing to place blame on where we are as a nation on greedy money grubbing bankers and prefer to go along with punishing the public sector for the folly of the private sector.

    It’s all very well blogging on about giving power back to the people and general empowerment but if there is no money to fund it it’s just empty rhetoric.