2012 – What a Year!

Here’s my most recent column for the Muswell Flyer and Highgate Handbook. Note that since writing – the Lib Dems in government increased the personal tax allowance even more – meaning ordinary workers will now get a £600 tax cut! You can read all previous Muswell Flyer articles here: http://beckybeach.net/?s=lynne+featherstone

The cold weather has set in and Christmas is just round the corner. It’s the end of the year – and what a year 2012 has been. We had the jubilee celebrations followed by the spectacle of the London Olympics and Paralympics – and I’ve been busy too, in Hornsey and Wood Green, Government and Parliament.

This year two long standing constituency campaigns have produced successful results. For five years, I fought for fairer funding for Haringey’s schools, which were getting a raw deal having to pay inner London costs with outer London funding. In April, as a result of the campaign, Haringey’s schools have received an extra £7.3 million. And, after a four year campaign, a safer W7 bus stop has finally been installed in Muswell Hill.

But as those campaigns draw to a close, others have been started. The Haringey Lib Dems and I are currently fighting hard to protect local rail services and to save our local sorting offices and mail collection services. We’ve also launched a campaign for fairer health funding for Haringey’s health services.

We are still fighting against proposals for a huge waste facility in Pinkham Way and for Labour Haringey to rectify bin collections. Most urgently we are campaigning for Labour Haringey to help our local shops by suspending parking charges in our high streets for the Christmas period. This comes on top of day to day MP duties – including my hard working office staff dealing with around 17,500 pieces of casework this year!

My ‘other job’ in Government changed in September, when I moved from the Home Office to the Department of International Development. I really enjoyed my time working on equalities and criminal information – launching the equal marriage consultation early this year and seeing private wheel clamping banned are particular highlights. But the move to DFID has fulfilled a lifelong ambition, and I’ve already been on inspirational trips to places like South Sudan to launch textbooks funded by UK Aid.

My party – the Liberal Democrats – have been pushing our agenda in Government at home, and have also been able to implement many of our policies this year. In April, we raised the tax threshold to £9,000 – meaning two million low earners have been lifted out of paying tax, and twenty one million have received a tax cut of over £500. We’ve balanced this by ensuring the rich pay their fair share.

Throughout the year, Lib Dem’s pupil premium policy has rolled out, giving schools extra money to help the most disadvantaged pupils – Haringey got an extra £8.8 million (that’s on top of the £7.3 million mentioned earlier)! The Coalition Government also funded a Council Tax freeze – which Haringey Labour tried to take the credit for.

And that reminds me – unfortunately some things haven’t changed for the better this year. As there have been no local elections, Labour are still running Haringey Council. This year, we’ve been treated to botched bin collections, housing scandals and had our Council Tax money wasted – again.

But this has only strengthened my resolve! Next year I will be campaigning harder than ever in the run up to the 2014 elections, where I hope to see the Haringey Lib Dems take control of the Council and make some positive changes to Haringey.

All in all, it has been an emotional, tiring, fun and wonderful year. All that remains is for me to wish everyone a happy festive holiday, and all the best for 2013!