MP takes card competition winner on special Olympic Park Tour

Lynne Featherstone MP’s Christmas card competition winner Phoebe Brady on Friday joined the MP for an exclusive tour of the Olympic Park.

The Rhodes Avenue student won the prize after her drawing was chosen for the cover of the Liberal Democrat MP’s 2011 Christmas card. This winter, to mark the London 2012 games, the theme was an ‘Olympic Christmas.’

The 9 year old was joined by her parents, Lynne and some fellow classmates on a special bus tour of the Olympic Park, and saw the now near-completed Olympic venues, some of which will remain after the games this summer.  As a special prize, Phoebe also got to wear Jonathan Edward’s Olympic gold medal from the 2000 Sydney Games.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“We’ve had a really memorable afternoon here at the Olympic Park. It was great to be able to offer such a special prize this year, to get us all warmed up for the summer’s games.

“All the Olympic venues have their own special design, and it was fascinating to see how the park is gradually coming together – with some work still left to be done!

“Phoebe seemed to really enjoy herself – and rightly so, she was a really worthy winner and her winning design was very beautiful. Thank you also to the Olympic organisers for a great afternoon.”

Rhodes Avenue Student snaps up first place in MPs Olympic Christmas Competition

Lynne and Phoebe Xmas card winner 2011Phoebe Brady from Rhodes Avenue School is the 2011 winner of Lynne Featherstone MP’s Christmas card competition, which this year is Olympics themed to warm up for next year’s games.

The year 5 pupil snapped up first place with her drawing of the three wise men visiting Mount Olympus, and will now go on an Olympic tour with the Hornsey and Wood Green MP. Phoebe was closely followed by runners up Nagarey Samey (Nightingale Primary), Kacper Nikiel (Campsbourne Primary) and Molly Flora Drew (Rhodes Avenue) who have all received certificates and Olympics themed prizes.

Lynne Featherstone MP comment:

“Choosing a Christmas card winner is one of the highlights of my winter diary, and this year it was really tough with lots of strong contenders from schools across the constituency.

“Phoebe’s piece was something very special, it was very Christmassy, with a strong Olympics theme, and it was really beautifully created. But the runners up Nagarey, Kacper and Molly were all close contenders for first prize.

“Congratulations to Phoebe and the runners-up, and a huge thank you to all pupils and schools who joined in this year. Now I look forward to joining Phoebe for an Olympic Tour.”

Apply now! One week to sign up to be a London 2012 Games Maker

Lynne Featherstone MP is encouraging residents in Hornsey and Wood Green to hurry up and apply to be an Olympic Games Maker before the deadline on Wednesday the 27th October. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is looking for up to 70,000 passionate and dedicated volunteers for the London 2012 Games. They will make the difference between a good and a great Games for thousands of athletes, media and spectators alike.

There is now less than one week left in the six week application window for the London 2012 volunteering programme so interested applicants are urged to apply now to avoid missing out on their last chance to be a Games Maker.

The application portal which can be found at closes at midnight on Wednesday 27th October.

Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG, said:

“The London 2012 Games simply could not happen without volunteers. Whenever I have spoken to previous volunteers, they’ve all said what a fantastic experience it was. Whatever your role, you will help welcome the world and show what the UK has to offer. So don’t miss out on this opportunity of a lifetime. You’ve got one week left to fill-in your application form – don’t miss the deadline of October 27.”

Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“London 2012 are looking to recruit volunteers from all across London and the UK from all communities. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for residents from Hornsey and Wood Green residents to play their part in the Games and I am urging everyone to visit the London 2012 website to see if they have got what it takes to be a Games Maker!”

LOCOG are recruiting two types of London 2012 Games Makers – generalist and specialist. Both will be vital to the success of the Games. Generalists won’t need any specialists skills or qualifications but instead a passion and enthusiasm for the Games. Roles range from steward to radio operator or athlete escort. Specialist Games Makers will have specialist skills or qualifications like doctors, nurses, sports specialists, anti-doping officers and press operations staff.

All Games Makers will need to be available to volunteer for a minimum of 10 days during either the Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games and for at least three days of training, which will be led and provided LOCOG.

Applicants will need to be 18 years of age or over on 1 January 2012, but there will be a Young Games Maker programme which will be announced next year. LOCOG is especially keen to recruit disabled people to volunteer for the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and will support disabled candidates through application, selection and as well as at Games-time.

Liberal Democrats urge Alexandra Palace to be considered as new Olympic venue

Badminton shuttlecockAfter efforts failed this week to move the Olympic boxing events from East London to Wembley, local Liberal Democrats are urging Olympic organisers, the Mayor of London and local councillors to consider Alexandra Palace as a possible alternative venue for boxing, badminton or rhythmic gymnastics.

Liberal Democrats believe moving an Olympic venue to Alexandra Palace, one of most iconic buildings in North London, would be an ideal opportunity for residents in Haringey to benefit from the Olympics, for more young people to be encouraged into sport and for the Olympics to have a lasting legacy in the borough.

Cllr David Winskill, Liberal Democrat Culture and Sport spokesperson, Cllr Robert Gorrie, Haringey Liberal Democrat Leader and Lynne Featherstone MP have written a joint letter to Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee Board, the Mayor of London and the Chair of Trustees at the Alexandra Palace urging them to consider Alexandra Palace.

Cllr David Winskill comments:

“Residents in Haringey are getting little, if any, direct benefit from the Olympics at the moment. News that badminton, boxing or gymnastics events need a new home is a fantastic opportunity for the Council to be proactive and ambitious.

“Alexandra Palace is an iconic building which has a long history of holding large and important events.

“It will not be easy and some investment in the Palace would be needed to get it up to standard. But this would be a great opportunity for the borough to be put on the Olympic map and for Alexandra Palace to get some well overdue investment. It would also ensure that North London would have a legacy of the Olympic post 2012.”

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, adds:

“Residents in Haringey deserve to have a slice of the Olympic action. Alexandra Palace is a fabulous venue that has a long history of hosting large events including boxing.

“I really hope that the London 2012 Organising Committee seriously consider Ally Pally as an Olympic venue.”

Three years to the Olympics

So three years to go. I remember the day we won the bid. I was standing outside the back of the Chamber at the House of Commons – behind the Speaker’s Chair. There was that long hesitation in the announcement – as we strained to hear whether it would be a P for Paris or L for London. And when it was London – I heard a cheer go up from within the Chamber. It wasn’t dignified or Parliamentary – but totally appropriate.

I remember too – when the first inklings of our bid were swirling around the London Assembly. For it originally was Ken Livingstone, Richard Sumray and others who pushed and pushed and worked up a scheme – and who then bullied / persuaded the Government (Blair) into supporting it. Blair, once on board, played a blinder by turning up personally to the selection event.

Anyway here we are – three years away from the most exciting sporting event in this country since – well since we won the ’66 World Cup. And I know it’s expensive. And I don’t think they have made enough effort to ensure that we all benefit from the games in all our locals – whether by training facilities, grants to train kids up for the 2012 Olympics or whatever – but it will still be phenomenal for London.

Will the Olympic Games be coming to Haringey?

From TheyWorkForYou, here’s the question I asked, and the answer too!

Lynne Featherstone (Hornsey & Wood Green, Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source

To ask the Minister for the Olympics what existing sporting facilities in Haringey will be used for the London 2012 Olympic Games; and if she will make a statement.

Tessa Jowell (Minister of State (the Olympics and Paymaster General), Cabinet Office; Dulwich & West Norwood, Labour) | Hansard source

There are two routes by which the existing sporting facilities in Haringey could be used for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Firstly as a Pre-Games Training Camp venue; Haringey has one designated training facility in the LOCOG Pre-Games Training Camp Guide offering athletics training facilities at the White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre in Wood Green. A National Olympic Committee or National Paralympic Committee is yet to make arrangements to use this facility for this purpose.

Secondly, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has begun the process of identifying Games-time Training Venues and there is the possibility that this same facility could provide valuable training opportunities for athletes while competing at the London 2012 Games. The venue owner and operators have been asked to express their interest to LOCOG if they wish to be considered for this programme.

In addition, 371 businesses in Haringey have signed up for CompeteFor (London 2012’s website for publishing Games related contract opportunities) and 14 Haringey schools are registered as part of Get Set (LOCOG’s domestic education programme).

Ten most popular blog postings (2nd quarter, 2008)

In traditional reverse order, here are the ten postings which have proved the most popular over the last three months:

10. The morning after the night before: the moment when it looked like Paxman might punch Johnson – one of the (few) TV highlights of the London Mayor election: Boris Johnson flounders over his bus policy.

9. The real lesson of the 10p tax rate fiasco – it wasn’t just the tax policy that was wrong, it was the whole way we do budgets.

8. What will Boris Johnson be like as Mayor of London? – no prizes for guessing the topic of that piece!

7. The London results – yes, Boris is Mayor.

6. Olympics protest – I joined the protests as the Olympic torch passed through London.

5. Crewe & Nantwich by-election: are the rules wrong? – should election campaigns really be rushed through at the convenience of the incumbent party rather than giving the public time to find out about the candidates and their policies?

4. Iris Robinson – homophobia is certainly still alive in Northern Irish politics.

3. Nine years in a squalid and infested flat – a tale of failure that should make Haringey Council ashamed.

2. David Davis and his resignation to fight a by-election.

1. What did you think of the BBC TV local elections results program on Thursday night? Not a lot by the looks of it, though given the amount of traffic to this post long after the poll has closed it’s clearly an issue still on some people’s minds!

No surprise to see the London elections features so heavily in the list – but interesting to see that several of these posts are very brief and basically just me saying what my view is on an issue of the moment. I guess people have read them either because they’ve been very timely – or perhaps because they do want to know my views on issues!

Sports and politics: do they mix?

Beijing 2008 countdown clock. Photo credit: Flickr user http2007My latest newspaper column (for the Ham & High) is about the Olympics and China’s behaviour:

I can’t help but observe the contrast between how Britain and China deals with protestors. In Britain – the police’s response to protests during the passage of the Olympic Torch through London was to pop the torch on a bus for a bit. How very English! And then in China we have the dark side of the contrast – the violence, gunshots and even deaths that are the frequent response to protests.

Standing in Bloomsbury Square last Sunday chanting ‘China Out’ in reply to a young Tibetan shouting out through a megaphone ‘Free Tibet’ reminded me not only of the issue in question but also of the feeling you get when you go out onto the streets to claim your democratic right to peaceful protest. It is active. And it makes you feel that you are not taking it lying down; not abjectly rolling over, tut-tutting at the pictures on the news whilst saying there is nothing I can do.

Indeed, in a world of global, near-instant media, protests in one part of the world can garner coverage all over the globe – including, directly or indirectly, in China itself. (I know how well the internet reaches all sorts in China from when I was on the London Assembly – and got a three page marriage proposal from a fisherman in a remote part of China!)

As you may have guessed – I don’t buy the argument that Olympics = sports = you mustn’t say anything about anything other than sport. The Chinese Government has been repeatedly and politicising the Olympics for its own ends – so simply mouthing that formula means conceding it is ok to politicise the Olympics to promote thuggish authoritarianism but not ok to speak out against such behaviour. Where is the morality in that approach of self-censorship and unnecessary deference?

Read the rest of the piece here.

Photo credit: Flickr user http2007

If you're good and keen enough, a team of five can beat a team of twelve

I visited Amir Laksari today to find out more about the Sparrows. Mr Laksari came over from Iran as a political refugee in 1986 and soon after he joined a wheelchair basketball team, becoming very heavily involved.

Traditionally the Sparrows Wheelchair Basketball Club has been mainly a refugees / ethnic minorities team. Something like 30% of the people in the team and half the people on the Management Committee are from Haringey – albeit Haringey wouldn’t negotiate a reasonable price for them to use Tottenham Leisure Centre to practise and play so instead they had to go to Hackney.

The club is extremely successful and has won tournaments in a host of different countries. In a particularly memorable example Mr. Laksari described when they only had enough money to send five members of their team, but won games against other teams who had the full quota of 12 players! The famous Ade Adepitan used to play for their club.

They used to play in Haringey but are currently in Hackney. Mr. Laksari wishes that Haringey Council would be more supportive, both in terms of championing the achievements of the team and also possibly providing some financial support.

Competitive wheelchairs for basketball can cost £2,500. The organisation was given £8,000 lottery funding – but that is not enough for them to repair or provide the special wheelchairs -nor pay for practise facilities – nor help with their expenses in competing abroad.

We say we want integration and participation for those with disabilities – but we don’t seem to do that much to help.

I am writing to the Leader of Haringey Council to seek support for the team and to try and link up the schools and the Sparrows so that there is a pathway into the team from our local schools. I will also write to the Olympic Committee for the Paralympics to see if they can try to make sure the Sparrows Club benefits from the investment for the London Paralympics. Surely any such team that is inspiring and achieving ought to reap some benefits from the zillions it is costing London to host the event.