Liberal Democrats ask local residents to join in fight for fair funding

Campaigning for Haringey schoolsIn their ongoing fight for fair funding for Haringey’s schoolchildren, Lynne Featherstone and a team of local Liberal Democrats have launched an awareness campaign outside local schools to let local parents know what they can do to support the campaign.

The Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate was joined by Councillor Gail Engert and campaigner Jenny Bouchami outside St Mary’s school in Hornsey as they chatted with parents about how they can respond to a government consultation to help highlight the current funding situation that sees Haringey’s schools getting £1,318 less per pupils than children in Hackney.

The consultation, which is running until the 7th June 2010, looks at two funding options, one which could give Haringey’s schools an additional £10 million per year.

The Liberal Democrat team will in the next few weeks speak with parents at schools around the area to encourage as many local residents as possible to respond to the consultation.

To make the case for fairer school funding, residents need to go to http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/

The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to put in an extra £15 million into Haringey’s schools, through their so-called pupil premium to ensure smaller class sizes. The additional funds could give Haringey’s schools an extra 490 teachers.

Lynne Featherstone comments:

“This is our big chance to make the case for why our kids need and deserve more money for their schooling. This is an opportunity to give them a better education for the best possible start in life.

“Regardless of the outcome of the election – it is vital that people respond to this consultation. Of course – if the Liberal Democrats won – that would solve our ‘fair funding’ at a stroke – with their pledge of £2.5billion per year to our schools.”

Cllr Gail Engert, Liberal Democrat Schools spokesperson adds:

“It’s been great to get such a positive response when speaking to Hornsey parents here today.

“Bit by bit we are getting residents to see that they can help make a real difference. So for all you residents out there who want to do something about this injustice, grab this chance to respond and help make a fairer future for Haringey’s children.”

Local MP checks out Christmas card designs at Hornsey school arts class

Lynne Featherstone at St mary's junior schoolTo see how students were getting on with their entries for the annual Christmas card competition, Lynne Featherstone MP last week visited an arts class at St Mary’s junior school in Hornsey.

This year’s theme ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ gives the pupils a chance to draw what they see Santa getting up to in their part of Hornsey and Wood Green. The winner will be selected on the basis of how imaginatively the students interpret the theme and how eye catching the design is.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It was great to pop into St Mary’s arts class and see what the children imagined Santa getting up to locally- there were lots of colourful entries and Santas wandering down Hornsey High Street and flying over Ally Pally.

“It’s just so inspiring to see them being creative and having fun. I saw some excellent contenders for first place and really look forward to choosing the winner this weekend.”

A quick resume of some activities over last few days

Went back to City Hall for a meeting of ex-GLA members of the London Assembly. Very nice to meet up with old faces. Boris wandered over to say hello. He gave a funny speech – which is his talent. Can’t have been that long after his now much publicised hissy fit where he stomped out of a Commons Select Committee ‘cos he didn’t like the questions about why London transport stopped the night we had snow. What a woos!

Off to OxPoly – as was – now Oxford Brookes University – as an alumni to take part in a panel on ‘successful women’. Unwittingly began my political career there – my first taste of politics was marching against Maggie Thatcher and my first campaign was to Save Art (hugely successful obviously – at least for a short while till I left and they got rid of it anyway). This was a blast from the past. The session itself was sold out and very well attended and hugely enjoyable -hopefully for the audience too.

The other alumni all had stellar careers in a variety of settings – and it was brilliantly facilitated by Peninah Thomson – a real high flier! What she did was, rather than have a sterile format with each of four of us giving a speech, to have questions with herself bringing in the audience right from the start. We all had drinks with the audience after – which was great too.

Several people there actually remembered my Save Art campaign – and even stranger, the Social Secretary from my era was there. He got such great bands to come to OxPoly. I saw David Bowie for example the year before he hit the big time – and there were only about 50 people there! Ahead of the curve…

Went to St Mary’s School in Hornsey – who put on one of the best ever ‘exhibitions’ that I have seen. The whole school got involved in creating ‘The London Experience’. From good size replicas of key London sites from Big Ben to the Globe, to the religions of London, to London Zoo and wartime London – completely brilliant. Wish I could show you the scope, scale and sheer brilliance of this mega project – but look at the photos here and here. I bet the information and learning that the children got from all of this will be embedded in their brains forever – far more than just being taught it. Congratulations to all at St Mary’s!

Turing to a less happy subject – two of my constituents have been held for years under control orders. Every time I write to the Home Office I am simply told they are a threat to national security. They have never known what evidence there is. It is kept secret. Their conditions are awful – let out three hours a day with a visit to report at police station in the middle.

But this doesn’t quite add up. If they are a threat of such great order that this has gone on for three years and everything has to be kept secret, then why are they let out at all? And Mr W spent two years in Belmarsh – but then his charges were dropped. He was then free for five months – but then put under control order where he has now been for a few years.

Finally – lap dancing. I went to an ‘evidence’ session hosted by Andy Slaughter and to which all MPs (like me) who have an interest in how to fight off lap dancing applications in unsuitable areas were invited. Also there were expert councillors who have had experience of fighting off such applications – with varying success etc. I will be writing more on this shortly – so watch this space.

Meeting Santa and drawing prizes

I get to welcome Santa at the YMCA 2005 Dance Show held at St Mary’s School. The YMCA does a lot for kids in our area. It’s a shame that Haringey Council doesn’t count them as a partner and help their work – as it is one of the organisations that actually does something about giving youngsters alternatives to misbehaviour. Sadly, Haringey Council does not seem particularly interested in these sort of alternatives. The YMCA also recently set up a nursery for single mums – really fantastic – and organises the annual Fun Run!

Anyway – back to the dance show. An extraordinary number of children took part – aged about 4 -18 I would guess. Lots and lots and lots of short dances ranging from modern to ballet to tap and street dance. Kids on. Kids off. Gorgeous and talented. My kids are too old now to do shows at their school – but I remember crying every year when they used to. There is something so pure and so wonderful about kids performing. And the talent on show – absolutely unbelievable.

The pianist for the first section was introduced – Krystyna Budzynska. I thought that name sounds familiar – well you would wouldn’t you?

So at the end I go on stage to welcome Santa. I hear music, Santa must be coming … and we wait – and wait. The chap who told me what to do suggested that as the music played I should leave the stage – but Santa was still sorting himself out. Eventually he arrived and distributed presents to all the children who took part.

And as I left the stage and passed the piano, I said to the pianist, “Did you go to South Hampstead?” She looked at me and said, “Lynne? Lynne Ryness?” We had been in the same class and hadn’t seen each other for about 35 years! Now that was really lovely.

In the late afternoon I set out for Kingston where I am doing the Liberal Democrats Christmas Prize Draw at a dinner. The Christmas Prize Draw is one of the big fund-raisers for the Lib Dems and is a national one with really fantastic prizes. There are 50 prizes to be drawn for. It takes me two hours to get there. I drive because I know I will be coming home late – and then remember why I hate driving in London! The dinner is very pleasant and Ed Davey – the local Lib Dem MP – comes over at the end of the meal to say he will introduce me and then I will speak.

So I did. And then the hard work began. The tubs holding upwards of 45,000 tickets were deep – and I needed to be sure that I took from every corner of all three containers and at every depth! After the first 30 or so (which happily did seem to cover the length and breadth of Britain) – I decided that Ed should do some work and handed over to him for the last 20. It only took and hour and a quarter coming back. Partly less traffic – but coming back is always quicker than going doncha find?

Craft fairs bonanza

First craft fair opening of the day is at the Highgate Society. Next door is the Highgate Scientific and Literary Institute one too. I say a few words and wander around all the stalls. We are so lucky in Highgate to have these two organisations. I bump into Mike Hammerson who has defended the area with his committee against the vagaries of the planning decisions of Camden and Haringey.

On to St Mary’s School for their craft fair. Very very busy – with lots going on for the children and parents. I call the raffle and then wait for an hour outside with the children and their lanterns to join the parade along Hornsey High Street to turn on the Xmas lights. The parade is very late in arriving – and I walk a little way with it before having to peel off to get to another engagement – a fund-raising dinner for the London Islamic Cultural Centre who have done amazingly well to raise all the money to build the mosque and the centre.

A lovely evening with very spicy food, music and speeches. The trustees of the local mosque have made me very welcome as the new MP and I am learning so much more about the community from this engagement. And that’s the point really. Our human similarities and needs far outweigh any differences in religion or culture. I get home about 10.30pm and watch the X Factor results. Glad Chico has gone!