Whittington and North Mid petitions – huge response!

I sent out an email to my email list to inform local people (hard copy will follow more widely) of the threat to close or reduce services at the Whittington A & E and about the threat to the North Middlesex A & E too. Both contain petitions for people to sign up to: The Whittington petition is here and the North Mid petition is at http://bit.ly/northmid.

The responses are pouring in. In the first 24 hours, since yesterday afternoon, 745 people have already signed the Whittington petition and 89 the North Mid.

It is already quite clear that local people don’t want to lose their local A & E nor see it reduced. That is why it is so important that local peoples’ views are heard loud and clear NOW. Otherwise when the Health Authority ‘options’ finally come to public consultation – we may find that there are no options that keep the Whittington A & E open and that in reality the decisions have actually been made. That goes for the North Mid too.

I support improved clinical outcomes, obviously, and there are lots of health services that may be better provided by one or other hospital. But A & E is one of the services that needs to be local and 24 hours – that’s the point.

As one constituent wrote to me who works at one of the hospitals (not the Whittington) ‘there is no more logic to an   A & E unit at University College Hospital than the others.  Medical staff will adapt to what is decided.  UCH and RFH could easily become even more specialist than they already are and would flourish without an A & E.  The Whittington on the contrary exists to provide a local and emergency service and is at risk of having its lifeblood sucked away’.

Couldn’t have put it better myself!

MP joins random kindness crusade at local plant centre

As part of CSV Make a Difference Day, the UK’s single biggest day of volunteering, Lynne Featherstone MP last week helped out at FAITH Plant centre, the Wood Green based garden centre where adults with learning difficulties volunteer and gain essential life skills.

The Hornsey and Wood Green MP joined service users Merle and June in clearing the FAITH’s grounds from autumn leaves and was rewarded with a special tour of the centre’s unique and colourful plants.

Lynne Featherstone took part to show the positive impact that giving time to benefit others could have, and to show the importance of community spirit in tough times.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“FAITH Plant centre is a truly unique gem, working with residents with learning difficulties as well as local school kids, to spread knowledge about plants, and helping to dress Haringey’s parks in colour each season.

“That’s why I feel it is especially exciting to do my bit to help raise awareness about the importance of volunteering here at FAITH. And to top it off, I have really had a great time being out in the fresh air, clearing the grounds with Merle and June.”

Volunteering in Woodside

I went to the Faith Plant Centre (Faith Plant Centre, Palm House, Wolves Lane, Wood Green N22 5JD) – the one that together with local users we saved not that long ago when it was under threatened closure by withdrawal of funding.

There is a most remarkable jungle area, desert area and rain forest area – as well as a garden centre – which provides training and work for volunteers with a variety of disabilities.

They also run a restaurant and coffee shop – also staffed with volunteers with a range of disabilities. It is a truly fantastic place – where staff and volunteers all are incredibly friendly and committed to creating a warm and inclusive atmosphere.

About 50 volunteers come here to train and work in horticulture. This perfectly fits the bill of helping people to find routes to occupations for those who simply cannot work in the normal way. Additionally – local children come here to experience the different climate areas, to learn about some of the creatures that live in them too.

So – they put me to work with a rake, and myself, Merle and June raked all the leaves up from the front lawn. It was very enjoyable and a pleasure to see and meet lots of the volunteers – and get some fresh air and exercise.

“Enough is enough” on betting shops say Liberal Democrats

Horse racingHaringey Council should take swift and firm action to halt the surge in betting shops in the Wood Green area to limit crime and anti-social behaviour, local Liberal Democrats have said .

Speaking out against applications to Haringey Council for three new betting shops in Wood Green High Road and Green Lanes, Cllr Ron Aitken, Liberal Democrat Crime spokesperson, has said that Haringey Council needs to urgently lobby the Government to change the law to enable councils to limit the number amount of betting shops in an area.

Recent statistics revealed by the Liberal Democrats show that 735 incidents of criminal damage occurred in Haringey’s betting shops in the past two years as well drug related and public order offences.

Cllr Ron Aitken, Liberal Democrat Crime Spokesperson, comments:

“Statistics indicate that Haringey’s betting shops are a source of significant crime and antisocial behaviour, as well as being a nuisance to local residents.

“We are not against people having a flutter but enough is enough. Haringey Council needs the power to declare that no more betting shops should be allowed in Wood Green or Green Lanes.

“Labour need to lobby their own Government to give local communities the power to curb the ever increasing numbers of betting shops.”

Cllr Fiyaz Mughal (Noel Park) adds:

“The explosion of gambling and gaming venues blight Wood Green’s main shopping street and they do little to support the local economy

“It is time to call a time out and say that enough is enough. Such venues cannot be allowed to grow exponentially whilst the local authority is virtually powerless to stop them. I would be delighted to hear from any Noel Park residents who would like to help us take this campaign forward.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“I will be contacting the Government Minister responsible for the planning laws that leave Haringey Council and local residents powerless to stop betting shops taking over our high streets.”

5E awarded Beacon Status by Learning and Skills Council

Lynne Featherstone MP presenting 5E student Rachel Williams with certificate of achievement I was invited to give out some of the certificates yesterday and make a short speech at the celebration of 5E being awarded Beacon Status by the Learning and Skills Council. 5E is a local provider of education and training to employment for those groups in the community who struggle against various barriers. The litany of who those groups are is familiar: black and ethnic minorities, refugees and asylum seekers, women, those with disabilities or health or mental health problems, lone parents, long-term unemployed, older people, ex-offenders and others –  who so often find they are not even in the running for getting jobs that others take for granted. And there are so many people who for one reason or another – don’t start anywhere near a level playing field.

For me, the recipe for a better and happier world is a fairer society. And what I really mean by that is a more equal society.  But Britain has steadily become a less equal and a less fair society, rates of social mobility have actually fallen.  And your educational chances are strongly correlated to your social class – setting the prospects for children even before they reach school. And that affects everything in life – because inequality begets inequality.

In fact, a whole host of studies across different countries have consistently shown that not just in terms of education and health, but also in terms of crime, social respect, trust and participation – the outcomes are linked to the degrees of inequality in wealth and income. So narrowing that gap benefits everyone.  

So the work that Raj Doshi (the head of 5E) and his committed, energetic and enthusiastic team do and their brilliant track record with of achievement with 5E having been awarded Grade 1 (outstanding provision) three times by OFSTED – who are the inspection authority for this – is vital.

With support, training and skills – everyone can and should have the opportunities that others take for granted. Congratulations to all who have taken the courses and all those who have made them so successful.

That’s the point of receiving Beacon Status – so they can shine a light for others to follow.

Local Democracy Week – Alexandra Park School

Lynne Featherstone at Alexandra Park SchoolIf I ruled the world I would ………….. that’s the challenge I have set local children in Hornsey & Wood Green schools to tell me in 200 words for Local Democracy Week.

I launched my mini-writing competition today at Alexandra Park School – where the amazing Jo (Citizenship teacher extraordinaire) had agreed to set up to undertake this project with the Citizenship and the English classes working together. So today I was attending the Citizenship class where Jo was brainstorming with the children to get them involved and engaged in beginning to think what sort of things might need changing or what worried them – and then – how that might be changed.

The first round of ideas were just brilliant – from the young girl who wanted to make life better for young carers, to world peace and beyond. I’m not going to go through the list – but suffice to say – that it is completely fascinating to to listen to the ideas they had about what worried them – and recognise where the input came from. Some clearly came from school work, much from television and newscasts  – but Jo was really clever – and as well as those sort of universal issues tried to move them onto a more personal level of what worried or concerned them in their own lives.

So I am greatly looking forward to reading all the submissions when they come in. I always feel very uplifted when I come out of a school visit like that.

The 'Big Canvass' comes to Woodside

Out on the 'Big Canvas' in WoodsideIt is quite something when we go out en mass – us Liberal Democrats. In recent months, we have adopted a new style for canvassing where we all get together in one particular area every couple of weeks. It makes it fun. The response is very warm on the doorsteps too. Cllr Lyn Weber (who organises these events) is doing a fantastic job – and may I say – it is the best organised anything I have ever been involved in – so huge thanks to Lyn.

The future of Wood Green police station

There has been a flutter of speculation about the future of Wood Green police station. I have asked our local commander – Dave Grant – to give a horse’s mouth briefing of what he understands to be the case. Rumours have included the police station not being rebuilt; the front counter moving down the road; no police station there, etc etc.

This is what Dave Grant says is the case following enquiries he has made. He has asked the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) about what steps are being taken. The only activity at the moment is between Local Authority officers and MPS staff from Property Services Department about the format of the plans. Commander Grant says he knows that nothing has been agreed and that there are meetings scheduled to discuss the content of the plan.

The MPS uses a company to undertake the formal public consultation process and Mr Grant knows that they are drawing up a list of individuals and groups, with the help of his staff, who must be consulted. This would include me and councillors amongst others. He says he is more than happy to share that list with me when it is complete – and of course I will be checking to see that local people are the key consultees.

At some stage in the autumn a formal planning application will be made, which will then trigger the consultation process. As soon as the process begins, Commander Grant will be personally involved and intends to help with the key briefings.

So – as ever – it is down to whether this will be a real consultation – i.e. whether our responses to the consultation can affect outcome. I will post any news I get as this proceeds.

Dumped rubbish in Woodside ward

A dumped fridge in Arcadian Gardens (Woodside ward) shows the extent of the continuing problem of fly-tipping in the area, local Liberal Democrats have said. The fridge, ironically left next to a Haringey Council ‘Strictly No Dumping’ sign, was found last week by Cllr Ed Butcher.

Cllr Ed Butcher comments:

“The dumped fridge is a prime example of the ongoing problem that local residents face every time they walk down their street – dumped rubbish, dangerous pavements, litter and broken signs.

“Our regular campaigning in Woodside found many instances of fly-tipping that Haringey Council seems to have turned a blind eye to.”