A lot has been happening in Parliament since the Euro elections, not least various candidates to be Speaker making their respective cases to MPs. Both locally and in Parliament, I've been doing a lot of work with local businesses to raise issues in Parliament about the problem of business rates. I've also met with the local Primary Care Trust to discuss the Putney Hospital site decision. Plus, there are lots of summer fetes going on right now, raising money for all sorts of local charities. Read on for an update.
Supporting local businesses
I've met with lots of local businesses, most recently at a breakfast meeting in Putney last week, to do my best to support and help them survive the recession - we all depend on our local shops and businesses not just for local facilities, but also for employment. A major problem raised by smaller businesses was the increase in business rates a charge that depends on how valuable your premises are, paid to central government. The rises are so large, in some cases over 50% rises, that many small businesses are finding them unaffordable. Locally and across London, we've seen some large rises because property values have risen over the last 5 years, and from April the relief that had been given to businesses was removed. I raised this issue in Parliament in a debate on business rates on Monday, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm090615/debtext/90615-0015.htm#09061539000003 and was able to get a slot on BBC London too. I hope the debate was worthwhile in getting the message across to Ministers how difficult it is for our small businesses, especially locally, to pay such large rises, especially as Ministers consider whether to go ahead with the next revaluation of business properties next year.
Putney Hospital fiasco
After a decade of planning, Wandsworth Primary Care Trust has effectively ditched its plans for the Putney Hospital site and the new Putney Primary Care Centre. It is incredibly frustrating and has turned into a real fiasco. We've been waiting for the site to be developed for years and years. I raised concerns about the lack of progress with the site at the PCT Annual General Meeting last year because it was hard to see how the recession would not hurt the business case for the redevelopment. I also raised my concerns with Ruth Carnall, head of NHS London which has now vetoed the proposal. After meeting with the PCT, they have now confirmed that well over £2m of taxpayers money has been spent on the planning, consultation and site security and yet we've got nothing to show for it. It seems mad that NHS London has turned it down at this late stage, when it has known of the proposal for so many years. Meantime, the underlying issue regarding making sure we have enough sites for GP practices for residents is still unresolved with the redeveloped Putney Hospital site now not available so I am concerned to make sure that alternatives are being fully investigated. It's a real bureaucratic shambles and just seems a complete waste of time and money and our GP healthcare provision still an issue.
Summer Fairs, and Out and About
I had chance to meet up with the Wandsworth Sea Cadets who are based on Putney embankment. It's a great group of young people and they have a fantastic time learning about handling boats on the river and all sorts of water-based adventure activities - if young person you know may be interested in getting involved then take a look on http://units.ms-sc.org/wandsworth/Default . I also went along to the St Michaels' School Summer Fair in Southfields and had a fun time judging the fancy dress competition. The Queen Mary's Hospital Summer Fair also went really well in spite of the weather and I know it raised lots of money for the hospital. Also in Roehampton, the Roehampton Garden Society had its summer show and as a keen gardener I really enjoyed seeing the plants and vegetables that other members had grown - I've a long way to go I think, but maybe I'll submit a plant into the competition next year!
On an entirely different note, I met up with staff at the Royal Hospital for Neuro Disability on West Hill to keep abreast of the wonderful work they are doing. It is inspirational looking around the hospital and we are very lucky to have it based in West Hill.
I have weekly MP surgeries, so if you need my help as MP then please do drop me a line. You can find out where my next surgery is by giving me a call on 0208 946 4557, or if its easier, then just write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I often see people when I'm out and about, or on the tube heading into work, but don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like some help, or if you're involved with a local organisation and would like me to meet up with you and your group.
Justine Greening MP
June 18, 2009