Another busy month indeed. We had the budget yesterday - Gordon Brown's big set piece. As with most budgets there were winners and losers. The losers are generally lower income people with no children, and small businesses. Families with children will see rises in tax credits, but they'll be withdrawn at a faster rate as income rises. Brown didn't say anything about stamp duty for general properties, but he's budgeting the tax take to rise from £10bn this past year to £14bn this coming year, so probably more of that comes from London with higher property prices than elsewhere.
Thames Water and river sewage
A big problem we have locally is the impact of tonnes of untreated sewage dumped in our bit of the Thames. I met with Thames Water management to discuss how we can at least start letting the public know when sewage has gone into the Thames - they're now developing a website and I'm planning to work with local rowing clubs to see if we can somehow alert people locally about a dirty river, a bit like a lifeguard alert when water is unsafe to swim in. The Tideway project which should fix the problem by providing more capacity to take waste away, has been approved but will take years to come into action, so we need action taken earlier. Thames Water is also going to have more boats that can oxygenate and skim off waste, which is also good news.
Following my recent meeting with Gillian Merron the Aviation Minister I've been trying to find out how effective our noise monitoring system is for planes coming into Heathrow. We're constantly told that planes can only be so noisy or they get fined, but I got some answers to parliamentary questions which showed that the number of planes being fined by BAA had risen a lot from last year to 210 planes, but that the total fine they had collectively was just £120,000 - that works out at just £570 a plane. It's pretty pointless - getting a seat on most of those excessively noisy flights would probably cost more. It’s a real waste, and I'm now pressing the government and BAA to do a number of things, but measuring noise locally would be a start, and then fining airplane operators much, much more who don't stay within the noise limits.
Youth on Youth Crime
I'm still doing a lot of work on this - visiting local schools and meeting with local police. Last year, 38% of our recorded muggings in Wandsworth were on 11-16 yr olds. Last week I had a debate in Parliament on the subject and the Minister had to reply to my questions. I must admit I wasn't too impressed with the quality of his response, but it was good to be able to put a range of issues about young people and crime to him directly. Here's the link to my speech
I'm trying to get investment in Roehampton from the local JobCentre Plus in Wandsworth to help make sure that as and when the regeneration project kicks off that there are JobCentre Plus facilities on site in Roehampton to help local consitutents take full advantage of the job opportunities provided. Amazingly Roehampton is not classed as one of the wards which qualify for the Deprived Areas Fund, but I've discovered through answers to parliamentary questions that although nearly £1m was given to the local Deprived Area Fund, covering Wandsworth, Lambeth and Southwark, guess how much was spent in the year to date (which finishes at the end of this month) - zero! I'm trying to get some of that money invested in Roehampton - if the local JobCentre Plus can't think how to spend it effectively, I can certainly help them..
Don't forget I have weekly surgeries and if you want to come along to one with an issue, give me a call on 0208 944 0378. You can also email me on email@example.com and write to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Justine Greening MP
March 22, 2007