It's been another busy time for me both in Parliament and in Putney, Roehampton and Southfields. With Parliament back after the Easter recess, it is quite a strange atmosphere as we all wait for Blair to step down and presumably for Gordon Brown to take his place. In the meantime, it's business as usual but we know that when Brown takes over, a lot might change....or maybe it won't - we'll see.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we debated pensions and the new Pensions Bill that is passing through parliament. I spoke in the debate on Tuesday and raised the issue of the dramatically falling numbers of young people who are getting pensions started. It's always a difficult sell to get someone in their 20s to financially plan ahead to their retirement, especially when they've all sorts of other financial pressures on them today, whether saving to get their own place, living here in the UK's most expensive city, or paying off student debt, etc. The new pensions proposals aim to help people take more responsibility for providing their own pensions, but for younger people, they'll also be a generation supporting state pensions for more pensioners, so they'll get hit financially from both sides. I hope some of the new proposals will help tackle this, but I think we'll need to look very carefully at how successful this Pensions Bill really is. Link to speech
District Line and Heathrow
I'm sure people using the District Line will know this past week's service was appalling, especially at the beginning of the week. I'm pursuing these problems as ever with London Underground management, but don't forget that if you are 15 minutes or more delayed you can claim a refund. I don't think we should have to pay for the sort of service we had this week. On Heathrow, I challenged the Aviation Minister Gillian Merron in parliament about the paltry £570 a plane fines BAA charges plane operaters with excessively noisy planes. The government really need to start getting a grip on these sorts of issues. There is no noise monitoring locally, and even in places where noise is monitored, breaches aren't taken seriously. I'm pressing the Department for Transport on this, particularly given the proposals to expand Heathrow. If you want a poster, petition sheets, or to get more involved in my No to Heathrow Expansion campaign, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link to the debate
I've had a number of complaints from elderly residents and their relatives about the Dial-a-Ride service which I'm following up with TfL. There are problems of not being able to get through to book a ride in the morning, no spaces left, and not being able to book return journeys, or regular journeys. I'm starting to look in much more detail at how Dial-a-Ride is working and wanted to ask for any experiences, good or bad that PutneySW15 readers or their relatives have had with Dial-a-Ride. Its a vital service for people who use it, so I'm concerned to try to highlight problems to the Mayor. I've already been in correspondence with him, but if PutneySW15 readers could give me a broader picture of how well the service is working, that would be very helpful to me in setting our our issues to Ken Livingstone.
Over Easter I was privileged to be able to give out long-service awards to staff at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability. It is an amazing place which provides unique care to its patients, and I'll be running a 5k race in Hyde Park later in the year to help raise money for them. I also met with Communities Minister Meg Munn when she visited a local mosque to meet with the Ahmadiyya muslim community based in Gressenhall Road in Southfields. I am very proud to have the Ahmadiyya community based in Southfields - the mosque was London's very first, built in 1926 and as MP I work very closely with them. Later today (Friday), I'm meeting with a locally based charity United Response which helps support adults with learning disabilities or mental health needs, so I'm looking forward to finding out more about what they do locally and nationally. I must admit, no week is ever the same, but they are always very interesting!
If you need my help as MP, you can book into my weekly MP surgery by calling 0208 944 0378, email me on email@example.com, or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.Best Wishes,
Justine Greening MP
April 20, 2007