There's been a lot happening lately that really affects our area, whether problems on the tube or the continuing issues about Heathrow expansion. I'll run through what I've been doing, and although Parliament is just going into recess, that doesn' t mean that I stop working hard for local people and representing concerns to Ministers - far from it!
District Line and Metronet
For some time I've been concerned about the impact of Metronet's overspend in upgrading the tube system. In the past fortnight, the company has gone into administration. When I first heard of the potential problems back in May, I wrote directly to the Mayor expressing my concerns and asking for absolute assurance that whatever happened with Metronet, the District Line upgrade and station modernisation for East Putney and Southfields station would still happen. I was concerned that the overspend would be reduced by cutting work planned in the future, including on our own District Line. Last week I got a response back from the Mayor confirming that there would be no work taken out of scope. Of course, things can change, but having direct confirmation at this stage from the Mayor is good to have. We're waiting too long as it is for this work - better stations and bigger and more reliable tubes, so I'm determined to do what I can to make sure it does happen.
The Aviation Minister Jim Fitzpatrick wrote to me this week saying he didn't think releasing all the environmental data about the Heathrow expansion would be in the public interest. That is unacceptable. I've already written back to him asking how it can possible be in the public interest to have given the data to the company operating Heathrow, BAA, but not myself as MP and my constituents. It's a real disgrace and I raised it again with the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman on Thursday this week. I am going to keep pressing the government to release this data to us. It is too important to take no for an answer.
Roehampton and the Deprived Areas Fund
We had Peter Hain the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions come to the Select Committee to be questioned about his department's performance. I raised the issue with him of Roehampton not being classed as a ward eligible for the Deprived Area Fund. I also recounted how so far I've not been able to get agreement for a JobCentre Plus to consider having a temporary JobCentre Plus when the Roehampton regeneration eventually happens. He said he was happy to look at the issues I raised, so I will be writing to him formally with more details, and I hope that with more consideration I might get some changes for Roehampton.
Post Office closures
The consultations won't happen till next year, but this week I met with both Royal Mail (who run the Post Office network) and PostWatch, the consumer postal rights organisation. It was very helpful to get an in depth briefing from both parties about how the closure programme will work. The Royal Mail have been instructed to close 2,500 post offices nationally - this is in addition to those we lost in recent years. It is a further 20% reduction in the network and in London we'll have our share of closures. There is no doubt that best protection against seeing our local post office facilities further taken away is to use them and prove how much we need them.
I was at the Putney RSPCA Animal Hospital fair on Saturday - it was going great until the downpour, but I think they managed to raise a fair amount of money. If you have a local issue that you need my help with as MP, then do get in touch with me – email me on email@example.com, write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or come to my weekly MP surgery by giving me a call on 0208 944 0378. I’ll do my best to help.
Justine Greening MP
July 26, 2007