It has been a particularly busy time in Parliament, especially this week with the Pre Budget Report and the debate that MPs then had on what was effectively an emergency budget. Outside of Parliament I have met up with local businesses in Lower Richmond Road and also the District Line manager, plus supporting lots of local events. Read on for more of an update.
Local business forum and Pre Budget Report Following a roundtable event I organised with the Wandsworth Chamber of Commerce earlier in the year, last week I met with local businesses on Lower Richmond Road to discuss how businesses are dealing with the economic downturn and what I can do as a local MP to support them. It is clear that many are really suffering and the more support our local community can give our local shops, the better. We had some good ideas that came out of the meeting which I will be working on with our local Chamber of Commerce and councillors. In Parliament, the Pre Budget Report was more like a major Budget than a mid-year report back to the Commons. Like many businesses, I have some grave concerns about its effectiveness. It is going to cost billions, with national debt doubling to a trillion pounds. The Commons was able to have just a 3 hour debate on the package after we asked for an emergency debate, but it was not enough time. I will be continuing to meet up with local businesses across Putney, Roehampton and Southfields to make sure that I can do whatever I can as MP to support them over the coming months.
Meeting with District Line Manager
Last week I also met up with Kevin Bootle, the London Underground manager of the District Line. Ironically, I was late for the meeting due to delays on the District Line. We had a wide ranging discussion that was very helpful. The news is at least positive with work on Southfields station lift starting early next year. Critically, half of our tube trains will now be replaced in 2011, when the Wimbledon-Edgeware Road stock gets upgraded. We’ll have longer tubes to take more passengers and they will be air-conditioned. The other half of the tube stock, that heads into the City, still doesn’t get upgraded until 2013-15. I’m pressing for the West end of the District Line to get signalling refitted first, rather than having work start on the East end of the line. It will mean our line reliability and capacity will improve. The west end has higher passenger numbers than the east end of the District Line, so it makes sense to start work at our end first, and that’s the case I’ve already made to TfL head Tim O’Toole on our behalf.
Heathrow – decision next week?
The latest rumour is that there could be a Heathrow decision next week but noone knows for sure. I have had to write to the Information Commissioner again to ask him to press Ministers to release papers under the Freedom of Information Act. The Department for Transport seems determined to avoid being accountable for its proposals and I’m trying to get as much information into the public domain as I can before the decision is announced. Will Ministers listen to the public? I very much hope so.
Out and About
There have been lots of events happening locally – earlier this week I went to meet Southfields Brownies and talk to them about what being an MP is like which was a lot of fun – they had lots of good ideas to tell me too. On Saturday evening, I attended a special centenary dinner held by the Womens’ Association of our local Ahmadiyya community based in Gressenhall Road and we had a really fantastic evening. Putney School of Art and Design is raising money to develop the Oxford Road site and I went to a fundraiser they held, also last Saturday night to support them as a local MP. The school was originally purpose-built in Victorian times and is an amazing building, so if you are interested in doing that too, then do get in touch with them.
I hope that’s been a helpful update. If you need my help as MP then do write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to come along to one of my weekly MP surgeries then give me a call on 0208 944 0378. I’ll do my best to help.
Justine Greening MP
November 28, 2008