Its been getting extremely hectic over the last fortnight both in Parliament and locally! I'm working ever more closely with local businesses as the recession gets more difficult and I'm also pushing on with continuing to represent concerns on Heathrow expansion. Along with some of the other events I've been involved with, I hope the update below will be useful.
Although Ministers have taken their decision to expand Heathrow, I have continued concerns about the impact it will have on our local community should the project go ahead. I met with BAA a couple of weeks ago to find out what their own timelines are for submitting a planning application. Based on the large amount of detailed work yet to do, it seems that they are not expecting to have detailed plans until mid 2010. I think the length of time shows just how high level critical parts of the Heathrow expansion plans actually are. I am in discussions with the Information Commissioner's office about the lack of transparency from the Department for Transport, and the time it took Ministers to respond to my information requests. Over the next few weeks, the Information Commissioner will issue a recommendation to the DfT if it believes they should have been more open with information to the public, so I will have to wait and see what they conclude.
Working with local businesses
I had a meeting with businesses in Southfields this week to discuss what we can do to help them weather the economic downturn. Many businesses across Putney, Roehampton and Southfields are facing massive business rates rises - in fact some are seeing business rates more than double because of the withdrawal of a rate relief called transitional relief. Its at a time they can least afford it. The rises particularly hit smaller businesses in areas which have seen the rateable value of business premises rise. As a consequence, lots of local businesses have contacted me to say how concerned they are after receiving their business rate bills. Once Parliament is back after Easter I will be raising those concerns directly with Ministers to make sure they are fully aware of the pressure that withdrawing transitional relief is having locally. Our shops give us so many of our local facilities, aswell as jobs, so I'm doing what I can to support them.
Putney Station Graffiti and Safety
Following concerns from residents and Network Rail, I've been working with South West Trains, Network Rail and Wandsworth Council to see what we do to sort out the problems not only of graffiti around the track, but also problems of trespassing. A number of steps have now been taken but I've also asked Barclays Bank next door to see if they can make their roof from which the station is accessed less easy to get onto. Network Rail run a campaign to combat track trespassing and vandalism and on Monday I went to a London launch event to publicise their work with young people in this area.
EDF and Electricity Blackouts
Before Christmas a number of areas in Putney suffered several blackouts and at the time I was in regular contact with EDF to find out what was causing the problems. I've continued to stay in contact with them to ensure that progress on fixing the problem was made. Last week I met with EDF senior management to get a latest update and they have confirmed that the main stretch of cable that was apparently causing the trouble has now been fully replaced. It should hopefully mean that we don't suffer any more blackouts but if you do have a problem again, let me know. EDF have also agreed to be more proactive in letting me know when a problem occurs so that I can use www.PutneySW15.com to let people know what is happening.
Out and About
I had a great time at the Southfields Community College Ethnic Achievement Evening last Thursday night, seeing all the many ethnic communities represented by students at the college. On Saturday I spent the afternoon with the Southfields Grid Residents Association at their Golden Oldies event, with lots of fantastic singing and a bit of dancing. Don't forget that if you need my help as MP then just drop me an email, come and see me at my weekly MP surgery by calling 020 8946 4557, or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA - I'll do my best to help.
Best Wishes and Happy Easter
Justine Greening MP
April 9, 2009