The last couple of weeks in Parliament have been febrile to say the least with the MP expenses scandal finally breaking, and the Speaker Michael Martin standing down this week. I think that until we have a General Election then it will be very hard for the public to respect Parliament or MPs. However, even with such dramatic events in Westminster, it’s actually been a very hectic time locally too, so read on for a brief update.
Meeting with London Underground – District Line Progress…..
I met with Howard Collins, Chief Operating Officer of London Underground to get a general update on the District Line and also to discuss the Southfields Station work to modernise the station, which has now begun in earnest. In terms of the overall line, the good news is that as of December, we will have 2 more tube trains in morning rush-hour directly feeding the City from Wimbledon to better match where people are actually travelling to Looking at the travel data, it is the commute into the city that is most crowded so this is really good news. The Edgeware Road service will get the new, larger, air-conditioned tubes in 2011, again making a big difference. After that, we then get new tubes on the City-bound service and new signalling. Overall our capacity should be increased by 45% from today which is a large rise and long overdue.Southfields station has at long last had work started on it to modernise it. The station will be made safer with CCTV and lighting, get the much-needed lift to make it more accessible and the ticket area will be made larger to better cope with our local needs.……
But hopefully success in keeping Southfields Station newsstand
One issue that has kept me very busy is the newsstand outside Southfields Station, which has been there over 20 years. Mr Sattaur who runs it was given just 1 month’s notice by TfL. I raised this with Howard Collins at my meeting but we didn’t initially get much progress. However, working with local councillors, council officers, and our Assembly Member, Richard Tracey, I’ve got agreement that the council can hopefully issue a temporary licence for the newsstand further down the pavement and now TfL have just agreed to allow the delay we need for the newsstand and council to gets the paperwork done and issue the licence. Its great news and means that Mr Sattaur’s business can keep going. If you were one of the thousand people who signed my petition to TfL to ask them to delay moving Mr Sattaur’s newsstand to give me chance to help get an alternative location sorted out with the council then thank you very much indeed!
As an accountant I’ve always found the Parliamentary expenses system to be very poor. We’ve had lots of reviews and each time I’ve submitted my views about improving the system, but to no avail. I’ve always tried to run my office serving our local community on as low a budget as possible. In terms of MP expenses, I’ve been consistently in the lowest 10% of MPs for my spend. Compared to neighbouring Wandoworth MPs, my office has so far cost £70k less – enough to fund a couple of extra police officers out on patrol for a year. A constituent emailed me last week to tell me that I’d been rated 9th best value MP when you compare my costs to how expensive it is to run an office in this part of the country: http://www.adamsmith.org/parliamentary-fatcats-2009/. I will continue to do my best to not only bust a gut for our local community on all sorts of issues that matter to us, but to do that in a way that means my cost is always reasonable.
Out and About
Last Friday I was at the Putney Samaritans fundraising auction to help them raise money for our local office. They do a wonderful job and it was great to meet some of the people who man the phones. I also met up with the Roehampton University Student Union for their volunteering awards ceremony. The students actually do a huge amount of work in our local community helping all sorts of organisations and it was really impressive to see the breadth of charities and organisations, such as St John’s Ambulance Service that they support. I also chaired the All Party Parliamentary Limb Loss Group’s AGM in Westminster and met with both St George’s Hospital and Wandsworth Primary Care Trust managers to discuss local healthcare issues.
As ever, do get in touch if you need my help. I have a weekly MP surgery that is usually in one of our local libraries. You can find out where the next one is by calling 0208 946 4557. If you want to drop me a line, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. I’ll do my best to help.
Justine Greening MP
May 22, 2009