Putney Post Office, Richmond Park, Heathrow and more.....
Hello everyone, we're into the last few weeks of Parliament before the general election is finally called and its certainly a busy time. Locally I've been pushing on with concerns on Richmond Park, Putney Post office and Heathrow, so read on for an update.
Putney Post Office services at risk
I've met up with Post Office senior managers and Thamesfield Councillor Jim Maddan to discuss the service at Putney Post Office. There are some real issues about the long term future of post office services on the site. Since 2003 we have lost over half our local post offices, and most recently we saw Putney Bridge Road and Lower Richmond Road post offices closed down in spite of our local community wanting to keep these services open. At the time I raised concerns about the fact that we would be totally reliant on the main Putney Post Office in Upper Richmond Road. I was also concerned that the lease of the post office was due to run out in 2011 and what would happen after that. In fact, there is now a planning application submitted to redevelop the site and I have met with the Post Office managers to ask how we can ensure post office services are maintained in central Putney if the current site becomes a construction site. The Post Office have confirmed that they cannot stop the planning application and in fact the current leaseholder has the right to buy the site when the lease runs out. Its really frustrating that in spite of such a clear risk on this site, that we had our other local post offices that everyone loved shut down, and it shows how short sighted the closure programme was, which is why I voted to have it stopped when I had the chance in 2008. I have asked the Post Office that we meet again in a couple of months to review progress on looking at alternative sites and will make sure I keep the pressure on them to have a better plan in place. I hope that given the poor service we currently get in Putney Post Office that we can actually see some improvements in local provision as a result of having to quite possibly move site.
Richmond Park Car Park Charges
Next week in the Lords, the Royal Parks Regulations will be debated, and there is an amendment to the regulations tabled that would see the car park charges introduction taken out. If the charges go ahead a typical user could end up paying £170 a year, and people using the park every day could pay a massive £700. I hope that we can get cross party support for our amendment to the regulations and force Ministers to retable the regulations without the car park charging. Other bits of the regulations are good, including seeing the speed limits in some parks reduced from 30mph to 20mph which should improve safety for pedestrians and animals in the parks, so we just need to get the bit we don't like - the introduction of car park charging in Richmond and Busy Parks stopped. If we can win the vote it would be very difficult for Ministers to have time before Parliament is dissolved, so it really would stop the car park charges. I've made our case on all fronts, and a future Conservative government would scrap the introduction of the car park charges. Last week I also spoke with Mark Camley, Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency to ask him to stop any spend of taxpayers money on this project until after the election when people can have their say at the ballot box.
Heathrow - DfT investigated by Information Commissioner
The Information Commissioner is in the process of investigating whether the Department for Transport has committed an offence under the Freedom of Information Act. After the latest disclosures made to me which only happened after the Information Commissioner's enforcement team got involved, having read through the various emails and meeting minutes released, it did look like there were lots of email conversations that never seemed to have a conclusion. Some were important discussions about finalising the consulation document and even on how long the consultation should last for. In one email BAA asked why the consultation needed to last 16 weeks. There was never a response to the email (that was disclosed) and yet the final consultation period was 14 weeks, 2 weeks shorter. Having raised these points with the Information Commissioner, their investigation team came to Parliament to interview me and after that took a decision that there was sufficient grounds to conduct an investigation as to whether an offence has been committed under Section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act. It will be concluded by mid-May hopefully so I am pleased that one way or another we will finally get to the bottom of whether Ministers really have held back key documents or not. The Information Commissioner have also told me that BAA have so far agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation.
Out and About
Last week I had children from Our Lady of Victories Primary School visit Parliament. They had a great time and it was fantastic to hear them talk about how they found Parliament. I also went to Roehampton University to help them plant fruit trees funded by a grant from the London Orchard Project. The University also has set up an allottment project that it is working with not only students but also local schoolchildren and young people on the Alton estate so its really good to see it working alongside our local community. Last Friday I was out on night shift with the Wandsworth specials police and had a very interesting evening and early morning in their response vans seeing first hand the incidents they have to deal with on a Friday night.
Don't forget that if you need my help as MP then do get in touch. I have a weekly MP surgery at a local library or community centre - if you'd like to find out where the next one is, call me on 020 8946 4557. You can also contact me by writing to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll do my best to help.
Justine Greening MP
March 5, 2010