Tony Colman MP for Putney writes

In this week's diary for our MP covers families & the media, the Routmaster and David Blunket's speech to the USDAW......

Families and the Media

Two news stories concerning families have caught my attention in the last couple of weeks. One is the news that the average cost of raising a child is now estimated to be some £164,000. Whilst on a light note I am sure all parents would consider this money well spent, it does raise issues about the costs of raising children, especially childcare. I welcome the moves the Government has made in this direction, especially the £50 per week tax free from employers to employees announced in this year's budget and I encourage the Government to do more.

The second, more serious article was about father's rights, especially in cases of divorce. A family court judge found himself at the mercy of the current system after a messy divorce. I myself was a single parent for four years in the 1980s and know the difficulties both parents can face. But children do need their fathers as well as their mothers. Perhaps it is time that the judicial system in this incredibly sensitive and important area is looked at again.

Routemaster Buses

These much loved London symbols, found in Putney on the 22 route, are slowly being replaced. Although I am fond of the traditional buses I understand Transport for London's reasoning in replacing them. I am told that the majority of Routemaster buses have not been refurbished for ten years and would require considerable additional investment to bring them up to today's environmental standards and to make them fit for future use. New buses will also be much more accessible to people using wheelchairs and to those who are less mobile, for example the elderly or those with young children in buggies and the like. It also likely that replacing Routemasters will improve safety on London buses - there are greater boarding and alighting incidents on these traditional buses. That said, Routemasters are as much a symbol of London as red telephone boxes once were and I am glad that Transport for London are investigating ways of keeping some Routemasters in service, probably as a tourist service.

David Blunket USDAW Speech

I am pleased that David Blunkett spoke to the annual conference of USDAW on Tuesday 27 April. He urged retailers and shop workers to volunteer to help in the fight against crime against businesses and in the local community. I too add my voice to this campaign - we should all try to protect the success of local businesses in Putney.

For more information about what I've been up to and how to contact me go to my web site

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Tony Colman MP

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April 22nd, 2004

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