Tony Colman still open for business

Pre budget report, Christmas bazaar and domestic violence.....

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Pre Budget Report

I am sure you all know that Gordon Brown announced the Pre Budget Report last week. The overall story that the economy is generally in good shape I hope will not be news to the people of Putney. The report included some important and interesting new initiatives which I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight:

· A ten year strategy for childcare, to achieve the Government's vision of affordable, flexible, high-quality childcare for all parents who need it;
· An extension of paid maternity cover to nine months from April 2007, part of which will be able to be transferred to fathers, subject to new legislation and an eventual goal of twelve months paid maternity cover;
· A payment of £50 to households with someone aged 70 and over, to help with council tax and other living expenses in addition to the Winter Fuel Payment (£200 or £300 for those over 80), to be paid by the end of December 2005;
· A continuation of the freeze on main road fuel duties, in response to the sustained volatility in the oil market;
· And increasing the Working Tax Credit thresholds by £3 a week, to ensure that families with rising incomes retain more of their tax credits in 2005/6.

Domestic Violence Forum 2004

On 25 November I attended the launch of the Annual Report of the London Domestic Violence Forum 2004. This report gives details on how the GLA is doing in achieving its very worthwhile Domestic Violence Strategy.

Commenting on the report, Ken Livingstone said,

'Once again, there has been steady progress on the implementation of the London Domestic Violence Strategy. The past twelve months have seen significant changes at both a regional and local level resulting in greater cohesion of services for both victims and offenders... I commend the successes resulting from the hard work of the London Domestic Violence Forum in bringing about these changes.'

I commend the continued work of the Forum and all those organisations which work in London to combat the ongoing problem of domestic violence. Their work is even more important at this time of year which is always difficult for those with troubled family lives.

West End Taxi Rank

Readers might be interested to hear that Ken Livingstone has launched a pilot marshalled taxi rank in London's West End as part of the Mayor's Safer Travel at Night campaign. This is very welcome news and I would be interested to hear Putney residents' views of the scheme if they use it.
The scheme is operated by the Public Carriage Office, working with the Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council and the London Cab Ranks Committee. Marshalls are in attendance at the taxi rank in Cranbourn Street, WC2, from 10pm to 3am every Friday and Saturday night, supported by police officers, matching passengers to taxi drivers heading to similar destinations.

Christmas plays and bazaars

Putney is - as usual - full of festive activity and I have been doing my best to attend as many events as possible around my parliamentary engagements. So far I have read the lesson at the 'Friends of Africa' Carol Service at St Stephen's Church, attended the Labour Party Christmas Bazaar, been to All Saints School and St Paul's Church Christmas fayres and listened to the excellent carol concert at Southlands College. I also went to the very innovative Sheringdale School production of the Adventures of Odysseus. May I congratulate everyone involved at all these events - all the hard work paid off!

Tony Colman MP

December 10, 2004