The Leader of Bexley Council, Cllr Ian Clement, has called for the re-opening of the public inquiry into the Thames Gateway Bridge in the light of Government plans to increase tolls for the Dartford crossings. Bexley Conservatives have been unanimous in their opposition to the project, listening to the views of local residents and campaigners.
Local Tories have written to the Care Trust Chief Executive and Government Health Minster Patricia Hewitt MP outlining their concerns.
Councillor Sharon Massey Cabinet Member Health and Adult Social Care said “I am concerned about the number of consultations presently taking place in the NHS and the lack of detailed information available. Many areas of our local health services are under review, District Nursing, Speech and Language Therapy, school nursing, Family Planning, Podiatry, Health Visitors and Pharmacy Services as well as the Aphasia Unit at Queen Mary’s being under threat. The final act of indignity to patients in Bexley is the number of continence pads available to patients is being restricted, where will it end?”
David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, made representations on behalf of constituents to the Secretary of State for Transport during Question Time in the House of Commons yesterday (19 December). After concern about rail fare increases and overcrowding, Mr Evennett asked the Secretary of State what assessment he has made of future passenger capacity on the rail network.
Tom Harris, Under-Secretary of State, replied “Since 1996-97, the number of railway passenger journeys has increased by 35 per cent. Current forecasts suggest that that trend will continue”.
Mr Evennett probed “Is he aware of the considerable dissatisfaction that is felt by my constituents who use the south-east London commuter route about overcrowding, increases in fares, and the unreliability of the service? Furthermore, there is great concern that, as a result of housing developments in Kent and along the Thames Gateway, those problems will get worse. Will the Minister take that on board and take action?”
Mr Harris said “I understand the honourable Gentleman’s concerns… Increasing capacity does not always mean running extra trains”.
Mr Evennett commented afterwards “The Government needs to understand the problems that my constituents and other commuters have experienced in recent months. Overcrowding and significant delays have had a real impact on people’s journeys, with inflation-busting fare rises coming in the New Year. We need action from the Government, not just talk”.
Cllr Ian Clement, the Conservative Leader of Bexley Council, has written to the Minister for Local Government to express his bitter disappointment with the Government’s planned grant for 2007/08 towards the cost of Bexley’s local services.
“Even though we’re a highly rated Council with a commitment to managing our budget carefully and keeping our Council Tax down, this Labour Government is offering us the minimum increase in grant – and around half the average cash increase given to local councils in England,” said Cllr Clement. “Bexley residents deserve better.”He added “We inherited a budget from the previous Labour administration that would have meant a 10% increase in Council Tax and we’re doing everything we can to bring this down to an acceptable level. With this poor deal from the Government and with inflation running close to 4%, this will be even more of a challenge.”
The Local Government Minister, Phil Woolas, announced the provisional local government finance settlement for 2007/08 on 28 November. Under the settlement, Bexley is set to receive a cash increase in grant of less than 2%. The average increase for local authorities in England is set at around 3.3%, while the rate of inflation is currently 3.7%.
The Council has until 5 January 2007 to make representations on the Government’s proposals.
David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, is pictured with presenter Zoë Salmon during an event at the House of Commons for the annual BBC Blue Peter Appeal. MPs were asked to participate by donating a pair of shoes for a recycling and reconditioning scheme to help victims of HIV and AIDS in Malawi. Mr Evennett donated a brand new pair of Reebok Classic trainers.
Blue Peter hopes to collect 500,000 pairs of shoes and raise £500,000 through associated fundraising activities.
Mr Evennett said “I am delighted to meet the presenters and do my bit for their very worthwhile appeal. More than 600,000 children have lost at least one of their parents to the disease in Malawi, and I wish Blue Peter every success”.
November saw the launch of appeal asking the UK’s children to send shoes for recycling to help raise money for UNICEF’s work in Malawi with children facing the consequences of HIV and AIDS. Many of these children are orphans, living on their own and often responsible for the welfare of younger siblings. The shoes collected are being reconditioned and shipped overseas where they are sold in countries where people find it easier to afford second-hand shoes.
The scale of the problem in Malawi:
· Someone dies of AIDS every 9 minutes
· More than 600,000 children have lost one or both parents
· 65% of the population live on < 60p/day
· 1 child in 5 likely to die before 5 yrs/ Average life expectancy 40 yrs
David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath & Crayford, has expressed his concerns about democracy following a dossier published by the Conservatives which shows that Labour has systematically avoided scrutiny from Parliament and the public.
The 975 page document details over one thousand written Parliamentary Questions that the Government avoided answering in the last session of Parliament. The research reveals that among the most obstructive Government departments are the Home Office, the Department for Work & Pensions and the Ministry of Defence.
Mr Evennett asked five questions in the previous session that were not answered, including two on the Olympics, one on National Insurance number fraud, science and technology investment and smoke-free legislation.
Mr Evennett said “It is clear that Labour Ministers have systematically sought to avoid public scrutiny by evading awkward Parliamentary Questions. Labour may not like it, but the fundamental purpose of Parliament is to scrutinise and hold the government of the day to account”.
He added “Not only are Labour’s actions deeply corrosive to our political system but it will also fuel further cynicism with politics and politicians.”
Matthew Scott, councillor for St Michael’s ward, has hit back at claims by Labour Mayor, Ken Livingstone, that crime has fallen on London’s buses.After Freedom of Information Act requests made by Cllr Scott published last month, a report published by the Metropolitan Police Authority said yesterday that there was a clear link between rising crime on buses and the free under 16 travel concession.Reacting to the report, Ken and TfL both said crime had fallen on buses.Cllr Scott said “These claims are ridiculous and show how out of touch Red Ken is. If he actually looked at the statistics, took a ride on a bus or spoke to a bus driver, he would see the real situation. But it is out of sight, out of mind for this man”.
He added “I reiterate that it is my belief that the free travel concession is considerately used by most. But an ever increasing minority do not, as the figures I obtained last month proved. Tougher action is needed against those that offend”.