Reporting Back Jan 2015: The NHS, Crossrail 2 Public Meeting, Merton Adult Education, and more

Hello and welcome to my first constituency community email of 2015. I hope that you have had a pleasant start to the year.

View from Parliament

The tragic events in Paris were inexcusable acts of inhumanity that should be condemned globally. The House of Commons has been debating the Serious Crime Bill, which has clauses within it to deal with those who try to return to the UK after fighting for terrorist groups abroad. The Bill also covers cyber-crime offences and I made a personal speech in the Commons about the effects of cyber-crime on our economy.

The national press have wrongly stated that the Government is seeking powers to read peoples' emails. This is incorrect; the draft Communications Data Bill simply extends the current law around phone calls and text messages to also cover the internet. It is not about the content of individuals’ communications, but the analysis of suspicious activity patterns, which allow our police forces to protect us all. 

We must of course maintain our civil liberties, but in an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world, I believe we must put in place the measures that give us the best chance of ensuring the safety and security of our citizens.

The NHS

Labour Leader Ed Miliband has said he wants to “weaponise” the NHS and following a recent letter to local residents, that certainly seems to be the aim of his candidate in Wimbledon too.  Record numbers of people have visited A&E this winter, resulting in a pressurised system.

Labour’s dramatic headlines overlook a few key facts:

  • Firstly, the Conservatives are committed to securing a strong future for the NHS – free at the point of use. This can only be funded by a strong economy. 
  • In comparison with 2010, we are spending £13bn more annually on the NHS. And, in the recent Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced £2 billion of additional funding for frontline NHS services every year from 2015/16 in England.
  • Of the additional £2bn investment in the NHS which George Osborne announced in the Autumn Statement, Merton will receive £7.4m. This is in addition to the extra funding we have already received from the Winter Resilience Fund. As a result, Merton’s total allocation for 2014-15 increases by 8.03% (the highest percentage increase in the country). This equates to a total additional investment of £16.8m.
  • Labour’s GP contract resulted in fewer opening hours especially in the evening and at weekends, which is one of the major reasons why it is harder to see a GP quickly. In comparison we are putting more resources into primary care.
  • Local hospitals have coped with the extra admissions to A&E, despite the record number of people attending nationally. Compared to 2010, our local A&Es see 3,000 more people within the 4 hour target every single day.
  • Also locally, after 13 years of Labour inaction, we (in just under five years) have delivered the go ahead and re-building the Nelson Hospital which will re-open at the end of March this year.

 

Crossrail 2 Public Meeting – Thursday 29th January, 7.30pm, Belgrave Hall, Denmark Hill, 

As promised, I have organised a meeting so that local people can hear and understand the plans for Crossrail 2. Representatives from TfL will be attending to present their plans and answer questions. All those residents who live within 200 metres of the route or any safeguarded sites should have received a letter about the plans. However this a meeting to which everyone is welcome, and I would be delighted to see as many residents as possible there.

The meeting starts at 7.30pm, on Thursday 29th January at Belgrave Hall, Denmark Hill, SW19 4PG. The hall is situation just off Ridgway in Wimbledon village; please click here to see a map and the best way to get to the hall. 

Merton Adult Education

The local Labour Council still intends to shut down our adult education services. 

  • They have not properly costed the alternatives. 
  • They have not done any proper financial analysis of the income they receive from the Skills Funding Agency. 
  • They cannot provide details of what actual savings will be made as a result of the closure. 

And even more distressingly, these closures will do damage and harm to so many vulnerable people, carers and other users of Merton Adult Education and Whatley Avenue.

The Council are also proposing cuts to adult social care, youth centres and other valuable facilities, which will hurt the most vulnerable in our community. As the deficit is tackled, no-one denies there are difficult choices to make, but this should not be an excuse for these unbelievably ill-thought out policies from the local Labour Council. 

At the same time as cutting front line services, they have also stockpiled another £9million in Council reserves last year. This now takes their total balance of reserves to £115million and well in excess of the statutory or earmarked requirements. 

Myself and local Conservative Councillors are doing everything in our power to challenge this current Council’s unintelligible decision making. We urge you to join with us in pressurising the Council to revise a number of their bad judgements, in particular the plans to close Merton Adult Education. We must save this much needed and valuable service. You can help by replying to this email to let me know why you value Merton Adult Education so I can continue to fight on your behalf.

Local Planning

There are a number of large planning applications currently being consulted upon locally.

This includes the consultation for the development of the Rainbow Estate to include residential units mixed with small business units. Residents have expressed their concerns to me about the impact this will have on traffic in the area, and increased pressure on local services, such as schools, these new flats would have. I encourage all residents to have their say; to submit your views and to see more about the planning application, please click here and enter application number 14/P4287

As you may be aware, Merton Council attempted to allow only a three week consultation period (and over the Christmas period!) on AFC Wimbledon’s planning proposals for Plough Lane. In my view this showed excessive haste and a lack of care on behalf of the Council. With local residents’ support, our Wimbledon Park Conservative Councillors (Oonagh Moulton, Linda Taylor and Janice Howard), pressed for the formal public consultation period to be extended, which it has now been, until 2nd Feb - making 7 weeks of consultation in total. This extension allows local residents to have a greater chance to give their views on what is a large and detailed application.  

For more detials on the application and how to submit you views, click here. Please do let the Council know your opinions and also copy me into your representation, so I can consider all local viewpoints.

Northern Line South Wimbledon Station Improvements & Wimbledon Mainline Works

I am happy to announce that the modernisation of the local underground stations and tube network continues apace. From early February there will be improvement works at South Wimbledon, which are expected to last some four weeks. The main works will take place in the ticket hall, which is being re-configured. The station will remain open throughout the works. All of this work is taking place in advance of the Northern Line running 24 hours a day on Fridays and Saturdays from 12 September.

South West Trains are undertaking at £7 million programme of track maintenance work in the Wimbledon Area, to replace infrastructure put in place in the 1970s. This means that most South West Trains services in the Wimbledon area will be affected on weekends until 15thFebruary. To find out more about this might affect your journey, please check South West Trains’ website here.

Park Community School Pre-Planning Public Consultation

On Wednesday 4th February, between 4-7pm, Park Community School are running a drop in session to show the community their proposals and give you a chance to share your ideas with the achitects, builders and the school. The session is at Park Community School, 21 Crown Lane, Morden, SM1 4BY, and all are welcome. 

With best wishes, 

Stephen Hammond MP