September 14, 2005
Where were you when the Ashes were won? I have to confess to constituents that I pretended to do some paperwork in the corner of an Eastcote pub as we stuttered and then roared to a famous victory.
Where were you when the Ashes were won? I have to confess to constituents that I pretended to do some paperwork in the corner of an Eastcote pub as we stuttered and then roared to a famous victory. A lot more fun than deciding who to vote for as the next leader of the Conservative Party. Later that evening, I was in Norwich Street with representatives of your Residents association, collecting signatures in opposition to the proposed development of Joel Street Farm as a cemetery. Above the din of one of those scooters designed to irritate residents, a lady made an interesting point to me. How can we encourage a greater sense of community when people feel powerless to stop the destruction of the environment they value?. Green Space is precious in this part of the world: we should not shrug our shoulders at its irreversible loss. Antisocial behaviour; vandalism and graffiti all drag down a neighbourhood and impose costs on the innocent: we should not tolerate it. For me the key lies in community cohesion which is why I believe that local communities need to be given more power over the things that really affect their quality of life. Unfortunately the trend seems to be the other way. More and more the country seems to be run by huge, remote and impersonal agencies for whom we are all reference numbers rather than individuals.
Much the most rewarding part of my role as your Member of Parliament is the opportunity to shake these bureaucracies down on behalf of constituents who are struggling to get a response, often in situations where they are desperate. I cannot claim universal success – far from it – but I have been pleasantly surprised how much difference the intervention of an MP can make. I would be delighted to hear from you if there is an issue that you want to raise with me. The other part of the job that I enjoy is standing up for the quality of life in Ruislip-Northwood. There are many threats to it. Let me give you just two examples. The ‘blue line’ of police that protect us from crime and antisocial behaviour is too thin in Northwood and needs reinforcing. We have two outstanding local hospitals in Harefield and Mt Vernon but in both cases the Trusts that run them want to move core services away from this area. My job is to make the local case as best I can. Again, please contact me if you have a view on these issues or any others that are bothering you.
On a final note, I should say that this job gives you the chance to meet some interesting people. The other night, I had the chance to celebrate England’s Ashes victory in a unique way – by having dinner with Australia’s Foreign Minister. I was among a group of MP’s invited to meet the appropriately named Alex Downer at a dinner at the Australian high Commission in London. The dinner, was intended to be a forum to discuss issues of common interest between our two countries, but how often do you get a chance to patronise Australians about sport? I am glad to say that we took it."