Ballot Paper

Electoral Reform

How can it be that we in Britain, who set great store by our democratic process, can permit an electoral system which is so easy to cheat?

Most people will know that it is against the law to vote twice in a General Election, or for that matter any national vote, but most people probably do not realise that there is no method to control how many times you may vote in a national election.

If you have two places of residence, in different areas, then you are entitled to vote in local elections in both local authorities, which may not be unreasonable. The fact that the register to vote on local interests is held by the local authority is to be expected but the local property based register is also used for voting on national interests and therein lies the problem.

An individual who appears on two local authority’s election registers will automatically receive two polling cards for a General Election and there are no checks what-so-ever to ensure the individual only votes once. Just like there are no checks on a person’s identity when they come to vote.

Society sets great store on encouraging people to vote, reminding them of the sacrifices of those who have fought and died for the right, that women have barely had the right to vote for 100 years, and that in some countries in the world people still are unable to vote.

Surely it is an affront to all those who have made sacrifices in the past to not have a level of due diligence when allowing people to vote?

I would like to see debated:

  • A national register to list those who can vote on the national interest
  • Photographic ID checks to prove an individual’s identity when they vote
  • The right to be able to vote more than once
  • Greater controls on postal votes
  • Greater controls on proxy votes

I can hear the naysayers already with their issues on the complexities of merging local electoral registers, introducing standard ID checks, and the possible impact of a national database on an individual’s privacy.

Democracy is a prized asset and we should ensure that it is not open to abuse or tarnish by modern society. We need to debate this and if agreed introduce stepped change to ensure the value of democracy is not diminished.

When the Parliamentary Petition Committee is re-convened, following the 2017 General Election, I shall be raising a petition for Electoral Reform to have the current electoral register and voting processes debated by Parliament, with the desired outcome of a national database and greater controls on voting.


Turkey – the Edge of Europe

I attended an interesting talk by Ziya Meral on Turkey hosted by the Conservative Christian Fellowship and with colleagues from Conservative Friends of Turkey.

Ziya MeralZiya bey gave fascinating insights into the political situation in Turkey with the most recent events of the failed coup and how Turkey has evolved historically. Ziya bey’s analogy of a failed betrothal representing Turkey’s relationship with the EU was amusing. The wedding isn’t going to take place but they don’t want to give up on the engagement.

Points that I took away from the talk:

  • The AK Party has provided freedoms to Christians living in Turkey
  • The government has the support of the electorate with 45% of the vote and an 87% turnout at the last election
  • Turkey has a thriving economy and is not reliant on the EU
  • Turkey has opened 29 embassies in Africa and good trade
  • Turkey has the third biggest army in the world and the second biggest in NATO
  • The war against ISIS is being won
  • Turkey is providing refuge to millions and the demographics of the population is changing
  • 3 million Syrians live in Turkey
  • The situation in Libya will be the next concern in the middle East

The event closed with prayer and a final message of how we can think more positively about Turkey.


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Turkish Exams

As promised by Nicky Morgan MP, the Secretary of State for Education in the lead up to the general election and after, the government have announced that they have secured community language exams. The exams which include Turkish were threatened to be discontinued by examination boards. Conservative colleagues and I supported Londra Gazete in their campaign to reverse the unpopular decision and Nick de Bois met with OCR to ask them to reconsider. A good result for the community and a clear message that Conservatives deliver on their promises.boris1-web-715x476


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Parks to be Locked

After what was described by a Friends of Parks representative as a “painful eight months” there was relief at Overview and Scrutiny Committee yesterday when it was announced that fourteen parks in Enfield would continue to be locked.

A decision to cease locking parks was taken by Cllr Chris Bond, Cabinet Member for Environment on 3rd October 2014 and called in to Overview and Scrutiny Committee by the Conservative Group. The decision whether to lock parks was deferred until now to enable consultation with the Friends of Parks groups. During the consultation period the council has seen a change in Cabinet Member for Environment to Cllr Daniel Anderson.

It was noted at the meeting that the council’s decision and the ensuing months had bruised the relationship between council and Friends of Parks groups. It was acknowledged that the volunteers who make up the Friends groups provide an invaluable service to the parks and community. In Volunteering Week this decision is a victory for democracy and for people power.

At last, the council are listening to the people they serve!parks


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Rubbish on the streets of Edmonton

During the run up to the General Election I’ve campaigned across the 3 constituencies in Enfield.

There is no question in my mind that of the 3 constituencies Edmonton has by far the dirtiest streets in the borough and to be frank it’s an utter disgrace!

I’ve already started working with local Conservative councillors to address the situation and we’ve had success in getting the local authority to clear builders rubbish.

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Accident and Emergency

Yesterday I had to take my young son to Barnet A&E after he ran into a table at my mum’s house. It was horrible with a cut just above his eye. There was a lot of blood, but he was a brave boy. My son was treated very well and came home with some paper stitches.

Where at home I would have gone to North Middlesex Hospital, the events of yesterday underlined how much we need a good health service across the whole borough.

Right now we have had the best news in years with the announcement of a brand new hospital at Chase Farm, true we have not got the A&E back, but with a huge state of the art facility, it is possible for the future.

What upsets me is the deliberate cynical opposition of the Labour Party, who choose to forget their role in closing the A&E at Chase Farm Hospital and is matched only by their apparent political desire to run down the new hospital.

It seems that Labour do not want a plan that includes the possibility of restoring A&E services, unless they can claim the credit for it. The Labour Council voted against the proposals at a recent meeting.  They should be supporting this fantastic new hospital as it is in the best interests of the community.

We need to see Chase Farm facilities improved, we want a hospital that can reduce waiting times and increase the number of operations being performed. In this day and age it is unacceptable for patients to continue to be wheeled out between buildings for operations.


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Bury Lodge Park

Friends of Parks are to be commended on their voluntary work that helps support the green spaces for the wider community to enjoy. Friends dedicate their time to doing the work of monitoring and maintaining parks that in the past would have been paid employment from the Local Authority.

It is therefore disappointing to learn that Friends of Bury Lodge Park, who had offered to work with the Council to maintain and improve a natural piece of land for the benefit of the community had their offer rudely rejected.

The Local Authority have supported Thames 21 into turning an oasis for wildlife and habitat into a wasteland. The new proposals for the land are hoping to recreate something that nature had already established.

The Council rely on these groups to maintain parks and recreational areas and should be working in partnership with them and not be ignoring their views and contributions. The Council claim to consult residents but they should review their methods as residents at a recent ward forum made it clear that they had not been consulted about changes to Council land.


Library Opening Times

My husband and I spent this weekend in the New Forest and had a lovely time enjoying nature although we had to endure typically English weather, in other words it was very wet.

On Sunday we visited Winchester, a lovely cathedral city. It has a small but picturesque centre. The word city gives the wrong impression of Winchester, when I think of a city I imagine capitals of the world and Winchester is nothing like any of them. They are busy metropolitan places whereas Winchester is more like a quaint little town.

I made a point of visiting Winchester library because as we walked past it I was surprised to see it was open on a Sunday and also because it had a coffee shop. Locally I have been to meetings about the development of Palmers Green library where there were discussions about whether there would be a coffee shop in the revamped library. I seem to remember that there isn’t going to be a coffee shop to the dismay of local residents. I was impressed to see how well Winchester’s library come Internet cafe come coffee shop was doing and how that Council was meeting the need of their community.

I believe Education is the basis of a good society so why not open up places of learning and knowledge and make them more accessible. I would like to see Enfield Council open it’s library doors on Sunday and make libraries into popular places for youths and adults alike. Let’s face it the demand for books through libraries must be decreasing. I have a Kindle and can read books on all of my technology ie PC, iPad & phone. I still use the library to borrow books for my children and they love the variety of books that we get from the library but that does not stop me from buying books.

Personally I only borrow books that I am unsure whether I will read or not, for example if I am reading a new author or if I’m not sure if I will like the book then I borrow it to see if I want to buy the book. In Winchester library a gentleman (of about 60 years) took a book off the library shelf, got himself a coffee and sat on a sofa to read that book. I would like to have that option in Enfield, enjoy a good read in a nice quiet environment (which all libraries are) and be able to have coffee and cake.

On a different note Winchester is embracing the technology and has self service kiosks so that customers can scan their books in and out themselves, or renew them. I know other Councils such as Westminster also use kiosks and there are obvious benefits to such a system. These kiosks also provide access to other Council services through the terminals.

I would like to see Enfield Council opening up libraries on Sundays and introducing coffee shops so that customers spend more time in libraries.


More Primary School Places

I was interviewed by Ruth McKee of the Enfield Advertiser about the new primary school that is to be opened in Southgate for September 2014.

Many parents of children starting school this year will not be aware of this development unless they have been following the We Want Local Schools campaign that I set up with a group of concerned parents; also known as SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team). Here is part of the article and the full article can be read here.

 


Happy New Year

I had a marvellous 2013! The year really finished on a high for my SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) primary school campaign and for me personally. There were many ups and downs along the way, but I am a cup 1/2 full type of girl so I enjoy the roller coaster ride of life.

The SWEAT success came after just 9 months of campaigning for increased primary school places in the form of a proposal by Ashmole Academy for a primary school which is scheduled for September 2015. The proposed school is some way off, however the parent support that is needed for it to go ahead has been given by the local community. Members of the SWEAT group and I were busy distributing the Ashmole proposal to toddler groups, nurseries and libraries in December and our efforts have produced the desired result.

The campaign for primary school provision is not over and the 60 school places that Ashmole will provide yearly from 2015 will go someway to ease an increasing problem. Well done Ashmole. The school place requirement will not be satisfied by this proposal and SWEAT will continue to raise awareness in our aim to achieve more school places in the area.

On a personal note I am delighted to have passed Parliamentary Assessment Board and have been added onto the Conservative Party’s list of Approved Candidates. I am looking forward to a busy 2014 in politics.