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Achievement and disappointment!

I ran the Hackney 1/2 marathon yesterday, the first ever in Hackney. This was a first for me too, I have never run a 1/2 marathon before and in the build up to the day I realised that perhaps I should have started small and built up to the event. I should have run in an organised 5k or 10k run before going for a 1/2 marathon. Fools rush in as they say.

IMG_8014The day dawned with the promise of a lovely summers day. I worried that it might be too hot and I wouldn’t manage the whole course, but if it had been cold I would have worried that the cold would hinder me. I was nervous that I would let myself down.

I decided to run for the British Heart Foundation because it is a cause close to my heart. My lovely brother Mem died in 2008 after a lifetime of heart problems and my lovely husband Jon has had a quadruple heart bypass. I hope that any money I raise will go towards helping those with the sort of problems that my brother and husband had.

I thoroughly enjoyed the run , the before and the after. The hardest part was the walk to the car park after running 21k. At the time it felt harder than the run itself. The very good thing about the Hackney 1/2 marathon is it is in London, it is spectator friendly and most importantly for the runner it is flat, no hills! Would I do it again? Maybe? Probably!

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So this weekend I had a fantastic personal achievement that was inter-mingled with grief and remembering my much missed brother. I also had bad news, 2 days before the run I learnt that the free school bid that I have been involved in at Ashmole School had been unsuccessful.Locally we parents of young children were optimistic that there may be two new schools in the Southgate area and this now seems to have been taken away from us. SWEAT campaigners (a group that I chair) have been striving for increased primary school provision  for over a year and we are bitterly disappointed that despite our efforts there is no progress.

IMG_8463We will not be beaten!


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Electoral Reform

I used a postal vote to vote in the 2014 Local Elections in May because I was a candidate in Edmonton and I wanted to be visible in Haselbury ward on polling day. I wanted to make sure that I voted but because I knew I would be busy I applied for a postal vote. In casting my postal vote I realise how open to abuse a postal vote could be and that it would be very easy for someone other than the voter to cast the vote.

I think that there should be electoral reform regarding postal votes however I do not believe that removing postal voting is the answer, much as I would like it to be. Voting in person is a more secure method of ensuring that the voter is the person they claim to be particularly as reforms planned for this year by the Electoral Commission will require proof of identification to be shown at polling stations.

The turn out at Haselbury was under 40% and it is likely that the turn out will continue to decrease in the future, particularly in local elections. Politics needs to engage with younger voters and until there is an online method of voting I suspect that many of generation z will not cast their vote when they come of age.

Postal voting needs to have security applied to it that a voter would not easily give out; for example I wouldn’t give just anyone my banking password or my National Insurance number. When I have applied for a passport there is a secure process to follow and this ensures that you are the person applying for the document and this is the sort of check that should be used for postal voting.

At present all that is required to cast a postal vote is date of birth and signature; this really is not secure enough as people will easily give out their date of birth. Recently I have given my date of birth and signature to my dentist, a high street shop, my political party, my doctor and loads more. Recently I have given my National Insurance number or Passport number to no-one. My point is make it harder for fraud but make voting easier.


Politics–A fun experience

I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog recently due my participation in the local elections. Unfortunately the results didn’t go as well as we Conservatives hoped in Enfield but for me some real positives came out of the canvassing and I am sure that we can build on these over the coming year. I’d like to thank the Edmonton Association for selecting me and giving me the opportunity to meet and canvass Edmonton residents. I’d like to thank all of those people who turned up to help the Haselbury ward candidates especially Christine, Lee and Martin without whom it would have been a far harder and less fun task.


MP’s Supporting Candidates

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David Burrowes MP and Nick de Bois MP attended a meal in Cockfosters to meet with Turkish speaking Council Candidates and show their support in the forthcoming local elections. Due to their Parliamentary commitments David and Nick didn’t have the opportunity to eat the meal that we Council Candidates enjoyed.

The evening was an opportunity for local Conservatives to let the Turkish speaking community know what we can do for them if they vote for us on May 22nd through the Turkish Press.

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Journalists from Turkish newspapers Avrupa and Haber attended the meal to report back to the huge Turkish community who live and work in Edmonton and Enfield about the Conservative Party Candidates. Turkish is the second most spoken language in Enfield and we Council Candidates and the Conservative Party want to engage with them so we can ably represent their needs.

An enjoyable evening after days of canvassing in Edmonton.


Conservative Party Candidate

I am proud to announce that I am standing in the local elections for the Conservative Party on May 22nd in Haselbury ward, Edmonton.

If elected my priority will be to shape the local community that I have already been active in. I have campaigned for increased primary school provision and the SWEAT group that I chair has been successful; we have the promise of an additional 120 school places in the Southgate area in the near future.

I became a school governor 10 years ago at Ashmole Academy. Ashmole is an outstanding community school which The Guardian newspaper has ranked 9th nationally for its outstanding GCSE results. I am proud to contribute to Ashmole’s success by chairing the Curriculum Committee and have found school governorship a challenging and fulfilling role.

I also suport my community as a committee member of an active residents’ association. Our Association preserves and improves the area in which we live. My role as Web Manager has led to information sharing being easily available to all.

By standing for Council I want to extend my community work and be involved in the policy making that defines a community. I recognise that Councillors need  to be a diverse range of people to make the right decisions for a diverse community. As a woman, a mother of young children and being of ethnic background I feel I have the qualifications to ably represent those in the community that may be under represented.

If elected I promise to work hard and carry out my responsibilities honestly and for the benefit of the community.


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.

 


Pay for state education?

We do pay for state education through our taxes! There is a suggestion in the papers today that wealthy parents should pay for their children to go to the most popular state schools.

There is a problem in my area where parents will cheat and play the school admission system to get their children into the best state run schools. Parents will rent a property for 6 months to a year on the doorstep of a school with an outstanding Ofsted report and good reputation and once their children have gained admission they move away. Instead of paying for 7 years of private education for all of their children they pay 6 months rent and save thousands and thousands of pounds.These parents are cheating local residents’ children of school places and worse still the admission cheat parents do not think they are doing anything wrong and go on to brag about how clever they have been to other parents.

Something needs to be done to stop parents cheating the system and depriving local children of their school place. By encouraging strong local community links we may make parents think twice about stealing other children’s school places if they know that they are acting against the local community. Unfortunately we can’t rely on that and new policies are needed to stop the cheats and I don’t think that paying for state education is the answer. I pay for state education through my taxes!

What is the alternative? I have been campaigning for increased primary school provision in my area and one of the things we have been asking of the local authority is to make the admissions criteria tighter to deter admission cheats. The parents who rent accommodation to buy a good education for their child should be paying for independent schooling. If parents have to pay for state education then a good education will not be available to all and non fee paying schools will become the schools that nobody wants to send their children to.

The school argument proves that parents recognise that education is the key to a good life and a good society. We should be improving state schools to a higher standard so that parents aren’t chasing places at a few good schools but that more good schools are available. For example we all know that smaller class sizes make for a better education and employing the best teachers will get the best results.


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.


Primary School Campaign Update

Fantastic News on our Primary School Campaign! Ashmole Academy have announced a proposal to build a New Primary School for local children. Ashmole Academy is located in Barnet but because their school is right on the border of Enfield many of the children that gain admission will be residents of South West Enfield.

If plans go ahead Ashmole Academy may implement a priority zone to include the Fox Lane area which has become a school admission “dead zone”. Residents in the FLDRA area would not be able to get their children into any local school but this may change in 2015.

Well done Ashmole Academy for taking action and for meeting a real need of the local community.

There have been further developments on the Grovelands proposal. You may be aware that Enfield Council proposed a school on the land adjacent to Grovelands Park, and we are all waiting to hear whether the school will pass the first step in the process which will be to gain English Heritage approval. I attended a Friends of Grovelands Meeting last week and was surprised and delighted by the announcement that in general the Friends support the proposal for a school, providing it does not impinge on the current public park. Good news indeed if the proposal gets to the public consultation stage.

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