Ashmole Primary School and the Campaign for a New School

I visited Ashmole Primary School today for a meeting on the permanent school building and it bought home to me the enormity of what has been achieved by dedicated members of the Ashmole team, my campaigner group and me!
 
Ashmole Primary School’s permanent building is a building site but by the end of this year it will be ready for children to move in.
 
When I started this campaign I never believed that I would be part of the team that founded a brand new school! The road I traveled to get to this point has been full of challenges, of highs and lows but perseverance, determination and a stubborn resolution to have a new school made me carry on. There is one real reward that I have from this campaign and that was the hug from a crying mum on the opening day of the school. Her tears were of happiness, telling me that I had changed her, and her family’s life! I will never forget that moment and as I write this I am moved again.
 
The campaign started in 2012 from my front room. A group of community minded parents and grandparents who lived in an area that didn’t fall into any primary school catchment area decided to campaign for increased primary school provision. We each paid £10 to produce 2000 leaflets to distribute in the area letting residents know of the problem with school places and to gain support.
 
That was the beginning of SWEAT, the South West Enfield Action Team. We worked hard using our website https://wewantlocalschools.wordpress.com/… to get our message out there. We lobbied the Council, we went to the local press, we met our MP, we spoke to Councillors, we tried everything to raise awareness. I hated the way that Labour Councillors treated our problem as part of their political game, they didn’t care about us, we were a community group that could be exploited. The Labour Cabinet Member for Education called me naive for thinking I could do anything about school places, in a public meeting after I had spoken so that I was unable to respond. Political point scoring! But I did it! Despite what the Labour Cabinet Member for Education thought.
 
I used my influence and position as a school governor at Ashmole Academy to pursue a dream that has resulted in the building site pictured. One of the biggest disappointments for the Ashmole team was when our first free school bid failed! I felt that I had let down all those parents who had become wrapped in my enthusiasm and we can do it attitude … we had failed! I was bitterly disappointed…. it wasn’t a failure, it was a setback! Once we got over the disappointment, the Ashmole team took on board the feedback from the Department for Education and we submitted another, much improved free school bid and we were successful! I was so happy, not for me as my children would not get into the school but for all those parents who could send their children to an outstanding local school.
 
I am delighted that some of my fellow campaigners have gone on to become school governors and trustees.
 
My message is that if you see an injustice and if you feel strongly enough about it, others will feel the same and follow you. You can do anything if you put your mind to it! Ignore the nay sayers!
To find out more about Ashmole, SWEAT and myself visit:
 

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.

Trustee

I am Chairman and a Trustee at a multi-academy trust which has two schools. Ashmole Academy Trust was set up to extend the outreach of excellent education to more children. I, with the Trust Board set the strategic direction of the Trust and have plans for a nursery and summer school in addition to increasing the number of schools in the Trust.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

Friends of Grovelands Park

I am a member of the Friends of Grovelands Park and I attended a general meeting this week. This year was Grovelands Park centenary and hundreds of people attended the celebrations in the park to make it a marvellous success.

I am surprised that there aren’t more members of this group to support and maintain this historic park. If you want to become more involved with the park and the Friends of Grovelands Park, they are actively seeking more members. Annual membership is £5 and their website is here http://www.n21.net/friends-of-grovelands-park-winchmore-hill-n21-london.html. The next meeting is Thursday 21st November 2013, 8pm at St Paul’s Church Hall.

At the FoG meeting we heard about Travellers being evicted from Edmonton and actively looking for a new place to set up in the Enfield area. I had a traveller knock at my door and ask if I wanted anything sharpened the day before the meeting. Does anyone get anything sharpened on their doorstep by gypsies anymore? Or is it a tactic to check whether anyone is at home? I didn’t feel safe.

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I had to speak out at the FoG meeting about SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) and our campaign. I clarified what we are trying to achieve and also what Enfield’s current proposals on the land adjacent to Grovelands are. The majority of FoG members have an open mind about the Grovelands proposals, I think that is because we are all waiting to see whether English Heritage says the concept is viable.

Some members, like me, have strong views, some in favour of a school and some against a school. If you support the school proposal please register your support on the SWEAT website  http://wewantlocalschools.wordpress.com/

Continue reading “Friends of Grovelands Park”

How to engage with the local community?

My family and I took a walk in Grovelands Park over the weekend. We had a lovely time visiting the playgrounds, watching the wildlife, playing ball and eating ice lollies.I met a lady with her 3 year old son who attends the playgroup that I also attend with my 2 year old twins and we enjoyed a catch up chat.

I mention this because as we chatted it became obvious that she did not know anything about the concept proposal by Enfield Council for a new school in the land adjacent to Grovelands Park. Admittedly these proposals are in the very early stages and it will not go ahead without the approval of English Heritage however this is something that directly affects this lady and her son and she has no knowledge of it. She will be applying for a primary school place this autumn and visits Grovelands Park recreationally.

How can we reach mothers with young children so that they are aware of news that they need to know of? I assume that details of this new school proposal will not go out in the School Pack that Enfield Council will provide to the parents of primary school aged children this year.

I know that many mothers use social networking, as I do, but do I find out information that I feel is life affecting through Twitter or Facebook? For me that is a resounding No.

I am a committee member of the Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association and we need to attract the younger community, such as young mothers to join up. When members join our association they receive a newsletter and weekly email updates of local news. News that mothers should know about such as schools, local projects and the like.

Unfortunately Residents’ Associations tend to attract mainly older citizens which means that the whole community is not represented and an emphasis is put on things that may not interest younger generations. On the plus side I can say that being a member of FLDRA makes me feel very young even though I am middle aged.

An issue does exist of how to engage with all members of the local community.

Grovelands Park

I visited Grovelands Park today and have added some images of the Park onto my gallery page. I have recently joined Friends of Grovelands Park which keeps members and the public informed of Park related news.

I attended a meeting of Friends of Grovelands because of the Grovelands Park Improvements Proposal. I anticipated that the proposal would be an agenda item at the Friends meeting. I’m glad I attended  the meeting to put forward the concerns of parents regarding the lack of primary school places in our area and why I, and the SWEAT group, would be supporting Enfield Council’s proposals.

I think that most members at the meeting seemed happy with the concept plans as long as the outlook of the park was not affected. The Friends agreed that the plans were in too early a stage to make any decisions. I came away with the feeling that they have a reasonable outlook, and understand the need for a school in the area.

Continue reading “Grovelands Park”

Broomfield House Film

I have been visiting Broomfield Park since I was a child. My family lived opposite the park in Broomfield Lane and my siblings and I would cross the road and jump or clamber over the park fence to gain entrance.

If you are familiar with the area you will know that Broomfield House is a Grade II listed house in Broomfield Park that originates from the 16th century and was devastated by fire in 1984. It is very sad that Broomfield House exists as charred remains held up by scaffolding and has done so for nearly 30 years. Continue reading “Broomfield House Film”

Grovelands Park Improvements Meeting

I attended a meeting held by Enfield Council proposing a new primary school in the land adjacent to Grovelands Park. I was invited as a key stakeholder because of my interest in Education and my campaign for increased Primary School Provision.

Members of the SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) group, created specifically to campaign for local children to go to local schools, and members of FLDRA (Fox Lane District Residents’ Association) also attended in support of the proposals.

Gary Barnes, Assistant Director, Regeneration, presented the concept proposed, a new 2 form entry primary school built in a style to compliment the neighbouring Priory building. The building would be set down in the land and with a green roof so that the vista from the park would not be disturbed. An excellent proposal that is much needed for the local community.

Continue reading “Grovelands Park Improvements Meeting”

St John’s Summer Fete 2013

Remember the fetes of yesteryear when competitions and afternoon teas were compulsory?  Well, St John’s summer fete has decided to go ‘Vintage’ this year based on fetes of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

The Fete runs from 12-4pm with David Burrowes, MP, opening the fete. There are various stalls, bric-a-brac, clothes, cake, gifts, raffle, plants, composting and many more for you to peruse.

For the children there is a bouncy castle and face painting as well as various games to try out, such as the bottle tombola and hunt for silver in the sand!

Continue reading “St John’s Summer Fete 2013”

Sweating for our children

The first meeting of the South West Enfield Action Team (or SWEAT) took place on Tuesday 25th June at my home. I met the other members of our newly formed group who are prepared to give up their free time and campaign for an issue that is so important to every parent, the education of our children.

In the Fox Lane area there are insufficient local school places and many of the parents are forced to transport their children to schools across the borough or have to resort to private education.

Continue reading “Sweating for our children”

Red Nose Day

2013-03-15 19.45.43Thank you lovely bakers Jon, Mum, Liz, Flavia, Lorraine, Lucille and Julie whose delicious cakes helped raise £165 for Comic Relief.

Thank you also to all those people who supported us in the Bake Off by either sponsoring us or paying to eat our cakes.

It was funny, but also heart breaking to watch Comic Relief on the television whilst we Baked Off. As a mother with young children I got angry hearing about the preventable illnesses that the children in Africa are suffering. My anger is directed towards the Government’s of the countries which are rich in natural resources but allow their people to suffer. Thank goodness for charities like Comic Relief that improve lives.

I am fortunate to have generous friends and family who have helped to make a difference.

The title of Great Bourne Hill Baker went to the only male baker …. the odds were 7 to 1 against … and he is now the official baker in our house …. my Jon!

Broomfield House

I have been visiting Broomfield Park since I was a child. My family lived  opposite the park in Broomfield Lane and my siblings and I would cross the road and jump or clamber over the park fence to gain entrance. We kids couldn’t be bothered to go an extra 50 metres and use the gate.

My parents left us children to freely come and go to the park. Mum and Dad knew that Hassan, the friendly Park Keeper, in his smart uniform with a peaked cap would keep an eye on us. Hassan was of Turkish Cypriot origin, as were we, and my parents had spoken with him to keep an eye on us and keep us safe in the park.

If you are familiar with the area you will know that the Grade II listed house in Broomfield Park that originates from the 16th century was devastated by fire in 1984. It is a shameful that Broomfield House exists as charred remains held up by scaffolding and has done so for nearly 30 years.

Today I was interviewed by Christine Lalla, a film maker who is making a short documentary film with the intention of raising money for the restoration of this historic building. I recounted my childhood memories of Broomfield House to her.

The house had been a Natural History Museum and on the ground floor there was a live bee hive made of glass so you could see the bees in all their activity. There was a glass tunnel which took the bees to their hive from the world outside. It was fascinating to watch, in fact a hive of activity. I remember visiting the upstairs of the museum where there were drawers of exhibits. Some of the exhibits were dead butterflies pinned out with their names. I knew it to be Natural History but to me it seemed very unnatural to look at dead butterflies when there were many live and colourful butterflies fluttering around the flowers outside the house. I only remember going upstairs a couple of times.

I look forward to seeing the end product and hope that it is not just a film but is the restoration of Broomfield House. Does that mean restoration to its former glory? Or does it mean giving the building a purpose, like a school?  It mustn’t be left to rot for another 30 years.