Conservative Campaigner

I have always taken a proactive stance on issues that are close to my heart. When I realised that local children could not gain admission to their closest school (when they lived 0.2 miles from the school) I decided to take action. I formed a group of parents supported by the local community to campaign for increased primary school provision. After two years of campaigning and lobbying our campaign group have made a difference with the introduction of a free school providing 60 school places commencing in September 2016. There were many ups and downs in the campaign, not least the Labour local authority playing party politics and disappointing the community that they are meant to represent.


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.


Techies & Women on Boards

I started writing this post before the cyber-attack on the BBC which took down BBC web services.

The biggest risk for Chief Executives, in arguably any business, is a cyber-attack and yet senior technical advice is not deemed a requirement at board level and in high level decision making.

I have just been appointed to a Trust Board and on that board I am the only woman and I am the only person with an engineering background.

Technology should be recognised as one of society’s much needed skills and those who are high ranking experts in that profession should be regarded in a similar way to other senior professionals in the field of law, medicine or finance, for example. Governance and Business Boards need to have board members with 21st century skills but until local and national governance acknowledge that technical skills are important to high level decision making then boards will not be representative of knowledge that is used at decision making in daily business life. My perception of board appointments is that a culture exists of sticking to the same type of person for board membership and by doing that women are excluded, ethnic minorities are excluded and those from engineering, and most of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers are also excluded.

Skills that are deemed a requirement at board level such as lawyers, doctors and accountants hold qualifications earned at university, technical engineering qualifications may or may not be earned at university but are not considered important on most boards. Deliverables from finance or medicine, for example, will use information technology for compliance, so why not on a board? Just as you would not want a newly qualified doctor with no experience on a managing board the same applies for an engineer with technical skills. However there needs to be academic labelling for technical skills that is recognisable for the level of skill that an IT professional can bring to a board.

Information Technology is a relatively new industry and so change can be difficult because of a lack of understanding of the skills however all services now heavily rely on technology. Unfortunately because everyone uses technology they think that they are an IT expert however that diminishes the responsibility that IT professionals have to deliver services that are secure and meet business needs.

A technology architect who designs a system that provides services that effect whole communities should have equal weight to that of a lawyer or doctor. A doctor may affect outcomes for a single person where as a Senior Engineer or an IT Architect can affect the outcomes for whole businesses. It has been reported in the media that Chief Executives biggest risk to their business is a cyber-attack. Given that the biggest risk is a security threat that only IT professionals can address it is surprising that their opinions are not being valued at board level.

In my experience a trust board making appointments today would appoint a lawyer easily with only a few years’ experience in planning law where as an IT engineer with many years of experience in engineering IT solutions that provides critical business services would have difficulty in being appointed.

The level of experience and knowledge that a board member brings is crucial to board appointments. For example it is unlikely that you would appoint a Help Desk Assistant to a board and similarly it would be unlikely that you would appoint a Ward Nurse. Just as a board would appoint a doctor, so at a similar level you should appoint Senior IT professionals such as an IT Architect or Senior Systems Engineer.

There aren’t many women in engineering roles and there are few women on boards and it has not been an easy journey for me personally to get onto either which is why I think there needs to be a change in perception of IT professionals and their skills, the simplest solution is to use a naming standard to label IT skill levels so that those outside of IT can agree that an IT Architect or a Senior Systems Engineer is a skill sought after on boards.


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


Clean-Up Enfield

In the run up to the General Election I campaigned across all three constituencies in Enfield and found there to be high levels of rubbish left to rot on pavements and roads across the borough. Nick de Bois campaigned to keep weekly bin collections and Conservative councillors are calling for the local authority to maintain the current system, but even weekly bin collections don’t seem to be enough to keep our streets clean.

There is no question in my mind that Edmonton has by far the dirtiest streets in the borough and to be frank it is a disgrace.

Summer is fast approaching and the smells coming from decomposing rubbish are the least of our worries. Health risks associated with rotting rubbish on the streets will surely increase, the millions of harmful bacteria found in rubbish can multiply over five times during one week and researchers have found bacteria from the same family as the plague in household rubbish that has been left to rot.

In the first instance I would like to see Enfield Council simplify the process of reporting rubbish on the streets. When I have tried to report incidents of fly tipping via Twitter or Facebook I have been redirected to the council website for which the process of reporting rubbish seems akin to those annoying automated telephone answering systems. Surely it should be possible to report rubbish by telling the council that there is a problem, for example on Twitter or Facebook a message with a picture, road name and post code should be enough for Enfield Council to locate and clear the offending pile of rubbish.

Secondly, I don’t feel that Enfield residents should have to report issues of dumped rubbish to the council when we pay council tax for rubbish collection. Why can’t there be regular patrols, at least in the worst areas, to clear dumped rubbish? Let’s face it if you were parking dangerously or illegally Enfield Council would soon be available to resolve that problem, why can’t the same be done for rubbish?

Conservative councillors across the borough are already highlighting the problem of dumped rubbish on Twitter and I encourage readers to join in the campaign for cleaner streets. If you see dumped rubbish get a picture and tweet it with the following details:

Postcode, road Name, @EnfieldCouncil, #cleanupenfield

Let’s work together for a cleaner Edmonton and Enfield.



Conservative Government and Education

I joined a webinar “What does a Conservative government mean for education? Sponsored by OCR” with the Secretary of State for Education – Nicky Morgan, Jonathan Simons – Head of Education at Policy Exchange, Paul Steer – Head of Policy at OCR and Schools Week editor – Laura McInerney.

Well done schools week for the first of its kind webinar which provided me and many others with an education forum that was easy to access.

Jonathan Simons explained the Government’s big push on Education in the first days of Government and how they could build on their first term in office. He talked about how schools would not be able to “coast” and that schools would have to achieve and make progress in the future. The Queen’s speech would set out bills for childcare and coasting schools.

Paul Steer from OCR spoke about the decoupling of AS and A level exams, about the new GCSE’s, their grading and progress from KS2 rather than absolute outcomes.

I had submitted a question to the webinar asking about children using laptops in exams. In the Times newspaper there was an article where a loophole had been exploited and that children had been permitted to use laptops in exams. Paul Steer had mentioned this topic and was about to answer my question whether the loophole would be closed or whether this was the start of new policy when Nicky Morgan arrived and unfortunately there wasn’t time for an answer.

The Secretary of State made it clear that Education is a priority of the Government and that every child should have the best start in life. Schools that are failing or coasting will get the help they need for improvement. The schools that don’t improve will become academies and the bureaucracy will be cleared to ease that outcome.

Nicky Morgan made it clear that OFSTED will be coming back in house and that judgements of a school would not only be based on an OFSTED inspection. There would be a consistent basis for judgements with accountability.

I had submitted another question to the webinar asking about minority language exams which OCR had threatened to drop due to a lack of demand. The Secretary of State said that she supported maintaining the exams for minority languages. Good news for all of us supporting this campaign and particularly Londra Gazete who launched the campaign and T-Vine who supported.

Well done Schools Week and I hope to get my question about laptops in exams answered at a later date or the next webinar.


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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Edmonton Train Stations

In Edmonton there are three stations which will join Transport for London (TFL) as part of the overground franchise awarded to TFL. The stations are Edmonton Green, Bush Hill Park and Silver Street.

To mark the stations joining the TFL network I joined Boris Johnson with Nick de Bois in Enfield North at Turkey Street Station as the station will also be joining TFL along with the Edmonton stations on May 31st.

Joining the TFL network will bring benefits for train users and the local area. Increasing the frequency of trains per hour and improving the service will benefit the local community leading to job creation, helping the high street, smaller businesses and the local economy.

I look forward to the improvement for the Edmonton economy and community.

In his inimitable fashion Boris arrived by train, badged out using his Oyster card before greeting his audience of activists and journalists.

On the same train was a photographer from a Turkish newspaper there to photograph Boris in Enfield North and who refused to believe that Boris is of Turkish descent. I think he believes it now after hearing it from the man himself. Boris’ great grandfather was Ali Kemal, a journalist and also a minister the Ottoman Empire .


Save our Language Exams

I learnt about the proposed abolition of the Modern Languages exam in an interview with Londra Gazete. They asked for my opinion and I confirmed that it would be something I would campaign to stop.

If you want to save the exams please sign the petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/department-for-education-save-our-turkish-exams

As someone with a passion for education I want to encourage foreign languages to be learnt and taking away examinations for languages is sending out the wrong message.

There are so many reasons why the examinations should remain, such as:

  • So that future traders and businesses trade and converse in the language of the country
  • To recognise achievement in learning the language
  • To formalise a language that may be spoken at home
  • To learn different cultures
  • To provide UCAS points for students going onto university education

Boris Johnson joined the campaign to support saving the exams and said:

“My great grandfather Ali Kemal, when he was a minister in İstanbul, he actually reinstituted the study of Latin and Greek which was amazingly beneficial.”


The Best Start in Life

I was invited to attend a speech given by the Prime Minister outlining the Conservative Education policy for the next government.

I am passionate about a good education for all no matter what your background and I am convinced that the Conservative commitment to education will give every child the best start in life.

My twins, Harry and Poppy, will start primary school this September and I know that the policies proposed under a Conservative Government will give my young children the best education possible. I agree with David Cameron when he said “like every other parent in the land I don’t want to settle for second best”.

I have been a governor at a state secondary school for the last ten years because I care about our children’s education. I am now Chair of Governors and my role is to challenge the school. It is a role that I take seriously as no child should be left behind. All Head teachers, teachers, staff, governors, students and parents want the same thing, a good education for the children.

I believe a Conservative Government can provide the best start for every child regardless of where they are from.

 


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.


Exciting Times!

I am absolutely delighted to announce that in late November 2014 I was selected by The Edmonton Conservative Association to be the Conservative Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Edmonton. To get to this position has taken many, many months of hard work and determination, and I look forward to working even harder in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

I know that I will have an uphill struggle in trying to overturn a fairly substantial Labour Party majority but I believe it can be done!

For the time being I will not be posting to MrsDaniels.co.uk whilst I focus on the General Election campaign; you can keep up to date with my progress by visiting the following social media sites:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GonulDaniels

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gonul-Daniels/488918787916943

Campaign Website: http://gonuldaniels.co.uk/

Edmonton Conservatives Website: http://www.edmontonconservatives.com/

If you feel you’d be able to help my campaign then please do get in touch via one of the above sites.

Best Wishes

Gonul


Conservative Party Conference

My first party conference was a great experience. I came away feeling very motivated and determined that I would work hard for the Conservatives so that we win the General Election.

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It wasn’t all about listening to great speakers although there were some great moments. For example I am not convinced that Michael Gove has a Bichon Frisée puppy dog called Snowy but it was a very funny moment and it left an image of Michael Gove stroking the dog in not too dissimilar a fashion to a 007 baddie. Don’t get me wrong I am a huge fan of Michael Gove! What the Chief Whip said was that he would trust his Bichon Frisée puppy dog Snowy over Ed Miliband to face down Putin, very funny.

Other memorable moments were when David Cameron imitated William Hague and then went on to move the audience near to tears by his personal experiences of the NHS. The Mayor of London was, as expected, hilarious even if the audience were slightly concerned that they might get hit by a brick.

boris1I managed to do some practical work whilst at conference and attended the Road Trip 2015 to deliver leaflets and I manned the phone for Kris Hopkins MP with my friend Tanya Graham, the PPC for Bradford South.

I got involved in debate over childcare and wanted to get involved in education policy debate but it was so popular that it became impossible.

 

I attended other talks that I didn’t have enough experience to debate such as CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. You probably think it was a man who persuaded me to go, but it wasn’t it was a Yorkshire lass! Very interesting and I’m sure it’s popularity was helped by the bottled ale being served.

A few pics from a memorable conference.

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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!


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.

photo 4

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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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/

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St. Ives and seals (or sea-lions)

We, my family, the in-laws and I, spent a glorious Bank Holiday weekend at St. Ives in Cornwall. After doing a key exchange with my neighbours so they could look after Tin Tin, the cat, whilst we were away, we were off.

We had to exchange keys as we had taken care of their guinea pig, Lily, before the weekend. That had been a concern as Lily had been to the vet a number of times prior to us looking after her. I was worried that the hormonal Lily, who was overheating and had to have an ice pack in her cage day and night would not make it and I didn’t want her to expire on my watch. Fortunately we left her in good health as we set off on our long weekend.

St. Ives has a beautiful little harbour that is quite unspoilt. The resort still has a feel about it that must have been there in Victorian times. When the tide is out you can walk and paddle in the harbour itself but there is also a lovely long and wide beach next to the harbour.

My babies loved paddling in the sea and building sandcastles on the beach. No other entertainment was needed. On one of our evenings we had a Cornish pasty al fresco. Just as the babies were tucking in to their pastry we were joined by a gang of sea gulls who, given half a chance, would have run off with our dinners.

sealsThe evening was completed by a walk up the quay where fishermen were bringing in their catch. As we walked along we noticed huge eyes looking up at us from the sea. The seals (or sea-lions, I don’t know the difference) were seemingly waiting for easy pickings from the fisherman. The whole family of 4 seals came up for a feast which they never got. Children in wet suits were jumping off the quay for fun and neither the children nor the seals were bothered by the presence of the other. It was lovely to watch.

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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.

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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. Read More