Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Unlike the Labour MP I support the new Edgware Academy

For those of you that do not know two years ago Edgare School at Spur Road became the London Academy, free of control from the Barnet Local Education Authority and free to make its own decisions on how it is run. This September its new gleaming school building opened for pupils which is officially being opened by David Cameron in a couple of weeks time.

For some reason our local MP Andrew Dismore criticised the opening of this school building, for reasons I can not be sure of. However, unlike Mr Dismore, I welcome the opening of the new London Academy in Edgware. I was therefore disappointed to see the front page article of the Edgware Times on 21 September in which Mr Dismore was causing a fuss over the opening of the schools new building.

Rather than worrying over who is opening the new building, maybe Mr Dismore can join me as the local councillor for Edgware in congratulating the hard work of the Principle, Mr Hearn and his staff, in trying to turn the school round, to improve the prospects for the school's pupils.

However, I am not that surprised of Mr Dismore's views, because when you think about it, the new academy and foundations schools, like that in Edgware are opposed by most Labour MP's; and Tony Blair only got through his policy thanks to the support of the Conservative Party. So let's hope when Labour throw out Tony Blair they don’t also throw out the extra freedom that schools will be getting, like that now enjoyed by the London Academy in Edgware.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Social Services

One area which I didn't know about when I became a Councillor was social services.
However, the issue of Councillors being 'corporate parents' for the children in looked after care is one of the most important issues but often quieter areas which I think councillors are involved in.

This evening as part of my responsiblity as a councillor on the Education and Scrutiny Committee, I visited one of the Council's 2 homes for young people. I am pleased to say that I found the house and children in good condition and was pleasantly surprised by the attitude of the young people living there.

Fostering is another related area where the Council is always looking for new parents, so if you are interested in being a foster parent you can contact the fostering team by:

phone - 020 8359 6274.
email -
post - The Fostering Service, 6th Floor,Barnet House,1255 High Road,Whetstone,London, N20 0E

Edgwarebury Park

There was recently a letter in the Edgware Times regarding Edgwarebury Park. As I have said before I believe we in Edgware are very lucky to have this jewel of a park and I want it to be as good as possible. Therefore I was upset that a resident felt there were some problems and so I investigated the queries which I have answered here.

Why was the old play unit replaced - The old wooden Kompan Toddler Mini Play Unit was replaced because it had come to the end of its useful working life. The wooden play unit was installed in 1993 and has an average lifespan of 15 year, it was therefore replace with a roundabout that is accessible for disabled children. The reason that it was not a like for like replacement is because a 'Nursery Rhymes' toddler unit was installed in 2005 for the same age range as the older wooden mini play unit.

Why was the playground closed - Although the work was being carried out the playground was not locked and users were not stopped from entering the playground, only the area of the playground where the new unit was being installed. However, one of the gates is faulty - which will shortly be replaced - and so may have given the impression that it was locked, for which I apologise. It is preferable to avoid carrying out work during the school holidays, but this is sometimes difficult to ensure due to contractors schedules and the need to carry out the work in fine weather so as to lay the safety surfacing.

Problems with the soft flooring - On the issue of the soft safety flooring, due to the drought, areas of tarmac and the wet pour which forms the safety surface within the playground have moved, dropped and cracked. To completely remedy the situation this would require removed all the toys and the playground surface being constructed. Repairs will soon be carried out to remedy the situation and to power wash the surface. The playground will also shortly be getting a new mono-hinge and anti-bully gates

Celebrating 350 years of the Jewish Community in England

I was privileged last week to attend the Council's ceremony to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Jewish community living in England and also to give the freedom of the borough to the Chief Rabbi. I am proud that Barnet has the largest Jewish Community and is a perfect example of how different race and faith groups can live together in close surroundings in a tolerant way. There is much written about multi-culturalism, but for Britain to remain cohesive, all groups should accept the British culture and ways of life. However, minority groups can also live the lifes they wish within this and be accepted but everyone needs to work together.