Saturday, January 27, 2007

Holocaust Memorial Day

"Never Again"
"Never Forget"
This weekend as we commemorate the Holocaust, these are two quotes that are often said about the Holocaust, but do enough of us really mean it? That is why we need Holocaust Memorial Day.
Just over 60 years ago, while Germany were trying to win World War Two, they were also putting huge efforts into another major operation. An operation to destroy an entire people, the Jewish people. The aim of the Nazis was to murder every Jewish person in the world. Thank G-d they failed in both their aims; to win the war and to destroy an entire nation.
However, while they might have failed in their aim, the Nazis were able to kill 6 million Jewish people and millions of other people, inclusing homosexuals, gypsies and many others.
That is why we need a Holocaust Memorial Day, to remember that it is possible for us, human being's too hate another group of people enough to kill an entire people. We need to keep remembering so we never let it happen again.
However, sometimes we do let it happen and let it drift from our memories. That is why not enough of us have stood up to stop further genocides in the last 15 years; in the former Yugoslavia, in Rwanda, and currently in Darfur, Sudan. We should all stand up and speak out so no genocide is possible anywhere in the world.
However, while these are in far away countries, and we might say it is not possible to stop these, lets start nearer to home. In the last year or so I have noticed a growing resurgence of racism in this country, which was most recently highlighted on Big Brother. I believe the experience on Big Brother is just mirroring what is increasingly happening across Britain.
Therefore I am pleased that this year the theme of this year's Holocaust Memorial Day, is Dignity in Diffence. Racism exists because we do not accept that people can be different but rather everyone should be the same. Therefore, in Britain, while encouraging respect for Britain, we should also respect cultures and experiences of different people, allowing us all to live together, while not hating others for being different. This is how we can stop racism from ever happening again.
I hope I have made my message clear, but I believe, the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, writes this a lot more clearly and so I include his idea below.
“The message of Holocaust Memorial Day is simple. There are many faiths, cultures, languages and races, but we have only one world in which to learn to live together and it is getting smaller every year. How many more people will have to die in the Middle East, Kashmir, Northern Ireland or the Balkans before we learn that those who are not in our image are nonetheless in G-d's image? That in diminishing others we diminish ourselves? That we are enlarged, not threatened, by diversity? Looking back on the past half-century, one fact stands out like a beacon of hope. Those countries and faiths that have genuinely confronted the Holocaust have made real progress in fighting prejudice and rendering it inadmissible to the mainstream of politics and culture. Holocaust Memorial Day is a way of ensuring that this message will not be lost with the passing of time. We have walked too long through the valley of the shadow of death. Once a year let us remind ourselves and our children what happens when we forget that the people unlike us are still people, like us.” (From The Times - January 2001)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Campaigning for better services on the Tube

At last night's Council I made a speech in support of a motion condeming the quality of the sevice on the tube and the high cost. I was also pleased that my amendment was supported which called for Edgware Station and other Barnet stations in zone 5 to be reclassified as a zone 4 station to save money for commuters. My speech is below.
"I want to take you on a journey of what it is like for the residents of Edgware travelling on the tube. However, unlike the Northern Line, I hope to get to the end. Traveling on the Northern Line to Edgware, is often like taking the lottery and guessing how many trains you will need to get from central London back to Edgware.
As someone who travels on the Northern Line everyday I have heard stories from fellow passengers, who have had to take 3 or 4 trains from central London back to Edgware. High percentages of trains either terminate at either Golders Green or Colindale and with no explanation except for that the train is running late.
And, over the last three years delays on the Northern Line have doubled.
All this means that even more passengers are squeezed on to the next train, ensuring that we again benefit from the London Underground experience of being treated like sardines.
And this is the all too familiar story that passengers have to deal with when traveling on the underground everyday. However, while the service that we the customers experience on the underground get worse every day, Ken Livingstone, the supposed friend of the Londoner, feels free to raise the cost that we have to pay every year.
This year the cost of getting a years season ticket from Edgware to zone 1 is £1592 a year a 5.3% increase on last year. While, if you can’t afford this as a one-off payment, you have to pay £153 pounds a month, which is £1835 a year, which is again an increase well above inflation and is likely to be more than £2000 next year.

This all means that while our public transport is getting worse, London is the most expensive place to travel in the world. Traveling in London costs 56% more than the world average and is well over twice the cost of traveling in comparable cities such as Tokyo, Paris, New York and Rome.

However, when it comes to the more vulnerable in our society who are unable or unwilling to use an Oyster card, the cost is even more exorbitant. It now costs £2 to jump on a bus in London or £4 to go one stop on the tube.

It is now cheaper to get a taxi than use public transport. What message is this trying to send when we are trying to find ways of reducing congestion on the roads. And lets not forget London is now an Olympic city. Are we really going to encourage more tourists to London when they see how much they have to pay to travel around our city.

However, should we really be surprised at these inflation busting price rises of between 5 and 35% percent for public transport, when we see the current state of the economy. One thing is for certain, when Tony Blair reluctantly lets Gordon Brown become Prime Minister, he won’t be able to say that … “We have never had it so good”.

Inflation is at its highest level for 16 years, interest rates keep on rising, utility bills keep on rising and moving house is now unaffordable for many. Virtually everything seems to be rising in price especially Gordon Brown’s taxes, but I am looking forward to see that Council Tax bills in Barnet will rise by less inflation or in real terms actually fall.

This shows that as with Conservative Councils all around the country we are trying to help our residents live for less. However, even before the Conservative Party wins the next General Election, I believe that we can do more to help our residents have a better economic well being by spending less. Therefore I urge the Cabinet to support the Conservative Live for Less Campaign, which helps people save money on how they live.

I therefore urge all members to support this motion condemning the cost of public transport and other costs of living for our residents, imposed by Gordon Brown’s mismanagement of the economy.

Thank you"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Barnet helps to save the planet 1

We are increasingly hearing scary reports about how due to the pollution we cause the world is warming up which could have dangerous implications for the future of the planet even in the next few years.

I therefore think it is important that when-ever and where-ever we can we should make changes to the way we do things to reduce the amount of pollution that we cause. I specifically think it is important that we use technological innovations to reduce pollution levels when it is possible to do so.

For these reasons I am please that the Conservative run Barnet Council has changed the fuel technology used by its fleet of 265 commercial vehicles. Since September 2005 when Barnet was one of the first local authorities in the country to sign up to the ChemEcol Diesel Fuel Combustion Technology, also known as Additone EC-1500,the dangerous gas emissions released by the Council's fleet has been cut by more than 100 tonnes. At the same time the technology change saved the Council £20,000 in fuel costs, which has been used on other front-line services and keeping the council tax rise below the rate of inflation.

Lets Make Edgwarebury Park a Green Flag Park in 2007

Last year the success of Barnet's Premier Parks policy began to be seen, with 4 of the Borough's parks being granted Green Flag Status.

This year I hope that Edgware's Premier Edgwarebury Park will also be able to join the list of Green Flag parks. This will be due to the amount of work that our Conservative Council has done and will do to continually improve the park.

However, to help this, I believe it would be useful to set up a Friends of Edgwarebury Park group so that we know from its users what improvements Edgwarebury Park requires. If you would like to get involved in this please contact me.