Friday, 30 July 2010
It happened during my visit at the first ever Luton Summer Camp (organised by some excellent volunteers and supported by Christ Church and Councillor Bhutia) and having watched some dances by the children I stayed talking to some parents and carers. A lady carrying a young lad came over and after I asked him if he had fun, his mum said "what did you want to say to Tracey". He said "thank you" and I, thinking he meant thank you for coming, said "your welcome". But his mum asked him what for and he said "thank you for helping me get my wheelchair". Immediately I knew who he was for I have been helping his mum for the last 6 weeks or so fight to speed up what had thus far been a prolonged process for him to get a wheelchair. Although for some ridiculous reason it can't be picked up for another 3 weeks, the fact is that it is now at the Medway Maritime with his name tag on it.
It annoys me that for something so simple the process was so difficult and that it therefore required the young boy's mother to come to me in absolute despair and frustration. It might not sound like a big deal. Indeed readers might not think that given the macro issues the area/nation/world faces sorting out a wheelchair is a huge victory. But when I think that my letter helped speed up a process that will in some small way change a mother/son's life, then I can keep on smiling safe in the knowledge that today I experienced the best thing about being an MP.
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
"I can confirm that the Government has no plans to build any new airports in the region. Our aviation policies are firmly focussed on improving existing airports - making our airports better, not bigger"
So there it is then - an unequivocal no to Boris Island. Hopefully we can now end all future speculation on whether an airport will be built in the Thames Estuary because it won't be under this Government.
Monday, 26 July 2010
Peter discussed the recent World Cup, Spurs' forthcoming premiership, as well as investment in the grassroots, development for academies of talent, football finance and the number of English players and managers.
It is often said that footballers are out of touch with what the fans think so it was good to hear two football giants talking about these issues in person and not differing too much from what the man in the pub says week after week.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
(If this doesn't enlarge when you click on it please let me know)
Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford) (Con): Under the previous Government, a photographer from Medway was arrested in Chatham high street under section 44 stop-and-search powers, and he and fellow photographers from Medway will welcome today's announcement from the Home Secretary. Will she assure the House that any future revision of anti-terror legislation will strike the right balance between protecting the public and safeguarding the rights of individuals?
Mrs May: I am happy to give that assurance to my hon. Friend. She may have noticed that in my statement I specifically said that we would look at the issue of photographers and stop-and-search powers. It is one issue that has been brought home forcibly to me. I have had Constituency cases of people who have been stopped under those powers and been concerned about it, and I have received a number of representations from Members of this House, and indeed of another
place, about those problems.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
14 year old Mark joined me on a week's work experience, which included him coming to Gillingham FC with me to hear about their community work.
I opened the Blue Bell Hill village fete and was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, shortly before Cllr Homewood won a much coveted coconut!
I was invited on to Politics Show South East to talk about the poor participation rates in Kent and Medway but, and I know there will be huge sighs of disappointment, it is no longer available on iplayer! The point of the piece was that a report was published recently showing the levels of participation in 3 hours of PE and out of hours sport per week amongst year 7-11 pupils. The national average is 50% and yet Kent and Medway were below average, and sadly Medway is the lowest in the country with 26%. Your Medway carried the story HERE.
The curriculum is under huge pressure and I sympathise enormously with schools trying to fit everything in but I would like to see a slimming down of the curriculum, concentrating on core subjects, so that inter and intra-school competitions can return into state schools. The Government's school sports competition helps, as does local initiatives such as the mini-world cup, and Kent County Council's School Games which the Government's competition is modelled on. I also think that support for grassroot programmes is essential and as I said on the TV, this shouldn't just mean football, rugby and cricket. Activities such as dance and gymnastics have become more popular recently, partly thanks to the success of troupes on talent shows, and they deserve as much support as football.
Of course with money being tight, there will be a reliance on volunteers and already the Government has made it clear it will support the army of coaches, managers, trainers and others required to help improve participation. Whatever happens though, policymakers locally and nationally must remember that sport is about more than just having fun, it provides good discipline, improves communication and teamwork skills and is proven to help concentration levels. A healthy body does indeed equal a healthy mind and if we are to improve academic standards then a good dose of sporting activity will certainly help.
Following a letter from Medway Council Leader Rodney Chambers, I wrote to the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond seeking an assurance that he would, as David Cameron did before the Election, rule out any proposal to build an Airport in the Thames Estuary. Not only is it an environmentally mad proposal but during these tough economic times when difficult decisions are being made to cut programmes, it would be financially bonkers. I will post the reply on my blog when received.
The first thing to say is I now have a fully staffed, fully operational office in Westminster and I thank anyone who may have waited longer than usual for a response for their patience. We have also moved in the constituency and instead of being based in Gillingham I now have an office in Lordswood, Chatham. I will update my website with the contact details asap. Two out of 3 members of my staff are from the constituency which is an added bonus for me and those who need to contact me.
I have joined various All Party Groups including those on alcohol misuse, drug and alcohol harm reduction, mental health, carers and dementia. Groups like these produce invaluable cross-party reports on policy and can help contribute to the debate on issues that often fall within wider department portfolios, thus are forgotten or rank lower than the big picture/headline policy areas. I am also carrying on my interest in insurance and am secretary to the Insurance & Financial Services Group. Plus I have joined the football group and the football club group - the former talks about football policy such as bringing in technology, supporting grassroots etc and the latter is about actually playing (unless you are girl and the game is refereed by an FA qualified ref and then one is not allowed to play - ahem and grrrr).
I am meeting some really interesting groups, businesses and people in the constituency on Thursday evenings, Fridays and Saturdays and am continuously learning about new issues, best practice and future challenges. I have enjoyed opening fetes and summer festivals and there are still two more to come before the end of July. My surgeries are fully booked almost two weeks before and having decided to do a rota for venues (two in Chatham, one in Aylesford and one in Snodland) we're about to finish our first full 8-week cycle, just demonstrating how quickly time has gone by.
I shall try to set aside more time to update this blog during the week and now things are settling down I really have no further excuse not to!
ps - I forgot to say, I didn't stand for election to a Select Committee, wanting instead to concentrate my time on other things, but I would like to congratulate Rochester MP Mark Reckless for his election and commiserate with Reh Chishti who unfortunately didn't get elected.