Wandsworth post office, Roehampton regeneration, Heathrow, and more
It’s been an incredibly busy final few weeks in Parliament. I’ve been on my travels to the Turkish/Syrian border looking at our cross border humanitarian supplies, and also to Zambia to take part in an African conference on ending child marriage. We had the Girl Summit earlier this week and as ever there’s tons happening locally, so I hope this update is helpful.
Girl Summit 2014
In my role as Secretary of State for International Development I’ve always ensured that working to improve the lives and prospects for women and girls is a central part of what my department does. It matters because so many women and girls simply do not have some of the most basic rights – in many countries, women cannot have a bank account, own a land title, set up a business, and, right at the start, lots of girls still don’t get the chance to go to school. It also matters because I don’t believe any country can successfully develop if only half the population is involved and the other half gets locked out. Growth rates are higher in the parts of India where more women are able to be in employment.
The Girl Summit was about particularly focusing on two issues that I wanted to help bring into the mainstream – ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and ending child and forced marriage. The good news is that there is a lot of work happening in many countries such as Zambia, Burkino Faso, and Ethiopia to tackle these issues. I wanted the UK to support and help accelerate things to make improvements internationally and also give us a chance to take more steps to get our own UK house in order on FGM and forced marriage. I think we managed to achieve both. The Girl Summit was very much shaped by young people from the UK and around the world, and we had fantastic commitments from governments, charities and businesses, plus a package of domestic commitments that the Home Secretary Theresa May announced, including introducing parental liability for parents whose daughters have suffered FGM and better training and guidance for police and NHS professionals, plus better grass roots working with the community.
The feedback I have had from the Girl Summit – from the international community and also here in the UK has been overwhelming – often young UK girls at risk who are relieved these issues are now being increasingly taken up and dealt with in our country. This is a long term approach as a big part of it is changing attitudes and tackling the social norms that lead to communities thinking FGM and child or forced marriage is acceptable, but I do believe we have some real momentum now.
selfie with some of the girls who attended the girls summit
New Wandsworth Post Office opens
After the original, old post office in Wandsworth had to close as Southside redevelopment took place, for a while we’ve had two smaller post offices in the centre of Wandsworth, whilst Post Office Ltd managers looked for a bigger permanent site. I met with them earlier in the year to look at their proposals and discuss the sorts of facilities that we need locally.
On Thursday I finally got to open the new Wandsworth Post Office with Battersea MP Jane Ellison. Its just down from the Council Offices and is very modern, with much better facilities, including a self service packages machine that means you won’t have to queue up to get a package weighed and sorted out, which is better for everyone. The branch also has facilities that mean you can renew your Driving License with the DVLA and apply for a biometric passport.
pictured with neighbouring MP Jane Ellison at the new Wandsworth Post Office
The new look Post Office is open plan with improved accessibility for buggies and wheelchairs, has two self-service kiosks and a private consultation room for customers to discuss financial matters with staff. The branch is more user friendly and the new facilities will help to reduce waiting times for customers.
Jane and I have pressed the Post Office management to look at opening for longer, potentially later in the evening to help commuters, so we will see whether we can get some progress on that over the coming months.
Last week, the Department for Transport announced that for the time being it will not be having a trial on so called “early morning smoothing”, which in practice means more early morning flights between 5am and 6am to reduce air traffic congestion after 6am. Its good news, and I recently met with Sir Howard Davies who is heading up the Airports Commission to be clear with him how disruptive early morning flights are for us locally. I’ve asked him to come and meet with residents so that he can hear from us directly about our experience of aircraft noise.
Later this year, the Airports Commission will launch its consultation on its three leading options for extra runway capacity, two of which are at Heathrow and the other being at Gatwick. If you’re not already on the Heathrow Update list, then just email me and I’ll add you on and when the consultation gets launched, I’ll let you know.
I am delighted that Wandsworth Council have announced that their final masterplan for the Alton estate, due to be published in Autumn, will not include the opening of either the Danebury Avenue or Highcliffe Drive barriers.
I recently met with a group of Roehampton residents and representatives from Wandsworth Council to discuss the latest Roehampton regeneration proposals.
One of the issues they were most concerned about was the possibility of the opening of the Danebury Avenue and Highcliffe Drive barriers. Residents believed that this would lead to the estate being used as a rat-run. This was of particular concern in the case for the Danebury Avenue barrier as it is located outside Alton Primary School and Ibstock Place School and could endanger children’s safety.
I followed up resident’s concerns regarding the barriers with the Leader of Wandsworth Council, Cllr Ravi Govindia. Cllr Govindia noted that opinion was divided on this issue but agrees with me that local residents had not been persuaded by the case for changing the barriers. He confirmed that the Council’s final preferred masterplan will not include the opening of either the Highcliffe Drive or Danebury Avenue barriers.
This is great news for residents and I will continue to meet with Roehampton residents as well as Wandsworth Council, to ensure residents views are heard so that we get the best result for our community.
As ever, I’m generally out and about, and I have my weekly MP surgeries, so if you need my help, do get in touch – you can email me, write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or just give my office a call on 020 8946 4557.
Justine Greening MP
July 30, 2014