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Navin's News for December 2010

Boris Johnson: extending no 18 bus to Northwick Park Hospital not 'good value for money'

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By Jack Royston

EXTENDING a bus route from Sudbury to a Harrow hospital would not be “good value for money”, according to the London Mayor.

Boris Johnson was asked by Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, about the possibility of running the number 18 as far as Northwick Park Hospital, in Watford Road.

Mr Shah told the Mayor's Question Time meeting how residents had contacted him to say they found changing buses “difficult” and were in “desperate need of a solution”.

But Mr Johnson, who chairs the board of Transport for London (TfL), said the £1.3m annual price tag would be too high.

He said: “There is an existing high-frequency service on route 182 and convenient interchange between routes 18 and 182, at the same stop in many cases.

“Therefore, extending route 18 to the hospital would not represent good value for money.”

Mr Shah said: “I understand that previously this has been dismissed because route 182 already serves the Hospital.

“However, the interchange between route 18 and 182 is difficult and patients and visitors to the hospital are in desperate need of a simpler solution.

“They would like the Mayor to extend route 18 to Northwick Park Hospital.”

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26th December 2010

Harrow Christmas Challenge

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I attended Christmas dinner with a group of charming teenagers in December, which was part of Harrow Council's Christmas Challenge programme for young people. At the event there was tradtional Turkey and Yorkshire Pudding Meal and celebration with certificates awarded to Young Achievers at Churchill Place in Harrow. On my table there was a considerable interest from the youth about the London Olympics and how it will benefit Harrow.

The event was attended by attended by the Leader of the Council, Bill Stephenson and the Portfolio Holder for Children Services Cllr Brian Gate.

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22nd December 2010

LU claim ticket office sales continue to fall

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By Martin Hoscik

With RMT union members expected to demonstrate outside City Hall this morning over planned ticket office closures, London Underground bosses have published new figures suggesting ticket office sales have fallen by 15 per cent during the last year.

The unions and LU are currently in dispute over plans to close ticket offices with transport bosses insisting rising levels of Oyster use mean fewer ticket office transactions are taking place.

Plans to close ticket offices were first announced by former-Mayor Ken Livingstone in June 2007. During 2008′s Mayoral election, Boris Johnson opposed the plans, signing a petition against the closures and making a manifesto pledge to stop them.

During the election Mayor Johnson wrote: “Ken Livingstone plans to close a large number of ticket offices at Tube stations, predominantly in outer London because he claims that the increase in Oyster use has made them surplus to requirements. However, what he has not taken into account is that local people feel it is important there is a manned ticket office at their station, as often there are not enough Oyster outlets in the local area.”

However earlier this year Transport for London unveiled similar plans to those previously condemned by the Mayor, leading to unions and political opponents accusing him of breaking his promise to Londoners.

Questioned over his u-turn by Labour Assembly Member Navin Shah at Mayor’s Question Time in March this year, Mayor Johnson claimed to have “no idea what the position of the previous Mayor was on this” and defended the closures.

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Hear Navin interviewed about the RMT Tube Workers' protest outside City Hall on 15 December here.

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15th December 2010

Brent Central MP gambles with the next generation

Brent Central MP, Sarah Teather broke her promise to Brent’s youth last week and supported the Coalition’s bill to raise the university cap on tuition fees.

The Government’s new plans will see students paying up to £9,000 per year for university. Before the election earlier this year, Teather vowed to vote against tuition fees.

Her maiden speech in 2003 focused on the unfairness of tuition fees when she stated: “Top-up and tuition fees are serious issues of concern to my constituents. All the evidence suggests that fear of debt will deter those from lower income families and ethnic minority communities. This is particularly the case for Muslims - a large community in my constituency - where attitudes to debt are very different.

"Fundamentally, I believe that this is about whether we want to encourage a world class education system, or a class based education system where students choose universities according to their ability to pay, and universities are judged on the level of their fees.”

Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, said: “She's claimed she's a politician of principle, but when push came to shove, Teather put her party and her career ahead of her beliefs. Her maiden speech must prove embarrassing now.

“Brent is one of the most deprived local authorities in the country and we should be actively encouraging our young people to go to university – not put them off by pricing them out.”

See Brent Labour's campaign in action here.

 

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13th December 2010

Harrow East MP does U-turn on next generation’s future

Harrow East MP, Bob Blackman broke his promise to Harrow’s youth last week and supported the Coalition’s bill to raise the university cap on tuition fees.

The Government’s new plans will see students paying up to £9,000 per year for university. Before the election earlier this year, Blackman vowed to vote against tuition fees signing up to the Harrow College pledge.

Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, said: “I witnessed the hustings at the Harrow Campusof Westminster Unviersity where Bob Blackman promised to vote against a hike in tuition fees and I am astounded, but not surprised, that he has done a complete U-Turn on this issue.

“It’s obvious that Blackman puts his party and his career ahead of his beliefs and the commitment he has made to my constituents. Signing the pledge must prove embarrassing for him now.

“We should be actively encouraging our young people to go to university – not put them off by pricing them out.”

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13th December 2010

Mayor to face AMs and RMT at December Mayor’s Questions

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By Martin Hoscik

 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson will appear before the London Assembly on Wednesday morning for the final Mayor’s Question Time of 2010.  

Despite the closeness of Christmas, there’s little sign of festive goodwill in the listed questions with Green Party AM Darren Johnson wanting to know whether the Mayor will sack Fire Authority Chair Brian Coleman and AMs from all parties set to ask about the Government’s cuts to Mayor’s budget.

Labour’s Navin Shah wants an undertaking “that there will be no cuts to fire appliance provision in the current financial year, nor in the financial year 2011/2012″ while Conservative AM Tony Arbour is set to ask for an update “on negotiations with Government regarding the funding for economic development work in London” following reductions in the London Development Agency’s budget.

Still on the issue of the LDA and funding, Labour’s Murad Qureshi will ask how the Mayor will “see to it” that London retains its strengths in the low carbon economy without the LDA’s money, while LibDem Mike Tuffrey wants to know how he plans to “prioritise front line services and cut wasteful expenditure” in his forthcoming GLA budget.

Recent student demos will also be raised with Brian Coleman inviting the Mayor to agree that “there is no place for violence” in any protest. Expect AMs to seek Boris’s view on the reported possible use of water cannon to quell future unrest.

Before AMs ask their questions, the members of the RMT union will be staging a demonstration outside City Hall in protest at plans to close ticket offices on the Tube and job reductions.

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said: “Over 900 days into his leadership of this City he has failed to have a single meeting with the tube unions and on Wednesday we will be taking our message to stop the cuts right to Boris Johnson’s doorstep.”

Hear Navin interviewed about the RMT Tube Workers' protest outside City Hall on 15 December here.

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13th December 2010