Friday, March 30, 2007

Richard Tracey selected as Tory GLA candidate for Merton and Wandsworth

The former Tory MP for Surbiton Richard Tracey has been selected as the Tory GLA candidate for the retiring London assembly member for Merton and Wandsworth Elizabeth Howlett. Richard Tracey was previously Tory MP for Surbiton until losing his seat at the 1997 election to Lib Dem Ed Davey who managed to overturn a 13,000 majority in Kingston and Surbiton in one of the worst results for the Conservatives even in the Labour landslide year of 1997(and it was not even against Labour). Merton councillor Krystal Miller was also one of the shortlisted candidate and was unsuccessful in her endeavour to be the next GLA Conservative candidate for Merton and Wandsworth. A great deal has been written about Krystal selection exploits both past and present on the Recess Monkey site

As the candidate he does not have have a hard act to follow in Elizabeth Howlett who the London Evening Standard named last year as the 'most ineffective Assembly member' with the comment 'if she had done a bit more work the Conservatives may have won Merton in May'. Whether Richard Tracey will be any better remains to be seen but hopefully they'll elect a Labour assembly member in May 2008.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

AFC Wimbledon point deduction cut

The decision by the FA to reduce the point deduction to three points for fielding an illegible player is a victory for commonsense. I am extremely glad that the patent injustice of an 18 point reduction has been reversed for what was a relatively minor infringement of the rules and over a anomaly that Cardiff is classified as being in a foreign country despite playing in the English league.

Hopefully AFC Wimbledon's push for promotion will continue and that next year we'll see them playing in the Conference South. Like the former Wimbledon FC they are battlers and the success they've enjoyed since being formed in 2002 is nothing sort of remarkable.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Should it be called Eastfields Station?

Apparently the Council have launched a campaign to name the proposed station at Eastfields near Mitcham. Personally I think the station should be named Eastfields and indeed the local area has been referred to as Eastfields for many years.

No doubt a variety of names will come during the process but personally I think Eastfields will be the name adopted and everyone has been referring to the name for years.

Apparently the station may be open by the end of 2007, Siobhain McDonagh MP hosted a successful coffee morning last Saturday attended by over 400 residents at St Marks Academy near the proposed site and near universal approval was given for the station.This is really an exciting development that will contribute massively to the regeneration of East Mitcham if built and it looks that after seventy years the new station is about to happen. I just hope that no further excuses comes up and that we see a station up and running ASAP.

Merton Council, the last few days

The last few days it has been back to the grind of Merton Council after the last two weeks in New Zealand(and thankfully I've avoided jet lag!). Last night I chaired the The Way We Work Panel and one of the issues we covered was Merton as an Employer of Disabled People, this was a scrutiny review led by my former colleague Joe Abrams which examined a whole range of issues within the Council and made a number of recommendations which were accepted by Council. Monitoring progress is part of the panel work programme and we had some very useful contributions from staff who work for Merton about their experiences and primarily it was positive. Many of the recommendations are also well on the way to being implemented within the Council.

In terms of other matters, we had a further update on single status where the Council has still not reached agreement despite a deadline of 1st April(which is the case in most authorities). The panel also looked at our performance statistics in HR which were showing red, one of those is sickness by staff, although the figure is falling it is still too high.

Other issues discussed included procurement and an update on the budget, it seems that due to the introduction of new software the collection of Council tax is down 1% on the same period last year, whether this trend continues remains to be seen. The council budget deficit is currently £4.6 million and has not been reduced recently though we've been given assurance that it will be covered by a series of measures that are being proposed.

Tonight we had a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and a presentation by Prof Steve Leech on his review into scrutiny. By and large many positive responses were made to the report, I believe scrutiny is working well in no overall control Merton. Over the past year improvements have happened and indeed it has been effective in holding the executive to account, but also in scrutinising outside bodies including the PCT and the hospital trust who are not used to having their actions scrutinised. Many panels have also undertaken in-depth scrutiny reviews into a range of different issues which has involved cross-party collaboration and has been very useful in finding out information. The work of the scrutiny team at Merton led by Kate Martyn has been excellent and Steve Leech has assisted greatly in improving the whole scrutiny process. While I know many authorities councillors yearn for a return to the old committee structure, I believe that if members are determined to make scrutiny work it can operate effectively. Where it does not work tends to be in authorities that see its role purely as a rubber stamping body or do not take the role of scrutiny seriously.

Casino vote

Personally Manchester would not have been my choice as the site of the super casino, instead I would've like to have seen Blackpool as the venue. However, a decision was made by an independent panel that it should be Manchester and Parliament should have endorsed that decision.

Instead we get a decision endorsing the choice of Manchester by the democratically elected house(despite Conservative opportunism in suddenly opposing the site despite earlier praise for the decision by the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne)and the unelected Lords effectively scuppering the plans. Still it reiterates my view that the Lords should be scraped.

In previous blog postings, I've made my views known on casinos and gambling(basically adopting a Liberal approach) and believe that we should not have had only one super casino. While I respect people who have deep held views against gambling even though I do not agree with their view, I cannot stand opportunists who vote against casinos purely on an opportunistic basis(most though not all of the Tory party). While the Government will no doubt review the matter, thanks to the action of some the whole bidding process will effectively have been a waste of time for many authorities across the country.

Scraping over the line

Well it was not the most convincing of wins but England just about managed to scrape over the line against Andorra and secure a win. They still have an uphill struggle to qualify and cannot afford any more slip ups but if the goal drought continues then it will be a qualifying campaign that will end in failure.

Much has been said recently about Steve McLaren, personally I think he was not the best person to lead England and was part of the dismal Sven era, however he should be given a change and not pilloried at the first opportunity. If we fail to qualify it will be curtains for him but if a bit of luck goes our way then it could all be very different, time will tell whether he will succeed or will be a failure as England coach.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley

Seeing the televised conference today of Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley really was an amazing sight and something even a few years I thought would never happen. Northern Ireland has been a troubled province over many years, indeed violence was a daily routine with regular bombing and shooting being part of every day life until just a few years.

Both have come a very long way to now be at this juncture, Ian Paisley as the rebel-rousing preacher whose favourite was word was 'no' and Gerry Ad ans who can from Sinn Fein an organisation that was linked with paramilitaries and the IRA. It is clear today that both knows that suitability is required and that compromise was required in order to reach a deal, that this stage has even been reached would have been considered a miracle just a few years ago.

Having recently visited Northern Ireland, it is a changed place with an expanding economy and a vibrant lifestyle. This is a picture far from the troubles experienced up until the nineites. I just hope that the current stability continues as it is in the interests of all parties for this to remain the case.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The last leg!

Currently at KL Airport about to embark on the last leg of my plane trip back to London, another 14 hour flight in the offing(which I'm not looking forward too), after having just come off a 10 hour flight from Auckland and an internal flight from Christchurch(which was delayed over an hour due to fog). Have had a great time in New Zealand but feeling absolutely exhausted from my trip to New Zealand. The place is pretty amazing and stunning in scenery along with vistas, it is worth visiting and I've enjoyed myself a great deal.

Next week it is back to reality with Council meetings most nights and back to the day job on Monday(and overcoming jet-lag!), still it has been great to get away for a few weeks though it with it being such an action packed fortnight I did not get much of a rest.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Milford Sound

Currently in Arrowtown near Queenstown in the heart of a former gold mining area on the way back from Milford Sound, this a small town that has retained many of its traditional features from that period and the town looks authentically Victorian.

Anyway, the last day has been spent in the Milford Sound, a most majestic fjord land in the South Island and a world heritage site. Overnight was spent on-board a boat that had docked for the night in a cove in Milford Sound. On arrival yesterday the weather was abysmal with rain and low cloud overhang, however the bad weather did create some amazing waterfall scenes unlike any I've ever seen previously before.

Today the weather was better and dawn was an amazing scene, the area surrounding the sound is pretty amazing place with fantastic scenery and non-stop photo opportunities. This has to be one of the best parts of my trip to New Zealand to date.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My Queenstown sky jump from 12,000 feet

This morning I successfully did a tandem sky jump from 12,000 foot over Queenstown in New Zealand. Having never did anything remotely like this before, I decided to take the plunge and having now jumped I have to say it worth doing and the jump was awe inspiring.

While I have to admit to being slightly nervous and apprehensive even a few days ago about the jump, the opportunity that was presented to me was one that I could not refuse to take up and by today I was rearing to go. If someone had said to me even a few weeks ago that I would undertake a jump of 12,000 ft, I would probably have laughed it off as a joke, but in life you undertake some crazy things and this had to be one of them.

Although it was a tandem jump, coming out of the plane and seeing the vista of Lake Wakatipu and Remarkables mountain range(only one of two mountain ranges in the world that runs north-south)was a pretty remarkable sight. Literally in seconds I plunged thousands of feet and the thrill along with the adrenalin rush cannot really be described, but it was one of the best things I've done in my 32 years.

The tandem sky-jumper Chris was also an excellent instructor and made the experience that much easier including the landing. Also a photographer jumped out at the same time and shaking his hand in mid air was an experience.

On plunging out of the plane it did nothing for my ears and they're still buzzing a few hours afterwards, likewise the blast of air is not the nicest of experience but is part of the experience and the rest made up for this minor inconvenience. When you first jump you also take a few seconds to acclimatise as you are literally in free-fall before a tap from the instructor, after then you can slightly relax and take in the view.

Not for one second do I regret doing this sky jump, in fact now that I've done one I probably would not mind attempting a solo jump, though it would take a great deal of training it is something that I may do in the not too distant future.

I have one day left in Queenstown New Zealand, before I move on to Milford Sound tomorrow, so far so good and certainly the thrill of today has added to the experience of New Zealand. More information on the company I did the sky jump with is on

Monday, March 19, 2007

South Island, New Zealand

Currently in Queenstown New Zealand having been in the South Island of New Zealand since last Friday. This morning, I had a ride on the shotover jet which is a speedboat that operates in the Shotover River and powers down the river and over the canyons. The boats are powered by V6 engines and run at a speed of up to 50 mph, it was certainly the most powerful boat that I'd ever been on. The only downside was the cold blast of water spray in your face which makes it a pretty cold experience, but the 360 decree turns added to the overall experience, I was grateful though that I had a light breakfast.

I also went white water rafting on the Shotover River, fun though though most of it was pretty tame and more a row along the river, the best part was emerging from a short tunnel to be faced with a grade 5 rapid(pretty severe), likewise a stretch of 400 metre rapid tested your ability to stay in the boat. Although I was kitted out in wet suit, life jacket it is pretty cold if you do fall in the river.

Anyway, the last few days have certainly been busy since leaving Wellington last Friday. The journey to the South Island involved a three hour ferry journey in which I watched in the ferry cinema Notes on a Scandal starring Judi Dench and Cate Blanchet(a first class film and one of the best I've seen this year)to help pass the time before arrival in Picton on the South Island. The ferry used also happened to be one I'd travelled on many years previously between Ireland and Wales, they clearly travel far in the world!

After the ferry it involved a four hour journey to Christchurch along the Kaikoura coastline, along the way I spotted seal colonies. The coastline was spectacular in beauty and reminded me of Great Ocean Road near Melbourne Australia which I went down a few years ago.

After a night spent in Christchurch which is not the most happening of places it was on to Franz Josef. This involved transgressing Arthur's Pass and seeing some amazing mountains which had been in the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings. Seeing the sheer seize of the mountains, the jagged cliffs and in some cases snow capped brought home how beautiful New Zealand as a country happens to be. I've been to many places in the world but for sheer scenery that places has to be amongst the best. The only downside was the twisty roads which after five hours spent in a coach made me feel slightly nauseous and dampened my enthusiasm for St Patrick's night celebrations in Franz Josef, travel brings with it downsides and being in a coach with 40 other people makes you that much more susceptible to every passing bug under the sun. Thankfully panadol was great for getting rid of the headache and made me feel a whole lot better.

Following on from Franz Josef it was on to Fox Glacier and a 8km hike onto the glacier. This was the first time I'd been on a glacier and seeing the ice formations on the glacier it really was a beautiful sight and brought home the beauty of the glacier. Although it was naturally cold on the glacier, it was not that bad and climbing the glacier brought some amazing views of the surrounding mountains along with the rugged scenery.

Following on from that it was onto Queenstown, the journey was over five hours(coach travel can be very boring) but was enlivened by the stop at Thunder Creek falls, passing over the Haast pass(the longest bridge in New Zealand) and then passing Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea which provided more scenery that was spectacular to view along wit some awe inspiring vistas.

Arriving in Queenstown, I'm in the centre of an adult adventure playground with bungee jumping, canyon swings,jet boating, rafting and sky diving. After initially deciding not to go sky diving, I changed my mind and tomorrow I'm going to take a plunge from 12,000 feet in the sky. The jump is a tandem jump in harness which takes the worry off somewhat but it should certainly be an experience and no doubt I'll be scared stiff going up in the plane but it should be a great experience and I'm looking forward to undertaking my first ever sky dive. Hopefully the weather will also be good tomorrow, it has been pretty awful her most of the past week in Queenstown but today is thankfully dry, now it needs to hold for another 24 hours. If it is bad, the sky dive will not happen.

Anyway that is all for now, hopefully I'll next be able to update my blog next after my sky jump tomorrow.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I have just spent the last two days in the capital of New Zealand Wellington. The city itself is extremely hilly and reminds me in a way of San Francisco, like that city it is also on a major fault line and the building have been re-enforced against earthquakes.

Today, I visited the New Zealand Parliament building including the Beehive building which was designed by the architect of Coventry Cathedral Sir Basil Spence, the building in design terms is unique and while it has its critics it is certainly a building that has merits from the innovative design even if it may need be the most appropriate building built.

I also took a visit on the cable car which at the summit provided amazing views of Wellington, I also went up Mount Victoria which overlooks Wellington and similarly provides great views of the city.

The national museum of New Zealand Te Papa was well worth visiting and contains many exhibits relating to New Zealand along with giving a comprehensive chronicle of the history of the Maori people.

Tomorrow I'm off to the South Island and Christchurch is the next stop.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rotorua observations

Currently writing this in an Internet cafe in Taupo, it is pouring rain outside(weather is very English here at the moment)and the weather certainly seems to be four seasons in one day.

Anyway, yesterday was spent in Rotorua which is a centre of geo-thermal activity in New Zealand. The place literally smells of sulphur because of this and getting off the coach, it is the first thing you notice about the place, however you soon get used to the smell. At Te Puia(which is where the Maori arts and culture institute is based) I also saw some spectacular large geysers in the thermal area which are active nearly all of the time along with the mud pools. Seeing geo-thermal activity is something you can only appreciate seeing up close and it was fascinating to witness them spewing along with the smoke produced they produced. Rotorua is also full of steam pools and across the town you can see a number of them active.

I also undertook two luge rides yesterday which involved going up the mountain overlooking Rotorua in a sky ride and then going down the hill in a luge. Having never been in a luge before it was certainly a great experience with some some really tight curves and fast stretches. It also afforded great views of Rontorua on the way down.

In the evening, I saw a Maori cultural show which involved singing, dancing and the performance of Maori acts including the world famous Hakka. The latter part involved many of the males in the audience trying to learn the routine on stage, it is not the easiest routine to learn and I had certainly not mastered it despite my best efforts. From the event I also have a greater understanding of the Maori culture.

The rest of today is being spent in Taupo which has the biggest lake in New Zealand(hopefully the weather will clear up) before moving on tomorrow to the capital Wellington.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Black white water rafting at Waitomo

Just spent the past few hours doing black white rafting at the Waitomo caves in New Zealand. It was a pretty awesome experience with some nerve jangling moments along the way with a high dose of adrenaline. In order to navigate the caves we had rings which did help our navigation and had an excellent tour guide in Callum. Being in a wet suit is also not the most comfortable experience as my one was very tight which didn't make breathing very easy. If I did this again in future I would probably benefit from a larger one. On exercises like this is does show up that I need to get more exercise as well and hopefully New Zealand will assist in that process of losing a few pounds!.

I also saw some amazing glow worms in the caves and they're a pretty amazing sight to see them close up in a cave. All in all it was a trip that I enjoyed considerably.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Arrived in New Zealand

After a very long flight from London, I've finally arrived in Auckland. First time I've been to New Zealand and since arriving here a few hours ago I've already been up the Sky Tower, which is the highest tower in the Southern Hemisphere and gives a fantastic view of Auckland including the magnificent harbour.

As for the flight, Malaysian Airline would probably not be my favorite airline, food was some of the worst I've tasted and I've seen better in-flight entertainment packages (not a touch on Emirates). Watched Casino Royale again but a heavily edited version that left out some of the best parts of the film, also managed to watch Deja-Vu and Dreamgirls (not the best films I've seen) along with some fascinating National Geographic documentaries about world cities including London, Bombay, Mexico City, Vegas and New York. With both flights lasting the best part of 24 hours you've got to do pass away the time.

Kuala Lumpur airport was one of the best I've been too, was there last year but at the low cost terminal situated a few miles away which was not the best experience, Stayed at the transit hotel which was excellent. Many of the airports abroad certainly put Heathrow to shame, hopefully Terminal 5 will improve the passenger environment as it desperately needs improving along with the delays (plane took 1/2 hour to take off), the flight was on time which was a bonus.

Over her they’re also very stringent on bringing in food or any animal products, at Auckland airport they have snifer dogs along with a very stringent customs. The only other time I've experienced x-ray on arrival was in Australia, the precautions they take against disease are very strict indeed.

Off from Auckland in the morning to start my trip round New Zealand, should be fascinating and the weather is much warmer then in London.

Still have a bit of the jet-lag which is unsurprising given the long flight

Friday, March 09, 2007

KL Airport

Waiting at KL Ariport for flight to Auckland, airport best I've been in so far.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Off to New Zealand

After a busy few weeks, I'm off to New Zealand in the morning via Kuala Lumpua where I have a 14 hour stopover(hopefully I'll get to visit Petronas Tower unlike last time). It is a long flight and no doubt jet-lag will kick in but New Zealand is meant to be a fantastic country(that's what I'm told by friends) and I cannot wait.

I also hope to blog when I'm away as well about my trip, I'm only in the country for just over two weeks but it will be extremely hectic trip and I'm travelling across New Zealand.

House of Lords votes for 100% elected option

The decision by the House of Commons to vote for an 100% elected is not all together to my liking. As I had argued previously I support one parliamentary chamber, a very much minority view even in the Labour party, I believe that a fully elected second chamber will inevitably undermine the supremacy of the House of Commons.

Time will tell whether it will be implemented, I have my doubts but if we move towards and elected second chamber I really have my doubts whether it will make Britain a more effective democracy. I also believe we do not have a clamour in this country for more elected politicians.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Merton Council Budget meeting

The Tories supported by the residents voted through this evening a 3.6% Council Tax rise(above inflation)in the Merton Council tax also while also agreeing to close down Bond Road, cutting the SEN budget along with a agreeing a whole range of cuts in relation to charging that are likely to impact severely impact on the most vulnerable especially the elderley and those with learning disabilities.

If we had been in charge we would have gone for a 2.5% rise in Council tax along with introducing wheelie bins something the Conservatives have refused to do. Under Merton Tories you pay more for less services.

At the meeting, I also raised questions about the deliverability of their budget, serious questions have to be asked about some of their savings which depend in some instances on court judgements(VAT on off street parking ruling £300K) and getting an increase in social services taking up benefits(500K in total) for just over 1000 clients(both had had high risk analysis), it will certainly have to be a very successful exercise if it is too succeed. It will be interesting to see if the Tory budget stacks up after a few months and we'll be monitoring it closely.

They also voted to spend £46,000 on hiring consultants to review a bus lane of only 150 metres on Hartfield Road in the middle of Wimbledon, totally wasteful. They should either keep it or scrap it, still it nice renumerator for some consultant. It was also noticeable that local Tory Cllr Chris Edge who had condemned previously the expenditure did not mention it in his speech and as a consultant he knows only too well how generous consultancy is as an occupation.

Both Borough Merton MPs and Prime Minister unite in attack on Council's Special Educational Needs policy

On the night Merton council decided to cut SEN spending at the Council budget meeting, for once Tory MP for Wimbledon Stephen Hammond made a timely question on SEN children at Prime Minister question time. Sadly his Conservative colleagues on Merton Council did not share his concern and Tory minority administration tjis eving voted through cuts to the SEN budget.

Below is the press release from Siobhain McDonagh MP.

Both Borough MPs and Prime Minister unite in attack on Council's Special Educational Needs policy

The Conservative MP for Wimbledon, Stephen Hammond, has been joined by Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh in his attack on Merton Council's Special Educational Needs policy. The Wimbledon MP raised his concerns at Prime Minister's Questions, where Tony Blair agreed with Mr Hammond.

Ms McDonagh says that she expects the controversy to arise at tonight's meeting of Merton Council, where the Budget for 2007/8 is expected to include tough measures to bring down SEN costs.

Mr Hammond asked the Prime Minister about his constituent, Mrs Merello, and her 11-year-old son, who has recognised special educational needs. He told MPs:

"All the professionals suggest the right education for her son is an out of borough specialised school. But reflecting the cost concerns of so many local authorities they have tried to put her in a mainstream local school."

Mr Hammond asked the Prime Minister to

"ensure that Mrs Merello's son and thousands of others like him get the education they need and deserve."

The Prime Minister replied:

"I agree with him - if a child is best placed in specialist provision, that is where they should go. They should only go in mainstream provision if that is suitable."

Mr Blair added that "there is an extra £1350 per pupil in his area", but that decisions about where to spend that extra money, which the Government has passed on to Merton Council, had always been made by local authorities. He added:

"That has been the case under the previous government, and under this government."

Ms McDonagh united with her neighbouring MP in his attack on Merton Council's SEN policy, saying:

"This evening, Merton's Tory administration are due to deliver yet more nasty cuts to services for children with special needs. I'm glad Mr Hammond is prepared to stand up for his constituents rather than back his friends at the Council. We've also got the Prime Minister on our side, so I hope they listen."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Liverpool triumph against Barcelona

Delighted that Liverpool are through to the quarter finals of the Champions League, another excellant result! though dissapointed we lost at home.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Has Ming abandoned PR?

Very interesting to note that Ming Campbell has not set PR as one of his five policy tests for entering a coalition. He is obviously desperate to become Foreign Secretary before he quits politics and if that means sacrificing PR or any other policy then it will go. Like any Lib Dem policy, principles count for little if it means grabbing a share of power be it with Labour or the Tories(across the country in local government Lib Dems have supported Tories a great deal more the Labour in no overall councils) and people who think they'll only go with Labour should examine their record in propping up Tory council administrations and their record in Parliament. Certain Lib Dem MP's like David Laws and Jermey Brown have far more in common with the Tories then with Labour, I can't see them being too keen on a coalition with Labour.

Sadly for Ming Campbell he is likely to be dumped as Leader of the Lib Dems long before the next election(I predict this year), whether Nick Clegg his likely successor retains the this policy remains to be seen but never under-estimate the opportunism of the Lib Dems.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hazel Blears visit to Mitcham and Morden Labour Party

Last night we had Hazel Blears as guest speaker at a Mitcham and Morden Labour party social. Her friendly style and warmth went down extremely well with people present and the speech she made was one of the best I've heard in a long-time. Hazel in my view is probably the most energetic and enthusiastic candidate seeking to be Deputy Leader and as a party we certainly have no shortage of wannabee deputy leaders.

I believe Hazel would make an excellent deputy leader of the Labour Party, the party needs someone who will motivate members but also take the attack to the Tories as well and expose the false prospectus of David Cameron.

Hazel Blears is also someone who recognises as well that as a party we need to renew ourselves if we are to stay in office, this is something that I believe is crucial if we are to win a fourth term in office. I also believe she is a Labour politician who understands society and she recognises only too well what a Labour government has achieved for this country and for her own area in Salford. The party needs people like Hazel who will sell our considerable achievements in office but also make the case of why we need a fourth term in office.

Over the next few months as more people meet Hazel, I believe her popularity and support will grow within the Labour party and that she could well be elected as the next Deputy Leader. Indeed her current betting odds are very generous at 7/1 and a few weeks ago they were 50/1. She is certainly a very good bet and her odds will certainly drop over the next few months.

Eastfield Station gets the go ahead at last!

Delighted that Eastfields Station looks like going ahead at last(it has taken 70 years!) and maybe opened by next year if Network Rail delivers on its promises. The opening of the station will be a massive economic boost to the area along with assisting considerably in the regeneration of the area and provide much needed access to a train station in an area of very poor public transport.

For many years we've been campaigning for this station and at last it looks like our wish will be fulfilled. Considerable credit also needs to be given to Siobhain McDonagh and Leader of the Merton Labour group Andrew Judge who have been instrumental in pushing the case for a station at Eastfields.

I enclose the news article from the Wimbledon Guardian.

Station to be open by 2008
By Diana Pilkington
Mitcham residents could have the use of a new mainline station at Eastfields by the end of the year.

Network Rail has confirmed it will fund and build the long-awaited station, which has been talked of since the 1930s.

Subject to planning permission, the station's easy-to-build design means it could be operational by as early as December this year.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "It will have a modular design which means it can be delivered very quickly - it will take just a couple of months to build and new components can be picked up from the depot and just slotted in. Mitcham has been selected as the first place to have this new type of station."

Constructed from metal, the station is set to be environmentally sustainable and will use renewable energy sources.

It will provide a direct service to Victoria in 20 minutes and will be closer to Mitcham town centre than the existing Mitcham Junction station and Mitcham tram stop.

Councillor Andrew Judge, who met with Network Rail on Tuesday, said: "This is a locomotive for regeneration in Mitcham. It's the news we've been waiting for after many years of lobbying."

A spokesman for Siobhain McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, said: "Once the station is built, it will mean the 70-year battle to get this station has been won."

The name of the station is yet to be confirmed, but possible contenders are Eastfields and Mitcham Town.

Another disapointment for Liverpool

Losing 1-0 to Man U and with a last minute winner scored by a player who gets few goals! after dominating play throughout the match it was a very dissapointing end. This is the second season in a row we have lost to a last minute goal against Man Utd, hopefully Tuesday against Barcelona will be more fruitful.