• Make your MP work harder–SAY YES!

    200348_200490439971745_182694875084635_649660_7873099_nToday I helped launch Portsmouth’s campaign to say Yes to Fairer Votes.

    Under the current voting system some MPs are elected on less than 30% support. This means that they only have to work to keep the support of their ‘hard core’ party voters and can ignore over 70% of the people that vote locally.

    That is wrong.

    MP’s shouldn’t have ‘safe seats’ for life, they should have to work hard to earn and keep the support of local people. I want my local MP to have to listen to me and for my vote to count.

    That is why I will be voting YES on May 5th.

  • Solar Future for Portsmouth

    Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a look around the first council home in Portsmouth to be fitted with solar energy cells.

    It’s an exciting project which could really make a huge difference, not just in terms of reducing carbon emissions, but in saving local families money. The system costs about £6,000 per property to install and should pay for itself in savings in just 6 years!

    Solar panels_IMG_6547The system is also very intelligent, as energy produced which is not needed in the home (for example; during the day whilst you are at work) is fed back into the national grid and the electricity companies pay the council back for it. The panels on the house I had visited had generated £8 back from this in just the first 2 days.

    All in all, it was a fascinating day and I have to say that my views on solar power have really been changed. I had believed that solar power would be expensive to roll out to council homes, but I am very much convinced that this is the way forward for the future.

    On a slightly lighter note, my sympathies go out to the poor young lady from the Council’s press team that was sent up onto the scaffolding to take the photos despite being afraid of heights, well done her!

    (Photo courtesy of Portsmouth City Council)

  • Groundlings Theatre

    Great news in today’s The News that the Council has stepped in to give the Groundlings Theatre £6000 to provide educational needs and theatre space in the city.

    I was down at the Theatre a few weeks ago to support their fundraising drive and have signed up to help out with their ‘technical’ work as I actually used to work in theatre lighting and sound!

    They do great work getting young people from across the City interested and involved in the Theatre arts. I wish them all the best.

  • Fencing & hospital finances!

    Apologies for the slight delay in writing this up, but I have been away in Paris participating and refereeing in a fencing competition.

    Hard as it may be to believe, I do have quite an active life outside of politics and campaigning on local issues! I have actually been fencing since I was 11 years old and I used to captain the team while I was at University. I try to find the time to regularly go back and coach there and occasionally at other local clubs. I benefitted, when I was younger, from many great people volunteering their time to help teach me, so it is only right that I take time out to help pass that on!

    190369_686570722472_286106542_9561108_981630_nOn a slightly more serious note, a few of you may have seen me on South Today last week during the piece on finances at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

    I have been highlighting the financial difficulties of the Hospital Trust for some time and I am delighted that this is an issue that is now being taken up with the Health Secretary by the local MP.

    Last year the Hospital Trust finished the financial year with a £14.9m deficit and this year they will be dependent on a huge cash injection of £6m from local health partners to avoid ending another financial year with a massive deficit. 

  • Help Paulsgrove Adventure Playground win £15,000!

    180958_133974383336868_126858360715137_208086_7705408_nRobinsons’ Fruit Shoot website ReadyforTen.com are running a competition to give some playgrounds £15,000 each for renovations. I have nominated Paulsgrove Adventure Playground for shortlisting, but now we need your help to actually make it onto the shortlist.

    It’s simple really – just pop over to the playground’s page on the Ready for Ten website and tell the nice folks over at Robinsons’ why the playground is important to you and why it needs the money!

    There is so much on the playground we could use this money for – from finishing off the self build project (we still have four unused telegraph poles in the ground!), to really kicking off the work on a vegetable garden. And of course, we’re always open to suggestions from you guys as to what you’d like to see on the playground… it is after all your playground!

    One final note: it seems the only other “local” playground nominated is one in Southampton. Need I say more?! We really need you guys to get over there and support us as much as possible, so go go go! Tell all your friends too!

  • Taking the G5 petition to the Hospital

    willg5YESTERDAY I handed over a copy of petition signed by over 10,000 local people calling on the Hospital to re-open the G5 end-of-life care ward.

    (Photo courtesy of The News, Portsmouth)

    I’ve already presented a copy of the petition to the government’s Independent Reconfiguration Panel who are reviewing the decision to close the ward and in the next few weeks I will present it to the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, in London.

    I really hope that the Board of the Hospital Trust will take note of the strength of feeling against the G5 closure.

    Unfortunately I don’t think it will make much difference. They don’t even seem willing to consider the possibility that they made a mistake in closing G5, which is very short-sighted of them.

    Given that the Health Ombudsman has, last month, slammed the treatment of elderly patients within the NHS (See here), I also asked the Board if they would consider conducting a full review of the treatment of elderly patients in Portsmouth. I stressed to them the importance of having a review that looked at all treatment of older people, in hospitals and the community, and that any review must involve patients and their families.

    The hospital refused to consider this. They said that they will consider the implications of the Health Ombudsman’s report internally and if necessary would only consult with partner ‘organisations’.

    They simply don’t seem to have learnt any lessons from the way they have handled this issue.

    I was pleased that the Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt, echoed my views in todays paper, saying that “The senior management team has shown that it is not up to the job” and adding “They’ve consistently missed every opportunity to respond to public concern”.

    I completely agree with Mrs Mordaunt that; “The management team has really got to take a long hard look at themselves or the Secretary of State has got to step in.”

  • Labour scaremongering about schools!

    My mother is a teacher, I actually had the (sometimes dubious) ‘privilege’ of having her as the headmistress of my school, so believe me when I say that I completely understand the importance of a child’s environment in their education!

    You cannot seriously expect children to perform well in a school that isn’t fit for purpose, so we cannot afford not to invest in our schools!

    So, as you might expect I was delighted that this year, even when difficult decisions are having to be made, we will be investing £2.5 million in repairs and modernisation of schools here in Portsmouth

    So why, in today’s edition of The News are Labour telling people that “Schools budgets for maintenance ‘to be slashed’” by 80%?

    This isn’t just misleading, it’s an outright lie! Just take a look at this document on the Portsmouth City Council Website which gives details of Portsmouth’s spending on ‘Schools Modernisation’ for 2011/12.

    What is staggering is that the example used by Labour is King Richard Secondary here in Paulsgrove, which they highlight as needing up to £200,000 a year. If you look at the list you will see that King Richard Secondary has been allocated £200,000 as requested. On top of this, Paulsgrove Primary School is to get £60,000 for major roof repairs.

    As if this wasn’t enough, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Lib Dem Leader of the City Council has been meeting with Lord Hill (the government minister in charge of central funding for rebuilding schools) to ask for a further
    £80 million
    to invest in the modernisation of schools in Portsmouth and the council has pledged to match this with £30 million of it’s own money to provide a total pot of £111 million for local schools.

    Why then are Labour lying and scaremongering about cuts?

    It is their fault that we are even in this mess! Did you know that we pay more than £120 million per day just in interest on the huge national debt that the last Labour Government racked up. That is money that we could have spent on rebuilding schools here in Paulsgrove!

  • Play that changes lives!

    Last night I chaired the first meeting of the Friends of Paulsgrove Adventure Playground. Firstly, thank you to everyone who came along to discuss how we can set up a ‘friends group’ to support the great team at the Adventure Playground and help them improve it.

    playparksbannerThe guys (and girls) running the Playground do an amazing job and provide a great place for kids to have a lot of fun in a safe environment. It perhaps sounds a little ‘over the top’ to say, but I really do believe that places like this provide play that changes lives.

    A few years ago now, I spent some time working as an outdoor education instructor before I went off to University. As part of that I worked with a lot of children from deprived and/or inner city backgrounds. Once you have seen how kids react to just a few hours of adventurous activities you can be in no doubt as to how it changes them.

    Children learn to push themselves to achieve, they learn to work and play with others, they learn that dangerous activities can be fun and done safely and so much more.

    For many kids, places like the Paulsgrove Adventure Playground are their only opportunity to do these sorts of activities, to explore, to adventure and to grow as a result.

    I have so much admiration, and I admit quite a lot of jealousy, for the job that Jon, Nancy and the others do at the Adventure Playground and I look forward to doing everything I can to help them make it an even better experience for the kids.

  • G5 Ward Public Meeting

    I was delighted at how many people came along to the Guildhall last night to give their views on the closure of the G5 end-of-life care ward.

    Having lost my father last year, I really understand how difficult  it is for people to talk about some of the most painful moments in their lives. It was so heartening to hear people talk about the wonderful care and support that had been provided by the G5 ward and its predecessors. Unfortunately that just made it more upsetting to hear about how other people had experienced their relatives being let down by inadequate end of life care on other wards. Stories of elderly patients in the last hours of their lives ignored because staff were too busy with other patients, families that couldn’t stay by the beds of their loved ones for their last few hours because ‘it wasn’t visiting hours’ and staff simply told about the ward closure by text message.

    It simply isn’t acceptable, everyone deserves to have dignity in dying. To have the right care, the right support and the right environment.

    I think that Shaun Cunningham summed it up best last night; he said “As far as I’m concerned, when our health authority starts looking at services, they should be looking in one direction – making them better, improving them, taking them forward. What’s happened here is they’ve taken it backwards”.

    Once again The News have been extremely supportive in helping to promote last night’s event and deserve much thanks.

    You can read Rachel Hawthorn’s excellent piece on the meeting and the Hospital Trust’s refusal to attend it here.

  • Meeting the Independent Reconfiguration Panel

    Rachel Hawthorn, Will Purvis & Darren Sanders - Picture Courtesy of the News, Portsmouth

    Yesterday I met with the members of the Government’s Independent Reconfiguration Panel
    to present evidence on how the Hospital Trust failed to consult over the ward closure and why the G5 end-of-life care ward should be reopened.

    I spent about an hour with the IRP, the meeting went very well and they seemed very interested in what we had to say and gave us a lot of time to talk through everything. We handed over a copy of our petition with 10,000 names on. I think they were quite surprised at the number of signatures and it showed the strength of feeling about G5 here in Portsmouth.

    Rachel Hawthorn from The News came along with us to present a copy of all the articles and letters that they had too. She has written a really good piece about the meeting in The News today and you can read it online here.

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