Paul Rowen MP's Letter from Parliament

May 28, 2007 5:06 AM

Last week I was leading for the Liberal Democrats on the Concessionary Bus Fares Bill. This law was promised by the Chancellor Gordon Brown last year and extends concessionary bus passes to a nationwide scheme. I broadly welcomed it. It will mean for example that someone visiting their daughter in Scarborough or London would be able to use the buses there free. There are some concerns however, it does not extend to community transport or the dial a ride scheme that currently operates in Deeplish and for which people have to pay 50p. Other anomalies include real concerns that Councils are fully reimbursed for the cost (important in towns like Blackpool who have many visitors) and the fact that carers and people suffering from mental disabilities are excluded. I will be tabling amendments during the committee stage of the bill to deal with these.

I travelled back to Rochdale on Wednesday for the annual Council Mayor Making where my good friend and colleague Peter Evans and his wife Helen became Mayor and Mayoress - the first Littleborough Mayor since Norman Angus (who was also there with his wife). It was good to meet and chat with many people including Pam Hawton OBE. Pam and I worked very closely together when I became Leader of the Council and Pam my Deputy during the 1990s. She looked very well and was in great form.

On Thursday I visited Rochdale Infirmary for day surgery - the first time I have had to go to hospital since I was 7. The staff there were brilliant from Dr Hussain the surgeon to the nurses including Terry who brought me a cup of tea when I came round from the anaesthetic. I spent Friday at home before going to the Wedding of Dave and Bernie Hennigan in Manchester on Saturday. It was a typical Irish wedding with the mass and wedding service being said by Father Paul Daly from Heywood.

On Monday I had another meeting with a group of Doctors at their surgery including a couple of Junior Doctors. These meeting are useful and I have taken up a numbers of concerns raised by them.

This week also I've had Lewis McBride from Rochdale working for me in Westminster. Lewis has just completed his first year politics course at university so his time with me will give him a practical insight into Parliament.

This week has also seen the publication of the draft Transport Bill that introduces road user pricing. I'm due to attend a meeting for MPs on Friday where the Greater Manchester Scheme will be discussed. Nothing in my view should take place without full consultation with those most affected.

This weekend I have surgeries at Wardle Library and Castlemere Community Centre before meeting up with my sister who is home from America for a week. Next week Parliament is in recess so I will be working in Rochdale.