Letter from Parliament - Paul Rowen MP

July 23, 2008 12:00 AM

Paul Rowen MP - Putting Rochdale First!At last its official! After months of denying it, Chancellor Alistair Darling MP last week admitted that we were in recession. In doing so he was at last acknowledging what the rest of us already know. With soaring fuel and food inflation modern families are feeling the pinch and are expecting the Government to do something about it.

That's why I was pleased that at the last Prime Minister's Questions before the break, our Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg questioned Gordon Brown on what his government was doing about soaring energy costs. T

he fact is the energy companies are making record profits, have been given £3 billion of carbon credits to sell and in return the government have only got an extra £150 million of help for families struggling to meet soaring energy costs.

We should be seeing the abolition of the standing charge (which hits those on low incomes more), energy costs for those on card meters at least as cheap as those on standing charges and greater investment in energy efficiency.

I was also pleased a day later when Nick Clegg announced that we would push for up to £20 billion of tax cuts at the next election which would be great news for many families struggling in Rochdale. Finding the money will not be easy but the government has to accept it has to tighten its belt when so many families are struggling to pay basic bills.

The same smugness and arrogance was evident in the Commons Chamber on Tuesday when Schools Minister Ed Balls finally came to the Commons to update us on the SATS fiasco. His refusal to apologise or admit any wrong doing by his department and his assertion that the marking this year was as good as in previous years was breathtaking. He was roundly criticised by MPs from all parties. I questioned him about his evidence that the marking was at least as good as in previous years. It is not, as the evidence from local schools shows. The marks are already 3 weeks late and it will be the end of September before the result of any appeals is known. It is a worrying time for both pupils and their parents. This is wholly unacceptable and unprecedented since SATS were introduced in the 1990s. Many Rochdale schoolchildren will have gone away for the summer holiday without knowing their results.

Last Wednesday I was pleased to welcome Councillor Dale Mulgrew and Adult Care Director Jim Wilson for a meeting with the Care Minister Ivan Lewis MP. This was in response to allegations made during the local elections about the standard of adult care provided by the Council. We had an excellent meeting and was able to update the Minister on the improvements the Council is making.

This week I've had one of my friends' daughter Sarah Williams and her boyfriend Nick in London. I've been able to show them round Parliament. This is one of the pleasures of being an MP - this year I have shown people young and old around Parliament including schoolchildren from Oulder Hill and people like Vera Hirst.

The end of term always brings a number of retirements and people moving onto to new jobs. Amongst them was Sister Leonnie at Holy Family, the last of the Pallotine Sisters to work in schools in Rochdale. Many of us owe them a great debt either for their work at the Convent School or in my case at Bishop Henshaw where five of the Sisters worked.

Also retiring is John Wood, the Headteacher at St Cuthberts and Barry Dean from Morris Dean & Co. Barry has played a great part in the Rochdale Development Agency for which I thank him. Kingsway would not have happened without the active involvement of the private sector and Barry played a key part in that. I wish them all well.

Earlier this week, the consultation on potential Post Office closures finished. My office have had a huge response to this and we have sent thousands of petitions, letters and other representations to Post Office Ltd. It is clear that people really do value this service and I would like to thank people like Jay and Leanne from Buersil Post Office, Sheila from Spotland Post Office and the dozens of other people who helped us in our campaign. I have submitted my response to the consultation team and have set out reasons to keep open all of our Post Offices.

I would like to congratulate Councillor Zulfiqar Ali, who will be our nomination for Deputy Mayor in 2009 and will take over as our first citizen in 2010. As a Central Ward Councillor, Zulf has made a significant contribution to our town. I am pleased that his decade of hard work has been rewarded with the highest honour we can bestow on any Councillor.

On a personal note, I would like to wish our Council Leader Alan Taylor a speedy recovery after his recent illness. I know that Alan will be soon back on his feet, continuing the excellent job he does in leading our Council.

This weekend I am attending the Fusilier's Minden Ball as well as the Littleborough Rush Bearing.

Parliament is in recess now until October so I will have much more time to get out and about in Rochdale. This will continue to be a busy time and I look forward to seeing much more of the town I am so proud to represent over the summer months.