Letter from Parliament - Paul Rowen MP

August 21, 2008 12:00 AM

Paul Rowen MP - Working hard for RochdaleOne of Rochdale's great strengths is the third sector, better known as the voluntary sector. Throughout our town hundreds of people give up their time to organise events for young or old, or work for causes they believe in.

I've been able to see some of that over the last couple of weeks through visits and meetings with some of the people involved. Last Saturday, I attended the AGM of Deeplish Community Centre ably organised by centre manager Sohail Ahmed. I was delighted to see some of the people who have contributed to the success of the centre recognised especially Jan Hargreaves from GMP and Javid from the Citizens Advice Bureau. For eighteen years he has organised an advice session at the Community Centre - it must be a record for a volunteer! I know from 27 years of experience in Rochdale that Advice Surgeries can often be stressfull. That said, it is amazing what you can achieve and I know that Javid has helped thousands of people.

Education has also been much on my mind - as a former teacher, I looked forward to A level results (which were out last week) and GCSE results (this Thursday). I find pundits who try to down play the hard work of our young disgusting. Most of the young people - like Tom Colligan from St Cuthberts, who is off to Oxford University, are a credit to their family, school and Rochdale. My own nephew Matthew also got his A levels and is off to Liverpool.

The situation with Key Stage 2 and 3 SATS is however less encouraging. Education staff at the council have spent weeks chasing up and remarking papers with no guarantee that every youngster will get their marks in September. Yet the company responsible walked away with millions of pounds. They have now been sacked and I am afraid it makes Ed Balls MP, the Labour Government Minister responsible look out of his depth. When I pressed him weeks ago, he claimed that there wasn't a problem. I only hope that the hundreds of Rochdale people affected will be sorted out quickly.

I was delighted also that we helped "save" Spotland Road Post Office. Shirley and her staff do an excellent job and like Jay and Leanne at Buersil it deserves to stay open. To those who carp and criticise - I say if you don't try you'll never succeed. At least my Party has a go! I have now requested that Postwatch investigate the decisions in this Borough. I thank Mrs Hoye for willing to take this decision to Judicial Review. We must though investigate every avenue possible and only when Postwatch report back on their findings can we move forward.

Last Wednesday I attended an excellent Open Day at Spotland Community Centre organised by Sunny Musa (whose Dad was a good friend of mine and Sir Cyrils) and Chair Maureen Vela (whose Mum, Doris worked with me on the Deeplish Playscheme over 20 years ago). Another example of excellent community work!

I was pleased to see that a poll of people in this Borough showed that a big majority of you support massive transport improvements in return for Peak-Only Congestion Charging. Councillor Alan Taylor and his team have worked well and see the huge benefits in terms of transport improvements. The Liberal Democrats have fought for the best possible deal from this Bid and I am pleased that people are recognising this. The work is not over and we'll continue to fight for more improvements.

This weekend is a bank holiday and I hope the weather picks up. Still, Sport for All and Link for Life are organising several sports competitions for our people - regardless of the weather. I wish them