Letter from Parliament - Paul Rowen MP
This week my work has had very much an education flavour.
Last Thursday night, I held a fundraiser at the India Lounge on Spotland Road to raise money towards building a Primary School in Marigat, Kenya.
Sister Maureen Maguire, one of the Parish Sisters at St Johns had worked over there in the 70s and 80s and I first visited the area back in 1992.
The event was organised in conjunction with my very good friend Terry Mason.
The main singer was Mayor-elect Keith Swift. Unfortunately while singing he became ill and ended up being admitted to the Infirmary. He is, I understand, now home, recovering and ready to take up his mayoral duties next week.
The event raised over £1,600 and I would particularly like to thank Ray and his staff for letting us use his excellent restaurant.
On Friday, together with Jim Dobbin MP, I attended an assembly at St Vincent's, Norden organised by the pupils from year four. It was on the theme of the importance of education particularly for girls especially in many developing countries where they do not get an automatic right to go to school. Head teacher Eamonn Scott and his staff are to be congratulated on doing such a fine job.
On Tuesday, together with two general secretaries and one assistant secretary of the three main teaching unions, I met the prime minister, Gordon Brown, to discuss the problem of asbestos in schools. It was an excellent meeting and the PM gave his approval for a follow up meeting with education mMinisters.
On Friday, I am due to speak in support of John Bercow's private members bBill on special educational needs. John has been a great campaigner of the needs of children with special educational needs so I hope his bill gets a second reading.
The big education story affecting Rochdale has been the starting of construction work on our new sixth form college. This is crucial for both the physical and social regeneration of our town. Three years ago, this moment seemed to be miles away when young student Saj Suleman came to visit me about the 'brain drain'.
Its not been an easy ride but congratulations must go to Dame Pam Coward, chairman of the governors at our college, the acting principal and the rest of the team who have helped deliver this, a move that will revolutionalise education in Rochdale - with the country's best and most up to date facilities.
In addition to this I've asked questions on the development of maternity and children's services in Greater Manchester. The project is now over budget and behind schedule and removes services from the Rochdale Infirmary. This is an issue that I will continue to campaign for the best health facilities in Rochdale with health campaigners like Councillor Jean Ashworth, Father Arthur Nearey and the rest of the Friends of our Hospital.
I also welcomed the decision of the AGMA Leaders to fund the extension of Metrolink to Rochdale Town Centre. Council Leader Alan Taylor has done an excellent job convincing his AGMA colleagues to support the project.
This weekend I have surgeries at Spotland Community Centre and Balderstone Library and am due to meet the President of Kashmir.