January 2014

Dear friend,
 
Hello, happy new year and welcome again to my latest email about all the latest news and events here in Mitcham and Morden.
 
This month I have yet another update about St Helier Hospital, some worrying figures about policing, and a long list of people to thank for all the hard work they do to make this such a fantastic local community.
 
So let’s get started....
 
The latest twists and turns at St Helier
And as if by magic, the new year has seen yet another twist in the Save St Helier campaign. As you know, the community has been fighting the threat to shut St Helier’s A&E, maternity, ICU, children’s and renal units, as well as 390 in-patient beds – all because our local NHS has to save £370m a year.
 
Well, earlier this week local health providers finally admitted the plan is “not viable”. That’s largely because residents and Councillors in Lewisham won a court case against the Government over the closure of their local hospital. The court ruled that if a number of GPs are against a hospital closure they can stop it happening.
 
However, although it’s fantastic news that residents won their court case against the Government, unfortunately in December Conservative and Lib Dem MPs voted to make it harder for anyone to block future hospital closures. If the House of Lords votes the same way, the new rules will come into effect later this year. That’s a really worrying prospect.
 
At the same time, the body behind the proposals to shut services at St Helier have insisted that they still need to do something, saying “the challenges outlined in the case for change remain... and we hope to make a further announcement in February”.
 
So it looks as though this is a reprieve rather than an outright victory. Every time we win a battle, they keep coming back for more.
 
Anyway, thank you for all the support you’ve given the Save St Helier campaign. This one will run and run! We’ll obviously have to wait and see what they say in February, but it really is thanks to all the work that we have done as a community that we’ve been this successful so far. Please keep up the good work!
 
Worried about policing? Let them know what you think!
 
According to the latest figures, the number of unsolved crimes in Merton is up 78%, and we have lost more than 40 Police Constables and nearly half our PCSOs since 2010.
 
If, like me, you are worried about plans for fewer police across the Borough, you might like to join me next Tuesday, 14 January Merton at the Civic Centre in Morden. The Metropolitan Police are holding an open meeting for residents to give feedback about their service. It starts at 6.30pm and it would be great to see you there. I hope to see you there!
 
Congratulations St Mark’s Primary
 
Meanwhile, the past month has seen some great news from one of our local schools. St Mark’s Primary school in the heart of Mitcham has made the headlines by being named in the Evening Standard’s list of the top 10 primary schools in London. That’s an amazing achievement!
 
I have already written to the school to say how happy I am about this news, and to congratulate all the staff, parents and pupils who contributed so much to this. It really is fantastic.
 
I’m also very pleased to say that the successful chain of Harris Academy schools will soon be taking over Garden Primary School in Pollards Hill. They’ve a great track record of improving schools, and I do think they will prove a success again. Good luck to everyone there.
 
Will you need help with housing in 2014?
 
The new year has started with some very worrying data from the homelessness charity Shelter, who say that one in eleven people fear they won’t be able to afford to pay the rent or mortgage at the end of this month.
 
Sadly, Shelter also say that many people in this situation feel too ashamed to ask for help. They have asked me to encourage anyone who might be at risk, or knows anyone who might be at risk, to seek advice quickly to avoid problems spiralling out of control.
 
Shelter offers a very good online advice service at www.shelter.org.uk/get_advice and also has a free telephone helpline number, 0808 800 4444. Please do think about getting in touch. Everyone knows that these are difficult times for many people financially, and there is absolutely no shame in getting advice.
 
Thanks to everyone who gave at Christmas
 
Finally, I just wanted to say a big thank you to all the many local volunteers who worked so hard to help others over Christmas. In particular, Doxa Deo church provided more than 500 hampers for the poorest people in our community, some of which I helped deliver. Thank you also to Faith in Action for organising and cooking another Christmas dinner at Mitcham Parish Centre for people who had no family or friends to spend the day with.
 
This is a fabulous community, and there are so many people who work hard to keep it that way. Thank you to all of you!
 
And on that happy note, I’d better sign off. Have a very happy new year – and as always if you can think of anything I can include in future newsletters please do email me at siobhain@mmlp.org.uk.
 
See you next month!
 
My best wishes,
Siobhain