June 2014

Dear friend,
 
Hello, and welcome to my latest email about all the latest news and events here in Mitcham and Morden.
 
In this edition, I’ll be mentioning a number of community groups with reason to celebrate, giving a plug for Mitcham Carnival and a sports initiative that will be launched there, and letting you have all the latest news on St Helier Hospital. And as it’s my first email since last month’s local council elections, I’ll also have some news on the results.
 
So without further ado....
 
Join in the fun at Carnival – and get into sport while you’re at it!
 
First of all, a quick reminder that on Saturday (14 June), it’s Mitcham Carnival. If you’ve never been before, there is always loads to do, from displays and a fun fair, to stalls run by local community groups. In fact, I’ll have a stand there too – why not pop along and say hello?
 
This year, Mitcham Carnival includes wrestling displays, and a performance from X Factor star Gabz. For more details about all the entertainment on offer click here.
 
And while you’re at Carnival, come and find out more about a new sports initiative that’s being launched there by Merton Council. Sports Blast has been set up to get young people and families involved in sport.
 
It will offer through free courses and coaching for local residents, as well as regular sports sessions, with participants being recruited as coaches and offered qualification opportunities in the future.
 
It’s a great partnership between Merton Council and Tooting and Mitcham United, Fulham Football Club, Surrey Tennis, England Netball, Merton BMX, Circle Housing Merton Priory, Moat and the YMCA, and has been made possible with financial help from Sport England.
 
And in other sports related news, it’s great to see that Harris Academy Merton is offering free evening badminton and tennis sessions for the next 5 weeks, and don’t forget the Lavender Kickz football sessions run by Fulham FC and Uptown every Thursday from 7pm.
 
Congratulations St Barnabas Church!
 
Best wishes to Mitcham’s St Barnabas Church, which began celebrations of its centenary earlier this week. The church, on Thirsk Road in North Mitcham, was built in 1914 and is a Grade II listed building.
 
It’s a lovely church, with a welcoming Vicar, Rev Joabe Cavalcanti, as well as a wonderful congregation. Good luck to everyone there as they celebrate this milestone.
 
Results from the election for Merton Council
 
In case you hadn’t heard, Labour were the victors at the local elections in Merton at the end of last month. All 30 of the Councillors in Mitcham and Morden are now representatives of the Labour Party.
 
Well done to the Labour Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis. He’s done a good job over the past 4 years by freezing Council Tax and keeping the services we value most, even though Government grants to Councils have gone down.
 
Stephen will now get on with the task of running Merton for the next 4 years, and says he will expand schools, maintain the weekly rubbish collection service, and keep your Council Tax frozen for another 4 years. As a former business leader, he’ll carry on running the Council in a businesslike way, and I’m sure we all wish him the best of luck – he’s got a big job to do!
 
Merton also has a new Mayor – Councillor Agatha Akyigyina. Agatha was sworn in last week, and has already been to several civic events, including a thank you party for Merton’s foster carers and an awards ceremony for volunteers at local groups. Agatha works really hard in the community, and I’m sure she’ll be a fabulous Mayor. Good luck to her!
 
More ups and downs at St Helier
 
Earlier this week I spoke in Parliament again about St Helier. The situation is still very worrying, and I’m extremely unhappy about the way the issue is being handled by the Government.
 
As you will have seen, one of the big issues during the local elections was the battle to Save St Helier. The community has been fighting a plan to shut St Helier’s A&E, maternity, ICU, children’s and renal units, as well as 390 in-patient beds, and members of the Lower Morden Save St Helier campaign stood as Labour candidates in order to ensure the campaign keeps a high profile.
 
Earlier in the year, local health providers admitted the plan was “not viable”. However, we all knew that was only a reprieve. Indeed, Conservative and Lib Dem MPs have voted for a measure known as Clause 119, which makes it easier for the Government to press ahead with hospital closures.
 
What we can’t have predicted was how short the reprieve would be. Just five days after local elections that had been dominated by the need to protect services at St Helier, a new 5 year plan was published that promised to “change the way we deliver health services”.
 
Instead of listening to voters who wanted to keep St Helier going, the plan described the “likely need to reconfigure maternity and neonatal services” and said we would see “the introduction of two levels of emergency departments (Major Emergency Centre and Emergency Centre)”.
 
The plans didn’t say which maternity units would be “reconfigured” (by which they mean closed) or which A&Es would be downgraded to Emergency Centres, rather than be fully blown Major Centres. But after the last few years I don’t think anyone believes St Helier’s future is safe.
 
So I was pleased to see that Merton’s newly re-elected Leader, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, has called for heads to roll and demanded that the people who voted to Save St Helier are listened to. He has said he has no confidence in the local NHS and has told the Chair of Merton’s Clinical Commissioning Group his job is no longer tenable.
 
Stephen described the plan to take services away from St Helier as a “fiasco” and said “The voters of Merton delivered a devastating verdict. Ultimately, responsibility lies with the Chair, and he has to go.” If he won’t step down, Stephen will write to the Health Secretary to say he should be sacked.
 
Let’s hope the Government don’t ignore the verdict of the ballot box. Watch this space!
 
A top award for local groups
 
Finally, some good news. Two local groups have just been acknowledged with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Merton’s Street Pastors and the Jeremiah Project have both been given the award by the Queen because of the contribution they make to our local community.
 
Street Pastors are volunteers who patrol the streets at night to ensure everyone from the homeless to revellers who have had a drink too many are safe and looked after. You can get more details about their work here.
 
The Jeremiah Project is a church-based charity that gives educational and pastoral support to local young people. Again, they’re well worth supporting. For more information about their work, including the Love Mitcham campaign they run, click here.
 
Well done to both groups!
 
And on that happy note, I’m off to start filling in my World Cup wallchart. By the next time I write, England will obviously be World champions*, so I hope you enjoy all the action. (*well, we can all dream can’t we…) As usual, if you want me to include anything in future emails please do contact me at siobhain@mmlp.org.uk.
 
My best wishes,