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News from Bob Blackman MP
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Happy Christmas & Happy Hanukkah!
 
Best wishes for a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season, from myself and from everyone on my team, both in Harrow and in Westminster!

Please note that my office will be closed from 22nd December 2016 to 8th January 2017, but my staff and I will do everything possible to minimise any disruption experienced.


Bob Blackman MP

TOP NEWS
Harrow Council Fails to Secure Funding Settlement
 
It has been revealed that Harrow Council is the only London Council and one of only 10 English councils who have failed to agree a four-year Local Government Finance Settlement.

After the council refused to agree a long term deal on funding with the Department, I highlighted that 97 per cent of councils had agreed the settlement during a statement from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and asked for clarification on the impact of this failure would now mean for the future of local council tax and services in Harrow.
 
Sajid Javid responded, “In practice, that means that those councils will have an annual, year-by-year settlement, which will deny local people the certainty that they seek. It also means that they have not put together efficiency plans, as the other councils will have done. It is a shame that they did not accept the settlement.”
 
“That was entirely up to them, but it will have consequences,” he added.
 
I find it quite shocking that Harrow Council have failed to agree a settlement which would have provided much needed certainty on council tax levels and funding for local services for local residents. We are liable to hear repeated complaints about falling funding levels in future years from the council, but it is important to remember that this is entirely as a result of failure to do what 97 per cent of other councils did successfully and agree a four-year spending plan.
 
Figures released by the Department show that Harrow’s Core Spending Power of £169.5 million for 2016-17 is projected to go down to £167.7 million in 2017-18, and then £169.4 million in 2018-19, as a result of not agreeing the four-year plan and the budgetary certainty it would have provided. Instead, Harrow Council will now have to apply for funding every year, meaning it will be at risk of shortfalls based entirely on policy changes within the Department each year.
 
 
Since my last edition, I have continued my programme of street surgeries all around the constituency and I have been doing my part as your representative in Westminster.

Here are a few of the events and engagements I have taken part in recently:

 
THE SUNDAY POLITICS SHOW
I went out onto the streets of London with charity St Mungo's for a BBC Sunday Politics report on homelessness and its associated problems. The segment can be viewed until 17th January online, here (starts at the 50:52 mark).
NATIONAL DAY OF NEPAL 2016
I attended a grand recepion at the Embassy of Nepal to celebrate the National Day of Nepal, which marks the proclamation of the country's constitution. The Charge d'Affaires, Mr. Sharad Raj Aran, emphasised the long and historic relationship between Nepal and the UK and recalled the support given following the devastating earthquake which killed 9,000 and injured 22,000 people.
JUSTICE FOR EQUITABLE LIFE POLICYHOLDERS RECEPTION
As Co-Chair of the APPG, I hosted a reception to mark more than eight years since the Parliamentary Ombudsman found there had been a decade of maladministration and recommended that compensation should be paid to put victims back in the position they would have been in had it not occurred. Nearly a million people are still affected.
HINDU NEW YEAR 2016
My annual New Year’s Day Tour of Temples started at the crack of dawn - first stop Stanmore Mandir and ended at the 10th temple visit on New Year’s Day at the Swaminarayan Kingsbury temple. Each temple visited brought out the sense of community involvement, pride and effort put in by hundreds and thousands of volunteers.
I also visited the beautiful Shree Mahavir Swami Jain temple that has been in existence for nearly 22 years and paid homage to Pujya Swami Maharaj at BAPS Swaminarayan temple, Neasden, in my speech to the congregation. Other temples visited include the Kum Kum temple, Yogi Divine, Prajapati Centre and Shri Kutch Satsang Swaminarayan temple.
The show stealer this year was the amazing display at Kingsbury Mandir, who featured edible models of London landmarks, with London Bridge and Buckingham Palace the star attraction of this year’s Annakut display.
 

WILLIAM HILL CHARITY BET
After visiting one of our local William Hill betting shops to place a charity bet during the UEFA Euros 2016, I was able to return to donate my original stake of £50 to my chosen charity, St Luke's Hospice in Harrow.
WHITEFRIARS SCHOOL PUPILS 'BIN IT!'
I was pleased to support pupils from Whitefriars School taking part in the Wrigley’s Bin It! workshop. It is crucial that companies act to ensure that our streets are kept clean, so I was glad to see the positive steps that Wrigley are taking to ensure that the younger generation are getting involved in community efforts to keep Harrow tidy.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 2016
Harrow held its Annual Remembrance Sunday parade at the Harrow War memorial outside the Civic Centre and I was honoured to once again law a wreath to commemorate the sacrifices of servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts. I was joined by Lord Popat of Harrow (pictured right).
MITZVAH DAY 2016
Stanmore Synagogue saw its busiest annual Mitzvah Day yet and I was happy to lend a hand in the operation to chop and peel vegetables to make soup for local charity Firm Foundation to distribute. I also paid a visit to Belmont United Synagogue to wish them well in their Mitzvah events.
MEETING WITH THE ROMANIAN AMBASSADOR
As Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Romania, I was delighted to welcome the Romanian Ambassador to the UK, Dan Mihalache, to meet with a group of Members and Peers to discuss any matters of concern. Topics raised included the rights of Romanian citizens in the UK before and after Brexit, Moldova and their elections.
NLCS YEAR 5 VISIT PARLIAMENT
Parliament's Education Service run tours with additional learning for school groups. North London Collegiate School's Year 5 came down to Parliament and I went to meet them in the Education Centre to talk through my role and answer their questions about how Parliament works. Learning resources for schools can be found online, here.
ST PANTELEIMON CHURCH'S ANNUAL DINNER AND DANCE
Every year, the Greek Orthodox Church of St Panteleimon on Kenton Road holds a dinner celebration with dancing, and I always like to attend to take part and to support the community. The Mayor of Harrow and the Mayor of Brent also attended the event.
INTERFAITH WEEK AND WW1 CENTENARY COMMEMORATION
A packed Zoroastrian Centre in Rayners Lane was host to the Interfaith Week and centenary commemoration of the contribution of all Indian soldiers during the First World War. I spoke about Harrow’s own local hero, Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson VC, who was born in Karnataka, South India, in 1895 and who died in Harrow in 1918.
AJEX PARADE AT THE CENOTAPH
Every year, AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women) hold a Parade and Remembrance Ceremony at the Cenotaph on Whitehall to honour Jewish service personnel who died in in the Second World War. I attended the parade once again this year alongside Rabbi Lew and a group from Stanmore Synagogue.

BROADBAND CHECKER

         
The Digital Economy Bill, which includes measures enabling the introduction, and review, of a broadband Universal Service Obligation is now going through Parliament. As well as introducing a broadband USO, the Bill will also enable the building of world-class digital infrastructure, empower consumers to connect, reform the way government uses data to digitally deliver public services, strengthen protections for citizens in the digital world and pave the way for improved broadband in the future.

You can check the availability of superfast broadband services for specific homes and businesses at http://gosuperfastchecker.culture.gov.uk.

For those who cannot currently get superfast broadband, some providers have a demand registration service where consumers can register their interest for the future.

IN PARLIAMENT
 
Some of my most recent contributions in Parliament can be found below:
PMQs: MPs applaud Holocaust campaigner Kitty Hart Moxon
I used the opportunity of a question at Prime Minister's Questions to praise the work of holocaust survivor Kitty Hart Moxon and to wish her a happy belated 90th birthday. [Hansard Text]
Debate on the Casey Report
"I welcome the report, but one of my concerns is that it contains no reflections on the future of faith schools, and therefore the integration of young people across faiths, which I hope we will look at in particular. Can we take urgent action on one of the recommendations,,,"

Question on the CQC: NHS Deaths Review
"I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement and the measures that he has announced. I have been supporting the family of a constituent who died unexpectedly in hospital, and they have suffered at every step along the way. There has been a wall of silence, the trust has refused to co-operate and the CQC has refused to investigate. Every step along the way, the family have been frustrated..."

Debate on the Cancer Strategy
"I want to start by paying tribute to Greg Lake, the rock star who, sadly, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. To me, he was one of the icons. He founded King Crimson, and one of the first albums I bought was “In the Court of the Crimson King”. He then went on to form the supergroup Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and he also produced the iconic hit “I believe in Father Christmas”, which we hear at this time of year. I want to put that on the record because it is appropriate that we remember that people are suffering and dying as a result of cancer literally every day..."

Question on International Trade
"On Monday, I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announce that she wanted to take the trade relationship with Israel to the next level—our key ally in the middle east and strong trading partner. Can my right hon. Friend set out the steps that he is taking to ensure that we put in place a new trade deal with Israel, so that we can cement that commitment by the Prime Minister?"

Christmas Adjournment Debate
"The theme of my introduction is thinking about those who are less fortunate than we are. First and foremost, I want to place on the record what I believe is the view of the whole House in expressing our horror and revulsion at the events at the Berlin Christmas market. Our thoughts are not only with those who are fighting for their lives, but with the relatives of those who have sadly lost their lives. It just shows what can happen and the horrors that can ensue at a simple Christmas market where law-abiding people are going about their business. We do not yet know who was responsible or what their motives were. However, our sympathies are with the relatives of those who have lost their lives and equally with those who have been severely injured..."
 
Read more online, here.
 

IN THE MEDIA

GET IN TOUCH
 
If you have any issues or concerns which you feel I could help you with, please don't hesitate to get in touch using the contact details below:
 
Email: bob.blackman.mp@parliament.uk
Please remember to include your full name and address, even if you've written to Bob before!

Phone:
To discuss a case, report an issue or make a surgery appointment, please contact Bob's office in Harrow, on 020 8421 3323
For diary, media or tour enquiries, please contact Bob's office in Westminster, on 020 7219 7082


Write to:
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
or
209 Headstone Lane, Harrow, HA2 6ND

 
Copyright © 2016 Bob Blackman, all rights reserved.