Nov 24, 2010

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Last week, I asked my first question to the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister’s Questions are the one time that the media spotlight is really on and the House of Commons Chamber is always full. The government benches are looking for any slip from opposition MPs and we equally are looking for any mistakes the government MPs might make so it can be really daunting as it really can’t be much fun to be jeered at by hundreds of MPs if you get it wrong.

 

I asked David Cameron about Scott Sheard, the 25 year old man who was beaten up outside a night club in Southport last year. Scott was not expected to live and has only survived with severe brain damage and can only move with the help of a wheelchair. 

 

His mum, Fenella, asked me for help and I agreed to raise Scott’s case with the Prime Minister due to the unacceptable delay in Scott receiving his wheelchair. So I asked David Cameron to join me in welcoming the fact that Scott’s mum has been told his wheelchair will arrive next week. I also asked if the Prime Minister would intervene to help thousands of other people still waiting for a wheelchair.

 

I am beginning to think that Prime Minister’s Questions means just that, questions, but not answers as Mr Cameron doesn’t really answer any of the questions he is asked. 

 

He was sympathetic to Scott and Fenella but rather unfortunately talked about the need for faster wheelchairs, which caused a lot of laughter but didn’t really inspire the belief that he would intervene to speed up not the wheelchairs but the production of them for people often in desperate need of help.

 

Scott’s very sad and worrying case gave me the chance to highlight an important issue and maybe it helped Scott to get his wheelchair earlier than would otherwise have been the case. For that reason, Prime Minister’s Questions was a success for me last week, even if I am left wondering if we should rename it Prime Minister’s Answers in the hope that he might actually answer the questions. David Cameron is not the only minister to fail to answer questions, they all do it of course.

 

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On Sunday I attended two of the success stories in Sefton Central. Aintree races and the Crosby Symphony Orchestra. The afternoon at Aintree Racecourse was enjoyed by a large crowd and it was good to see so many people having a good time. 

 

In the evening, I enjoyed the music at St Faith’s Church along with a very appreciative audience. It was also good to meet some members of the orchestra, which is a quite superb orchestra especially as they are amateurs. I hope that people in Sefton will continue to support music, arts, sports and other leisure activities and that the cuts will not completely finish these aspects of life. Music is very important for people of all ages and there is a lot of evidence that learning music can help with maths and other subjects at school, something I hope that the government will consider when deciding where the axe will fall.

 

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On Friday, my office was full of parents, carers and staff from Sefton New Direction, who are very worried about the effect of the cuts on the young adults and others who depend on the services provided by Sefton New Direction. I pledged to do everything I can to help this vulnerable group of people, right here in Sefton.

 

The heart wrenching stories of the families especially were a stark reminder that the cuts could see the loss of day care, respite care and all support for some of the most vulnerable in Sefton. Again, I will be lobbying Sefton Council and the government to make sure that the most vulnerable adults and children in Sefton are not left to bear the brunt of the cuts. There are alternatives which ensure that services are protected and I hope that the council listen to families, staff, unions and the service users themselves before making decisions which could lead to far reaching damage for those least able to fend for themselves.