October 13, 2010

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The post-conference season is a busy one.

No sooner does the final conference close than we are out of the gates back in the Commons.

First on the agenda was quizzing Michael Gove and his fellow Education Ministers in the chamber on the uncertain future of the Playbuilder scheme, particularly in relation to a project in Aintree Village.

I asked: "Aintree Village is one of the areas in my constituency that was due to benefit from a new play area. One reason that residents and the parish council wanted the play area was to tackle childhood obesity. Does the Minister agree with me, and with residents in Aintree and across Sefton, that decent quality play areas are a good way to tackle childhood obesity? What measures will he take to support local authorities and others who wish to see the kind of support needed to tackle childhood obesity?"

Unfortunately the response was that the Aintree scheme was subject to review and we will know more after the comprehensive spending review in one week's time.

I also had the chance to debate the finance bill on Monday.

I was pleased to hear a number of MPs calling for the banks to help small business. I mentioned a number of cases where banks have demanded repayment of loans and overdrafts without warning and the trouble this has caused businesses in Sefton. The banks need to play their part especially as they caused the crisis. Small businesses need support from the banks if they are to survive and help the economy grow.
 
The Chancellor seems to be softening his stance on getting money into the economy and I am quietly hopeful that we may yet get Thornton Relief Road back on track.

As I've said time and time again, the relief road will be a major boost for the local economy. The construction industry in the North West will benefit as will small businesses.

This is key to getting the economy moving.

One of the highlights of my job is getting to hear the success stories right here in our constituency.

And there are no better success stories than our excellent schools here in Sefton Central. We have some outstanding schools here, secondary and primary, with some of the best staff you will find anywhere.

It is always a pleasure when I am invited in to see some of the excellent work they are doing and to speak to teachers and pupils.

In recent weeks I've had the chance to visit Maghull High, Range High in Formby and St Michael's in Crosby. All absolutely fabulous schools.
 
And I will continue to give them all the support that I can - they deserve it.