Letter from Parliament - Paul Rowen MP

Date published: 03 August 2009

Though Parliament is not sitting, my office and I continue to work and deal with issues and constituents.

My office is open from 9.00am until 5.00pm. Though I am taking a few weeks holiday I am in daily contact with the office. Although Parliament closes, that doesn’t mean that the work stops.

This summer will be an opportunity to catch up on paper work and also to meet many of the voluntary and community groups that serve our town so well.

Holidays and the swine flu pandemic are bringing further problems as the experience of Farhan Malik in Egypt demonstrated. We liaised with both the Foreign Office and the travel company but I was disappointed at the length of time it took the Egyptian Authorities to carry out the test to show he did not have swine flu. I believe that there are others like Farhan in hospital in Egypt and I have written to Foreign Secretary David Milliband MP to urge him to work with the Egyptian authorities to ensure that testing is done as soon as possible. I would advise any of you travelling abroad who feel poorly to see a doctor first.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting organised by John Grogan MP to discuss the OFCOM consultation on which sporting events should continue to be shown on terrestrial TV. Representatives from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 were present. I argued strongly that Test Cricket should be on terrestrial TV. I am therefore very disappointed with the BBC’s response which also wants to remove Rugby Union Internationals in addition to cricket from our screens. I shall be writing to both Mark Thompson and OFCOM expressing my disappointment at the BBC’s submission.

Whilst England turn the screw in the Ashes, the heroics of players like Jimmy Anderson and ‘Freddie’ Flintoff can only be witnessed by those who are willing to cough up a significant amount on top of their license fee.

As Chairman of the All Party Light Rail group, I have for the last three years organised a fringe meeting at each of the three party conferences. I've spent part of the week finalising the arrangements for these meetings. Jane Nearney who works for the passenger transport authority but lives in Middleton has been fantastic in putting things together.

This week sees a presentation to Graham Howarth, the recently retired Station Master at Littleborough Railway Station. Over the years he has become a very popular figure helping passengers. I wish him well in his retirement.

In other transport news, I am pleased to see the Rossendale Council have reversed their plans to privatise Rossendale Transport. Privatising this popular Council-run company could have led to the loss of nearly a hundred jobs at their depot in Rochdale. It could also have threatened the route from our Bus Station to Syke via the infirmary. I led the opposition to this in Parliament and alongside the Healey Councillors Alan Taylor, Tom Bailey and Elwyn Watkins, our pressure paid off.

Next week will see the publication of A-level results, an anxious time for many young people and their parents. Things are likely to be even tougher this year as the number of places available with increased demand have been reduced. Last year my nephew Matthew had to undergo an anxious wait before his place studying Medicine at Liverpool was confirmed. I hope many of you do not have to endure that!

I've been very lucky over the last few months to have had a number of young people from Rochdale working as interns in both my London office and in Rochdale. These have included Natassa Malik whose father is a good friend of Sir Cyril Smith, Adam Barber who is the son of my GP and Tom Barlow who is studying A Levels at Oldham Six Form College. I've been grateful to all three of them for the excellent contribution they have made. I hope the experience has given them some insight into the work of an MP.

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