In the bleak mid-winter

February 3, 2009

Royston in the snow is fantastic for all ages, but specially for young people – with many great slopes on the Heath for sledging. With the schools closed yesterday, it was like a Winter Sports’ Resort. There was some very vigorous snowboarding too. Today, as I walked our dog Soda before leaving for London, mothers and toddlers were enjoying a more gentle snow ride. If the weather goes on like this, I will dust down my sledge from the garage…

As you can see from my Gallery photographs, the House of Commons is very scenic in the snow, but many of us here are beginning to think that Britain has been transported back in time to the 1970s – what with a heavy winter, strikes across Britain, trains out of action, rising unemployment, a Labour Government that’s lost its way and debts through the roof.

At the House today, Conservatives are putting forward a motion calling for better training for the young and for more young people to be taught to read write and add up properly. This is even more necessary as jobs become harder to find in the recession.

It is a cause of national shame that 850,000 young people are not in education, work, or training – a figure up from 686,000 in 2000. I feel for youngsters who have not learnt to read at primary school, sitting at the back of a secondary school class, hiding from teacher and unable to learn more complex subjects or do any homework. No wonder so many truant or cause trouble. As a society, we need to be tackling this at age 7 years, not 17 years. Of course, we are asking for more courses to help adults who have missed out on the basics, but the real answer is to find those struggling and give them a high degree of help at an early age.

Richard the Lion Heart statue in the snow

Richard the Lion Heart statue in the snow

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Winter is well and truly here

January 6, 2009

Back in North Herts there is sledging on Therfield Heath, but roads are very icy and treacherous. Several constituents have contacted me about roads in Great Ashby and Hatch Lane between Baldock and Weston and I have contacted Hertfordshire Highways for help. One Weston report was particularly alarming:

“It is an ice sheet all the way through. Only one other car used it  – a 4wd and it struggled. The hill is totally unsafe going downwards. The only way I could prevent sliding all the way down was to drive with the nearside wheels on the verge.”