Our Man in West­min­ster

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

ONE of my fi­nal acts in Par­lia­ment for this cal­en­dar year was to present a pe­ti­tion on be­half of home ed­u­ca­tors in and around Ash­ford. The pe­ti­tion takes ex­cep­tion to a re­port from the for­mer Kent County Coun­cil ed­u­ca­tion chief Gra­ham Bad­man, who has urged the gov­ern­ment to set up stricter con­trols on those who teach their chil­dren at home. To quote from the pe­ti­tion, it urges the gov­ern­ment “ei­ther not to bring for­ward, or to with­draw, pro­posed leg­isla­tive mea­sures pro­vid­ing for tighter regis­tra­tion and mon­i­tor­ing of chil­dren ed­u­cated at home in the ab­sence of a thor­ough in­de­pen­dent in­quiry.” Most pe­ti­tions of this sort achieve lit­tle, but this was some­thing dif­fer­ent. On the night I pre­sented the Ash­ford pe­ti­tion there were 120 other pe­ti­tions along the same lines from all around the coun­try. It was a demon­stra­tion that the an­cient right of pe­ti­tion­ing Par­lia­ment through your MP can still have some po­lit­i­cal res­o­nance, as it cer­tainly sends a mes­sage to the gov­ern­ment that they have stirred up a large amount of dis­con­tent with a par­tic­u­lar pol­icy. As this is my last col­umn un­til the New Year I ought to re­flect on the var­i­ous mo­men­tous events that have af­fected us in 2009. As ever many of them in­volve trans­port. Half of Kent seemed to be at St Pan­cras sta­tion on Mon­day, to cel­e­brate the ar­rival of the full high-speed ser­vice. This will do more to change Ash­ford’s im­age than any­thing since the ar­rival of in­ter­na­tional ser­vices. Else­where, we have de­fied all pre­dic­tions by not see­ing car­nage on the roads through the shared space scheme, and have de­fied the ter­ri­ble eco­nomic weather by see­ing a re­sump­tion of house­build­ing in Ash­ford. I hope we all have a peace­ful Christ­mas and a happy new year. See you in 2010. I WAS in­ter­ested in your col­umn on the mul­berry tree (De­cem­ber 10). My late son was given a seedling and was told it would be a minia­ture. I planted it in the mid­dle of a lawn. It seems to grow big­ger ev­ery year. I had it cut back last year to about 6ft from the trunk. Un­for­tu­nately with the strong winds we have been hav­ing, some branches have bro­ken away from the trunk. I am re­luc­tant to have the tree sawn down as it is at­trac­tive and there are berries, if I can get there be­fore the birds. As I am 90 years old, that does prove a prob­lem. Frances Boughton, York Road, Ken­ning­ton

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