I have being working on a troubling issue for a constituent for over a year now, which seems to have an obvious resolution but despite this I keep banging my head on the brick wall of corporate intransigence.
It’s on behalf of a local couple who have an interest-only mortgage with Santander Bank. No problem with their monthly payments but the issue is the bank doesn’t actually allow for interest-only mortgages to people over the age of 75, and as this particular couple have reached that age, and for circumstances that are perfectly understandable unable to settle the whole debt, Santander are seeking a court order to possess their house. I think this is a shocking decision. Not least as with so many of us living longer than in the past, there will be numerous other couples in the same situation - according to the House of Commons library they’re over 130,000 people of retirement age with interest only mortgages - so you’d think it would make sense for Santander to be flexible in response to changing times. And some other high street lenders are doing so such as the Nationwide who recently announced they’d be carrying over interest-only mortgages to 85 in recognition of our longevity, so why not Santander? I raised the matter in Treasury Questions and have secured a meeting with the minister to discuss this. I’ve also tabled an Early Day Motion deploring Santander’s actions, and asked they respond to the changes in our ageing society. I hope the banks can be persuaded to do the right thing.
I was frustrated the Prime Minister didn’t bring the government’s case for military action in Syria to Parliament, so we could examine the evidence, debate the issue and vote on whether or not the government should take action on our behalf. The precedent which has been in place since 2003 is that our government, unless the UK is under direct immediate threat, should secure consent from Parliament for military action, so it’s disappointing Theresa May wasn’t prepared to do so. Not least as I believe, like the Father of the House, Ken Clark MP, that she would have won the vote. This would have made our case stronger and, I believe, secured the majority support of the British public. We all understand that chemical weapons which have been illegal to use since the mid 1920’s, are beyond the pale and that President Assad’s use of them demanded a response. I fear though the PM going ahead without securing Parliaments support could be problematic for us down the road. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
It was good to visit the rheumatology department at the DGH recently. I met and spoke to the consultant, the team of nurses and other clinical staff as well as having a chat with some of the patients. And I was very impressed with what I saw. Rheumatic problems are quite common locally because of our age profile and the department investigates, diagnoses, manages and rehabilitates people with inflammatory and non-inflammatory disorders. It’s a stupendously busy unit with around 110,000 outpatient attendances each year, as well as treating patients requiring a stay in hospital. Truly a full-on service! Thank you Dr Sam and your colleagues. It was a pleasure to meet you all.
I also paid a visit to the Shinewater Sports Centre this week to watch a club that’s been set up to bring pickleball to Eastbourne. Yup. I’d never heard of it either, but the club founders, Karen and Chris Mitchell, have actually been demonstrating and coaching the game of pickleball for nearly two years. And it’s proving to be very popular. In a nutshell it is a form of mini tennis for those not in their first flush of youth. Like me! There were 23 over 50 players there when I visited, all of whom were playing with great enthusiasm. Karen and Chris now have 40 members who drop in on at least one of the three sessions every week. I can see why it’s growing so fast as it’s a sport adaptable to an individual’s fitness level, which is sensible as we get that little bit older. I even saw my old friend Roller Roy there; the only 80 year old ukulele playing, roller skating pickleball player in the world! More info on: firstname.lastname@example.org and there’s a beginner’s class at Shinewater on Sunday April 22 from 3-5pm.
Finally, I was briefed up in Westminster by a diabetes charity over the latest developments to combat the growing numbers of people affected. I reminded them I only discovered myself that I was Type 2 diabetic when they made a previous visit to Parliament and tested all the MPs. It was good to have the opportunity to thank them. Equally it reminded me of my subsequent conversation with my partner, Cherine. Naturally I expected oodles of sympathy. Not a bit of it. “Right” she said, “That’s it, no more cake.” I gently informed her that I was a liberal and not a revolutionary, and that liberals believe in incremental change not revolution, which of course means less cake, not no cake at all. At that point I think she hit me with her newspaper.
That’s it folks. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you around town.