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May 21 2013 Latest news:
If you turn left on leaving East Ham station and cross Burges Road, the shop on the corner is covered in distinctive green, blue and white Lycamobile posters. Readers may recall this used to be a shop where you could join the AA, which still owns the building. Then it became a Gnanam Telecom telephone calling office and sold Vectonecalling cards.
On paper, Newham is the place to be over the next 20 years as London moves eastwards bringing new jobs, new homes, new leisure facilities and new opportunities.
Tower Hamlets police sent out a tweet (@MPSTowerHam) recently to say that no residential burglaries had been reported overnight. Somebody replied to say that was nothing to boast about. I disagree. There are 254,000 residents in the borough and the fact none of them had their home broken into is a good result.
The Queen’s Speech – which was delivered to Parliament this week – set out the government’s agenda for the coming year.
What almost unique feature does our Parliament share with Iran? It is the right of unelected male clerics to decide on the laws of our land.
I want to write something about marriage. It will only – obliquely – be about the debate on same-sex marriage, because I think that the controversy about this has created a smoke-screen around something far more important, far more profound.
Following in the footsteps of greatness is exactly what Newham residents are going to be doing this summer as our legacy from the London 2012 Games gets going.
It’s never a good idea to start a paragraph using the acronym ‘Libor’ if you want people to read on, but I like to live dangerously. A survey was undertaken recently where the public were asked whether they believed the banks misbehaved in fixing Libor. Something like 90 per cent said ‘yes’. The next question on the survey asked whether they knew what Libor was. Most didn’t! The problem is most people have a good sense of what is right and wrong, what we need and don’t need, but economic jargon; debt, deficits, triple A, triple dip, growth, austerity, simply switches people off.
If you were to approach a stranger on the street and ask them what’s the biggest national issue for them right now I bet they would say it’s the economy. It’s certainly been the talking point for 2013 so far, closely related and sometimes the same as the big debate we’re having on welfare.
Standing outside Liverpool Street station looking at the former Great Eastern Hotel, it’s really quite bizarre to think that a Grecian-style Masonic Temple - apparently attended by Jack the Ripper - lies behind four bricked-up windows.
The shocking events in Boston last week served to remind us just how vulnerable great public events in cities can be.
Last week we heard that many children in east London didn’t get into their first choice of primary school. In total, 16% didn’t get their choice, meaning that they will have to travel away from their local school, often to a different one from siblings and friends.
Girlguiding UK is backing a campaign to abolish The Sun newspaper’s Page Three girl feature.
Was Margaret Thatcher a good or a bad thing for east London? As you might expect, I believe many of her Government’s policies were immensely damaging locally – record job losses, growing poverty, an end to Council house building, with growing waiting lists, an underfunded health service, schools in disrepair, and a sense that many areas felt, including much of east London, that they were being abandoned. Many families have never recovered. Many individuals never did.
On several occasions I have written about the introduction of the Local Policing Model. There was a public consultation in January at Queen Mary University attended by the Deputy Mayor for London, Assistant Commissioner Byrne and many senior police officers from Tower Hamlets including myself. Things have moved on quite quickly and at the end of March the Mayor’s Office made an announcement on the revised opening times for local police stations across London. Many people agree it is far better to have police officers on the street responding to calls rather than waiting at a front counter at times when very few people use the facility. In summary, Bethnal Green Police Station will remain open 24/7 and Limehouse and Brick Lane Police Stations will be open during the day. In additional there will be four Contact Points at Bow Police Station, Poplar Police office, Isle of Dogs Police Station and St.George’s Town Hall which will be open every Wednesday and Thursday between 7pm and 8pm and every Saturday afternoon between 2pm and 3pm.
I was very interested to see that, in their recent inaugural events, both Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, and Pope Francis, leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, deliberately simplified and de-mystified the proceedings. The Archbishop did not, as all his predecessors have, invite people to an ‘Enthronement’ – though he was in fact enthroned (by a woman Archdeacon, another first!) into his special seat at Canterbury Cathedral – but to a service to celebrate the beginning of a new ministry and chapter in the life of the Anglican Church. And Pope Francis was almost chatty when he addressed the crowds from his balcony in St Mark’s Square! Then, when it came to the annual commemoration of Jesus’s last Supper, and he was required to wash the feet of twelve people just as Jesus did, Pope Francis went to a local prison and washed the feet of twelve prisoners, two of whom were women and some of whom were Muslim. In past years, Popes have washed the feet of twelve Roman Catholic priests!
Open up a war front and Justin Huggler was always right there, witnessing history as it was happening.
The Chancellor’s Budget two weeks ago was yet another missed opportunity to help families and small businesses who are struggling across East London. Instead of offering a much needed boost to growth, jobs, and living standards, this Budget offered more of the same failing policies.
Last week, I was standing in line at Abokado waiting to buy a delicious box of sushi and I overheard a couple in the queue discussing their kids and in particular how difficult it’s going to be for them this summer as there are no jobs out there.
Performers added a splash of colour to an otherwise grey afternoon as thousands turned out to the Boishakhi Mela on Sunday.
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