Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas one and all

Wishing you a very merry Christmas - a time of peace and good will to all men, and women!

I am lucky - we are about to sit down to Christmas dinner in Switzerland, a family affair, with turkey and all the trimmings. Here's to thinking about those who are less fortunate.

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Sunday, 20 December 2009

Off for a Christmas Break...

... hopefully not literally as I am going skiing with my parents in Switzerland from 21st to 29th December.

I'm a recent convert to skiing but have got the skiing bug, and it will be great to get some fresh Swiss air ..

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pre-Budget Report

Only Alistair Darling and Labour could think that a tax on employing people is a good idea in these recession hit times with an increase in National Insurance in 2011 ...
MADNESS MADNESS MADNESS

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Question to Council

I will be asking a question at next Wednesday's council meeting

“Could you please clarify the council policy on gated developments including whether
there are any exceptions to the policy?”

I understand that the question will be answered by Councillor Marc Francis, lead member for Housing. I bet he won't be able to answer it without referring to Margaret Thatcher / 1980s/1990s housing policy or Hammersmith & Fulham.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

London Crimestoppers

I am delighted to have been invited to join the London Crimestoppers Board, and look forward to attending my first Board meeting in December.

Crimestoppers is a fantastic charity which helps find criminals and solve crimes. Many of you will know it from its involvement in Crimewatch, and the number 0800 555 111 which you can call to give information entirely anonymously.

As with many charities, much of its work is done by volunteers, and there are a number of regional boards. I will be joining the London Board, and working alongside the team to help with projects across London, and assisting with fundraising.

If you would like to get more involved, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

London Crimestoppers Brain game

I was delighted to attend the 14th London Crimstoppers Brain Game at the Guildhall last night, and to offer my assistance.

This is one of the key fundraisers for the charity, and I am one of the volunteers that helps the wonderful Liz Manning with the smooth running on the night.

This year I looked after the League of Gentlemen, and a security company. My table were incredibly generous with their donations to the raffle, and I won the prize for looking after the table who donated the most.

The event is an annual event, and any businesses interested in attending should drop me an e-mail and let me know. The event is supremely organised by Liz Manning, and is in the wonderful setting of the London Guildhall.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembrance Sunday


Today I attended with other Conservatives, and members of the public, the Tower Hamlets Cemetry Remembrance Sunday service. Cllr Rupert Eckart laid a wreath on behalf of the Conservatives in Tower Hamlets.

The men and women that laid down their lives in the First and Second World Wars are important to remember - the impact of war on the East End, and in particular the Blitz is stark, and the devestation that was caused. I remember though and thank those who laid down their lives for their dedication to freedom and democracy, values that are incredibly important to me, and millions of others.

We also remember those who lay down their lives even now, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. Whether you agree with the decision to go to war, the fact that these men and women die serving their country is something that should and (I will always) commemorate, and remember.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Truth on the Economy

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, George Osborne has set out what needs to be done to tackle this country's debt crisis. He highlighted the fact that this Government spends more money on servicing the debt than it does on educating our children or on policing our streets.

When we as members of the public are in debt, we don't keep on borrowing, and keep on spending: we rein in our spending, and start paying down the debt to reduce interest payments and get ourselves back on an even keel. Government should be no different.


Osborne set out significant steps to address the debt crisis in the short and long term, consistent with the values of the modern progressive Conservative Party - protecting the poorest and the low paid, being straight with people and recognising that we are all in this together.

Conservatives have been straight with the British people, and this includes:
· A bigger state pension each year for all, paid for by an increase in the pension age of one year;
· A one year public sector pay freeze, that does not apply to the lowest paid, in order to protect the jobs of 100,000 people working in frontline public services;

· Tackling Britain's debt crisis to stop higher interest rates and higher unemployment for all.

As George Osborne said: "these are the honest choices in the world in which we live. Anyone who tells you these choices can be avoided is not telling you the truth. We are all in this together."

Raising the retirement age to 66
To restore the link between the level of the state pension and earnings, the retirement age will have to rise. This is another of those trade-offs any honest government has to confront. All parties accept that to afford that, with an ageing population, the state pension age will have to rise. The women's pension age is already set to start rising next year to 65, and then in 2026 the pension age for men and women will go up to 66. No one who is a pensioner today, or approaching retirement soon, will be affected. But this is how we can afford increasing the basic state pension for all.

One year pay freeze in 2011
Whoever wins the next election is going to have to look at the cost of public sector pay, and to accept a one year pay freeze. The Conservatives made it clear that this shouldn't include public servants earning less than £18,000, because we don't believe in balancing the budget on the backs of the poorest. Nor would they include those risking their lives for this country in Afghanistan - we owe them so much more, so we should double their operational allowance.

A pay freeze of the scale we're talking about is the equivalent to saving 100,000 public sector jobs. We say to every public sector worker that this is the best way to try to protect your job during this difficult period. We are all in this together.


I was pleased with Osborne's speech: it is absolutely fundamental to look at the economic situation honestly, and to recognise that this is a time where tough choices are required. No doubt there will be the usual Labour rhetoric about Tory cuts, but as we know, they now accept the need to make them too. The Conservatives showed themselves to be the party of the many, not just of the few.

It seems to me that there is a real choice between Conservatives and Labour on the Economy ... Honesty and Truth on the Economy or more of Labour being Economic with the Truth!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Off to Manchester

I am on my way up to Manchester for Conservative Party Conference. This will be a very interesting year, and is a real opportunity for the Conservatives to show that they are ready to govern.

While the polls look good, it must be remembered quite what a steep climb there is for the Conservatives to win at the next election. To have a majority of just 1 (Labour's current majority is over 100) we need to win 117 seats. This is significantly higher than the number of seats won by Margaret Thatcher in the historic election victory in 1979, and requires a massive swing, which has not been achieved since the 1930s.

No doubt there will be much mention of there being no room for complacency. This is not just a political statement, but absolutely the case. We need to convince voters across the country to throw out this Labour Government and to give the Conservatives a chance.

I have every confidence that the Conservative team will deliver strong policy announcements on the big issues, and the issues that matter most to people, but also that there is strength in the team, and that alongwith David Cameron, the team can and will deliver, if people give us the opportunity to govern this country.

All quite exciting really ...

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Save General Election Night


I am supporting this cross-party campaign to save general election night.

The Sunday Times reported on Sunday 6th September - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6823320.ece - that increasing numbers of councils are planning on counting the votes cast on the Friday morning rather than the Thursday night. Conservative political blogger Jonathan Isaby started the campaign, but was quickly joined and supported by Labour MP Tom Harris and Mark Pack of Lib Dem Voice

Here are a few reasons why you might support the campaign:

*We want to know who won as soon as possible*
Quite simply, once the polling stations have closed we want to know the result as soon as possible. And this argument holds on two levels. Firstly, on a constituency level, but more significantly on a national level: if the general election is going to be close, then it is possible that if lots of seats are not counting until Friday - especially marginals - then we will not know who is going to be Prime Minister, form the Government etc until Friday lunchtime.

*It would be a backward step*
In the digital 24-hour media age when we are used to getting news quicker than ever before, it would be a backward step to delay election counts. If anything, we should be seeking to persuade the few constituencies which historically count on a Friday to bring their counts forward to Thursday night.

*Fewer people will be able to follow the results coming in*
Sitting around the television into the early hours is an election night ritual for people across the land, many of whom do not perhaps follow politics closely on a daily basis. But if there are fewer results to announce - and the potential of not getting a national result to boot - they are less likely to bother tuning in and when the remaining constituencies declare and the national result becomes apparent on the Friday, anyone at work is not going to be able to witness the climax of the electoral process.

*The TV coverage of the election will suffer*
The outside broadcasts (OBs) at counts up and down the country have provided many a memorable moment over they years, and they bring the results to life. However, the reason why broadcasters are able to provide such a variety of OBs is that there is no other call on the satellite trucks and outside broadcast units during the night. If there were an increasing number of counts on Friday during the day, fewer of them would have cameras present, thereby reducing the ability of the broadcasters to give full coverage of the results.

*It's a tradition, dammit*
The traditional British way of doing elections is to have people come out to vote and then count the ballot papers immediately afterwards. It's how we do it and what we're used to.

*Threats to the integrity of the ballot*
Security is a less important concern, but worth a mention all the same. Some of us might be just a little uncomfortable about increasing millions of ballot papers being left overnight before being counted.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Join the facebook group:

Please contact your local council (most likely the electoral registration department or Chief Executive's office) to discover when the votes for your constituency at the general election will be counted.

If it's definitely Thursday, message Jonathan Isaby (the facebook group's admin) and a list of confirmed Thursday counts will be posted in the latest news section below.

If your council indicates that it will be counting on Friday or that it is yet to be decided, again, please let Jonathan Isaby know so that it can be posted below, but please also lobby your local councillors and council leader to urge them to count the votes on the Thursday night.

Together we can save General Election Night!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Eid Mubarak & Happy Jewish New Year

I join with many others in wishing my Muslim friends Eid Mubarak, and my Jewish friends, a Happy Rosh Hashanah.

I hope that the year ahead will be full of happiness, prosperity and peace for all.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Bow East SNT

Tonight I chaired the Bow East SNT Ward Panel meeting for the first time in my new capacity as Chair of the Resident's Panel.

This meeting is an opportunity for the Police to update the Panel of residents of the work they have been doing in the previous 6 weeks; and particularly in relation to the PSPs (public set priorities). As ever, the team have been working hard; and this was the first update we had from new recruits Laura McLoughlin and Tony Harris. Along with Emma Ives, they each have responsibility for a PSP.

It was agreed to continue with the existing PSPs for the next 6 weeks. These are (a) the drunks on Roman Road; (b) Morville Street; and (c) Candey Street.

Whils the problem of drunks on Roman Road isn't going to go away overnight, a significant amount of work has been done to reduce this problem. In particular, one chap has been encouraged and has now completed a residential rehab course. It is vital that the Police use the variety of resources from persuasion, education, as well as fixed penalty notices and arrest. If residents and shopkeepers still feel there is a problem, they should call the Bow East SNT directly, and report the issue. This is the same whether it is a public set priority, or general crime in Bow East. Of course if it is an emergency, the public should call 999.

If you are a resident in Bow East, and interested in getting involved in the Ward Panel, please e-mail the team on BowEast.SNT@met.police.uk.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Congratulations England

Congratulations to the England cricket team who have this afternoon won the Ashes at the Oval. Sadly I was at work, and only able to see the updates on the BBC website, but there were shouts of joy when the final wicket fell. Andrew Strauss and his team should be very proud, and what a great send off for Freddie Flintoff!

London Mayor Boris Johnson issued his own congratulations, in true Boris style!

''England have spun, swung and swatted their way to an incredible triumph. It is a wonderful achievement and testament to the courage, determination and remarkable array of talents within this fantastic cricketing team. This victory is all the more impressive in the way the team has dealt with adversity, injury and the huge expectations of a nation hungry for cricketing success. I hope this truly amazing feat will inspire young kids who may never have played cricket to pick up a bat or a ball in the hope of becoming the next Freddie Flintoff, Monty Panesar or this weekend's century man Jonathan Trott.''

But how right he is, sporting achievements like this can and do and should inspire our youngsters to get involved in sport.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Ramadan

Ramadan Kareem.

Today starts the month of Ramadan, and having just returned from Morocco, I was speaking to a number of people preparing for the difficult month ahead, in which they will fast during the hours of sunlight.

David Cameron has sent his very best wishes to Muslim communities in Britain and around the world, as they start the month of Ramadan.

He said: "I know the significance this month has for all Muslims", he said, "and there are lessons which members of all faiths and none can learn from this observance. These include the importance of reflection, charity and self-control."

He added that these are principles which help to strengthen society as a whole, and "are a sign of the contribution which Muslim communities and the Muslim faith has made to our national life".

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Off on Holiday

Tomorrow I am off to Marrakesh, for a five night break. I am not sure that it will be the most relaxing holiday, but am looking forward to getting away for a few days. We will be taking in the sights of Marrakesh itself, and particularly the main square, and the souks.

Also hoping to make it out to the Atlas Mountains and Essouira.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Roman Road Action Day

On Saturday local residents were able to get more than their shopping from Roman Road market. In Gladstone Place, were a number of stalls, with representatives from the Council, the ASB team, the Dog Wardens, as well as members of the Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT).

I was along supporting the police stall and helping them give out their goodies! Residents were able to pick up a variety of items: door chains; UV markers for bikes and electrical goods; things to put on your drinks to stop them being spiked. Additionally, there were fridge magnets and cards with contact details for the SNT team; as well as the new non-emergency number that is available to contact the police.

It was a great chance for residents to meet their local neighbourhood officers, and we were also joined by the Sergeant from Bow West, who fielded questions from Bow West residents.

The Police also were able to give out advice, and hear directly from residents as to ongoing issues. Sgt Tony Mohan was leading from the forefront, handing out goodies and advice, as well as helping with issues that arose on the day with local drunks, issues in shops and matters raised by businesses and residents. It was a good opportunity for one of our new officers (Tony Harris) who has been with the team for a fortnight, to meet local residents.

Also on hand were two performers from the Arc Theatre, who did a number of performances highlighting the need for communication and understanding particularly between the older and younger generations. Cliff and TJ did a fantastic job, and the Arc Theatre generally does some very good work. See here for further details.
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Friday, 7 August 2009

Police Ward Panel Meeting

Last night I was delighted to be voted in as the new Chairman of the Bow East Safer Neighbourhood Team Ward Panel (a bit of a mouthful!) alongwith my new Vice-Chairman (another local resident) June.

The meeting was an opportunity for the Police to report back on the priorities that they have focussed on in Bow East, and what progress they have made. The Panel (made up of local residents) then discusses what priorities should be adopted.

The next Ward Panel meeting is in September when we will be reviewing and receiving updates on our priorities.

If you have a police matter in Bow East, please do phone your SNT, or alternatively please drop me an e-mail or a comment on here.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Private Eye and Tower Hamlets

Private Eye has kindly given written permission to Bethnal Green and Bow Conservatives to produce copies of their articles on Tower Hamlets on our website. Not something you'd find in East End Life.

If you are interested, please click here.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Labour Desperation

A succession of Tower Hamlets residents lined up to hammer home the message that the Labour group on the Council was failing. Local resident, Mark, from the Parkview Estate community centre, the Glasshouse, presented a petition asking for funding from the Council to help them stay open, having missed the deadline due to the Treasurer sadly passing away. Labour's response was they missed the deadline, so that is it. All they will do is to identify other areas of funding - that has been promised for some time, nothing is forthcoming, and the bills are mounting up.

Local mothers presented a petition about the fried chicken shop on Ben Johnson Road, which has an effect on anti-social behaviour, as well as childhood obesity issues. The ladies did a fantastic job presenting their petition, although were clearly nervous about standing up in front of the public. What did Labour do? Talk across them and not show them the respect they deserved.

And local Isle of Dogs resident, Gloria Thienel, presented a petition about resurfacing Stebondale Sreet, which has been neglected by Labour. Councillor Ullah (Cleaner, Greener, Safer) didn't even listen to the name of the street, and misunderstood that it needed resurfacing not repairing.

Sadly they all had one thing in common, the fact that Labour had failed, and the fact that Labour Councillors seem to think it not serious enough to listen to the residents. The patronising response of some Labour Councillors was truly shocking.

However the main momemnt of desperation came as Labour's whip, Rachel Saunders, rushed after Gloria inviting her to join the Labour party and stand for them. Once again East End resident, Gloria, gave Labour what for, and expressed her disgust.

Click here for the Advertiser's take on it.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Martin Smith's Departure

The local newspaper, East London Advertiser, has done a sterling job disclosing details of the departure of Tower Hamlet's Chief Executive, which Labour have been seeking to hide away. It is understood that Labour leader, Lutfur Rahman, told the Chief Executive that he had no confidence in him, which led to Martin Smith taking annual leave and consulting his Union.

At tonight's Council meeting Labour's repeatedly attempted to describe the events as a mutual agreement were laughable. As an employment lawyer, I know first hand how compromise agreements are negotiated and discussed. It ultimately will depend on how much is offered by the employer, as to whether an ex-employee will agree to confidentiality. Just because it is stated repeatedly that it was a mutual agreement will not make it true. No doubt having been told to go, they have come to an agreement over the terms on which he will leave.

A decision that will be paid for out of the pockets of Tower Hamlets council tax payers.

So far as I can see there was no evidence that Martin Smith had any intention of going until the Labour Advisory Board meeting.

Lutfur Rahman's statement to the Council Chamber was disingenuous - he praised Martin Smith for the work he had done, but said we needed a fresh approach. The opposition groups, led by Councillor Golds, challenged this, but Lutfur was consistently allowed by the Mayor to avoid answering the question and get away with it.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

£300k of your money...

... has gone to pay-off the Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council following new Council leader, Lutfur Rahman, decision to tell him to consider his future. Following weeks of silence, when Labour refused to tell the public what was going on, the news has been broken by the Conservative opposition group and the East London Advertiser. On 30 June the Labour political adviser was commenting that the Chief Exec was due to return the following day.

Now we hear that the pay off is going ahead, and £300k of your money is paying off a man who had a distinguished local Government career, helping reining in spending.

This does not represent value for taxpayers money. I think this story has more to come, I wonder what East End Lies will have to say about it.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Resident's Question Time

Last night the Police and Community Safety Board held its first Resident's Question Time event. Abu Sufian had done a fantastic job organising, and residents were able to hold to account members from the Council (officers and councillors) as well as the Fire Service, NHS Tower Hamlets, and Police.

The event allowed residents to see some of the Third Sector organisations helping out with key issues such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol addictions, as well as LIFE (the Fire Brigade leadership programme).

The evening was split into four sections: youth engagement, women and crime, drug use and supply and anti-social behaviour.

It is clear that the Police are working hard in the local area, but they need the support of residents to bring issues to their Safer Neighbourhood Teams, reporting crime and anti-social behaviour. However there is a need for shift patterns to reflect the needs of local residents. Paul Ricketts (the Borough Commander) assured us that this was starting to happen.

I raised a question about whether the powers that be had any idea how many youths were victims of crime. With the largest youth population amongst London Boroughs, it is vital that we protect our youths. Whilst there are a small number of young girls and guys that cause trouble on the streets, the vast proportion of our youths are much more likely to be the victim of crime than the perpetrator.

Other key issues that came out of the event were:
* The oversaturation of licensed premises - despite the comments of the Labour councillor that he is against licensed premises; the number of premises that can sell alcohol has been steadily increasing in Tower Hamlets
* There is a significant amount of CCTV coverage across the Boroguh
* The Police and Fire Brigade continue their investigation into the fire at the Gurdwara, but cannot release any information at the moment.
* There is still not good enough communication of what is being done.
* ASB is a blight for many local residents, and more needs to be done to solve this.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Cameron Highlights Brown's Failings

Today in the House of Commons, Gordon Brown made a statement to the House about Building Britain's Future. David Cameron's reply says it all.

"The Prime Minister talks about Building Britain's Future. But isn't it time the British people were asked whether they want him to be part of it? No recognition in that statement that they've been in office for 12 years; No recognition of the catastrophic state of the public finances. The Prime Minister is living in a dream world in which spending is going up, investment is going up, infrastructure is being boosted. When is someone going to tell him that he's run out of money?

He talks for instance about housing. Let me just give him one figure. Housebuilding today is at the lowest level since 1947. People are entitled to ask simply what world he is living in. Mr Speaker, I expect, like me, you will be thinking you have heard a lot of that statement before. And that's not just because the Prime Minister ignored your injunction and leaked most of it in advance. It's because we have heard most of it before. How many times has the country been told to expect the Prime Minister's vision? How many times has it been told to expect a string of policy announcements that was going to be bold reform?

Every single re-launch collapses. And today didn't it happen more quickly than usual? At 7.50am, Peter Mandelson took to the airwaves and promptly sunk the whole thing by cancelling the Government's spending review. So isn't what we have today a package without a price tag? It is just a combination of rehashed initiatives, ideas taken from the Opposition, and some timid and bureaucratic top-down tinkering.

I have to admit there are some good things in here. That's because we thought of them: The future fund; Carbon capture and storage demonstrations. At least they can read and take dictation. Saying for instance if you don't take the job you won't get the benefit. We announced that at our Party Conference two years ago. Every year he says we don't have any policies. And every year he fills his Draft Legislative Programme with them.

Much of the rest of this programme is just rehashed from previous years. The simplification of our immigration rules. That was announced in last year's programme. The Floods Bill. That was recommended in 2007, announced in 2008, and re-announced again this morning in 2009. One-to-one tuition. The NHS check-ups. Both announced last year. The Constitutional Renewal Bill. That is back for the third time in a row. This time apparently it's going to include Lords reform. But the Prime Minister hasn't been reforming the Lords; he's been stuffing it with his cronies. It's the one area of employment in Britain that's rising.

Isn't the real renewal our country needs not just another Bill but a General Election? Where's the Heritage Protection Bill, announced last year? Where are the regulatory budgets that the Prime Minister announced as a way of cutting red tape on business? And what's happening - not a word about the Royal Mail. This was going to be the great virility test of the Prime Minister's reforming zeal. Where is it? Stuck in the post? We were promised Second Reading before the summer recess. Where is it?

Lord Mandelson said in today's FT he was finding himself "jostled" out of the programme. I can't believe Lord Mandelson of Upgrade has ever been jostled out of anything. But let me make the Prime Minister an offer. If he hasn't got time in his packed Parliamentary schedule to get his Royal Mail reforms though, would he like to have our Opposition Day Debate to have the Second Reading next week? Would he welcome that? Just nod.

So much for all the Prime Minister's talk about tough decisions. He has bottled it once again."

---
"To listen to his statement you would think the Treasury was rolling in money. When is someone going to tell him it has run out? Let me read out what the OECD said just this morning. They say the Government has got to be more 'ambitious' and more 'explicit' about the need for spending cuts. The OECD is joining a growing list - from the IFS to the Governor of the Bank of England and frankly half his Cabinet in private - who admit he has got to be straight with people on spending.

So let me just ask the Prime Minister this very simple question. Will there be a spending review before the General Election? This morning the First Secretary said there wouldn't, and then the Treasury said there might be. Who speaks for the Government? Any household or company faced with this level of debt would start to get it under control. Isn't it essential to start reviewing spending now?

If the first big failure of today's announcement is the lack of honesty on spending, the second failure is surely a lack of real reform of our public services. I suppose we should be grateful for one thing. Year after year this Government and this Prime Minister has promoted and defended its targets culture. Today, they have finally admitted they were wrong all along. But make no mistake: these proposals are about top-down bureaucratic tinkering, not real freedom.

On schools, the Prime Minister talks about putting power in parents' hands. So why is he replacing the raw data of school league tables with manufactured report cards? On the police, why is the Prime Minister just talking about empowering citizens rather than giving them the chance to vote for their elected representatives? On health, why is he restricting the choices people have, rather than letting them and their GPs choose where they get treated?

Then there's the addiction to the initiative. Just take one - Parenting Orders. This is the big new idea apparently on school discipline. It was actually announced in September 2004. And in the past five years, how many pupils have been disciplined in this way? A big fat zero. That is the truth behind the Government's announcement.

The truth about today's statement is it only serves to highlight the decline of this Government. Their money has run out. Their political capital has run out. And now their time is running out too."

---
"What we've got today is yet another re-launch - a re-launch without a price-tag. And isn't it clear to the whole country that the only way to sort out our finances; to get real reform of our public services; and the only way to build Britain's future is to change this wretched Government?"

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Local Businesses Getting Together

Tonight several local businesses and residents met at the St Hilda community centre to speak about the planning laws and their effects on the community. Topics included what makes a healthy town centre, rent regulation, s.106 agreements, and the impact of local businesses.

It was a great session and we have submitted some thoughts and ideas to input into Boris' London plan.

Local businesses are vital to the community in so many ways: not just the permanent local jobs but also casual employment, the great social function they provide by knowing their customers, and providing tailored services including looking after the elderly and disabled customers. In certain areas they bring tourism and spending in Tower Hamlets (to areas such as Brick Lane, Columbia Road market).

Well done to local resident, Lucy Rogers, for organising the event.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Gurdwara


Since the fire at the Gurdwara in Harley Grove, the local community has been getting together on a Sunday and enjoyng music, food and each other's company in Harley Grove.
I was delighted to be invited along by Bobby Singh to join his community.

The fire has devestated the temple, and a number of the holy books, yet rather than admit defeat, the community has come together to help get through the difficult times. It just shows what great spirit comes out of the bad times, and what a good thing the local community is.

If you have information on what happened that night: contact the specialist Community Safety Team at Limehouse Police Station on 020 7275 4750, or, to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Community Crime Fighters

Tomorrow, I am attending the Community Crime Fighters course in London, which I have been invited to as a member of my SNT Ward Panel. I'm not entirely sure what to expect, but shall let you know how I get on.

CWO: Women in Sport

Last night saw the CWO Forum on Women in Sport, with Hugh Robertson, MP, the Shadow Minister for the Olympics.

The event discussed a wide variety of topics, including getting more young girls at school into sport (including how mothers need to be targetted to ensure this happens); hearing about the great work the FA are doing at getting girls playing football, and discussion of incentivising sports playing.

I raised a question about the provision of sports teams etc in East London, and particularly around Victoria Park. If you are down in Clapham, Wimbledon, or other SW London areas, there are a large number of women's leagues in various sports. This is much less so in East London. Hopefully the Olympics, and some of the budget on building up community sports will address this.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

BBCC - Special Guest: The High Commissioner

Today I attended an event on investing in Bangladesh, run by the BBCC, British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce. The event was well presented and well attended by a number of prominent Bangladeshi businessmen, from all political backgrounds, and from around the country. The highlight of the day though was the special guest, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, who had attended the event as his first official engagement since his appointment.

I was fortunate to sit opposite the High Commissioner at lunch, and to hear about his experiences to date and some of the thoughts for his three year appointment.

More details to follow.

Congratulations to S.B. Faruk for his organisation of the event.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

General Election Countdown



However much he tries to put it off, Gordon Brown has to call a General Election before June 3rd next year - and the Conservatives have built a widget that counts down the days until the British people get to have their say.

So now we can start counting down to the day when we can finally get rid of Gordon Brown and his discredited Government.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

BGB Summer Party

This event is taking place on Wednesday 1st July near Spitalfields / Brick Lane. Come and celebrate the great work in the Euro elections, and meet fellow members, activists and supporters.

For tickets: drop me an e-mail at claire@bethnalgreenandbowconservatives.com

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

June Elections

Just one more day before polling day in the June elections for the European Parliament. Polling stations open at 7am on Thursday 4 June, and are open until 10pm.

Don't forget to vote.

Whitechapel SNT

Last night I attended the Whitechapel SNT, chaired by Fraser Roos, and attended by Sgt Adam Love, the SNT Sergeant.

The SNT Ward Panel voted to update the PSPs (Public Set Priorities) having heard from concerns about local residents. These Panels are a great opportunity for local residents to have their say and speak directly to the Police officers looking after their day to day safety in the local area.

The next meeting is on Monday 6th July, and it is open to anyone living or working or affected by crime in the Whitechapel ward.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Police Raid Matchmaker

As a member of the Bow East SNT (Safer Neighbourhood Team) Ward Panel, I was invited along by the local police to witness the raid on the Matchmaker pub on Roman Road.

There have been frequent problems, particularly on a Friday night, and numerous complaints had been raised by local residents. The Police had tried very hard to sort the problem out without resorting to strong tactics, but the interventions did not appear to have worked.

So, on Friday night (6th May) the local SNT along with a number of extra resources set out to raid the pub, and to see exactly what was going on. 80 police officers including those from the TSG wearing riot helmets stormed the premises at around 8.30pm. The helmets were necessary bearing in mind the amount of glass in the pub, and the risk to the police officers.

A number of arrests were made for offences including possession of a lock knife, and drug offences. It is understood that a significant amount of Class A drugs were found.

The Matchmaker has now agreed to close on a Friday night, which should give the Roman Road back to residents on a Friay. This shows the power of local people, and the local SNT. Sgt Tony Mohan and his team are doing a fantastic job. If you want to get in touch with the team, contact them on

E-mail: BowEast.SNT@metpolice.uk
Tel: 0208 721 2807

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Misleading Labour Letter

I've been meaning to blog about this letter for a while. In the 16th April edition of the East London advertiser there was a letter from Bow East councillors thanking members of hte public for attending the You Decide event. Nothing wrong with that, but they go onto say that residnets agreed to buy in two extra police officers for Bow's Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

That isn't what happened. Residents eventually got to vote for one extra police officer, but Cllr Peck had to explain that a decision would have to be made whether it went to Bow East or Bow West. Not wanting to upset half of the attendees Cllr Peck suggested that they could pull forward some money from the budget to pay for it.

Whilst it is great news that there will be an extra police officer, following up with misleading letters, and changing things as they see fit, is a worrying way to do democracy.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Conservative Spring Conference

This weekend I am off to Cheltenham for Conservative Spring Conference.

Happy St George's Day

Have a great St George's Day. Boris will be speaking at Leadenhall Market this morning.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

SDC Fiasco

The voting through of the Safeway site development was not the only contentious issue at the meeting on 15 April. Tower Hamlets voted through the City Pride development which would be the (or one of the) densest developments in the UK, and across the world. Despite thousands of resident's objections, Labour once again passed it through without a secon dthought!

Well in fact there was a second thought, as the first vote was tied 4 votes for and 4 votes against. The Chair, having allowed Cllr Francis (L) to summarise in favour of the development, but refusing to allow Cllr Archer (C) to summarise againt, was then given the casting vote.

Strangely he needed 15 minutes of legal advice before he cast his vote in favour of the development.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Council Safeway Fiasco

Last night I attended the Strategic Development Committee at Tower Hamlets Council to speak on behalf of local residents against the proposed development on the former Safeway site. Whilst residents welcome a supermarket which is long overdue, the rest of the development is unnecessary and out of character with the local area. Building on the car park is likely to destroy the Roman Road market.

A legal letter was sent to Tower Hamlets legal department, but the Council refused to consider it, stating it had been received out of time.

Accordingly I amended my speech to deal with the points raised in the letter. In particular I expressed concerns at the potential cost to the taxpayer of defending a legal Judicial Review, which may ultimately overturn the decision to grant planning permission. A number of concerns were raised about the process, as well as about the involvement of Councillor Josh Peck, and the requirements for environmental impact assessments.

Sadly the Council ignored the objections of many. Not a single person had written in favour of it this time round (remember this is a duplicate!). Alongwith the Respect Councillor who had no idea what the development was about, Labour voted through the controversial plans.

Cllr Mark Francis could not vote on the development as he is on the Board of Old Ford Housing, which has Circle Anglia (the developers) as a parent company! Cllr Ahmed Omer (another Bow East Councillor) voted this through. So much for listening to concerns of their residents.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

ELA Print Number of Letters Re Safeway Fiasco

A quick look on the ELA website this evening shows that there are 4 letters expressing concerns about the Safeway Fiasco development and the Council's desire to push through the planning application.

Residents can see it, what about the Council?!

See here.

Letter to the Council

This evening I have written to the Council - to the planning officer Steve Irvine - having heard that they are refusing to give any consideration to previous objections. A copy of my letter is below.


"Dear Stephen,

I understand that you are the Planning Officer in relation to 2 Gladstone Place. As a local Bow resident I am writing to ask the Council to consider adjourning the planning application from the 2nd April Scrutiny and Development Committee.

I have recently come to understand that the Council is refusing to consider any objections from the previous duplicate planning application. I would firstly urge the Council to reconsider this stance. The application is a duplicate of the original application and has only been put through because of the threat of Judicial Review, and no other reason. To fail to count previous objections to the same application is utterly outrageous, and I ask the Council to reconsider this. This was not made clear when the planning application was resubmitted, and it is disengenuous to suggest that one cannot assume residents are no longer objecting. In fact, the fact that a local residents group has threatened and now brought judicial review action is, on the contrary, indicative that there remains very strong objections.

Secondly, given that it has only become clear recently (and after the formal consultation period ended) that there is to be no account given of the previous objections, the fair and just thing to do is to hear the planning application at the SDC after 2nd April, and to extend the time for objections, and tell residents that if they do not agree they must object again. That would be the honest thing to do.

I understand that the meeting on 2 April may have logistic difficulties, given the G20 summit, and the high likelihood of protesters in Canary Wharf, and the impact on transport may prevent residents from attending and raising their genuine concerns.

If the Council genuinely wants to hear this planning application fairly, rather than pushing through what appears to be a pre-judged decision without consultation, then the following steps should be taken:

* Hear the application at the next SDC after 2 April
* Extend the consultation period
* Allow all previous objections to be considered - it can safely be assumed that 90% (at least) remain in opposition.
* Reconsider the decision to have an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)

A number of local residents have voiced to me their concerns about this ill-thought through planning application which appears to promise a Tesco (but with an inadequate s.106 agreement) to push through a development of over 200 flats, without considering properly the transport plans (articulated lorries down Cardigan Road and the loss of the car park leading to the inevitable downturn on Roman Road market), insignificant consideration being given to sunlight, PTAL figures changing over time, the height towering over the Conservation Area, and the design being out of character for the local area. I hope that this time the Council will listen.

To make it clear, I welcome a supermarket, but not at the costs to the local area that this development brings; what the residents of Bow need is long term sensible town planning for the Roman Road.

If you are not the appropriate person for me to raise these concerns with, please pass this e-mail onto who should be informed, or let me know and I will write to them directly.

Kindly confirm receipt of this e-mail.

Yours sincerely,

Claire"

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Petition in Roman Road

In case Tower Hamlets Council will not consider previous objections, we were out today collecting signatures of those attending the Roman Road market who objected to the loss of the car park, the nature of the development, or the failure to have an EIA.

A great day and over 150 signatures collected. And beautiful sunshine to.

What was remarkable was the sheer scale of the objections: from traders who fear losing their business, to local residents who can't bear the size and scale of the development and its knock on effects on local business, to those who have travelled from far afield to visit the market, but could not if there was limited parking.

If you want to object see the earlier post of where to write to. Please contact me if you would like a petition sheet, or a standard objection letter.

Let's hope Tower Hamlets do the decent thing and listen.

Friday, 20 March 2009

The Plans have NOT changed but have been resubmitted

Plans to Build on Former Safeway Car Park

Following objections last year the developers made some changes to the proposed building on the Safeway Car Park. They were very similar to the previous plans. They still involve building a 4/5 to 10-storey development on the car park. The only real change is that the plan for 221 flats has been reduced to 208. After a letter threatening Judicial Review, the developers have resubmitted the SAME application!

2000 people signed petitions against the original proposal – an unprecedented level of objection, which deserved serious consideration. This was ignored by Labour Councillors – and the original objections may not count in this latest round of ‘consultation’. The development:

· Visually it will do nothing to enhance the area as it will be built right out to the car park wall along Anglo and Cardigan Road. It would be over twice the height of the Lord Cardigan and will look like a huge fortress has been dumped on the area. A 10 storey tower block would rise out of it in Vernon Road.
· The current car park would be replaced by just 30 pay and display places in an underground car park. This is nowhere near enough, and will kill off the shops and market.
· It is claimed the retail element (a small Metro & 2 small shops) will deliver 125 full-time jobs.
· Transport: articulated lorries are supposed to travel north up Cardigan Road, through no entry signs and turn left down the middle of a street market

Everyone wants a supermarket and the plan includes a food retail space. This is being used by developers to negotiate the best deal for themselves. They are putting pressure on the Council to agree the plans. People are saying that Tesco are interested in a Metro sized store but the Council cannot guarantee that Tesco or any other chain will take on the space. This site will take at least 30 months to build and during that time huge changes can happen to a company’s objectives, ownership and financial standing. It didn’t take Morrison’s long to shut our local Safeway.

There is a danger that Bow will be blighted for years to come by a totally inappropriate development because of promises of a supermarket that either fails to materialise, or that opens and then closes two years later.

This proposed development would have a negative impact on Bow by removing a lot of car parking space. It will force shops and the market to close. Residents adjacent to the site would be facing a huge brick wall. It destroys an open space that could be used for something better. This is too high a price to pay for the promise of a supermarket.

The developers and the council have listened to previous objections as they have modified the plans. If more people object again they will have to listen. If you agree with us please write to:

Tower Hamlets Planning Department
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 1BY

Quote reference PA/09/00203&209 2 Gladstone Place

Make it clear that you are objecting and explain why. Use your own words or use our standard letter. The deadline has theoretically passed. Get them in quickly. We are insisting they extend the deadline.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Local Fires

I have just seen on the news this evening the shocking news about the fire this afternoon in the Gudwara Sikh Sangat, in Harley Grove, Bow. Reports from the ELA suggest that "Ten emergency fire crews were mobilised from all over East London to the sangat at Harley Grove in Bow where fire broke out soon after lunch on the first floor, after the Fire Brigade received several 999 calls at 2.10pm."

Fortunately it appears that noone was hurt, but the damage is to the place of worship itself as well as the holy books stored on the premises.

This is the second fire in the last few days in Bow, with a local business on Fairfield Road on fire on Wednesday night. On that night, I witnessed the immense work that the fire crews did to get that fire under control, and to give local residents the comfort that the fire was out.

If the fires are deliberate, it is hoped that perpetrators will be caught and brought swiftly to justice. Seeing the fires so close to home last week is a stark reminder of how much damage fire can do, and what a fantastic job our local (and not so local) fire crews do.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Letter in East London Advertiser

The ELA have published my letter. The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Editor,

I was concerned to read about Columbia Road market traders' worries about the rates for pitches in the market, and the effect that rising costs and the current economic climate is having on their business. As the traders point out, many of the visitors to the market are tourists, who do not buy flowers or plants. However they do contribute to the local economy by visiting and supporting other businesses, who in turn employ local residents.

That is why I called upon the Council in a recent deputation not only to freeze council tax, but to cut business rates, and consider the long term effects of increased fees on the local area. It would be a real shame if traders started moving from Columbia Road with a detrimental effect to all local businesses, due to the cost, because of short sightedness of the Council.

I hope that the Council will think again before imposing any increases on traders, and consider the fees in comparison to other markets.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Palmer
Bow

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Listed Buildings

I was delighted to read this recently and have been meaning to blog about it for a while:

"English Heritage Recognises Tower Hamlet's Unique Heritage and History"

One of the things I love about Tower Hamlets is its sense of history and the large numbers of historic buildings. I am delighted that a number of historic sites have all been formally recognised and listed at grade II (on the expert advice of English Heritage):

- Former Poplar Town Hall (now Bow House), Bow Road
- Police Station and Stables, 111 Bow Road
- Tredegar House, 97 and 99 Bow Road
- The former New People's Palace (now part of Queen Mary and Westfield College), Mile End Road
- Albert Stern House (formerly Beth Holim, 253 Mile End Road
- 27a Mile End Road (former Engineer's Residence to Albion Brewery)
- Tomb of Joseph Dixon, St Mary's Church, Bow Road, Bromley by Bow
- Gents WCs outside St Mary's Church, Bow Road, Bromley by Bow
- Six Cast-Iron Bollards, Kit Kat Terrace


It is expected that the 2012 Olympics will lead to a surge of tourists in the East End of London, exploring the special and unique heritage that the area has to offer. So fantastic news all round, and a victory for common sense, tradition and conservatism (in the sense of a small 'c').

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Radio 5 Live

This lunchtime I was on Radio 5 Live along with a Lib Dem activist, a Labour PPC and a floating / student voter. We were there to discuss PMQs. It was a slightly subdued affair given that it was David Cameron's first PMQs since his return from 2 weeks leave following the death of his son. It also dealt with the tragic murders in Northern Ireland of the two Sappers and the policeman.

I had a fair crack at the Labour woman about Gordon's failure to answer David Cameron's question about a judge led inquiry into the torture allegations.

Reports back have been good.

Selection Deferred

"Bethnal Green and Bow Conservative Association, at a ballot of members last night, did not endorse the candidate selected at the earlier open primary meeting. A new selection process will now take place after the European Elections in June and the Association looks forward to taking the fight against the failed Labour Government forward with whoever is selected at that."

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Last Chance to Register

For those of you still deciding whether or not to come along to the Open Primary, don't forget that you will need to register by midnight tonight if you want to attend.

Any resident of the constituency who is on the electoral roll, and over 18, can register to attend.

Come along and have your say.

Forms can be downloaded from here, and can be e-mailed to openprimary@bethnalgreenandbowconservatives.com, or alternatively printed out and posted through the door of 115 Ashfield Street, Whitechapel.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Mayor's Question Time


Last night I attended the People's Question Time event at York Hall, where the public had an opportunity to ask questions of the Mayor, and also of the GLA members.

The event covered a range of topics from crime, housing, the environment, to transport and then a general session at the end to cover everything else.

The event was chaired by John Biggs, the Labour GLA member for City & East. After a somewhat rocky start the event got under way properly: a man wearing a flipper on his hand (don't ask - I didn't understand it either) kept interrupting and had to be ejected from the hall.

Whilst it was a good opportunity to allow questions from the public, there were some organisational issues. The public questions submitted in advance, there was no notification as to whether your question was selected, and due to John's eyesight there seemed to be hardly any questions from the back of the hall.

The Mayor did a good job to explain what he has done, and what he is planning to do in the future, to ensure that London is safe and clean, and that the Olympics bring positive impact to small business and large.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Sir Fred's Pension

The Government though Harriet Harman MP today have announced that they will prevent Sir Fred from receiving his massive pension payout. This strikes me as a bit late. Harriet Harman said that:
"It might be enforceable in a Court of law, but it is not enforceable in public opinion."

That may be right, but Labour incompetently failed to act when they could. It is inconceivable that lawyers were not consulted when the initial agreement was made. If they weren't, it seems negligent not to have checked whether something was contractual or discretionary.

It is Gordon Brown's friend, Lord Myners, that had that conversation, and it is Labour that should be held accountable. If they had acted sensibly and pragmatically at the time, then it would in all likelihood not be enforceable in a Court of law.

This is yet another example of Labour acting irresponsibly and exacerbating this financial crisis.

UPDATE 2/3/2009 3.20pm:
I have now managed to get the quote that worried me even more:
"The Prime Minsiter has said it is not acceptable and therefore it will not be accepted." What a horrifying thought and seems to conflate public opinion and Gordon Brown's pronouncement. It is not wrong because Gordon Brown says it is wrong, but becuase it is a reward for failure, and could and should have been stopped.

Publicising the Open Primary

This weekend, the three finalists for the local primary have been out and about delivering leaflets to tell residents about the forthcoming Open Primary. We were out in Bethnal Green on Saturday, and out in Bow this afternoon.

Those residents we have spoken to have been really positive about the event, and delighted to have the chance to have their say.

Registration is due by Sunday 8th March. Details are on www.bethnalgreenandbowconservatives.com.

Have Your Say on the Olympic Legacy

You still have time to have your say on the Olympic Legacy which affects the five host boroughs including Tower Hamlets. The four remaining events are as follows:

* Stratford Shopping Centre - Monday, 2 March 2009
* East Ham Leisure Centre - Wednesday, 4 March 2009
* GLA City Hall - Saturday, 7 March 2009
* Brent Cross Shopping Centre - Sunday, 8 March 2009

Details are here.

It is absolutely vital that the Olympics in 2012 create a lasting legacy, which improves the lives of everyone in Tower Hamlets, particularly through the provision of jobs, eductation and a community environment that locals are involved in and consulted on.

I wait to see how successful this is, hopefully with Boris in place, the powers that be will start listening. The work so far from this Labour Government, Labour Council, and from Ken Livingstone, is that 3% of jobs on the Olympic site are being undertaken by local residents. This is woefully inadequate.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Sad Death of David Cameron's Son

It was with great sadness that I heard the news about the death of David Cameron's disabled son, Ivan. From the media reports, it appeared that it was completely out of the blue, and he was admitted to hospital last night.

PMQs were suspended as a mark of respect to Ivan. It is understood that William Hague will be standing in for David Cameron over the next few days.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Cameron family at what must be an incredibly difficult time.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

National Exellence Awards


Tonight I had the privilege of attending the National Excellence Awards for the Conservative Party, organised by the fabulous Emma Pidding. This is the time of year when Conservative activists around the country are recognised by the Party. The awards were handed out by David Cameron MP.

In particular it is heartening to meet the Long Service Winners, who between them had given 910 years of service to the Party without having held elected office. Fantastic men and women who deeply care about our Party, and the difference we can make. It was pretty humbling.

The event was a fabulous success, and supported by many in the Shadow Cabinet: Party Chairman, Eric Pickles; Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne; and Shadow Home Secretary, Dominic Grieve; amongst others.

I was particularly pleased to see entries from Hertfordshire CF, and City of Liverpool CF, who have done fantastically well on behalf of the youth of the party.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Open Primary

I was delighted to hear this morning that I am through to the final in the selection for the PPC in Bethnal Green and Bow.

This is my home, where I socialise, where I shop, where I go to my doctor, where I am affected by crime, and quality of life, and occasionally where I work. I have been active here politically, and am the current Chairman of Bow Conservatives.

I care passionately about this constituency and its residents.

The candiate will be selected by open primary, and any local resident who is on the electoral role, is entitled to vote, as long as they register in advance.

Forms can be downloaded from the Bethnal Green and Bow Conservatives website here.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Bethnal Green and Bow Selection

As many of you will know, I have always wanted to put in for the selection in Bethnal Green and Bow. The seat has now advertised, and I have heard that I have a first round interview on Saturday 21st February.

This is the only seat that I am applying for, and is where I live.

Monday, 16 February 2009

East London Advertiser

The East London Advertiser published an article on p.7 in this weeks's edition highlighting the deputation on Monday night at the local Council.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Deputation at the Coucil

Earlier last week I presented a petition at the Council asking Labour to do the decent thing and freeze any council tax increase, so that Tower Hamlets residents can have certainty on spending in one area in the current credit crunch.

I delivered my speech asking for a freeze on council tax, requesting the Council to confirm that elderly and children's services could cope in the current climate, and also to consider lowering business rates. The need to ensure that businesses survive is paramount, espcially when you consider the knock on effects to the local community when businesses fold, leading to lost jobs, and a loss to the local area.

One area I suggested cutting to make the savings was by scrapping East End Life, Labour's propoganda magazine. Unfortunately Labour booed and jeered to this, and one councillor pointed out that many local residents use it for TV listings, which was one of the reasons to keep it! Needless to say I disagreed.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Deputation to Tower Hamlets Council

On Monday 9th February, I will be presenting the following deputation to the Tower Hamlets full Council. I have 5 mins to speak, then there will be 5 mins for questions from the Council members, followed by the Lead Member for Resources, Joshua Peck, having 3 mins to reply.

Petition from Ms Claire Palmer and others regarding the economic downturn’s effect on residents.

The latest reports on the state of the economy confirms that we are in the worst economic situation for 50 years and that all other financial downturns pale into insignificance in relation the situation we find ourselves in. Although the British economy has been relatively robust so far, there is no doubt it will see a severe slowdown, with growth expected to decelerate from 3% last year to just 1.7% next year by the best forecasts.

This has begun to have an affect on the average family with second quarter repossessions up by 71% on last year’s figures. Alongside this we have seen a rise in unemployment with more then 40,000 extra people signing on for unemployment benefit in November and a projected rise of the unemployment figures to 3.3 million by 2010. Significantly for Tower Hamlets, we have also seen a sharp decline in the number of new homes being built so that 2008 will be the worst year for house building since 1957. Since so many of the governments and council plans, including the pledge by Labour councillors at the last election to see £300 million new housing in the borough, depend on the private sector’s robust building plans this will have an effect on the provision of affordable housing for residents.

Tower Hamlets is the 4th most deprived borough in London with only half its population economically active and therefore heavily susceptible to a downturn of this kind. Based on the council’s own data from its local resident survey 2008, around 20% of the population was concerned about a lack of jobs within the area while the supply of affordable housing was considered a concern to most residents. Areas of high prosperity in the borough depend on the economic health of Canary Wharf while large parts of the borough look to the retail sector. Both of these areas will be hit hard by any down turn in spending with a subsequent rise in residents concerns over lack of employment and housing.

We Ask the Council to Note

· That the economic downturn is going to have a large effect on the borough’s residents and a proportionately higher effect on those who are less financially well off;
· That residents are going to need all the money that they can get their hands on in the months ahead;
· That shops and businesses in the area depend on people spending money to stay in business and to provide employment to people in the area;
· That the council can have both a positive and negative affect on the lives of residents depending on the decisions it takes.

We Residents Believe

· That the current economic situation poses a grave risk to the lives and businesses of residents of this borough;
· That it is the role of the council to provide as much assistance as is possible, within the limits placed upon it by financial restraint and governmental control, to residents of this borough;
· That costs levied by the council in the form of council tax, service charges, fees and administration costs are a strain on hard pressed families at this time and should be limited as far as possible;
· That business rates should be set at a level that reflects the hardship that many local businesses are facing.

We Call Upon the Council and the Leader of the Council to Ensure

· That council services for 2008/09 and 2009/10 are capable of delivering the services that people of this borough will need at this time;
· That the council’s elderly and child services are aware that more elderly residents and children in the borough will suffer as a result of increased costs and declining income;
· That the council ensures that all residents are made fully aware of council and governmental schemes available to them to help alleviate the worst effects of this downturn;
· That the council does all it can to ensure that business rates are lowered to allow local shops to compete better in the months ahead;
· That council tax and services charges are capped at their present level for the next two years ;
· That the council should use all its influence on the local RSL’s to cap their service charges.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Last chance to vote for your favourite park

Tomorrow is the last day to vote for your favourit park to receive money from London Mayor, Boris Johnson's team.

I have already cast my vote to support one of our Tower Hamlets parks.

If you want to do so, there are two ways in which votes can be registered at this late stage:

Online – go to www.london.gov.uk/parksvote
Text – Text ’parks’ and your postcode to short code 62967. This will automatically vote for the closest park to where the voter lives in their borough. Texts will cost 10p plus your standard network rate.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone all the best for 2009: success, health and happiness! I can tell it is going to be a good one!