Saturday, 27 October 2007

How effective are anti-racism gigs and CDs?

There are many anti-racism campaigns in our part of London, take the annual Respect music festival (not to be confused with the Respect political party!) or Rise or Kick it Out, a campaign that uses people in football to challenge racism and work for positive change.

This week, a new CD was launched in Barking by another campaign called Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR).

The 29 track CD features artists like Lethal Bissle. What is interesting – if not frightening – is that, according to a local paper, the project was initiated following reports of levels of racism in UK schools and reports that the far right British National Party is trying to recruit school children.

Campaigns like Rise and LMHR claim to use music to fight racism in the community. A lot of resources are put into these campaigns, but just how effective are they?

Would a racist go to a Rise gig in East London, for example, and come out of the concert a ‘changed man’? But then again, a racist is unlikely to go in the first place.

Perhaps such concerts and CDs work for ‘potential’ racists? They could go to such a concert or listen to such CDs and then they could be won over the other side of the fence and abandon their potentially racist side?

Which ever way you see it, such campaigns are good for highlighting the evil of racism and that it is not welcome in our society. They also bring about community cohesion.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Benefits top-up to tackle Newham jobs dilema

People on benefits will be offered a top-up of their payments if they return to employment and find they are worse off in work, as part of a new employment pilot scheme

Can life get any easier? The new scheme, to be rolled out in Newham, will provide a housing benefit top up for up to a year - at present, the law only allows for an extension of four weeks.

Newham has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and, it appears, has problems convincing some residents to get back to work. Or why else would it need a scheme to entice people to find jobs and earn a living like everybody else?

Newham council says the employment pilot scheme will help participants overcome the psychological and physical barriers associated with returning to employment.

It would be interesting to know what psychological barriers prevent one from going back to working.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Ex-sprinter calls for 'Suss' laws to be brought back

Former Olympic hero John Regis has called for ‘suss’ laws to be brought back, following the death of his 15-year-old nephew Adam in Plaistow.

The ‘suss’ laws allow police to stop and search anyone they think may be carrying a weapon. Regis told London Tonight that tougher sentences shoule be metted to teenage thugs who carry guns and knives.

I lived in Plaistow for a while and while it’s a place with great vibe, it can be dangerous.

Regis also said: “That’s the only way that the message will be sent across the face of Great Britain that if a kid has a knife...the only time you should have a knife is if you’re in the house cutting a slice of bread,” he said.

I recall going to a Stop da Violence concert in plaistow around July. Stop da Violence is an initiative by the Arc Church in Forestgate to encourage young people to stop violence.

Hundreds of young people attended the show. Adam Regis’s mom was there and, in a hearbreaking appeal, called on the youth to co-operate with the police.

For a black man to call for the ‘suss’ laws to be brought back is an intersting development because at times members of the black community have slammed stop and search laws, saying the police deliberately target black men.

The violence has got to stop. Full stop.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Now Newham children join in Channel 4 protest

A group of children from Newham today protested outside Channel Four in response to it’ survey that ranked the borough as the 3rd worst place to live in the UK.

The independent survey was based on data from bodies such as local authorities, the Home Office and the Office For National Statistics.

Researchers ranked the best and worst UK places for the Channel 4 show <Location, Location, Location.

The school chidlren and some young people sang a song praising Newham and also presented the Channel 4 staff with a hamper of food items from Newham, including Indian sweets.

I can’t understand why only children went out to protest.

Surely, if Newham was far from the worst place to live, then adults, community leaders, cultural groups would have turned out in full force to protest?

I’m also not convinced that the sweets from Newham will change Channel 4’s view of the place, bearing in mind the programme is being shown tonight.

Anyway, happy eating to those who got the food hamper!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

What? Newham worst in the country?


A Channel 4 poll has stated that Newham is the third worst place to live in the UK. This especially hurt the East London borough’s Mayor Sir Robin Wales who furiously disputed the poll.

The independent survey was based on data from bodies including local authorities, the Home Office and the Office For National Statistics.
Researchers ranked the best and worst UK places for the Channel 4 show Location, Location, Location.

Middlesbrough was top of the list, followed by Hull and then Newham.

While Newham does have its lows i.e. unemplyment, crime and poor education results, it surely has its highs. I live in Newham, and have never felt like I am living in the 3rd worst place in the whole country.

Believe me, Newham is not that bad!

Could obesity seriously threaten our hospitals?

The issue of obesity in the country is now ranking high on the government’s agenda – it’s on par with global warming.

Children in London, as elsewhere in the country, are becoming obese at increasingly fast rates. Some of you may have seen the frightening clip in the papers yesterday of a patient who could not fit on a mobile chair in the hospital because she was too obese. In fact, if I remember correctly, the story said average hospital beds and other facilities will become too small for the average person in the UK. They won’t be able to cope!

If we don’t do something about it, things could be dire folks. Imagine hospital floors at the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel (or Homerton Hospital in Hakney), becoming shaky as beds get weighed down by the heavy bodies?

Common, let’s get to the gym and save our hospital beds from crashing!

Friday, 12 October 2007

Stop-n-search for terrorists in Stratford

Thurdsay morning as I was coming out of Stratford station, which is one of the busiest in East London, I noticed that there were quite a few policemen carrying out a stop-and-search.

Now I do try and not be forward (honest) but I guess I didn’t try hard enough because I suddenly saw my-self standing in front of a policewoman and asking her a few questions.

‘Erm, officer,’ I said in a small voice, ‘sorry to ask, but why are you stopping these people, has something bad happened?’

‘No,’ she said laughing, ‘we are carrying out a random stop-and-search.’

‘What for?’ I asked eyeing her colleagues stopping several men. One was telling a man to raise his arms as they searched his pockets.

‘Well, for terrorists mainly,’ she said.

‘What, terrorists here in our Stratford?’ I said, raising my bushy eyebrows.

‘Yep, right here she said,’ dangling her note pad leisurely.

‘Have you got a profile of a typical terrorist that you look out for?’ I asked.

‘No. One day we search women, one day men. Any race, any background, any age. In fact, we’ve even come across people wanted for other crimes,’ she said proudly, ‘and the media says we are not doing a good job!’

I thought of the elderly folk and noisy school kids walking past, and found it hard to image them being terrorists; but anyway, I remembered I was not the expert here.

‘But what I want to know is what would make you approach some-one?’ I interjected.

‘Well, we can pick those people who have been standing around for too long, which can be suspicious,’ she replied.

She also explained that there are plain clothes policeman planted in the busy shopping mall 1-miute away.

A lot of the time Asians and Muslims have complained that they are stereotyped as typical terrorists.

Emma, this police officer I spoke to, gave the impression this is not so with the police. Is that really the case?

So there you go folks: be careful of hanging around Stratford mall for too long in case you are mistaken for a terrorist wanting to bomb up the trains, pigeons and Burger King.


Thursday, 4 October 2007

Man dies in Ilford bus No. 25 horror

I have ridden on the bus 25 countless times and have never had a big problemwith it really. The bendy bus runs from Oxford Circus right through to Ilford.

But it has been slammed by a number of people for varius things, including being overcrowded. Some have had items pinched on the bus.

I recall speaking to a woman who was new to Stratford and telling her she could take the Bus 25 to get to stratford. She seemed horrified at my suggstion. Apparently, a policeman had warned her against that bus, he described it as probably one of the most dangerous buses inLondon.

Only last week a 21-year old man died after being dragged for more than a mile under the wheels of a bendy bus.

The passenger was getting off the bus in east London at 5.05am with a friend when he slipped and fell under the wheels.

The bus only stopped when the driver was alerted by passers-by at the junction of Ilford High Road and Rabbits Road in Ilford.

No, this is not linked to what the policeman is menat to have said about bus 25. It is a separate incident – clearly no foul play.

Is new ratings scheme bad news Brick Lane touts?

You now don’t need to guess the hygiene rating of a restaurant you want to visit.

It’s all been rated for you already under a scheme supported by the Food Standards Association, and you can now access this anytime.

Under the new scheme called Scores on the Doors, restaurant and food outlets are rated according to their latest food hygiene inspection reports, enabling consumers to make informed choices about where to eat.

One of the areas in East London known especially for its restaurants is Brick Lane, a narrow street sliced between Whitechapel and Bethnal Green High Road.

Every night, hundreds of people from all over London patronise the several curry houses.

Noisy touts are perched at the doors of these restaurants, competing for customers to come in to their particular spots.

Is Scores on the Doors a good thing? Of-course it is for the thousands of people living in the capital.

It’s especially good news for us in East London.

A friend once went to do some work at a restaurant in Brick Lane.

He said he was appalled at the cockroaches and dirt behind the scenes.

He was also shocked at the way the workers in the kitchen prepared the food.

As part of the scheme, businesses will also be issued with a certificate and window sticker with their star rating on.

This is currently voluntary.

Discussions are taking place to make it a legal requirement for all London businesses to display their star rating.

Now if it becomes compulsory for restaurants to display their ratings on the door, what would become of our colourful touts in Bricklane?

Will they need to entice customers to come in when a mere FSA badge will say it all?

To view your favourite restaurant’s ratings check out

Happy eating!

Cabbies slam scheme to assist black drivers

This week hundreds of London black-cab drivers protested against London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s scheme to get more ethnic drivers working as cabbies.

The scheme will enable this target group to have special help so they can pass the industry test, The Knowledge. They will also have free numeracy and language classes and childcare. Other freebies include maps and scooter hire. The white male members say these benefits are not available to them.

Is this fair? Let’s look at both sides. In parts of East London, like Newham, unemployment is so high for black males.

In such areas in East London, a large chunk of the population are black, and rather than have these people turn to crime to make a living, surely it doesn’t hurt if they are offered help to get jobs as cab drivers?

Ken Livingstone on his part dismissed the LDA’s as a group with an outdated attitude. Only 5% of London’s taxi drivers are from ethnic minority communities.

On the other hand, it is likely to create tension between the new ethnic drivers and the established white ones. Alan Flemming, the head of the London Drivers Club said it will create tension between those ethnics who have completed The Knowledge without financial assistance.

Whatever folks, have a nice weekend!

Children in East London Using Cheap Cocaine

Hi out there

Things are getting quite rough on our streets in the east ends. It has emerged that children as young as 15 are using cocaine.

Last month a report released by a UK charity Drugscope showed that the drug is now more easily available. It said that in many areas dealers are offering two grades of cocaine to buyers, effectively dividing their sales into ‘economy’ and ‘luxury’ cocaine, putting it in reach of more – and younger – users.

I spoke to Mike, who’s a member of a Narcotics Anonymous, a group of recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. The group operates like Alcoholics Anonymous. Mike also works with a drug charity project in Hackney.

He says the problem is big in east London too, and that before, cocaine was an expensive drug people in the West End were using. But now that it is cheaper, folks in East London can afford it. He added that it was a problem also affecting young people, including black girls.

This was spooky for me, because I see a lot of young people in the buses or at the malls, and they look so full of life and have a great future ahead of them. But it is sad to think that some of them are caught up in cocaine.

Sad musings.

Later folks!