Thursday, 24 September 2009

End of the road

Hey folks,

It’s been fun sharing about life in East London.

However, due to other commitments, I’ll have to call it a day for this blog.

Thanks for visiting and take care :)

Friday, 11 September 2009

Olympic peeps in missing money mystery

The Mayor’s office has asked accountants to find out how the London Development Agency (LDA) is now short of over £150m.

The LDA is in charge of buying up land for the Olympics.

It had to pay 3,000 organisations and people to leave parts of Stratford so it could build for the Olympics.

Now with this black hole, BBC London explains that the LDA is going to have to axe some of the Olympics’ projects to balance up things.

Apparently, it will dump those projects with "relatively poor value for money".

Makes you wonder why they created and funded projects with poor value for money in the first place.

Could this sudden audit be a blessing in disguise for the 2012 coffers?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

From the brink to the best

Former Manor park resident Martin Darke has trumped homelessness and a nervous breakdown to be shortlisted for a tidy prize in the Barclays Trading Places Awards (BTPA).

How did he get there, you ask? The Stratford and Newham Express explains that unemployed Martin got a job as a messenger, and then became a junior in the corporate loans department.

He worked in the financial sector for some years, even completing a degree in economics before starting his own business MD National Stocktakers and Auditors.

The BTPA awards recognise business people who have overcome adversity. In this case, I think he stands a pretty good chance of clinching the prize.

Good on you Martin :)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Who’s to blame for Upton Park footie disaster?

The fans, stewards, teams or the police – who’s responsible for the fracas during the West Ham v Millwall Carling Cup tie on Tuesday night?

Thirteen people were arrested and a man was also stabbed nearby.

The police issued a statement which reveals they were not expecting drama of this scale; they say there was no intelligence of the sudden pitch invasion.

However, several fans at the match said that security arrangements were inadequate for a game between teams whose supporters have a rivalry dating from the 1920s, according to The Times

The fans in turn have been blamed, with others calling them all sorts of unkind names.

But one unimpressed Jenny, writing in the London Paper’s Letters section, says she objects to the fans being referred to as mongrels because her mongrel dog has a higher IQ than most of them.


Friday, 21 August 2009

Great way to end nutty sales

Children and their famlies have been saved from eating dangerous peanut butter sold in local shops.

Health officers from Newham Council confiscated and destroyed about 200 plastic containers of groundnut products manufactured in Ghana by Jesu Aka Ltd. They are distributed by Marduro UK Ltd.

Many of them were seized in the borough's Green Street area in Upton Park. However, the council's food safety team have warned there could be many more circulating in Newham and across London.

The brands, which are sold widely in Afro Caribbean shops, contain levels of aflatoxins which are way above recommended levels.

Aflatoxins are a type of toxin found naturally in some foods that have been linked with cancer when eaten at high levels. There are strict limits on the level of aflatoxins in foods imported into the UK and the rest of the European Union.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Residents urged to stroll in cemetery

I haven’t heard anyone say they plan to spend an afternoon enjoying the green landscapes at a cemetery, have you?

Call it spookie, but Hackney folk have been given £92,000 to ‘connect’ with their cemetery.

The funding comes from the Natural England and the Big Lottery Fund’s Access to Nature campaign, a £25 million grant programme to connect communities with their local green spaces.

The cemetery, Abney Park in Stoke Newington, is now a local nature reserve and conservation area; it also contains a classroom, visitors’ centre and a disused central chapel.

The cemetery’s plans will involve free environmental education, craft workshops and nature trails.

It is also hoped the funding will allow residents to gain experience of nature in urban landscapes.

Sure does change your concept of strolling in the cemetery, doesn’t it?

Friday, 31 July 2009

Forced child marriage in East London

I’ve just learnt that a 15 year old school girl was forced to marry a 40 year old man – right in East London.

According to the Daily Mail, the girl’s family live in Bethnal Green and the case is being investigated by detectives in Stratford.

The horrific story came to light with the news that the police are hunting the man, who is accused of not only raping the girl,but of also assaulting her 12-year-old sister.

And it gets worse: the elder girl (now 17) contacted the police because she was scared she’d be forced into ANOTHER marriage.

In East London, the Newham Asian Women’s Project offers help for Asian girls wanting to escape violence.

They can be contacted on tel 020 8472 0528.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Rich boy, poor girl theme takes Hackney stage

As you’d expect of a Caribbean-style piece, Once On This Island has aplenty reggae music.

You romantics will be pleased to know it’s mainly about a poor gal who falls in love with a wealthy planter.

The course of true love is put to the test as the young girl must prove to the island's mythical gods that the power of love is stronger than death. Poor thing!

If you liked Sharon D Clarke’s stuff in the TV drama Holby City and also as a judge on the recent Last Choir Standing, then you’re not likely to be disappointed this time with her performance at Hackney Empire.

The play is based on the novel My Love, My Love by Rosa Guy.

Ever heard of her?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Tower Hamlets becomes England’s swine flu hot spot

If you live in Tower Hamlets, your worst fears about swine flu may have been confirmed with the news that the borough is the worst affected.

The Guardian reports that people in Tower Hamlets, are visiting their GP about swine flu more often than anywhere else in England, with 759 consultations per 100,000 population.

The boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Lewisham are also badly affected.

Dr Stephen Field, the chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said:: “We know the highest rate in the country has been in Tower Hamlets, and there is evidence of [swine flu] spreading across the capital.

So, what do you do if you suspect the nasty virus has got you? You can call the national swine flu information line: 0800 1 513 513 or 0845 4647.

Alternatively, you can visit the NHS’s symptom checker, which may be quicker than the phone help.

And, ah yes, you can also stay at home.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Serial rapist lurking in Walthamstow

Ladies be on full alert : the Walthamstow serial rapist is still prowling the area. So far three women in E17 have been raped (the third woman, Michelle Samaraweera, was raped and killed).

Police said they had linked the three attacks with a DNA profile of the offender. They also announced that they will go door to door targeting 9,000 local homes and will ask for any men who match the suspect's description to voluntarily provide a DNA sample.

Officers believe the suspect has detailed knowledge of the E17 area and is likely to reside locally.

The first attack was on 24 March 2009 at 1:00am as a 59-year-old woman walked to her home address close to Queens Road. She approached her front door and noticed the suspect standing nearby. She walked around him and as she entered her property he forced his way inside, raping her in her own bedroom.

The suspect has been described as being of Asian appearance, or with dark skin, and is aged between 30 and 40 years (see the e-fit pictured). He may have an accent.

Have you got any information you might have to help out? Contact the police on 020 8345 3715; if you wish to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Students jam Brick Lane brewery with art

Brick Lane’s drawing masses of arty types again.

This time it’s the annual art and design show at the Old Truman Brewery. The Free Range 2009 exhibition is Europe's largest graduate art and design show with free admission (phew).

In this mix of it all, you’ll find work from students from the University of East London.

Take Barbara Bargiel, for instance. She studies at the university and lives in Hackney.

She says of her work: “My current research revolves around grotesque figures such as the court jester, the mime, the clown. I am intrigued by people’s behaviour from the masks hat each of us put on, willingly or not. In my belief, everyone is a clown. We all pose and pretend and it is unpredictable, endless. To reflect this I embody different characters ‘in’ myself by dressing up and posing as a clown or mime.”

She makes you want to make your way to the crowded and oh-so-mad Brick Lane to see their stuff.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Stinking fine for animal products factory in Silverton

Silvertown residents can now breathe after an animal by-product factory was taken to court for causing them stinking nightmares.

John Knight(Animal By-Products) Ltd, caused the smell by leaving flesh out in the open air at their premises in Knights Road, Silvertown.

The smell was described by some as "sickening" and by others as "rancid". Many complained that they were unable to open their windows due to the smell from the factory.

The factory receives deliveries of animal by-products, collected from around the United Kingdom and brought to the site by road. These include parts of slaughtered animals not intended for human consumption.

The animal by-products are used to produce meat and bone meal which are used in pet food and tallow which can be used in many household products including soap, cosmetics and paint.

The company claimed it used the best available technology to minimise odours and investigate complaints immediately. It was ordered to pay £20,000.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Shocking number of poor children in East London

A recent report shows that East London has the poorest children in the country.

With 69% of Newham’s children growing up in struggling families, the borough was revealed to be one of the most deprived boroughs in London. It scored lower overall than neighbouring Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

Research conducted by the City Parochial Foundation and New Policy Institute, shows that London is the most deprived region in the UK and the East of the capital is worst affected.

The research looked at issues like children in workless families, low paid residents, infant deaths and households in temporary accommodation

4in10: The End Child Poverty London Project is highlighting the need for action to address Newham’s child poverty following the release of ‘London’s Poverty Profile’.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Dead man gets eviction warning – three years late

A widow this week got perhaps the most disturbing letter in her life from housing chiefs at Hackney Homes.

The organisation wrote to her late husband, war veteran Dennis Isherwood, asking him to curb his anti-social behaviour. Mr Isherwood died three years ago.

The letter said he'd face eviction if he didn't comply.

Distressed Mrs Isherwood told the Hackney Gazette : “I sat down and cried because this is incredibly upsetting and disturbing. Dennis was a much-loved person and a fun-loving guy. This blackens his name and isn’t fair.”

When the issue was brought to their attention, Hackney Homes said a complaint was received about abandoned vehicles and this letter was an initial request to Mr Isherwood to discuss it.

The organisation admitted it was not aware he had died.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Essex's Diversity wins Britain's Got Talent 2009

Essex dance group Diversity has worked hard to win this year's Britain’s Got Talent. Some of the 11 guys come from Dagenham, Leytonstone and Rainham.

Recently, young Ashton Russell, who plays Michael Jackson in the musical Thriller, said his Dagenham school, Robert Clack, helped him get ahead with his stuff.

With youngsters getting this far this soon, there’s no doubt there’s more opportunities out there to exploit. It also demands hard work too. Diversity’s Ashley Banjo says you have to take opportunities when they come along.

“We did lots of dangerous stuff, and at one point little Perri was 12ft in the air. It was much more difficult than our earlier stuff. We knew we had to push it to the next level to get through,” he adds.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Britain's First Somalian Mayor hails from Tower Hamlets

What do you know about the Somalian community here? You might what to add onto your list Ahmed Omer, the first Somalian to be elected a mayor in Britain.

Omer, who represents Bow East, came to Britain in the 1970’s. He now lives in Bethnal Green and works for the East London Somali Welfare Centre.

I told a Somalian friend of mine about this development, and she was surprised - apparently she’d never heard of Ahmed Omer or his appointment(despite living in Tower Hamlets for a while). Nevertheless she seemed pleased.

There are quite a few places in East London where you can find out more about Somalians here. For example the Somali Employment and Training organisation works closely with this community to discuss the challenges they face and help place them in employment. The organisation says this community faces 'multiple challenges'.

The organisation also aims to help cut poverty and isolation amongst refugees from Somalia.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Dagenham school’s struggle pays off

Believe me, there’s some good things coming out of Dagenham, one of the most deprived boroughs in London.

Forget the sour taste about the plans for a prison there (see previous post), this week the Evening Standard honoured a Dagenham school Robert Clack for its ‘outstanding achievement in challenging circumstances’ after its good pass rates in A-levels and GCSEs.

Some of the challenges faced included weeding out bad behavior. The head teacher Paul Grant had to suspend 300 pupils in his first week.

The paper also noted the talent churned out of Robert Clack School, in the form of Ashton Russell (pictured above).

The 15 year-old Dagenham boy plays young Michael Jackson in the West End musical Thriller.

Ashton said: “It is the best thing that has ever happened to me and now I feel like I can make a career out of singing and dancing. My school has been pushing me further all the time.”

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Resistance to Dagenham Prison plan

Not everyone is happy about developments in Dagenham at this point in time, least of all the plans for a new prison.

From what I’ve learnt in the Barking and Dagenham Recorder, it is clear the plans are a hot slap in the face for the Dagenahm MP John Cruddas (Labour).

Apparently he stormed out of the House of Commons saying he had been informed just 20 minutes before the Minister unveiled the plans. He called it a shoddy backstage deal. It is understood the prison will be built on the old Ford site and will keep up to 1,500 prisoners. The Council claims hundreds of jobs will be built.

Those huffing and puffing alongside Cruddas include members of the Facebook group ‘No Prison in Dagenham’. One member of this group has made it clear he will remove his mom from the area because of this. I don't know how this will in turn move the Justice Secretary Jack Straw, but anway ...

A cheekier member of this group says there’s no need to build a prison in Dagenham, because the authorities can simply put a wall around Barking.

But others are less kind to Cruddas and his crew. “dagenham is a hole anyway. What difference will a prison make. all the crims in daggers wont have to travel far to go to her majestys hotel,” another said.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

East End Film Festival highlights

Hands up those who don’t support local film. When was the last time you decided, out of the goodness of your heart, to attend our very own East End Film Festival purely to boost support for budding film makers?

This is not to say the event has poor attendance figures. If anything, it seems to be swelling. The festival was birthed in Tower Hamlets and kicked off in 2001. Since then it has continued to provide support for film exhibition and film making. The week-long festival ends tomorrow.

So what did you miss? An interesting film to see was East End Lives (Directors: Hazuan Hashim, Phil Maxwell), which looks at people who have grown up in council housing in the area and their cultural landscape. Another eye catcher was Fire Burn Babylon (Director: Sarita Siegal), about a crew of Rastas evacuated to East London after a volcanic eruption at Monsterrat. They reinvent themselves as “rude boys” rappers in the areas club scene.

A pretty rich mix, if you ask me.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Hunt for Greenwich ‘social workers’

And you thought there were some weird people out there. But can it beat this:

Two women visited a property in Eltham last month and showed ID and claimed to work for Social Services. They explained that they had attended to inspect the family's child, following information received on the family.

They asked to examine the child and checked over their arms and legs. The two women also looked around the property, checked the child's bedroom and inspected the family's fridge.

When the two women left, the family contacted Greenwich Social Services; it was confirmed that a visit at the address had not been scheduled. The two suspects left without providing any contact details or paperwork relating to the visit.
One of the suspects is described as a white woman, with blonde curly hair, aged in her thirties (see the above e-fit / picture). The second suspect is described as of Mediterranean appearance with black hair tied back, aged in her thirties.

I’ve heard of people posing to be post men or charity workers – but this takes the cake. How dangerous can it get?

You’ve been warned.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

What happens when bashment folk find millions?

The Hackney Empire promises to sizzle you this weekend with a tale about ordinary folk who find themselves with a stash of cash (a whoooooping $12million!). Now with the miserable credit crunch mood around town, you don’t know if this kind of story is appealing or if it’s a real put off.

Either way, Bashment Granny 2 will at least entertain you, if anything. Here’s a tip – look out for the pretty bar maid and the jail bird, they could get away with the cash. And what about the rightful owner of the money - would you seek him and return the money? I think that’s what Mr Bashment and Constable Shebada ought to do.

This hocus pocus show is filled with Jamaican anecdotes, in a story that explores friendship, loyalty and the trials of money (or having too much of it!).

Contact 0208 985 2424 to book your ticket.

Monday, 6 April 2009

What did the G20 do for East London?

East London’s capability to host a global event was tested last week with the G20 meeting in London.

What does the community gain from hosting such as event? Some could argue nothing directly. Local business people interviewed on BBC London complained that because certain areas had been cordoned off, customers could not come to their shops, and hence they had to close early because of no business. A lot of police resources were spent on the event as well. Because of the conference, a complete train network – the DLR – was shutdown, meaning hundreds of commuters, if not thousands, were inconvenienced.

On the other hand, for others like the local council Newham and the Excel Docklands Centre, it will serve their books well. For these the benefit is more likely to be long term. For example, because it has successfully hosted an event of this nature, the Excel is likey to attract more global events, and this will boost business confidence in Newham.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Seeing the trees for the woods at Epping Forest

I can’t remember the last time I wondered into a forest. But, rest assured, forests in this part of London (yes, they do exist!) are nothing like the eerie Hansel and Gretel patch.

This is why the Heritage Lottery Grant wants us to venture into local forests, like in Epping, so that we can learn more about what they have to offer and make the most of the experience.

The Walthamstow Guardian reports that the Branching Out Project will include refurbishing a retreat with a large exhibition area and campus for visitors to learn about the area.

Now where’s my picnic basket?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

West Ham targeting Europe place

Local football team West Ham United is optimistic it will go places. Manager Gianfranco Zola wants his players to make a final push to get a European place.

The team moved to within seven points of sixth-placed Everton with a 1-1 Premier League draw at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

Zola said: “It would be massive achievement. All my pleasure would be for the players. The players are strong. If you see some of the defending Scott Parker of Lucas Neill did, you will see they have a passion for what they are doing.”

Zola expressed this in the Manager on Monday column.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Students to design London Olympic’s education logo

Students across the UK have been invited to design a new London 2012 education logo.

After the public outrage the official London 2012 logo stirred when it was unveiled, I think young people will easily cook up something better.

To take part in this, you’ve got to be aged 16-21 and be in full or part-time education.

The image you come up with will create an 'infill' for the London 2012 Olympic logo. It must reflect the ambitions of the London 2012 Get Set education programme, aimed at involving children and young people in the Olympics.

From September, the winning logo will be awarded to schools, colleges and local authority education providers who join the ‘Get Set’ network. They will be able to use the logos on headed paper, website and school signs, as well as on a plaque and certificate.

Meanwhile, plans for the Media Centre (see artist’s impression above), have been unveiled.

Around 20,000 broadcasters, photographers and journalists will use the facility during the Games.

Afterwards, it’s understood the buildings will leave the local area with around 900,000 square feet of new business space.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

New hotline for reporting shops that sell booze to teenagers

People fed up with anti-social behaviour caused by drunk teens in the area will be able to report under-age alcohol sales on a new especially dedicated hotline.

The Stratford and Newham Express reports that Newham is one of 11 London boroughs receiving £30,000 from the Home Office to tackle specific local trouble-spots of alcohol-related crime and disorder.

This money is available to the 50 priority areas in the UK and will be used to tackle underage sales, confiscate alcohol from under- 18s and to carry out tougher alcohol enforcement work.

Anyone who witnesses alcohol being sold to the under-18s or being sold at unlicensed premises can call (020) 8217 5971 and leave details anonymously and in confidence.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Waltham Forrest Council bid to cushion residents from rent blow

Waltham Forest Council has launched a campaign to persuade the Government to lower rent increases this year.

The Council is facing the choice of raising rents by 5.8% and or finding £2.2million from another place, like the housing repairs budget.

The Council want tenants to take part in the ‘Don’t kick us in the crunch’ campaign to help persuade the Government to set rent increases at a lower level during the current recession.

Whilst the Council can choose to set its own rent, if it did it would have to take approximately £2.2million from elsewhere, for example the repairs budget.

Cllr Bob Sullivan said: “As a Council we are trying to keep Council Tax increases to a minimum to help out people in the credit crunch. These rent rises are unfair and penalise the people we are trying to help most. The Government has to take another look at this and come to its senses.”

The campaign will call on the Chancellor to lower the increase in the Government’s budget on the 22nd April.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Hackney father appeals over paralysed son's shooting

The father of a teenager paralysed in a shooting incident has joined investigating officers to urge witnesses to come forward.

Speaking from his son's hospital bedside Paul Smith said he knew people had information about those who shot and injured Raphael Smith, but couldn't understand why they had not spoken to police.

Raphael, aged 18, had been socialising with friends at a community centre in Shellness Road, E5, on 17 December 2008, when a group of youths burst in and fired shots.

The student was struck along with his 17-year-old friend. Both were taken to hospital and whilst his friend was later discharged to recover at home Raphael's condition deteriorated.

He suffered severe brain damage and is currently paralysed from the neck down.

Mr Smith said: "At first I was relieved to hear Raphael had survived but we had no idea how badly injured he was. He relies on a machine to breath and remains in a coma. We have visited the hospital every day since this happened and had to celebrate Christmas and Raphael's 18th birthday at his bedside.

"Raphael was so popular with so many friends. He loved his music and was hoping to train as a plumber soon. It's all been taken away and the whole family are devastated."

Raphael's father, who works for Hackney Borough Council and has another son and two daughters, said the local community should work together to ensure justice for Raphael and his friend.

Anyone who can assist is asked to call the team on 020 8217 7377; if you wish to remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Crazy snow fall shows loopholes

The heavy snow has come and gone (hopefully) and, besides reminding some of us that we do need to get a pair of wellies, it caught local authorities with their pants down.

Borough councils were unable to carry out their usual waste collections because of the conditions of the roads, and there have been complaints about rubbish piling up.

Last week, Newham Council, for example, told residents that their rubbish would be collected a week later.

Then there is the issue of gritting – or lack of it rather. Newham Council confirmed reports that local authorities were caught unprepared by the snow when it said in a statement: “As you may be aware through publicity in the media, there is an issue about the availability and supply of salt/grit both locally and nationally.”
Perhaps, the next time a disaster strikes, they’ll be better prepared?

Monday, 26 January 2009

Teenager killed in Plaistow charity event

Steven Lewis (15) was killed in Plaistow this weekend. This is the area where teenager Adam Regis was murdered.

Last year 28 teenagers were killed in violent deaths in London. The Met say Steven was the first violent teenage death this year. We hope it will be the last.

BBC London says a 15-year-old girl, who did not want to be named, said the stabbing followed a row at a fund-raising event at the church hall attended by about 100 people.

Apparently the party was brought to an end at 22:30 pm after a fight broke out. She said: "I saw pushing and arms swinging around. Then the bouncers came in and said the party has been knocked off.

"I was expecting a fight but I wasn't expecting anyone to get stabbed. There is always a fight, that is why I left early."

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Patience is needed as we await Crossrail’s arrival

The reality of travelling on less crowded trains may be far off, but TFL seems to be working on it however slowly it might appear.

We are told that preparatory work on the new Crossrail starts this month. When it opens in 2017 it will run from Heathrow to Stratford, Shenfield and also Abbey Wood. It’s expected to increase London’s public transport network capacity by 10 per cent.

So rest assured that, although you might have to wait until 2017 to get a seat on your way to work during peak times, something is being done about it.

For those who fly more often, it may not come as a surprise that Heathrow and Gatwick reported a drop in the number of passengers over the year. One passenger said the long queues and poor customer services explain why. This news comes as our Docklands-based London City Airport came out smiling with its figures.

It says it saw a 12 per cent rise in passenger numbers in 2008 with over 3 million people travelling through. In spite of the current economic and financial challenges, December still showed a 10 per cent growth in passengers on the previous year.

But it’s boss Richard Gooding is trying not to appear over-exited about its performance. He said: “We remain cautious about 2009’s prospects until stability returns to the financial services industry and the wider economy.”

Monday, 5 January 2009

Hospital warned over hygiene flaws

It’s been a tricky start to 2009 for staff at Homerton University Hospital – they’ve just been slapped with a serious warning to improve their hygiene standards.

This week the Hackney-based hospital admitted that the Healthcare Commission dropped by unannounced and were not impressed.

As a result of the flaws the visit exposed, the hospital says it has created a new team whose priority is to have the improvement notice lifted by the end of this month.

One of the concerns raised was that dirty bed pans were found in a ward and commodes had not been fully cleaned.

While this sloppiness in this ward might disappear within a month, the core issue, surely, is whether the staff are fully trained and being properly supervised?

Not so. The hospital has also had to explain that it does not have good records to show that people have had training; a number of planned audits were not completed.

On the positive side, the cleaners probably have the fateful HC visit to thank because there will now be a new electronic system for recording training.