Worrying breakdown in local services

I have never experienced such a breakdown in local services.

  1. Our local secondary school, Raine’s Foundation is under threat of closure
  2. 2. Our local GP, The Mission Practise is refusing to give patients appointments.
  3. The London Chest Hospital was closed some time ago.

Taking this as a sign of a reduction in local services, residents should be concerned and make enquiries to their local Member of Parliament, their Councillor and perhaps the Mayor of Tower Hamlets as to why our local services are not delivering the care our community needs.

Government investigates Tower Hamlets again

Apparently people like Sylvia Pankhurst and Danny Boyle are among a high-profile string of supporters of the Raine’s Foundation Trust and Steering Group and the many grateful parents and pupils who happily attend the school.

This new investigation is mainly concentrating around the illegal attempt by Tower Hamlets council, trying to close Raine’s Foundation, Church of England Secondary school and Sixth Form prior to a consultation.

Tower Hamlets Council made an application to the Government Schools Adjudicators in May for a zero published admission number (PAN), cutting the future pipeline of the school. A final decision on this application was due for February 2020. Yet the council already and illegally informed all new year 7 pupils, who had been given confirmed places for the year 2019/20 at Raine’s, that they had to leave Raine’s and be placed in other schools, mainly Oaklands.

Whilst the council told parents at meetings that there were only 29 viable applications for a year 7 place at Raine’s, for 2019/20, further evidence suggests that there were actually 70 – 100 pupils applying for places.

Incidentally all year 9s were also told by the council they could not progress to year 10 within the Raine’s Foundation school and should continue their education at Oaklands school.

Raines Foundation Interim Executive Board (IEB)

Whilst the previous board of governors were dismissed, acussed of being unable to run the school, an Interim Executive Board was put into place.

The school advertised a position of parent governor but we were told at the last meeting with the borough that no suitable person could be found to fill the post. I had applied for it. As a former LEA school governor, I should be more than qualified. But I suppose they didn’t want anybody on the board who would want to put a spanner in the works of their devious plans.

In the interests of ‘transparency and openness’it might be interesting to see what the Interim Executive Board (IEB) of Raines Foundation secondary school have been getting up to and you can download all ten documents here.

Raine’s Foundation hired Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who went to the High Court and obtained a judgement including directions to Tower Hamlets Council that they have to write to all parents and pupils who were originally told that they cannot continue their education at Raine’s that they now can continue their education there.

Yet, the council, to date, has not followed that order of the judge.

There are now new applications in preparation to again go to the court for further orders by the solicitors Irwin Mitchell.

It seems very strange that the council tries every trick in the book to dismantle the only traditional school with a 300 year history in the borough.

Please also see a good article from  Wapping Mole though I would not want to go so far as to call for a return of Lutfur Rahman.

It is just really sad that our current Labour council under John Biggs, makes such dreadful decisions. John Biggs. It was a seriously political and administrative mistake to illegale incite the closure of a traditional Church of England school in Tower Hamlets. It will cost the Labour Party a lot of votes.

Yet in Tower Hamlets

Whilst I am positive about the Labour win in Peterborough for tactial Brexit reasons, I must say that the Labour council here in my home borough of Tower Hamlets has caused a lot of concern to local parents, pupils, teachers and school staff for wanting to close down a Christian Secondary school to amalgamate it with a non Christian council run school, which mainly caters for Muslim pupils.

Please sign an online petition against the closure.

The way the council goes about this is illegal. Also the Council has published a petition against the closure on its website without telling anybody in writing that it was there. So nobody signed the petition on the Council’s website but thousands of people signed the petition on change.org as aboe.

The closure was announced to parents and pupils at a highly stressful time. Just prior to year 11 pupils sitting their GCSE exams they received a letter from the council’s Corporate Director for Children and Culture Debbie Jones stating that the school is to close.

This caused immense stressed to the pupils who didn’t know anything about this.

What is also worth mentioning that the letter was addressed to pupils directly and not to the parent or carer of the pupil.

The new term to start in September 2019 has pupils who have applied for year 7 places and the Cabinet member for Children, Schools and Young People, Labour Councillor Danny Hassell has written to me defending his decision to cancel all year 7 places because the school is undersubscribed and because the school was visited by Ofsted and found to be in need of improvement. Also our local Labour Councillor Sirajul Islam supports the closure of this Christian school in Tower Hamlets.

It is obvious that there are many other solutions rather than close the school. The council refused to finance another Church of England headmaster financially who was drafted in to help.

At the same time the council has decided to close the school and disperse and transfer current pupils to the nearby Oaklands school or other schools by 2020.

Yet, yesterday on Facebook, the Council’s post, which promoted healthy air in the borough stated that no decision about the closure of the school has been taken yet and the decision is put off because of a pending public consultation.

The Council’s website lists the process here

The consultation is now open till 24. July 2019.

I think that the council has acted unlawfully and already decided about the closure of the school prior to even running the public consultation, which is not open yet.

Parents were invited to a meeting 7. May 2019. which was very badly conducted. In fact the council officer running the meeting, kept on grinning and smirking at parents.

There is now a public demonstration planned outside the school on

14. June 2019 between 3 – 5 pm. Approach Road, London E2

It has to be said that Raine’s Foundation has a brand new state of the art building, which cost millions to erect and is only about 4 years old. The school is in a lovely location, near Victoria Park and has a great quality of location to it.

Unfortunately only 1 Conservative councillor and 1 Liberal Councillor are prepared to support the school staying open. It is very sad that the Labour Council sees it as an easy option to close a Church of England run school with Christian values.

It seems that only a Judicial Review will help this problem. Please get in touch if you can help. And please we do not want a radical atmosphere during the demonstration.

The school has found support by other publications.

Further reference from East London Lines.

East London Advertiser 

 

The forbidden fruit

I went to the Paradise Gardens festival in Victoria Park yesterday with the family and it was a living fairy tale the way the whole event was themed. Central to the entertainment was a giant who presented himself as a sort of Pagan god of the trees. Unfortunately my camera didn’t work during the day, as the shutter refused to open but the giant went around the festival grounds and made a very impressive and charming figure. He was the heart and soul of the festivities. He was the one who called upon the moon at nighttime, and was booed for it.

The giant at the Paradise Gardens festival at Victoria Park 2010

The giant who called himself the maker of the trees at night on the lake calling upon the moon during the Paradise Gardens Festival 2010 fireworks spectacular

There were a few pagan elements to the festival when at the end the moon was called upon to judge the people on earth and how they mismanaged resources with wishes from children to do less damage to the environment and recycle more.

Though the overall attempt to remind people about how precious our planet is was an excellent one. We saw stalls from Tower Hamlets Council healthy living initiatives.  Please follow this link Paradise Gardens festival  to see the organisers own website and all attractions that were available at the event.

The police were well represented, I saw a total of 6 police officers in uniform around the grounds. According to the event management there were only 5.000 people watching the very expensive spectacular at the end, which is a very small number compared to the 60.000 people said to have visited last year’s event.

I enjoyed the stall offering fresh herbs in a variety of origins, showing the proprietors great knowledge of natural healing and herbal remedies, as well as culinary skills. the festival was a commendable effort to let many arts and crafts stalls offer their wears that combined with commercial stalls and many food outlets from around the world.

The fun fair, though very nice and without doubt very expensive to maintain, costed quite a lot per ride, in terms of local families not being able to afford a lot of rides on the prices.

I doubt that many vendors made a lot of money on the first day of the event because of a relatively low attendance. I thought the grounds were not crowded at all, but of course the areas offering alcoholic beverages, especially beers were well attended and so were the seating areas around those bars.

The New Orleans style Jazz tent attracted the most crowds, but still you see plenty lf grass, showing that the crowds were relatively small at the Paradise Gardens Festival in 2010 on the Saturday.

The tent were people made wishes to be floated on the lake at night during the Paradise Gardens Festival in 2010

Children could make wishes in the Giant’s tent during the day, those wishes were then floated in the lake at night, and were supposed to float around to light up the lake but unfortunately the wind didn’t like the idea, it would have had to blow from south to disperse those lighted wishes but it didn’t and so they all crammed up on the south shore.  The weather wasn’t great but tolerable, I think though that the dogs did get s soaking, that were placed on a large area of the green to be given away to people at around 5pm. I would have preferred children instead to remind people to be kind to, instead of dogs though.

The giant described the earth as a paradise we live on and the Paradise Gardens as his paradise and that reminded me of the forbidden fruit and I thought what is the forbidden fruit in this festival and I thought of the cash machine that was available for people to draw money out to spend at the festival. It was very well attended and attracted long queues (10 people). In biblical terms of course paradise didn’t know any monetary value for goods, it was just god and nature and the apple tree. So is the name Paradise really fit for today’s world?

The bejewelled dragenfly and the water lilie, 2 of the special floating features around the lake at the Paradise Gardens Festival n 2010

It must have been very expensive to design the art work for that event, that was commissioned by Tower Hamlets council.

Election Day

Yesterday I went up Bethnal Green Road and saw Mr Abjol Miah, the local Respect parliamentary candidate standing at the bus stop outside the post office, giving out leaflets. I told him that I remember him having knocked on my door previously and I then told him I am a Conservative and I am going to vote Conservative too. He mocked me, saying that one sees more Respect members than Conservatives in the area. Just earlier in the day a large group of Conservatives, among them Zakir Khan’s mother stood outside our local C.o.E. school giving out blue Conservative balloons and I thought that made great impact. Therefore I went up to the Conservative office in Brick Lane, got some more balloons and marched back down Bethnal Green road to show some presence in the area.

Today started with a cold morning and now we have a beautifully sunny day to come out and cast the votes. I think we have one of the most hotly contested elections in a long time and the voting took a steady pace. I thought there were more people coming out this time.

I began the election day at St. Elizabeth School polling station, and stood outside with the local candidates Matthew Smith and Nur Baksh. There was a crowd of Respect Party members and eventually the police came along and said we are too many and block the footpath but we Conservatives were assured we are OK, we had 3 people standing there. Respect were very civil to offer all other parties a breakfast of croissant and hot tea. But when the police talked to them, Respect agreed to cut the number of pollsters to 4, to reduce their numbers. I passed on the croissant but then enjoyed the tea. It was also very nice to see the old friends and neighbours that came to vote and I felt really at home.

I spotted a film camera across the road and Channel S came over to interview Nur Baksh and then asked me; not being a candidate myself I was taken by complete surprise but managed a comprehensible answer.

I then went off to Bow East to help with a final leaflet drop. My bad eyesight took its toll and I fell over like a plank of wood at an address where I didn’t see the steps in the path up to the door. I now nurse a very bruised knee and my leg feels like a plank of wood as well.

Yet I am hopeful we will get a good result and the turn-out looked promising. What we need is a majority in the council to make effective changes needed. But even then the outcome of the Mayor consultation vote is also important because all the councillors cannot function properly if a mayor takes over the running of the local council.

Canvassing with Zakir Khan

I went our canvassing with Zakir Khan yesterday and I am now even more impressed with him than I was at the open primary that got his chosen to be the parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow.

Zakir has a big and winning personality and is in touch with the people he is trying to reach and in fact he is reaching them. When we went canvassing yesterday Zakir managed to engage with voters and got promises of sympathy and most importantly votes at the next general election.

Also present were Conservative Councillor candidates. Almost each and every resident complained about the service provision they receive from this Labour led council and wanted to engage in discussion about matters close to their heart and to their purses.

Leaseholders’ charges are at the tope of the agenda for everyone. Whilst Margaret Thatcher enabled us to purchase our council flats, this Labour council now makes as much misery as possible for any leaseholder.

Many tenants that moved to the area recently do not know how well our estates were maintained when the country was under Conservative governments that supplied councils with plenty of money to maintain housing, contrary to today when councils are forced to fend for themselves, which usually results in lots of parking fines to earn revenue for the council.

Even when the council was liberal they could only make those delightful improvements to our area because they gotten plentiful supplies of money to do so. Imagine a Liberal council under a Labour government today could not make any more improvements to the area in respect of maintenance for lack of money.

Zakir did not stay long with us because he then attended a football match organised by the Safer Neighbourhoods Team in Victoria Park.

I ended up with a nice tan on my face after a day’s campaigning in Weavers with the local councillors and feel fitter for it too.

If you wish to help with the forthcoming elections in Bethnal Green and Bow for the Conservatives please feel free to contact them here:

Crime-fighting in Tower Hamlets

Just returned from an early morning meeting with Louise Casey, who is the author of the white paper “Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime”. Also present was the commander in charge of the Tower Hamlets Safer Neighbourhood Police, lead councillor Abdal Ullah, Head for Community Safety at Tower Hamlets Council, Mr Andy Bamber.

Discussed were the length of service individual Safer Neighbourhood Officers have to spend in any location and its currently a minimum time of 1 year in Tower Hamlets but for example Cheshire Constabulary engages their community officers for a minimum of 2 years. To my delight, Louise Casey says she would support a 2 year minimum contract.

Well it might be more pleasant to spend 2 years in Cheshire than in Tower Hamlets, but lets not dwell on negatives.

All community representatives also there on the day demanded higher police presence, in form of patrols to discourage congregation of anti-social elements in any shape of form.

SA701924

The Glasshouse Community Centre is run by volunteers since 18 years. It was recently refused essential funding because one of its volunteers died suddenly of a heart attack and a funding application deadline was missed.

Louise Casey combined this visit with a chat to a local community pay-back team cleaning graffiti from walls in Brick Lane. All agreed to support the special vests community pay-back offenders have to wear.

On a personal note I am not clear why Tower Hamlets Council does not support positive community initiatives like the Glasshouse Community Centre. This community centre on Parkview Estate, does not attract nor host crime and provides a positive to the anti-social and criminal negatives in the area. There was a lengthy article in this week’s East London Advertiser about the issue.

Talking of publications, the council can spend well over 1 million pounds per yearon a local paper but cannot find a comparatively paltry sum of £6,000 for a local community centre. Such centres are important to provide meeting space for locals who cannot afford commercial rates to mix and there is still a considerable number of local residents who require that provision.

People use it for birthday parties, children’s parties, weddings, holy Communion parties.

There is also a much used boxing club, tea and coffee mornings, I use it for Neighbourhood Watch meetings and of course the Tenants and Residents Association also meets there. Not to forget the mothers and toddlers have nowhere else to go on a regular basis. I thought the council cares a lot for under-fives but apparently Bethnal Green North is not high on the agenda for them.

I am still hoping to bring them around and give the much needed money to help the volunteers pay back 3,500 pounds on unpaid gas and electric bills.

I must say I did not raise the community centre issue at the meeting because it is a local problem but discussed it afterwards with both Councillor Ullah and Andy Bamber who promised to look into it. Lets hope for the best. Crime Fighting is not just about police arresting criminals its about communities who do not want to turn to crime in the first place.

Greening Tower Hamlets

Birds swarm at a waterhole in Africa

Birds swarm at a waterhole in Africa

to enjoy biodiversity was the theme of today’s conference in the Ecology Pavilion in Mile End Park. I thought I replied to put myself on the list but can’t find any evidence of it, but got in nonetheless. 

There were exhibition tables from companies supplying green services, including rooftop gardens, bike stands with attached garden stand. housing professionals.

Apparently councils are now forced by law to take care of biodiversity and integrate as much greenery to encourage environmental health as possible.

Yet when I attend planning applications there never is any mention of green energy used for the building, about allowing for green space. All I ever hear at council meetings is that all available brown spaces should be built up.

Yet the council is aware, that around 2070, most of the Isle of Dogs will be flooded by rising seawater levels but still plans a new shopping complex complete with skyscrapers and a new shopping boulevard. No time as the present I suppose, we mustn’t be scaremongers and forward upward is the motto.

I heard some very interesting suggestions like putting plants on flat roofs and sheds, incidentally the Barclay’s Bank skyscraper has a roof garden that is keenly maintained by the employees.

So it is a good idea to allow plants to grow on top of the sheds, I should not have complained about the moss growth on our bike shed then. This new drive for green thinking everywhere clashed with the educated attitude that all shrubs and plants need to be neatly arranged, cut into balls or other shapes with no signs of weeds, when its the weeds that encourage the local wildlife that we so much learned to appreciate.

There is a case for sowing flower seeds instead of having shrubs that require regular pruning, and do nothing for the wildlife, as they are too dense to allow nesting in them and provide a good hiding place for muggers.

A confluence of natural and made environments

I greeted reports with enthusiasm suggesting that short cut grass areas on estates could be left to grow longer and sow flower seeds on them too. People with gardens are asked to provide little ponds.

What upset me the most is that a Peabody representative reported that he had to cut down all trees in a housing estate because residents complained about the birds singing.

I feel more effort is required to green those short-cut-grass areas that are so boring but clean. Children can enjoy play areas with longer grass areas, see nature take its course when plants grow and wave in the wind. Each time the lawn in front of my dwelling grows long and luscious and those daisies grow plentiful the big mower comes and cuts it.

A new fashion is food growing on estate allotments, new trees being fruit bearing instead of just green leaf.

From a general point of view I feel that any population that relies on centralised food production and supply is very weak because should this food supply be destroyed then most people will starve. Therefore I welcome the introduction of localised food growing.

Summer field

It will be educational for people to know how food grows, we were given the example of children who didn’t know that tomatoes grow out of the ground on stalks as they thought they derive from super markets.

 

Amazon Rainforest

I am glad that the council now by law has to develop a relationship to nature and that building each and every available square inch with housing is damaging for the planet.  I hope I’ll see a change to planning applications soon to include provision for gardening, whether its vertical rooftop or ground, but gardening that is as natural as possible.

Einstein said that once bees go humanity has only got 4 years to live because bees pollinate the plants. We need nature more than it needs us.

The only disappointment during the conference was one person saying that my question about the building up of brown sites seems to be political, whereby I replied, its not political its environmental, it goes across all parties.  I shall keep an eye on planning permissions for houses and ask some questions. Each and every one of you should do the same in their inner city areas.

I love to ride my bicycle

Map of the triangle that includes, Approach Road, Old Ford Road, Sewardstone Road, Victoria Park and names some local schools in the area

Map of the triangle that includes, Approach Road, Old Ford Road, Sewardstone Road, Victoria Park and names some local schools in the area

and yes, I used to do it for a living, when I could not get any other job, I signed up to be a cycle courier and I was 43 at the time and had 5 children, nevertheless I couriered around London, cycling 12 hours per day and carrying weights of up to 30kg on my back.

So I know how difficult it can be to go around London and to avoid riding on pavements. It is simply just the shortest route, especially when one has time pressures. Who can remember the famous pictures of Boris Johnson and David Cameron being caught out cycling in places where they should not be?

View Larger Map
In my local area, e.g. around Sewardstone Road, Approach Road, Old Ford Road, we get a fair amount of cycling on the pavement. People come from the park and continue across the zebra and on the pavement, especially so as the new boulders have been erected to stop a direct descending from the park into Approach Road.

But, as had been mentioned in a recent meeting on Parkview estate, parents bringing their children to Gatehouse School often cycle on pavements, through Parkview estate and not too slow neither. Just yesterday I witnesses a young boy with his father racing around the estate on the way to school.

We all love Gatehouse School as a most valuable addition to our local community and especially also as Gatehouse School now rents the hall from our local church. I know some parents there and had some dealings with them years ago about the fencing to stop local youngsters climbing over their wall to use the play equipment there.

On that point, we hope to improve play facilities in the area very soon and await approval that the play area behind Rosebery House can be revamped.

Back to cycling, I very much welcome the initiative to increase cycling rates but miss the travel infrastructure for this. Here in East London we usually have heavy traffic going in and out of London from cars, Sewardstone Road is especially busy and so is Old Ford that is very narrow.

I however do get alarmed when I walk along with my 4 year old and bikes are zooming past. When I remarked to a Gatehouse parent recently, I was called stupid. I don’t think it is necessary to lower the tone that much, at least, one could answer, I can understand your concern and we could make a working group on how to improve the pedestrian areas and or road to allow for easier cycling routes but nothing of the sort.

Both Approach Road and St James Avenue are very sleepy streets, with hardly any traffic and the path through Parkview estate is used by parents bringing their children to one of the 5 local schools in the morning. Maybe we could improve awareness to take care for cyclists not to alarm pedestrians as to their style of cycling, so that we all can use our footpaths in peace.

I personally disagree with the Mayor on the point of traffic in London. I feel it should be restricted to delivery vehicles and public transport and taxis and allow the rest of the city to become pedestrian areas. The density of traffic in London is alarming and the air quality a concern. I am rather green and to really encourage more cycling one has to reduce the street traffic from cars.

Cyclists, are in a category that doesn’t fit in either with cars or with pedestrians but they are doing the right thing and get my encouragement, but just not too fast on pavements when it can be avoided. The danger is that one is late one morning and realises how fast one can cycle to save time and then tends to cut that little bit of time to be even more economical with time planning and gets faster and faster each day.

If anyone is interested in a working group to improve the traffic infrastructure around East London, here Bethnal Green please get in touch. I wish to thank all parents from a local school who were kind enough to return my questionnaires about cycling on pavements.

I don’t think that our local cycling problem is an isolated one and that this needs addressing everywhere. Hope we can learn from the Dutch who got a great cycling culture.

Fun day at St. James the Less Church

St James the Less church

St James the Less church

We are holding the annual fun day at St James the Less church this year on 20 June 2009, between the hours of 11AM – 3PM. You may rent a stall for the low cost of £20 and sell your wares. Ring the church on 02089801612 to finalise your arrangements.
St. James the Less Church is situated next to the London Chest Hospital in St. James the Less Avenue, London E2, it is also next to Victoria Park.
The funday will see tombola, stalls, entertainment for the children and promises a worthwhile day out that supports a good cause. Help your local church. St. James the Less is a church of England church.

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