Health first

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The best part about being a human is being as healthy as possible. At least that is what we are striving for.

Here in Tower Hamlets, school children are thought to have 10% less lung capacity, compared to children in rural areas.

Tower Hamlets schools are normally encoached in busy traffic areas, with roads, right, left and centre.

For example Bishop Challoner School is unfortunately a good example of a school being in a totally traffic polluted area. The school is judged ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted because of exam results only. The school is siutated in Commercial Road.

For Ofsted good results are everything, they do not consider other health considerations when they judge a school, which I think is very sad indeed.

On the other hand, Raine’s Foundation school, is a secondary school situated near Victoria Park, an area classified as almost suburban, with leafy streets, access to Victoria Park for PE and much less traffic, as roads around the building are one lane only.

Raine’s Foundation school is classified as ‘in need of improvement’ by Ofsted and because of this, parents won’t apply to send their kids there.

Parents as well as Ofsted only care about exam results.

Tower Hamlets Council  now wants to close Raine’s Foundation school because of the poor exam results, poor in comparison to national results.

Why does nobody care about the children’s health? Isn’t it better to run a school in a healthy area because the kids will be better off throughout their life, if their lungs breathe healthy air?

I personally want to fight to keep the school open just to give children the chance to attend a healthy school. Because sacrificing health in exchange for good exam results will have long-lasting effects on the children’s health.

Access to green spaces, a nice playground, a nearby park will have a great effect not only on children’s mental health but also the physical health.

I want everybody to write to their MP to ask for support to change the classification criteria for schools in respect of a healthy environment.


Having lives before politics

I am astounded to read that

  • Michael Gove took Cocaine
  • Rory Stewart smoked Opium
  • Jeremy Hunt had a Cannabis Lassi
  • Boris Johnson snorted cocaine and smoked drugs as teenager

Although these events are kind of ancient, e.g. they have been described by

Mr Gove who told the Mail: “I think all politicians have lives before politics. Certainly when I was working as a journalist I didn’t imagine I would go into politics or public service.”

I think that is the source of the problem of our increased drug culture in Britain, that taking them is seen as having a life.

On the front line, living in Tower Hamlets, a borough that has a high drug dealing problem, we find that it’s the social users, the ones that have jobs and earn enough money to consume drugs, have a substantive responsibility towards the drug dealing problem. If they wouldn’t buy the drugs, the dealers would have less reason to sell.

I can only hope that people are starting to realise that it would be better for all of us not to take any class A, B, or C drugs whether in politics or not.

Tower Hamlets Council is currently  conducting a substance misuse strategy survey on how to best combat drug use and how to educate people about it. They suggest that care leavers and high risk groups like pupils who have been excluded from schools should be educated about the dangers. Yet, the council seems to forget that it is those established high earners and middle class university graduates that also need educating.

Drugs are very common these days and it is definitely not easy to say no.

Yet if a pupil in a school these days would be caught out in any way with drugs whatsoever, they would be expelled and had little chance to ever enter a high-profile political post.  It doesn’t help to play down the drug taking of major politicians and put it down to life before politics.

What should happen is that children who nowadays get themselves in trouble whilst in school should not be expelled but helped instead so that they have a future equally as those politicians who now admit their failures once they had a career.

It is more than cynical that Michael Gove feels fit to admit his drug taking when he used to be Minister for Education who fell through the net.

Perhaps also our alcohol drinking culture should be called into question as this also has severe health implications both on our minds and on our bodies.

But the moral of the story is though that nobody is perfect after all.


Tower Hamlets Council refuses to give residents appointments for gas checks

The council just sends inspectors round to people’s addresses without appointment. That is in breach of established safety procedure.

Bogus callers are an all too common problem in Tower Hamlets. The Bogus Gas inspector has robbed many pensioners of their live savings. To help protect residents from bogus callers a best practise became established, which had the following routine.

Council sends appointment to resident advising them of a contractor coming to carry out some work. Resident could agree on a password for the contractor to use.

Contractor had to show the resident their ID card and allow resident to call the council to make sure they are genuine.

But now the council has refused to even make appointments and just sends contractors to people’s houses and if they are not in, they do not leave a calling card. In fact it is not possible at all any longer to even know when a contractor called.

The council now takes people straight to the Magistrates Court to obtain a court order to enter a premises on the excuse that they have been refused entry to carry out gas checks.

I just wonder why they now terrorise people in that manner.

Especially as this does not ensure that the gas check is actually carried out within the statutory 12 months of the previous one. To ensure that gas checks are carried out the landlord or council must send out appointments so that residents can arrange a more suitable time to carry out this gas check if the proposed appointment is unsuitable.

In fact I just had such a letter advising me that there is going to be a court hearing in July to obtain a court order to break into my flat to carry out a gas check, when I wrote to them asking for an appointment so that I can have my gas check but they just do not want to give me this appointment for a gas check.

I have been a resident here for over 35 years and each year I have had my gas check without problems, now the council does not want to give people appointments any more but just seeks orders to enter by force.

The problem with Neighbourhood Watch in Tower Hamlets

When you go to the Metropolitan Police Website and turn onto the Tower Hamlets Pages, you see a tab that is called getting involve.Within that is my picture not only once but twice and it says that I encourage people to build Neighbourhood Watches in Tower Hamlets.

I do accept full responsibility for that but now have had to resign that post of chair person of the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association, in a situation that I would call constructive dismissal.

There are many factors that led to my resignation. One is the new housing legislation that doesn’t allow tenants to occupy a flat with a spare room. The legal frame work of neighbourhood watch requests that a chief local coordinator makes their own address available for contact points. Here in Tower Hamlets the Police expected me then to administer all Neighbourhood Watch records but no office room was made available for that purpose. I am not allowed to have a spare room in my home as I am a tenant. That automatically discriminates against social housing tenants becoming Neighbourhood Watch coordinators, which is something that I wholly despise.

When I look at boroughs like Wandsworth where Neighbourhood Watch displays the best model of how it’s done, I thought I could establish a similar model in Tower Hamlets. Yet in Wandsworth the council heavily supports Neighbourhood Watch also in the aministrative functions, they create and distribute promotional material including stickers, leaflets, watch signs etc.

Here in Tower Hamlets the council refuses to do any such tasks, I had been asked to collect all window stickers from the town hall and keep them in my bedroom. I had ordered 50 Neighbourhood Watch signs, which I could not store in my flat any more either. Yet when I called the Town Hall to enquire how to get permission to put up the signs, nobody could help, I was given a telephone extension that was never answered.

All the council does in Tower Hamlets is provide a couple of Internet pages that explain about Neighbourhood Watch and has links to associated websites. Yet as explained in my previous post, other councils actively support Neighbourhood Watch schemes and also administer them but not in Tower Hamlets. No Neighbourhood Watch Association can exist alone. There are so many problems that require data sharing and if its only the knowledge which housing landlord is responsible for which estate, basic things like that.

Whilst I was given the opportunity to be the chair of the Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch Association lately there was  not one other watcher who would actually become a member of the board and act as Secretary, Vice-chair, treasurer. I ended up doing all those jobs.

Furthermore in Wandsworth all watch coordinators have to undergo a Criminal Bureau Records check whilst here in Tower Hamlets there is nothing of that sort even in place. Not even the police check up on watch coordinators unless they are the top people like myself. I have been checked many times over in recent years and there is no black spot in my life but I am not certain abut other coordinators in the borough. I personally had extended CRB checks done because I volunteer in schools.

On the Ourwatch website, anyone can register, draw around an area and call themselves a watch, with the benefit of getting tailored crime reports for the area they are registered with on the site and they can also make use of the excellent communication system that the site brings with it but that doesn’t mean that anybody seen on the site as a watch is actually a properly registered watch. Now the legal system has changed and only approved persons can use the Neighbourhood Watch logo and produce material using the wording and the picture logos as they can be downloaded from the Ourwatch website.

But there is still no requirement that any person wanting to be in neighbourhood watch must have a criminal record check, any watch coordinator can have a criminal record or even be a registered sex offender. Though I must admit that it is unlikely that criminals would want to be watch coordinators but not impossible.

Without the pro-active support of the council and little checking of individual coordinators in Tower Hamlets I see little chance of this getting to be a good system. I have even resigned from my local SNT panel because I do not like to be discussing problems with ever changing PCSO officers and cannot see how the current system reduces crime in the long run. The statistics show that Tower Hamlets has twice as much crime as the City of London on a permanent basis. Sorry to Commander Rickett who says crime could not get any lower in the borough, I disagree.

Please see also my previous post to explain in length how my perceive the problem with policing in the area.

I think that Neighbourhood Watch is an excellent system in boroughs like Wandsworth or Bexley where there is at least good and active council support in both boroughs, though Bexley does not carry out a CRB check on coordinators but for Tower Hamlets where there is no proper infrastructure, I feel a lot of work has to be done. Now at least some money has been allocated to us and we can hope againl. I think that Neighbourhood Watch is a viable in most areas and especially in areas where there is a good infrastructure supporting it from the council as well as the police.

I found myself loading a pram full of boxes and bags and carting the lot to my local police station and giving it all to them because I needed some storage space for materials. I still have my endorsement for Neighbourhood Watch in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the Met Police website.

PS: in up-date to this post, I continue to do the daily work and hope to engage more with both council and local residents to build up a better and stronger watch network. It’s a matter of more engagement and getting to know local watches and encouraging others to ask the council to hold a bigger stake in Neighbourhood Watch. Also policing will change in the autumn, I hope for the better, at the next Association meeting we will get more details,all wait for 19 June.

Working realities of life

It has now been officially confirmed with the latest research that the more contact a young person has with employers / employment, the less are they likely to drop out of education. What worried me about my own borough, Tower Hamlets a lot is the fact that some industrial estates have been demolished to make room for more housing. I loudly complained about this repeatedly but had been told that the Mayor Boris Johnson has earmarked Tower Hamlets mainly for housing.

Of course you could argue, there is amply employment opportunity available at the Canary Wharf development, which is the showcase for success but many youngster in Tower Hamlets do not live in the vicinity of the complex nor do they have cause to go there.

What is really needed is a business structure that is inter-woven with the domestic arrangements, so that you can have a small business there and then. Instead in Tower Hamlets we have lots and lots of housing. Whilst that in itself is not too bad if it’s all houses and gardens with middle class residents who can get out for social activities and whose residents often are in work, like Los Angeles suburbs for example, the idea to make Tower Hamlets a housing borough is very badly conceived.

Wherever there are lots of poor people perched together the atmosphere smell of ghetto rather than housing.

Sure enough there are many different building styles and home ownership is around 50% in many parts of the borough but there is still not enough employment for local youngster and there are not enough employers for local youngsters to aim for.  Employment is something that is far away for many locals. It is quite a difference whether you reside somewhere by choice or because of having no other choice.

Business centres in Bishops Way and near Three Colts Lane were served with notices and businesses demolished with nowhere to go. All the Olympic excitement doesn’t make up for the fact that Tower Hamlets doesn’t have a soul. By soul I mean an atmosphere that oozes living. Like Hackney for example they have arts, theatres and fashion, Greenwich has just been declared a Royal Borough over its strong relationship to naval history and sciences. Camden has the distinctive Boheme art scene settled there. All Tower Hamlets has to offer is lots of housing and blue chip business that does little for the little man.

I am not so over-enthusiastic about that City application as many are who seem to think Tower Hamlets stands a realistic chance of getting it.

Tower Hamlets economy is either very big or small and domestic with little in between. I would like to see much more support for small business in the borough with sponsored business units for small entrepreneurs.

Even the daily impressions I get from the borough are not yet what I am really looking for. I miss cafes, with tables on pavements where people sit and chat. Yet ironically the Boris bikes are an ideal method to centre communications around on. There is a good reason to open little street cafes in the vicinity of Boris bike stands for example.

But whilst Boris bike stands spread around the borough, the traffic infrastructure is far from ready for safe biking. I left a planning meeting for cycling routes at a council building in disgust at how little concern was shown for the safety of riders.  The cycling routes were not suitable for cyclists to ride safely.

The restauration Grant for Wilton’s Music Hall gives us a shimmer of hope that Tower Hamlet’s lost soul will be restored. Tower Hamlets needs a cultural focus that brings people together, a focus that is neither racially nor otherwise divisive. 

Can men be exploited

I am not even wanting to comment on equally on gay rights but think that the argument that men cannot be exploited by the sex trade is plainly wrong. There are many desperately poor men out there who find it even more difficult to get abode than women do. Women can always claim housing with a child but men can’t get pregnant. There might not be exploitation or prostitution on the premises but what exactly is the perimeter of a premises and what is going on around the corner or over the phone?

Equality-wise it would be wrong to exclude a gay pub just because it is a gay pub from similar rules around an area. I personally did not sign the petition against sex establishments.

this article here explains how British men are forced into modern day slavery.

Christmas lights in Tower Hamlets

Quite interestingly this list provides a full breakdown of Christmas light spending of local councils.  It shows that Tower Hamlets did not cut down on spending, it remained steady on £50.000. Though from personal observation it seems clear to me that the council has just changed the location of spending the 50K.

Because the lights in Bethnal Green Road for example seem much thinner and dimmer than last year whilst the tree in the Homeless section of Roman Road shows luxurious bows and baubles.  Overall the street lightning seems to become a chore of the businesses in an area.

They don’t care about the kids

Just as I had a little conversation about the teacher strike the other day with a lady who does not reside in Tower Hamlets, I learned that in other boroughs some school teacher would always keep the school open come rain or shine. Even in worst conditions the head teacher sees her first duty to the children.

In my child’s school, they are only too eager to close the school for the strike on Wednesday. Then the teacher has the cheek to write in a home reading homework book that I did not read with my child one evening, when she takes the whole day off to strike. At least I missed reading one day for a good reason but the strike is not a good enough reason to abandon children for a day.

The point on pensions could be made without making children suffer for the day. Because it is the children who suffer and no one else from this strike. Those teachers who strike on Wednesday, care more about themselves then the kids they are teaching.

The unions could exempt school teachers from striking but no they don’t. Shame on them.

Even though I am not convinced that the new retirement age of 68 for teachers is acceptable especially not as so many young people are unemployed. We just heard that people do not get their pensions when they turn 60 next year but whilst this government forces the older generation to look for jobs, they now come up with a new initiative to pay firms for employing youngsters for 6 month and pay the firms over £2500 to do it. So why should a company employ somebody who is elderly and pay for them when they can get a subsidised young person. It does not make much sense to me what this government is doing but closing schools over it, is definitely not the answer. I will refuse to give any teacher a Christmas present this year, any teacher who strikes on Wednesday.

Unison must have too much money. They drove up and down Whitechapel this morning, asking people to support the strike on Wednesday. I will do no such thing. In fact I suggest that the Unions do their bit to support the workers by lowering their membership fees. As to relieve the hardship. That they lower the wages of their leaders, so that workers save some money.

I think the Unions have to show that they are willing to share the burden and do not make the same mistake that this government is making. They want to budge out of housing responsibility by making people buy their homes in the knowledge that many will become totally worthless in the foreseeable future due to weather conditions and earth warming.

Coming back to the issue in hand, which is can we make children suffer over government policy, the answer must always be no. After all parents don’t just abandon their children for a day in Parliament Square because they don’t like something.

This political situation feels like the big abandoning of responsibilities all around. The government wants to abandon the responsibility for housing by dressing the fact up and spurning people into buying gradually more and more worthless homes. Teachers abandon their students and pupils by saying they want more pension. But by the time these pupils now grow up, they will be paying towards the pension of those very same teachers when they are old and in pension age. So the better they teach them, the more they can earn and the better they can look after the retired teachers.

What we have not yet seen is parents who drop their kids off in Parliament Square because they abandoned them, just as it happens in China frequently.  The government’s advice is for parents to take kids to work but that is a very bad idea because it pushes the responsibility for education onto the parent’s employers, which is not what it says on the tin. But the way we go, we could soon see ourselves living in tin shacks, because the government just stopped building council homes.

A Labour smear campaign

Since the article that caused the editor of the London Bangla newspaper to appear in court, I can only comment at this stage, that this smear campaign leads directly to the Labour Party headquarters here in Bethnal Green because it announces a meeting there in conjunction with a smear on a candidate for the Tower Hamlets Mayoral elections. Wonder how much Freedom of Expression that case is going to get.

Considering that the Labour Party meeting rooms in Cambridge Heath Road are Helal Abbass’ meeting rooms as well, it must have been a double whammy for him to find that his opponents wanted to heckle him outside of the party rooms.

There is a lot of double crossing going on in political parties in this area and all parties, if need to, just pull together to defeat one enemy created by a party machine in favour of somebody winning an election.The Bangla court case was announced today on Ted Jeory’s website.

From the e-mail address of the publisher of the ad, is little to be known but there is a mobile number given. Would not guarantee that the chip still works. But this just about shows how low the quality of “political” campaign is in this area.

No Poppies at the Tower Hamlets Homes Engagement Conference

I went to the first of the three Tower Hamlets Homes engagement conferences in the borough of Tower Hamlets today on 12 November 2011 and was amazed that no member of the THH staff wore a Poppy in their lapels. I thought it looked like a policy not to wear them. Considering that only yesterday loudspeakers throughout London Underground helped travellers to wear their Poppies with pride, Tower Hamlets Homes has no policy to endorse the wearing of Poppies at all.

Of course it speaks volumes that our Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson instructed staff to give out messages of support for the Royal British Legion on London Underground yesterday but that today a Tower Hamlets Social Housing Landlord and provider refuses to wear them at all. I would say it is correct to use the term refusal because considering that tomorrow there is a laying of a reef outside of Bethnal Green Underground station to remember the tragic deaths there, it is obviously a policy not to wear Poppies for Tower Hamlets Homes staff. Neither did I see any of the attending residents or others wearing poppies.

What does it mean? It obviously means that Tower Hamlets Homes does not do a lot to endorse the British Army, the British Legion now and/or in the past. People can draw their own conclusions from those facts.

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