Inequality in Tower Hamlets

Looking at this week’s East End Life, the promotional paper of Tower Hamlets Council, I see the all ethnic candidates for the Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets election. I thought wait a minute, weren’t the white volunteers that run the community centre the Glasshouse refused a grant to run the venue because they did not use an ethnic person?

Why is it that all white organisations aren’t allowed in Tower Hamlets but all ethnic ones are?

That is unequal and discriminatory in my view. Constantly predominantly white organisations fall over themselves and carry out equal opportunities policies to proof that they are not racist but the Labour run, predominantly ethnic council in Tower Hamlets doesn’t have such a problem, they don’t think they have to proof that they are tolerant of white youth and/or pupils.

Anyone who has the time to do so should make a complaint about this, please, about Tower Hamlets not applying an equal opportunities policy towards whites.

Equal opportunity policies must go both ways, so that whites cannot discriminate against ethnic but also that ethnic persons cannot discriminate against white persons. We have seen plenty of positive discrimination going on in favour of ethnic “minorities” but Tower Hamlets Council doesn’t see the necessityof a fair and balanced white/ethnic composition of community representation because for representation to be fair and balanced the electorate needs to be able to choose from a wide range of candidates; making only ethnic candidates available does not allow a choice for voters. The Labour run Tower Hamlets council consists 2/3 of ethnic councillors.  It is also interesting to note here that electoral participation is low and hardly exxceeds 40%. According to Wikipedia in Tower Hamlets (at the time of writing this comment)  the population percentage of whites is only slightly higher than that of ethnic persons.

Advertisements

lack of community support

This report about a lack of social support for needy families highlights the lack of help where it is needed, we do not get from this Labour government.

My view is that poor communal services, delivered by untrained volunteers makes things worst rather than better and people in need of direction and social stability can become exposed to shallow attention.

Especially here in Tower Hamlets we have seen how community centres suffer from a lack of qualified workers support, centres are left to untrained volunteers and events are  held that encourage anti-social behaviour rather than stem it.

The budget for youth provision in 2010 has been cut by 5% and the families relying on that support to help their growing teenagers are left yet again without the much-needed support.

Taking into consideration that many young persons will leave school ill-equipped to deal with the requirements of our ever-increasing sophisticated society, we suffer from an ever-increasing splitting up of family units into more and more single ones and a lack of emotional support for those who need it most.

The highest budget in youth provision in Tower Hamlets  is channeled into after-care, the care needed to help youngsters who have committed crimes, been given ASBOS, youth being rewarded for bad behaviour.

What is needed is financial and personal support to help stabilise families so that their children do not stray into the wrong path. The only solution LBTH can come up with are more civil police support officers and police officers stationed in schools, schools who themselves look more like prison compounds than educational institutions.

If we are not careful and cannot avoid the ever-increasing criminalization of our young generation we’ll end up with a split society, those who end up in the jails and those who just manage to be able to cope on antidepressants.

No doubt churches can deliver a lot of that much-needed support and it is up to the media to bring church going back into fashion.  Clearly the social fibres function better in Muslim societies whose church affiliation are still intact, we can learn from them.  Apparently it is the Christian churches that are in decline and that turning away from religion makes us poorer and not richer.

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.

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.

Humpty Dumpty

Finally the wall outside of the Hair Lounge has been demolished. It attracted a fair amount of revellers each day who sat on it and populated the space outside our local hair stylist.

However what has been created with the removal of that wall is a ramp, that now stands unprotected. The wall covered up a raised parking area. The local police supported the removal of the wall, there were suspicions of drug use and we from the Neighbourhood Watch and the Local Area Safer Neighbourhood Team supported removing it. Hopefully those new boulders are going to be erected soon.

There are benches in the square, opposite the Newsagent and we do hope that the users of the wall do not move themselves to the steps outside of the church. Though I do not know what the policy of the vicar would be doing.

Please whoever don’t leave litter on the church steps if you can avoid it.  Unfortunately I lost my connecting cable from my camera to the computer and cannot at the moment provide a picture. If anyone has one, let me know please.

Justice seen Justice done

Justice seen Justice done

Justice seen Justice done

I am a proud participant in this Home Office initiative trying to engage local citizens in the keeping of law and order, combatting of anti-social behaviour.

See here my official photograph taken with my certificate for attending a day long course in London. I am already booked onto a residential course for community leaders in this respect.

I have started a Neighbourhood Watch on my estate and am on the Police & Community Safety Board Tower Hamlets with distinguished members such as Paul Rickett, Commander of the Tower Hamlets Police, Mr John Biggs, City Hall representative of local constituents and others.

I am hoping to be able to get a grant awarded to enable us here in Bethnal Green North to hold an event that will attract even more residents to actively participate in crime fighting.

Crime fighting for us residents doesn’t mean street patrols or snooping, its more to do with caring for they neighbour and looking out for each other. I personally do not think we can solve all the ills but get together to strengthen each other rather than face problems alone.

I am particularly concerned about lethargy, the attitude, well drug taking happens everywhere, its normal and we can’t do much about it. We can do something about it. We can achieve change to the high Tower Hamlets crime rate by reporting suspicious events to the Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

I started off on a personal basis, when I got concerned about mostly truanting children who caused misery to others on our estates and spent years working on those problems with a very down to earth aspect to it, because its our neighbourhood, we like to live in it and we all want to enjoy our dwellings, be able to walk down our streets without problems as well.

Of course such initiatives can never be used as stand alone, a lot of other services work on this as well, such as schools who want to improve truancy rates, social services who help families with problems and after care services from the police to stop youngster from re-offending. Housing has the duty to ensure homes are adequate too. I also believe that my particular area has a high percentage of disability benefit recipients and wonder about improving employment rates.

When speaking to a local mum in a local school I was alerted to the 999 events that took place in Victoria Park regularly and how much parents enjoyed taking their children for the day out to the park. It included displays from all emergency services, had horses, dog handler displays, helicopters, stalls and music. Maybe I can get some money from the Home Office to do something like that again, as local mums love to bring their children.

 I need more input and hopefully at the next Neighbourhood Watch Meeting at the Glasshouse on 25 May local residents can give me some good ideas to bring to the residential course and to apply for funding.

The Glasshouse Community Centre

I have deleted the original post because it consisted mainly of hear-say. I have now obtained more information on the subject and no longer am involved in this matter. I have passed all details on to the Conservative councillors who will deal with this from now on. I have however been told by Tower Hamlets Council the matter is passed on to the funding officer for Children’s Services to consider it for emergency funding if that is available. I am concerned that people are given charge of a community centre without checks on funding being in place, especially when children are involved.
My argument is that the centre should either be run by a full-time paid worker or be run by volunteers but properly constituted.
I did request an environmental visibility study last year because the Glasshouse consists of 2 glass walls, which are not insulated as far as I know and generates enormously large heating bills. I have been informed that this inspection never took place.
Well it is out of my hands now as I am too busy with other things and the whole situation is too unorganised and mind boggling for me to want to get involved with it any further.

What a lot of rubbish

I am writing as a resident of Parkview estate in Bethnal Green, London E2, and have noticed that today on a Wednesday the recycling container is almost empty. It had been emptied on Monday last and it seems that the recycling rate has dropped since it changed to container recycling instead of doorstep recycling.

I thought a medium sized purple bin, to cater for 40 households, which can house 1 – 12 persons is not enough but apparently it is.

Especially since we’ve all run out of pink recycling bags, the remainders from the previous door step collection, people don’t know how to get the recycling to the purple container.

So it does cost money to do recycling, and it is the householder who has to pay that, but this cost is hardly reflected in the benefits people receive. Yes, we should not have the benefits culture but the real truth is that people do and whilst they do, they have to be able to manage on the money they have.

By law we soon all have to have water meters and I reckon it will cost the householder extra money to wash out cans and glass containers to make them nice and clean and fit to be placed into the recycling container. Currently we still pay a flat rate each month and washing out of containers doesn’t cause an extra burden.

Since 22 December 2008 the council has stopped the distribution of doorstep collection recycling bags and promptly, now since those pink bags have run out the recycling containers are suspiciously emptier than they was before.

I was a strong supporter of outside containers, along with the fire brigade who argued that doorstep collections are a considerable fire hazard.

Recycling companies do make money on the recycling they collect and re-sell to companies, so why should the householder bear all the cost of recycling their packaging?  Lets not forget people on low wages do not have spare cash laying around and cannot be asked to take an effective cut in income that is facilitated by more cost burdens due to the cost of rubbish.

The way many council blocks are built is to accommodate open fire places and shoots exist to dispose of hot ashes from the fire place. Those fire places were removed 20 years ago and we all have central heating. I think the best place to start for housing is to re-think blocks of flats for practicality of every day life actions, e.g. rubbish disposal, bicycle storage, washing and drying facilities, which do not exist communally any longer. Rubbish shoots are too narrow, there is only one for general rubbish. How about getting down to reality and build 2-way rubbish disposal shoots, whereby one lot is for recycling and one lot for general rubbish?

Why not build below ground rubbish and recycling collectors that can be added to each existing council block?

It doesn’t seem to be seen as a good investment and not profitable for single investors but it would be more than profitable for us all, but how can you account for that in financial terms here and now?

There we see the shortcomings of today’s financial systems, which do not have a communal profit and loss section but only a cost section on financial but not on human terms.

Parkview Estate new developments

 

SA701998

As we just recovered from the shock of our local housing office closing and gotten used to our service centre in Gladstone Place, we are now being moved to Rushmead for our service centre. Letters to all residents in the post ASAP.

I just signed the authorisation for the new parkview_nhw Neighbourhood Watch signs, to show that our estate is officially one of the 50 registered Neighbourhood Watch Areas in Tower Hamlets. Watch for the news signs to go up soon, thanks Paul Riley for helping us with this. I hope I see many of you at our meeting on 16 March 2009 at 7:30 at the Glasshouse.

Being now the estate representative on the Service Improvement Working Group, I followed our estate officer’s last Repair’s inspection, together with Martin Shortis, and I am pleased to announce that I have also volunteered to work with an action group to determine weekend duties for our caretakers. Quite rightly housing has acknowledged that more people are at home over the weekend than at any other time during the week and need more attention.

I shall also again contact pest control to address the rat problem around Rosebery House, any other areas please contact me. Could people please stop feeding animals by dropping breadcrumbs out of windows, the other day I came across a whole cake, which I duly placed into the bin.

parkview_estate 001_medium Parkview estate is also one of the most landscaped estates and the lawns, trees, shrubs and roses on the estate need a lot of special care and attention. I have arranged for an inspection with the new service head from Tower Hamlets Homes for horticulture Susan Blinman.

I am also trying very hard to get the fencing around the estate replaced quickly.

Blog Stats

  • 52,762 hits