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Wed, 13:35

I am gradually amassing a large pile of Christmas presents in my bedroom; my husband, not usually the complaining type, mutters about not being able to reach his sock drawer because of the volume of the pile and wonders aloud whether our grandchildren will really appreciate the number of gifts we have for them.

Sir Robin Wales

On behalf of everyone at Newham Council, I wish you a happy, healthy and safe Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

The festive period is one of the busiest times of the year for the NHS. It’s estimated that up to 40 per cent of people who visit A&E do not need to.

Stained glass tree biscuits. Picture Laura Edwards.

Hit TV show, The Great British Bake Off has released a recipe book full of tasty festive bakes.

Last Saturday was ‘Small Business Saturday’. I visited a number of Newham small firms to discuss how things are going. Small and independent businesses are the heart of our local economy. They make a vital contribution to the community, providing jobs and adding to the borough’s character. It’s all too easy to bypass them in favour of large chains.

As the festive season approaches, it is often only too easy to get involved in all the fun and goodies of the season – while forgetting the core values that underpin this very special time of the year.

In recent years, as I have met people and explained to them what it is I do for a living, I hear them say: “You know what? I can’t recall the last time I ordered smoked salmon in a restaurant”. “Why?”, I ask. “Because it’s not very nice, is it?” And they are often right.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until: 06/12/2014 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Christmas Special - TX: 25/12/2014 - Episode: Last Christmas, written by Steven Moffat (No. 1) - Picture Shows: ***EMBARGOED UNTIL 00:01hrs 6TH DEC 2014*** Santa Claus (NICK FROST), Doctor Who (PETER CAPALDI) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Adrian Rogers

There’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy on TV this Christmas as the channels compete with a bumper feast of festive delights to draw the viewers in. From a selection box of brand new programmes, to a stocking full of seasonal specials, we take a look at what’s on offer this Christmas on TV…

Christmas Eve at Crisis Centre

A donation of just £21.62 would buy one homeless person warmth, food and support this Christmas.

Fixed Odds gambling at a High Street bookmaker's

A quarter of all local authorities in the country, led by Newham Council in east London, have joined forces to use legislation to block betting shops clustering in high streets with unregulated casino-style gambling. They want the £100-a-spin maximum stakes on fixed odds gaming machines to be cut to just £2. This, they say, would reduce “extraneous profits” that attract so many betting shops to high streets with the “crime and anti-social behaviour” associated with them. Newham says police are called to incidents involving a betting shop every day in its area.

But the Bookmakers Association says there is no evidence that reducing the stake to £2 will have any impact on problem gambling, despite what the Mayor of Newham claims. Most gamblers stop after reaching their voluntary limits, it maintains...

In less than six months we face the most important general election for a generation. Do we want a society and economy that work for ordinary people, or a country that’s increasingly unequal, unjust and unfair?

My favourite story about the First World War is about the British and German soldiers who played football together in No Man’s Land on Christmas Day, 1914.

I first came to Newham in 1989 and worked here regularly over the next eight years. I remember being struck by the energy and friendliness of the people here.

Stratford Broadway

Traders have voted for a £1.2m scheme to promote Stratford town centre. The 250 businesses around Stratford Broadway, the High Street and Great Eastern Road up to Maryland Point are to pay a levy over five years to create a bustling night-time economy. The advantage is night security, opting-in to buy services such as waste, recycling and electricity and a joint loyalty card scheme for shoppers. But critics say such schemes are too easy to go wrong, with lack of transparency by the private companies set up to run them which could “skim off” funds for their own profit...

Housing Benefit cuts... affecting private-rented and council tenants

New figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal the number of tenants evicted by their landlords is at a record high. A peak in repossessions has been blamed on Housing Benefit cuts and a growing trend of ‘revenge evictions’ by private landlords serving notice on tenants who ask for repairs or maintenance. The homelessness charity Shelter has identified Newham, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham among some of London’s ‘hot spots’ where families are most likely to lose their home. The Bedroom Tax at the centre of the controversy aims to move families on when children leave home to ‘free up’ properties. That’s the theory, according to one government minister who argues that people with room to spare should downsize their personal circumstances...

How to make a Christmas Cosmopolitan

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Christmas Cosmoplitan

Impress your party guests with a Christmas Cosmopolitan cocktail. It takes just five minutes to prepare and makes enough for 10 people (or five if you want two each!)

Recipe: Apple Snow with Fennel Biscuits

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Apple Snow with Fennel Biscuits. Picture: PA Photo/Handout/Clare Winfield.

Food writer and cook James Ramsden believes in preparing in advance to make the festive season, Christmas day in particular, as stress-free as possible.

If you have had a cough for three weeks or more you should make an appointment to see your GP. It may be nothing serious, but if you are, or have been a smoker, and are suffering from breathlessness as well, it could be an early symptom of lung cancer.

I encourage residents and businesses to once again get behind an appeal for toys that will see youngsters most in need not missing out this Christmas.

Beer Tasting Set

We’ve picked out six gift ideas for those who enjoy a tipple.

There are lots of ways you can ensure your pet is healthy and happy at Christmas

To ensure your pets are as safe, healthy and happy as possible during the festive period follow these handy tips from pet retailer Pets Corner.

We tested a selection of mince pies from different supermarkets. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

As much as we’d all love to serve home made mince pies, finding the time to bake them can be tricky. To help you choose the best supermarket alternative we’ve undertaken the rather enjoyable job of sampling a selection.

The Christmas puddings and brandy used to make the gin at Sacred in Highgate

Whether you’re a gin fan or not, the Sacred Christmas Pudding version should get your taste buds wondering enough to try it. Especially, as it’s distilled by hand, by one man from his home in Talbot Road, Highgate from a handwritten family recipe dating back to the 1920s.

Tips for staying healthy this festive season

Thursday, November 20, 2014
Milk thistle supplements can help detoxify your liver after drinking

Christmas isn’t really a time that we want to be restricting ourselves, however there are things we can do to limit the effects.

Paddington

With Christmas comes a host of movies to the big screen, from festive family comedies to action blockbusters. Here is our pick of the best out next month.

Most read news

Offers for university places are at a record high.

That includes DVDs and piracy while Sony has also been asked to remove the trailer from the internet.

The US agency says an investigation has gathered enough evidence to conclude North Korean involvement.

This kangaroo in New South Wales’ reaction to a drone was an homage to Kangaroo Jack.

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