Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I know it’s already the middle of January but I want to wish you all a happy new year.

Last year I organised a Politics Summer School for young people living in Newham.

Well, the Christmas tree is back in its box and the lights have been re-wound and put away along with the decorations; the last sheets of Christmas kitchen roll and toilet paper have been used and I have taken down the cards.

Dora Maurer's Seven Rotations 1 to  6, 1979

A century of the weird and wonderful will be explored in a major new exhibition on abstract art

I hope you had a happy Christmas and really good start to this year.

In a disappointing intervention just before Christmas, Downing Street has blocked the introduction of Humanist marriages in England and Wales.

When you’re stuck in a traffic jam in Ghana’s capital, Accra, the last thing you expect to see is a street trader wearing a West Ham shirt.

On behalf of everyone at Newham Council I would like to wish you all a happy New Year.

2015 is here and another general election is months away.

Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions. Often they are about losing weight, getting fit or changing behaviour.

EU red tape

Safety regulations may have caused the closure of Upton community centre in east London without warning, throwing staff out of work just before Christmas. It followed an inspection which found parts of the heating system no longer complied with regulations. Critics say there’s too much regulation and red tape choaking everyday life. Even the government is forced to agree. The Business Minister just last week announced his “war on red tape”. But has the government got it right? UKIP blames Brussels for our red tape and says the Government is powerless to stop it…

Twenty-three services across London are expected to be disrupted by action over pay and conditions.

Newham commuters face disruption this Monday due to a bus drivers’ strike.

Haringey's parking charges will rise from next year if proposals are approved.

Local authorities are coining in record sums in parking fines and charges which critics say is out of all proportion to any wrongdoing by motorists. Town Halls are accused of using the revenue to balance their books rather than keeping traffic moving. They made a combined profit of £667 million from parking last year, according to RAC figures. Nearly half the revenue alone is from squeezing motorists in London. Newham Council in east London turned over £16m last year, the RAC says, with a record £7.2m profit. We asked Newham for a response, but were told the lead council-member didn’t want to reply—so none of the other elected members would give an opinion either.

Seasonal cards were given to passing families

Muslim charity members hand out season’s greetings in Newham

St James' Court, A Taj Hotel Lobby

With the run up to New Year well under way, using up those last days of holiday to jet off somewhere warm may be impossible - with limited time to plan and spiralling Christmas prices. But, though the next few months may be cold and dreary, there is no other city quite like ours and taking steps to enjoy it is easier than you think.

Boris on a bike... arriving at launch of cycle superhighway in Stratford

The Mayor of London has unveiled plans for a new ‘back street’ cycle network so that ordinary folk can “ride in safety” in ordinary clothes away from busy main roads. The first route planned in the New Year would stretch from west London and the City through Canary Wharf, Newham and out to Barking in the east. But it doesn’t replace the deathly ‘super cycle’ blue lane routes which have led to deaths in traffic accidents, especially along the worst blackspot A11 between Stratford and Aldgate. This “Johnson versus Johnson” debate has London Mayor Boris urging us to get on our bikes and feel safe, while London Assembly Opposition member Darren fears super cycleways still lulled cyclists into a false sense of security…

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.

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