I was listening to the radio last week about the events in Paris when after much discourse about the problems of religious fundamentalism, the presenter commented that freedom of speech is a fundamental right. I wondered did this make him a fundamentalist?
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.