Wed, 12:28

This year, I organised a Summer School for Newham sixteen and seventeen year olds. Twelve enthusiastic young people gained a first-hand insight into politics. Students worked with my office in Westminster and experienced civic life at the council and at the grass roots.

On December 13 new European food labelling regulations come into play…. yet again. Strange isn’t it, that in today’s world with more labelling, more food hygiene practices in play and more information on food packaging than we could ever hope to comprehend, all supposedly to protect us the consumers, we have more food allergies and obesity than ever before.

One for the road... just how many is too much to drive?

Exactly 50 years ago the Government launched a TV ad campaign urging motorists not to drink and drive. A legal limit was introduced in 1964 of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to reduce Britain’s annual road death toll. The Grim Reaper’s tally has been going down year-on-year ever since. The safety lobby, however, wants to go further. Campaigners on Monday—the start of Road Safety Week—called for the limit to be reduced by 75 per cent, down to 20mg. But motoring groups say the “anti-libertarian” move ignores scientific evidence that the ‘danger’ limit is as high as 95mg. That’s why, they point out, the limit was set at 80mg...

Driving back from Westminster, I witness the crowds flocking to see the unique and awe inspiring ceramic poppy field at the Tower of London. It is a red carpet of 888,246 poppies, one for each British and Colonial life lost in the First World War.

Ebola first began to dominate our headlines earlier this year. I must confess that I had barely been aware of this dreadful disease up to then. This is despite the fact that it was first identified as long ago as 1976 when it was named after a village headmaster who contracted it during a trip to the Ebola River in Zaire.

The recent revelation that over 50 per cent of Newham children are still living in poverty is not only extremely disappointing it is just not acceptable.

Protests outside the Newham Business Forum, Old town hall Stratford (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

The government’s latest crackdown on immigration means that from this month tougher regulations on visas are being slapped on universities and colleges that sponsor overseas students. It follows a clamp-down on abuses where the government says bogus colleges have offered worthless, unrecognised “study courses” to get visas for equally bogus students. The 2014 Immigration Act means that a college would lose its ‘trusted sponsorship’ status if just one-in-10 student is refused a visa. Four such establishments in Newham in east London have already had their licenses revoked this year. But the Act could also force other colleges relying on overseas students to the wall, such as East Ham’s Oxford College of London which has been locked in a seven-year planning battle with the local authority over its status as an educational establishment—a double blow for its 380 students...

Poppies growing in an east London school garden

This year’s Remembrance Day on November 11 and the Poppy Day Appeal for the Royal British Legion marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. We still wear the bright red poppies of the Fields of Flanders to remember the fallen a century ago and from every war since. But many today question why we should commemorate warefare at all. To some, like Rob Ferguson of the Newham Stop the War Coalition, it marks senseless slaughter on the battlefield. But for others, like Dr Stephen Clarke of the Royal British Legion, Remembrance honours the fallen and supports those who have lost their loved ones or those who fought for their country and returned invalided...

Since my brief career as a nurse – which was an unmitigated disaster; I talked too much, asked too many questions and made disparaging remarks about the culture of the hospital, but that’s several stories for another time – I have always been interested in health. I was angry to discover that Newham people actually have a shorter life expectancy than folk in Essex; according to the 2011 census, twice as many people in one of our Newham wards describe themselves as ‘in very bad health’ than in more affluent areas. And while I am prepared to accept that some of it is down to the East End belief that shopping and raising a glass to the lips are exercise, I regret to say that some of the blame must rest with the authorities concerned.

Become a flu fighter and get the flu jab. Last year, more Newham residents vulnerable to flu received a free jab than in any other part of London. This includes pregnant women and people with long-term conditions such as diabetes. Plus, 75 per cent of residents over 65 years old received a flu jab last year. This means that less people in Newham got the flu.

The House of Commons voted by 274 votes to 12 this month in favour of recognising Palestinian statehood. I was pleased MPs had the chance to debate this important issue, and voted in favour. I received around 1,000 emails on the subject – one of the largest postbags I have ever had. But recognising another country is a matter for the Government, not for Parliament. Ministers made it clear after the vote that they would not be recognising Palestine any time soon.

The Silvertown tunnel will run  (image: TfL)

Letters have dropped onto the mat in thousands of homes across east London as public consultations get under way over controversial proposals for toll charges and a new tunnel under the Thames at Silvertown. TfL says in the letter that the Silvertown Tunnel between the Royal Docks and Greenwich will be “a valuable alternative” to the congested A12 Blackwall Tunnel. Newham Council wants more river crossings anyway, Beckton as well as Silvertown.

The big issue is—whether there should be toll charges including Blackwall Tunnel. Environment activists, meanwhile, don’t want another tunnel at all—but say public transport should be improved instead. Consultations go on till Till December 19, with 5,000 responses to City Hall so far. The battle of Silvertown rumbles on...

I just drove past the bleeding body of a young man, curled upon the pavement around the corner to my home. Several Police officers were with him. He seemed to be clutching a stomach wound. It’s Friday: not yet 10pm.

The first of April 2015 will be Newham’s 50th birthday, having been brought into being on April 1, 1965 by the London Government Act which merged the boroughs of East Ham, West Ham, a small area of Barking (along the River Roding) and the North Woolwich area to form Newham.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have managed to have really good conversations with many people around the borough. I enjoy taking advantage of such opportunities where I can spend quality time in Newham listening to people, responding to their concerns or queries. I would like to spend more time doing such work but its not always that easy, so I make the most of it when I can.

Transport for London (TfL) recently announced plans for a 24-hour weekend tube trains from next September, with six services to run every hour across the Jubilee, Victoria and most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines.

Next week we will begin moving families who need them into temporary homes on the Carpenters Estate. We would like to have moved many more into other properties last year, including the three high rise blocks, had we not been legally blocked from doing so. Since the council regained possession of the illegally occupied block, officers have been carrying out repairs to make the homes safe and suitable for families to move in as soon as possible.

For anyone with a social conscience there is no shortage of issues to get worked up about. The conflicts in the Middle East. Austerity and the growing gap between rich and poor. The list is endless, and it is easy to become overwhelmed.

The remarkable campaign of the ‘Focus E15 Mothers’ is a reminder of something that has been all-but absent in public policy in recent years: The importance of family ties. For if this brave band of young mums is defending anything, it is the aspiration of mothers with small children to live close to the people who love them and will support them in times of need, rather than being shipped out to far-off places.

I spent a day in Glasgow during the referendum campaign. It was disturbing. Most voters I spoke to wanted to stay in the UK, but I met quite a few who didn’t. The main reason? They didn’t want a Tory Government. One said to me: “Who wants to be part of a country where the next Prime Minister could be Boris Johnson?”

This month has been re-named Stoptober. Across the country smokers are being encouraged to get the support they need to stop smoking for good.

Lyn Brown MP

The campaign by the young mums of Focus E15 has shone a light onto the impact of a number of this Government’s policies on thousands of my constituents.

E-cigarettes - friend or foe?

The popularity of e-cigarettes has soared since they were first introduced to the UK about a decade ago, with current estimates suggesting that there are 2.1 million users in Great Britain alone.

It has been a huge couple of weeks for the future of our country and I believe there is a big lesson for us all to take from what has happened.

A highlight of my summer was joining over a thousand delegates from 60 countries at the triennial World Humanist Congress which this year took place in Oxford ( The theme was the timely one of freedom of expression and belief.

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The final GP in the UAE may not have been a thriller, but it did kind of sum up the season for a lot of drivers.

Protesters have been warned they are banned from setting up camp at the landmark.

John Cantlie features in the new IS video, in which he talks about a recent failed military attack.

From Britain First’s Facebook posts, you would assume they’d won the Rochester by-election. They didn’t, but they’re claiming it anyway.

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