Q&A: Paul Thomas

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 April 2018


Paul Thomas worked on the Stratford Express in the ’60s. The newspaper is no more, but he talks about the borough – and the differences he sees since 50 years ago.

What’s your connection with the borough?

I used to work in it as a journalist more than half a century ago. While I do not live here any more I continue to visit it, drive through it, quite frequently and still have great interest, appeal and respect for the area.

What’s the best thing about working or living in the borough?

I no longer live here but visit still, quite frequently. Newham has changed quite considerably in that time – and now is moving on admirably.

The borough is close to the centre of London, as well as the attractions of Essex and the Anglian countryside. It retains much of its original character.

What one thing would you change?

As I am no longer here, residentially or commercially, it’s hard to say.

But reduction of crime, knife crime particularly, is vital. I would seek to improve further the area’s image as an increasingly attractive, fashionable, pleasant place with parks and green spaces.

Use three words to describe the area.

Live, inimitable, vital.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Winston Churchill. Sadly no longer but this brilliant, tough, inspired man saved my life during World War Two – and those lives of many east Enders Londoners, and Britons. But not only did he save us, he shaped this nation positively in the future. Where is such talent today?

What new law would you introduce if you were the prime minister?

The Cleanliness Act. Prosecuting anyone caught in a public place dropping litter, even fag-ends. And those caught should face, in addition to fines, two months measured enforceable time collecting litter off the streets for proper disposal.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

Leading appreciation of the good in the area, being positive and non-bureaucratic, and reducing crime.

Shaping the character and charisma of the region in which Newham is, to attract into it more growing businesses, helpful, creative friendly people, including necessary immigrants.

I would do more for contesting the negative image some people have towards east London.

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