Q&A: My Newham - John Newman works for Newham Bookshop, which has been in Upton Park for 40 years.

John Newman and May Gajjar from the Newham Bookshop with AAA's Paula Blake. Picture: KEN MEARS.

John Newman and May Gajjar from the Newham Bookshop with AAA's Paula Blake. Picture: KEN MEARS. - Credit: Archant

Newham Bookshop worker John Newman speaks about his favourite authors, speed limits and accessibility in Newham as the shop prepares to relocate after four decades in Upton Park.

What’s your connection with the borough?

I’ve lived in Forest Gate since 1982. My wife was born here and brought up here.

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

It’s a very diverse and vibrant community and I’ve always appreciated that.

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I think it’s become even more diverse since I moved here. We’re seeing a return of more independent shops, which is great, but on a worrying note, house prices are going up.

What one thing would you change?

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I would introduce a 20 mile per hour speed limit across the whole of the borough, except for the A13.

It would make the roads safer and help people focus on the roads ahead of them.

This would force people to become more aware of children and those crossing.

Use three words to describe the area.

It’s a buzzy, busy, melting-pot.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

The most inspiring person I’ve ever met is John Berger, because he’s a cultural and inspirational European. He’s passed away now, but I met him at an art gallery opening.

He was a writer, political activist and an amazing novelist. He’s among one of my favourties.

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

I would do something to make people adhere to the Disability Discrimination Act more.

I would put more responsibility on public buildings to make them more accessible. We’re not inclusive enough and I don’t think organisations feel obliged to do more for accessibility.

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

If I were editor of the paper, I’d be looking for more good stories. We need to focus on people who do good things in the community and local heroes we can celebrate.

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