Sunday, November 30, 2008

One Way Or Another

a Congestion Charge signOver on the City Hall blog, our good friend Roger Evans, GLAM for Havering & Redbridge reports with some glee that the Western extension of the Congestion Charge has been scrapped.

In my personal capacity I pointed out that Congestion IS in itself a charge on Business and asked what he and the Mayor propose to do about it.

A reply from “lucia” and Roger himself merely point to traffic management failures with “lucia” bemoaning “left-wing nannydom”.

I thought my reply to that deserved a wider airing so here it almost is!

I am no fan of “nannydom”, Lucia, from whatever wing it emerges! But neither am I a fan of anarchy.

I don’t know Leytonstone too well as a motorist, but I do know that there is a section of the M11 link road that can be seen from the Central Line and that almost as soon as it was opened the northbound carriageway became a car park in the evening rush hour.

True, some of the highways “improvements” round Barkingside leave me questioning my understanding of the English language. However, it is beyond doubt that traffic volumes have increased considerably since 1990 and that this must be a factor in the congestion that has arisen.

As I said, this is a Charge on Business and a drain on our Economy, not to mention the environment issues of unnecessary fuel consumption, air quality etc. and human issues of stress related illnesses and wasted time.

The question was how to deal with it, and pointing fingers at mistakes is not very helpful. What are the lessons of those mistakes?

I am now going to quote the former Conservative Deputy Leader of Redbridge Council [see previous post] on parking: “The principle that underpins the justification for controlling parking by charging is that of rationing space where the demand exceeds the supply.

It is only a short step to apply this rationale to road time/space itself. However, I agree that all reasonable measures should be sought to improve traffic flow before it is considered. Some of these may not be immediately apparent [to some], for example “Living Streets” already implemented in places like Kensington with some success.

Some traffic [this applies to all types of traffic including telephone traffic] is randomly generated but it is mostly governed by our social structures. We simply cannot expect large numbers of people to drive at the same time and in the same place without causing congestion. I’ve not done this for quite a while but driving on the M6 through Birmingham on a weekday late afternoon [c. 4pm] used to take 3 hours, but at 10pm would take 10 minutes. Telephone engineers have the advantage of being able to stuff millions of telephone calls down one optical fibre, by stacking them one above the other, but that would be rather difficult with cars and roads.

BT is considered to be an expensive telecommunications provider, but that is because BT engineers its network for peak demand. So most of the time it’s assets are lying idle. Other companies may offer cheaper calls but you may not be able to get through when you want to. These companies make their assets sweat. This is the philosophy of the market. Now that telecommunications networks are no longer hard wired they can also manage traffic by switching to a different underused route [a rat run?] or block traffic before it even starts out [usually used for phone ins].

Unfortunately this does not appear to be a philosophy that can be applied to hard social infrastructure like highways unless we are prepared to pay for it, one way or another!

Coming soon……..

a Controlled Parking Zone sign......... to a street near you?

Guest post from Morris Hickey

As part of the Redbridge “Conversation” various funding options were offered. One that seemed to find favour with a “large” number of the 5,000 respondents (there are about 250,000 residents in Redbridge!) was to increase the council’s income from parking charges.

At the council’s cabinet meeting on 4 November, when a report on the outcome of the “Conversation” was considered, an impassioned and well-reasoned plea was made by Councillor Jim O’Shea, a local businessman and former cabinet member, to recognise that there was a limit to the level to which parking charges could be imposed before they would have a serious impact on local trading conditions that were already difficult enough in the current economic conditions.

To the astonishment of almost everybody present, the response came that the increased income would not be met simply from increased charges, but that part of the increase would come from levying charges in places where parking is currently free of charge.

This is a return to a proposal in the council’s 2008 budget that appeared to have died in relation to the shopping parade in Manford Way on the Hainault Estate. The principle that underpins the justification for controlling parking by charging is that of rationing space where the demand exceeds the supply. That is clearly not the case in places like Manford Way, and the imposition of charges is therefore little short of a rip-off to extract still more money from motorists. It could happen in your local shopping parade, or even in the street where you live.

Keep a close watch on the council’s budget proposals as they develop in the period to the end of February 2009. Be sure to attend your Area Committee meetings in this period when the council will be “consulting” on its budget proposals. Write to your councillors NOW. [See link to councillors in side bar].


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vote for Fairlop Waters

a bench overlooking the Fairlop waters lakeWell, at least its not one of those tacky TV game shows that make a fortune by getting viewers to phone in their votes. This is bouncy Boris time. There is money up for grabs, £400k, and we want some of it [back]. The Mayor has short-listed two of our parks here in Redbridge and Grants will be awarded to those parks that receive the most public votes. The other one is Goodmayes Park for Ilford South readers. I expect reciprocity.

Click here to go to the Redbridge webpage which explains what they wish to spend the money on and also note that a separate bid has also been made to the GLA for £2m - which isn't decided by public vote - to develop Fairlop Country Park both as a regional and local attraction.

You can vote here, click! GO!

I may have more on this after tomorrow evening, Wednesday 26th November. There is an invite only reception at Fairlop Waters where the council are launching their Master Plan for Fairlop Waters and Goodmayes Park. The landscape architect and project managers will be present to explain their plans to invited guests for comment. Not been invited? Don’t worry I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities later.

JKB Designs Art Gallery

JKB logoThis is located in the former Harrison Gibson store, 193/207 High Road, Ilford.

The official opening of the gallery is to take place on Monday 1st December 2008 at 4pm in the presence of Cllr. Alan Weinberg, leader of the Council, together with Dr. Kristine Beuret O.B.E. The opening ceremony will include a short play, "What Makes You Happy?" and songs by local performers.

If you look closely you will find that this editor’s Missus will be making an exhibition of herself – two paintings with a water theme.

Normal opening times are 9am - 6pm Mon – Sat and 11 am - 5pm Sun. Special late nights to 8pm are 1st, 10th and 17th December.

Quality Christmas Craft Fayres will take place during the three weekends before Christmas, with a few members of the Guild of Essex Craftsmen among the local artists.

JKB Designs Ltd trading as The JKB Designs Art Gallery. Registered in England and Wales. Company No.6743080. The Log Cabin, Mortlake Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 2SZ.

Roding Humps

On the way to visit my son there is one of those chicane thingies where one direction of traffic is blocked by a kerb build out and oncoming traffic has priority. I find these things very scary because some drivers take reckless chances so I am always extra careful. Last week on passing, the furniture on the kerb build out had been flattened. This is not the first time I have seen the debris of traffic accidents here, and I have also seen the debris of accidents at a similar chicane just round the corner in Roding Lane North.

This is what is known as making matters worse!

However, I have been having a think about the proposals to install road humps in Roding Lane North either side of its junction with Marston Road. I am a frequent user of these two roads as a pedestrian, cyclist and motorist, so I fully appreciate that this is a dangerous junction. The rush hour traffic from Marston in the morning mostly turns right into Roding Lane North, but the problem is that whilst sitting there waiting to turn, the bend in the road obscures the sightline to the right such that traffic coming from that direction is not visible until it is only a few yards away, giving anyone waiting to turn only a few seconds to get out and across the road, even if that traffic is only travelling at the regulation 30mph.

an aerial photo of the junctionThe real solution here is to improve the sightlines by straightening the road, but since that ain’t gonna happen, I can’t think of any other measures, other than road humps, to slow down traffic approaching the junction.

One thing that did puzzle me when this was discussed at Area Committee 2 was this: - Councillor Fairley-Churchill said that Roding Lane North Residents in his ward were continually complaining to him about speeding traffic. But most of the section of Roding Lane North that is in Bridge ward already has speed humps plus that chicane thingy I mentioned earlier.

Maybe Councillors should be looking more closely at what works, and what doesn’t work, and not just accepting Officers reports which are regulated by a “one size fits all” guide book.

Redbridge Police Community Engagement Group

Safer neighbourhoods logoThe next meeting of the Redbridge Police Community Engagement Group is to be held on Wednesday 3rd December 2008, 7pm-9pm at Hainault Forest Community Centre, 100b Manford Way, Chigwell IG7 4DF

The meeting will hear reports of latest progress from senior Police & Council representatives, and hear from Mayfield School students on Stop & Search. Please come along to hear what is being done to improve community safety in the Borough.

Anyone who lives or works in Redbridge is welcome to attend.
Refreshments will be available from 6.30pm.


1. Welcomes and apologies for absence
2. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising (5 minutes)
3. Minutes of last Executive Committee meeting (5 minutes)
4. Approval of revised Constitution (10 minutes)
5. Stop & Search – Presentation by Mayfield School 6th form students (30 minutes)
6. Borough Commander, Pete Terry – Police Performance and Stop & Search statistics followed by questions (30 minutes)
7. Responses to submitted questions (10 minutes)
8. Date, time and place of next meeting
7-9pm on 11 March 2009 at Sir James Hawkey Hall (AGM)

9. Any other business (10 minutes)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mumbo Jumbo

A Phrenology bust One thing doing the blog rounds at the moment is this, the Typelyser. It psycho-analyses your blog, or any blog you ask it to.

Barkingside 21 is ISTP The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts. The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

The Barkingside 21 blog is not all written by one person although the editor does have a major influence. The Editor’s personal blog comes out as:

ESTP The Doers, which is not a million miles away.

Now, I expect you are wondering what those capital letters stand for. These are classifications in the Myers-Briggs type indicator which is used extensively by employers in vetting potential employees.
The four letters can be Extrovert/Introvert, Sensing/iNtuition, Thinking/Feeling, Judging/Perceiving.

I encountered Myers-Briggs many years ago while at an Open University summer school. It is quite lengthy and the analysis quite complicated. We were tasked to do it on ourselves, and having done it looked up my type. That sounds like me I thought. Then in speaking to another I realised that I had made a mistake in the analysis and did it again which came out as a different type. That sounds like me too I thought. So, then I read all the types and guess what? They all sounded like me! I guess I’m just versatile?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


No, not that one, I’m talking Chocolate.Divine ChocolateIf you must eat this stuff I am told that this is the biz!
Here is the story in pictures from the Guardian.
Redbridge has achieved Fair Trade status.
Hats off to Nicola and Rebecca.

I've just received the Redbridge Faith Forum newsletter which informs me that Cllr Mrs Loraine Sladden, the Mayor of Redbridge will be presented with the official certificate on behalf of the people of Redbridge, at a Declaration event on 1 December at 7pm. I think it should be presented to the Chairman of Fair Trade Redbridge, Rebecca Haslam. How about it Loraine?
Update 2nd December: At yesterday evening's reception the Certificate was presented BY the Mayor, Cllr Mrs Loraine Sladden, TO Rebecca Haslam.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It Grows on Trees..........

a Money Tree Guest post from Morris Hickey

Over on the Red-i Forum Dopeyf reveals [posted 18 November 2008 01:08:53] the result of his Freedom of Information Request – the "You Choose" Redbridge Conversation was 40% over budget.

In the next post down Councillor Bond thinks it was money well spent, but then concedes that "we have not yet seen the Cabinet’s proposed budget". Not that budgets or financial management actually mean anything round here. Cllr Bond then points to a whole load of time and effort from council officers, [that’s unquantified money, or time that could have been spent on something more productive] wasted on trying to progress proposals that were not going anywhere, plus £1.3million paid to consultants on the swimming pool project when they had no idea of where the money to actually build it was coming from.

Elsewhere, through another FoI request that I made [but not as yet published] I learned that the council spent an identifiable £54,750 on the Olympic handover event and the opening of the Redbridge Cycle Centre to which must also be added the cost of officer time.

This is the same council that has cut £1.7million from its budget for the care of vulnerable elderly people and recently attempted to increase their own allowances. They call them "special responsibility allowances". Gross irresponsibility would be closer to the truth.

..........Can I have a cutting?

Vermin. Animals. Feral.

a sign saying No Ball GamesIs that how you see our current generation of children?

One of the features of Barkingside is Barnados. They are currently conducting a campaign looking at society’s attitude to young people.

In a survey, conducted for Barnardo’s by YouGov, over half of the population think that British children are beginning to behave like animals with just under half (45%) thinking that people are right to describe children as feral because they behave in this way.
As a society we have created a climate where children are made to feel unwelcome in public spaces and where we have become fearful of them on the streets.
We cannot continue to label children and push them to the margins of society.

They are asking for “key bloggers” to get involved in the discussion and it’s being pulled together on a thing called Twitter [don’t ask] and any comments worthy of note here will be posted up there.

I think it is about time that the “authorities” took a long hard look at their role in the situation we now find ourselves in, and for the rest of us to challenge the false perceptions created by the media. [Some] youths have always been a problem, they were a problem back in Roman days. This is not new, but misguided, one size fits all, attempts to deal with it have backfired.

Weggis on The Youth Problem – September 2007
Caroline Lucas on Values and Identity

Monday, November 17, 2008

Barkingside Posada

mexican posada posterPosada is a Mexican tradition: an enactment of looking for lodging of St. Joseph and Virgin Mary, called The Pilgrims going to Bethlehem for the Census according to the Scriptures.

The Manna House (a Christian drop in centre at 33a Barkingside High Street) is again arranging for a Posada in Barkingside this year, 2008. Mary and Joseph plus nine other nativity figures and a wooden crib, all produced by the Charity Toybox, will be spending 24 hours with each of 20 shops and centres in Barkingside High Street as well as 6 local churches.

On Advent Sunday, 30th November, the Ilford Royal Logistic Corp B Troop of the 240 Transport Squadron Territorial Army will be transporting a real live donkey from the Surrey Docks Farm to Barkingside Methodist Church for the 3pm service. After the service, Mary [rumoured to be the Mayor] riding the donkey led by Joseph [rumoured to be Lee Scott] will head a procession, including the Posada figures along the High Street to the “Inn” otherwise known as the New Fairlop Oak where they will spend their first night.

The Chairman of Redbridge Faith Forum invites people to learn more about the different faiths and beliefs that go to shape the lives of the masses. Jesus Christ is mentioned in many different Holy Scriptures, he says, including the Holy Koran and revered and acknowledged by most mainstream religions of the world.

Does he include atheists, agnostics and pagans I wonder?

Here’s an interesting analysis suggesting that rather than religion it is community, belonging and inclusiveness that promotes happiness, tolerance and good behaviour.

Humans are social beings, and we are happier, and better, when connected to others. This is the moral of sociologist Robert Putnam's work on American life. In
Bowling Alone, he argues that voluntary association with other people is integral to a fulfilled and productive existence—it makes us "smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy."
Hat tip Natalie.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Barkingside Lights

Christmas lightsNever mind that our food system is tottering on the edge. The Baltic Dry Index is on the blink. Essentially, it seems, because of the credit crunch banks are cutting letters of credit for shipping, cash they can liquify quickly unlike its difficult for ships to get permission to carry and land cargos. Uh Oh! The globalisers have apparently forgotten that its’s always good to have a back up, a maintenance spare, for when things go wrong. Something that this belt and braces boy scout has been arguing for a while.

Then there is Gerald Celente, the man who predicted the 1987 stock market crash and the fall of the Soviet Union plus a whole load of other stuff saying that putting food on the table will be more important than putting gifts under the Christmas Tree by 2012, oops that’s our Olympic year. It’s the end of the Retail Christmas he says.

Never mind, we have Christmas lights in Barkingside High street. I am minded to agree with Cllr Fairley-Churchill [that doesn’t happen too often] who points out that the lights up town in the West End are paid for by the retailers and not taxpayers.

Switch on Saturday 22nd November 4-6pm outside Barkingside Library on the Plaza. Usual stuff, Father Christmas, URC Gospel Youth Choir and a Street market on the following day Sunday 23rd.

Ilford Town centre precedes us on 12th November 4:30-6:30pm while Wanstead is on 28th November at 4:30pm and Hainault on 29th November also at 4:30pm

Happy Christmas everybody!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dumb Eco Questions

a treadmillCor blimey! It’s happening. I’ve been banging on about this for years, and now somebody has finally seen sense. It’s not difficult, and it really is bleedin obvious.

Cars use their motion to charge a battery which in turn powers the lights and other electrical devices. You can get dynamos for bicycles to power your lights, so why oh why do treadmills in gyms USE electricity instead of generating it to power the air conditioning?

New Scientist answers a bunch of Dumb eco questions and this is one of them:

The Green Microgym in Portland, Oregon, which opened in August, is the first in the US to convert the efforts of gym bunnies into electricity. Its three specially adapted bikes and the four-person "Team Dynamo", which combines cycles with hand cranks, can generate up to 1000 watts. What's more, you can emulate them in your own home by investing in a
Pedal-A-Watt. When hooked up to a normal bicycle on a stand, this device allows a cyclist to generate up to 200 watts of electricity. That's enough to power a large TV while you go. Or you can store the energy you produce in a battery and use it later. An hour's worth of cycling could power a low-energy light bulb for 8 hours.

Hoorah! Let’s hope it catches on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It Never Rains

rain clouds Since I no longer use Gants Hill tube station as a regular commuter and my contact down that way has done likewise, I was wondering. The weekend was rather wet, and on Monday it absolutely chucked it down. Precisely the conditions for a flash flood.

As expected the River Roding reached near critical state on Tuesday – it takes a while for the upstream water find its way down here. The Redbridge Flood Action Group tried to contact the council to no avail and recommend that anyone at risk of flooding use The Environment Agency Hotline which is: 0800 80 70 60 - this is an emergency and river-incident hotline only.

However, things appear to be improving at Gants Hill Tube Station. I’ve had a report from a concerned Gants Hill resident by the name of Colin who reports that on Sunday only the subway section from Clarence Avenue to the other side of Eastern avenue was ankle deep in water.

It would appear that the drainage works have had some effect and at least the lobby and tube station itself were not affected as on previous occasions. Commuters will be pleased.

Not so, parents at Oakdale School. The underpass to the north of Charlie Browns roundabout did get flooded, again, so report Roding Ward councillors at the Area Committee 2 meeting on Tuesday evening. This of course means parents and children crossing six lanes of the A406 to get to school. Not exactly a “safe route to school” and definitely not covered by a 20MPH Zone or speed bumps.

Going back to Colin of Gants Hill he reports receiving a copy of the “Gants Hill Town Plan” through his letterbox last week. He asks why they are to close the exit from the subway to Eastern Avenue north side to the west of the roundabout? And points out that the bus stops on Cranbrook Road north of Gants Hill towards Barkingside have been moved further away from the subway, when most people who use the bus stops also use the subway.

Sorry, Colin, I am not in a position to explain the reasoning of TfL who are the body responsible.

Sauce for the Goose ….

As reported earlier Homeowners who wish to pave over their front gardens are now subject to Planning Permission unless they use permeable materials. the slip road at the green man roundabout Then our friend from Redbridge Flood Action Group sends me this photograph of a slip road off the Green Man roundabout which leads to Leytonstone Tesco’s. The area of concrete to the rear was formerly open earth with grass similar to the banked area in the foreground. The perspective of the picture makes the concreted area look quite small but it is in fact larger than the banked area and big enough to park a lorry on – something which has been observed since.

So, I’m wondering; are Tesco's and Councils subject to the same planning approval for using permeable materials when concreting over such areas? Come to that what about surface Car parks, and roads, and pavements and airport runways? If not, why not?

Does anyone know?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brussel Tops

Brussel Tops RockWhen I was a young boy my Mum was always telling me that if I ate my greens, which I wasn’t too keen on at the time, I would grow up to be strong and healthy. I quite like greens now and especially brussel tops at this time of year, Yum! Strange how taste changes as you get older. Click the graphic to go to The Frugal Cook’s recipes. Recommended.

Anyway, here is another green/health link. I picked this up in September but didn’t realise when they said later, they meant later that day, so I put it in my pending file and it sort of passed me by.

Green vision for London launched - BBC
A scheme to boost green spaces and wildlife around London, and plan developments with open areas, will be unveiled later.

They were referring to this: See Natural England.

The vision is for London to have a natural environment that improves people’s quality of life and helps the capital achieve a secure environmental future.
Speaking at today’s Natural London launch event, Alison Barnes, Natural England’s Regional Director for London said ‘The natural environment matters to everyone in London. A healthy natural environment is an essential asset that provides the foundations for our prosperity and wellbeing. We will work with and support a wide range of partners to conserve and enhance London’s natural environment.”

Tajinder reminded me by drawing my attention to this report from the BBC last week.

Green spaces 'reduce health gap'
A bit of greenery near our homes can cut the "health gap" between rich and poor, say researchers from two Scottish universities.
Even small parks in the heart of our cities can protect us from strokes and heart disease, perhaps by cutting stress or boosting exercise.
Councils should introduce more greenery to improve wellbeing, they said.
Across the country, there are "health inequalities" related to income and social deprivation, which generally reflect differences in lifestyle, diet, and, to some extent, access to medical care.

An Abstract from the Lancet is here.

Health, well-being and quality of life are affected by many factors and need an Holistic approach, not gimmicks like this.

Five’s Alive.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Could Do Better

 a kerbside recycling boxThis week, 10th – 16th November 2008 is National Recycling Week – in Australia.

Last week, 6th November 2008, Defra issued the Municipal Waste Management Statistics 2007/08, for England.

Of the English Regions we find that way out in front are East Midlands and East Anglia with respectively 41.9% and 41.2% recyling rates. Bringing up the rear in last place is London with a measly 25.5%. But all is not that bad within London itself, let’s take a closer look.

Of the London Boroughs Bexley leads the way with 41.64%, 11.64% above target. Other notables are the City of London who exceeded their admitedly lower target by 13.39%. Harrow and Richmond are also doing well on respectively 39.55% and 36.14%.

At the tail end of the list are Tower Hamlets and Newham, with 13.04% and 14.4%, both missing their targets as did a few others. Redbridge is also near the bottom of the table [like a certain London football club] with 22.38% but it has to be said that it is above the target of 20%. Well done Redbridge, but [in words oft repeated on my school reports] could do better.

London’s Green MEP tells me that “most households in London now have a doorstep collection, which is great, but the quality of service is a real cause for concern in some boroughs”. Not sure if she means us in Redbridge, the service seems pretty good to me, but we could expand the range of materials collected by this means. Other boroughs do.

Which leads me to my pet subject. All these figures are percentages which whilst important, these headline figures can take our attention away from the real challenge, which is to reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first place.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Beyond the Pale

Over on the Ilford South Labour Party blog, if you can call it that as it does not permit comments, we are treated to the headline:

With a link to Valentines Labour News. Breathtaking!

That neither of these claims are true, the new Ilford Pool has NOT been agreed nor are the Allotments safe, is just the beginning of my bone of contention.

The campaigns on the Swimming Pool and the Allotments were and are run by respectively the swimmers and the allotment holders with support from, dare I mention it, Barkingside 21 and other groups and OK The Labour Party. For the Ilford South Labour Party, and specifically Valentines Ward Labour Party, to claim leading or primary credit for the actions of non-party political groups is shameful.

SHAME ON YOU, Ilford South Labour Party
SHAME ON YOU, Valentines Labour Party
SHAME ON YOU, Linda Eyre and Elaine Norman

Insert 16th November: Linda has been in hospital [we wish her a speedy recovery] and tells me that indeed it was her who drafted the Newsletter before she went in and that it was approved by the Group Leader. She was upset about being singled out so I have corrected that!

I am so incensed that I can’t be bothered to find a graphic to go with this post.

Note: At the 2006 local elections, 6 of our members stood for council. 2 Labour, one elected [Linda Eyre], 2 LibDems, not elected, 1 Tory, elected and one Green, not elected. When members are elected as councillors we do not encourage them to remain members, in order to retain our independent non-party political status.

Addition: I forgot to mention certain Conservative Councillors who have been outspoken on these issues, plus the Liberal Democrats, the all-party Capital Programme Corporate Panel who have played a major role and all those people who participated in the Big Conversation. As the Leader of the Council said at the 4th November meeting, "we are merely accepting the report, no decisions are being made at this meeting".

And to quote a former Deputy leader of the Council "a consultation is not a mandate."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Way To Go

This post was to be entitled - London Transport Needs…….
a replacement for this.

a Bendy Bus

But I’ve been overtaken by events. I was reading on the London Civic Forum that London Mayor Boris Johnson will soon be setting out his proposals for changes to London’s Transport Strategy. They were asking for views so that they can identify issues of concern and begin to think how these should be addressed. They even had an online survey [closing date 14th November].

But bouncy Boris has jumped the gun and issued his Strategy on Wednesday 5th November. It’s called “Way To Go” and as it’s name suggests it is full of hip Boris speak.

Normally I would give you a summary, but Diamond Geezer has already published the highlights with translations and followed it up with another post looking more closely at what’s been scrapped.

So don’t waste your time here get over there and have a butchers. [That's butchers hook, look - it's Cockney rhyming slang]

A sample to wet your appetite:
» "Why is it that so many buses seem half-empty? Passengers may like it, but it is expensive in subsidy." [We intend to thin out London's bus network to save money]

Thursday, November 06, 2008

As National, As Local

Hazel BlearsOver on Order-Order, Guido responds to the latest government attack on the freedom to blog. This time it’s the Chipmonk Hazel Blears, the same minister who has been praising Redbridge Council’s new website, Forum and Big Conversation. See BBC and the Independent.

"Mostly, political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.
"Until political blogging ‘adds value’ to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair."

Of course she is referring to right wing bloggers, like Guido and Iain Dale who, how shall I put this, criticise the government. Heaven forbid! No mention at all for our own Alex Hilton, I bet he’s pleased.

Anyway, I was not going to post on this but the similarities with this week’s Redbridge cabinet meeting drew me out.

These meetings are mostly drab affairs with Reports getting nodded through with no discussion and a brief statement from the Cabinet member responsible. The highlight of the meeting is the public participation, but even this does not usually prompt any meaningful response from cabinet members or any debate. This meeting was a little different. After a number of residents and councillors [one an ex-cabinet member of the same party] spoke their turn, one cabinet member seemed to take exception. A long rant proceeded complaining about “moaners” turning up at council meetings and giving them a hard time. It did appear that he was technically sober, [not so sure about another] but possibly drunk on fame having recently appeared on national TV.

Does it not even occur to our elected representatives to ask themselves why the public take such attitudes when they receive glib answers to legitimate concerns and then find the subject ignored? Perhaps if they engaged with their constituents, as some do better than others, like via such facilities as the Redbridge-i forum, instead of banning contributors and retreating into some silent Ivory Tower enclave, then Ministers would not have to give speeches entitled “Political Disengagement”?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Clever Clogs

At last night’s Redbridge Cabinet meeting, Councillor Mrs Cole finally got the saying right – “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics”. She went on to say that “You can read anything you like into statistics”.

1. We can never be sure we have all the evidence.
2. All evidence has to be interpreted.
3. The process of interpretation is by necessity filtered through the belief system of the interpreter, which in turn is heavily influenced by social conditioning and accepted conventional wisdom.

So what can we make of this?

a clever Ms with hand up in class
“Cleverer children are more likely to vote for the Green Party or the Liberal Democrats in a general election as adults, research suggests.” – The Telegraph.

Hmmmm! What happens if we interpret this data from a different angle? Well, it is highly unlikely that either of these two parties will form the next UK government. So, the research is also suggesting that the majority of the UK electorate were NOT so clever children. Ooooh! Can’t say that, can we? Our research grant might get withdrawn.

Anyway, can we assume that clever children mature into clever adults?
Or that not so clever children may blossom later?

Sorry to be a “Party pooper”! Comments?

Oh, note that even the new fluffy version of the BNP falls below those who don’t vote at all.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sports Meeting

B21 are holding a meeting on Sport and Fitness in Redbridge, up at the new Redbridge Cycle Centre, Forest Road, Hog Hill. It will be worth coming along just to see this new facility and the view.
It is to be held on Friday 28th November 2008, 7:30pm.

Our panel of Speakers are:
Lee Scott, MP Ilford North
Keith Newton, Managing Director of Vision
Alison Puddle, LBR Sports and Physical Activity Manager

We hope that many sports and fitness groups will attend and provide a cross section of views and input to a hopefully lively discussion.

New Scientist asks: Why do Athletics tracks always run anticlockwise?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Birds of a Feather

Red Kite in flightFollowing two initial events earlier in the year a new RSPB Local Group has been formed in North East London; that’s us, even though we have Essex postcodes. In order to find out what local people want from the new group the committee are holding an open event on

Tuesday, 18th November 2008.

The event will be held at Oakdale Junior School, South Woodford, [map]. Doors open at 7.00pm for a 7.45pm start and the event will finish at 9.00pm. Free light refreshments will be available on the night as well as activities for children aged 7 - 11yrs.

This event will not only give you the opportunity to join the group, meet the Committee and find out more about the RSPB's work, but will also give you the chance to have your say in what activities the group will run in the future.

Local Groups are run entirely by volunteers and any help you are able to give would be much appreciated.

Please tell RSPB if you wish to attend by emailing Amy.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Remember, Remember .....

a firework displayFirework Display
Wanstead Rugby Football Club
Wednesday 5th November 2008
7pm for 7:30pm
Entry £3 per head
Bonfire, Barbeque, Bar
[stout weatherproof footwear is recommended]
Locals will know that in 2006 part of the club site was used by Barhale as a base for their works on behalf of Thames Water in Chigwell Road. This was extended to the early part of 2007 to cover similar works in Wensleydale Avenue.
The planning permission for the reinstatement and landscaping took some while to progress and was still awaited this time last year. It has now been completed and makes this section of the road look much nicer and well maintained. Once the planting matures it will look even nicer. Next door, work is well under way for the two new fishing lakes on the former Old Monovians Football ground.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Flood Forum

Broadmead flooding in 2000There will be a Meeting on FLOOD-RELATED ISSUES
on Tuesday 4th November
at Broadmead Baptist Church
7.00pm for 7.30pm Start

The Theme of the meeting Follows-On from Redbridge Council's initiative of their Recently published supplement on flooding.

The Meeting will cover Flood-Warning procedures and information necessary for all residents in the event of Emergency and Flash Flood Incidents

There will be Information on how to:

1. Proceed in such an event
2. Inform Residents and the Less able-bodied
3. How to Notice Risks from the River Roding and Flash Floods
4. consolidate Council and Community Resilience.

If you have any queries about the meeting please don't hesitate to get in touch.
Natasha Smith
Emergency Planning Officer
London Borough of Redbridge
020 8708 5451