Monday, April 30, 2007

Capital Ring - Richmond to Greenford

I continued my circumnavigation of the city on Sunday with this relatively easy nine mile stretch. Perhaps the most unusual sight was the community of wild parakeets at Hanwell. Walking through woods surrounded by the exotic calls of these beautiful creatures, I could have been in the tropics.

Later I got put in my place when a bearded man, probably in his sixties, strode past. He asked where I was going.

'I'll probably stop at Greenford.' I responded with some pride.

'Oh, I'm going to Stoke Newington.' and he went on his way, which was more than three times the length of the walk I was doing...

British Association of Removers

When I was asked to address the BAR conference I thought it must have something to do with my legal past. Wrong - the British Association of Removers represents removal firms throughout Britain. I spoke to their annual meeting on Friday morning.

They wanted to know all about the Mayor's plans for a low emission zone and they were very concerned. Removal vans are only replaced after long intervals because their mileage is usually quite low. A new vehicle can cost as much as £110,000. The Mayor wants to charge older, more polluting, vehicles £200 per day to enter London. Fine for a large company with a national fleet to choose from but potentially catastrophic for smaller firms with a lot of business in the capital.

Of course a tax on business pretty soon becomes a tax on the customer, as the cost is passed on. Moving home in London is about to become even more expensive, as the Mayor takes a slice of stealth tax, on top of those imposed by Gordon Brown.

Barkingside 21

Interesting meeting last week, when I spoke at the AGM of Barkingside 21 and answered questions. I always enjoy doing this and there were some unusual questions, including one about my motivation to enter politics - which, perhaps surprisingly, I've never had before.

Barkingside 21 also have a blog at which should be of interest to residents of Redbridge. They come here quite often and it was one such visit that led to my invitation to speak.

See you again soon guys.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Capital Ring

I just got back from a 13 mile walk! Today all eyes were on the marathon but I was completing the third stage of the Capital Ring, a 78 mile walk which circles London, starting and ending at Woolwich. Today's stretch was from Streatham Common to Richmond Bridge, a delightful walk, particularly the second half which crosses Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park. At times you could be out in the country, if you ignore the distant drone of traffic and the planes passing overhead.

The Capital Ring is signposted by TfL and there is a guidebook available, but not many people seem to know about it, which is a shame as it provides a good introduction to some of the further flung parts of London.

Off to soak my feet now...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Holding Back the Tide

Yesterday TfL announced that they were ceasing the tidal flow which has operated in the Blackwall Tunnel during the morning rush hour for the past 29 years. No consultation, no room for doubt - that's your lot! Widespread congestion is predicted south of the river as traffic backs up along the A2. In TfL's words:

Under normal circumstances,the traffic managers of the boroughs whose networks are more likely to be affected by this change in operation would have been issued a notification under the terms of the Traffic Management Act 2004. Such is the concern expressed by the Metropolitan Police however, that we are foregoing the process and taking action in as short a timescale as possible. Traffic modelling tends to demonstrate that traffic will dissipate and the effects will be minimised over a period of weeks. We will be reviewing modelling and operational experience, however, in order to optimise signal timings to reduce the impact of this measure.

So this will be a surprise to neighbouring boroughs.

Coincidentally, Greenwich Council recently carried out a public consultation on a road charging proposal for the area. Perhaps the Mayor has decided to create more congestion so that he can introduce a charge for it...

And this morning the BBC are reporting worse queues than usual south of the tunnel.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hustings Alert

Havering Conservative Future have arranged a hustings for would be Conservative mayoral candidates. The good news is that 9 hopefuls have volunteered to attend and take questions from the audience - I will be chairing and keeping things under control.

The meeting takes place at 7.30pm on Friday 20th April, at St Michael's Church, Gidea Park. Tickets can be reserved by contacting Sarah Mackintosh at .

Friday, April 13, 2007

I'll Be Back....

It's been over a month, and I return to dust down the blog. Some of you have missed me - no reason but plenty of excuses:

1. My diary has been very busy.

2. I'm not comfortable with this new blogger format. In particular it has proved difficult to post comments. Why can't they leave things alone?

3. I got a new widescreen TV last month and I've been staring into that rather than the computer screen.

More later...