Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cleaning Up Elm Park

On Sunday I joined volunteers along with local councillors Barry Oddy and John Wood, for a litter picking session in Elm Park. The morning was supervised by Cllr Barry Tebbutt, cabinet member for highways, and the Leader of the council Michael White also came along to lend a hand.

We planted new flower beds outside the station and cleared up a huge pile of beer cans and bottles which people had thoughtlessly thrown over a fence onto waste land.

The day was a great success and built on the volunteering spirit fostered by the Olympics. This is a version of the Big Society that everyone can get behind. The exercise will be repeated in other town centres in Havering.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Olympic Transport

This morning's transport committee  heard evidence from TfL and the railway companies. The subject was the transport legacy resulting from the Olympics. Obviously a £7 billion capital spend has left valuable infrastructure but we were even more interested to hear if lessons had been learned and procedures improved.

The Javelin Service from St Pancras to Stratford was still running, without the distinctive name and incorporated into commuter routes serving Kent and the South East. Six trains per hour stop at Stratford International and the demand will be kept under review as Olympic venues reopen and residential sites are developed.

Eurostar is more of a disappointment, with the trains flying through the station without stopping. Furthermore there are no plans to introduce a Eurostar service. Darren Johnson felt that the name 'Stratford International' was fraudulent as no international services were available. Perhaps the station should change its name - 'Stratford Westfield' would create a sponsorship opportunity...

Maintenance had also improved, with Network Rail using a helicopter to identify faults along the main line. This has proved so successful that a second helicopter is on order and engineering work is being targeted to reduce disruption.

Opportunities to move goods trains outside the capital are also being sought. A surprising 28% of goods traffic passes through Stratford on route from the East Coast ports. More of this is being sent via Felixstowe and Nuneaton, leaving spare slots to run more commuter trains into Liverpool Street.

Monday, November 12, 2012


On Sunday I joined Cllr Ted Griffin and a group of residents for their service at Hainault. The memorial here is only a couple of years old but it is respected and kept in good condition. The crowd of around thirty included veterans of the Second World War and teenagers - all generations were represented at a touching service which had all the meaning of the larger services elsewhere in the constituency.

In the afternoon I returned to Romford for the service at the synagogue. The small building was packed with guests including the Leader of the Council and the MPs for Romford and Hornchurch & Upminster. With the hostilities in Afghanistan continuing, these services have struck a chord with many people who have friends or relatives serving there. My cousin's son, Joseph, has been there with the RAF. We remember those who will not return and pray for the safety of our forces around the world.  

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

OIympic Legacy

This morning the London Legacy Development Corporation appeared before the budget committee to lay out their plans for the Olympic site. This is currently closed to the public to enable removal of some venues and reconstruction of others. We were told that the reopening timetable is as follows:

December 2012 - the Greenway will reopen providing a walking corridor through the site, linking Hackney Wick and Stratford.

July 2013 - the North Park will reopen along with the 'Copper Box' venue which will host indoor sporting facilities.

Christmas 2013 - the iconic Velodrome will reopen.

April 2014 - the swimming pool will reopen minus the two wings of temporary seating installed for the games.

At that point only the Stadium will remain closed to the public.

Away from the venues, five large sites are to be developed for housing, creating an estimated 7,000 new homes. Expected receipts from sales will be around £1.1 billion, and the first plans for the Chobham Manor site are now under way. The athletes' village will provide another 2,800 homes when refitting is complete. The LLDC expect high demand to drive property values up, allowing them to provide high quality homes.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Deputy Mayor Visits St Francis Hospice

Last week I joined Deputy Mayor Victoria Borwick on a visit to St Francis Hospice to thank volunteers and staff for their hard work and the great contribution they make to Essex and North East London.

Chief Executive Pam Court gave us a tour of the facilities and Victoria met some of the day patients and saw the results of their painting and other craft activities. We visited the hospice wards and talked to the nurses and doctors, although there were fewer patients than I met on my last visit in the summer.

We rounded off with a visit to the education centre and a discussion about ways in which we could help the hospice. There are plans to recognise a number of volunteers at Mayor's Question Time in City Hall later this month.