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Archive for London

“Getting stuff done as a ward councillor can be a marathon not a sprint. “

A Labour Councillor in Hackney. Luke Akehurst,  is stepping down after 12 years, and has written ten things he’s learned in his time in local government.

Putting party differences aside for the moment, there are some useful things for candidates from any party , especially the last five:

6) Getting stuff done as a ward councillor can be a marathon not a sprint. When I first stood in 2002 we pledged to rebuild two very rundown housing blocks, Bridge House and Marian Court. That project is happening, but it isn’t complete yet as I come off the Council now.

7) But never take no for an answer. I was told “the Council will never fit security doors on Trelawney Estate, there’s no budget for it” and “the Council will never agree to adopt Stevens Avenue (an un-adopted road hence no street lighting or road or pavement repairs), it sets too expensive a precedent”. Loud campaigning on both by the three ward councillors meant that miraculously the budgets were found to do both.

8) Life as a councillor is a lot easier when you have good colleagues in your ward. I’ve been very lucky to be in a mutually supportive team for 12 years with Guy Nicholson and Sally Mulready as ward councillors. I’ve seen councillors who fall out with a ward colleague or have to carry the workload for someone not pulling their weight made completely miserable by it.

9) Campaigning and casework aren’t separate activities. If you don’t canvass and deliver survey leaflets you won’t find out about most of the problems people in your ward want sorting out. Similarly when you do casework most of the people you do it for are far more likely to bother to vote for you.

10) Good officers are as important as good councillors to driving forward change. We were very lucky that at the point when we really needed to improve Hackney we were able to persuade key people like then Chief Exec Max Caller to take a huge risk with their careers and be part of Jules Pipe’s attempt at rescuing what was a badly failing council. Without dedicated and incredibly hard-working civil servants implementing the changes Labour wanted, we wouldn’t have been able to turn Hackney round.

Hat-Tip to Southend councillor Julian Ware-Lane for this.

Secrets Of The Piccadilly Line

How to tell what Piccadilly Line Station you are on even if you can’t read, how to make concrete attractive, plus gnomes , tilework and a failed spiral escalator…

Secrets Of The Central Line

Lots of quirky facts about the Central Line, including a secure Bank of England building, pretty Gants Hill, Alfred Hitchcock, and an underground munitions factory…

Hat-tip: Liberal England

New Views Of The Thames

The Port of London Authority has linked up with Google:
- in fact they have linked up with Google Street View:

The Thames is the first river in the UK and Europe to be mapped by Google’s Street View technology, which provides 360-degree panoramic imagery to users across the world on Google Maps. While Street View cameras had voyaged to Moscow’s Red Square, the explorer, Scott’s, Hut on Ross Island and some of the world’s highest peaks, they were yet to make their way down England’s longest river until now.

The 360-degree photographic views of the river are live on Google Street View, which viewers will be able to find on www.maps.google.co.uk or on https://www.google.com/maps/views/home.

Incidentally, if you are ever looking for some really good photos of London or the Thames, try the PLA twitter feed- there are often some cracking photos appearing there.

A Chance to Nose Around London Buildings

If you are interested in architecture, buildings,  history, engineering or just nosing around bits of London, you might be interested in Open House London 2013 over this weekend.

You have the chance to visit any of about 830 buildings! To give just 5 examples out of 830:

Argentine Ambassador’s Residence , 49 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8QZ, London “Owned by Argentina since 1936 and with sumptuous interiors still intact.”
Government Art Collection Queen’s Yard, 179a Tottenham Court Road, W1T 7PA, London “Guided tour of premises and behind-the-scenes look at how this major collection of British art operates.”
Bart’s Hospital Great Hall St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, EC1A 7BE, London “Founded in 1123 and rebuilt by Gibbs as the Hospital’s showpiece. Grade I listed, the staircase to the Great Hall is decorated by spectacular canvases by William Hogarth.”
Blackwall Tunnel Northbound Refurbishment London Street & Tunnel Operation Centre, 19 Naval Row, E14 9RY, London “Linking RB Greenwich and LB Tower Hamlets, the Northbound tunnel was built in 1897, was refurbished in 2010-11 and carries 55,000 vehicles each day.”
4 Bayer House Golden Lane Estate, EC1Y 0RN, London “Part of Golden Lane Estate which was the first public housing to be listed. A maisonette with many of the original detail and finishes.”

Find out more here.

Rare Colour Film Of London In 1927

Here’s some intriguing colour film of London in 1927:




You can find out more about this footage here.

Claude Friese-Greene, one of the earliest British pioneers of film, filmed a series of short clips around London documenting major attractions of the city nearly 90 years ago, specifically in 1927, using a primitive color process developed by his father William Friese-Greene…..It’s like a beautiful dusty old postcard you’d find in a junk store, but moving.

Hat-tip: Deathandtaxes

A Question Of Dropped Kerbs

From Westminster Council WebpageDropped kerbs are important in the street scene to allow people with wheelchairs and also prams etc. to cross the road conveniently.

At tonight’s meeting of Rawreth Parish Council, Parish Councillor Paul Beckers asked Chris Black if the District Council were going to enforce the law against parking cars across dropped kerbs.

Chris said that this would probably be an issue for the South Essex Parking Partnership, but he would investigate.

Westminster City Council already enforces the law against this:

You may not have realised but it’s actually a parking contravention to park adjacent to a dropped kerb at any time.
What is a dropped kerb?

A dropped kerb involves kerb stones being lowered and the pavement being strengthened and made into a ramp. This helps people with pushchairs or in wheelchairs to access the road from the pavement more easily. Dropped kerbs also provide vehicle access to private residences from the road.
Why is this not permitted?
Dropped kerbs are there to assist those who need to cross the road safely or for vehicle access. Blocking this access causes a nuisance for other road users and pedestrians.
Motorists who park their vehicles blocking the dropped kerbs also cause an unnecessary danger to people with disabilities or limited mobility and parents with prams who use them to help cross the road.
What happens if I park and block a dropped kerb?
From February 2009, Westminster have been enforcing against vehicles parked adjacent to dropped kerbs. This means you could receive a Penalty Charge Notice of £130.00.
What legislation permits the local authority to ticket vehicles parked in this way?
London Local Authorities and Transport Act 2003
Traffic Management Act 2004
The restriction applies at any time.

PLA’s Pageant Gallery

For those residents who enjoyed watching the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla, the Port of London Authority have 15 photos on their website here.

Though it’s a pity the images aren’t a bit bigger…

UPDATE: The PLA also have some videos on YouTube – here’s a couple:


Can Window-Dressing Be More Than Just … Window-Dressing?

Some shops in our district make a big effort with their window displays. but the very term ‘window dressing’ has come to mean something like “A superficial or actually misleading presentation of something “.

Can good window displays actually make a difference to a shopping centre? The Guardian has an article today on a window-dressing project in Willesden:


The Real Charcoal kebab house on Willesden High Road, in northwest London, has had a makeover. A graphic history of the kebab, depicting Persian soldiers cooking meat on their swords, now occupies the windows. Further down the street, the Hairways barber, run by Tony Antoniou for more than 20 years, has a smart new sign and a playful graphic treatment in the windows depicting 12 comedy hairstyles for the 12 days of Christmas. The black-and-white headshots of the Bros and Vanilla Ice lookalikes – standard barber fare across the land – are still there, but otherwise the place is unrecognisable.
_
It was fitting, in the week that Mary Portas delivered her government report on the state of the nation’s high streets, that I should spend a morning scrutinising the design of shop fronts. I was one of the judges of a competition funded by the Mayor of London to revive Willesden High Road…..

Frustratingly, the Guardian piece only has one photo, but the project has its own website where you can find out more – and see each window involved.

To be honest, some of the window displays still don’t seem very wonderful after the their ‘transformations’. But what appeared to be a pretty tired looking street of shops has undoubtably benefited from a bit of attention.

Food for thought for our district, maybe.

Well Done James

Well done indeed to Rochford Tory Councillor James Cottis for his intervention during a crime in London. As the Echo explains:

A CRIME-FIGHTING councillor foiled a thief as he tried to steal from a woman at a cashpoint.
James Cottis, who is a district councillor in Rochford, was in London’s Leicester Square when he saw a man snatch a credit card and some cash from two elderly women who were using the cashpoint.
However, quick-thinking James foiled the robbery by grabbing the crook and throwing him to the ground. He jumped on the would-be thief and detained him, so he could grab the cash and card back.
The robber then managed to wrestle free and ran off…..

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The Core Strategy

This is the official master document for planning policy in our district! To download it, click here click here. (2.5mb)

Planning Applications…

If you want information on a particular planning application, you can find it on the District Council website here.

If you want to know what new planning applications have been submitted this week, click here.

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If you want to report a problem, you can email Lib Dems councillors by clicking here.
There's also an independent website called FixMyStreet. It's very good for reporting minor street problems like holes in the road, grafitti or failed streetlights. You can find FixMyStreet here.

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The County Council admitted in July that over 200 roads in our district need repairing! They say they will fix them by May 2013. Click here to see the list.

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