Category Archives: News

Grenfell tragedy impact on private leaseholders

M&M Buildings,W2 private leaseholders are facing huge increases in their annual building insurance along with the anxiety of living with ACM cladding

Last month l was invited to go along to Paddington Walk,W2 to hear from residents in a private block known as the M&M Building about the impact of the Grenfell tragedy on private leaseholders which has similar ACM cladding installed.  The management company has struggled to secure terms to renew the policy, and they risk having no cover or see premiums raised by a truly shocking 1000% which puts even more strain on their overburdened finances due to the cost of interim fire safety measures and is a huge cause of anxiety. So not only have they got to deal with the mental tension of living in flats where a fire could spread very quickly but their annual building insurance has sky rocketed as a result, to cover the potential cost of it all! 

This was made clear in the a response my colleague Andrew Dismore the Assembly Member for Camden & Barnet got from a written question he made to the Mayor where he asked what he was doing to persuade the government of the scale and urgency of the matter.  In the response the Mayor made the point about ACM cladding and building insurance that the problem is felt acutely in London and it can only be solved by nationwide action from Central government. He reassured that his team will redouble their efforts to ensure the government takes concert action the on the issue. 

This comes on the heels of the news that some £25 million cuts to the Fire service is needed over the few years by the Mayor as he predicts he may have to be implemented as a result of grant cuts from central government. 

This is goes against all the evidence shown by the experts in the field.  The London Fire Commissioner has identified what needs to be done, including new equipment such as radios, BA and specialist vehicles including 64m aerial ladders; urgent training to raise standards on incident
command and blue light appliance driving; new procedures, tactics and training for
high rise firefighting; community outreach, improved fire safety work, and youth
engagement. The cost of this vital LFB Transformation Delivery
Plan was reported as being a “£4.1m estimated ongoing cost to deliver” it. How is
this going to be found with the proposed £25 million cut in the Brigade’s budget?

In 2016, the Mayor also commissioned the Anthony Mayer independent review into the Fire
Brigade’s funding, after Boris Johnson’s draconian cuts to fire stations, fire engines,
and firefighters. His report was unequivocal: he said the Brigade could not shoulder
any further funding reductions “if it is to have sufficient resources to meet the
challenges of the future, and to keep Londoners safe”.

Since then, we have seen the new post Grenfell legislation which will expand the
Brigade’s enforcement role. New regulations are already bringing more buildings into
its regulatory and enforcement role yet this expansion is barely funded. The LFB
already had a significant budget gap before this latest crisis. Cuts of this magnitude
cannot be achieved without affecting the front line response, as Meyer
indicated. So are the average London wide six- and eight-minute response times for
the first and second fire engines’ attendance now going to be at risk and jeopardised. This will be a major issue in the May 2021 election. 

Back to the eighties with “stop & search” ?

As the Met refers itself to police watchdog over the stop and search of the athlete’s Bianca Williams in their family car in W9, maybe it is time for them to realise that not all black people in big cars have gained them illegally!  

This kind of thing was happening also in the early eighties then with local lads who made it big in  football running around in their new cars in North Paddington except then the Met was not at all accountable then.  “Some things just don’t change with the Met” comments one of those who was caught up in all that then. 

As a video of the incident, which saw the Team GB sprinter and her partner Ricardo dos Santos pulled from their car in W9, has gone national online, we certainly did not have the mobile phone to record such incidents, only rumours which in many ways is more dangerous.  

Furthermore while there has been some trouble in the North of the borough after people relaxed from the closure of the lockdown, it was in the West End where we had a lot more trouble from local accounts. Yet the Met saw fit to send their vans of police to the North rather than the West End. 

So for some we are back to the eighties in more ways then we realise. 



Nursery cuts on the way after COVID19 lockdown

Local pre-school centre in Broadley St Gardens telling us its closed for till further notice.

Child-care is going to be a huge issue when Londoners finally return to work and in fact, it has been a huge issue during lockdown as women have taken on the bulk of caring duties.

The IFS & UCL Report ” How mothers and fathers balancing work and family under lockdown?” confirmed this as it revealed mothers taking the majority of the additional childcare as a result from COVID19 and women losing their jobs to a greater extent than men – so gender inequalities should also not be forgotten.  

Up to a 34 per cent of early years providers are facing closure due to COVID19 according to another report from the Sutton Trust

I suspect the TUC call for a four day week, will become popular for those in meaningful employment now.  


Stop the glorification of Robert Clive

Robert Clive known by his admirers as “Clive of India” was responsible for the mass invasion and brutalisation of millions across Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and the rest of the Indian sub-continent.

As the first governor of the East India Company’s Bengal Presidency, Robert Clive looted massive wealth from Bengal ( his first loot is said to have been worth £250 million in today’s money for his company ) and was responsible for profit driven policies that provoked a four-year long famine, killing a minimum of one million people and reducing the population by a third. The East India Company continued to collect taxes as these people died, unable to cultivate their crops, while Robert Clive amassed his fortune.

The East India Company’s activities particularly the behaviour of the company servants roused much public indignation in England including the father of modern Conservatism Edward Burke. He become their most outspoken critic in parliament against the company abuse and immorality in India by suggesting “ Tomorrow these delinquents of India maybe the commons of Great Britain” As Clive used the massive wealth he had amassed to buy “rotten boroughs’, corrupting England’s own democratic processes. Horace Walpole Whig Politician and author, said of him “ They starved millions in India by monopolies and plunder, and almost raised a famine at home by the luxury occasioned by their opulence raising the price of everything, till the poor could not purchase bread” Furthermore, the establishment of this market monopoly by the East India Company in India offended and angered thinkers, including Adam Smith.

There is also a blue plaque at 45 Berkeley Square,W1 his last home in London stating he is a soldier and administrator when this is patently not true. It states he was a soldier but it does not tell you he was one for a private army for hire to the East India Company. Maybe a mercenary would be a better description. And as for an administrator, the plaque does not tell you that he was vilified by his contemporaries in Britain & put on trial before Parliament for looting Bengal; committing mass atrocities & policies which led to famine in Bengal.

As for his death, while Clive left no suicide note, Samuel Johnson wrote that he “had acquired his fortune by such crimes that his consciousness of them impelled him to cut his own throat”.

There are three main reasons to remove the statue. First the glorification of a mass murderer and looter in the heart of the national capital is profoundly insulting, especially those from a South Asian background. Secondly, the location of the statue at the entrance of the FCO tells visitors that the British state today condones the murderous activities of the East India Company. It tells our civil servants, MPs and Whitehall staff that they are furthering his work. Why are we, as a country asking our public servants to work in such an environment? And finally It is time to improve and increase the education that we receive about the British Empire. If the purpose of the statue is to remember history, this statue does not do the job. Let us teach people about Clive’s legacy in an archive or museum, accompanied by fresh historical work.

The Council can consult on where to move and preserve the statue and the reliefs where separate proposals can be made. The goal of this petition is to stop the glorification of Robert Clive, as one of the greatest Corporate rogus continues to have pride of place at the heart of government.

As a result, if you live, work or study in Westminster, please sign this petition below to remove the statue of Robert Clive

This piece was published in the Westminster Extra in their addition for the week beginning the 26th of June


Robert Clive – Don’t forget the blue plaque as well

Whilst the rage goes on about which other statues should be take down including “Clive of India” statue in Whitehall otherwise known to us as Robert Clive don’t forget his blue plaques as well in London.   

His blue plaque is the one for “Clive of India”, 1725-1774, soldier and Administrator at 45 Berkeley Square, SW1 after being briefly being discussed on Radio this morning. 

I am not keen on it at all. Firstly “Clive of India” refers to his fictional character of his admirers rather than Robert Clive the man himself. For example, it state he was a soldier but it does not tell you he was one for a private army for hire to the East India Company. Maybe a mercenary would be a better description. 

And as for an administrator, the plaque does not tell you that he was vilified by his contemporaries in Britain & put on trial before Parliament for looting Bengal; committing mass atrocities & policies which led to famine in Bengal reducing pop by a third in 1770.

So when English Heritage review all the blue plaques in London for their colonial connections, l trust all this be borne in mind. As the blue plaque put up for “Clive of India”, should really read; 

Robert Clive 1725-1774

Mercenary & looter 

lived here 

Park lane cycle lane – lets have some trees!

Park lane suffered from traffic congestion since the mid 19th century. Various road improvement schemes have taken place since then, including a major reconstruction programme in the early 1960s that transformed the road into a three-lane dual carriageway by removing a 20-acre (8.1 ha) section of Hyde Park. More recently we had improved crossings for cyclists appeared in the early 21st century.

Now we have had a transformation with cycle lanes added along the westside of Park lane for cyclists during the pandemic lockdown, offering another option to travel North to South in City of Westminster other than the two routes within Hyde Park. 

It would also helps reclaim the 20 acres lost to roads from Hyde Park in the 1960’s if we had some trees in the pavement between the bus stops along Park lane. This would add to the environmental value of the cycle lanes. The space is there to have a line of trees along Park lane, so its hope the TfL and the Mayor take this on board, adding to the success of the lanes. It may even provide some shade for cyclists!  




Fistfights between Nuclear powers in the Himalayas


Thank you Rick Sanchez for giving the best explanation and update on what is happening up in the Himalaya’s between China and India.  Just remember when watching the exchange of punches that both countries are nuclear powers!  So we certainly do not want it to escalate to a full military confrontation at all. 

Historically both the Indian & Chinese civilisation have not had military conflicts, largely due to the geography of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. And long may that continue.


London’s pedicabs need to be regulated is long overdue

I am glad to see that Nickie Aiken MP is tabling her first private member’s Bill when Parliament returns on 21st April by calling for pedicabs to be properly regulated in central London.

It was something l myself undertook a report on when l first joined the London Assembly at City Hall  London’s Rickshaws – Scrutiny into the future of London’s pedicabs and recommended their regulation via licensing way back in 2005 and is now long overdue. It is a very specific West End problem, so it right and proper the Private Members bill should be pursued by its local MP. So the best of luck to her. 


Alarmist coverage won’t do over #COVID19

After watching the above Channel 4 clip a few nights ago, l was alarmed at the prospect of #coronavirus reaching Bangladesh. Particularly in a year when the Asian Development Bank anticipated that Bangladesh would grow its GDP by 8 per cent during 2020, there was high expectation that the country would be moving on from the days of the 1974 famine in the newly liberated country. 

But its transpires that the UN source of this concern, was based on the worst case scenario of the Bangladesh government not doing anything to stern the spread. Indeed if you look at the press release below, the UN are supportive of the measures being taken by the government in Dhaka. So it does make you wonder what the whole of the document actually said. 

So can l urge Channel 4 News not to be so alarmists with their stories. It is difficult enough with coronavirus issue dominating the headlines to have stories that do not quite give the whole picture.  



Back in City Hall

As of this week, l am back at City Hall as an Assembly Member (AM) in the London Assembly again for a year, till the end of this extended term. During this coronavirus pandemic, l just hope l can be of some use to Londoners!

As someone who up and till recently was themselves self-employed, l will be making sure those Londoners who are similarly self-employed are well represented in the government financial support packages. It is a critical part of the London economy and they should not have to choose between getting going out and getting a wage or staying in for their health and ours. The self-employed deserve support like the rest of the economy during these very difficult times.

It is noticeable that rough sleepers in my neighbourhood are getting support through the initiative of the Mayor with hoteliers during the pandemic emergency. In the long run we need to also accommodate rough sleepers in empty public buildings like Paddington Green Police Station for the many rough sleepers on the Gateway to the West End along the Edgware Rd.

And of course as a regular pub, gym, theatre goer in the West End l would like to see them back on their feet as soon as possible. Mixed messages from the PM have not helped the shut down during this emergency and they should be able to claim fully under their insurance cover. Also they should be special consideration of these small businesses when abolishing business rates with the threshold set higher, as there is a severe downturn in footfall with the lack of tourists in London.

Finally we need to take a firm stand against the raise of prejudice and attacks aimed at East Asians like the Chinese. So we need to say no to sinophobia during this pandemic as their businesses and community get socially isolated by this tide of prejudice coming from across the pond.

So get in touch with myself on London matters for our London. We live in momentous times, so let us shape them.