Category Archives: News

Paddington Green fatal stabbings – what to do next?

Four fatal stabbings in so many years makes Paddington Green a hotspot for stabbings not only in the City of Westminster but probably in the whole of London. Yesterday’s lunchtime fatal stabbing, just adds to the pattern that has been obvious for sometime now unfortunately. 

Additional Youth services are a must whilst policing activities on knife crime needs increasing focus in Paddington Green. On the former, the previous Tory administration of the Council had cut it down to the bone, to maintain a low council tax.  We need to restore the Youth Service we had in the borough and have it particularly focused in hot spots like Paddington Green. There are some Youth activities in the locality offered at the Little Venice Sports Centre by one of our local coppers, Paul Reading and his weekly boxing classes. So we need to build on that clearly with additional boxing classes and maybe five-side football, as well as other sporting activities. 

Yesterday, fatality occurred in St Mary’s church yard. It’s a long neglected part of the neighbourhood with huge potential to be turned into another Paddington Gardens, as l have argued on this blog page. But maybe with the underused sports centre – Little Venice Sports Centre – at one end of the the Church Yard, the whole of St Mary’s church yard could do with a sporting upgrade with outside gym facilities. 

Money should not be an issue either capital or revenue, given the CIL monies available from developers of both phases of West End Gate which immediately looks over Paddington Green. Let’s just hope the will exists to get the boys to drop their knifes. 

And it goes without saying that some urgent community work needs to be undertaken with the local Kurdish community along the Edgware Rd, who have now lost three young sons amongst the four stabbing fatalities at Paddington Green.  I trust the council is prepared to do this urgently, as it must be unsettling to lose so many young men who’s lives have barely began.

Justice for Grenfell – agonising delays bring shame to the government

Six years ago, the world watched the horror of the Grenfell Tower inferno. I watched it first hand driving along the Westway and almost crashed the car on the Paddington slipway, coming off the Westway.  It is also 72 month since the inferno, and its 72 victims were killed in the fire and still not had any justice of any sort.  My strongest recollections with the local community afterwards was the moaning of the families in the subsequent funerals some of most harrowing experiences of my life. 

The terrible loss of life at Grenfell Tower was ultimately caused by political decisions made at the highest level. For at least 40 years, policies relating to housing, local government, the fire and rescue service, research and other areas have been driven by the agenda of cuts, deregulation and privatisation. The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) argue well that its this political approach that has weakened and undermined fire policy and the fire and rescue service. Believing that a deep-seated culture of complacency has developed with regard to fire policy and fire safety. Ultimately, politicians at a ministerial level must bear responsibility for the creation of this complacency and its consequences. We have yet to hear from the Grenfell Inquiry on their recommendations on this front at all. 

The fire at Grenfell should have changed everything but, in reality, not nearly enough has happened. Of the 12 recommendations made from phase one of the Grenfell Inquiry, a third have yet to be implemented. This delay is inexcusable and dangerous, and we should all be concerned that the country has not taken the action necessary to avoid another tragedy of similar scale.  Indeed we had only in the past week had another external cladding fire via balconies in Whitehorse Rd, Croydon. Where thankfully no lives were lost but three flats on top of each were badly affected. So although we have had some progress made in removal of flammable aluminium composite (ACM) on high rise blocks over 18 metres, many of those below 18 metres have been left with the same cladding. So whilst the governments current contract to ensure developers cover the costs of the removal only covers 1,100, there are between 6,000-9,000 unsafe buildings alone. So the government has to do a lot more to counter the fear that “it could happen to me” around the country. 

On the night of the fire, 15 of the 37 disabled residents at Grenfell died. So not surprisingly a key recommendation in the Grenfell Inquiry phase I report was the urgent need for personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEP) plans to be in place, yet the government has repeatedly failed to introduce them. This failure has ensured that the safety and dignity of evacuation of people with disabilities forces many vulnerable residents to live in fear in the place they should feel most at home. 

Finally, justice delayed is justice denied and the trauma of the local community has been further compounded by now years of silence and equivocation by the authorities. This much evidence and still no justice. The delays in the implementation of the recommendations from the first phase of the report as well as publication of phase two leaves the families and friends of the victims feeling very ignored and thus inexcusable. The least the loved ones want is closure, rather than constantly having to fight. 

 

Carrying on striking in Westminster

We should not forget that whilst we have major national strike action in the City of Westminster along Praed St, Paddington by Rail and hospital workers over the past year at both Paddington Railway station and St Marys Hospital, lets not forget those action taken more locally by traffic wardens and housing officers.

The first local action involves parking wardens who are on the front line of road rage from car owners whilst bringing in a substantial income for councils like @RBKC and @CityWestminster So NSL should be offering them a decent liveable wage anyway. This while they have made £39 million on this contract from the Westminster City Council while bringing tens of millions into the Council coffers. Parking wardens in both boroughs do a tough job for low pay and contractor NSL need to get round the table and make a fair pay offer as soon as possible. This looks as though it will be resolved in the near future in Westminster City Council and hope this appears also to Royal Borough of Kensington as well. So it was good to meet with many of the workforce over the past few weeks during their dispute and listen to their concerns.

At the same time, housing workers at St Mungo’s are at strike whilst they receive extra grants from City Hall, SW1 for work with street homeless, yet they are forcing poverty wages on their street workers. This while St Mungo’s has £22 million reserves and senior management have six figure salaries like for the CEO and others. 

So do join they picket lines this morning at Rochester Row, SW1 in front of St Mungos offices.  They and the traffic wardens deserve decent pay rises in the worst cost of living crisis for a generation and l trust locals will support them. 

 

Should Metropolitan Police have been given anymore powers?

The headlines in the our local paper, the Westminster Extra, on Policing over the Coronation chimes with the devastating conclusion of the Baroness Casey Review of the Met being ” institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic”  as it appears to be going from one crisis to another even before the incidents during the day of the Coronation. 

That is the arrest of night time volunteers handing out rape alarms to vulnerable women; locking up republicans for 16 hours for the crime of unloading some placards and detaining a royal “superfan” for 13 hours because she happened to be sat near some protesters.

Since the Coronation, its officers have been filmed shooting two dogs and tasering their owner; admitted keeping crucial evidence relating to the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry locked up for years in a safe near Senior Officers and an Officer been sacked for punching and kicking a 14 year old boy and then lying about it. 

Furthermore, Baroness Doreen Lawrence further added that the Met has failed to change some 30 years after the death of her son and the MacPherson Report as well.   

So it’s quite clear the additional Public Order powers, given days before the Coronation, should not have been given to the Met, in the first place until it sorts itself out under special measures already. 

St Stephens Primary school closing – sign of the times

As my one of my old primary schools – St Stephens Primary, Westbourne Park Rd (next door to the Cow pub)  – closes, it reflects on the families no longer prepared to bring up children in Central London locations like Bayswater. 

​​According to London Councils, there is a predicted 7.6% decrease in reception pupil numbers across London from 2022-23 to 2026-27 which translates to a decline of 96,424 to 89,121 pupils over this period. 

London’s birth rate is the main reason for the decrease in demand for school places. However, there are other factors at play which are also affected the number of applications as boroughs are also experiencing shifts in their local child population as a result of families leaving London during the Covid-19 pandemic and following Brexit. Let us hope we don’t see other primary schools closing in the City of Westminster. 

St Mary’s refurbishment kicked into the long grass again!

The government is once again letting down Westminster residents and many others by postponing the rebuilding of St Mary’s hospital to after 2030. The urgency of works at St Mary’s is confirmed by Prof Tim Orchard, CEO of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust response to the announcements who states quite clearly “ If we wait until 2030 to start building works at St Mary’s, it would become impossible to patch up our old facilities, many of which house clinical services. As the provider of London’s busiest major trauma centre and host of the NHS’s largest biomedical research centre, that would be hugely damaging for the health and healthcare of hundreds of thousands of people.” So watch this space in the lead up to the next General Election.  

A local hero of W9 – Flight Sergeant Peter Brown

There was a great send off for Flight Sergeant Peter Brown at St Clement Danes Church by the RAF for one of the last “Pilots of the Carribean“. He was a resident of Warrington Crescent, Little Venice, W9 for many decades and someone you would regularly see along Formosa St and also his favourite park bench at the top corner of Warrington Crescent.

We will have to do something more local for him and his neighbours, like a plaque or something going up on his old home or his favourite park bench.  I trust our councillors can do something fitting for him, as for many here his passing is as sufficient as the Coronation we had a few weekends ago. 

British Bangladeshi educational achievements continue…..

In the 1980’s the lack of educational attainment amongst British Bangladeshi children was noted as underachieving greatly but things have changed considerably now, as they outperform their peers amongst White British. So it was with great pleasure l went to the Surma Centre GCSE Awards to celebrate and recognise the outstanding success of Bangladeshi students in Camden and by implication other boroughs like Tower Hamlets and Newham. This even when many would have studied during COVID pandemic in isolation and on-line.

So things have certainly changed since my days with O levels, very much for the better and long may this continue. We just have to make sure that they get job opportunities that marry up with their outstanding results. 

Protect the right to Strike

Thanks to the TUC to organise all the Trade Unions to come and protest at Parliament Square last night, as the Commons voted on the undemocratic, unnecessary and unworkable Tory Anti-Strikes Bill. Good to hear that Labour Party will repeal this legislation when in power. 

Rana Plaza – 10th anniversary

 

10 years ago on the 24th of April, a 8 storey commercial building called Rana Plaza on the outskirts of Dhaka came crashing down on killing 1,138 people in the factories housed in the building and many thousands injured as well. This tragedy devastated the lives of thousands of families, bringing world wide attention to deathtrap workplaces and rampant exploitation in the garment industry. 

The incident brought up major issues like factory safety; freedom of association; wages; employment injury insurance and legal obligations on companies. On factory safety, the Bangladesh Accord was launched in May 2013 as the first independent and legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to work towards a safe garment and textile industry bringing improvements to over 1500 factories. With Freedom of Association, despite changes to labour law and an initial spike in unionisation in the first years after the collapse, freedom of association has again come under severe pressure in Bangladesh. With wages, minimum wages in the garment sector in Bangladesh have been reviewed every five years since Rana Plaza collapse, they remain at levels keeping workers in poverty at 8,000 BDT per month when a living income for a family in Bangladesh is said to stand at 36,700 takas. As for employment injury insurance, some $30 million dollars was paid in compensation to victims after 3 years of consumer campaign pressure but a more payment system of employment injury compensation is needed. And finally the EU is moving towards a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive on legal obligations on companies to respect human rights. Some like France, Germany, Norway have brought strong national legislation to build strong legal frameworks for corporate accountability unlike the UK. 

Whilst all this is happening, we will not forget the victims of Rana Plaza on this 10th anniversary. So l was glad to see on the streets of London, many who “remember the dead and fight for the living”