MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR
I think for me and people across North-East London that one word describes what an amazing year it has been for our capital. In fact, so much has happened this year it’s incredible to think how we packed it all in. At the start of this year we were busy preparing for the greatest games ever held. I know that across the constituency we all had to make a number of sacrifices to help make that happen. I think as a city we can all be incredibly proud of the roles that every one of us played during the summer period. There were the thousands of volunteers who gave up their time along with the millions of Londoners who changed their travel patterns and helped to keep the city moving. The Paralympics that followed were a fantastic success and sent a strong message that disability is no barrier to achieving sporting greatness.
In this special edition of my newsletter I want to take this opportunity to look back at the last year, to thank you, my constituents for your unstinting support and update you on some of my campaigns I’ve been working on over the last twelve months. Finally I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year
ELECTION 2012 – PROUD AND HUMBLED TO HAVE BEEN RETURNED TO CITY HALL
I was proud and humbled to have been returned to City Hall at the London Assembly elections gaining over 100,000 votes. It was a fantastic campaign, and although I was disappointed that our Mayoral candidate did not win, I returned to City Hall re-energised and ready to take on Boris and his team. During the campaign I travelled across the constituency and was struck by the fantastic work being done by community campaigners in so many fields.
Whether the issue is accessible transport, cycle safety, education, housing or local policing, I had the privilege of meeting people who make a real difference in their communities. With the economic downturn continuing to put a strain on family finances I am more determined than ever to fight tooth and nail for the services and causes that matter to my constituents in Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest.
A SUMMER LIKE NO OTHER
Not only were the games the best ever held, but they were also the catalyst for the regeneration of East London, a corner of our capital that has since Victorian times been characterised by high levels of poverty and deprivation. With the construction of the Olympic village and the on going transformation works of the park into legacy venues, East London has seen dramatic changes to the very fabric of the community.
The games demonstrated everything that is great about our country and our city, its unity in diversity, its compassion and its rich cultural heritage. I want the Olympic legacy to embody those same values and will be fighting for the very best deal for all my constituents. The recent announcement that BT Sport will create two new sports channels which will broadcast top sporting fixtures live from the studios at the Olympic Media Centre in Hackney Wick is a fantastic development for the local area. In 2013 I will be working closely with the iCITY consortium that will take over the media centre, to see that jobs and apprenticeships are created for local people.
Supporting Fairtrade Fortnight
As well as being the year of the Olympics, Paralympics and Diamond Jubilee, 2012 was also the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives. This year I have been working closely on issues relating to the co-operative movement including supporting Fairtrade Fortnight at Parliament. In 2012 I put pressure on Boris Johnson to support London’s co-operative sector and to mark the International Year by holding an event in London. I was deeply disappointed that the Mayor said he had no plans to celebrate the International Year.
I was angry with the Mayor’s response on supporting co-operative business with his claim that not only had he not done so, but that he saw no point in doing so. The Mayor is only too happy to defend the City but will not lift a finger to support new businesses with a social conscience. This autumn I was proud to second a motion calling on the Greater London Authority to review where it procures its financial products from and to consider using smaller banks with a better record of social and corporate responsibility. It is unacceptable for local government to spend tax payers money buying services from institutions that engage in “casino banking” style operations. This is a theme I shall continue to pursue next year, including a new focus on financial exclusion.
CAMPAIGNING AGAINST POLICE AND FIRE CUTS
In spite of the many good and exciting things that have happened this year, it has also has been a very troubling year for our 999 emergency services and all of us who depend on them. I have been working with campaigners across the constituency against a number of different proposals to close fire stations and public access to police stations.
In 2013 the GLA will begin its budget setting process with Mayor presenting his proposals to the full Assembly in just a few months time. It is important to remember the different roles our emergency services provide, for instance, the important community safety work like checking smoke alarms, offering fire safety advice to private homes and fire safety audits in public buildings. I will be working with campaigners across North-East London to see that these vital services are protected in 2013.
FIGHTING FOR JOBS AND INVESTMENT IN TECH CITY
One of my new projects in 2013 will be looking at how we can tap in to the extraordinary phenomenon of tech city and deliver new jobs, investment and regeneration across the constituency. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister and Mayor will be making an investment in rejuvenating the area around Old Street roundabout.
However this is a project that will take many months to come to fruition and I remain concerned at the Mayor’s inertia in this area. For instance, the Mayor has been far too slow in taking broadband companies to task about installation delays and has wasted time attempting to devolve the Tech City Investment Organisation to City Hall when he could have made far more effective policy interventions. I was delighted to hear that Joanna Shields, an eminent woman from the world of technology is taking over as the new chair of the Tech City Investment Organisation. I will be looking to work with community figures, start ups and young people to make sure we capture the energy and excitement of tech city and use it to create a new wave of social mobility in East London.
THE FIGHT FOR ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORT CONTINUES
In 2012 I continued to fight for a fully accessible public transport network. I remain deeply concerned about the volume and scale of the problems that affect disabled travellers in London. In too many cases ramps do not work, HT numbers are missing and very sadly there remain instances where some drivers can be inconsiderate to passengers. In 2013 I will continue to campaign on this issue and will be calling on all those involved in accessibility campaigns to join forces and agree how we can take this forward in 2013.
TAKEOVER DAY 2012
Along with assembly members, Jenny Jones AM, Deputy Mayor Victoria Borwick AM and Stephen Knight AM, we volunteered to get involved in this year’s City Hall pilot of the Children’s Commission Takeover Day. Takeover Day, which took place on 21 November, is a day when a young person ‘takes over’ the role of an influential professional. The young participants of Takeover Day came from the MPS Volunteers Police Cadets, Islington Youth Council and the GLA’s own Peer Outreach Team.
TAKING ON THE EDL IN WALTHAM FOREST
This summer the EDL started a concerted campaign to sow the seeds of division and hatred in Waltham Forest. On both occasions the EDL intended to march I stood united with community activists and local representatives in sending out a clear message – The EDL are not welcome in Waltham Forest. Throughout the summer I worked closely with the We Are Waltham Forest Campaign to make sure that racism and thuggery would not succeed in causing community tension and disrupting the daily lives of Walthamstow residents. Since the summer, there have been no further attempts by the far right to march in Walthamstow, however as a community representative I remain alert to the dangers they pose and will continue to defend my constituents from their divisive politics.
INVESTIGATING FOR LONDONERS
From the transport network to the legacy of the 2012 Olympics — we are currently investigating a wide range of issues on behalf of Londoners.
Police and crime
Find out about our regular Q&A sessions and work on policing and crime in the capital.
The Mayor’s budget
The Assembly scrutinises the Mayor’s budget each year to assess how his proposals could affect transport, fire and police services, as well as City Hall.
What more can be done to support people in London who are struggling to feed themselves and their families?
For information on all of these issues go to: www.london.gov.uk/who-runs-london-/the-london-assembly/investigations
LONDON’S POLICE AND CRIME PLAN CONSULTATION
The Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) will be embarking on a consultation programme to invite feedback on the forthcoming Police and Crime Plan. Plans are for one visit per borough, held in a central location within the borough and the chosen venue will be well publicised.
Along with the public, key partners, Local MP’s, Councillors and Assembly Members will be invited to attend and encouraged to publicise the events. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime — Stephen Greenhalgh plans to attend all meetings.