Double charging for radio?

Tougher economic times have drawn into question part of the licensing scheme operated by PRS for Music. In particular, whether shops and businesses should pay charges for simply playing the radio in the workplace. Interestingly, I've had this issue flagged up from two sides. The stores and firms which balk at having licence fees levied on them when they are struggling to keep in business. And the radio stations who say that they are already paying a licence fee for broadcasting music and that this is effectively ‘double taxation'.

Through Unity

After the shocking teenage stabbings of the last few days, there was even more poignancy to the ‘Through Unity' Conference in Docklands today. Through Unity is a charity which helps to give a voice to and support families who have lost loved ones to violent crime. The themes of the event were around stopping antisocial behaviour, binge drinking and youth violence; raising aspirations and providing real solutions to the problems; and how we can move forward to drive societal change.

Can the EU really delay Mephedrone controls?

Earlier this week it was suggested that even if it wanted to the Government wouldn't be able to act quickly against the drug Mephedrone or 'meow meow' because of the EU. It was claimed that to introduce new legislation to control the drug would require a 3 month consultation with our European partners. The Home Office itself appeared to give credence to this with an official suggesting that any ban would be in place "by the end of the year".

Facebook's Unanswered Questions

Facebook rightly remains under pressure over its refusal to adopt a panic button to alert law enforcement agencies of potential child abuse. The social networking site has firmly set its face against the adoption of the ‘report abuse' facility developed by the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) despite significant adverse criticism. The shocking rape and murder of teenager Ashleigh Hall has put the safety measures of social networking sites into stark focus. The 17 year old was lured by convicted double rapist Peter Chapman by creating a bogus Facebook profile using the picture of a teenager.

The Surrealist Budget

If this budget were a painting it would be an exemplar of surrealism. The epitome of the absurd came with the suggestion that borrowing £167 billion this year is somehow a virtue, something we can all be pleased about. Similarly, that we should all take a collective sigh of relief at the fact that this has been the deepest recession on record, yet it wasn't as bad as we had feared. It was almost like twisted schadenfreude - a celebration not of someone else's misfortune but our own.

Mephedrone Questions

Earlier today I pressed the Government over the dangers of Mephedrone which has sadly been hitting the headlines after the deaths of two teenagers thought to have taken the drug.  Whilst the Government are now seemingly rushing to take action, the issue of these synthetic drugs being sold online has been clear for some time.

Elm Park Community Meeting

Attended my final Elm Park Community Meeting earlier today.  It's amazing to think how quickly five years have gone by.  It was good to see Rev Colin Philips as host from the Elm Park Baptist Church as well as Sergeant Ken McNish from the Elm Park Safer Neighbourhood Police Team and Ingrid Brandon from the Elm Park Regeneration Partnership.  All of them do so much good work for the local area.  What has been great to see over the last few years is the community coming together with the focal points around the annual Elm Park Fiesta and 'Illuminating Elm Park' event at Christmas.

Safer Streets Drama

I attended a very moving event last night using drama to help reduce youth violence.  The Safer Streets Drama Project is aimed at getting young people to think about their behaviour, their aspirations and the choices they face against the temptation of taking the wrong path.  Through the drama 'Sam's Story' produced and performed by Ten Ten Theatre the project hopes to challenge disaffection and aggression.  The play itself is powerful and carefully crafted to make it both contemporary and relevant to its target audience in schools and young offender institutions. The aim of the programme is to raise self-esteem and aspiration, give young people the tools to manage their lives effectively and reduce knife crime and antisocial behaviour.

Heartstart Havering

Heartstart Havering marked their relaunch with a special event at the Queen's Hospital in Romford earlier today.  I joined the Deputy Mayor of Havering, Councillor Melvin Wallace, Angela Watkinson MP and other community representatives in supporting a new push to increase the number of people trained to respond if someone has a suspected heart attack.  I attended a Heartstart course several years back after my father had a heart attack. Having the knowlege to recognise the symptoms and - if necssary - provide basic CPR if someone goes into a cardiac arrest could literally save someone's life.

A Night on the Tiles

James Brokenshire recounts his night shadowing the London Ambulance Service and the Metropolitan Police as they respond to the drink-related problems of a Friday night on the streets of London.