Prison Plan Ditched

It's good news that the Ministry of Justice has called off plans to build a huge new prison at Beam Park on the border with Havering.  The site had already been moved once after the incredible community campaign that saw thousands marching through the streets of Rainham to say no to the Rainham jail plan.  The Government has apparently decided that the cost of flood alleviation on the Beam Park site meant that it was no longer affordable.  The odd thing is that this should have been apparent from the outset.  The area is identified by the Environment Agency as being at risk of flooding.

Fire Station Opening

Havering has a new fire station. I had the pleasure of joining Mayor of London Boris Johnson and other community leaders at the opening of the new fire station in Harold Hill. It is an impressive state of the art facility and will be a significant addition to local fire services. In recent years Havering's response times for fire call outs have not been as good as they should be. The new fire officers and resources at Harold Hill will make an important contribution to improving performance across the borough.

Noise Consultation

The public consultation on London City Airport's Noise Reduction Plan closed on Friday.  The plan sets out proposals to mitigate the effects of the use of the airport in the coming years. The proposals have become more significant in the light of the decision to allow aircraft movements at London City to increase by 50% and because of changes to the flight routings of departing aircraft across north London.  The next stage is for the proposals to be finalised and submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.

Hornchurch's RAF History

It was a pleasure to attend Sanders Draper School in Hornchurch on Thursday for the presentation of an aircraft propeller to the school. This might sound a little odd, except for the fact that the propeller came from a light plane which flew from RAF Hornchurch and the school itself derives its name from a spitfire pilot who flew from the airfield during the Second World War.

Drug dependent or not?

When does drug free not mean drug free?  Answer - when it's counted by the Government. According to information I've obtained through Parliamentary questions, the Government apparently regards drug addicts as being free of dependency even though they may still be taking illicit drugs or be addicted to alcohol. A Parliamentary answer from the Department of Health notes the National Treatment Agency has two categories for counting those deemed to have successfully completed treatment drug free.

Mephedrone and the ACMD

I received an interesting answer to a recent written Parliamentary Question on the ‘legal high' Mephedrone. The drug is causing significant concern after its mis-use has been linked to several deaths. In order to assess the policy background and the need for a potential change in the law, I thought I would ask the Home Office what assessment they had made of the likely effects on health of the use of mephedrone as a recreational drug and what advice they had received from the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs.

Binge Drinking Toll

Last week it was revealed that the number of alcohol related hospital admissions is fast approaching one million a year. Last year 945,000 patients were admitted to hospital with a primary or secondary alcohol-related diagnosis.

Film Club at R J Mitchell School

I went 'back to school' today to find out more about a nationwide after school activity enabling youngsters to enjoy classic and popular films.  RJ Mitchell School in Elm Park has been a member of FILMCLUB since November last year and has given children the chance to watch a variety of titles from Bugsy Malone to WALL.E.

New DNA Database Proposals - ECHR Compliant or not?

I spoke in a debate in Parliament today about the National DNA Database and the Home Office's latest proposals to make their retention policy compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.  It's nearly twelve months since the European Court passed its judgment in the case of S and Marper which ruled that the Government's 'blanket and indiscriminate' approach to DNA retention on an indefinite basis for those never convicted of any crime was unlawful.  After two false starts, Ministers are now proposing that there should be a blanket six year retention period for anyone arrested but not charged or convicted of any crime.

CCTV Effectiveness

I received an interesting answer to a Parliamentary Question back from the Home Office on Friday questioning the wisdom of the Government's approach on closed circuit TV cameras.  According to the new wisdom CCTV cameras should be concentrated on car park crime and vehicle crime rather than more and more cameras simply for the sake of it.