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.

Teen Drug Treatment

I am deeply disturbed by the news that the Middlegate Lodge drug rehabilitation centre for children is on the brink of closure. Middlegate is virtually the only centre providing residential rehab services for children and teenagers in the UK. The Sun recently carried an excellent article highlighting the work of Middlegate and the unique service it offers:

Alcohol's Hidden Harms

The real cost of Britain's binge drinking culture are becoming ever clearer. The alcohol fuelled violent crime and loutish behaviour which blight many town centres. The increasing pressures on hospital A&E departments dealing with those injured or seriously intoxicated by excessive drinking. The rising death rates where alcohol was a contributory factor.

Dodgy DNA Dossier

I appeared on Channel 4 News this week highlighting incorrect evidence provided by the Government on DNA retention. In a letter to the Parliamentary committee considering the Government's Crime and Security Bill, the Home Office submitted a letter providing details of five case studies purporting to highlight that these cases would not have been solved under more limited retention of DNA profiles of those not convicted of an offence. The problem was I discovered that there were actually four cases rather than five. The details are set out in the C4 report.

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.