Stephen Timms MP answers your questions

I met up with MP for East Ham Stephen Timms and put some of your questions to him.

We spoke about some of the most common and pressing concerns that businesses in Newham have with regard to the Olympics – having to change delivery times, transport problems, lack of communication from the council, and a relaxation of Sunday Trading laws for example.

He told me that he’s pushing parliament to allow businesses located near the Olympic Park who have incurred costs to be able to claim compensation.

Click below to find out how and to watch our discussion…..

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Ask MP Stephen Timms

We will be interviewing MP for East Ham Stephen Timms next week.

Photo:ICAEW Press Office/flickr

He has been MP for the area since 1994, having previously been Labour’s MP for Newham North East. He’s the shadow minister for employment and was formerly financial secretary to the treasury.

Stephen Timms was elected to Newham Council in 1984 and chaired the Planning Committee from 1987 to 1990, before serving as Leader of the Council from 1990 to 1994.

He has lived in the East London Borough of Newham since 1979. He has concentrated on regeneration in East London – including regeneration partnerships, the Thames Gateway initiative, Stratford international station on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and the Olympics in Newham in 2012.

We plan to put some of the concerns we have heard from small business owners and workers over the course of the last few months to him. These include the effect on businesses of road closures, VIP lanes and congestion, compulsory purchase orders, problems of forced labour, how changes to Sunday Trading laws could affect businesses and much more.

If you have any questions you would like us to ask, please tweet us on @2012newham or leave a comment on this site……

We look forward to hearing from you!

Bridging the divide: Can Canning Town become one?

The A13, trunk road to the sea. Six lanes of traffic that has historically separated the northern and southern parts of Canning Town. But for how much longer? Here’s the plan:

Firstly the roundabout is to turn into a junction.

Image by Newham Council from regeneration masterplan

Both eastern slip roads disappear.

This frees up space underneath the flyover for a £600m regeneration scheme, part of a £3.7bn programme for both Canning Town and Custom House.

A Morrisons supermarket will occupy the site alongside 179 homes and 424 square metres of retail space. Pedestrian permeability is desired ensuring people can walk between the two sides of Canning Town.

Rathbone Market is to be “revitalised”. One trader told me it’ll be “private enterprise not council run”. He didn’t expect he would be able to keep his stall once redevelopment had finished and feared an influx of franchise coffee shops.

Further eastwards, a pedestrian bridge could be replacing undesirable subways. Residents consulted liked the idea of a green bridge.

Housing in the area is changing. Plans from the council include new four to six storey flats overlooking the A13, with lower densities behind it. Affordable housing will be “pepperpotted” within these developments.

All this putting an end to what’s currently next to the A13: brick walls, smelly subways, uncrossable roads and busy roundabouts. Full plans are available here.

New community website launched

Permission for screenshot granted by The Real Newham

Last weekend saw the launch of a brand new community website for the borough. The Real Newham is a website full to the brim with stories, videos, photos and information.

The website describes it as “a consultation for everyone in the borough to share their stories, their worries and their dreams and ask the question: How do we build the best future for Newham?”

It’s a project supported by Hacan East and Climate Rush (who recently scrubbed a message on the inside wall of the Rotherhithe Tunnel – see video below).

There’s many ways to get involved such as submitting videos, filling out a questionnaire or joining their team of volunteers. Get in touch with them today.

Newham councillor caught up in parking protest

Councillor Ian Corbett, executive member for Environment and Infrastructure, found fame on video sharing site Youtube recently.

The East Ham Central councillor was out shopping when a group of business owners confronted him over parking fines.

The video shows Saroja De Silva March, owner of the Discount Warehouse, asking for his response on the parking fines her husband has been charged.

The amount owed is believed to be over £5,000 and these protesters are disputing this charge as they believe they had parked on their own property.

Local taxi driver fears impact of increased congestion

Heavy congestion is expected on Newham’s roads during the Olympics Photo: nicobobinus/flickr

Iqbal from Express Taxis in Newham has been driving cabs around East London for 20 years.

He is excited about the Olympics coming to his home borough.

But he fears that hugely increased congestion on the roads here will mean his business is just not commercially viable….

 

Iqbal from Express Taxis is concerned about the impact of congestion on the roads around the Olympic Site

The problem is Iqbal’s cab is not metered. He estimates that clogged up roads could mean that a journey that usually takes 5 minutes and costs £5, could take 4 or 5 times longer. And he doesn’t think that customers will be willing to pay £15 or £20 for the same distance. He is worried that fare rises of this magnitude could irreparably damage his firm’s reputation. But if he doesn’t charge more, he feels it could hardly be worthwhile turning up for work.

This week Transport for London (TfL) voted down a proposed 22% fare rise for black cabs during the Olympics. The Licensed Drivers Association responded by warning that 40% of its members would not work unless evening rates applied during the day. TfL has however approved a 20p increase to the £2.20 “flag fall” – which is the minimum fare applied to the meter when a passenger gets into the taxi.

But for cabbies like Iqbal who drive without a meter, the situation is even more difficult. He says he has no choice but to try to work during the Olympics. Ultimately though, he fears that he may lose out to the Games.

Local businesses kept in the dark over road closures

Andrew Stanley Woodworking is located less than 600 metres from the Olympic site

Andrew Stanley Woodworking is a joinery business located less than 600 metres from the Olympic Site. They use the A12 every day to transport deliveries and send out fitters to and from the West End where many of their clients are based. But they fear that the road will be partially, if not completely blocked for up to 10 weeks before and during the Games.This would severely affect the running of the business. However, they have had no official information or advice from the local authorities.

Andrew Stanley who runs the business spoke to me about his concerns…

 

“We’ll have to adapt

The A12, which they use continuously to transport materials and products could be reduced to just 1 lane if the other becomes a designated Olympic VIP lane. And it could be cut off for 18 hours a day. This would mean Andrew Stanley having to work overnight, taking deliveries at 4am.

But with a lack of any official information, Andrew Stanley Woodworking and other neighbouring businesses on his site have come to the consensus that the A12 might be completely closed off.

Andrew has had no official correspondence from any authority

“Zero correspondence”

The last time Andrew had any contact with an official body about the Olympic Games was when he was visited 5 years ago by the Olympic Police who are responsible for security around the Olympic Site throughout the Games.

With less than 6 months to go before the Games, and the possibility that road closures could start to take effect 8 weeks before the actual event, Andrew wants to be in a position to start planning.

After contacting various councils for advice, he received an unofficial reply from Newham Council. He has not been asked to fill in any official forms. His local MP has yet to respond.

He feels that no one is willing to commit to any solid information, in case the situation changes.

“Sounds grim”

And today, Andrew told me that a notice has gone up at the Old Ford Junction warning of road works for the next 4 months. This is the business’s main way in and out of the site.

“We’re an afterthought”

A great deal of money is being put into the Olympics and the government is keen to project an image of professionalism around the event. There is a growing sense of excitement as the event draws ever closer.

It has been dubbed ‘everyone’s Games’ by the organisers. But local businesses like Andrew Stanley Woodworks are left feeling forgotten and abandoned.

If you have any useful information for Andrew, please contact us and we’ll pass it on.