Olympic park roadshow comes to Barking Town Square today

Archive for June, 2012

Olympic park roadshow comes to Barking Town Square today

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

A little bit of the Olympics will be coming to Barking Town Square today, Thursday 28 June. An interactive roadshow will be arriving to give residents a chance to win tickets to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, as well as update everyone on the future of Queen Elizabeth Park once the Games have finished.

There are 10,000 tickets up for grabs. You could win:

  • Pairs of tickets
  • Family pack (4,6 or 8 tickets)
  • Community groups (up to 20 tickets)
  • Street groups (up to 50 tickets)

As  Barking and Dagenham is an Olympic Host Borough, residents will also get the chance to nominate a local community champion who could win tickets to the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games.

To find out more information or enter the A Day in the Park competition, you can visit the competition homepage: www.adayinthepark.co.uk. All you have to do to enter the competition is answer a simple Queen Elizabeth Park themed question. Winners will be chosen at random after the closing date on Wednesday 18th July.

Brocklebank Lodge street meeting

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Regular readers will know about the street meetings that I hold on a regular basis around the Borough.

My street meetings continue to be very much a part of the work I do as a local Member of Parliament and are always driven by the issues local residents raise with me however trivial it may seem.

The approach I take is very simple. If a problem is raised me with that affects a number of people, like parking, I will bring officers from the Council along so that residents in the street can ask direct questions and get an immediate response then and there. The alternative to this approach can be a long drawn-out exchange of letters which can take weeks and leaves everyone feeling frustrated.

Two weeks ago my office took a dozen calls from angry residents in and around Becontree Avenue and Bennetts Castle Lane in Dagenham after they had received anonymous notes through their doors making all sorts of claims about the future use of Brocklebank Lodge just across the road from them.

The Lodge was previously a home for people with dementia but closed its doors a number of years ago and has stood empty since. The note claimed that people sleeping rough in London were going to be rehoused there over the summer. This sounded farfetched and completely untrue but the misinformation had caused understandable concern.

I quickly convened a meeting at Brocklebank Lodge last Friday in response. I’m pleased that it was well attended with lots of local people who were able to ask questions of the director of housing and the head of planning from the Council who I asked to attend.

We learned that Brocklebank Lodge will in fact be a place for local people including families who have lost their home often through no fault of their own to be housed until they find more permanent accommodation.

These are tough times for many families struggling to make ends meet. The Council is leading the way in building new council homes. It is planning hundreds of new council homes but because it wasn’t allowed to use the money from council homes sold under the Right to Buy it’s playing catch up. That’s why it’s looking at what else it can do.

The residents who attended and I agreed to meet again in two to three weeks time when work on the Lodge was complete and to meet again when it opens. I hope we can organise a residents’ association that will come together if any problems do arise.

If you have an issue in your street you think I can help you with please get in touch with me on 020 8594 1333 or at [email protected]

How to keep your home safe

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Many people who attend my Coffee Afternoons tell me that they are worried about crime in their area. Barking and Dagenham has an average crime rate – lower than most other London boroughs – but crime does happen and it’s one of the issues residents are most concerned about.

The Police have recently given me some really good tips to pass on about how people can make their homes safer.

If you would like to get in touch with your local Safer Neighbourhood Team for more advice or information you can find their contact details here: http://content.met.police.uk/Borough/Barking/Contact

Protecting your home

Top tips:

  1. Invite your Safer Neighborhood Police Team (SNT) round to give you hints on how to keep your home safe.
  2. Mark or etch your property (with the pen your SNT give you) with your postcode, house or flat number or the first three letters of your house name.
  3. Register all items with a serial number at: www.immobilise.com
  4. Put a door chain on your front door to use when answering the door at night.
  5. Make sure you have strong padlocks on your side gates, sheds and garages.
  6. Put extra locks on windows and patio doors.
  7. Install security lighting in dark areas of your property.
  8. Get a visible burglar alarm.
  9. Make sure you don’t have any high hedges, fences or trees at the front of your property, as they can provide cover for burglars
  10. Install anti-climbing devices such as trellis and spiky planting at the side and rear of your property.

When you go out:

A) Close and lock all your doors and windows, even if you are only going out for a few minutes. Don’t forget to lock sheds and outbuildings.

B) Hide your car keys, ID documents, or valuables away from doors, letterboxes or windows.

C) Put lights on if it will be dark before you get home, or attach timers to your lamps.

D) Leave a TV or radio on.

E) If it’s dark when you go out, close the curtains

It’s important to make your house appear occupied even when it isn’t.

Did you know:

A large number of burglaries are happening because burglars are forcing external UPVC doors open. This is because of the type of lock on the door. It is a multi-point lock which means it will not lock properly if you just pull the handle up – you have to make sure that after you have lifted the handle, you turn the key to lock it and then remove the key. If you do not lock the door properly your property is unsafe!


REMEMBER – Don’t leave the key in sight of a window or a door – burglars will use a hook to get the key and open the door or window.

 REMEMBER – the London Fire Brigade asks that you make sure everyone in the family knows where the key is in case of an emergency or a fire

REMEMBER – You need to turn the key to ensure the door is locked. Your property is not safe if you simply shut the door and/or lift the handle- a burglar will still be able to gain entry to your home.


Cut your energy bills through WarmFront now before its too late

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Cut your energy bills through WarmFront now before its too late

The rising cost of household energy bills is putting a real squeeze on people’s finances.

WarmFront is a fantastic scheme which helps people cut their bills by making their homes more energy efficient.

If you are on a low income, you can get a grant of up to £3,500 for various measures to improve the heating and insulation of your home.

Unfortunately, many people are not aware of this scheme so have not had the chance to benefit.

Now time is running out, because these grants may not be available after 31st March 2013.

Unless you apply for a grant within the next 6 months you could miss out.

So now is the time to find out whether you are eligible for the grants, which can be spent on improving the energy efficiency of your home through: loft insulation, draughtproofing, cavity wall insulation, hot water tank insulation, or converting an open fire to a glass-fronted fire .

 By making your house more fuel efficient you could save up to £160 per year on your heating bills.

I have included the full details below, but if you have any questions then please contact my office and a member of staff will be happy to help you find out about your eligibility.

Please note: If the cost of the work is more than the grant available you will have to make a contribution to enable work to go ahead. Work will not start without making sure you are willing and able to pay the difference. 


There are 5.2million households that could claim free insulation grants and reduced tarrifs from energy companies byt only 12% have actually claimed free help.

Eligibilty can be complicated so you may need help to understand if you are entitled to a grant. The Home Heat Helpline is a free central phone number which is is staffed by specially trained advisors. It is open from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays. You can access the Helpline by calling 0800 33 66 99 or on minicom 0800 027 2122 and the Helpline has access to an interpreting service

This helpline can also help you

  • Save money on your gas and electricity bills
  • Give you information about the Priority Service Register — a special service for elderly or disabled people and those living with long-term health conditions that includes bills in easy-to-read larger text or in Braille, as well as security passwords and a free annual gas safety check (conditions apply)
  • Ask for flexible payment options for customers in fuel debt

For more information on eligibility please see the information below from www.direct.gov.uk/warmfront

The scheme is now targeted at people on certain income-related benefits and living in properties that are poorly insulated and/or do not have a working central heating system. You must own your home or rent it from a private landlord.

Eligible customers are all those awarded:

Pension Credit or; income-related Employment and Support Allowance that includes a work-related activity or support component (this includes contribution based ESA customers in the support group who get an income related top up because they automatically qualify for the enhanced disability premium payable with income related ESA)

And those awarded: Income Support or; income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or;

income-related Employment and Support Allowance in the assessment phase (first 13 weeks of the claim)

You must also have one of the following: a pensioner premium. or; a disability or severe disability premium, or; an award of child tax credit that also includes an element for a disabled,  or severely disabled child or young person, or; a child under the age of five living with you

In addition to the qualifying benefits listed above, the property you live in must also be poorly insulated and/or not have a working central heating system. 

If your application continues, you will then be visited by a Warm Front surveyor, who will measure the energy efficiency of your home using a Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP).

 The surveyor will then make recommendations on which energy efficiency improvements are most appropriate for your property.

You should be aware that the surveyor may find that the energy efficiency of your home is above the threshold required to benefit from the scheme. If this is the case you will not be provided with any recommendations and you will be left with details of where else you may be able to get energy advice and help.


How you can improve Queen’s and King George’s Hospitals

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

How to improve Queen’s and King George’s Hospitals

If you are currently in Queen’s or King George’s and have concerns about your care or someone else that is in either of these hospitals:  

The staff of Queen’s andKing GeorgeHospitals want to hear your comments and suggestions, so that they can improve care for you and other people in the future. You can use the comment cards available in the entrance to the hospitals, give feedback on your care via the kiosks and handheld surveys, or feed back by post, email, telephone or in person to the Trust.


Other ways to get involved: 

PALS – Patient Advice and Liaison Service – are a go-between service between patients and doctors. They will contact doctors, nurses, managers or other staff to seek to resolve issues or problems on quickly. They can also help with providing interpreters. They welcome any feedback, suggestions or compliments.

– Phone: 01708 435 454 (24 hour answerphone 0800 389 8324)

– Email: [email protected]

– Visit their office at Queen’s Hospital orKingGeorgeHospital, near the entrance from 10am–12 noon & 2pm-4pm weekdays.


LINks – Local Involvement Networks – are made up of local residents who act as representatives of patients who live in the local area. They are independent of the hospitals, and can ‘inspect’ the hospitals unannounced. They also have special statutory powers to hold the Hospital to account when things don’t go to plan. They also meet with doctors and high level officials to discuss how services can be improved for patients and submit reports and demand information.

-Phone: 020 8593 6677

-Email: [email protected] or  [email protected]

-Write:7 Althorne Way, Dagenham,Essex,RM10 7AY

-Facebook: www.facebook.com/bdlinks

-Get involved: There are many ways you can be involved with LINks – they want to hear your views and concerns about your local health services- you could attend meetings or events, complete questionnaires or surveys, take part in telephone interviews or even train to become an “Enter and View Representative” to view and comment on care provided by local services, such as hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries and health centres.


IPEG – Improving Patient Experience Group – are the patients’ forum for the hospitals, monitoring progress and making suggestions on how to make things better for patients, such as reviewing the hospitals’ new menus, providing feedback on patient information and the progress in improving patient care.

Get involved: Contact  the group’s Chair Elaine Clark on 01708 435000.

If you have an idea or suggestion that can make local health services and hospitals better then speak out and improve the system for everyone.