ROGUE LANDLORDS: Newham council raid; man found living in meter cupboard

London – VIJAY SHAH via Newham Council

In yet another sign of the housing crisis gripping London, council officials in the east of the city found a man forced to sleep in a room no bigger than a store cupboard after conducting a raid on an overcrowded home in Beckton, Newham Council wrote on its website on Friday.

Housing officers from Newham Council, which administers the Beckton area, were tipped off that the house in the south of the borough was inhabited by more people than was allowed legally. The council’s private housing team sector entered the property, with the borough’s mayor, Sir Robin Wales and representatives of the GMB workers’ union, Warren Kenny (London Regional Secretary), and Tim Roache (General Secretary) in attendance.

Credit: speedpropertybuyers.co.uk

 

What they saw shocked them. In the Beckton house, one man was found to have been paying hundreds of pounds in rent per month to live in a store cupboard no bigger than 1 metre by 2 metres in area, with enough room for a single mattress only. The man’s living situation was made more dangerous by the presence of a gas meter and pipes directly above his bed. The raid also discovered a total of eleven sleeping spaces in the property, including bunk beds crammed into single rooms. The team also uncovered fire and electrical safety hazards, according to Newham Council.

The mayor and GMB leadership attended the raid to discover the day-to-day operations of those involved in enforcing Newham’s landlord licensing scheme, which requires all private housing landlords in the borough to purchase a five-year licence which requires them to obey certain regulations such as on overcrowding and fire safety. Newham was the first London borough to introduce such a scheme, which is now under threat of non-renewal due to central government financial cutbacks.

The housing officers also paid a visit to another suspect property in Upton Park, in northern Newham. They stumbled across a shed being rented out as a living space. Three people were found living in the shed, paying £200 a month each to live in sub-standard and cramped spaces. The house itself was split into eight rooms over three floors, which were being shared between four different families.

The rogue landlords responsible for renting out the properties raided by the officers will be subject to financial penalty notices, which could see them paying fines of up to £30,000 per offence committed, Newham Council said.

Mayor Wales said: “It cannot be right in the 21st century, in one of the world’s wealthiest cities, a young man is being forced to pay hundreds of pounds to rent a cupboard under the stairs, sleeping alongside the gas metre [sic].

‘The scenes we saw on this visit are a timely reminder that, while by tackling bad landlords we are driving up standards, there is still much to do. That is why it’s imperative that the government allow us to continue with this work, and stop the exploitation of tenants.’

‘The scheme aims to improve the quality of property in the private sector, to make the experience of renting homes in the borough safer and more secure for our residents.

‘The GMB union leadership was keen to come down and see our licensing scheme in action, to understand why it’s so important.”

The GMB’s general secretary, Tim Roache added: “Our visit to Newham was a real eye-opener, we all know the housing market is broken, but finding people living in cupboards marks a new low.

‘It’s fantastic to see how Newham’s licensing scheme is forcing this kind of chronic exploitation of tenants into the light, and how its effective enforcement by dedicated workers on the front line is bring the guilty landlords to book.

‘I would appeal to the government to act quickly and allow Newham to continue this critically important work.”

London has a whole has become notorious for its overheated housing market, with often sky-high rents, coupled with a low level of new houses being built, enabling unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of desperate renters priced out of the buying market, as well as new settlers in the city. Several landlords in outer London boroughs were prosecuted recently for renting out converted outbuildings and garden sheds, overcrowding family homes and letting out properties with numerous healthy and safety violations. The housing market problem has now spread far beyond the borders of Greater London, with the South East of England reporting some of the UK’s highest house prices.

SOURCES:

Newham London, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/newhamcouncil/

“Man found sleeping in under the stairs cupboard in rogue landlord raid” – Newham London/Newham Council (3 November 2017) https://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/News/Man-found-sleeping-in-under-the-stairs-cupboard-in-rogue-landlord-raid.aspx?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SocialSignIn&utm_source=Facebook&utm_content=News

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Renting Property” – Jeff Djevdet, Flickr (22 February 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffdjevdet/24568649014

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A MILLION MILES TOGETHER: UK Olympic gold champion at launch of Newham keep fit drive

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Newham Council

British Olympic champion and gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu returned to her home borough of Newham to help the council’s special keep fit drive Million Miles Together Challenge, which officially launches today and is designed to encourage residents to be more active.

The challenge encourages people to go out and get involved in activities such as running, sports, jogging, yoga and dance to help Newham collectively achieve a million miles in a hundred days. The former 400 metres World Champion and the borough’s mayor, Sir Robin Wales, came together yesterday (Friday 30th October) to announce that they would both be participating.

 

Ohuruogu became a role model for the nation after winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, before picking up a silver in her native country in London 2012, which was partly held in the Newham district of Stratford’s purpose-built Olympic Stadium. She recently collected a bronze in this year’s games in Rio de Janeiro, where Team GB walked away with the second highest medal haul of all nations that took part.

The Million Miles Together Challenge involves people signing up to the Million Miles Together website. There they can record all the physical activity they take part in, which is then converted into mileage. By Sunday 8th January 2017, it is hoped that Newham’s residents will have collected a million miles between them – the equivalent of a return trip to the moon.

In addition to Ohuruogu and the local government, the challenge is also been supported by the borough’s eight Community Neighbourhood Teams. The Teams, which encourage members of their respective community areas to get involved in social events and initiatives, have been tasked with getting at least 1,500 people signed up to the health drive per community neighbourhood. The drive is also been sponsored by London City Airport.

In an interview with the council, Olympic champion Ohuruogu, who was born in Stratford on the 17th May, 1984 said I’m really excited to be involved in Million Miles Together. It’s fantastic that Newham will be the first Council in the whole of the UK to take on this challenge.

“I love that this challenge is for everyone, of any age, any level of health and fitness. It’s not just about sport and anyone can take part.

“It is an opportunity to take part in something I believe offers a fresh, new and creative approach to an age old problem of getting people to lead fitter and healthier lives. Both the Council and I are committed to helping inspire people to get more active, and initiatives like this are a positive step in the right direction.”

Councillor Ken Clark, cabinet member for building communities, public affairs, regeneration and planning, said: “Million Miles Together is a fantastic initiative that will give people the impetus they need to get active.

“As well as helping Newham reach its million miles target they will also be able to see and feel the benefits in their own health.

“I am delighted Christine has added her support to the initiative as she is an inspirational figure for many people across the borough. I will also be joining the Mayor and many of my council colleagues in taking part and I hope as many others also join in.”

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
Pam, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/salsapam
Newham London, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/NewhamLondon
“Newham’s Olympic hero spearheads Million Miles Together Challenge” – Newham London/Newham Council (30 September 2016) https://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/News/Newham’s-Olympic-hero-spearheads-Million-Miles-Together-Challenge.aspx
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Christine Ohuruogu, October 2008.jpg” – Nick J Webb, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (16 October 2008) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christine_Ohuruogu,_October_2008.jpg

PEARLS OF EXCELLENCE: Newham Business Awards this October

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via the Newham Mag

While often labelled as one of the poorest areas of London, the east London borough of Newham is also a place where people aim to rise above the difficulties of deprivation, and one way where it is obvious is within the Newham business community. Newham is home to hundreds of small and medium-size businesses, ranging from decorators with white vans through independently owned boutiques and restaurants, through to major national businesses such as Tesco and the Wetherspoons gastropub chain. The borough is home to a long tradition of independent entrepreneurship stretching from the ‘rag-and-bone’ men of days gone past to modern web designers and consultants operating out of their bedrooms, providing services to thousands of people and companies inside and outside the London region.

Now Newham businesses have a chance to place themselves on the local stage and show that Newham is a great place to trade and reach out to customers with the help of the Newham Business Awards, happening this October. The Awards, which aim to recognise the achievements of local businesses, and are being sponsored by the borough’s council, will take place at the Old Town Hall in Stratford on the 13th October 2015. Stratford is one of east London’s modern business success stories. The district is home to two shopping centres, the Stratford Shopping Centre, and the newer Westfield Stratford City, which formed part of the Olympic legacy regeneration bequeathed to Newham after the London Games of 2012. Stratford is also home to hundreds of companies mainly involved in the retail and services sectors.

The Newham Business Awards are taking on nominations in ten categories, including business and business person of the year, innovation, e-commerce, new business, green business, sole trader and micro-business, training ad education, and community involvement.

The awards are being organised by the Newham Chamber of Commerce, which is located at the Stratford Town Hall, a Victorian historical building close to the district’s retail area, and are receiving heavy backing from businesses such as Asper’s, the operator of the wildly popular Asper’s Casino in Westfield, London City Airport, local newspaper the Newham Recorder, Tate and Lyle, a sugar and sweetener manufacturer who maintain a factory in the Silvertown area of southern Newham, alongside the local government representation.

Speaking with council publication the Newham Mag, the borough’s chamber secretary John James said “With 7,500 new businesses established here during the past five years, there are pearls of excellence worthy of the community’s attention.”

Councillor Joy Laguda, who met recently with members of the Chamber of Commerce, added: “We are pleased to be able to recognise businesses and especially the efforts of young entrepreneurs”

The Newham Chamber of Commerce was established in 1967, shortly after the borough was created from the merger of two earlier areas, West Ham and East Ham. As the official business voice of the new borough, the NCC sought to give a voice to local businesses and traders and strengthen their cause through support and representation. The NCC has close links with local government and regularly campaigns on local and city-wide issues affecting business, such as increased Thames crossings and a possible Crossrail 2 train link through Newham to neighbouring Barking. The chamber now has 200 members with 800 business people receiving its news via email.

SOURCES:
“Awards are just the business” – The Newham Mag, Newham Council [Issue 345] (15 July 2016)
“ABOUT NCC” – Newham Chamber of Commerce http://www.newhamchamber.com/about-ncc/
IMAGE CREDIT:
Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/photos/award/

NEWHAM PAST AND PRESENT: Four residents wins prizes in borough’s history quiz

Four lucky residents from the east London borough of Newham can now call themselves true amateur local historians after winning prizes in a council-sponsored history competition designed to test local historical knowledge.

The locals were among several winners of the Newham Past and Present competition, which aimed to increase awareness of the historical places and stories of the borough, which was once part of Essex county and was created in 1965 after a programme of extensive local government reorganisation. The competition took place at the Mayor‘s Newham Show weekend last month (July 2015), reports the council publication The Newham Mag this past weekend. In the competition, residents were asked to identify locations from around Newham’s eight Community Neighbourhood Areas by looking at an archive of photographs taken of them over the past fifty years since Newham came into existence.

The winners who achieved the highest scores in the history competition were Syed Ilyas Mizan, Miriam Jelinkova, Jim McLucas and Adele Flore. They all were gifted £50 worth of shopping vouchers to be spent at the borough’s showpiece Westfield mall in Stratford City. The prizes were presented by Cllr. Ken Clark, who is the cabinet member for building communities and public affairs, regeneration and planning. The award ceremony took place at East Ham Library in Barking Road, East Ham.

Speaking at the event to honour the ‘history buffs’, Clark said “Newham has had so much to celebrate over the past 50 years and residents who entered the heritage competition showed how they really know our borough, the people, and the places in it”.

Newham is renowned for its ethnically diverse and multicultural communities, ancient churches and pubs and Victorian architecture and has a large number of monuments and war memorials, including the Rhubarb and ArcelorMittal Orbit, the Samuel Gurney Memorial, the borough’s Town Hall and Stratford’s Olympic Stadium, soon to be the home of local football team West Ham.

SOURCES:
“Success for history buffs” – The Newham Mag [Issue 323], Newham Council (28 August 2015) 
IMAGE CREDITS:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

SUBLETTING: Newham tenant jailed for illegally renting out council house

A tenant living in a council-owned property in east London has been sent to jail after he was discovered to have been illegally renting out his home against council rules, the Newham Mag reported this weekend.

Mubato Nzabi, aged 48, was caught out by council housing inspectors in the borough of Newham, and was subsequently convicted at Wood Green Crown Court in north London of illegally subletting a three-bedroom council house in Ordnance Road, Canning Town, in the south of the borough. He allegedly lied to the council’s housing department and the Department of Work and Pensions, a national government body in charge of benefits and employment services, claiming that he was residing in the property himself along with his daughter.

English: Canning Town: Normandy Terrace, E16 C...
English: Canning Town: Normandy Terrace, E16 Community shops at the southern end of Freemasons Road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In court proceedings, the judge and jury were informed that in fact, Nzabi had been renting out the property to an unnamed family since April 2013, after moving out of the property into another home, and had failed to notify the council of his change in living situation. Nzabi however continued to claim government welfare benefits, namely housing and council tax benefit, under his name for the Canning Town address despite no longer living there. He had originally moved into the property in 1994.

Nzabi’s con was unravelled after Newham Council‘s housing inspectors turned up at his subletted property for an inspection as part of their regular housing checks made to ensure council tenants are actually living in their assigned homes.

The crown court prosecuted Nzabi for falsely claiming benefits, council tax evasion and illegally subletting under the Fraud Act and the Social Security Administration Act. He was sentenced to nine months in prison at the hearing on July 24th, the Newham Recorder reported.

Mayoral advisor for housing, Cllr. Andrew Baikie, told the Recorder: “This successful prosecution shows that we take illegal subletting very seriously and will take tough action against anyone we catch.

“Illegally subletting council properties unfairly deprives someone else of a council house, who may have been waiting on our register for a long time. It is imperative that our housing stock is distributed fairly.”

Meanwhile, Newham Council, concerned about the large number of illegal sublettings of their homes in one of London’s most crowded areas, are running an amnesty for subletting tenants to turn over their properties without risk of prosecution. The amnesty, which runs until the 1st of September, allows subletters to hand over their house keys and give up their properties without being taken to court.

Cllr. Bailie said of the situation: “We take illegal subletting seriously and will take tough action against anyone we catch”. Newham council tenants wishing to avail of the amnesty are urged to call 020 3373 9370.

According to figures produced by insurance firm Direct Line and the Association of Residential Letting Agents, it is estimated that 3.3 million people are living as unofficial tenants in the UK, amounting to one in every ten rental homes. Almost fifty per cent of surveyed residential lettings agencies have found multiple occupants in homes supposedly registered to single persons or families after carrying out inspections of tenancies, according to the ARLA.

SOURCES:
“Jailed for illegally subletting council home” – The Newham Mag [Issue 322], Newham Council (27 August 2015)
“Canning Town council tenant jailed for illegally subletting flat” – Seema Hakim, Newham Recorder/London24 news network/Archant Community Media Ltd (7 August 2015) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/crime-court/canning_town_council_tenant_jailed_for_illegally_subletting_flat_1_4185732
“UNAUTHORISED SUBLETTING IS A MAJOR PROBLEM FACING LANDLORDS AND AGENTS” – Association of Residential Letting Agents/National Federation Of Property Professionals (9 October 2014) http://www.arla.co.uk/news/october-2014/unauthorised-subletting-is-a-major-problem-facing-landlords-and-agents.aspx
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Canning Town, Normandy Terrace, E16 – geograph.org.uk – 408315.jpg” – Nigel Cox & geograph.org.uk via Wikimedia Commons (20 April 2007) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Canning_Town,_Normandy_Terrace,_E16_-_geograph.org.uk_-_408315.jpg

 

 

NEWHAM’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY: A big cake and a garden party

As the London Borough of Newham gears up to mark the fiftieth anniversary of its founding, residents were treated to an exciting garden party and a giant cake courtesy of the borough’s council, the Newham Mag reports.

The cake, encased in silver-grey and white icing, was decorated with floral motifs, council logos and the words “Happy 50th Anniversary Newham” was the centrepiece of a free entry garden party held in Central Park, East Ham. The party was organised by the council’s Community Neighbourhood team. This team is responsible for organising activities and initiatives designed to bring local people together and build stronger and more resilient communities.

Over 500 local residents had a knees-up, enjoying refeshments and snacks. They also participated in fun activities for adults and children alike, including balloon animal making, fitness taster sessions, family-friendly races, a giant chessboard, face painting and a free jazz concert. The celebrations at East Ham for Newham’s half-century of existence were also attended by a local VIP guest, the borough’s mayor Sir Robin Wales.

English: Sarees and Spices in East Ham. The sa...
English: Sarees and Spices in East Ham. The saree and spice shops of East Ham provide a colourful display. This is Green Street, E7. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Local councillor for East Ham, Lakmini Shah, who is also a lead member of the Community Neighbourhood team, told the Newham Mag: “I was delighted so many people enjoyed the fun”

As Newham celebrates fifty years since the Local Government Act of 1965, which led to its creation from the mergers of two east London county boroughs, the council plans to hold more garden parties to celebrate. The next series of events takes place at Priory Park, in Upton Park district, on the 25th July. A third party will take place at the First Avenue Community Garden in Plaistow on the same date between the hours of 12pm and 4pm. More events are planned for this August and September.

The London Borough of Newham was created on land which was originally part of the neighbouring county of Essex, but which was absorbed into the new county of Greater London. The trigger for its establishment was a monumental change in the UK’s county boundaries instigated by the Local Government Act, passed by Parliament in 1965. It was formed from the merger of the old Essex county boroughs of West Ham and East Ham. The new borough also gained North Woolwich (previously part of Woolwich county borough in London) and a small chunk of western Barking, the Little Ilford area. As a legacy of the old boroughs, Newham has two town hall buildings and road signs can still be found with the names of the obsolete county boroughs heading them. Newham currently has a population of 307,984, according to the 2011 national census, and the youngest population in terms of age in the UK.

Newham residents (and other Londoners and visitors) can find out more about what 50th Anniversary events are happening near them by contacting the council’s Community Neighbourhood team on +44 (0)203 373 4695 or alternatively going online to www.newham.gov.uk/summergardenparties

 

SOURCES:
“Garden party is icing on the cake” – The Newham Mag [Issue 319], Newham Council (16 July 2015)
“Garden parties to celebrate Newham’s 50th birthday” – Newham London – Home – News – May 2015/Newham Council (22 May 2015) http://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/News/Garden-parties-to-celebrate-Newhams-50th-birthday.aspx
“London Borough of Newham” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Borough_of_Newham
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Sarees and Spices in East Ham – geograph.org.uk – 111229.jpg” –  John Davies, geograph.org.uk via Wikimedia Commons (24 January 2006) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sarees_and_Spices_in_East_Ham_-_geograph.org.uk_-_111229.jpg

 

UNIVERSAL CLASS: I passed Excel 2013 course with flying colours

They say learning is a lifelong process, and that you never stop being a student of the University of Life. Certainly as the years roll on, you pick up lots of little and large things that you will learn from. Sometimes the learning opportunities present themselves, and sometimes you have to seek them out.

It does not matter if you are highly educated or you were never fond of studying, everyone learns one way or the other. I hold a undergraduate degree plus very good GCSEs and A-Levels, but I still have that urge to better and distinguish myself academically and to improve my skills. As it is, we are in a highly competitive world. I graduated nearly a decade ago and in that time I have been busying myself with work. Now I have come to the stage in my life where I need to look at what is next in both my life generally and in my career.

In November 2014, I decided I needed to do something to help me improve my prospects. Although I have a relatively impressive CV, because I had been in the same job for a long while and had not studied in that time, my skills were getting a bit rusty and times had changed since my graduation in 2006. In August of that year, my sister completed her diploma in child psychology, with a little help from me. This got me thinking. Why don’t I do a short distance-learning course too? Something to add to my CV (resumé) and impress potential employers and help upskill myself at the same time. As long as it didn’t mire me in even more student debt (I already have a outstanding £15,000 loan with the Student Loan Company for my degree in journalism and media), then what was the harm in trying?

I was well aware that many boroughs in London, including my own, Newham, had a long tradition of managing courses for residents to add to their skillset in order to survive in this hectic metropolis. With this in mind, I had a look at the website of the borough where I live, Newham Council, and discovered they were offering free courses in association with a company called Universal Class. Based in Tampa, Florida, U.S.A, Universal Class Inc. is an internationally-oriented provider of educational services that offer courses in everything pretty much really, from basic accounting and life coaching, to healthcare and computing. I even spotted a course on blogging. Their slogan is “Learn Anything. Learn Anytime. Learn Anywhere”, and they claim to have 600,000+ students learning via more than 500 courses, and have delivered five million courses so far. I was very fortunate that I still had my old Newham Libraries Card in my wallet, so was able to use the card number to log into the Universal Class portal direct from the Newham Council site and create my login details. I didn’t have to pay a penny for the course either.

Out of those 500 courses, I decided to do the one on Microsoft Excel 2013. Why did I choose that?, you may ask. Well in my current job, I spend a lot of time with Excel. It’s the previous version from 2010, but I depend on it a lot to process client data in my company’s database, and I also daily add information from the database and external materials to Excel spreadsheets, so knowing your way around those little cells is essential for this job. I thought that by getting myself certified as a competent user of the latest incarnation of this office work essential, it would not only prepare me for when my office decides to upgrade their Microsoft package, but also could go on my CV as an extra achievement to maximise my employability.

I will not bore you to death with the intricate details of the course or how everything works but here is a brief explanation.

In the Excel 2013 course, you have twenty lessons to complete, starting from really basic stuff to more complicated matters involving tables, graphics and formulae. Each lesson has an optional ‘assignment’, an activity that helps you put into practice what you’ve learned in that lesson. There is also a multiple choice exam of ten questions. Once you have done all the lessons, there is a final exam which has 45 questions, again multiple choice and it will test you on the contents of the entire course. Each lesson also comes with handy links and YouTube videos to expand your knowledge in a given area. You are also assigned an instructor (tutor) who can give feedback and emails you in your UC inbox your scores for each end-of-lesson exam. There is no time limit to completing the course, so you can work at your own pace. Walk in the park!!

The lessons covered the following:

1. Introduction to MS Excel 2013 and the course.
2. Navigating Excel 2013.
3. Worksheets and workbooks.
4. Entering information into MS Excel 2013.
5. Introduction to working with cells, rows and columns.
6. Formatting data and cells.
7. Formatting rows and columns.
8. Editing cells, rows, columns and worksheets.
9. Introduction to formulas and calculations.
10. Working with formulas and functions.
11. Maintaining worksheets.
12. The What-If Analysis.
13. Adding images and graphics.
14. Charts and diagrams.
15. Creating data lists.
16. Managing data.
17. Pivot tables and charts.
18. Printing worksheets and workbooks.
19. Templates.
20. Protecting, saving and sharing workbooks.

I would work on the course over the weekends, often straight after I had written an article here on the blog. One day would be set aside to copy the notes from the lesson onto a Word document and save for my reference, as well as making additional notes from the provided links. I also used that day to do the assignment for some extra brownie points. The other day would be dedicated to revising and then doing the lesson exam. Overall it was a very comprehensive course. The exams were a little tough at times but that is what you would expect from an exam. It helped though that I was already well-versed with Excel’s earlier versions, so my existing knowledge of spreadsheet software meant some of the lessons were a breeze. I even began using some of the skills I learned from the course in my day job. I was doing well, according to my tutor, who was posting back scores ranging from 80 to 100 per cent. I had this course firmly in the bag.

Finally in April 2014, after five months of weekend studying, I was finally ready to do my finals. I decided to put it off until this Bank Holiday weekend, as I would have two days off work plus the normal weekend. I spent the whole weekend reading through the course notes, memorising everything and then tackled the exam at around 5 pm yesterday evening.

As soon as I completed the exam, I submitted it, expecting to have to wait a day for it to be marked by my tutor, Sean. Surprisingly I clicked on an arrow and immediately was informed that I had passed the course.

I passed it with flying colours.

I achieved a score of 92%.

I was very impressed!!!.

*cue train of smiley face emojis*

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

😀

There!!

This was a very special achievement for me, and I feel ‘well proud’ as we East Londoners say.

Capture  - Universal Class Excel 2013 Class Complete
(c) Universal Class Inc. via V. Shah
(c) Universal Class Inc. via V. Shah
(c) Universal Class Inc. via V. Shah

I got a downloadable PDF certificate (although they put my name as ‘MR SHAH’ instead of my full name, which I’m trying to get corrected). I’ve also ordered a paper certificate from them. It cost me £9 but at least I can put the hard-copy version into my National Record of Achievement folder along with my school and college certificates and my university degree. I should get that in from America within two weeks.

I’m really happy. Although the course may not be as thorough as an average course at a further education college, it is very good value considering I am not even paying for it (apart from the small £5.99 monthly fee for using the Excel 2013 software on your PC, but you can cancel the subscription after you finish the course). I plan to return to the Universal Classrooms again this June or July as my next target is a course in administration. I have also found out from one of my LinkedIn groups that the City University of New York journalism school is offering some free courses in skills for news writing. Might give that a try too. If you’re interested, you can see them at this link .

It just goes to show that if you are smart enough to keep your eyes open, dig around the web a bit and research your opportunities, you can make a learning dream come true for you.

Newham Council – http://www.newham.gov.uk/

Universal Class – universalclass.com/

My Universal Class student’s page – http://my.universalclass.com/jay1984

 

HEM 3rd anniversary banner pizap.com14293560242241

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“Universal Class: Online Courses and Continuing Education” – Universal Class https://www.universalclass.com/index.htm
IMAGE CREDITS:
Universal Class Inc. https://library.universalclass.com/index.htm?frmurl=www
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

 

EAST LONDON THAMES CROSSING: Newham mayor lays into Boris over bridge delay

The Mayor of the east London borough of NewhamSir Robin Wales, has slammed his GLA counterpart for the ‘unnecessary delay’ in securing a new river crossing over the Thames to link east London with areas south of the river, The Newham Mag reported recently.

In attendance at a meeting of the Parliamentary Transport Committee in the Houses of Parliament, Mayor Wales said: “A bridge at Gallions Reach in Beckton has been unnecessarily delayed for seven years. Having only a ferry is simply not good enough for London in the 21st century. London is moving east and a bridge should be built urgently“.

The Newham mayor also told the committee that he was against any plans to levy tolls for vehicles using the proposed river crossing at Beckton. He argued that people living and working in west London, who have several bridges at their disposal, are not required to pay to cross them, so the same courtesy should be extending to Londoners in the east. “If there are tolls there must be reductions for local people and local concessions“, Wales added.

There was no word of the London Mayor Boris Johnson‘s response to Wales’ criticism of his cabinet’s delay in construction of the Beckton crossing, but the transport committee is currently holding an inquiry into essential crossing over the river that cuts through London and have also been scrutinising the response to the delay by the Department for Transport. Newham Council have been petitioning City Hall for several years to establish a viable river crossing linking Newham with Greenwich, with Gallions Reach, home to a shopping centre, being the preferred location.

Newham Council hopes that the proposed bridge, which will be available 24 hours a day all week, will bring massive economic benefits and jobs to their borough, which has long struggled with high unemployment rates and lack of opportunities for residents. The new bridge could also reduce commuting times and help fuel growth in the area as part of the much-vaunted London Plan in the Thames Gateway, which includes Newham and four other boroughs.

The river Thames has over 200 bridges for foot and wheel, along with 27 tunnels, six public ferries and the Emirates cable car link between the O2 and southern Newham. With the expectation of the above-river cable car route which opened in June 2012 and is rarely used, Newham’s only links with the south are an underground tunnel connecting North Greenwich and Canning Town tube stations on the Jubilee line, and a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) connection between King George V station in Silvertown and Woolwich Arsenal in Woolwich. The Woolwich area also links with Newham via the Woolwich car ferry. There are no bridges at all along Newham’s stretch of the river with the nearest one being the famous Tower Bridge, completed in 1894 and situated around six miles (ten kilometres) away.

The transport committee’s report on the Gallions Reach crossing is expected to be published later this year.

SOURCES:
“Delay on bridge is slammed” – The Newham Mag – Issue 308, Newham Council (30 January 2015)
“List of crossings of the River Thames” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crossings_of_the_River_Thames
“Beckton Bus Station” – Google Maps, Google Inc. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Beckton+Bus+Station/@51.5215347,0.0819957,13z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x1f7da9fadcbde07d
“LB Newham Economic Impact of Gallions Reach Crossings” – pba Peter Brett Roger Tym/Peter Brett Associates LLP & Newham Council (March 2013) http://www.newham.gov.uk/documents/news/gallionsreachcrossingseconomicimpact.pdf
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

 

 

COUNCIL LICENSING: Illegally sold alcohol confiscated from Newham stores

Local authorities in the east London council area of Newham have recently reported a successful crackdown on convenience stores selling unlicensed alcohol, making several thousand pounds worth of seizures, reports the council publication The Newham Mag.

The magazine reports that more than 2,200 litres of spirits and other alcoholic beverages were confiscated by Newham Council‘s licensing team, which is responsible for the authorisation of local shopkeepers to sell alcohol to residents. The team has regularly carried out surprise inspections of stores believed to be selling drink under the table without the legally required licence, before authorising raids to seize the unlicensed stock and punish offenders through the legal system.

Licensing officers visited several stores and seized quantities of cider, beers and spirits either because the stores had no legal permission to sell alcohol on their premises or because they were selling drinks that had an alcoholic content above what was allowed on their licence.

English: No Street Drinking allowed
English: No Street Drinking allowed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Around 500 litres of unlicensed spirits were pulled off the shelves at Vanesh Super Store, a corner store located on Bramall Close in Stratford. Early last year the same shop, also known as Vana’s Superstore, had its alcohol licence revoked by the council after its employees failed to follow ‘Challenge 21‘ guidance following a test purchase using a young person. The Challenge 21 rules prohibit the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of eighteen and staff are expected to ask for age identification before handing over the goods.

In another confiscation which happened shortly before Christmas, 1,700 litres of alcohol was seized from Forest Gate Food and Wine, a grocery and mobile top-up shop on the Woodgrange Road in Forest Gate, near the border with Waltham Forest borough. This store was also caught out following a test purchase carried out by the council using an undercover police officer. The anonymous officer was able to buy extra-strength beer which had been imported from Poland, though Forest Gate Food and Wine’s licence did not allow them to sell these products. Pictures from the raid on December 20 showed council officers with a van packed with crates of alcohol, mainly stout and high-strength beer. Crates of Guinness stout, Dragon Stout from Jamaica, and the imported high-strength beverages branded Debowe and Perla from Poland were observed by a staff photographer from the Newham Recorder who witnessed the raid in Forest Gate.

Councillor Ian Corbett, the Newham mayoral adviser for environment and leisure, spoke with The Newham Mag. “Irresponsible off-licences can make the lives of residents miserable. Selling high strength alcohol without permission can often result in anti-social behaviour” he said.

Under Newham’s licensing rules, premises such as nightclubs and stores that wish to sell alcohol to customers must have a ‘premises licence’, on which a fee is paid to the council. The licensee is then required to display a licence notice on their premises and also make an announcement of licensing in the local newspaper. They may also have to inform certain parties, such as the police, fire and rescue and other departments in the council to allay any safety or crime concerns.

Anti-social behaviour and violence fuelled by alcohol is an ongoing problem in both Newham and the wider London area, causing residents to be fearful of going out at night or in visiting popular entertainment venues. A survey for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2013 reported that nearly a third of respondents said they were the victim of ‘yobbish’ behaviour or anti-social activities within the past year, often by troublemakers under the influence of alcohol. Eighty-one per cent felt that anti-social behaviour had gone up in England and Wales, reported the Telegraph.

Newham Council are planning to bring further action and prosecutions against the business owners caught in the latest licensing sting.

 

SOURCES:
“Alcohol seized from stores” – The Newham Mag – Issue 308, Newham Council (30 January 2015)
“Premises alcohol and entertainment licence” – Newham London, Newham Council http://www.newham.gov.uk/Pages/Services/Premises-alcohol-and-entertainment-licence.aspx?l1=100002&l2=200063
“Anti-social behaviour growing, says official survey” – David Barrett, The Telegraph/Telegraph Media Group Limited (11 April 2013) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9988026/Anti-social-behaviour-growing-says-official-survey.html
“1,700 litres of alcohol seized from Forest Gate off-licence” – Sophie Morton, Newham Recorder/Archant Community Media Ltd/London24 (9 January 2015) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/1_700_litres_of_alcohol_seized_from_forest_gate_off_licence_1_3911023
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Streetdrinking24102008148.jpg” – J D Mack, Wikimedia Commons (24 October 2008) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Streetdrinking24102008148.jpg

NEWHAM COUNCIL: Campaign launched to support safety equipment in Newham’s workplaces

Newham Council, which governs the east London borough of Newham, has offered its support to a citywide campaign to remind businesses and employers generally of the importance of installing life-saving equipment in their premises, the Council’s official publication The Newham Mag has reported.

The Shockingly Easy campaign, organised by the London Ambulance Service, is encouraging companies to place a defibrillator in offices and warehouses. This electronic device can mean the difference between life and death in the event of a company employee or visitor suffering cardiac arrest (heart attack). The machine comes with two pads which are applied to the chest when a cardiac incident occurs, and uses electricity to shock the heart into restarting and pumping blood normally again.

A representative of Newham Council, Cllr. Clive Furness, who is the council’s mayoral advisor for adults and health, helped launch the safety drive’s activities in Newham at a special ceremony in Stratford Shopping Centre. He said to The Newham Mag I urge every business to get a defibrillator. It is vital that these life-saving machines are within easy reach of anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest. It could save their life.” The event demonstrated how to use the equipment, including purchase and installation, as well as staff training in their use. The event also offered opportunities for businesses to get their equipment safety accredited with the Ambulance Service and dispelled many myths currently surrounding defibrillators.

Deutsch: Defibrillator im Rettungsdienst
Deutsch: Defibrillator im Rettungsdienst (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The council have already come on board with the Shockingly Easy campaign themselves by having defibrillation equipment put into place at their main offices at Newham Dockside, near Canning Town in the south of the borough, and councillors are hoping that this will set an example for other private and government organisations to follow suit.

The Stratford event saw ambulance crews with a retinue of resuscitation dummies and defibrillators take over the public plaza inside the shopping centre to show local businesses and shoppers how to use the equipment and save a colleague’s life in as little as five minutes. The London Ambulance Service’s chairman, Richard Hunt CBE, said: “Our latest data shows that there were 304 out of hospital cardiac arrests in Newham in a year and 43 of these occurred in the street and locations like workplaces, gyms, shops, public transport and places of worship.

When you have a cardiac arrest your heart stops, blood is no longer being pumped around the body and you are clinically dead.

It’s crucial that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR – chest compressions and rescue breaths) and defibrillation is given to the patient in the first three to four minutes.”

That event took place on the Wednesday 22nd October, but the quest to get more businesses installing this vital piece of kit on their premises is gathering pace with a similar phase of campaigning gaining the support of the council for Bromley borough, which lies south of the river Thames and Newham.

The London Ambulance Service, an emergency service organisation under the umbrella of the National Health Service, is responsible for running most of the ambulances and emergency vehicles that serve the capital’s hospitals and save thousands of lives every year. Their campaign aims to get a thousand defibrillators fitted at shops, businesses and gyms across London. The service states that only 28% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest at a public place survive without immediate medical intervention, but using a defibrillator means that the survival rate can jump to 80%. The service gives figures that around 10,000 cardiac arrests occur every year in the whole of London, a rate of 27 a day.

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood around the body, and can be a result of heart attack, choking or trauma.

A cardiac arrest is different to a heart attack which happens when an artery becomes obstructed, restricting the flow of blood to the heart. The most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain, though there are other symptoms. If left untreated it can lead to a cardiac arrest, which is when the heart stops beating.

SOURCES:
“Shockingly easy way to save life” – The Newham Mag [Issue 305], Newham Council (5 December 2014)
“Shockingly Easy campaign” – London Ambulance Service NHS Trust/NHS http://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/calling_999/emergency_heart_care/cardiac_arrest/defibrillator_accreditation.aspx
“Defibrillators for Newham businesses” – London Ambulance Service NHS Trust/NHS (17 October 2014) http://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/news/news_releases_and_statements/defibrillators_for_newham_buin.aspx
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Biphasischer Defibrillator.jpg” – Jack99, Wikimedia Commons (10 June 2006) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Biphasischer_Defibrillator.jpg