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Wondering where we’ve gone?

Tuesday, 20 December, 2011 14 comments

Merry Christmas! If you’re wondering where West London’s best source of independent news has gone, look no further than our new permanent website: http://www.thewestlondoner.com

Over there you’ll find the same content you’re used to – news, reviews, Game Overdose and more – with a few more sections added for good measure! Pop on over and bookmark the new site.

We’ll be moving the email subscription system across soon, so all 200+ of you who are subscribed to our updates won’t miss out. Don’t forget, you can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep right up to date.

Categories: News

X Factor’s Johnny lights up Harrow!

Thursday, 1 December, 2011 1 comment

Be quick if you want to catch Harrow’s Johnny Robinson switching on the town centre’s Christmas lights tonight!

The star from West Harrow will strike the first note of Christmas celebrations by turning on the lights at St Ann’s Road, near Katie’s Statue (the skipping girl sculpture near Debenhams), at 6:30pm.

But the show has already started with street performances, balloon artists and Sparky the giant robot entertaining kids at St Ann’s Road.

Ahead of his performance, Johnny Robinson said: “I’m thrilled to be able to come back to Harrow to help launch the countdown to Christmas!

“I had such great support from local people during the X Factor and it will be fantastic to say thank you in person, as well as give my backing to local traders during the Christmas shopping period. I look forward to seeing lots of you in Harrow Town Centre!”

The Christmas lights along St Ann’s Road and Station Road were installed by Harrow Council with the £860,000 won from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund to revitalise the shopping district.

Keith Ferry, Harrow Council’s portfolio holder for planning and economic development, said: “Johnny did Harrow proud during his time on the X Factor and we’re delighted that he’ll be joining us.”

He added: “The Mayor’s Outer London Fund aims to bring more shoppers to town centres like Harrow.

“It funds initiatives to dress up high streets and Harrow’s eye catching ‘light garden’ and festive lights caught the attention of the judges. We’re hoping you come and enjoy the lights, see Johnny, and shop for Christmas in the Town Centre.”

The ‘light garden’ art installation is now lit up outside St George’s Centre. It features giant snowdrops and lotus flowers around a giant alium flower. It was created by artist Jig Cochrane, who is responsible for October’s display of giant tulips for the Diwali celebrations.

Feltham & Heston interview: Andrew Charalambous, UKIP candidate

Thursday, 1 December, 2011 4 comments

Earlier this week The West Londoner spoke to the UK Independence Party’s candidate for the Feltham and Heston by-election happening this month, Andrew Charalambous.

He is the party’s Housing spokesman and stood for the Conservatives in Edmonton in the general election before defecting.

Why are you standing for Feltham & Heston?

“UKIP are on about 11 per cent in the national polls now and it’s high time the party had its first member of parliament,” says Charalambous. “It would change the entire political landscape and every by election is an opportunity.”

“I think the majority of people at the moment are suffering. We’re sending 50 million every day to the EU,” says the 44-year-old property developer. “That money should be invested in Britain.”

What will you do if you are elected as Feltham & Heston’s MP?

“We need to invest more money into making council services better and we need to make it easier for people to exercise the right to buy,” says Charalambous. “People will not exercise their right to buy if their property or their council estate as a whole are not in the right condition so we need to work on that.”

He adds: “There’s a lot of young gangs hanging around the council estates making the more vulnerable sections of the population feel uncomfortable.

“We need to create more jobs and more investment. If you look at the M4 corridor we have BSkyB and others. We could bring those people further in to Feltham and Heston.”

“We should encourage young enterprise. Business mentors can offer guidance to young people. We could give local businesses a reduction on their business rates. There’s a difference between the national economy and the local economy; building enterprise from the bottom up.”

You speak a lot about youth; what about other sections of the population?

“I think it’s a scandal how we treat our elderly. If you’re elderly you’re more likely to be a victim of discrimination and of crime. We understand that younger people find it hard in this economic climate; how much harder is it if you’re 85, wheelchair bound , disabled, blind, and trying to deal with the current economic climate then? Looking at provisions for care and facilities for the elderly is very important.”

“The Conservatives haven’t implemented policies they said they would have prevented many of our elderly dying because of fuel poverty. They don’t earn enough from their pensions, that’s the bottom line.

How would you fund your plans?

“We would fund them by not wasting £50 million a day on Europe. We’ve got probably a quarter more public sector workers than we need.”

“Britain spent money on – let’s not hide this – two or three useless wars from which the British people haven’t benefited at all. You may have heard about the ex-soldier who came back to Heston and can’t get housing. This is how we treat our heroes. If UKIP were in a position to influence government we would have stood against these unnecessary wars.”

“If you take the local council it needs to be more transparent. We need to cut down the pay of council executives to three or four figure sums. We need to make these people accountable for their spending and we need them to stop spending money on political correctness and self promoting budgets.”

UKIP has an enduring image of being a party affected by race. Is that true?

“We are in no way a racist party. We have members from all races, colours and backgrounds. UKIP is a party that says immigration isn’t a negative thing – the country need a degree of immigration. We believe that we need to integrate the people who are already here. I think withdrawing from Europe is the best way, which means we won’t have to take the half a million people a year coming from Europe. Then we can give more priority to people coming, for example, from the Indian subcontinent.”

Transparency statement: the UKIP press office contacted The West Londoner to offer us the interview. If you work for a political party with a candidate standing in Feltham & Heston, please use the Contact Us link to get in touch.

Categories: Hounslow, News Tags: , ,

Do you support tomorrow’s public sector strikes?

Tuesday, 29 November, 2011 2 comments

With tomorrow, November 30th, marking the date on which the major trades union will down tools for the day, how do you feel about the strike?

London goes on strike tomorrow (file photo). Credit: Peter Spooner.

Our reader Terry Winn, commenting on our Facebook page (do like us for regular updates if you haven’t already, by the way!), says: “I’m in a public sector union banned from striking. Wish we could to vent our fury over our treatment.”

“Our pensions are to be reduced and we may have to do this job till we are at least 68; almost impossible given the dangers. We are undermanned and told more cuts are needed, while the government introduce yet more tiers of management into the service. The pay of new staff is so low standards have suffered and we haven’t had a payrise for years.”

Meanwhile, Ryan Harrison says: “I’m sick of all these strikes and protests and riots and marches! Everyone has just got sodding greedy! If you havea job then be grateful for that. Everyone is just out marching for more all the time.

“Why cant people accept if they’ve had it good for so long that things are going to get a bit tough as we enter a double dip recession?! Work hard, keep your job and be happy. I’m sure if your bonuses drop now as soon as the economy picks up they will come back.”

Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below and please vote in our poll!

Gangway on HMS Belfast collapses

Tuesday, 29 November, 2011 1 comment

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A gangway between HMS Belfast and the shore collapsed into the River Thames this lunchtime.

Three workmen aboard the gangway reportedly scrambled clear as it fell into the water. London Ambulance Service took two people with “minor injuries” to St Thomas’ Hospital.

Lifeboats from the RNLI station at Tower Hill attended the scene, although luckily nobody fell into the river. The 170 people aboard Belfast are now being evacuated by boat.

London Fire Brigade attended the scene to repair the gangway. The fire service were, ironically, due to carry out a training exercise aboard her this afternoon.

Belfast, a Town-class light cruiser originally commissioned in 1939, is a museum ship operated by the Imperial War Museum.

The IWM has stated that Belfast will remain closed to the public until further notice.

It is not known why the gangway collapsed, although other reports suggest that it was undergoing maintenance at the time.

editor’s note: if you are the person who took the picture on the left, please get in touch – unfortunately I can’t find the person who posted it on Twitter!

Our reader Niyanta Shah sent us this picture of the collapsed gangway, from a different angle.

Credit: Niyanta Shah

Ealing teacher spared jail for groping air steward

Tuesday, 29 November, 2011 Leave a comment

An Ealing teacher who drunkenly assaulted an air steward has been spared a prison sentence.

Spared: Katherine Goldberg, who drunkenly groped a Virgin Atlantic steward, has avoided jail.Katherine Goldberg, 25, downed a bottle of whisky on a Virgin Atlantic flight and became so drunk that she became under the “alcohol-induced illusion” that the man was her boyfriend, Isleworth Crown court heard yesterday.

Goldberg, who pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to sexual assault and being drunk on an aircraft, was on board Virgin Atlantic flight VS602 from Johannesburg to Heathrow on 24th August when the incident happened. She was returning from a trip to South Africa where she had celebrated the end of her teaching exams.

Her behaviour was described by witnesses as “very irritating” because she disturbed them while they were trying to rest, said James O’Connell, prosecuting.

One member of the cabin crew “took an interest in her care” and tried to calm her down. O’Connell continued: “However, it was at this point that the defendant’s antics changed and became sexual in nature. She was heard to tell the air steward: ‘Let me and you go somewhere. You can touch me anywhere you want, I don’t mind.'”

“In her complete alcoholic funk,” added O’Connell, “she was confusing him with her current boyfriend and a previous boyfriend.

“She was somehow imagining this was her boyfriend with whom she was interacting.”

The court was told that Goldberg, who has been suspended from her job as a teacher at a Montessori school, has since admitted to having an alcohol problem, is now abstinent and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week.

She also went on a one-month residential course after realising she had hit “rock bottom”.

Goldberg was fined £1500, ordered to carry out an 11-month community order and 80 hours of unpaid work, and to pay £250 costs. Had she received a 12-month order, she would have been forced to sign the sex offenders’ register, barring her from working with children.

Judge Andrew McDowall said: “I would be wrong to impose a lifetime punishment by preventing you working in a profession where you clearly have talent.”

https://thewestlondoner.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/opinion-why-is-brunel-universitys-student-union-trying-to-dumb-down-lectures/#comment-2465

Fire on Uxbridge Road causes Monday morning misery

Monday, 28 November, 2011 2 comments

A large fire broke out near Parkfield Avenue just before 7am this morning, causing traffic chaos and misery for thousands of commuters and schoolchildren.

Aerial view of the affected shops. Credit: Sky News

The affected property is said to be Tops Pizza. London Fire Brigade were called to the scene at 7.15am and deployed eight fire engines carrying 40 firefighters. A wooden struture on the roof of the property is said to have caught fire, igniting the rest of the building.

Three people were evacuated from the flat above the pizza shop and ten others were led to safety from the surrounding flats.

No traffic is able to pass along the Uxbridge Road due to closures between the Lees Road and Long Lane juntions, with consequent tailbacks stretching for miles. Long Lane is reported to be at a crawl whilst traffic flow has been affected on the A40 near Hillingdon as motorists seek alternative routes to work.

There is no suggestion of any fatalities at this stage. The exact cause of the fire is unknown but it is linked to the wooden structure on the roof.

Map of the affected area. The pin marks the approximate location of Tops Pizza.

Image of firefighters extinguishing the blaze. Credit: Ben Beckford.