Lack of clarity about newspaper column written by local councillor

Questions have been raised about a weekly newspaper column written by a local councillor.

Labour Councillor for Wanstead Village, Paul Donovan, contributes a regular column to the East London and West Essex Guardian.

A subscriber to the newspaper’s website has posted several questions underneath the most recent online article.  The queries reveal a lack of clarity amongst readers as to whether Mr Donovan writes as an independent journalist or as a locally elected representative of a political party and whether he receives payment for his work.

“This Paul Donovan weekly column that the Guardian are publishing is something I find unusual in that there are always political undertones,” writes someone describing themselves as ViewpointE4.

“Is he the same Paul Donovan that contributes articles to the unbiased (obviously not communist) Morning Star?”

ViewpointE4 also questions whether Mr Donovan is being paid for his “published opinions”.

The Morning Star describes itself as “the only English-language socialist daily newspaper in the world”.  A search on the website reveals 194 articles written by someone called Paul Donovan covering areas such as football, the environment, air pollution and crime.

In its biography of Mr Donovan, the East London and West Essex Guardian describes him as a Redbridge Councillor but does not make clear his political affiliation.  His column is listed under News and is not identified as Opinion making it unclear whether he writes in his capacity as a freelance journalist or a locally elected representative of a political party.

The declaration of interests on the Redbridge Council website details Mr Donovan’s employment as a journalist but does not mention whether he receives any payment for his weekly contribution to The East London and West Essex Guardian.

Neither The East London and West Essex Guardian nor Mr Donovan have responded to ViewpointE4’s questions.

Road casualties in Redbridge

Graph showing road casualties by London Borough
Source: Transport for London

There were 1,030 casualties on roads in Redbridge in 2017 according to the latest figures from Transport for London (TfL).

Casualties are defined as persons killed or injured in a collision. Fatal casualties are categorised as those where death occurs within 30 days of an accident.

During 2017 nine people died, 72 were seriously injured and 949 were slightly injured on roads in the borough.

The most casualties occured in Westminster (1,917) while the City of London had the least (366). The borough of Enfield had the most fatalities (10) while Merton had no fatal accidents.

In total there were 32,567 casualties on London’s roads in 2017 including 28,686 people slightly injured and 131 deaths.

The Mayor of London has introduced a ‘Vision Zero’ plan to eliminate all serious and fatal injuries from London’s roads by 2041.  The strategy includes the introduction of lower speed limits on TfL’s road network, the transformation of dangerous junctions, the introduction of new safety standards for the design of HGVs and a bus safety programme.

“I don’t accept that deaths and serious injuries on London’s roads are something we just have to put up with,” said Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, when he launched the plan in July 2018.

“Every single death or serious injury results in heartache and tragedy for those affected, and their loved ones.

“Our bold and far-reaching plans are some of the most ambitious in the world, and start from the basis that no death or serious injury on London’s roads should be treated as acceptable or inevitable. At the heart of our plans is reducing the dangers of speeding vehicles across London, which is why we’re proposing a new general speed limit of 20mph on TfL roads within the Congestion Charging Zone – protecting cyclists, pedestrians and all road users in the busiest part of the capital.

“The design of vehicles on London’s roads is also crucial. That’s why we’re using the latest safety technologies to transform London’s buses and bringing in a world-leading safety standard for lorries, alongside investing record amounts in building new infrastructure to make walking and cycling a safe option in every part of the capital.”

Turn waste into wealth, says Prince Charles


The Prince of Wales has called for more emphasis on a circular economy in a speech to the Business in the Community ‘Waste-to-Wealth’ Summit in London.

“The small steps we have taken towards a circular economy will need to become giant strides if we are to achieve the required changes before time runs out,” he said.

The Summit brought together over 200 leaders from business, government, academia and civil society to discuss ways to double the nation’s resource productivity and reduce avoidable waste by 2030. The Prince delivered the keynote speech exploring initiatives to improve waste management and recycling and examining ways to take better care of the planet.

“We are using resources faster than Nature can replenish them and damaging our own life-support system,” he said.

During his talk the Prince acknowledged the change in public attitudes since the broadcast of the BBC Blue Planet series which revealed the damage to the environment and wildlife caused by discarded plastic.

“Every discarded plastic drinking straw, wet wipe, cup, bottle or bag tells a clear and unequivocal story of waste and missed opportunity, both to generate value and to address the over-arching challenge of climate change, recently listed of course by the World Economic Forum as amongst the biggest threats facing the world,” he argued.

The speech ranged across areas including energy and materials efficiency, recycling, better processes and litter picking as well as the importance of the business community working together to achieve change.

In a section devoted to initiatives in other countries the Prince referred to the recent revelation he had taken his own sons litter picking.

“From a very young age, Swedish children are taught to recycle, both at home and at school. There is even a national day on which children across the country gather to pick up litter and clean up their surroundings. Incidentally, I’d forgotten that I’d taken my own children litter picking all those years ago, nor did I realise they paid any attention at all!”

In a personal ending the Prince said: “We are the first generation to understand, in full and terrifying detail, that we are testing our world to destruction. And we are the last to be able to do something about it. If we do not act, our children and grandchildren will not be able to sort out the mess; that is the problem. So, with a new grandchild on the way I do not want to miss that opportunity”.

Trust which runs Whipps Cross Hospital hits key targets but misses others

Barts Health NHS Trust, which includes Whipps Cross Hospital, has hit two key targets set by the Government but did not reach the expected standard in others.

The Trust hit targets for patients starting cancer treatment within 62 days of urgent GP referral and for patients starting mental health therapy within six weeks of referral; but failed to reach the expected targets for patients treated or admitted within four hours of arrival at A&E and patients having planned operations and care within 18 weeks of referral.

86.2% of patients started cancer treatment within 62 days of urgent referral by the GP against a Government target of 85%.

98% of patients started mental health therapy within six weeks of referral against a Government target of 75%.

86.5% of patients in the Barts Health NHS Trust were treated or admitted within four hours of arrival at A&E against a Government target of 95%.

83.9% of patients had planned operations and care within 18 weeks of referral against a Government target of 92%.

The methodology and data has been revealed by an interactive tracker on the BBC News website which also details standards reached across England and targets set by the Government.

The most recent rating (November 2017) for the Barts Health NHS Trust by the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of health and social care in England, was “requires improvement”.

Wanstead makes the national news

The mysterious appearance and disappearance of a metal plaque on a bench in Wanstead has generated national news coverage.

The BBC and Sky have featured stories about a memorial to former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein which was attached to a wooden bench outside the Oxfam charity shop in the High Street.

Local resident and journalist Victoria Richards spotted the plaque which read: “In Loving Memory Of Saddam Hussein 1937-2006”.

She subsequently tweeted a picture of the tribute and her post was retweeted over 5,000 times and received more than 32,000 likes.

Following the furore the plaque was quickly taken down by Redbridge Council.

“We didn’t give permission for this to be put up and it has been removed,” a spokesperson for the Council said.

Anger and despair as CAA backs flight path changes


Local residents have reacted with anger to a report published by the Civil Aviation Authority which backs controversial changes to London City Airport flight paths.

The report assessed the impact of more concentrated flight paths which were introduced in 2016 and recommended that they remain in place.

While acknowledging there had been “both negative and positive impacts”, the CAA felt there had been a negligible change in noise levels for residents living underneath the flight paths which direct planes over Wanstead.

The CAA did ask London City Airport to examine why the proposed fuel and CO2 savings from planes following the new flight paths were less than predicted and queried why aircraft were flying slightly off the predicted routes.

“There is anger and despair that the CAA has backed concentrated flight paths,” said John Stewart, Chair of HACAN East, the campaign body representing residents affected by flights from London City Airport.

“Many people hoped that this report would end two years of misery and they would be able to get their lives back. This decision is a cruel blow to them.”

“This will not be the end of the matter. We had support from a wide range of politicians in calling for an end to concentration. These included the Mayor of London, leading members of the Greater London Authority and lots of local councillors. We will be liaising with them about next steps.”

Tube strike threatened


Transport for London (TfL) has announced the threat of a tube strike affecting the Central and Waterloo & City lines on Friday 5 October 2018.

If the strike goes ahead there will be no service on either line all day. There will also be no Night Tube service on the Central Line.

TfL have advised passengers to use alternative routes on the tube, rail and bus networks and warned roads in Central London may be busier than usual.

Tweets sent out on Tuesday 2 October 2018 on the Twitter account for the Central Line suggested the strike was due to a dispute with the ASLEF union. The tweets were later deleted.

ASLEF were invited to contribute to the campaign to #improvethecentralline. No response to the email approach was ever received.