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Navin's News for July 2012

Willesden group warns Olympic Games bosses over transport access for disabled residents

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By Max Walters

Brent Transport Action Group has called on TfL to ensure everyone’s needs are being looked after

An action group have warned transport bosses to ensure disabled residents in Brent are not ‘excluded’ from public transport in the run up to the Olympic Games.

Brent Transport Action Group in Willesden Lane, has called on TfL (Transport for London) to ensure everybody’s needs were being looked after.

Brent will play host to gymnastics, football and badminton during the games which start on July 27.

However, according to campaigners, 40 per cent of bus stops and 76 per cent of tube stops in London still remain un useable for disabled travellers.

Lianna Etkind, campaigns coordinator at Transport for All, which hold regular meetings with Brent Transport Action Group, said: “London is a world city, yet the lack of a budget for stepfree access means that disabled people are denied a fundamental freedom: to travel as equal citizens.”

Figures released by the London Assembly also show that one in ten Londoners are excluded from parts of the transport system due to mobility issues.

Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow also joined the calls.

The Labour politician, who previously took a bus journey with disabled service user and member of the action group, Kate McGuiness, said: “I meet constituents every day who tell me about the problems they have had getting on buses or trains with wheelchairs or buggies.

“Accessible transport should not be an afterthought but an integral element of our transport network.”

However, Mark Evers, director of Games Transport for TfL said they had invested millions of pounds in making the network more accessible.

He said: “We have made improvements such as new lifts, trains, raised platform sections and audio-visual displays.”

He added: “Disabled people intending to travel in London during the Games - and after them - now have improved online resources available to help them plan.

A series of short ‘how to’ films have been created to help disabled people unfamiliar with London’s public transport system.

They are available at tfl.gov.uk/mobility.”

Brent and Harrow AM Navin Shah calls for rethink on Dow Chemical Olympic deal

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By David Hardiman

A Harrow politician has led calls for Olympic officials to review their sponsorship contract with a chemical company with links to the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah, led a move by the Assembly to call for a rethink on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) deal with Dow Chemical, which is one of 11 global Olympic sponsors.

He said that organisers should pay more attention to environmental, social and ethical records of companies when awarding high-profile contracts.

He said: “Almost thirty years after the horrific Bhopal chemical disaster, the factory site has still not been cleared up and the survivors and their families continue to fight for compensation.

“It is time for LOCOG and the IOC to take their ethical and sustainability code seriously and exclude Dow Chemical from future sponsorship deals.

“It’s not too late to clean up their act. We owe it to the victims and their families to demand actions and implement changes to keep out the likes of Dow Chemical from future Games.”

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Up to 25,000 people in Bhopal, India, died in the aftermath of a gas leak at a pesticide factory that was owned by a subsidiary of Union Carbide in the 1984 disaster.

Dow, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, has repeatedly denied any responsibility for Bhopal and has refused demands, including from the Indian government, to increase a $470million compensation package that Union Carbide paid to victims in 1989.

Mr Shah has been a long supporter of the campaign to increase compensation and support for the victims affected by the leak.

In a statement, LOCOG said: “Dow was appointed as the supplier of the Olympic stadium wrap in August 2011 following a thorough and competitive procurement process.

“We assessed all bids on the ability to deliver a sustainable solution and Dow met this criteria by some distance.”

Northwick Park Hospital parking charges campaigner hands in petition in Harrow

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By David Hardiman

A campaigner who spent six months collecting nearly 1,500 signatures calling for cheaper parking at a Harrow hospital handed her petition to health bosses last night.

Pamela Gershon, of Charlton Road, Kenton, presented her petition at the annual general meeting of North West London Hospitals NHS Trust last night, calling for increases in charges introduced last year at Northwick Park Hospital in Watford Road to be reversed.

The 88-year-old grandmother started her campaign in January as she feared patients may not be able to afford to go to appointments, and put copies of her petition in her local GP surgery, chemist and with friends.

Backed by London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah, she gave the petition to the chairman of the trust, who promised to look at the issue, discuss it, and reply to her in due course.

She told the meeting: “We understand that the hospital needs funds, but the car parks are owned by a private company which is making a fortune as I have exposed.”

She also questioned why an entrance to the outpatients department from the car park had been closed, forcing patients to make a long walk to the main entrance.

Last year charges went up from £2 to £2.20 for one hour and from £5 to £5.50 for five hours or longer.

Ms Gershon told the Harrow Times: “I don’t know if it will be successful. But the chairman did say they would look at it and discuss it.

“I got most of the signatures through putting copies at the doctor, chemist and with friends, and I haven’t been anywhere without it for the last four to five months.

“Someone said that even if it doesn’t do any good then it might stop them putting it up again, which is a good point.”

Ms Gershon, who said she wanted to thank everyone who had backed her campaign, has regular blood tests and check-ups for cataracts at the hospital, and says the charges penalise patients who have to park often for appointments.

Navin Shah puts forward Dow motion

I presented a motion to the London Assembly's Plenary meeting against Dow's partnership with the International Olympic Committee. I expressed my concerns about the Dow Chemicals connection with the Bhopal gas disaster and ongoing groundwater contamination. The London Assembly called on the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to recommend that the IOC introduces criteria for the selection of Worldwide partners and high profile sponsors for future Games that address the principles defined in their Olympic Charter, and that the IOC review their current partnership with Dow in light of those criteria.

You can watch me presenting the motion here and my summary of the motion and debate is here.

 

Harrow's Asian Deaf Club invited to special reception at City Hall

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By Katie Dolamore

Members of Harrow Asian Deaf Club (HADC) were invited to a special reception at City Hall yesterday.

The club, which supports people who are hard of hearing, received the invitation to congratulate them on staging a range of community events.

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The 35 committee members and volunteers, including three hearing-impaired pupils from Hatch End High School, in Headstone Lane, also met Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, at the event.

The group, which held a celebration for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last month, was also treated to a guided tour of City Hall and watched the Mayor’s Question Time.

Mr Johnson congratulated the HADC members on their excellent achievements.

The group had been invited by the London Assembly Mayor, Cllr Navin Shah, who recently enjoyed the “wonderful” hospitality of the HADC at a party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Bentley Day Centre, in Uxbridge Road, in June.

Cllr Shah said: “I was extremely impressed with the scale and quality of the event and am pleased the day was a success.

“In recognition of its hard work, the Harrow Asian Deaf Club was presented with a Certificate of Special Thanks for volunteering and making the event a great success.”

Asif Iqbal, president of the HADC, said: “The day was a fantastic way to celebrate the achievement of everyone involved. It was also a well-deserved treat for the HADC members.

“It was with their support that we succeeded in organising events and bringing people together.”

The club will be holding more community events later in the year, including an Eid/Diwali celebration in November and a Christmas party in December.