Clean air in the Capital and the problem of Traffic

The Mayor has pledged to clean up the capital’s air, to improve the health of Londoners and enhance our quality of life.   He also called on Government to back the plan with adequate policy and financial support.  Over the coming months he will discuss with government funding for measures included in this strategy as well as developing a shared approach to improve air quality in the capital.

Read more about this draft document ‘Clearing the Air’.

Turning to transport systems, see here for praise for London’s underground system yesterday when the new chief of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority said:   “he hoped to meet customers’ expectations, promised an action plan the end of his first 100 days, and added, “New Yorkers should be able to expect the same type of customer experience riders enjoy in London“—whose transportation system he worked for between 2001-2006—’with accurate arrival information and modern fare technology.’  Hear that, New Yorkers—no more Underground envy!”

New Yorker to the bone, Gotham Girl, now takes us on a trip around London and New York to provide further food for thought on transport systems and the problems of traffic in particular.  She prefers to eschew all modes of transport and wander about the capital on foot.

Over to you, Gotham Girl!

Gotham GalNYC and London are both great but one thing I dislike intensely about both? Traffic. Traffic isn’t unique to these two cities (Let’s all be thankful we don’t drive in São Paulo) but only one – London – seems to have faced up to it.

London traffic is no walk in the park but at least London had the balls to do something about it. Love it, hate it, call it the work of the devil or the best thing since sliced bread – debating the congestion charge is never dull. Some see eliminating the Western extension as cause for celebration while the idea causes economic-heartburn in others. The idea is hotly argued. Agreement may never be reached but the point remains – a problem was identified and action was taken.

Action good. Inaction bad. 

Everyone in NYC knows the city has reached a crisis point but no one seems ready to do anything about it. Mayor Bloomberg proposed a congestion charge for central Manhattan, where traffic is the worst. Opposition came fast and furious. Never have I heard such ungodly kvetching. You’d have thought he was suggesting spit-roasting babies. I really wanted Bloomberg to ignore them and carry on anyway. He’d rammed the smoking ban through and dissolved mayoral term limits without turning a hair. For some reason in this case however, he backed down. Odd and quite unlike him.

  Continue reading Clean air in the Capital and the problem of Traffic

English Food – enjoy with gusto!

Tom Parker BowlesTom brings us the delights of the best of English food in an entertaining and tempting new book:  Full English: A Journey through the British and their Food by Tom Parker Bowles.  His chapter on London food is fabulous.

A richly enjoyable defence of the world’s most unfairly derided cuisine
– Christopher Hirst, The Independent

Boris admirer and food travel writer Tom Parker Bowles, delighted his audience recently at the Windsor Literary Festival with his lively, down to earth introduction to his new book.  Full English published this year by Ebury Press, is not just a list of recipes;  it is a descriptive tour of England from West Country cider brewers to Yorkshire tripe dressers sampling all the while the very best of real English food:  Bury black pudding, home-cured Wiltshire bacon and the planet’s finest cheddar.  As well as recipes for the traditional Apple and Rhubarb Crumble and Lancashire Hotpot you will find Battered Tripe and Eel Pie.  His chapter on London describes the Capital as a “great ethnic and cultural stew, that has been cosmopolitan ever since the Romans decided to set up shop”.   Tom is pioneering in his quest is to delve beneath the surface to unearth the real story behind our eating habits and what the food of today says about us:  organic heaven or mass-produced hell?  His favourite recipes are listed to follow:  potted shrimps and devilled kidneys.

I recommend the book to any lover of all things British.  As Tom himself says:  ” Good English food is undoubtedly criminally underrated, not least because so few visitors have actually eaten it.”

This book is available from Random House Books and AmazonContinue reading English Food – enjoy with gusto!

The Treaty of Lisbon

Another bet from Boris:  I will wager a fiver with any reader – proceeds to charity – that Blair will not be chosen as Europe’s president, if and when the Treaty of Lisbon proceeds

A spectre is haunting Europe, my friends. That spectre has a famously toothy grin and an eye of glistering sincerity and an almost diabolical gift of political self-reinvention. Barely two years after he stood down as prime minister, it seems that Tony Blair is about to thrust himself back into our lives. It turns out that he is not content merely to be in charge of brokering peace in the Middle East – which you would have thought was a full-time job for anyone. It isn’t enough to potter around the world making speeches about climate change and Africa. He wants more, much more, than to consecrate his remaining days to the promotion of inter-faith dialogue and school sport.

Continue reading The Treaty of Lisbon

Conservative Party Conference 2009

TimAs seen from the Blue Room (#cpc09 for twitter)

Expectations and Aspirations for Conservative Party Conference 2009 

I am no longer a ‘noob’, having lost my conference virginity at last year’s conference, although I am far from being an old timer just yet either! So I thought I’d share a few thoughts before, during and after conference for newbies and veterans alike since Party Conference is THE major event for any political aficionado anorak like myself, and the wonderful thing about conference is the variety of interesting people to meet.

Firstly, I should say what a pleasure it is to write for Boris’s blog, particularly since Boris has been so pivotal to my political journey, albeit short and as yet unglamorous! I watched with glee as Boris was appointed mayoral candidate, glad that we finally had a candidate with oudles of character and unlimited opinions. I started off handing out flyers, taxi receipts and oyster card holders and met similarly enthused Boris loving activists. Like me, this was the first time many had been activists, inspired by Boris. Towards the end of the campaign we were whizzing around London suburbs as the advance team, preparing the ground for the imminent arrival of the blonde one and I was lucky enough to be invited to the election night party. After which I was addicted to politics and determined to help fight for change. So off I schlepped to my first conference in 2008.

Going to party conference is akin to a chocoholic being invited to a planet of chocolate. From the moment you arrive you are surrounded by fascinating people, enthralling subjects and you feel the force, the sense of being connected. The conference consists of literally hundreds of fringe debates on every conceivable subject, to suit every interest and MPs walk amongst us, like A-list celebrities on the red carpet, not to mention the recognisable faces of the political media. 

Even though I knew no-one at first, I soon found myself chatting to people who came from all over the country, from all sorts of backgrounds and of all ages. Before I left, one of my friends had snarkily snorted “you be the only person there under 50”, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of people I saw and meet were under 50 and those who I met over 50 were just as warm, entertaining and energetic. My first dilemma was trying to decide between countless clashes on the fringe, finding rooms and scurrying back to the main hall for the really interesting speeches. Of course last year, Boris was one of the first big speakers on the main stage, still relatively fresh from his recent win. Conference listened in awe. I found it reasonably easy to get a great seat for most of the speeches, although I must admit that I found a couple of sneaky ways to get a good view last year that I couldn’t possibly share. One by one I ticked off my Panini stickeralbum of shadow cabinet ministers; Grant Shapps, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, George Osborne and then the hastily rescheduled speech on the economy from Cameron gave me almost a full house.

Timforchange will be blogging and live-tweeting daily from party conference. Timforchange is a conservative activist based in Surrey. Join Tim and other conservative activists, blog, comment and find out about the latest events on www.theblueroomforum.com or if you’re a progressive conservative www.brightblueonline.com and follow him on twitter @timforchange.

Continue reading Conservative Party Conference 2009