Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Night Flights at Heathrow Airport

In a debate in Parliament yesterday, during Noise Action Week, I challenged the Government to ban night flights at Heathrow airport on the grounds of health and quality of life factors for local residents.
New research from Warwick University published in the European Heart Journal in February this year studied the impact of hormones and chemicals caused by chronic lack of sleep in the body. They concluded that: "If you sleep less than six hours per night and have disturbed sleep, you stand a 48% greater chance of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater chance of developing or dying from a stroke."
The World Health Organisation and the HYENA report from Imperial College London also found that, even if people don't wake up, there is evidence that noise from night flights causes immediate increases in blood pressure.
The impact of night flights on the lives of those living under the flightpaths of Heathrow airport is something we must take seriously. Stronger enforcement of current quotas is required, together with higher fines for consistent offenders. As we prepare to set new night flight agreements for 2012/17, we must also give full consideration to reducing or eliminating night flights, especially between the critical 11.30pm and 6.00am period.
I also urge the Government to work with BAA and the airlines to ensure effective noise mitigation, such as insulation and double glazing, for those who are worst affected by the noise of aircraft at Heathrow.
I hope that the Government's current consultation on the future UK aviation strategy marks a positive step forward in relations between the Government and the aviation industry. I want us to ensure that Heathrow airport continues to thrive and, at the same time, takes into account the quality of life of those who live around the airport.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tiffin Club 2011

"Memories of India" has won a place in the Regional Final after I selected the restaurant to represent Brentford and Isleworth in the prestigious Lyca Tiffin Cup 2011 competition.
The national competition is held each year to find the best South Asian restaurant in the country.
This year 60 restaurants were nominated. "Memories of India," having won a place in the regional final, will battle with other restaurants from the same region to become one of the national finalists in the Lyca Tiffin Cub 2011 Grand Final.
Within the next few weeks, a mystery diner will visit the restaurant and judge whether it deserves to represent the region.
I am delighted that my nomination for "Memories of India" has been accepted. I hope that "Memories of India" will be chosen to represent our region in the Grand Final of such a prestigious award. I am sure everyone in Brentford and Isleworth will be supporting our restaurant.
Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Tiffin Club, tells me he is delighted with the nomination of "Memories of India" - it will really put Brentford and Isleworth on the culinary map.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Dangers of Level Crossings

I recently spent a day with a team from the British Transport Police in Chiswick. I visited the level crossing in Grove Park Terrace to find out about Operation Galley - London South's initiative to reduce non-compliance at level crossings. Operation Galley involves a specially adapted British Transport Police van, which is able to monitor vehicles and pedestrians crossing the level crossing. I was shown how the operation is conducted, as well as being given a full tour of the newly built vehicle which was sponsored by Network Rail. The new van allows the British Transport Police to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice of 3 points and a fine to drivers, and an on-the-spot fine for pedestrians, who chose to cross the level crossing once the yellow lights are flashing.

I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work that the British Transport Police does in ensuring that our railways are kept safe, both for staff and rail users.

In July last year I was concerned to hear about a bus failing to stop at the level crossing in Bollo Lane, just outside my constituency. Although one passenger was showered with glass when the back window of the bus was broken by the descending barriers, miraculously no serious damage was done. But I am well aware that this was pure chance. Drivers who fail to heed signals at level crossings put not only themselves in danger, but endanger the lives of train passengers also. I therefore very much welcome this new initiative by the British Transport Police and Network Rail to catch and prosecute drivers who do not obey signals at level crossings.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Overcrowding at Turnham Green Tube Station

Following concerns raised about serious overcrowding at Turnham Green Tube Station during the rush hour, I have been liasing with Transport for London (TfL) to see what can be done to improve the situation. Following correspondence from my office in Westminster, TfL have now confirmed that they are planning to add an extra Ealing Broadway-bound District Line train to the timetable during the evening rush hour. The extra train, which will be incorporated into the timetable in December, has become available due to TfL's cancelling of the Earl's Court to Olympia shuttle service during weekdays.
In addition to this, I am continuing my work to put pressure on TfL for the Piccadilly Line to stop at Turnham Green Tube Station more frequently. The Piccadilly Line currently only stops at Turnham Green during the early morning and late in the evening.
Whilst I very much welcome the addition of this extra District Line train during the evening rush hour, I would like TfL to look into what can be done to tackle overcrowding at Turnham Green Tube Station during the morning rush hour too. The Eastbound platform is often seemingly dangerously overcrowded and commuters often have to wait for a number of trains to pass before they can even squeeze on to a train. As a result, I have written to TfL to highlight the issue of platform and train overcrowding at Turnham Green. A solution to this, of course, would be to get the Piccadilly Line to stop routinely at Turnham Green Tube Station.

Hounslow: 'Transport Borough of the Year'

I would very much like to congratulate Hounslow Council on being recognised by the London Transport Awards 2011 as 'Transport Borough of the Year.'
The Council, which won the 'Most Improved Borough' Award in 2008, has continued to improve the transport infrastructure of the Borough, and it is heartening to see that all the hard work that has been put in by both the current and previous administrations has been recogninsed. In 2009, the Conservative-led Council succeed in making Hounslow outer London's first 'Biking Borough,' by co-planning and hosting the successful Skyride in Brentford. The event attracted a staggering 11,000 participants.
I wish to pay tribute to the Council's previous and current Lead Executive Member for Environment, Cllr Barbara Reid and Cllr Corinna Smart, who have done a sterling job in attracting investment in infrastructure and worked hard to help revitalise transport across the Borough.
I do hope that the Council will use this award to spur them on to even greater successes in the coming years.