Simon Hughes MP yesterday asked this question of the culture secretary:

There is often lots of conversation about the difficulties of broadband access in rural areas. What can Ministers do to help people in urban areas such as mine, where in Rotherhithe, for example, people are not near the telephone exchange and broadband is therefore very poor indeed?

Maria Miller replied:

The right hon. Gentleman raises an issue with which many people in the Chamber will identify. Urban areas by no means always receive the sort of connectivity that our constituents want. That is why it is important that we have put in place not only the rural broadband programme to deliver better connectivity in rural areas but the urban broadband fund for our urban areas, which will ensure that London has some £25 million to achieve the improvements that he talks about.

Rita Beckwith, co-owner and chief executive of Cherry Garden Pier-based City Cruises on Monday received her OBE for services to the leisure and tourism industry and regeneration of London’s Docklands.

Rita founded City Cruises with her husband Gary in 1985, though the roots of their river business go back to 1976 when they bought a fuel barge which provided a filling station for many boat operators. In 1985 they acquired the company’s first sightseeing vessel, The King, which operated a daily summer service between Central London and Hampton Court.

Today, City Cruises carries more than 3 million passengers a year on a wide range of sightseeing, entertainment and charter services.

“This is a great honour, particularly in the year that we have celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the spotlight on London and a legacy of increased tourism for London and the whole of the UK,” said Rita Beckwith.

“As a company, City Cruises continues to invest in the future of the business, our people and the River Thames, striving for innovation and high standards to provide the very best tourism experiences on our world famous river.

“In London we have better access to the river than any city in the world. The River Thames is the heart of London; it is enjoyed by Londoners, tourists, businesses and people of all ages. It offers people a moment of calm in a busy city and we at City Cruises are proud of our heritage for providing quality services for people to enjoy this city from its best angle.”

Rita is also Chairman of UKinbound, representing the interests of members to help them manage successful, profitable businesses that contribute to a vibrant and sustainable inbound tourism industry.

City Cruises managing director  Kyle Haughton said: “Rita’s ongoing commitment to developing London river tourism remains one of the key drivers behind City Cruises.

“We are proud of her achievements and delighted her hard work has been acknowledged with this truly special accolade.”

An education minister has confirmed that the Government is still committed to the stalled plan to create a university technical college on the Southwark College campus in Bermondsey.

This exchange took place at education questions in the Commons on Monday.

Simon Hughes:

Will Ministers confirm that the Government will do everything they can to ensure that the Southwark and Lewisham college campus site in Bermondsey gets not only a continuing further education college but a university technical college and, if space permits, a secondary school, too?

Matthew Hancock (education minister):

Yes, I can. I know that my right hon. Friend has met colleagues in the other place, and my colleagues in this place and I are happy to meet him too to ensure that we can sort this problem out.

From last week’s Council Assembly:
QUESTION TO THE CABINET MEMBER FOR TRANSPORT, ENVIRONMENT AND RECYCLING FROM COUNCILLOR DENISE CAPSTICK

  • What is the council doing to stop the Tesco Express on Southwark Park Road using the pavement as an extension to their store and why are their delivery lorries permitted to block the traffic thoroughfare rather than use the parking bays on a regular basis?

RESPONSE (CLLR BARRIE HARGROVE)

The parking bay was installed for the purpose of providing car parking for visitors to local stores. The dimensions of the bay are unsuitable for accommodation of large delivery vehicles although there is not a loading ban in operation in this area.
Observations have shown that vehicles making deliveries to the store are too large to fit wholly within the parking bay. Delivery vehicles then extend onto the double yellow lines or, if the parking bay is occupied by a car, double park. This is causing obstruction of the westbound traffic lane. Currently this can only be dealt with by issuing parking tickets on the vehicles causing the obstruction.

Tesco’s transport consultants have indicated that they would be prepared to pay for a five metre west-ward extension of bay and changing its use so that only delivery vehicles can park in it during certain hours (8am-11am) and by shoppers outside of those hours. It is noted that the extension of the bay would only be possible with the removal of the adjacent plane tree and approximately five metres of footway.

A proposal will be brought to the local community council for a decision within the next three months.
Regarding the cages on the footway, we have brought the issue to the notice of the store manager and will continue to inspect the area and take enforcement action when we find evidence of an obstruction on the highway.

The Boundary Commission for England has announced its revised proposals for new parliamentary constituencies.

The current Bermondsey & Old Southwark constituency would be dismantled with Rotherhithe, Surrey Docks and South Bermondsey wards forming part of a new Rotherhithe & Deptford constituency spanning the Lewisham-Southwark border.

However – due to tensions within the coalition government over House of Lords reform – the proposals stand very little chance of being implemented.

From the monthly diary of local funeral director Barry Albin-Dyer

I begin this month’s diary with joyous news…..I have been invited by Sir David Brewer, The Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London to become one of his deputies. I was totally overwhelmed by this invitation and of course accepted this wonderful honour. It was set before Her Majesty The Queen and I was formally appointed on Tuesday 9th October.

Notification through the normal newspapers will go out in November, but I am very proud to be able to share this news with you all. I am very much looking forward to representing the Lieutenancy throughout London when required and will carry out my duties to the very best of my ability.

If you look this up it has an amazing history going back to Henry VIII, when the Lord-Lieutenant was placed in charge of the King’s troops and the Deputy Lieutenants at a later date, were charged to rally to the troops. Today of course it is an Honorary role and The Lord-Lieutenant is often asked to greet a member of The Royal Family on a royal visit, attend special functions, support charities and other duties, so I am of course extremely proud to receive this honour.

Work on the redevelopment of the Dockland Settlement complex on Rotherhithe Street will begin “imminently” and is due for completion by the end of 2013, says Southwark Council.

The scheme includes 28 homes with five to be for social rent and four will have shared ownership status. The development will include new community and sports facilities.

“We are very pleased to be able to welcome a new sports facility in Southwark  in this Olympic year,” said Cllr Veronica Ward, cabinet member for culture, leisure, sport and the Olympics.

“We look forward to delivering an exciting and inclusive sports and leisure programme together with the Dockland Settlements charity.”

Cllr Peter John, leader of the council, added: “Regeneration is about more than just building new homes, it’s about meeting the needs of the local community and enhancing local facilities.

“The new sports facility and the additional affordable housing stock will do that by creating new employment opportunities and getting young people involved in exciting sports programmes.”

The Dockland Settlements were established in the 19th century to improve welfare and recreation for the youth of dock areas.  There are three Dockland Settlement centres at Stratford, the Isle of Dogs and Rotherhithe.

Dockland Settlements chief executive Lorraine Cavanagh said: “We have been working with local residents for the past two years and have now reached a point where a programme of activities can be put together in readiness for the opening.

“Dockland Settlement will continue to work to improve the quality of lives for local people through various programmes and partnerships and I welcome groups who would like to be part of this programme to still get in touch.”