Wanstead News roundup, 30-1-10: Shamed MP, vicar leaves, and puke

Harry Cohen, MP for Leyton and Wanstead, became the most punished MP of all those disgraced in the expenses scandal. He was told by the Parliamentary authorities that he should forfeit his £65,000 allowance (known by some as a “golden goodbye”) which he was due to receive when he stands down at the next election. They say he wrongly claimed more than £60,000 of public money by claiming a second home allowance on his constituency home. He had said his main home was in Colchester, but in fact that house was let for long periods.

He told the Mail on Sunday, which highlighted Cohen’s case last year, he was the victim of ‘class discrimination’.

‘I give enormous value for money for my constituents, bringing millions of pounds into the local economy and public services.’

The Tory candidate for Leyton and Wanstead, Ed Northover, told the Wanstead Guardian that he thought Mr Cohen had “got off lightly”.

This is a very severe sanction indeed. However, I can’t help thinking that Mr Cohen has got off lightly. He may be losing 65 thousand but he has made gains of several hundred thousand over the years.

On Friday, Mr Cohen apologised in the Commons, saying:

“I publicly apologise to my wife Ellen, who is taking a lot of the flak. This situation is not her fault and she has suffered as a consequence. I am deeply sorry about that. Finally, I have the greatest respect for Parliament and would not intentionally have wanted to do anything to tarnish its reputation. I am sorry if I have done so.”

UPDATE MON 1 FEB: Harry Cohen’s personal statement to the Commons is here, courtesy of They Work For You.

* Meanwhile there is debate over who should succeed Mr Cohen as Labour candidate. This week the Labour party decided not to have an “all-women” shortlist – seen as a move likely to favour Harriet Harman’s husband, union leader Jack Dromey, who is a likely candidate (the Telegraph: “Harriet Harman’s husband Jack Dromey may benefit from feminist retreat”). It’s the only remaining seat in London which hasn’t got a Labour candidate.

*Other news: The rector of the parish of Wanstead, Canon Robert Springett, is to leave his post at Easter to become Archdeacon of Cheltenham

*A dozen wards of Whipps Cross hospital have been closed to visitors and new admissions – and there are reports of security on the doors to enforce the ban – after an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug. Statement from the hospital here.

Wanstead Tesco: People 'virtually fighting to get in'

Wanstead blogger Mark Samuels writes of the opening of Wanstead Tesco, saying

The village – if you can call Wanstead a village when it’s five minutes from the M11 and served by two Underground stations – has managed to retain a strong identity… And the community of Wanstead – and it does have a nice community; we know all our lovely neighbours – seem keen to ensure the shop is empty… Which is why I was surprised to see people virtually fighting to get into the Tesco earlier this week, while the local Co-op – which is normally packed – was the retail equivalent of the Mary Celeste: “It’s always like this now,” said one of the workers to me at the Co-op.

Cuckfield Garage – new roof a good sign

Cuckfield Garage, Wellington Road, Wanstead
The roof is out there
When developers were given permission to renovate the old Cuckfield Garage in Wellington Road, Wanstead, there was concern in some quarters that the building itself might not make it through the process.

After all, the thinking went, the chocolate shop is now no more, so who knows what might happen.

The building, which until last autumn was a hand carwash, used to be petrol station, and was originally built in the 1800s as stables for the customers of the Cuckfield Hotel (now the pub).

One commenter on the Wanstead Society blog said he had spoken to someone who was erected the hoardings round the Cuckfield garage, and as told the building was going to be demolished, to be replaced by flats.

So it’s something of a relief to see the quality of the new roof on the garage – it looks (to an untrained eye) to be a quality job and not the sort of thing you would want to knock down once you had put it up. The renovations of the brickwork also look attractive.

Wanstead Tesco: Stealth opening?

Wanstead Tesco buzzing

Originally uploaded by Wansteadium

The poster on the outside says: “We’ll be opening some time in January.” The activity inside, with checkouts being tested and shelves being stocked says it’s going to be any day now. So what’s going on?

Could it possibly be that Tesco is wanting to avoid the promised demonstration at its opening from its Wanstead opponents? And thinks that if it should just happen that it opens at 7am on Monday morning, as if it was nothing special, then somehow the heat will be taken out of the whole thing?

We’ll see.

Announcing… Wanstead’s POT IDOL!

Yes, it’s here – a search up and down the highways and byways of Wanstead to find the biggest pot idol.

It’s the toughest competition in town.

Perhaps you know better. Let us know in the comments field below or upload pictures to Flickr tagged WANSTEADIUM.