Back to school advice, shop local and Ask the Mayor

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Back to School

Back to school: Your questions answered

Children and young people from across Tower Hamlets recently put their questions to Katie Cole, our Associate Director of Public Health for children and families.

Watch the video and visit for information, advice and support to help you prepare for the return to school next week. 

It's also important to remember that capacity on public transport will be reduced dramatically. Please avoid public transport and driving if you can – try the school run by foot, bike or scooter where possible. Read more from Transport for London.

Video Q & A >

Brick Lane sign

New pedestrian and dining areas in Brick Lane

Parts of Brick Lane are now temporarily pedestrianised to enable social distancing and outdoor seating for cafés and restaurants.

Sections of the iconic street will be closed to vehicles for the next 10 weeks to provide a timely boost to restaurants facing challenging trading conditions with vehicle access retained through side streets.

Under new rules, food businesses can now apply for a permit to allow outdoor table service, which will allow them to welcome more customers in a safe environment throughout the bank holiday weekend and beyond. 

Further details >

Shop Local

Shop safe and shop local this bank holiday weekend

This year has been tough for our small businesses. Many of us have been stuck inside for months and some people will be tightening the purse strings because of the financial cost of the pandemic. Now, more than ever, it’s important to show our local retail stores and hospitality venues that they can count on your support.

This bank holiday weekend is a great time to plan some activities closer to home:

  • Saturday is ‘arch day’ and celebrates businesses based in railway arches in the borough, so why not pay those in your area a visit?
  • Sunday sees Columbia Road transformed into the iconic flower market so it’s an ideal time to pick up something beautiful for that pot that is sitting empty!
  • Monday is the last opportunity to ‘eat out to help out’ so there’s no better time to grab a table in the new outdoor restaurant seating areas in Brick Lane.

Whatever you do this weekend, stay safe, stay local, support our wonderful businesses and have a great time.

Local advice >

Whitechapel flat fire

Flat fire tragedy prevented by fire safety work

Destruction caused by a seventh-floor kitchen blaze in a house in Whitechapel could have been much worse had it not been for a warning from our diligent housing officers less than a year earlier.

In September 2019, our officers instructed the landlord of this property to install a proper fire door and fire detection system. Thankfully, this happened and a couple of months later the landlord was accepted onto the borough’s selective licensing scheme. The actions of both our officers and the landlord meant that the fire did not spread further into the property and the three tenants were able to escape without injuries.

In the coming weeks, the council will be launching a consultation on whether to renew the selective licensing scheme for a further five years from September 2021.

Find out more >

Safer Together

Out in force to stop 'London Tunnel Run' disruption

We are aware that the 'London Tunnel Run', a motor vehicle road rally, has been organised for Sunday 30 August. The planned Tunnel Run goes through the Limehouse Link and has previously caused disruption, high numbers of vehicles in the area and led to antisocial behaviour.

We are working with police partners to prevent the Tunnel Run coming into the borough. Our enforcement officers will be on patrols early in the day asking any vehicles to move along, our CCTV team will be monitoring the area and police have a 'Section 35' order in place, which will allow officers to disperse vehicles. Cars involved in antisocial behaviour may be seized.

Follow police tweets >

Keep London Safe Test and Trace image

Don't delay getting a test if you have Covid-19 symptoms

If you experience Covid-19 symptoms (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), make sure you book a test straight away.

You need to get the test done in the first five days of having symptoms. NHS Test and Trace is a national programme that enables anyone with symptoms to get tested quickly. You can order a home testing kit, or visit a mobile testing unit in the borough on 28 August.

We are also asking you to share your thoughts on the Test and Trace programme so that we can make sure it's as effective as possible in Tower Hamlets. 

Book a test >

Underbelly Festival

Roll up, roll up! Plenty of fun at Vicky Park

It's the final weekend of the Underbelly StreetEat food festival at Victoria Park.

Free to enter and completely outdoors, enjoy dishes from local independent street food traders, open air bars, socially distanced seating pods and live performances from musicians, DJs, cabaret performers and singers.

The event adheres to strict social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures in line with government guidance, while also providing a fun and relaxed opportunity for people to meet outdoors. Don't miss out!

What's on > 

Wapping Bus Gateway

Wapping bus gateway reduces traffic

Traffic has reduced by a third in Wapping as a result of the bus gateway we installed to improve road safety and air quality.

Motor vehicle drivers who pass through the gateway on Wapping High Street at peak times on weekdays, against the rules, receive a fine.

Following a review of the measures, we are introducing an exemption scheme in the coming weeks for Blue Badge holders living in Wapping. A range of road safety improvements outside the overground station, schools and businesses, are being planned.

Find out more >

Holiday childcare

An update on this summer's holiday childcare

We have welcomed children and young people to more than 1,600 activities across the borough this summer with excellent feedback from parents and families.

Read about the sessions provided for all age groups in our latest report. Bookings for the October half-term break will open from Monday 14 September.

Read the report >

Ask the Mayor

Got a question for the mayor? Join our online event

Mayor John Biggs will be hosting an online Ask the Mayor event at 7pm - 8pm on Thursday 3 September.

This is your chance to hear from the mayor on local issues that matter to you, without leaving your home.

Please register to attend. You can submit a question in advance if you wish, or ask one on the night.

Register now >

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