Hustings

24 Feb

Details of the mayoral selection hustings have been announced:

Dear member,

As part of the process to select Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Newham, we will be holding two hustings meetings for you to hear from the candidates and ask them questions.

They will be held at:

Tuesday 27 February at 7pm at Royal British Venue, 30A Church Road, London, E12 6AQ

Thursday 1 March at 7pm at Old Stratford Town Hall, 29 Broadway, London, E15 4BQ

Entry is restricted to members who are eligible to vote in this selection. Please bring your membership card or other ID with you and you will only be allowed to attend one of these meetings not both.

We look forward to seeing you next week.

Thanks,

London Labour Party

There doesn’t appear to be a mechanism for members to pre-register a preference for which session to attend and it isn’t clear quite how people who go to the first one will be kept out of the second. But I’m sure the rule-abiding members of Newham Labour Party wouldn’t try to do anything improper!

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Generous to a fault

24 Feb

89651226 sirrobinwales

By Alan Combe

If he fails to win the nomination this year, Sir Robin will miss the hospitality almost as much as wearing the mayoral collar.

One of the perks of being the Mayor of a borough which is “open for business” as he might say – and probably has – is the manner in which the corporate world queues up to offer you hospitality. And gifts. And opportunities to travel, business class sometimes, to exotic far flung places – and West Ham United FC.

In his 16 years as Mayor, Sir Robin has benefitted from a significant number of invitations from companies keen to do business here. In the last four years alone, Sir Robin has been invited to China, Australia, Germany and France.

He has dined in some of London’s finest restaurants including the Terrace Room at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, Cabotte, the Arts Club, the Cinnamon Club, the Mansion House, Simpsons in the Strand. And at West Ham United FC (which may or may not count as fine dining).

In the last four years Sir Robin has enjoyed hospitality at West Ham Utd on 20 occasions, usually as a guest of the club but, on occasion, London City Airport picked up the bill.

His published list of gifts & hospitality starts in 2006 and his close relationship with West Ham Utd is clear from almost the first entry, which records that he received tickets to that year’s F.A. Cup final (Liverpool vs West Ham), which was held in Cardiff. It was rumoured that the club actually flew him to the match.

In March each year, the town of Cannes in southern France plays host to the international property event known as MIPIM. The Independent newspaper recently described this as the place “where estate agency professionals and wealthy investors cavort around five-star hotels and champagne receptions in the sunshine, while ruminating about the housing crisis many of them benefit from directly”. Sir Robin often attends.

Newham Council Taxpayers do not actually pay for this jaunt. It is funded by “sponsors”. These are not usually identified on the list of Gifts and Hospitality. Perhaps they should be because that have included over the years, London City Airport, Westfield, and a number of housebuilders who all have an interest in growing their businesses in Newham.

Sir Robin has visited China, at other people’s expense, on a number of occasions starting in 2007. He went back in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics and his more recent trips have been funded by ABP London the company developing a new business district on a 35-acre site in the Royal Albert Dock.

I was puzzled that according to his gift declarations, Sir Robin didn’t attend the opening of the Rio Olympics in 2016, but it turned out that he was busy visiting Hong Kong and Perth & Sydney in Australia at the time. The Sydney leg of the trip appears to have been funded by a group of businesses called the “Committee for Sydney”.

Of course, it’s not all travel and dinners. Sir Robin has been invited to, amongst other events, Rugby World Cup matches, the IAAF World Athletics Championships, the Henley Regatta, the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, the Wireless Festival and a concert by Adele.

Over the last four years the most “generous” donors would appear to have been ABP London, who have picked up the bills for trips to China and a number of dinners in London; West Ham Utd, who have since moved into the expensively re-purposed London Stadium as the anchor tenant; London City Airport, whose expansion plans were supported by Newham even when the previous London Mayor, Boris Johnson, tried to put a halt to them; and the mystery “sponsors” who have picked up the bills for Mayor Wales (& Cllr Ken Clark) when they visited Cannes for the international property events.

I struggle to understand what benefit these donors could possibly have enjoyed as a result of this generosity!

If you want to check out the details for yourself, Newham’s website helpfully lists all the gifts and hospitality enjoyed by Mayor Wales and all his Councillor colleagues, dating back to 2006. The list however does not give us the cost of each gift or meal or trip, it merely tells us if the cost exceeded £25.00. It should also be stressed that the obligation to report the receipt of gifts and hospitality rests with the Mayor personally.

Head to head

21 Feb

RoksvsRobin

Out with old, in with the new?

The Labour Party has written to local members to confirm the shortlist for the mayoral selection:

Last night, the selections panel for the process to select Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Newham interviewed candidates to decide the shortlist that members in Newham will select from.

Their decision is that the shortlist will comprise of:

Rokhsana Fiaz
Sir Robin Wales

Voting starts on 1 March and there will be at least one hustings event – details of which have not yet been confirmed.

In the meantime, party members can get a flavour of the two candidates by reading the in-depth Q&As each has had with London blogger Dave Hill:

Q&A with Rokhsana Fiaz

Q&A with Sir Robin Wales

And another one

17 Feb

This time it’s Cllr Frances Clarke, cabinet member for financial inclusion and health promotion:

Dear All

I have decided not to stand again as a councillor. I shall instead be focussing on community issues including safety in  tower blocks nationally. This year is the 50th anniversary of the collapse of Ronan Point and once again we are seeing evidence of similar blocks in other parts of London with serious structural defects. This is an issue I was involved in the past and particularly in light of the Grenfell tragedy it has become a priority again. In Newham in the 80s a joint campaign of tenants and Newham council successfully led to the demolition of 9 unsafe 22 storey blocks. We went on to work nationally campaigning to make blocks safe or get them demolished.

Thank you to everyone I have worked with, it has been a privilege; thank you to Robin for giving me the opportunity to lead on MoneyWorks and the promotion of early diagnosis of cancer.

Standing down

17 Feb

Beckton Cllr David Christie is standing down. He has written to his comrades and colleagues:

I wanted to let you know that I have decided not to stand as a councillor in May. It has been a difficult decision but I think it is the right one.

It has been an honour to represent Beckton ward for the last 8 years. I grew up here and I am so proud to have been able to represent this area and to make a difference to my community.

I am very grateful for the support that many of you have offered me and I wish you all good fortune in the future.

Running Newham council is such an important role and touches everyday life in so many ways. For me, this job has always been about making a difference to individual’s lives and this council has been able to do more than any other because of a single minded focus to support people on low incomes and to build opportunities for them and their families. That is why I have supported Robin over the last few years and hope that he will be Mayor for one final term in May. However, I am choosing to stand down now, at a time when I am proud of my achievements and can take this chance to pursue new opportunities in my career and in politics.

Given the situation we have been in over the last few months, it is a matter of much regret that I have not been able to properly discuss manifesto ideas with many of you in the way I would have wanted. I hope that whatever happens over the next few weeks, that I can contribute to the future policy agenda in Newham.

We were all elected under a Newham Labour brand. Don’t forget that, Look out for each other and see you out on a #labourdoorstep very soon!

Banner headlines

15 Feb

Mwarne 2018 Feb 15

Just as the open selection for Labour’s mayoral candidate is about to get underway, the council has seen fit to install a series of new banners across the borough. These extol the virtues of the Dear Leader’s policies, showing him surrounding by his adoring and grateful public.

This is a straightforward misuse of public money to support a candidate in an internal party selection.

And even if the trigger ballot had gone the other way and Sir Robin was already the Labour nominee, how can you justify this blatant propaganda barely 10 weeks ahead of the election?

The trouble is that Wales Rob-in has been in office so long that council officers can no longer distinguish between working in the public interest and working for him. 

Over and out?

15 Feb

Councillor Forhad Hussain is not seeking re-selection as a candidate for the elections in May.

He has written to residents and colleagues to let them know:

After eight enjoyable years serving as a local elected councillor in Plaistow, I sadly write to inform my ward residents and local Labour colleagues that I will not be re-standing as a councillor candidate in the upcoming local elections in May 2018. I have thought about this decision a great deal, it was not an easy choice to make but I feel that I need to focus on my young family and develop my career further outside Politics.

However, this is not the end of my involvement in Politics. I will continue to help the Party to win in May’s local elections and in the next General Election to bring in a Labour government.

I would like to thank the Mayor, my local Councillor and Labour party colleagues, council officers, and most importantly Newham residents for their continued support during my time as an elected Councillor and Cabinet Member.

It has been my honour and privilege to represent Plaistow North. I will always cherish the memories I have of working with local residents to deliver many successful community projects. Some key highlights for me include the development of First Avenue Community garden, Plaistow Big Local Glen Rd Murial Project, our first Christmas Tree and Lights switch-on outside Plaistow Station, saving our local library and converting it to an oasis of community activity, the Queen’s visit to Lister Community School and the Tour de France and the Paralympic flame going through Plaistow High St. There are so many more highlights I could mention!

I am really proud of these achievements and my part in making them happen and believe that they have left a lasting legacy in terms of community cohesion.

I want to wish good luck to potential candidates in the Newham local labour Councillor selections. If selected and elected, you have a huge responsibility to help Newham residents improve their lives and support them in the continued challenges they face in everyday life under this vicious Tory government.

My final message to new Councillors: please always remember the reason why you became public servants. Put the interests of Newham residents’ first and deliver local services to improve the lives of our residents. Most importantly do this with a smile on your face! ☺

Many people thought Cllr Hussain would announce a run at the mayoral nomination once the trigger result was formalised. If he was considering that, he’s obviously decided against.

That he’s also decided to stand down altogether is a big surprise. I’m not sure what it says about the state of the Labour Party in Newham, but it’s not good.