Liberal candidate selected

22 Mar

NewhamBDLibDems 2018 Mar 21

Newham and Barking & Dagenham Liberal Democrats have selected Gareth Evans as their mayoral candidate for the election in May.

He joins Labour’s Rokhsana Fiaz and Conservative Rahima Khan on the ballot.

The Green Party will be announcing their candidate shortly.


Generous to the last

20 Mar

Oddly shaped balls

Picture via @NewhamLabourWTF

A few months ago a set of new signs appeared in West Ham, directing people towards the Memorial Recreation Ground, home of the East London Rugby Club.

This wasn’t the first time the rugby club had benefitted from the generosity of the council. In 2015/16 in the guise of ‘Memorial Rugby’ it received £560,000 from the community infrastructure levy – the largest such payment to any organisation that year.

And it won’t be the last time either.

A recommendation is going to cabinet on Thursday to award a further £662,000 to the Memorial Recreation Ground to fund the installation of a second synthetic pitch “to replace the existing turf main rugby pitch.”

The Memorial Ground is run by a charity, East London Community Sports Association (ELCSA). Their accounts and a list of trustees can be found on the Charity Commission website.

The report to cabinet notes the extensive use of ruby facilities at the Memorial Recreation Ground, which 

… is home to East London Rugby Club which runs three adult teams with an estimated pool of 60 players. East London Ladies Rugby Club is also based at the site, running 2 teams with an estimated pool of 35 players. King’s Cross Steelers, London’s largest gay rugby club, also play from the site, running 4 teams with an estimated pool of 75 players.

Impressive, but…

Football drives the most significant level of participation at the site. An estimate of 2635 participants is reported to the Football Foundation as part of their annual monitoring and evaluation requirements.

There are a couple of FOI requests in progress (here and here) trying to get to the bottom of the Council’s generosity towards ELRC over the last four years which seems, on the face of things, to be out of all proportion to its significance.

Council COO Nick Bracken is a trustee of ELCSA and is also President of the rugby club. Simon Letchford, Director of Commissioning (Community and Environment), is also an ELCSA trustee. Newham CEO Kim Bromley-Derry is a member of ELRC. And soon-to-be-ex-Mayor Sir Robin Wales is a past rugby club president.

All of these are duly noted in the report to Cabinet. We are assured that none of the officers has been involved in decision-making about the proposal because

ELCSA… has a long lease on land adjacent to Memorial Park and could benefit from the provision of the funding.

What will annoy non-rugby playing residents of Forest Gate and Stratford is that this S106 and CIL money could have been used on the rebuilding of the Atherton Leisure centre. Costs and specifications on the Atherton were cut to meet a very tight re-build budget (in contrast to the East Ham campus project, which took place at the same time) when we could have had a much better Leisure Centre!

The Ballad of Mas Patel

19 Mar

Fgslabour 2018 Mar 17

In good Sir Robin’s golden time, when loyalty no harm meant,
A zealous Walesite councillor was I, and so I gained preferment.
To teach my ward, I never missed: mayors are by the GMB appointed
And damned are those who dare resist or touch Our Leader’s anointed!

And this be law, that I’ll maintain until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever mayor may reign, Still I’ll have my SRA, sir.

When Rokhsana was our candidate declared, to ease the party’s grievance,
With this new wind about I steered, and swore to her allegiance.
Old principles I did revoke; Set conscience at a distance,
Passive obedience was a joke, a jest was non-resistance.

And this be law, that I’ll maintain until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever mayor may reign, Still I’ll have my SRA, sir

The illustrious House of Fiaz and democracy’s succession
To these I do allegiance swear – while they can hold possession.
For in my faith and loyalty I never more will falter,
And Rokhsana my lawful mayor shall be – until the times do alter.

(After The Vicar of Bray)

Trainer out

16 Mar

Small beer compared to today’s other big news, but Douglas Trainer has left Newham Council.

In an email to councillors, chief executive Kim Bromley-Derry writes:

Dear Members

I would like to inform you that Douglas Trainer, Director of Customer and Strategic Services, has decided to leave us to pursue new opportunities elsewhere.

Douglas joined Newham Council in January 2011 as Head of Communications before taking up duties as Assistant Chief Executive in 2016 and most recently as Director of Customer and Strategic Services.

During his time here Douglas used his experience in public relations and public affairs to instil across the organisation an increased awareness of wider strategic, reputational, and policy matters.

We thank him for his contribution to delivering the council’s strategic priorities and many of our resident-facing activities.

Douglas’ contact details have been updated and he’s now available on [email redacted] and [phone redacted].

He is having some leaving drinks [details redacted] to which, he says, you are all invited.

This won’t come as much of a surprise, as rumours of his departure having been circulating for a while, along with lurid stories of him being marched out of the building.

It seems Mr Trainer got himself on the wrong side of chief operating officer Nick Bracken. And there was only ever going to be one winner in that fight.

All in all, not a great day for the Scottish community in Newham.

Party of one

13 Mar

Lakmini Shah's international women's day tweet with photo

Last Friday Newham council held what was billed as an event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018. As the above picture shows, it wasn’t really women being celebrated.

The party was organised by Cllr Lakmini Shah.

For reasons that have not yet been properly explained, women councillors associated with Rokhsana Fiaz’s campaign were not sent invitations to the event until the very last moment – barely 24 hours beforehand.

That’s women councillors not being invited to a council-funded event celebrating women. But the very-definitely-not-a-woman Sir Robin was put front and centre (where else?).

I wonder what criteria Cllr Shah used to draw up the guest list? Sir Robin wouldn’t want to waste his valuable time during a tight re-selection battle chatting privately to just anybody.

Lyn Rokhs

9 Mar

Vile and insulting

8 Mar

Image 2

Remember how Andrea Leadsom torpedoed her own bid for the Tory leadership when she said being a mother gave her “a very real stake in the future of our country,” in contrast to the childless Theresa May? Even Tory MPs described the remarks as “vile” and “insulting.”

Well evidently Cllr Lakmini Shah doesn’t.

In a call with a local Labour member, a recording of which I have heard, she says Rokhsana Fiaz doesn’t understand how important free school meals are because “she’s not married, she hasn’t got children, so she don’t know how hard it is for parents.”

Member: “Cllr Shah?”

Lakmini Shah: “Yes, it is.”

M: “Hi, yeah, I just spoke to you. Basically, I’m with my wife right now. And she’s saying, telling me to vote for Rokhsana, but I told her that, look, you know, they are going to scrap the free school meals. We’ve got two kids in school in, like, infants and one in nursery, so…”

LS: “Yeah”

M; “…but can you explain to her – I’ve put you on loudspeaker – can you just say what you said earlier…”

LS: “Okay”

M: “…about the free school meals?”

LS: “Okay. So Robin has had free school meals for children [pause] and that cost £3 million a year to the council. So Rokhsana says parents should be… because she don’t have children, she’s not married, she hasn’t got children so she don’t know how hard it is for parents. I’ve got three children and I know how hard it is to pay for school meals.

“So they, um, going to stop this free school meals to save this 3 million. I’m not sure if it’s 3 million or 6 million a year, I have to find that number out.”

This is absolutely outrageous.

Lakmini Shah isn’t just some random member canvassing votes for Sir Robin, she’s Cabinet Member for Work & Skills and Domestic Violence Prevention.

Sir Robin needs to take ownership of this and offer Rokhsana Fiaz a full and unreserved apology for what is being said by his campaign.

And Cllr Shah should resign as candidate for East Ham South. If she doesn’t, members should take the decision for her.