About bloody time

13 Dec

At Monday’s meeting Newham Council passed a motion which, after a lengthy preamble, concluded

this Council commits to become an accredited Living Wage & Unison Ethical Care Charter Employer in the next financial year, ensuring that all directly employed staff, and all staff employed by contractors who work for Newham Council receive at least the London Living Wage.

This was followed by a lot of self-congratulatory tweeting

Mas Patel:

 

SUCCESS: Our people’s motion that @NewhamLondon become a #LivingWage borough has just been passed unanimously by Newham Cllrs.

We WILL become an accredited @LivingWageUK borough. Great work by @GMBLondonRegion, @NewhamCitizens, @telcocitizens & @fgslabour members!

Huge thanks to all at @GMB_union @GMBLondonRegion for your invaluable help. @NewhamLondon workers will get the #LivingWage thanks to the #PeoplesMotion

Rohit Das Gupta:

By becoming a living wage employer and its binding plan to implementation the council will be joining our neighbouring east London boroughs in a commitment to putting the scourge of economic injustice and inequality at the heart of our campaigning #LivingWage

Pushpa Makwana:

Mayor of Newham @rokhsanafiaz announces @NewhamLondon commitment to be an accredited London Living Wage employer. A fair wage for a fair day’s work. Xmas pay for underpaid staff.

Of course, it really is good news and worth celebrating.

But you have to wonder why it has taken a 100% Labour council so long to get round to doing it. The accredited living wage employer scheme has been running since 2011. And in 2013 Ed Miliband spoke at Newham Dockside, calling for central and local government to challenge low pay and enforce a living wage with contractors.

Sadly, the “Labour” administration at the time wasn’t interested. And no-one on the back benches dared to challenge them.

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East Ham re-booting

4 Dec

Oddbodcharge

After close to two years of inactivity it looks like efforts to revive East Ham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) are finally underway.

Despite being one of the safest Labour seats in the country, the East Ham party has been in ‘special measures’ since early 2017, when the last general committee (GC) meeting broke down in ‘acrimonious circumstances.’

Since then there has been a General Election and elections for a new Mayor and councillors. Also huge disputes and lack of records over which organisations were affiliated and entitled to take part in a Mayoral candidate trigger ballot, as well as allegations of non-resident members.

Most of the ten branch parties (one per ward) don’t meet regularly and there were no East Ham delegates at party conference. Regular and necessary business, like the re-run trigger ballot meetings and candidate selection meetings for the local elections earlier this year were supervised by officials from Labour’s London regional office. As an aside, none of this happens in West Ham, where all CLP and branch meetings take place regularly and on time.

London regional officers are again involved. 

All of the ten ward branches have had an AGM scheduled and members have been notified. Little Ilford and East Ham South met last week; East Ham North meets tonight; East Ham Central and Boleyn tomorrow. Wall End and Manor Park will meet on Thursday.

Beckton and Royal Docks branches met last night and, according to its new Twitter account, it was the first time in five years Royal Docks Labour Party had met!

Word so far is of well-attended meetings, with over 35 members at Little Ilford. Also the word is of well-behaved meetings. Royal Docks branch elected completely new officers, including, for the first time ever, a woman! The ward is unique in Newham in being represented by three male councillors, despite party rules that normally forbid this. 

Once the new officers – chair, vice-chair secretary, treasurer – and GC delegates are elected it clears the way for the CLP to hold its own AGM and elect officers. Separately, officers are contacting affiliated organisations – trade union branches and socialist societies – to identify their delegates.

London region will continue to supervise, which will impact on efforts to select Parliamentary candidates and support Council by-elections elsewhere in the capital, but this is good news for local members who have been deprived of any way to participate in party affairs.

Itchy feet

19 Nov

Having finally got rid of Sir Robin Wales, some Labour councillors are itching to ditch the directly-elected mayoralty altogether. A motion is being put to Labour Group tonight (Monday 19 November):

Motion for a change in Newham governance arrangements 

Since 2002, the London Borough of Newham has been governed using the directly elected Mayoral model of executive arrangement to determine how decisions are made in the Council.

This Council recognises that democratic engagement should be continually promoted and Newham’s system for local governance must always reflect the ongoing need for strong democratic engagement and accountability. It should also ensure that it has a model of governance that best ensures scrutiny and a rigorous series of checks and balances on the exercise of power.

The Council notes the Localism Act 2011 which permits the holding of a binding referendum on the abolishment of the directly elected Mayoral model and replace it with a Leader and Cabinet model.  

Therefore this Council commits to hold a binding referendum by May 2020, on a change of governance from a directly elected Mayoral model to a Leader and Cabinet model.

The motion is being proposed by Cllr Suga Thekkeppurayil, who is chair of the Labour Group, and seconded by Cllr Hanif Abdulmuhit.

Obviously, I fully support having a referendum and will campaign for abolition of the directly elected mayoralty. But this is already the policy of the new administration. At the election in May Rokhsana Fiaz promised to hold a referendum on the directly-elected mayoralty, saying:

The Directly Elected Mayor model of governance is broken in Newham. We will hold a referendum on its future before the end of my third year as Mayor.

Despite some councillors might think (or hope), holding a referendum in May 2020 instead of 2021 won’t end the directly-elected mayoralty any sooner. Whatever happens, any change to Newham’s governance arrangements won’t come into effect until the next local elections. Rokhsana Fiaz will be the mayor until 2022.

What might happen if a referendum is held in May 2020 is the election of a Tory mayor of London. Whilst Sadiq Khan is a popular mayor his re-election is not guaranteed. Every vote will count and there’s a lot of Labour votes in Newham. Do local campaigners really want to be distracted by having to spend part of their time canvassing to get rid of the Newham mayor while at the same time trying to get votes to re-elect the London Mayor? That’s a recipe for confusion.

Labour Group should amend the motion to read ‘by May 2021’ and pass it. Then, after (hopefully) re-electing Sadiq Khan they will have a year to plan and execute a successful campaign to return Newham to a more sensible form of local government.

UPDATE:

An amendment has been submitted by Cllrs John Whitworth and Daniel Blaney removing the specific date and replacing it with

in good time for any consequent constitutional changes to be factored into the 2022 Local Elections.

Greens call on council to back a People’s Vote

7 Nov

Newham Green Party has written to Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, calling on her and the council to publicly back a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, with the option to Remain in the European Union.

Research from Survation/Channel 4 has today shown that in a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, more than 65% of Newham residents would vote to Remain in the European Union, representing an almost 15% shift towards Remain, the largest shift towards Remain of any local authority in the country.

The campaign for a People’s Vote hopes to give the public the chance to vote again on the final Brexit deal, between leaving on the deal the government makes, leaving with no deal, and staying within the EU.

Newham Greens Convenor Frankie-Rose Taylor, who stood for the party in the recent Boleyn by-election, said:

“As one of the poorest and most diverse boroughs in London, Newham is exactly the kind of area that would be hurt most by leaving the European Union. It is no surprise to me that Newham has swung towards Remain by nearly 15%, in the largest shift of any borough in the country. We saw through the lies of Brexit campaigners when we voted to Remain in 2016, but since then their lies have only become clearer and support has only grown.

“I call on Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and her 100% Labour council to express their support for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. Newham deserves to be protected from the hurt that we know Theresa May’s Brexit plan will bring.”

At the same time, the grassroots Remain Labour campaign is calling on its party’s MPs to vote down the Withdrawal Agreement and back a People’s Vote. Research that shows a majority of Labour voters in every single Labour constituency backs staying in the EU. In both Newham seats 77% of Labour voters now back Remain.

Genesis! The first ever web server

30 Oct


via Instagram

Palette de dégustation

29 Oct


via Instagram

Station update

24 Oct

Forest Gate station entrance Monday 29 October 2018

At long last, the new entrance to Forest Gate station will open next Monday.