Value for money?

24 May

By Iain Aitch

Is £4m per job good value for our money, Sir Robin?

The recent raids by HMRC at the London Stadium (Olympic Stadium in old money) may have had some Newham residents worrying about their £40m investment in West Ham’s new ground. The council tax-payer’s hard earned cash is due to be paid back over the next 40 years, but you may well wonder what we are getting for our investment, bar a few free tickets for Mayor Sir Robin Wales and his cabinet. 

With this in mind, I set about composing a Freedom of Information request, basing my questions on the promises made by the council. They were not forthcoming on the number of free tickets handed out, promising the information on the 100,000 promised would be made public at the end of the football season (which has already passed). 

But what was most interesting was the promise around jobs. The council promised up to 75% of jobs at the stadium would go to local residents. The reality is, ahem, somewhat different and wholly disappointing. The actual number is 20%. And full time jobs? Just 10 (ten). I make that 0.8% of total jobs at London Stadium. 

That makes £4m of investment per job. Of 1,207 jobs in total, this 10 is in addition to 253 Newham-ites on casual contracts. A pathetic return and, if chatter amongst old hands is anything to go by, this number may be reduced radically next season. 

You can see the FOI and stats for yourself here (HTML) or here (PDF).

Iain Aitch is an author and journalist who lives in Newham. He has written for the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times and Financial Times.

Election 2017 – your candidates

12 May

The lists of candidates standing in the general election for the two Newham constituencies have been published.

East Ham

  • Choudhry Afzal – Friends Party
  • Kirsty Finlayson – Conservative
  • Chidi Oti-Obihara – Green Party
  • Daniel Oxley – UKIP
  • Stephen Timms – Labour
  • Glanville Williams – Liberal Democrats
  • Mirza Zillur Rahman – Independent

West Ham

  • Rosamund Beattie – UKIP
  • Lyn Brown – Labour
  • Paul Reynolds – Liberal Democrats
  • Kayode Shedowo – Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Patrick Spencer – Conservative
  • Michael Spracklin – Green Party

Stand up to racism – public meeting

10 May

From Stand Up to Racism Newham:

PUBLIC MEETING

Defend EU Migrants – Keep Racism Out of the Election!

Tuesday, 16 May at 19:00–20:45

Stratford Advice Arcade, 107-109 The Grove, London, E15 1HP (nr Morrisons car park)

Speakers: Wiktor Moszczyński (The Three Million), Jacek Szymański (EU migrant), Nahella Ashraf (Stand Up to Racism)

Please “like” and share Newham SUtR facebook event here: Defend EU Migrants – Keep Racism Out of the Election

As election day approaches Theresa May is once more playing the anti-immigration card, while UKIP tries to outbid the Tories. Theresa May is aiming to push through her version of a “hard” Brexit with a crackdown on migrant rights and opposition to the free movement of labour. 

We need to make a stand against the anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric that has fuelled the spike in hate crimes since the referendum.

Stand Up To Racism urges everyone to use their vote against racism and scapegoating in the election.

Come to our meeting to discuss how we can help keep racism out of the election.

Up close and personal

25 Apr

A recent Freedom of Information request to Newham council

From your Constitution, it states:

15. PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS – between Members and Officers

15.1 Mutual respect between Members and officers is essential to good local government. Close personal familiarity between individual Members and officers can damage this relationship and prove embarrassing to other Councillors and officers.

15.2 It is not enough to avoid actual impropriety. Members and officers must avoid any occasion for suspicion and any appearance of improper conduct.

15.3 Member and officers must declare to the Chief Executive any relationships with an officer, which might be seen as influencing their work as a Member. This includes any family, business or sexual relationships.

15.4 The Chief Executive will advise both the Member and the officer of the need to avoid creating any appearance of improper conduct on their part.

Please provide the number of relationships reported to the Chief Executive of Members/Mayor having relationships with officers with a grade of SMR1 or above in the last 10 years.

Please provide the number of relationships reported to the Chief Executive of the Mayor having a relationship with an officer in the last 10 years.

Please provide the advice given to both the Member/Mayor and the officer to avoid creating any appearance of improper conduct on their part.

The response:

1. Two.

2. Two.

3. Verbal advice was extended to the relevant parties to remind them of their obligations under Part 5.2 of the Council’s Constitution – The Protocol for Member and Officer Conduct.

Legal advice was sought in respect of the declarations made. We consider the advice extended to be legally privileged under Section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Note: comments have been disabled on this post

Broken promise

4 Apr

Screenshot 2017 04 04 17 10 06

The mayor’s 2014 manifesto

The Newham Recorder reports:

Free school meals for some primary school children in Newham could be under threat, a headteachers’ union has warned.

In a letter sent out on behalf of the Newham branch of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) on Friday, parents were told “rising costs and a frozen budget mean tough decisions will have to be taken”.

Union officials wrote that the ‘Eat for Free’ programme was “unsustainable” in part due to a new “transparent” funding formula from the council – calculated on the number of children and meals served – asking schools to foot 60pc of the bill moving forwards.

“Schools will not be able to continue to provide free meals for all junior aged pupils unless the national funding picture changes, or the mayor decides to fully fund his initiative,” the letter stated.

The story quotes Forest Gate South councillor Dianne Walls, a former local primary school headteacher, expressing surprise “as a member of the council” that schools were being asked to pay anything at all.

Councillors kept in the dark, promises broken. I am shocked. Shocked.

Early morning at Wanstead Park station

20 Mar


via Instagram

Spin City

15 Mar

Mayoral ally and ‘full-time’ councillor Clive Furness has circulated his Councillor’s Report for March to local members in Canning Town North. The headline item is the recent expulsion/long-term suspension of Cllr Obaid Khan.

After rehashing the Labour group statement he has a pop at his former friend and colleague:

He has begun a disinformation campaign supported by several councillors and members in which he claims to be the victim. We should have been put on notice after the last council elections when he was arrested for fighting with opposition members at the polling station.

That’s not quite how things went down at the time, when Khan was treated as something of a hero.

Sir Robin personally bought him a new shirt to replace the one that got ripped in the fight, which he presented at the Labour victory party after Khan had been released from police cells. The mayor praised him mightily for his commitment to the cause.

And who was it, just a few weeks later, that held the mayor back during his infamous confrontation with the Focus E15 mums at the Newham Show, saving him from making a bad situation much worse? Cllr Obaid Khan.

Even by Newham Labour standards, this is an outrageous bit of spin.

Furness rounds out his section on councillor misconduct by stating with a completely straight face (link added):

Two councillors remain suspended, one pending the outcome of criminal proceedings and one awaiting action from the [National Constitutional Committee].

I wonder how he will attempt to distance himself and Sir Robin from these two when the time comes.