Archive | June, 2014

13 questions about the RPZ extension

30 Jun
Capel Road parking
06:40 a.m. on Capel Road – if there’s a problem, it isn’t commuters parking for the Overground
So that the council’s officers can be prepared at the drop-in session on Thursday, here are the questions I will be asking about the proposed extension to the Forest Gate residents parking zone (RPZ):
  1. How many residents have requested this and over what period were the requests made?
  2. To what extent have local councillors been involved in developing the proposals and the decision to hold a consultation?
  3. If I have a permit can I park anywhere in the RPZ, or just on my street or my bit of the zone?
  4. Will parking bays be one big bay or marked individual bays?
  5. What guarantees are there that the free first permit per household will continue to be free in perpetuity?
  6. Can a resident’s application for a permit be declined? If so, on what grounds?
  7. Who within the local authority can access the database of residents’ vehicle ownership details and on what terms?
  8. Will residents’ data be sold or otherwise made available to third parties?
  9. Has an assessment been made of the impact on local shops and businesses, particularly as a result of the Sebert Road extension?
  10. Are residents on streets adjoining the RPZ extension, but not part of it, being consulted? If not, why not?
  11. Why are there no public meetings being held, just a single ‘drop-in session’ at The Gate?
  12. When will the outcome of the consultation be known and will all of the responses be published?

and unlucky 13 – if, after a period of operation, residents decide they don’t like the RPZ and want it removed, what mechanism exists to request this?


Two excellent additional questions via a resident in a street not included in the proposal but likely to be affected by it:

  • How will Newham monitor fraud, especially regarding the misuse of visitor permits; and
  • How did the parking design team come to the conclusion that the far ends of Sebert, Hampton and Osborne Roads, which are more than half a mile from the town centre should be included in the proposal but not side roads in Forest Gate village (between Sebert and Capel Roads) which are much closer?


From Newham council’s Parking Policy on RPZ consultations: “there must be a minimum of 20% of respondents, where 55% or more must be in favour for a scheme to progress.”

So another question:

  • Is the 20% is counted across the whole proposed extension or area-by-area: if the Woodgrange Estate part of the scheme gets a big response but the Capel Road/Woodford Road/Chestnut Avenue bit gets none, do we still end up with an RPZ in our area, or does it just go ahead on Woodgrange?

Forest Gate RPZ extension consultation

29 Jun

Yesterday I received a package through the door from Newham council containing information about a proposed extension to the local residents parking zone (RPZ).

This was a bit of a surprise to me and to others on Twitter, none of whom had heard anything about it. Some people living on streets directly affected hadn’t received the information pack.

Below are links to scans I have made of the documents:

There’s a ‘drop-in session’ at the Gate Library on Thursday 3 July from 4:30 to 7:30, but no other public meetings (that I’m aware of). The closing date for responses is 18 July 2014.


27 Jun

In chains 01

Making plans for Robin

26 Jun

Scene: the mayor’s office in Building 1000. Sir Robin Wales is meeting representatives from ‘executive recruitment consultants’ Moneyfore Olderope & Co.

Date: sometime in the distant future

Sir Robin: Thanks for coming in, guys. We need some help finding someone to chair the board of our private housing rental business Red Door Ventures. People who can give us the independent advice we need so that we make the right choice for our residents. 

Moneyfore:  At Moneyfore Olderope we know that’s what really matters. You can rely on us.

Sir Robin: It’s an important job. Red Door Ventures is owned by the council, but operates as a private business. We’ve used the borrowing power of the council – backed by public money – to build 3,000 new homes and buy 500 others. But we’ve done it in a way that means we aren’t obliged to let any of them to people on the housing waiting list. Most of the homes are let at full market rates which, as you can imagine, puts them out of reach of those kinds of people. But for appearance’s sake – after all, we are supposed to be a Labour council – some of them are rented at what we call ‘affordable’ rates.

Olderope: ‘Affordable’?

Sir Robin: 80% of the market rate. 

Olderope: So they’re still quite expensive then?

Sir Robin: Oh yes, way too much for people who need social housing.

Moneyfore: 3,500 homes at London rents. Even with a few of those [makes air quotes gesture] ‘affordable’ units you have quite a business there. £5 – £6 million a month in revenues?

Sir Robin: In that ballpark.

Olderope: Which is why you need a big name to chair the board. Give it the profile it deserves.

Sir Robin: But not just any big name. We need someone with knowledge of the local area. Someone who knows how to keep the press onside. Someone the councillors on the board can look up to and respect, who can provide the leadership and vision they are used to.

Moneyfore: So they’d need political as well as business experience.

Sir Robin: Absolutely. And it would be good if you could find a candidate with previous experience as a director on a big public sector delivery project. Like the Olympics, say.

Olderope: [scribbles the word LOCOG on notepad] Go on…

Sir Robin: You know, I always think a title adds a bit of gravitas. A lord, or a Sir. Always looks good on the letterhead.

Moneyfore: Those people are quite hard to find. And they don’t come cheap.

Olderope: Are you thinking this is a full time role, or a day or two a week?

Sir Robin: Part-time. Something that might suit someone who’s recently retired but wants to keep their hand in, so to speak. And earn a little to top up their pension.

Moneyfore: A little?

Sir Robin: We were thinking in the region of £40 – 50,000 a year for a 2 day week.

Olderope: Very reasonable.

Moneyfore: Well, leave it with us Sir Robin. We’ll have a think about possible candidates. Come back to you in a week or so with a list.

They stand up and shake hands.

Sir Robin: Oh, before you go… this isn’t public yet but I’ve decided not to stand for re-election next year. It’s time to wind down a little. But it would be nice to still have a little something…

Moneyfore: … to keep your hand in, so to speak.

Olderope: And top up the pension.

Sir Robin: Exactly. So if you hear of anything suitable…

Moneyfore: Funny you should mention it, but we’ve just received this interesting new brief…

Fade to black


21 Jun

via Instagram

Vintage road sign

21 Jun

via Instagram

Disappearing act

17 Jun

Photo by Karls Kamera

According to Wikipedia, the oozlum bird is a legendary creature found in folk tales that, when startled, will take off and fly around in ever-decreasing circles until it manages to fly up itself, disappearing completely.

After reading this account of goings-on within Left Unity and this piece on relations between them and TUSC I am pretty sure the definition applies equally to the hard Left.

30 years ago, when I was briefly a student member of the now utterly discredited and irrelevant SWP, it was much the same. Then it was ‘us’ versus the WRP, Militant, RCP, IMG and a whole alphabet soup of teeny-tiny groups, all arguing over paper-thin differences of interpretation of what Trotsky said at some conference in 1937. Like anyone cared

Now it’s LU versus TUSC. And even worse, within LU itself, the ‘Socialist Platform’ versus the ‘Communist Platform’. The party is less than a year old and already it has a disputes committee. Does anyone think this sort of thing is remotely appealing to the rest of the world?

In the recent mayoral election TUSC got less than 2% of the vote, despite standing against a Labour incumbent with a depressingly right-wing record. 

Unless and until the non-Labour Left gets its collective head out of its arse and focuses its energies on engaging real people in the real world about the real problems they face it’s doomed to decades more of irrelevance.