Archive | January, 2016

A job description for councillors

28 Jan

While browsing around the web for information on councillor allowances I found the most recent report of the independent remuneration panel of London Councils, The Remuneration of Councillors in London 2014.

At the back there’s an appendix with a model job profile for councillors. It makes for interesting reading:

On behalf of the community – a job profile for councillors

Purposes:

  1. To participate constructively in the good governance of the area.
  2. To contribute actively to the formation and scrutiny of the authority’s policies, budget, strategies and service delivery.
  3. To represent effectively the interests of the ward for which the councillor was elected, and deal with constituents’ enquiries and representations.
  4. To champion the causes which best relate to the interests and sustainability of the community and campaign for the improvement of the quality of life of the community in terms of equity, economy and environment.
  5. To represent the council on an outside body, such as a charitable trust or neighbourhood association.

Key Tasks:

  1. To fulfil the statutory and locally determined requirements of an elected member of a local authority and the authority itself, including compliance with all relevant codes of conduct, and participation in those decisions and activities reserved to the full council (for example, setting budgets, overall priorities, strategy).
  2. To participate effectively as a member of any committee or panel to which the councillor is appointed, including related responsibilities for the services falling within the committee’s (or panel’s) terms of reference, human resource issues, staff appointments, fees and charges, and liaison with other public bodies to promote better understanding and partnership working.
  3. To participate in the activities of an outside body to which the councillor is appointed, providing two-way communication between the organisations. Also, for the same purpose, to develop and maintain a working knowledge of the authority’s policies and practices in relation to that body and of the community’s needs and aspirations in respect of that body’s role and functions.
  4. To participate in the scrutiny or performance review of the services of the authority, including where the authority so decides, the scrutiny of policies and budget, and their effectiveness in achieving the strategic objectives of the authority.
  5. To participate, as appointed, in the area and in service-based consultative processes with the community and with other organisations.
  6. To represent the authority to the community, and the community to the authority, through the various forums available.
  7. To develop and maintain a working knowledge of the authority’s services, management arrangements, powers/duties, and constraints, and to develop good working relationships with relevant officers of the authority.
  8. To develop and maintain a working knowledge of the organisations, services, activities and other factors which impact upon the community’s well-being and identity.
  9. To contribute constructively to open government and democratic renewal through active encouragement of the community to participate generally in the government of the area.
  10. To participate in the activities of any political group of which the councillor is a member.
  11. To undertake necessary training and development programmes as agreed by the authority.
  12. To be accountable for his/her actions and to report regularly on them in accessible and transparent ways.

How many of Newham’s 60 councillors could read that and – hand on heart – say they were doing the job the community expects of them? 

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Co-opting the Co-op

21 Jan

Coop Party nominations

The somewhat delayed annual meeting of the Newham Co-operative Party took place earlier this week.

This almost completely dormant body is significant because it is able to appoint delegates to the General Committee and Executive Committee of both constituency Labour parties in the borough.

It gives Sir Robin Wales and his cronies a clear route to controlling the constituency parties without the need to pay any attention to the party affiliate that nominated them or local members. 

With signs of growing resistance within the previously ultra-loyal East Ham Labour party and West Ham showing an alarming capacity for independent thought – they nominated Jeremy Corbyn for leader, for heaven’s sake! – this is proving to be a safer route for the mayor as he seeks to maintain his grip on power.

Cllr Clive Furness helpfully turned up on the night with a printed slate of candidates – shown above – in case the hard-of-thinking couldn’t remember who they were supposed to be voting for. 

There were 44 “co-operators” present and in the contested elections the Walesite candidates all achieved a remarkably similar 27 votes! 

Another four more years

20 Jan

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Photo by ghedo on Flickr
 
Having been prevented from socialising in the run up to Christmas by the application of non-existent ‘rules’ Newham Labour members face yet more misery as the campaign to secure Sir Robin’s nomination for a fifth term gears up: a home visit from the man himself and a member of his executive team.
 
The unhappy news was delivered in an email on Tuesday. Beneath a massive picture of Sir Robin and a predictable recitation of the administration’s ‘successes’ (Workplace, Every Child a Future Voter, prosecutions of rogue landlords), the shoe dropped:
However, we are facing a huge financial challenge with massive government cuts. I, along with many members of my executive, have been visiting party members to ask what they think our response should be. These visits will continue…
By a not-very-mysterious coincidence, these home visits started in Boleyn ward the weekend after Cllr Charity Fiberesima’s death, when Sir Robin and his mates were spotted running around the ward interrogating party members. Some were so offended they complained to Stephen Timms.
 
Those members who would rather not wait at home on the off-chance the Dear Leader drops by can go along to a couple of special meetings at East Ham Town Hall and Stratford library. They’ll be able to hear Sir Robin’s ‘current thinking’ before getting the chance – right at the end, no doubt – to have their say. 
 
The meetings are strictly ‘members only’ affairs – no affiliates or registered supporters have been invited, much less the wider public – and those who want to go along must RSVP first to Carl Morris, the full-time local organiser, to let him know which one they’ll be attending. As these are party events and not council business, Labour should be billed for the use of the facilities, though based on past events they probably won’t be.
 
Finally…
one thing which has become clear through our member visits is that we have not explained sufficiently well just how radical and successful we are as a Council. 
 
So, starting this week I will be writing a regular blog – you can find it www.newhamlabour.co.uk/blog. Do please visit and read it.
Read it, but don’t expect to be able to respond. Despite readers being invited to suggest improvements, there’s nowhere to leave comments. As ever in Newham, communication is a one-way process.

Come on Aleen

7 Jan

Aleen Alarice leafletting outside Stratford station

Free Metro with every Sadiq Khan leaflet 

Labour activists were out across London on Monday morning, leafletting commuters about mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan’s promise to freeze public transport fares.

Finding the punters at Stratford station less than receptive, councillor Aleen Alarice decided to sweeten the deal by handing out a copy of the Metro with every leaflet.

With such creative thinking skills it’s a wonder that Cllr Alarice hasn’t been promoted to the mayor’s executive team.

London’s Boroughs at 50

5 Jan

 

From Dave Hill’s review of Tony Travers’ new book, London’s Boroughs At 50:

In the east we find a cluster of very different boroughs all trying to contend with the consequences of London’s lost industrial past in various ways. Newham is perhaps the most conspicuous example. Travers describes the Tate and Lyle plant there as “one of the most important, enduring industrial icons” of London – it was, after all, one of the few major companies based in Newham that didn’t move out as part a calamitous economic decline between the mid-Sixties and the Eighties. Today, Newham is a regeneration crucible, one “increasingly linked into the post-industrial growth of inner and central London.”

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, of course, has become a huge part of that: “The regeneration undertaken was on a scale that might otherwise have taken decades.” Bringing a successful modern Games to London was the triumph primarily of Ken Livingstone and Tessa Jowell, but they weren’t the first to try. Travers mentions that Conservative GLC leader Sir Horace Cutler had a go back in the late 1970s.