The Tudor Court of Sir Robin

19 May

Guest post by Ken Taylor

I have just listened to a recording of Monday night’s Newham Labour Group meeting. This was the biannual meeting where standing order rule amendments and reports by Group officers are considered and, most importantly, elections by Labour councillors of group officers for the next 2 years.  

A long-serving retired Newham Councillor, in his autobiography, described the Council under the control of Sir Robin Wales, as resembling a 16th century Tudor Court. Last night’s Labour Group AGM certainly did nothing to counter that impression. 

Tammany Hall Politics

Firstly, there was a series of biased and clearly manipulated elections. Labour Party rules quite rightly state that the chair of a Labour Group cannot be a member of the Council cabinet. Group officers are supposed to be a brake on the power of the Executive, part of the necessary check and balances. In Newham there is no significant difference between Cabinet members and Executive advisors – some cabinet members are part-time, while some advisors are ‘full-time’ and receive substantially higher allowances. The current chair, Clive Furness, is paid £34,000 on top of his £10900 councillor earnings by the mayor as his advisor on Adults & Health. Obviously, he has to support the wishes of the mayor or he will be sacked. A majority of councillors are either on the Mayor’s pay roll, or want to be. It was little surprise that Cllr Furness was re-elected, although 23 out of 56 (41%) of Councillors voted for his opponent, John Gray, via secret ballot.  Always remember that Newham residents, who are some of the poorest in the country, pay for the Mayor’s financial favours for his supporters through their Council tax; it does not come out of Sir Robin’s own pocket.  

While it was good news that two independent-minded councillors were elected to chair individual Scrutiny commissions, it was not surprising that a former Mayoral advisor was elected as the chair of Overview and Scrutiny by the votes of other paid Mayor advisors. So the councillors who the Mayor decides to pay huge amounts of money to be his advisors decide who should scrutinise them? This is no-one’s idea of accountability.

Safely re-installed as chair, Clive Furness then went on to wreck a motion calling for paid Mayoral advisors not to be allowed to vote in future elections for his position by only allowing 2 speakers on the motion. He then insisted only the Mayor should have the final word and refused the proposer of the motion the right of reply to the Mayor’s venom. The Chair obviously earned his money that night. Well done!  


In his AGM report the Mayor went on his usual ego trip, bragging that Newham was so far ahead of all other Labour councils in the land, who he thinks are all useless, incompetent and badly led. Such a contrast to Newham under his leadership!

He attacked the motion on preventing his paid advisors controlling Labour group officers by claiming it was undemocratic and wrong for anyone to restrict the choice of who to vote for. It would lead to the destruction of the Party and the end of all civilised life as we know it. This is despite national Labour Party rules which restrict who can be cabinet members and vote in Scrutiny elections. He also seems to have forgotten that he agreed last year to a convention that East Ham Labour Party would exclude all councillors from being branch officers.  

What would be laughable, if it was not so serious, was Sir Robins boast to Group that he had introduced secret ballots for Group elections! This is of course a blatant untruth. You have to wonder why he makes such preposterous claims. Why the constant need to feed his ego? Who knows.

Trigger Ballot

In the next 12 months or so there must be a “trigger ballot” of Labour Party members and affiliates in Newham on whether the current Mayor is automatically the Labour candidate for Mayor in 2018. If you think that, regardless of the many talents (and faces) of Sir Robin Wales, after more than 20 years of his rule we need a choice in Newham, then you will vote for an open and transparent election process. It may turn out that Sir Robin is the best candidate, but members should surely take the chance to consider alternatives. I hope members will vote to give themselves a real choice.

OMG. I have been invited as a guest to the formal Newham Council AGM tonight (Thursday). The mayor promised at the Group meeting that there will be even more bragging about himself. I must bring earplugs – and a large hip flask.


33 Responses to “The Tudor Court of Sir Robin”

  1. Khan kham May 19, 2016 at 08:56 #

    Another joke, I think that robin needs change his name to kim un Wales, I want to know how sick note Shelia Thomas managed to turn up to vote. Here is a councillor who has done no surgery and not attended full council since she was elected, creamed 30,000 in pay still turned up at a crucial vote. The rest of the cabinet turned up to vote to make sure the great leader was not upset or whip would be cracked.

    • tony montana May 19, 2016 at 09:10 #

      Does anyone know how to get in touch with Shelia Thomas, how do l become a councillor for 10,000 a year? Robin l will jump and roll around, dance like a monkey for that.

    • terry ball May 19, 2016 at 22:47 #

      labour party rule book ignored again .

  2. Kim Jong un May 19, 2016 at 13:26 #

    l think that we need to call Cllr Furness 10 jobs Furness, or 10 bob Furness for short. How many jobs does this guy do. Secretary of CTS, Cabinet member, youth group, Local comedian and nurse to Shelia Thomas, rumour has it that he carried her to the meeting (what a trooper) to name the few, is he in competion with 3 jobs Hudson all to impress Kim Jong Wales sorry l mean Robin Wales.

  3. terry ball May 19, 2016 at 22:45 #

    this sounds like jobs for the boys gone mad, i wonder how many of our councillors are really living in the borough and with jobs gifted by the mayor, if furness holds so many positions including gamekeeper and poacher in canning town south and toadies like hudson audit and finance positions perhaps we could get rid of two thirds of the councillors who do not get a look in anyway and are controlled by the mayor on who votes for who and when, it might be a secret ballot but it is still custom and practice of cabinet members ringing round persuading backbenchers and naive councillors to vote for scrutiny chairs and other senior positions .if you look at the past changes to council most of the bosses mates have been here for donkeys years getting selected again and again ,does this mob think we are all thick and do not see its exactly the same slate at every election and trigger ballot time ,there must be more talent than this lot where is the democracy internally , come on councillors put a stop to this carve up of all the good jobs .

  4. the Corbynista May 20, 2016 at 08:37 #

    l feel a great deal of shame the way the Labour Party is run, membership in certain wards is being kept low so that the ruling elite can control the wards, there are very few independent wards in the borough. Members are just voting fodder for Mayor and councillors, with the promise of members becoming councillors at a future date it never happens, the ruling elite are just creaming Newham council tax payers for millions like a third world tin-pot dicatorships with Robin Wales at the helm. The Borough has serious social issues from housing to education what does our Mayor spends millions on his own vanity projects rather than address the issues then blame tories for the spending cuts. l am constantly fighting with activists to stay loyal to the Labour Party and our socailist values but these are being eroded by Robin Wales and his cronies who have taken the democratic process away from the party l love. London region seem to be aware of all the problems in Newham but turn a blind eye due to the fact that we are a flagship borough. We have councillors that have been living social housing and built a million pound property portfolio and have continued to live in social housing yet we deny the residents the same rights. The closure of children centres throught the borough have affected residents yet we lend 40 million pounds to West Ham at 1% interest rate while the residents are paying 7% interest on this loan. We need Robin Wales and his cronies more accountable to the borough what does he do, he get the crony to vote for the crony so were is the accountability there is none. Cabinet members are afraid for there own postions and there pay packets. This is open forum so please address all the issues raised if you have the guts.

  5. Mr Wright May 20, 2016 at 10:15 #

    l agree with you, Cllr Noor, who claimed to be a close aid of Robin Wales failed to get property licence for this one of this many property yet to be procecuted. We have a Mayor who used private security to supress residents views at a public events. Cllr Hudson mis-mangement of 11 million pounds went un accounted for. Carpenters Road residents having nooses round there neck, they don’t if they will have a roof over there head due to the fact that its a eye sore to the rest of Stratford. THESE ARE OUR LOCAL LAW MAKERS JOKE JOKE you cannot make this up.

  6. The Wright Stuff May 20, 2016 at 10:56 #

    l am a ward member for Forest Gate North were a new chair is doing a fab job this one of the now a independant ward. Now Cllr Ellie Robinson is out of favor with the Mayor and is trying to hold on to the Chair of West Ham CLP. Cabinet members are currently rounding up GC delegates within the CLP with incentives to vote for the Robin Wales Slate. We are again seeing were is the democratic process.

  7. The Freedom Fighter May 20, 2016 at 12:38 #

    l am a ward member in Canning Town north, and at a recent ward meeting we were passing a motion through for two term Mayors, as soon as Cllr Furness saw this motion this jaw dropped to the ground and immediately started intimidating members, till the Chair took control of the situation. We put the motion through one of the many wards that are not controlled by the Wales and this goons even though one is ward councillor. This is a fight for democracy and values of the Labour Party which l adhere to SO GO AND FIGHT FOR YOUR WARDS

  8. Jean Smith May 21, 2016 at 07:51 #

    Jo Corbett is my ward councillor, how this woman became councillor god only knows. Another one who is in the inner circle does nothing for residents a real shame.

  9. The scarlet pimpernel May 22, 2016 at 20:27 #

    Another Joke By Sir Robin Blame the tories for f$$king everthing for Wales.

    Sir Robin said: “This Tory government has nothing but contempt for our residents and their values.

    Is this a Mayor who’s idea is to close childrens centers. Come on Mr Wales is the rents that Red Door Ventures charging affordable(what is affordable to those who can’t afford to feed themselves and stay in one of your houses) and how comes council tax payers money is being used for a private entity.

    Give yourself and your cabinet pay rises and push through extortionate pensions through, while council staff face pay cuts, and privatisation of services (Greed is what the thatcher goverment encourage and what Gordon Geko loved l thinks that you all over).

    Education is what can get residents childerns out of poverty, not give a child a instrument what do what to residents children to be buskers. (thks Mr Wales)

    Robin Wales talkes about austerity yet the poorest Borough in London loans West Ham 40 million pounds pay 7% interest and charges West Ham 1% interest on the Loan recently Dimitri Payet signed a extension on his current deal which pays him 40million a year, are West Ham really short of money, or are Newham residents.

    The Mayors promise to build more affordable housing, thats why residents in Canning Town were promised to return to Canning Town after the re-generation how many did, l mean who can afford the £300,000 flats in Canning Town can residents no, but Robins Wales cabinet can. If the tory goverment is full of millionaires so are Robins Wales cabinet WHO ARE THE BIGGEST LANDLORDS IN NEWHAM. What councillor has the biggest property portflio.

    • terry ball May 23, 2016 at 06:18 #

      most of the properties where newham residents can afford to live are in the twin town of stoke on trent unless you share a property owned by one of our councillors who are private landlords ,if you are lucky enough it will be in a bed if you are not so lucky it will be on a noor floor .by the way it must be about a year since mr noor became suspended as a labour party member i wonder if he is trying to pull the same stroke as his mate who answered nothing to the standards panel for a year and it all gets forgotten ,although i gather noor was mentioned at the recent labour group meeting and quickly moved on by the whip, wonder where he resides these days ? perhaps stoke on trent or ( another northen place with two football teams ) ……on a happier note the sun is shining so i might walk the dog on wanstead flats and look at the newly created flytips on capel rd….. i bet manchester folk have not got such beautiful scenery .

    • Anon May 26, 2016 at 12:30 #

      Red Door Ventures is about controlling Newham. The architecture of the Moda development in Stratford is grotesque pollution and designed to attract a cardboard person, the sort of person unlikely to vote. This is about controlling type of people who will live in Newham. It is an attempt by Newham to counter balance the danger of Tory voters moving in.

      Local Space owns 1821 homes. It is owned by Newham council, their property portfolio consists of single, private homes. For a long time, neighbours though a problem property was owned by a private landlord, only to discover it has been owned by Newham Council. Local Space have been housing a number of ‘problem’ tenants over the years and one by one, each of the neighbours have sold up and the homes bought up by private landlords. We have a situation where owner-occupiers who had good professional jobs have moved out of Newham. The current Local Space tenants are engaged in drug dealing.

      As a Newham Councillor is quoted in the Newham Recorder, one bad home can drag down a street.

      Newham are doing a Dame Shirley Porter, except in a perfectly legal way.

    • Down to Earth May 30, 2016 at 08:29 #

      No Newham Council money has been loaned to the football club. The Council has bought a % of the stadium company, which is the football club’s landlord. It will return a significant income as well as offer benefits to the community.

  10. David Cameron May 23, 2016 at 07:40 #

    Please don’t make monkeys out of Newham residents Mr Wales who has been running the council since 1995, it was not the tories. Who has been selling housing stock to developers in Newham (or the crown jewels of the Borough) it was not the tories. What borough has had the highest paid Chief Exec in the UK does it being with N. Like neighbouring boroughs like Tower Hamlets who repaired existing housing stock and only sold to developers if necassary. You moan about austerity yet you give yourself a extortionate pay rises along with the cabinet and (where are all the doughnuts) Hudson says “the geezer deseves a pay rise”. Your nose seems to get bigger bigger than pinocchio’s. l am having a wager that the Tory chair from East Ham who joined the Labour Party becomes a councillor in the Borough, you seem to love a regects from other political partys. Why is council tax payers money being used for Red Doors which is listed as a private company why are you a director along with cabinet members.

  11. Belinda Grey May 23, 2016 at 11:14 #

    I am a Ward member in CTS why is the ward being so badly run by snake furness, we have a inept Chair and the ward secretary snake furness seems to care little what goes on, l am another ward members that was not called to the AGM the Chair was on his hols this has got to stop, its time members ran ward and mot ward councillors.

  12. The Insider. May 24, 2016 at 07:53 #

    In reply to Terry Ball, l can say that Steve Brayshaw the chief whip is currently residing in Manchester, he’s doing a Shelia Thomas and milking the poor tax payers for 24k a year you cannot make this up. No wonder all the rubbish RW gets away with. He gets driven in from Manchester on crucial votes, RW’s right hand man Mr Noor will get away as per usual and be reinstated in to the Labour Party. Where’s the justice?

    • Martin Warne May 24, 2016 at 09:30 #

      I am told that Steve Brayshaw is from Manchester originally and still has family/friends there. After being made redundant he is trying to set himself up as a self-employed trainer working across the country, which is why he is away from Newham a lot at the moment. He has an address in Beckton.

      • Anon May 26, 2016 at 11:13 #

        “He has an address in Beckton.”

        His registered address is in E16 Britannia Village.

        Newham residents should explore the area and get on the cable car and walk around Excel. Yes, we have a cable car in Newham.

        Steve Brayshaw is on the LCACC, I wonder if he comes down for those. He is meant to represent residents at London City Airport.

        They are going through another phase of extension.

  13. The Insider. May 24, 2016 at 17:16 #

    What next Robin Wales going to Scotland to join the circus and still receiving mayoral salary. My point is that Steve Brayshaw, Shelia Thomas and many other Newham councillors are still receiving a salary from Newham, Ask a low payed worker who earns less than ten thousand pounds who still pays council tax in the borough, that man or lady is funding there life style for doing absolutely nothing. Or the person in the ward in need of a councillor who could be facing eviction, or having antisocial issues in the area only to find there ward councillor not available because he’s working in Manchester.

    • Martin Warne May 25, 2016 at 10:44 #

      I take your point. There are a number of councillors who are simply taking the piss. Whether you think Steve Bradshaw is one of them is a matter of judgment, but I don’t think you can realistically argue that councillors should be paid less and at the same time say that they shouldn’t have the opportunity to earn a living outside of politics. That said, if councillors can’t fit their public duties in around their other commitments they should stand down.

      • Bobbyg May 25, 2016 at 15:18 #

        They can not be removed.They and they alone must resign. If they have any shred of morality the should give up the post and forfit the wages. But will they?Answers please.

      • terry ball May 26, 2016 at 11:07 #

        To judge brayshaw you need to look at his past history of meeting attendance and i am afraid it has been very low in the past and present ,i gather from some of his peers that scrutiny licensing and other important and required meetings have not seen much of this man , i think if he is not doing what he is paid for he should resign and let someone with more commitment to the borough take his position .however i would not hold my breath regarding resignation but he could give up the allowance thats taken away from others to keep him in train fares to manchester .

  14. terry ball May 25, 2016 at 08:26 #

    i smell a leaking mole .

  15. Anon May 26, 2016 at 12:40 #

    Unmesh Desai has been voted into the GLA. Effectively a job for life. Will he give up his Newham Councillor job?

    • Martin Warne May 26, 2016 at 12:46 #

      He’s stepped down from his cabinet position but remains a councillor. How much effort he’ll put into that is anyone’s guess.

  16. The Weetabix. May 26, 2016 at 17:03 #

    To his credit Robin and his Goons did not expect Unmesh to win the GLA seat, and were ready to give him a kicking if he had lost. But Unmesh pulled the rabbit out of the hat and won the nomination to the dismay of the the goon squad. Now only time will tell if we see another Wales puppet if Unmesh give up his council seat (hope not).Or will the one time Liberal and now Cabinet member Hanif Abdulmuhit try to get the missus in the position, she’s tried everywhere else and failed.

  17. terry ball May 26, 2016 at 18:01 #

    i hope councillor desai stays as an elected member until he wishes to go ,he is one i have had great respect for, last of the real politicians on newham council and has stormed in as east londons man for city hall i just hope he favours us a little bit more than past gla members ,

  18. The Walnut Whip. May 27, 2016 at 17:34 #

    The Earthquake is continuing to rumble, during West Ham GC the two term motion Mayoral was defeated by just 3 votes, but which cabinet members voted in favor of the motion because the room was full of cabinet members and lead members who were they. Good on Connor McAuley who gave Winston Vaughan a kick up the backside for supporting the motion in his ward, then doing a u-turn at GC, was he trying to get the Robin Wales shilling l wonder(the coin that changes people)or had comrade Wales given him 10 of the best at Dockside to vote against the motion. It was ironic that all the comrades that voted against the motion were all cabinet members. l had to chuckle that comrade Furness comparing comrade Wales to Bill Clinton, and talking about how popular his paymaster was in Newham don’t make me laugh pal, what next comrade Furness claiming to be the new messiah and walking naked on the Barking Road. Or was comrade Wales getting the cane on the ready had he lost the vote.

  19. The little green bag. May 28, 2016 at 09:06 #

    Hat off to Cllr McAuley for giving Winston Vaughan a kicking the guy deserved it, it show how these guy operate, it all about the money and position (the little turn coat). Strange that the all the members who spoke against the motion were Cabinet members or is it because it effects there pay packets l wonder, if this is level of local politicans Newham produces self-centered and money motivated do they remind you of another political party(are you lot in the wrong party). l now see why we are in a one-man, one-party state led by messiah Robin Wales, Its a shame Newham needs change but our local elected officals are more concerned with the Robin Wales shilling and having a mickey mouse title to go with it(Clive Furness, and David Christie to name the few). The only thing left now is for Robin Wales to crown himself king and appoint a court jester and judging from the performance of Furness at CLP meetings he fits the bill.

  20. Alan C May 31, 2016 at 11:21 #

    You do read some strange things in these comments. The idea that “Robin and his Goons did not expect Unmesh to win the GLA seat” is just nonsense.

    They worked very hard to get him the nomination and once he had that, the rest was plain sailing.

    Cllr Desai has just moved from one non job at Newham Town Hall to a better paid non job at City Hall, where he will have even less impact and influence than he had in Newham.

    This also leaves Mayor Wales with more money in the budget to buy more supporters in the Labour Group.

    • terry ball June 1, 2016 at 07:36 #

      i think you are tarring desai with the same toilet brush as the others,i have been around for a long time and watched the coming and going of councillors and desai always stood out as a man with labour party principles, he has always been close to stephen timms another trustworthy man in the party who has never been favoured by the ivory tower tenants of newham ,i cannot think of one thing desai has not done to promote the borough wherever he goes i hope he gets on in his new role in politics and works with stephen to make this place a little better than it it is right now, we need as much help as possible

  21. Little bo peep. May 31, 2016 at 13:28 #

    Cllr Ellie Robinsion has resigned her postion from the goon squad cabinet, not before recieving a barraking from Robin Wales, no how useless Sadiq Khan campaign was and how he fluked the election, all in front of one time Wales supporter Ellie’s mum Francis and Cabinet Wow. Is that sore grapes because Tessa failed to make the nomination, and Robin didn’t get the sweeties promised. ( all after me AHHHhhhhh). Even during the campaign Wales didn’t bother only showed his when asked. Its time to get rid of this joker and the clowns he calls his cabinet.

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