Archive | June, 2016


30 Jun


Over 500 Labour councillors have signed a letter urging Jeremy Corbyn to resign. The list includes 11 from Newham

  • Cllr Conor McAuley
  • Cllr David Christie
  • Cllr Farah Nazeer
  • Cllr Ian Corbett
  • Cllr James Beckles
  • Cllr Masihullah Patel
  • Cllr Quintin Peppiatt
  • Cllr Salim Patel
  • Cllr Tahmina Rahman
  • Cllr Terry Paul
  • Cllr Zuber Gulamussen

Update (4/7/2016):

A rival open letter supporting Corbyn has been published and four Newham councillors have signed it:

  • Cllr Susan Masters
  • Cllr John Gray
  • Cllr John Whitworth
  • Cllr Obaid Khan

Withdrawal symptoms

29 Jun

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The Liberal Democrat candidate for the upcoming Forest Gate North by-election has withdrawn. The party has released a statement:

We regret that Lib Dem campaigner James Rumsby has has to stand down for personal reasons and we thank him for having put himself forward to serve our community.

We are pleased that so many local residents backed the Remain cause in the recent EU referendum, and that we are welcoming new members every week.

Newham residents deserve a positive alternative to the chaos offered by the two main parties. If you agree, join us in the Lib Dems.

Mr Rumsby’s withdrawal leaves a three-way fight between Labour, the Conservatives and the Green party.

Conservative candidate selected

20 Jun

West Ham Conservatives have selected John Oxley as their candidate for the Forest Gate North by-election.

They have issued the following statement on their website:

John has lived in Newham for four years. He is a barrister working in family law and has worked with a number of legal charities. If elected, he will work hard to address the problems caused by the council’s neglect of Forest Gate, including the poor state of the roads and fly-tipping. As the only opposition voice on Newham council, he will hold the Mayor and council to account on behalf of the whole borough.

John says “The current council are complacent, and are failing to address the day to day issues in Forest Gate. I will tackle fly-tipping, work to improve the roads and boost facilities for cyclists. A one-party council is bad for the whole borough. As a Conservative opposition, I will fight for better, more cost-effective services and an end to council waste.”

According to his biography on his law firm’s website:

Outside of work, John maintains an interest in the cultural history of Victorian England and the history of dress. He enjoys watching Yorkshire play cricket and endures supporting Sheffield Wednesday FC.

Your by-election candidates

17 Jun

Nominations have closed and the following candidates have been officially announced:

  • Anamul Islam – Labour Party
  • John Oxley – Conservative Party
  • James Rumsby – Liberal Democrats
  • Elisabeth Whitebread – Green Party

The election will be held on Thursday 14th July 2016.

Green candidate selected

16 Jun


Members of Newham Green Party have selected Elisabeth Whitebread as their candidate for the Forest Gate North by-election.

She has issued the following statement:

Hi, I’m Elisabeth, and I’m the Green Party candidate for Forest Gate North. I live on Sebert Road under the Goblin line, having decided to move here when I fell in love with Wanstead Flats four years ago. Forest Gate has been my home for a relatively short time, and yet I feel more a part of the community here than I have anywhere else since I moved out of my parents’ house. I guess it’s that kind of place.

In my professional life I’m an environmental campaigner (in the above photo I’m handing in a petition against plastic microbeads to Number 10!). I’ve led successful campaigns to create marine reserves in far flung corners of the world, getting to know island communities and working with them to protect their incredible underwater life. I also helped to achieve a reversal of government proposals to water down the National Curriculum’s requirement to teach children about nature. 

My degree in psychology and my experience in environmental campaigning have given me the skills to understand how to tackle issues like flytipping, one of the most pervasive problems that this area faces. The recent decision to introduce a £20 charge to collect bulky items seems to me to be a big step in the wrong direction, and shows a real misunderstanding of local people’s circumstances. 

You might have met me when I worked at Coffee7 a couple of years ago. While talking to other people who live here, I’ve heard that many are deeply dissatisfied with the current council and Mayor. No matter what your political allegiance, it’s surely bad for democracy to have only one Party represented on our council, with no opposition to scrutinise their decisions.

In the last local elections here in 2014, the Green Party came second in Forest Gate North. If you want to send a strong message to the council, increase the democracy and accountability of the council, and elect a candidate who will listen to residents and fight hard for their concerns, then please consider voting Green on 14th July.

Hobson’s choice?

13 Jun

Local Labour party members will get to select their candidate for the upcoming Forest Gate North by-election at a special meeting on Thursday. Or at least that’s the theory.

An email all members from Patrick Murphy, chair of Newham Labour’s local campaign forum sets out the timetable:

If you wish to be considered as a candidate for this Election, you are advised of the following timetable:

Applications invited.        10th June.
Close of Applications.     14th June.
Interview Panel.              15th June.
FGN meets to Shortlist   16th June.
Selection of Candidate.  16th June.

Please note that you must have been a Labour Party member for 1 year (cut off date June 10th 2015). 

This has taken some members by surprise. At the last ward meeting Ellie Robinson, whose resignation has triggered the by-election, told them there was no need to discuss the selection process there and then as there was no rush to hold the by-election. And members got an email from Rachel Tripp and Seyi Akiwowo inviting anyone who was interested in standing, or had any questions about what it was like to be a councillor, to get in touch. They said they’d organise a meeting if enough people were interested.

That has obviously now gone by the board. The speed with which the by-election has been called, and the consequent urgency to select a candidate, has left some fearing a stitch-up by the leadership.

But that was always likely anyway, no matter how many local members expressed an interest or however long they took to talk about the process. The local campaign forum – which is a tool of the leadership – will interview all applicants and decide the shortlist of potential candidates to go forward to the branch for selection. Local members will have their choice, but only from options approved by Sir Robin’s lieutenants.

Councillor John Gray, writing on his blog, has tried to reassure members:

I am Vice Chair of the Branch and gave a commitment to members at our last meeting that the branch would do every thing possible to make sure that the selection process is fair, democratic and inclusive. 

Brave words. But in truth there is little that can be done, especially given that nomination papers have to with the council by 4 p.m. on Friday 17th. Any attempt to appeal the process to Labour head office would risk the party having no candidate. That’s simply not going to happen.

In talking to local members about who might put themselves forward four names have come up: 

  • Dr. Martin Edobor, a junior hospital doctor and national chair of the Young Fabians
  • Wendy Mitchell, a former Hackney councillor now living in Forest Gate.
  • Anamul Islam, a trade union activist in the PCS
  • Amanjit Jhund, “Doctor, Entrepreneur and Labour Party Activist”, according to his Twitter bio. Stood in Scotland in the 2015 general election and, er, didn’t win. Also ‘Mr. Ellie Robinson’ (which, sadly, is likely to count against him with Sir Robin at the moment)

Of course there may be other contenders too.

We will have to wait until Friday to find out who get’s the nod. And whoever that is will be odds-on to be our new councillor.

Correction: In the original version of this post I mis-spelled Anamul Islam’s name as Anum Ismal. My apologies to him.

Forest Gate North by-election

10 Jun

The by-election to fill the vacancy left by Ellie Robinson’s resignation will be on Thursday, 14th July 2016.

Nominations are open now and close at 4 p.m. next Friday (June 17th).

More information is in the official notice of election.

The payroll vote

9 Jun

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Sir Robin has named his new team of Cabinet members, Mayoral Advisers and Community Lead Councillors. Fully 24 out of the 60 councillors have some form of ‘special responsibility’ for which they will receive an additional allowance. So almost half the council is on the mayoral payroll.

There have been a few notable changes, indicating those whose career prospects are currently on the up.

Cllr Forhad Hussain has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks and is clearly now one of Sir Robin’s trusted inner circle. He is taking over the Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour portfolio previously held by Unmesh Desai. Cllr Hussain will continue to serve as deputy cabinet lead for Building Communities, working with Cllr Ken Clark, but he is giving up the role of community lead councillor for Plaistow. 

That position will be taken up by Cllr Hanif Abdulmuhit, who also retains his positions as Mayoral Advisor – Building Communities (Adult Care Integration) and community lead for Green Street. 

Just two years after being elected to council Forest Gate North’s Rachel Tripp joins the Cabinet, with responsibility for equalities. I hope that, unlike her predecessor in this role, she is going to be paid for it. Rachel will also continue to be Forest Gate’s lead councillor.

Cllr Mas Patel (Forest Gate South) continues as Mayoral Advisor – Building Communities (Mental Health Care Integration) and community lead for Stratford and West Ham. He’s getting some more time (and money, obviously) to spend on integrating mental health care. 

Likewise Idris Ibrahim is getting a bump in his allowance. He’ll be devoting additional time to his role as Mayoral Advisor – Building Communities (Early Years Integration) while remaining community lead for Custom House and Canning Town. He will be supported on Early Years work by Salim Patel, who also gets some extra bunce on top of his allowance for being Manor Park’s lead councillor.

The exceptionally loyal Cllr Tahmina Rahman has finally been rewarded with a brand new job – as Mayoral Advisor for New Media. It will be interesting to see what the job description says (although I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to be published), but Newham has traditionally seen communications as a one-way process. If she can persuade Sir Robin that digital offers opportunities to engage with residents rather than just shout at them she will have earned her money. 

Finally, Cllr Joy Laguda. She is the chair of council, a position to which she is elected by councillors and requires her to be entirely independent of the executive. But Sir Robin is having none of that:

Whilst rules drawn up by out-of-touch Westminster politicians prohibit me from appointing Joy to the Cabinet, she has a wealth of knowledge about adult safeguarding which I am keen to draw upon to benefit residents.  I am therefore giving her the honorary title of Associate Cabinet Member, and will leave a Cabinet post vacant to reflect this. There is no additional payment associated with this role. Her role as Chair of Council and Civic Lead is separate to this appointment.


The full list of Sir Robin’s appointments:


  • Sir Robin Wales


  • Cllr Lester Hudson: Deputy Mayor, Finance, oneSource, Project Delivery and Commercial Opportunities
  • Cllr Ken Clark: Building Communities, Public Affairs, Regeneration and Planning
  • Cllr Frances Clarke: Financial Inclusion and Health Promotion
  • Cllr Forhad Hussain: Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour, Building Communities (Deputy)
  • Cllr Rev. Quintin Peppiatt: Children and Young People (Statutory Lead Member for Children’s Services, and Children’s Safeguarding)*
  • Cllr Lakmini Shah: Children’s Safeguarding (Deputy), Domestic Violence
  • Cllr Rachel Tripp: Equalities

Mayoral Advisers

  • Cllr Joy Laguda: Chair of Council (appointed by full Council), Civic Lead, Adult Safeguarding, and Associate Cabinet Member
  • Cllr Hanif Abdulmuhit: Building Communities – Adult Care Integration
  • Cllr Andrew Baikie: Housing
  • Cllr David Christie: Small Business Programme and Transformation
  • Cllr Ian Corbett: Environment and Leisure
  • Cllr Richard Crawford: Resident Experience
  • Cllr Clive Furness: Adults and Health (Lead Member for Adults’ Services)
  • Cllr Idris Ibrahim: Building Communities – Early Years Integration
  • Cllr Julianne Marriott: Regeneration
  • Cllr Mas Patel: Building Communities – Mental Health Integration 
  • Cllr Salim Patel: Building Communities – Early Years Integration 
  • Cllr Terry Paul: Skills and Adult Learning
  • Cllr Tahmina Rahman: New Media

Community Lead Councillors

  • Cllr Hanif Abdulmuhit: Green Street and Plaistow 
  • Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury: Beckton
  • Cllr Rev. Ann Easter: East Ham
  • Cllr Idris Ibrahim: Custom House and Canning Town 
  • Cllr Patrick Murphy: Royal Docks
  • Cllr Mas Patel: Stratford and West Ham 
  • Cllr Salim Patel: Manor Park
  • Cllr Rachel Tripp: Forest Gate

* Since 2014 Cllr Peppiatt has chosen not to receive a special responsibility allowance

Forever and ever

6 Jun

Drums 12

Banging his own drum

Labour members in Newham received an email from the Dear Leader yesterday afternoon. Even by his own Orwellian standards it is an extraordinary mix of Doublethink and Newspeak, served up with good dollop of self-aggrandisement on top:

Dear Comrade,

You will be aware of the large listening exercise carried out by the Council recently to explain to residents the challenges facing the Borough as a result of savage Tory cuts and listen to their views. 

The good news is that we discovered that the values of our residents are the values of myself and the Council. We stand as defenders of our people against Tory attacks but go further in supporting them to build successful lives.

As part of our listening campaign members of my cabinet and executive visited many Party members to ask what they thought of our progress.

I’m pleased to say that the vast majority of members are proud of the achievements of Newham Labour in general and of my administration in particular. 
However, it also became clear that many members were unaware of just how uniquely successful we have been over the last few years. For example, the fact that we:

  • Have avoided meaningful cuts to our services, 
  • provide the best jobs brokerage in the country (Workplace), 
  • were the first to provide free school meals for all primary children, 
  • were the first to implement a Borough-wide licensing scheme for privately rented property,
  • are the only Council to offer a free musical instrument and teaching to all children 
  • have responded uniquely to the housing crisis in London

the list goes on and on.
So, now that the London Mayoral election is out of the way – with a great win for Sadiq Khan against a racist Tory onslaught – I thought it might be useful to write to you every couple of weeks to update you on our achievements and our plans for the future. 

I thought you might like to see the speech that I gave recently at the Council’s AGM and the latest report on our Manifesto promises (originally published in the Newham magazine). I will send these to you next week. 

I will write again following the referendum. Can I, in the meantime, urge you to get active in the referendum campaign in support of the remain campaign. I recognise that some of our members have misgivings about Europe, often for good and sensible reasons, but overall, the arguments to remain in are compelling. 

Be in touch soon.

Best wishes,

Robin Wales, Labour Mayor of Newham

If anyone was in any doubt that Sir Robin wants a fifth term as mayor and expects a grateful party to hand him its nomination on a plate, they won’t be now.


2 Jun

Ellie Robinson

Forest Gate North councillor Ellie Robinson has resigned to take up a new post working for Sadiq Khan at City Hall.

She explained her decision in an email to her fellow councillors this morning:

Dear friends, 
As some of you may have heard yesterday I handed in my resignation from the council. It has been a very hard decision, and I feel very emotional about it – it has been an absolute honour representing Forest Gate North over the last six years. As you will know, I have been working for Sadiq Khan over the past year and following the excellent result a few weeks ago I have been offered the opportunity to work for him as his Senior Advisor at City Hall. This will be a great opportunity to help deliver everything we campaigned for – affordable housing, a fares freeze, cleaner air and much more. However, the role is politically restricted which means I am no longer legally allowed to continue as a local councillor. 
It has been a privilege being a councillor in Newham and working with you. The support, guidance and advice I have received over the past few years has helped shape my world view, and the passion and dedication I have seen from officers to the residents of Newham has been inspiring and humbling. 
Finally, I am grateful to have been able to work with Labour councillors and a Mayor who believe in the power of democracy. They believe that persuading, listening and talking to people wins elections, and winning elections is what gives you the mandate and resource to change the world. Ultimately, if we didn’t have a Labour Council in Newham we wouldn’t be cracking down on bad landlords (we had the first licensing scheme in the country), we wouldn’t have free school meals for all our kids (and music lessons, and theatre tickets), we wouldn’t have agreed plans earlier this year to build 800 homes for homeless families and we wouldn’t have MoneyWorks (affordable credit and advice for those in financial difficulty). To name but a few things. Equally, if we didn’t have a Conservative government we wouldn’t have the cuts to welfare, cuts to public services and a dangerous lack of house building. So the fight continues.
I know we will continue to work together to change our little corner of the world, I will just have a different hat on! I look forward to that. I will continue to be Newham’s biggest cheerleader and wish you all every success. 
Warmest wishes, E

I’m not a fan of Newham’s generally useless councillors, but Ellie was a breath of fresh air when first elected in 2010: open, engaged and approachable. It was a marked contrast to her predecessor and to her fellow Forest Gate North councillors at the time. Happily, Rachel Tripp and Seyi Akiwowo have followed in the same vein. I hope whoever succeeds her will too, whichever party they represent.

No date has yet been set for the by-election to fill the vacancy.