Archive | February, 2018

The verdict

12 Feb

Wales Nope

What’s Next?

12 Feb

Copwatcher 2018 Feb 12

On Twitter, Kevin Blowe asks the obvious question:

If Sir Robin Wales is ousted as Mayor of Newham, what happens next?

Ideas please for unraveling the legacy of hard-right Labour council. Some suggestions:

  1. No more ugly, expensive developers’ gold-rush skyscrapers in Stratford

  2. 100% social housing on the Carpenters Estate

  3. Ending the council / police / immigration enforcement operation to harasss and disperse homeless people in Stratford

Off the top of my head:

  • Abolish the directly-elected mayoralty and return to leader & cabinet
  • No more ‘jobs for the boys’
  • End the out-placement of council services into arms-length companies

And Newham Co-op Party secretary Gill Hay adds:

A re-commitment to use all possible empty housing in the borough for housing people in need.

Feel free to add your own suggestions on Twitter or in the comments.


Some suggestions from Twitter:

  • No pensions for Mayor or council
  • End of Mayors special advisor payouts
  • A sponsor to cover costs of Under The Stars etc.
  • Sell Building 1000
  • No more photos of the clowns in the Newham Mag
  • Proper independent scrutiny
  • A realistic policy for Council tax to avoid more cuts
  • Instigate a thorough forensic examination of ALL the authorities finacial dealings over the past 16 years
  • No giving away council buildings to hipster developments from outside the borough that speed gentrification
  • No turning music venues into trampoline parks
  • No more donkey & sand posters for the mayor’s £4 million gigs
  • Limited terms for mayors/council leaders

Thanks to Sites of NewhamMike Law, Damnably Records, Kevin Mansell, @iainaitch and @StopCityAirport

London stadium enquiry

12 Feb

London Stadium 886749

At the Council meeting on 4th December, Sir Robin announced a review of the decisions that led to the “investment” of £40m into the former Olympic Stadium, which part-funded its transformation into a new home for West Ham United. The review would also cover the due diligence undertaken (or not) and advice provided to the Council.

Daniel Fenwick, Newham’s Director of Legal and Governance, has now written to councillors to announce the appointment of a senior QC to lead the enquiry:

The Mayor and Chief Executive instructed me as Director of Legal & Governance to lead on the review for the Council and I write to announce that I have appointed Peter Oldham QC to undertake the review of the Council’s decisions to invest in the former Olympic Stadium.  The decision to instruct a QC provides the Council with senior and independent scrutiny of the Council’s decision-making and an expert legal analysis of the decisions made.  It will also enable to obtain legal advice on any rights or remedies the Council may have in respect of the decisions made.  Mr Oldham is a leading QC on local authority matters and his details can be found here.

He will be assisted by Peter Lockley, a junior barrister at the same chambers and will, if required, have access to support from the Council through myself and external expert advisors, if he requires.

It is anticipated that Mr Oldham will complete his review by the middle of March for submission to the Mayor and members.  It is the Council’s intention to make as much of the report as possible publicly available but I will  need to consider whether any legal advice provided to the Council must be kept confidential to protect the Council’s interests at this time. If this situation arises, I will consider the ways in which such information may be shared with members whilst remaining confidential.

I am in the final stage of agreeing the Terms of Reference with Mr Oldham and will circulate these as soon as they agreed and they will also be a public document.

The draft terms of reference, which are due to be finalised today (12 Feb), outline the purpose of the enquiry:

…to produce a report for submission to the Mayor and members, addressing the following issues:

4.1.1.  A narrative of the Council’s Decisions (and related activity) to invest in the Stadium;
4.1.2.  A review of the Council’s rationale for the Decisions and whether or not the Decisions were reasonable to make in all the circumstances, including:

(a) the financial and operational projections that underpinned Newham’s original investment;

(b) the due diligence conducted by and on behalf of the Council and Newham Legacy Investments during the time period stated and whether or not any liability to the Council may arise;

(c) To identify further steps to be taken with regard to any matters identified at b. 

4.1.3. To identify any lessons that the Council can learn for future investments and decisions and what further steps the Council may take.

Although this is not a public enquiry, and the expectation is that meetings and interviews will take place privately, it appears Mr Oldham has the option to decide otherwise.

Included within the scope is the original decision to invest £40m in a joint venture with West Ham, which was aborted when Boris Johnson cancelled the procurement. Newham could have walked away at that point, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, turns up to explain Sir Robin’s utter determination to throw £40m at the stadium come what may.

The final report is due to be delivered on 23 March and, as Mr Fenwick says, the intention is to make it public. However, this is Newham, so I expect that as many FOI exemptions as possible will be applied to prevent anything seriously embarrassing from being revealed. 

Data warning

7 Feb

Selection meetings for the 20 ward Labour parties to select their candidates for the council elections in May have been confirmed for 17/18 and 24/25 February.

Martin Tiedemann, regional organiser of the London Labour Party has written to all of the long-listed candidates – rumoured to be more than 100 people – to remind them of the code of conduct and rules for selections.

Membership lists are only available to short-listed candidates… and we will therefore not be providing lists to any candidates, given sort-listing and selection will happen at the same meeting in Newham.

Some candidates, including sitting councillors and CLP or branch officers, may have existing copies of membership lists in relation to the roles they hold. These lists must not be used to canvass for support fore the upcoming selections.

Improper use of membership data, including passing on to other candidates, may be a breach of law or of Labour’s rules, and may put your position on the longlist at risk.

Given that membership data has so recently been mis-used in Newham, this is pertinent advice. But it really hands an advantage to sitting councillors and branch officers. They almost certainly don’t need to use the data to talk to their members – they already know who they are and how to reach them if they want a chat. And I’d be hugely surprised if they resisted the temptation.

You need wheels

4 Feb

Sir Robin's new wheels

When Lutfur Rahman was swanking around Tower Hamlets in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz, Sir Robin took great satisfaction in pointing out that he drove his own car – a used Toyota.

But judging by the car currently sat on the mayoral driveway, the Wales household has recently opted for a major upgrade.

A shiny new Range Rover may be a bit less ‘man of the people’ than his dusty old Toyota, but at least Sir Robin can arrive at the open selection meetings in comfort and style. I’m sure Labour members will be suitably impressed.

Hat-tip to the reader who spotted this and sent the photo

UPDATE 9/2/2018

A reader left a comment on Wednesday (see below) saying the car belongs to Sir Robin’s neighbour. Yesterday Alan Olive, a retired Labour Regional Director and Elections Officer living in Hemel Hempstead, reached out on Twitter to say the same thing. And the reader who sent the original tip-off confirms that, as of yesterday evening, the car is indeed parked next door.

Maybe these aren’t Sir Robin’s wheels. If anyone has anything more definitive, one way or the other, I’d be very grateful.


1 Feb

West Ham

Plaistow South

Plaistow North

Custom House

CT North

FG North

FG South

Stratford NE

GS West

CT South

West Ham Women

All ten West Ham wards and the Women’s Forum voted NO.

And on Saturday all ten East Ham wards voted NO as well.

That’s 21-0 with the affiliates still to declare. The formal result will be announced shortly.