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Newham and the IHRA

4 Sep

No-one can accuse Newham council of not being ahead of the curve. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ‘working definition of antisemitism’ was debated in September of last year. And, as with the national Labour Party now, there was disagreement about the 11 illustrative examples. A motion to adopt the definition in full, with all examples, was proposed by Cllr Clive Furness and seconded by Terry Paul.

Concerns about free speech and the ability to criticise Israel were raised in Labour Group and I am told there was a “left faction” led by Cllr Anam Islam who claimed many Muslim voters were ‘troubled’. There was another group, led by Rokshana Fiaz, then a backbench councillor, who championed the removal of the examples in order to maintain group cohesion. That argument won the day.

An amendment was put at council – and accepted by the proposers – that removed all 11 examples and made some other minor adjustments to the text. 

The amended motion was unanimously agreed by Council (reproduced below exactly as it appears in the minutes):

This council notes: 

This Council expresses alarm at the rise in antisemitism in recent years across the UK. This includes incidents when criticism of Israel has been expressed using anti-Semitic tropes. Criticism of Israel can be legitimate, but not if it employs the tropes and imagery of antisemitism.

This Council therefore welcomes the UK Government’s announcement on December 11th 2016 that it will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, making Britain one of the first countries in the world to adopt it. This definition has also been adopted by the Labour Party and featured in the Labour Party’s Race and Faith Manifesto (page 12) published during the 2017 General Election. The IHRA definition defines antisemitism as thus:

This Council notes that:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries). Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

This Council welcomes support within the Council for combating antisemitism in all its manifestations.

This Council hereby resolves to adopt the above definition of antisemitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and pledges to combat this pernicious form of racism through awareness raising and education; and through engagement with the range of Jewish opinion on how best to address antisemitism in addition with all communities that live in Newham.

This Council also condemns all forms of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia and sexism and on-line abuse and we commit to fighting against them.

Gaining Momentum

22 Aug

Newham Momentum members with Chris Williamson MP

Newham Momentum members with Chris Williamson MP in Ilford

Chris Williamson MP will be in Forest Gate next month to address the Newham branch of Momentum, as part of his Democracy Roadshow. Although ostensibly a call for mandatory re-selection of all Labour MPs, these ‘road show’ events are mostly being held in constituencies held by MPs on the centre left of the party, leading them to be dubbed by some as the ‘Deselection Roadshow.’ 

Earlier this month Williamson spoke in Ilford, whose two MPs – Mike Gapes and Wes Streeting – are noted Corbyn-sceptics. A number of Newham Momentum members attended, including the chair of the council’s Labour Group, Cllr Suga Thekkeppurayil and former councillor Obaid Khan. This resulted in the invitation to for Williamson to come to Newham. I wonder what Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms make of that?

The Derby MP previously courted controversy by suggesting that Labour MPs who agreed with Theresa May that Russia was behind the Salisbury poisonings were as much “political enemies” as the Tories. He suggested they should face de-selection (are you sensing a pattern here?). He has also shared a platform with Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled from the Labour party for haranguing Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the party’s anti-Semitism review in 2016.

Yesterday the Huffington Post reported:

A Labour MP has said it was a “privilege” to meet and listen to a talk by a controversial pro-Assad blogger, who has previously described murdered MP Jo Cox as a “warmongering Al Qaeda advocate”.

Vanessa Beeley made the comment in a tweet almost a year after Cox’s death, and has also written that “Zionists rule France”.

… She has written that the White Helmets, the volunteer group that rescues people from the rubble of Syria’s civil war, is a terrorist-linked organisation that fakes its activities to elicit sympathy in the West for a regime change plot against Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad.

Who you appear on a platform with and how their views then attach to you is a hot topic right now. Might councillors who are now so publicly embracing Chris Williamson come to regret it? It’s not just MPs who can find themselves in a re-selection battle.

Your 2018 candidates

11 Apr

Mayor of Newham

  • Rahima Khan, Conservative
  • Rokhsana Fiaz, Labour & Co-operative
  • Gareth Evans, Liberal Democrat
  • Chishala Kumalinga, Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Daniel Oxley, Democrats and Veterans Party

Council

Beckton

  • James Asser, Labour
  • Ayesha Chowdhury, Labour
  • Tonii Wilson, Labour
  • Joshua Lindl, Conservative
  • Conny Naysmith, Conservative
  • Emmanuel Obasi, Conservative
  • Jane Lithgow, Green Party
  • Syed Ahmed, Independent
  • Chike Dunkwu, Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Alice Olaiya, Christian Peoples Alliance
  • June Taylor, Christian Peoples Alliance

Boleyn

  • Genevieve Kitchen, Labour
  • Veronica Oakeshott, Labour
  • Harvinder Singh Virdee, Labour
  • Fazlul Karim, Conservative
  • Khatija Meaby,Conservative
  • Sayadur Rahman, Conservative
  • Helen Lynch, Green Party

East Ham South

  • Susan Masters, Labour
  • Quintin Peppiatt, Labour
  • Lakmini Shah, Labour
  • Syed Kabir, Conservative 
  • Aidan Langley, Conservative 
  • Mostafizur Rahman, Conservative 
  • Mary Finch, Trade Union & Socialist Coalition 

East Ham Central

  • Julianne Marriott, Labour & Co-operative
  • Aisha Siddiquah, Labour & Co-operative
  • Sugathan Thekkeppurayil, Labour & Co-operative
  • Rafeh Ahmed, Conservative 
  • Bishwajit Bal, Conservative 
  • Sabir Banglawala, Conservative 
  • Dominic Anthony, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Roja Chika, Christian Peoples Alliance 

East Ham North

  • Daniel Blaney, Labour
  • Zuber Gulamussen, Labour
  • Firoza Ahmed Nekiwala, Labour
  • Mohammed Azharuddin, Conservative
  • Durai Kannan, Conservative
  • Ilyas Sharif, Conservative
  • Naveed Akbar, Liberal Democrat

Green Street East

  • Muhammad Ali, Labour
  • Nilufa Jahan, Labour
  • Muzibur Rahman, Labour
  • Matthew Kinghorn, Conservative 
  • Kirankumar Patel, Conservative 
  • Mohammed Anisur Rahman, Conservative 

Little Ilford

  • Nazir Ahmed, Labour
  • Pushpa Makwana, Labour
  • Riaz Mirza, Labour
  • Ravindrareddy Nandivelugu, Conservative 
  • Zillor Rahman Mannan, Conservative 
  • Uddin Kashem, Conservative 

Manor Park

  • Ken Clark, Labour
  • Mariam Dawood, Labour
  • Salim Patel, Labour
  • Ibrahim Amanji, Conservative
  • Afzal Hossain, Conservative 
  • Nasima Khatun, Conservative 
  • Derek Jackson, Green Party
  • Michael German, Liberal Democrat

Royal Docks

  • Steve Brayshaw, Labour
  • Anthony McAlmont, Labour
  • Patrick Murphy, Labour
  • Mary Antwi, Conservative 
  • Charles Meaby, Conservative 
  • Attic Rahman, Conservative 
  • Tahir Saiyed, Liberal Democrat
  • Keith Murray, Independent
  • Ethel Odiete, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • James Ivens, Trade Union & Socialist Coalition

Wall End

  • Jennifer Bailey, Labour
  • Omana Gangadharan, Labour
  • Lester Hudson, Labour
  • Mohammed Ali, Conservative 
  • Mufti Islam, Conservative 
  • Masbah Khan, Conservative 
  • Amalraj Kakumanu, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Shashir Kakumanu, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Hannah Sell,  Trade Union & Socialist Coalition

Canning Town North

  • Ann Easter, Labour
  • Shaban Mohammed, Labour
  • Delphine Tohoure, Labour
  • Ahmed Faqai, Conservative 
  • Maxwell Marah, Conservative 
  • Rachel Nabudde, Conservative 
  • Alan Craig, UKIP
  • Stuart Goodwin, UKIP
  • Chishala Kumalinga, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Bapu Rani, Christian Peoples Alliance 

Canning Town South

  • Rohit Dasgupta, Labour & Co-operative
  • Alan Griffiths, Labour & Co-operative
  • Belgica Guana, Labour & Co-operative
  • Marc Pooler, Conservative 
  • Mark Seymour, Conservative 
  • Mahyar Tousi, Conservative 
  • Danny Keeling, Green Party
  • Caroline Carey, Liberal Democrats
  • Myrtle Laing, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Prossy Namwanje, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Sharmila Swarna, Christian Peoples Alliance 

Custom House

  • James Beckles, Labour
  • Patricia Holland, Labour
  • Sarah Ruiz, Labour
  • Nicole Garrett, Conservative 
  • Akram Mwanga, Conservative 
  • Tim Roll-Pickering, Conservative 
  • Paul Banjoko, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Cynthia Owusu-Addai, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Kay McKenzie, Democrats and Veterans Party
  • Daniel Oxley, Democrats and Veterans Party

Forest Gate North

  • Sasha Das Gupta, Labour & Co-operative
  • Anam Islam, Labour & Co-operative
  • Rachel Tripp, Labour & Co-operative
  • Abdul Chowdhury, Conservative 
  • Ariful Islam, Conservative 
  • Brian Maze, Conservative 
  • Nate Higgins, Green Party
  • Michael Spracklin, Green Party
  • Frankie-Rose Taylor, Green Party
  • Christian Moon, Liberal Democrats

Forest Gate South

  • Mas Patel, Labour
  • Tahmina Rahman, Labour
  • Winston Vaughan, Labour
  • Matthew Edwards, Conservative 
  • Olenka Gradosielska, Conservative 
  • Shaeb Khan, Conservative 
  • Hugh Barnard, Green Party
  • Michael Fox, Liberal Democrats
  • Madeleine Haysey, Liberal Democrats
  • James Jones, Liberal Democrats 
  • Lois Austin, Trade Union & Socialist Coalition

Green Street West

  • Hanif Abdulmuhit, Labour
  • Mushtaq Hussain, Labour
  • Mumtaz Khan, Labour
  • Muhammad Chishti, Conservative 
  • Kamran Qureshi, Conservative 
  • Abdul Sheikh, Conservative 

Plaistow North

  • Zulfiqa Ali, Labour
  • Joy Laguda, Labour
  • Daniel Lee-Phakoe, Labour
  • Fokoruddin Ahmed, Conservative
  • Aimee Alado, Conservative 
  • Walye Jahedi, Conservative 
  • Alexander Fisher, Liberal Democrats
  • Paul Jobson, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Winky Newman, Christian Peoples Alliance 

Plaistow South

  • Carleene Lee-Phakoe, Labour 
  • Jane Lofthouse, Labour 
  • Neil Wilson, Labour
  • Farhana Firdous, Conservative 
  • Nazrul Islam, Conservative 
  • Rois Miah, Conservative 
  • Edward Lynch, Green Party
  • James Raymond, Liberal Democrat
  • Flora Amar, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Earna Gibson, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Hugh Robertson, Communist League

Stratford and New Town

  • Joshua Garfield, Labour
  • Nareser Natalie Osei, Labour
  • Terry Paul, Labour
  • Andrius Kavalaiauskas, Conservative 
  • John Oxley, Conservative 
  • Shardi Shameli, Conservative 
  • Rachel Collinson, Green Party
  • Gareth Evans, Liberal Democrats
  • Sheree Miller, Liberal Democrats
  • James Rumsby, Liberal Democrats
  • John Falana, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Esther Smith, Christian Peoples Alliance 

West Ham

  • John Gray, Labour & Co-operative
  • Charlene McLean, Labour & Co-operative
  • John Whitworth, Labour & Co-operative
  • Abul Abdullah, Conservative 
  • Thomas Barber, Conservative 
  • Natalie Pendrous, Conservative 
  • Kenneth Lyle, Green Party
  • Alexander Tuppen, Liberal Democrats
  • Sheila Brown, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Barbara Chukwarah, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Dieutane Parson, Christian Peoples Alliance 

Compared to 2014

Party 2014 2018 Change
Labour 60 60 0
Conservative 60 60 0
Christian Peoples  Alliance 55 24 -31
Liberal Democrats 11 14 3
TUSC 8 4 -4
UKIP 7 2 -5
Independent 3 2 -1
Green Party 2 11 9
Communist 1 1 0
Communities United 1 0 -1
Democrats & Veterans 2 2
Total 208 180 -28

Green candidate announced

4 Apr

Green mayoral candidate Chidi

The Green Party has announced its candidate for Mayor of Newham, Chidi Oti-Obihara.

According to the local party website, he

… lives in Beckton and became a member of the Green Party while working with us on our investigations into Newham Council’s mis-sold Lender Option, Borrower Option (‘LOBO’) loans.

Previously an Investment Banker, Chidi turned whistle-blower in 2007 and testified to Parliament about the practices he’d witnessed and been bullied for not colluding with. He now works as an independent financial consultant.

Chidi Oti-Obihara was the party’s candidate for East Ham at last year’s general election.

He joins Labour’s Rokhsana Fiaz, Conservative Rahima Khan and Liberal Democrat Gareth Evans on the ballot.

UPDATE (9 April 2018):

Newham Green Party has announced that it will not be proceeding with a mayoral nomination:

“A number of factors led to our decision, including the fact that Chidi’s caring responsibilities meant that he couldn’t dedicate the time to it that he wanted, as well as our not wanting to stand in the way of a Labour candidate who has consistently opposed the current mayor and his financial scandals and dictatorial style.”

Vile and insulting

8 Mar

Image 2

Remember how Andrea Leadsom torpedoed her own bid for the Tory leadership when she said being a mother gave her “a very real stake in the future of our country,” in contrast to the childless Theresa May? Even Tory MPs described the remarks as “vile” and “insulting.”

Well evidently Cllr Lakmini Shah doesn’t.

In a call with a local Labour member, a recording of which I have heard, she says Rokhsana Fiaz doesn’t understand how important free school meals are because “she’s not married, she hasn’t got children, so she don’t know how hard it is for parents.”

Member: “Cllr Shah?”

Lakmini Shah: “Yes, it is.”

M: “Hi, yeah, I just spoke to you. Basically, I’m with my wife right now. And she’s saying, telling me to vote for Rokhsana, but I told her that, look, you know, they are going to scrap the free school meals. We’ve got two kids in school in, like, infants and one in nursery, so…”

LS: “Yeah”

M; “…but can you explain to her – I’ve put you on loudspeaker – can you just say what you said earlier…”

LS: “Okay”

M: “…about the free school meals?”

LS: “Okay. So Robin has had free school meals for children [pause] and that cost £3 million a year to the council. So Rokhsana says parents should be… because she don’t have children, she’s not married, she hasn’t got children so she don’t know how hard it is for parents. I’ve got three children and I know how hard it is to pay for school meals.

“So they, um, going to stop this free school meals to save this 3 million. I’m not sure if it’s 3 million or 6 million a year, I have to find that number out.”

This is absolutely outrageous.

Lakmini Shah isn’t just some random member canvassing votes for Sir Robin, she’s Cabinet Member for Work & Skills and Domestic Violence Prevention.

Sir Robin needs to take ownership of this and offer Rokhsana Fiaz a full and unreserved apology for what is being said by his campaign.

And Cllr Shah should resign as candidate for East Ham South. If she doesn’t, members should take the decision for her.

The vision thing

7 Mar

Sir Robin has a vision

Sir Robin’s vision for Newham in 1997 (my emphasis added):

There are too many people, those currently living in Newham and those attracted from other London boroughs, who survive on low incomes or who present themselves as homeless. Whilst we will offer support and carry out our legislative duties, our aim will be to increase Newham’s property values and raise the income profile of all our residents.

What we must take action to avoid is a continued flow of people from other boroughs requiring sustained support.

Which helps to explain why, 20 years down the road:

  • The Carpenters Estate remains empty, despite offering hundreds of good quality, low cost homes
  • There’s been an explosion in high-rise ‘luxury’ apartment developments, particularly in Stratford
  • Developers are rarely, if ever, held to the requirement for 35-50% affordable housing set out in the local plan
  • The homeless are routinely harassed in Stratford
  • Poor and vulnerable families are encouraged to take up housing far away from London
  • The many private landlords sat on the Labour benches in council are Sir Robin’s most loyal supporters

Now that he’s being challenged for the party’s nomination Sir Robin is promising to build record levels of ‘council-owned housing.’ But he doesn’t mean council houses, or even affordable homes – he means housing built by Red Door Ventures, the private rented property company owned by the council which charges full market rents for its properties. And which is currently buying up blocks of flats on the other side of London.

RDV is funded by loans from the council; money which is borrowed from the Treasury or banking sector and then re-lent. If the housing bubble bursts and RDV goes bust, guess who’s left with the bill? (Clue: the same people who will ultimately pick up the tab for the Olympic Stadium ‘investment’)

Under Sir Robin’s watch the proportion of people living in private rented accommodation in Newham has rocketed. A report in the Guardian last year said

The regeneration of the borough – or as others would call it, the social cleansing – has increased the number of privately rented housing to 40% of the housing stock, the highest proportion of all London boroughs. The effect of the drop in home ownership means that residents become transient and many social housing tenants are pushed out

The landlord registration scheme may keep the worst offenders out of the market, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for the greedy and unscrupulous. Which shouldn’t be a surprise: Sir Robin had a vision.

It’s time now for a fresh view.

Academy antics

7 Mar

Image

Councillors are so opposed to academies they are paying millions of pounds for this one to expand

Last Monday Newham council passed a motion, proposed by Cllrs Mas and Salim Patel, declaring itself opposed to local schools converting into academies.

Given that half of all Newham schools are already academies and that by April 75% of local primaries will be in ‘multi-academy trusts’, this is all a bit late. Where have these newly radicalised anti-academy councillors been for the past few years?

It also raises an interesting question about the mayor’s apparent preference for expanding academies at the expense of local authority maintained schools.

Back in April last year, Sir Robin and his cabinet approved a plan to expand Brampton Manor Academy and Forest Gate Community School by a total of six forms of entry. Under the plan Brampton would take in an extra 120 pupils a year (on top of the 300 who already join year 7 each September) and FGCS would take an extra 60.

Despite the two schools being academies and therefore directly funded by the Department for Education, Newham council will be footing the bill for the extra classrooms required. And what a bill – the expansion was costed at over £29 million. That’s around £1 million per additional classroom.

Cabinet April 17

Headteachers in other local schools were, understandably, very concerned. They argued that there was no solid evidence that these extra places will be needed. Creating permanent additional capacity at these two academies will likely mean fewer pupils enrolling at other local schools, reducing their income and, potentially, threatening their long-term viability.

To add insult to injury, funding of a previously agreed special educational needs development in Stratford was cut by £7 million to pay part of the cost.

And now it appears the academy expansion bill is getting bigger. On 22 February – less than a week before full council passed its motion – Sir Robin’s cabinet approved a new capital budget that allocated £34.75 million for the extra classrooms at Brampton Manor and Forest Gate schools – an increase of almost £5 million (17%) in less than a year.

Cabinet 220218

None of this was mentioned in the anti-academies motion, or in the debate. Did the councillors Patel not know, or were they sparing Sir Robin’s blushes?

Newham council 2018 -22 (probably)

26 Feb

Forest Gate North candidates and supporters

The Forest Gate North candidates and their supporters

Over the past two weekends Labour members in Newham have been selecting the 60 candidates that will contest May’s local elections. Given the party’s massive polling lead across London and the expectation it will be taking control of true blue Tory boroughs like Wandsworth, the prospect of losing even a single seat in ultra-safe Newham is extremely remote.

One ward, Plaistow South, failed to select any candidates after members rejected both women on the shortlist. The meeting will have to be re-convened.

So here are 57 of the 60 people who will (almost certainly) be your councillors for the next four years:

(* = sitting councillor for the same ward; ** = current councillor for a different ward)

East Ham

Beckton

  • James Asser
  • Ayesha Chowdhury*
  • Tonii Wilson*

Boleyn

  • Genevieve Kitchen
  • Veronica Oakeshott*
  • Harvinder Singh Virdee*

East Ham South

  • Susan Masters*
  • Quintin Peppiatt*
  • Lakmini Shah*

East Ham Central

  • Julianne Marriott*
  • Aisha Siddiquah
  • Sugathan Thekkeppurayil

East Ham North

  • Daniel Blaney
  • Zuber Gulamussen*
  • Firoza Ahmed Nekiwala*

Green Street East

  • Muhammad Ali
  • Nilufa Jahan
  • Muzibur Rahman

Little Ilford

  • Nazir Ahmed
  • Pushpa Makwana
  • Riaz Mirza

Manor Park

  • Ken Clark**
  • Mariam Dawood
  • Salim Patel*

Royal Docks

  • Steve Brayshaw*
  • Anthony McAlmont*
  • Patrick Murphy*

Wall End

  • Jennifer Bailey
  • Omana Gangadharan
  • Lester Hudson*

West Ham

Canning Town North

  • Ann Easter*
  • Shaban Mohammed
  • Delphine Tohoure

Canning Town South

  • Rohit Dasgupta
  • Alan Griffiths*
  • Belgica Guana

Custom House

  • James Beckles**
  • Rokhsana Fiaz*
  • Patricia Holland*

Forest Gate North

  • Sasha Das Gupta
  • Anam Islam*
  • Rachel Tripp*

Forest Gate South

  • Mas Patel*
  • Tahmina Rahman**
  • Winston Vaughan*

Green Street West

  • Hanif Abdulmuhit*
  • Mushtaq Hussain
  • Mumtaz Khan

Plaistow North

  • Zulfiqa Ali
  • Joy Laguda*
  • Daniel Lee-Phakoe

Plaistow South

  • Selection suspended

Stratford and New Town

  • Joshua Garfield
  • Nareser Natalie Osei
  • Terry Paul*

West Ham

  • John Gray*
  • Charlene McLean**
  • John Whitworth*

A number of sitting councillors are seeking re-selection but have so far not secured a position (with only Plaistow South still to be resolved):

  • Aleen Alarice (sitting councillor in Plaistow South)
  • Jose Alexander
  • Andrew Baikie
  • Clive Furness
  • Idris Ibrahim
  • Mukesh Patel
  • Paul Duraisamy Sathianesan
  • Neil Wilson (sitting councillor in Plaistow South)

In addition, a large number of councillors decided step down this year, including three who were ineligible due to suspension:

  • Seyi Akiwowo
  • Freda Bourne
  • David Christie
  • Frances Clarke
  • Bryan Collier
  • Ian Corbett
  • Jo Corbett
  • Richard Crawford
  • Unmesh Desai
  • Forhad Hussain
  • Obaid Khan
  • Conor McAuley
  • Ahmed Noor
  • Rohima Rahman
  • Kay Scoresby
  • Amarjit Singh
  • Ted Sparrowhawk
  • Sheila Thomas
  • Dianne Walls

Over and out?

15 Feb

Councillor Forhad Hussain is not seeking re-selection as a candidate for the elections in May.

He has written to residents and colleagues to let them know:

After eight enjoyable years serving as a local elected councillor in Plaistow, I sadly write to inform my ward residents and local Labour colleagues that I will not be re-standing as a councillor candidate in the upcoming local elections in May 2018. I have thought about this decision a great deal, it was not an easy choice to make but I feel that I need to focus on my young family and develop my career further outside Politics.

However, this is not the end of my involvement in Politics. I will continue to help the Party to win in May’s local elections and in the next General Election to bring in a Labour government.

I would like to thank the Mayor, my local Councillor and Labour party colleagues, council officers, and most importantly Newham residents for their continued support during my time as an elected Councillor and Cabinet Member.

It has been my honour and privilege to represent Plaistow North. I will always cherish the memories I have of working with local residents to deliver many successful community projects. Some key highlights for me include the development of First Avenue Community garden, Plaistow Big Local Glen Rd Murial Project, our first Christmas Tree and Lights switch-on outside Plaistow Station, saving our local library and converting it to an oasis of community activity, the Queen’s visit to Lister Community School and the Tour de France and the Paralympic flame going through Plaistow High St. There are so many more highlights I could mention!

I am really proud of these achievements and my part in making them happen and believe that they have left a lasting legacy in terms of community cohesion.

I want to wish good luck to potential candidates in the Newham local labour Councillor selections. If selected and elected, you have a huge responsibility to help Newham residents improve their lives and support them in the continued challenges they face in everyday life under this vicious Tory government.

My final message to new Councillors: please always remember the reason why you became public servants. Put the interests of Newham residents’ first and deliver local services to improve the lives of our residents. Most importantly do this with a smile on your face! ☺

Many people thought Cllr Hussain would announce a run at the mayoral nomination once the trigger result was formalised. If he was considering that, he’s obviously decided against.

That he’s also decided to stand down altogether is a big surprise. I’m not sure what it says about the state of the Labour Party in Newham, but it’s not good.

Open sesame!

13 Feb

The Labour Party has announced details for the selection of its candidate to be the directly elected mayor of Newham.

Voting will take place from 1 March to midday on 16 March. It will be an online ballot, with no fallback option for those without internet access.

You’re also out of luck if you joined Labour after 1 July 2016 or you are in arrears with your subscriptions (so pay up if that’s you!).

There may be hustings, but no details have been provided yet.

Anyone thinking of standing must have been a member since at least 1 January 2016. They must submit their application form by 12pm on Monday 19 February.

Interviews will be held in central London on Tuesday 20 February. The shortlist will be announced shortly after that.