Archive | Politics RSS feed for this section

TSSA trailer

7 Nov

Salim Patel 121

Cllr Salim Patel, mayoral advisor and TSSA delegate

London blogger and ex-Guardian journalist Dave Hill has an intriguing account of how one union affiliate’s vote ended up in Sir Robin’s pile in the trigger ballot.

It’s well worth reading the whole piece, but the nut of it is here:

The TSSA [Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association] branch in question is its Euston one. That branch had had previous ties with the East Ham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Newham, and in May 2015 became affiliated to it again. A letter from the branch, which I have a copy of, informed the CLP’s then treasurer of this, said that affiliation fees and a donation of £50 had been paid by credit transfer from TSSA head office, and stated: “Our delegate will be Councillor Salim Patel.”

Councillor Patel represents Manor Park ward in Newham. His Labour Party profile describes him as a train manager with Virgin Trains. He is also one of Sir Robin’s appointees as a “community lead councillor” with additional children and early years responsibilities. For these duties he received in 2016/17 a special responsibility allowance of £8,433.39 in addition to his standard councillor allowance of £10,842.

The person in charge of running the trigger ballot was Councillor Patrick Murphy, chosen by  Newham Labour’s Local Campaign Forum in conjunction with the party’s London region for the task of procedures secretary. His duties included distributing trigger ballot papers. Councillor Murphy too was a mayoral adviser at the time, receiving a special responsibility allowance of £7,871.50. He is still on Sir Robin’s team, currently as a “delivery lead” councillor, with responsibility for environment policy.

My information is that the TSSA Euston branch received no direct communication from Councillor Murphy, unlike other unions entitled to vote in the ballot. Rather, Councillor Patel in person brought the ballot paper to a Euston branch officer, who signed it off without really appreciating what it was or giving it more than a moment’s attention. A vote was eventually added to the pile favouring Sir Robin’s automatic re-selection. The final result was 20-17.

Hill says he has contacted Cllr Patel for his side of the story and promised to update his story if he’s got anything wrong. He has not yet had any response.

If Salim Patel won’t talk to Dave Hill he should at the very least explain himself to local Labour members.As with everything else connected to the affiliate votes in the trigger ballot, this absolutely stinks.

Advertisements

Time after time

15 Aug

By the time next year’s election rolls around 15 current members of the council will have held their seats continuously for 20 years or more.

The table below shows exactly how long they’ve been around

Name Date elected Years to date
A SINGH 04/05/1978 39.31
C McAULEY 06/05/1982 35.30
R WALES* 09/07/1992 25.12
I CORBETT 09/07/1992 25.12
L HUDSON 05/05/1994 23.30
E SPARROWHAWK 05/05/1994 23.30
N WILSON 05/05/1994 23.30
C FURNESS 01/05/1997 20.30
Q PEPPIATT 01/05/1997 20.30
U DESAI 07/05/1998 19.30
R CRAWFORD 07/05/1998 19.29
J LAGUDA 07/05/1998 19.29
W VAUGHAN 07/05/1998 19.29
P SATHIANESAN 07/05/1998 19.29
P HOLLAND 07/05/1998 19.29

 *Robin Wales was also previously on the council from 1982 to 1986.

When local branches meet this autumn to select their candidates, one thing they should consider is the urgent need to freshen up the Labour group.

NOTE: The original version of this post stated that 16 members will have held their seats for 20 years or more and the table included Cllr Bryan Collier. It has been pointed out that Cllr Collier was defeated at the 2006 election and returned to the council in 2010, so his current continuous service is just over seven years; first elected in 1994, his total period as councillor is more than 19 years. The same is true for Cllr Alan Griffiths.

Letter to the Editor

8 Aug

A reader writes

Dear Sir,

What on earth is going on at the Newham Mag? I had always thought it was the Mayor’s personal publicity freebie, distributed fortnightly to the adoring masses, and a snip at just £20,000 per issue.

But in the current edition there are only seven (7!)  photos of our Mayor (compared to 20 in the previous edition) and of those, in only 4 is he wearing the Mayor’s ceremonial chain of office. In one photo, he is not even wearing a tie and looking very much the worse  for wear, but possibly this photo shoot was carefully crafted to blend in with a very messy dwelling whose landlord the Council is aiming to prosecute.

And what’s worse there are more photos of the Deputy Mayor (Statutory) and Cabinet Member for Community Neighbourhoods, Ken Clark – he has eight.
Has there been a midnight coup?

Has Clark seized the Mag as part of  his own ruthless drive to succeed the man who has created his Deputy (Statutory)’s political career out of nothing? I think the people deserve an explanation before disllusion and consternation start to take a grip as election year approaches.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Mansell

All excellent questions.

To which can be added, when will the council comply with the direction issued by the secretary of state for Communities and Local Government last December and reduce publication of the Newham Mag to just four times a year?

Come dine with me

26 Jul

Meydansofrasi 2

Last night the Meydan Sofrasi restaurant on Barking Road excitedly tweeted that

THE MAYOR OF NEWHAM, SIR ROBIN WALES visited our restaurant today. 

As you can see from the accompanying picture, the mayor was taking refreshment with some of his nearest and dearest.

Fellow diners included councillors Unmesh Desai, Andrew Baikie, the Corbetts, Lester Hudson and, er, Ahmed Noor.

That’s the same Ahmed Noor who broke the council’s rules on landlord licensing, who’s currently suspended from the Labour party and who was accused by the standards committee of abusing his power to stifle complaints against him from tenants. The report to the standards committee about his conduct makes for hair-raising reading.

With councillor re-selections coming up in the autumn, is this a sign that the disgraced Noor may make a comeback? Even by Newham standards that would leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

UPDATE (13:30): the restaurant has deleted the tweet.

Massive attack

24 Jul

At the last full council meeting Sir Robin launched an unprecedented attack on a small number of chairs of governors of Newham schools. Although it was a repeat of his performance at the Labour Group AGM a fortnight earlier, that was a private meeting and this was in public.

A number of councillors were absolutely appalled. Forest Gate South councillor Dianne Walls has written to the mayor to complain about his behaviour (copying all the other councillors into the bargain):

Robin,

I was very shocked and surprised at the last group and council meeting when you publicly named the chairs of governors of schools in the borough requiring improvement, following Ofsted inspection, in a way that was designed to humiliate.

This is an unprecedented move in my experience and cannot possibly inspire members or anyone else to take on the challenging task of being a school governor.

This cruel and unusual treatment has not been demonstrated towards other councillors who have served, in the very recent past, on one of those governing bodies you mentioned.

Indeed your own mayoral advisor for children and young people has served on the governing body of a number of failing schools / institutions (in some cases as vice chair), without receiving similar rebuke.

I am ashamed of sitting on a council where those in power use their position to bully and humiliate other members without all of the facts of the case being aired. I refer you to Cllr Scoresby’s email on the subject of Monega school.

We all want the best for our children, and you know that many members give up a lot of time and commitment to governing bodies on which they serve (some for many years) and try to do their best in the face of relentless political interference from this government. Your attack on chairs of governors puts that commitment in jeopardy.

So members of governing bodies need support and encouragement (and yes constructive criticism) but not public humiliation when things go wrong.

I have to say, in conclusion, that an attack on a female member in this way was particularly shameful, when we want to encourage more women to participate in public life. We are all diminished by such behaviour.

Regards, Cllr Dianne Walls OBE

The mayor is clearly feeling the strain when it comes to schools. He’s been forced to back down over funding his free school meals “promise” and a dozen secondary school heads are up in arms about his proposal to spend almost £30 million on expanding two local academies, a plan which will put other local schools at risk.

As so often before, Sir Robin’s response to his own mistakes is to lash out at others.

Disclosure: I was one of the chairs that Sir Robin named in his attack.

Election 2017 – your candidates

12 May

The lists of candidates standing in the general election for the two Newham constituencies have been published.

East Ham

  • Choudhry Afzal – Friends Party
  • Kirsty Finlayson – Conservative
  • Chidi Oti-Obihara – Green Party
  • Daniel Oxley – UKIP
  • Stephen Timms – Labour
  • Glanville Williams – Liberal Democrats
  • Mirza Zillur Rahman – Independent

West Ham

  • Rosamund Beattie – UKIP
  • Lyn Brown – Labour
  • Paul Reynolds – Liberal Democrats
  • Kayode Shedowo – Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Patrick Spencer – Conservative
  • Michael Spracklin – Green Party

Broken promise

4 Apr

Screenshot 2017 04 04 17 10 06

The mayor’s 2014 manifesto

The Newham Recorder reports:

Free school meals for some primary school children in Newham could be under threat, a headteachers’ union has warned.

In a letter sent out on behalf of the Newham branch of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) on Friday, parents were told “rising costs and a frozen budget mean tough decisions will have to be taken”.

Union officials wrote that the ‘Eat for Free’ programme was “unsustainable” in part due to a new “transparent” funding formula from the council – calculated on the number of children and meals served – asking schools to foot 60pc of the bill moving forwards.

“Schools will not be able to continue to provide free meals for all junior aged pupils unless the national funding picture changes, or the mayor decides to fully fund his initiative,” the letter stated.

The story quotes Forest Gate South councillor Dianne Walls, a former local primary school headteacher, expressing surprise “as a member of the council” that schools were being asked to pay anything at all.

Councillors kept in the dark, promises broken. I am shocked. Shocked.