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Lyn Rokhs

9 Mar

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Oops!

2 Mar

I’ve written before bemoaning the shoddy state of record-keeping and a generally lax attitude to quality assurance at Newham council.

But a paper going to cabinet next week just about takes the biscuit.

This report seeks approval to the correction of the Minutes of the Cabinet Meeting on 20 February 2014

Yes, you read that right. They need to correct a four year-old set of minutes.

Why? Because the minutes of that meeting omitted to record a key decision in relation to setting up Red Door Ventures, the council-owned private rented development vehicle. That decision was to

Agree that the company be provided with funding through state aid compliant loans and grant facilities

So the council has been lending money – A LOT OF MONEY – over the past four years to Red Door Ventures without any properly recorded authority to do so.

Cabinet will undoubtedly agree to

correct the minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on the 20th February 2014 and ratify decisions made under the purported delegated authority, made in good faith, pursuant to the omitted recommendation.

But this is, to say the least, an embarrassing oversight.

On its face, this is an administrative cock up rather than Sir Robin over-reaching his legal authority (in contrast to the Collegiate 6th Form, where he did something he had absolutely no power to do). It is reminiscent of the unapproved £10 million overspend on the East Ham Town Hall campus project. That was also blamed on unnamed officers. The politicians, who should ultimately be accountable, just shrugged it off.

It all reflects extremely poorly on someone who is seeking a fifth term of office, claiming to the candidate of experience and competence.

And another one

17 Feb

This time it’s Cllr Frances Clarke, cabinet member for financial inclusion and health promotion:

Dear All

I have decided not to stand again as a councillor. I shall instead be focussing on community issues including safety in  tower blocks nationally. This year is the 50th anniversary of the collapse of Ronan Point and once again we are seeing evidence of similar blocks in other parts of London with serious structural defects. This is an issue I was involved in the past and particularly in light of the Grenfell tragedy it has become a priority again. In Newham in the 80s a joint campaign of tenants and Newham council successfully led to the demolition of 9 unsafe 22 storey blocks. We went on to work nationally campaigning to make blocks safe or get them demolished.

Thank you to everyone I have worked with, it has been a privilege; thank you to Robin for giving me the opportunity to lead on MoneyWorks and the promotion of early diagnosis of cancer.

Standing down

17 Feb

Beckton Cllr David Christie is standing down. He has written to his comrades and colleagues:

I wanted to let you know that I have decided not to stand as a councillor in May. It has been a difficult decision but I think it is the right one.

It has been an honour to represent Beckton ward for the last 8 years. I grew up here and I am so proud to have been able to represent this area and to make a difference to my community.

I am very grateful for the support that many of you have offered me and I wish you all good fortune in the future.

Running Newham council is such an important role and touches everyday life in so many ways. For me, this job has always been about making a difference to individual’s lives and this council has been able to do more than any other because of a single minded focus to support people on low incomes and to build opportunities for them and their families. That is why I have supported Robin over the last few years and hope that he will be Mayor for one final term in May. However, I am choosing to stand down now, at a time when I am proud of my achievements and can take this chance to pursue new opportunities in my career and in politics.

Given the situation we have been in over the last few months, it is a matter of much regret that I have not been able to properly discuss manifesto ideas with many of you in the way I would have wanted. I hope that whatever happens over the next few weeks, that I can contribute to the future policy agenda in Newham.

We were all elected under a Newham Labour brand. Don’t forget that, Look out for each other and see you out on a #labourdoorstep very soon!

Do over

4 Jan

The acting regional director of the London Labour Party has emailed Newham members:

As you may be aware, an affirmative ballot to determine the re-selection of the sitting directly-elected Mayor Newham was held in December 2016. This ballot, which was administered by the Local Campaign Forum (LCF), confirmed that Sir Robin Wales was selected as Labour’s candidate to fight the Mayoral election in May 2018.

Following the completion of this process, the party received complaints from a group of members with concerns over the eligibility status of some affiliated organisations who took part in the process. The complainants made it clear to the party that they intended to seek legal judgement on these matters in the courts.

The Labour Party maintains that all rules and procedures were applied correctly and that officers of the LCF acted in good faith with the information they were provided with.

However, a court case to determine that matter would be costly to the party and be a massive distraction away from campaigning to elect a Labour Mayor for Newham. Therefore, we have agreed to re-run the affirmative nomination process for Newham to determine if Sir Robin Wales is re-selected as Labour’s candidate for the election. The process will be administered by the Greater London Labour Party.

The ballot will be run with the same freeze date as the original process, 25th October 2016. This means that only members with six months membership at this point will be eligible to take part in any branch meetings where the affirmative vote will take place. If you are an eligible member then the party will be in touch with you to give you notice of this meeting.

We aim to complete this process as soon as possible to ensure everyone in the party can come together to play their part in delivering a successful campaign in Newham.

The local campaign forum is not being trusted to run a fair contest, so the regional party will supervise. And there will be a pre-agreed list of affiliates allowed to submit votes, which rather evens up the playing field.

Game on!

Data breach

22 Dec

Branch secretaries across West Ham Labour party have received an email today from Josephine Grahl, the vice chair for membership, about a serious data breach in Green Street West:

Dear Branch Secretary,

I am writing to draw your attention to a recent incident in which personal membership data of individuals may have been misused or accessed by an unauthorised person.

In September 2017, following the third attempt to hold a branch AGM in Green Street West, a number of members in that ward reported to the CLP Secretary and to myself that their Labour Party membership had been resigned without their knowledge ahead of the AGM. Emails were sent to the National Membership team purporting to be from these members, quoting their Labour Party membership numbers and home addresses, and stating that they wished immediately to resign their Labour Party membership.

Most of these members have now been reinstated with their continuity of membership preserved as the National Membership team recognised that the emails were sent maliciously from email addresses which were not the addresses on record for those members.

This has been reported to both the police and the Information Commissioner alleging illegal misuse of personal data. The matter has also been referred to the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit.

This is a cause for concern as in order to make these fraudulent resignations someone must have had access to the name, address and Labour Party membership numbers of the affected members. I am therefore writing to all officers with access to personal data to make them aware of this breach and ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities.

Branch Secretaries should be aware that their access to the personal data of members is governed by the Data Protection Act, and that misuse of this data may put the Labour Party in legal jeopardy. On no account may membership data be used for purposes other than that for which access is granted. If you are aware of any breach, you should contact the National Membership team on labourmembership@labour.org .uk or 0345 092 2299.

For more information the Labour Party’s data protection guidelines are available on Membersnet at https://members.labour.org. uk/rules-and-procedures [ registration required]

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about the above.

With the obvious caveat that I am not a lawyer, it appears that whoever did this has committed not just an offence under the Data Protection Act but also under the Communications Act 2003. Section 127(2) of that act targets false messages intended to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety. According to the Crown Prosecution Service, they “shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine or to both.”

Someone should be feeling very nervous.

Newham’s Red Door Ventures to buy Collective Old Oak

7 Dec

EGi – News Article – Newham’s Red Door Ventures to buy Collective Old Oak:

“The Collective Old Oak is close to being bought by Newham Council’s PRS developer Red Door Ventures.

“The arms-length development company, which uses council funding to build rental schemes around London, is understood to be paying close to £120m for the co-living scheme.”

And where is this £120 million investment located? NW10. The London Borough of Ealing.

Correction

The original version of this post said that the Collective Old Oak was in Brent. Although parts of NW10 are in Brent, the specific postcode for the development is in neighbouring Ealing. Thanks to Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent council, for pointing this out.