Tag Archives: Beckton

A matter of interest

13 Oct

Despite only being in office for a month councillor Tonii Wilson has wasted no time in settling into the Newham way of doing things.

In the register of interests she declares that she has no ‘employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain’:

Tonii Wilson Interests

Yet, according to Companies House, she is director of a company called Virgen Limited:

Tonii Wilson directorship

The utter disregard shown by councillorsand the mayor – for openness, honesty and just straightforward accuracy in recording their interests is shocking. But it is still disappointing to see a new councillor treat their obligation for transparency with such contempt.

Beckton result

12 Sep

Wilson and Wales

Trebles all round as Tonii Wilson’s win maintains Sir Robin’s iron grip on Newham

The results of yesterday’s by-election in Beckton, which was held to fill the vacancy left by the death of Alec Kellaway in June, have been announced:

Syed Hussain AHMED Conservative 584 29.6%
Mark DUNNE TUSC 21 1%
Jane Alison LITHGOW Green Party 70 3.5%
David MEARS UKIP 215 10.9%
Kayode SHEDOWO Christian People’s Alliance 33 1.7%
David THORPE Liberal Democrat 43 2.2%
Tonii WILSON Labour 1,006 51%
Total Number of votes: 1,983    
Electorate total: 10,510    
Turn out: 18.86%    
Number of valid votes: 1,972    
Number of Rejected Votes: 11    

There’s so much to be disappointed about here that it’s hard to know where to start.

Obviously this result means Newham continues to be a one party state and, with that party ruthlessly controlled by the Mayor, it is essentially a one person state. Tonii Wilson was hand-picked by Sir Robin and imposed on the local party through a dubious ‘urgent’ selection procedure. She may have been the best candidate Labour could have chosen and, had Beckton members been given a proper say, she might have been selected any way, but we’ll never know. Right now, it just looks like she’ll be an empty suit waiting to unquestioningly do the boss’s bidding. Trebles all round at Building 1000!

The poor showings by the two alternative left parties is a shame. TUSC came dead last, polling even fewer votes than the CPA, but they put up a paper candidate and made no real effort. At least the Greens ran an active campaign. But 70 votes is a feeble return. If the party aspires to re-establish itself in Newham after a decade-long hiatus it needs to be doing better than this. In May the Greens were runners-up to Labour in Forest Gate North. Perhaps this part of the borough is more fertile territory.

By contrast UKIP is doing well in the south. They polled strongly in both Canning Town wards and in Custom House in May; they finished third here with almost 11% of the vote. Electorally, this will probably be of more concern to the Tories than Labour, but any rise in support for the far right in Newham has to worry us all.

The most disappointing thing though is the pathetically low turnout – 18.86%. Fewer than 1 in 5 voters even bothered registering a preference. It’s a spectacular failure by all concerned. But it’s not just a Newham issue, or a even a Labour issue: it’s a national problem that all parties must address. 

For the next three and a half years Tonii Wilson will sit in council with the active backing of less than 1 in 10 Beckton voters. Unless we do something to address the democratic deficit there is a going to be real crisis of legitimacy in local government.

Beckton Green

28 Aug

The London Green Party has put out a press statement about its candidate for the Beckton by-election:

Long-term Newham resident, Jane Lithgow, has been named as the Green Party candidate standing for the Beckton by-election which takes place on 11th September.

Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London said:

“Jane Lithgow, a Beckton resident, will bring a strong Green voice and fresh thinking to challenge Newham’s one-party council.

“When Greens are elected, we make a difference: pushing for energy-efficient homes to cut bills and climate emissions, persuading councils to become Living Wage employers, making streets safer by reducing local speed limits.

“Even one Green makes a difference!”

Ms Lithgow commented:

“If elected as councilor I will make housing a top priority. It has been saddening having to watch Newham’s Labour Council forge ahead with huge property developments which have only served to benefit big businesses and investors, rather than Newham’s residents and the people who need housing the most.

“Many people living in Newham have been unfairly affected by reductions in housing benefit and I see daily the toll that this takes on families and individuals. I would fight for affordable housing in the area and stand-up to developers whose sky-rise developments continue to push-up the price of properties in Newham, forcing residents out of the borough they call home.” 

I am told that Jane Lithgow isn’t going to be just a paper candidate and that the Greens will run an active campaign in Beckton. A local candidate with strong messages on housing and on the local impact of London City Airport will hopefully grab the attention of voters. 

Beckton candidates

18 Aug

Nominations have closed for the Beckton by-election and seven candidates will contest the vacant seat:

  • AHMED, Syed Hussain – Conservative Party Candidate
  • DUNNE, Mark – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
  • LITHGOW, Jane Alison – Green Party
  • MEARS, David – UK Independence Party (UKIP)
  • SHEDOWO, Kayode – Christian Peoples Alliance
  • THORPE, David – Liberal Democrat
  • WILSON, Tonii – Labour Party Candidate

It is a small irony that local voters will have a wider choice in the by-election than they had at the full council election back in May. Then there were only three options: Labour, the Tories and the Christians.

With two new alternatives on the left and UKIP sniping from the right, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Could David Mears effectively help Labour hold a seat the Tories might otherwise have had an outside chance of winning?

The poll will take place on Thursday 11 September 2014 between the hours of 7:00 am and 10:00 pm.

Save the date

11 Aug

Sometime on 6th August Newham council quietly published a notice for the Beckon by-election on its website. I noticed this the following day and wondered why this didn’t merit a story in the News section or even a tweet:

Then on Sunday morning when I was catching up on the news via my RSS reader I noticed a story in the Newham feed headlined “Date for Beckton Ward by-election”.

When I clicked through I was surprised to see it dated 6th August:

IMG 0079

Well it definitely hadn’t been there on the 7th when I looked after seeing the Notice had been published, nor when I checked again on the 8th (I know, I really should get out more).

So I checked the source code for the page:

IMG 0080

That’s just weird.

Why would the council fake the date on a news story to make it appear as if it had been published two days before it had actually been created?

No doubt there’s a perfectly simple, rational explanation for what otherwise appears to be an outright lie. I’m just too dim to see it.

Beckton by-election

23 Jul

Following the death of Councillor Alec Kellaway in June there will have to be a by-election in Beckton to replace him.

No date has yet been set, but the Notice of Vacancy has very quietly been published on the council website. 

The notice is dated 21st July and the election will have to be held within 35 working days of 2 local electors writing to the returning office to request it. Assuming this has been carefully choreographed and they do that this week, Thursday 4th September is the most likely date.

Labour’s candidate selection process is already well advanced. The final meeting will be tomorrow.

Local members are not being trusted to make their choice unaided, so two of Sir Robin’s close lieutenants, councillors Unmesh Desai and Ken Clark, have been placed on the panel. We can therefore be confident that whoever wins will have the mayoral seal of approval.

In May the leading Tory candidate, Syed Ahmed, finished 700 votes adrift of Alec Kellaway, but Labour can’t be too complacent.

At the last council by-election in Royal Docks in 2009, Steve Brayshaw only narrowly beat off the Tory challenger. His 15 vote majority was uncomfortably narrow. And those with longer memories will recall by-elections in Bemersyde in 1991 and Greatfield in 1992 that Labour actually lost. 

Sitting Beckton councillors Chowdhury and Christie would be advised to cancel any holiday plans and buy some comfortable shoes. They’ll be pounding the streets for the rest of the summer.