Tag Archives: Boleyn ward

The casual vacancy

17 Sep

Grayee 2018 Sep 14

On Friday Boleyn ward councillor Veronica Oakeshott tweeted:

After three years as a Councillor I am stepping down today to move house, closer to my family. It has been a huge privilege to serve in Boleyn. Thank you Boleyn for your friendship – I’ll miss you!

Cllr Oakeshott won her seat in a by-election in 2015 following the death of Cllr Charity Fiberesima. She held it easily at the local elections in May.

During her time in office Cllr Oakeshott successfully campaigned to keep the Champions Statue in her ward and, less successfully, to ensure the council lived up to its promise that 35% of homes on the old West Ham stadium site would be ‘affordable’.

There will be a by-election to fill the ‘casual vacancy’, most likely in late October. Labour will, of course, hold the seat easily. The real interest will be in who is selected as the candidate.No names have emerged yet, but Momentum is already organising to ensure that it is one of their people.


The date for the by-election has been set for Thursday 1 November. Boleyn ward will be holding its selection meeting on Tuesday 2 October. 


Boleyn result

4 Dec

Boleyn result

Image via @BritainElects

Congratulations to Veronica Oakeshott, the successful Labour candidate, and commiserations to the rest.

A big Labour win was never in doubt, but it is still surprising to see the party increasing its share of the vote, albeit on a very low turnout – just 21% of electors made it to the polls.

But the bigger surprise is the collapse of the Tory vote – down more than 12 percentage points – and the Liberals coming (a very distant) second. Bear in mind that in the 2014 general election the LibDems lost their deposits in both Newham seats and couldn’t even find a paper candidate to put up in the Stratford by-election.

The Greens also did a little better than their 2014 result would have suggested – they polled around 3% in East Ham. I think they’ll be reasonably pleased.

But for UKIP, this is a truly dismal result – though one that will hearten the rest of us. The hard right has never amounted to much in Newham and this continues that happy record.

A bluffer’s guide to Boleyn

9 Nov

Boleyn map


Boleyn ward came into existence in 2002, following a major reorganisation of boundaries in Newham, which reduced the number of wards from 24 to 20. The newly created Boleyn ward was made up from bits of the old Bemersyde, Castle, Central, Greatfield and Plaistow wards.

Greatfield ward, from which the southern part of Boleyn comes, was once a stronghold of the Residents & Ratepayers. They held the ward at every election from 1968 to 1982, when the SDP-Liberal Alliance won. Labour took all three seats in 1986, but lost two of them in 1990 to the Conservatives. The ward went back to Labour in 1994 and stayed that way.

The northern part of Boleyn mostly comes from Castle ward, where Sir Robin Wales first cut his teeth in Newham politics. He was elected there, as plain old ‘Robert A Wales’, in 1982. He replaced ‘Margaret D Brown’, who is better known these days as councillor Dianne Walls OBE.

Although Respect came close to causing an upset in 2006 Labour has won Boleyn ward at every election since it came into existence.

At the 2014 elections there were 9,689 voters on the electoral roll in the ward. Turnout was 44% – slightly above the Newham average – and the three Labour candidates cruised home.

Candidate Party Votes
Obaid Khan Labour 2658
Charity Fiberesima Labour 2505
Harvinder Singh Virdee       Labour 2425
Jamal Uddin Conservative 869
Yasir Asif Conservative 823
Yaseen Farmer Conservative 756
Ben Robinson Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition        342
Barbara Chukwurah Christian Peoples Alliance 270
Stephen Williamson Christian Peoples Alliance 259

Population & Demographics*


  • Total: 15,932
  • Male: 53%
  • Female: 47%
  • Average age (mean): 31
  • Median age: 29


  • Total: 4,928
  • Avg HH size: 3
  • One-person HHs: 24%
  • Deprived HHs: 77%
    • Single deprivation: 37%
    • Multiple deprivation: 40%
  • Owner-occupied: 42%
  • Private rent: 31%
  • Social rent: 26%
  • Overcrowded HHs: 33%


  • Christian: 35%
  • Hindu: 10%
  • Muslim: 40%
  • Other: 3%
  • No religion/not stated: 12%


  • White British: 13%
  • Other white: 9%
  • Asian/British Asian: 55%
  • Black/Black British: 16%
  • Mixed/multiple: 4%
  • Arab/other: 4%

Place of birth:

  • Born in UK: 46%
  • Born in EU (ex. UK): 8%
  • Born other countries: 47%

Time in the UK:

  • In the UK less than 5 years: 35%
  • In the UK 5 – 9 years: 20%
  • In the UK 10 years or more: 45%

Economic activity (16-74 yr olds)

  • Economically active: 49%
    • In employment: 32%
    • Self-employed: 7%
    • Looking for work: 9%
  • Economically inactive: 51%
    • Retired: 23%
    • Looking after home/family: 7%
    • Long-term sick/disabled: 14%
    • Other: 5%
    • Students: 3%

* Based on 2011 Census. Figures may not sum due to rounding.

2015 candidates

Labour’s Veronica Oakeshott is a campaigner for Save the Children UK. She has an MA in political campaigning and was the subject of a brief profile in the Newham Recorder in 2011.

Emmanuel Finndoro-Obasi is chairman (sic) of the East Ham Conservative Association. In the 2014 local elections he stood as one of his party’s candidates in Beckton, finishing sixth.

David Mears was UKIP’s candidate for mayor in 2014, when he came third with just over 6% of the vote. Three months later he stood as the party’s candidate in the Beckton by-election and again he came third, this time with 11%.

Diane Ofori is an independent film and TV producer. Her showreel on YouTube includes an election broadcast for the Christian Party.

Green party candidate Frankie-Rose Taylor describes herself in her Twitter bio as a ’22 year old actor, feminist and sunshine child.’ She is a leading member of the BoleynDev100 campaign, which is calling for 100% social housing on the Boleyn Ground site, which will be redeveloped after West Ham United move out next summer.

Sheree Miller is the Liberal Democrats’ candidate. She lives in Plaistow and works as a Customer Experience Manager at the Barbican Centre.

The issues

Housing. Housing. Housing.

Look at the map. The Boleyn Ground stands at the heart of the ward. The 850 ‘luxury homes’ to be built there will have a huge impact on the character of the area. Even the small number of allegedly ‘affordable’ shared ownership homes will be far beyond the reach of local people. Labour will claim it’s pushing hard to get a better deal from Gailiard Homes, the developers, and will cite the last minute ‘offer’ (details unspecified) that led to the strategic planning committee deferring its decision last month.

But their opponents will hammer the council’s dismal record of failing to stand up to greedy developers. And the fact that the only homes Newham is building itself, via its Red Door Ventures business, are for private rent – at market rates ‘starting at’ £1500 a month for a 2-bed flat.

Boleyn latest

6 Nov

Nominations for the Boleyn by-election close at 4 o’clock, but we already know who the main candidates will be:

  • Emmanuel Finndoro-Obasi – Conservative
  • Frankie-Rose Taylor – Green Party 
  • Veronica Oakeshott – Labour
  • Sheree Miller – Liberal Democrats

Any more for any more?

The election will be held on Thursday 3rd December 2015.

UPDATE (9 November): After nominations closed on Friday two more candidates joined those above on the ballot:

  • David Mears – UKIP
  • Diane Ofori – Independent

The official listing is on the council website.

The fix is in

14 Oct

Someone has kindly forwarded me an email sent this morning to East Ham MP Stephen Timms by the chair of Boleyn ward Labour party. It concerns ‘unusual activity’ by the mayor and leading councillors in the ward over the weekend, following the death of councillor Charity Fiberesima.

Dear Stephen Timms

I hope you are well.

Boleyn ward held a condolence meeting for Cllr Charity Fiberesima at 8pm on Sunday 11th October who sadly died on Tuesday 06 October 2015.
At the meeting, Boleyn ward members observed a minute silence followed by a few words dedicated to Cllr Charity’s life and her hard work as the ward Councillor. The ward members present also donated money to buy a card and a wreath. Members are extremely upset and in shock and say that Charity was a very kind, always smiling and a friendly person.

Now I am writing to you that members present also discussed an unusual activity that occurred within just few days of Cllr Charity’s death.

On the Sunday morning of 11th October 2015, just five days after the death of Cllr Charity, the Mayor and a number of other ward Councillors mostly Cabinet members and or Mayoral advisors from West Ham and East Ham CLPs were walking up and down the streets of Boleyn ward questioning Labour party members some very uncomfortable and personal questions such as what were the reasons for joining the Labour party, what did they do for living, what did they think of the new Labour leadership Jeremy Corbyn, do they regularly attend party meetings, are their parents active party members (the member replied, I am sorry but they are old now and couldn’t be active but they still contribute to the Labour party, whether they knew the Labour party values? 

I, the Chair of Boleyn ward, condemn this very unprofessional act. The ward officers, ward Councillors and the members believe that they were kept in dark of this secret mission. No ward will allow other ward Councillors to come so secretly on a Sunday morning and ask these kinds of personal questions without even engaging the ward officers or the ward Councillors and so will therefore not the Boleyn ward either. Members are finding it hard to understand that why was it kept so secret and why was it so necessary for it to happen just within a few days of Cllr Charity’s death?

The Labour party ward members of Boleyn are absolutely outraged about this matter and believe the Cllrs involved showed no respect to Cllr Charity and her family and did not even wait for the funeral but flagged up their true emotions all of a sudden. They found this extremely rude and disrespectful as she had just recently passed away, her blood is still hot, her children are still in great pain of their loss, however the senior Labour members did not have any courtesy and had already thought of starting the by-election process. Members feel that the whole ward is being undermined.

Let us remind ourselves that Boleyn ward is a fully functional ward with a very diverse and committed group of dedicated ward officers where the very enthusiastic and passionate members meet regularly promoting Labour party values as well as discussing important and vital concerning issues within the ward and the borough. It is also important to understand that only the Boleyn ward members have the right and are capable to select their own Labour party candidate for the by-election following the death of Cllr Charity and no one else. Undermining Boleyn ward members in selecting their own candidate will not be acceptable and will not be in the wider interest of the ward.

Therefore, on behalf of the Boleyn ward Labour party members, I demand the Labour Party, Labour London region, East Ham and West Ham MPs Stephen Timms and Lyn Brown and the CLP officers to investigate the matter and ask those involved (we know which Councillors/people were involved) as to who sent out the email to only a few selected Councillors to carry out this very unusual, disrespectful and secret activity and who prepared the questionnaire. Was this decision approved by the East Ham CLP’s EC and GC members or even the East Ham MP Stephen Timms? Why the unprofessional behaviour? Is this the manner at which our local Labour party’s run and is this how democracy should/is being promoted within the Labour party?

I look forward to an urgent action taking place.

I have absolutely no doubt that Sir Robin and his trusty sidekicks, councillors Clark and Desai, were on the case almost the moment they heard the news. They will have paused barely long enough to issue their brief tributes before putting the fix in. 

Back in 2013 Boleyn members were prevented from taking part in the main candidate selection process for the local elections because of ‘concerns’ (real or imagined) about the viability of the ward party. So it’s notable that the email refers to Boleyn being ‘fully functional’. Whatever the truth of that claim may be, it won’t stop Sir Robin finding a seat on the green leather benches at East Ham town hall for a compliant and trusty supporter.