Tag Archives: by-election

A bluffer’s guide to Boleyn – redux

23 Oct

Boleyn map

The Boleyn by-election will be held on Thursday 1 November. It has been called following the resignation of Veronica Oakeshott, who is moving away from London for family reasons. Cllr Oakeshott was first elected to the council in a by-election in 2015.

History 

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.

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 election in May there were 9,900 voters on the electoral roll in the ward. Entirely predictably, the three Labour candidates cruised home.

Candidate Party Votes
Genevieve Kitchen Labour 2824
Veronica Oakeshott Labour 2544
Harvinder Singh Virdee       Labour 2280
Md Fazlul Karim Conservative 693
Sayadur Rahman Conservative 450
Helen Lynch Green 405
Khatija Meaby Conservative       384

Population & Demographics*

Population:

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

Households:

  • 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%

Religion:

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

Ethnicity:

  • 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 Moniba Khan has lived in the ward for the past 18 years and has been active in community campaigns. Her husband, Obaid Khan, represented the ward from 2014 to 2018.

Fazlul Karim also lives in the ward with his family and runs two businesses on Barking Road. In the May local elections he stood as one of the Conservative  candidates in Boleyn, finishing fourth.

Green party candidate Frankie-Rose Taylor describes herself in her Twitter bio as a ’Performance artist/Comedian/Poet.’ She is convenor for Newham Greens and co-chair of London Young Greens. She fought the Boleyn by-election in 2015 and contested Forest Gate North in May this year.

The Liberal Democrats are standing Arunsalam Pirapaharan. He previously contested Wall End ward for the party in 2010 and stood before that as an independent.

The issues 

Housing. Housing. Flytipping. And 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. Shortly after the last by-election Newham Council secured agreement that 25% of the homes would be ‘affordable’. The then mayor, Sir Robin Wales, announced in a press release his intention to ‘top up’ the affordable housing allocation by a further 10% by making an £18m investment, thereby bringing the total amount of affordable housing to 35%. This promise was subsequently broken when the council decided it would buy the original 25%, rather than allow another social housing provider to acquire them. Newham spent its money (including the £18m) on buying the original 25%, leaving nothing left for the 10% top up. The net result was 84 fewer affordable homes.

Labour’s opponents will talk about this and the generally filthy state of the borough. Efforts to tackle the scourge of fly tipping are being made, but it’s all too easy to point at the rotting mattresses and broken furniture and promise to make it go away. 

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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.

UPDATE:

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. 

Withdrawal symptoms

29 Jun

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The Liberal Democrat candidate for the upcoming Forest Gate North by-election has withdrawn. The party has released a statement:

We regret that Lib Dem campaigner James Rumsby has has to stand down for personal reasons and we thank him for having put himself forward to serve our community.

We are pleased that so many local residents backed the Remain cause in the recent EU referendum, and that we are welcoming new members every week.

Newham residents deserve a positive alternative to the chaos offered by the two main parties. If you agree, join us in the Lib Dems.

Mr Rumsby’s withdrawal leaves a three-way fight between Labour, the Conservatives and the Green party.

Green candidate selected

16 Jun

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Members of Newham Green Party have selected Elisabeth Whitebread as their candidate for the Forest Gate North by-election.

She has issued the following statement:

Hi, I’m Elisabeth, and I’m the Green Party candidate for Forest Gate North. I live on Sebert Road under the Goblin line, having decided to move here when I fell in love with Wanstead Flats four years ago. Forest Gate has been my home for a relatively short time, and yet I feel more a part of the community here than I have anywhere else since I moved out of my parents’ house. I guess it’s that kind of place.

In my professional life I’m an environmental campaigner (in the above photo I’m handing in a petition against plastic microbeads to Number 10!). I’ve led successful campaigns to create marine reserves in far flung corners of the world, getting to know island communities and working with them to protect their incredible underwater life. I also helped to achieve a reversal of government proposals to water down the National Curriculum’s requirement to teach children about nature. 

My degree in psychology and my experience in environmental campaigning have given me the skills to understand how to tackle issues like flytipping, one of the most pervasive problems that this area faces. The recent decision to introduce a £20 charge to collect bulky items seems to me to be a big step in the wrong direction, and shows a real misunderstanding of local people’s circumstances. 

You might have met me when I worked at Coffee7 a couple of years ago. While talking to other people who live here, I’ve heard that many are deeply dissatisfied with the current council and Mayor. No matter what your political allegiance, it’s surely bad for democracy to have only one Party represented on our council, with no opposition to scrutinise their decisions.

In the last local elections here in 2014, the Green Party came second in Forest Gate North. If you want to send a strong message to the council, increase the democracy and accountability of the council, and elect a candidate who will listen to residents and fight hard for their concerns, then please consider voting Green on 14th July.

Hobson’s choice?

13 Jun

Local Labour party members will get to select their candidate for the upcoming Forest Gate North by-election at a special meeting on Thursday. Or at least that’s the theory.

An email all members from Patrick Murphy, chair of Newham Labour’s local campaign forum sets out the timetable:

If you wish to be considered as a candidate for this Election, you are advised of the following timetable:

Applications invited.        10th June.
Close of Applications.     14th June.
Interview Panel.              15th June.
FGN meets to Shortlist   16th June.
Selection of Candidate.  16th June.

Please note that you must have been a Labour Party member for 1 year (cut off date June 10th 2015). 

This has taken some members by surprise. At the last ward meeting Ellie Robinson, whose resignation has triggered the by-election, told them there was no need to discuss the selection process there and then as there was no rush to hold the by-election. And members got an email from Rachel Tripp and Seyi Akiwowo inviting anyone who was interested in standing, or had any questions about what it was like to be a councillor, to get in touch. They said they’d organise a meeting if enough people were interested.

That has obviously now gone by the board. The speed with which the by-election has been called, and the consequent urgency to select a candidate, has left some fearing a stitch-up by the leadership.

But that was always likely anyway, no matter how many local members expressed an interest or however long they took to talk about the process. The local campaign forum – which is a tool of the leadership – will interview all applicants and decide the shortlist of potential candidates to go forward to the branch for selection. Local members will have their choice, but only from options approved by Sir Robin’s lieutenants.

Councillor John Gray, writing on his blog, has tried to reassure members:

I am Vice Chair of the Branch and gave a commitment to members at our last meeting that the branch would do every thing possible to make sure that the selection process is fair, democratic and inclusive. 

Brave words. But in truth there is little that can be done, especially given that nomination papers have to with the council by 4 p.m. on Friday 17th. Any attempt to appeal the process to Labour head office would risk the party having no candidate. That’s simply not going to happen.

In talking to local members about who might put themselves forward four names have come up: 

  • Dr. Martin Edobor, a junior hospital doctor and national chair of the Young Fabians
  • Wendy Mitchell, a former Hackney councillor now living in Forest Gate.
  • Anamul Islam, a trade union activist in the PCS
  • Amanjit Jhund, “Doctor, Entrepreneur and Labour Party Activist”, according to his Twitter bio. Stood in Scotland in the 2015 general election and, er, didn’t win. Also ‘Mr. Ellie Robinson’ (which, sadly, is likely to count against him with Sir Robin at the moment)

Of course there may be other contenders too.

We will have to wait until Friday to find out who get’s the nod. And whoever that is will be odds-on to be our new councillor.


Correction: In the original version of this post I mis-spelled Anamul Islam’s name as Anum Ismal. My apologies to him.

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.