Tag Archives: East Ham

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
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No mayor, no Christmas

21 Dec

Labour party members in Manor Park had to cancel their Christmas social at short notice last week because the mayor couldn’t attend.

The ward party chair sent round an apologetic email, explaining that the social couldn’t go ahead because of Labour party “rules”:

I have to inform you, regretfully, that after an emergency meeting, the Manor Park Social Event for next week (17th), has been cancelled. 

This is due to three rules: firstly, one of our guests cannot attend. (If our Mayor cannot attend then we cannot proceed with the social). Secondly, branches are not allowed to officially socialize as part of the Labour Party, only CLP. Finally, no guests outside of Newham are allowed to be invited to a Labour Party social event and there was some doubt about the music and choir at a Labour Party event.

This is very disappointing, as it was discussed and agreed at our branch meeting three weeks ago. 

However, I have asked the Chair of East Ham CLP if we can have a social event in 2016 for all of East Ham branches and this can go ahead. So we can look forward to this event.

I am very sorry for any inconvenience this cancellation may have caused. 

My sincere apologies.

Anyone searching the Labour party rule book will, of course, come away empty-handed. There are no such rules. It is straightforwardly an attempt to control and stop East Ham members meeting up and working together ahead of the trigger ballot to confirm Sir Robin, yet again, as the mayoral candidate. Divide and rule!

The ward chair was instructed to cancel the event, but maybe she should have seen it coming. She is also East Ham’s social secretary and has previously complained to the CLP secretary, Mariam Dawood, about the impossibility of organising activities without access to the full list of party members.

These shenanigans are an interesting contrast to the West Ham party, which has held many events open to all Labour supporters, mostly without the mayor. Some have included non-Newham guests – and even non-Labour people (disclosure: I’ve been to a couple).

Members in East Ham ought to be asking themselves about the motives of the people running their local party. Whose interests are they looking after?

Parachutes

3 Nov

More shenanigans in Sir Robin’s personal fiefdom – East Ham constituency Labour party. And another email to Stephen Timms from unhappy members.

We are writing to you in relation to the recent election of the Chair of East Ham CLP … in our capacities as GC delegates, local branch chairs and Councillors. We are concerned that through a combination of undue influence from our local Mayor Sir Robin Wales, illegitimate nominations and a lack of transparency by some members managing and organising the AGM election i.e. Newham Campaign Organiser Carl Morris and Cllr Forhad Hussain from West Ham CLP, an unfair election process for the position of Chair has taken place.

The story starts back in August, when Boleyn councillor Obaid Khan applied to join the Fabian Society. He received an email back from Giles Wright, the national membership secretary, telling him

The Newham Fabian branch is no longer active but there is a flourishing branch based in Tower Hamlets.

So it was a surprise to find only a month later, at the East Ham AGM, that the defunct Newham branch of  the Fabian Society had nominated someone for chair. The lucky man was Femi Alese, chair of Newham’s Local Campaign Forum. Mr Alese was not a member of East Ham’s general committee and this was his only nomination. Unlike the other two candidates, not a single local ward party had put him forward. 

But a lack of member support wasn’t going to get in the way of Sir Robin having his place man elected. The outgoing chair, former councillor Paul Brickell, ruled the nomination valid and voting went ahead.

As the email to Stephen Timms continues: 

the AGM was … attended by a very large number of (unconfirmed) GC delegates, totalling 60 people who voted in the CLP election. Many of these people were unfamiliar to the active local membership. Many of whom clearly (and some of whom informally told us) that they were there at the behest of Sir Robin who was in attendance and very present with his associates Cllr Unmesh Desai, Cllr Ken Clark, Cllr Richard Crawford, Cllr Lester Hudson at the front door of the meeting. Given the context and his reputation, some could consider this ‘badgering’ voters.

Femi Alese … appears to have been ‘parachuted’ into the role by Sir Robin et al. Carl Morris and Cllr Forhad Hussain distributed the voting slips amongst GC and non-GC members. Sir Robin’s associates planned it in such a way that they sat close to the GC members to … see who they were voting for and then tell them who to vote for. This conduct, in the context gives the impression to many members that Sir Robin unduly influenced the meeting and it was not in effect a secret ballot. 

Angry members have also written individually to the CLP secretary, Mariam Dawood, asking for minutes of the meeting and a list of those who attended, with details of who they were representing. Unsurprisingly, these requests have so far been rebuffed.

There are calls for an investigation and for the election to be re-run. I doubt these will meet with any greater success.

Better late than never

5 Jun

Six months after I submitted it, my FOI request on the East Ham Town Hall fiasco has finally been answered.

Here’s what they had to say, with my original questions and some additional commentary:

1. [Could you please tell me] Why item 11, East Ham Town Hall Campus Update, for the cabinet meeting held on 17th July 2014 was withdrawn? 

Response – The report to Cabinet was withdrawn in July 2014 to allow for all required information to be obtained and collated. 

Comment: This response suggests the problems were known about – if not yet quantified – at least as early as July 2014, but the September cabinet meeting was the first time elected members were told. Does this square with the mayor’s repeated assertion that action was taken as soon as the problems came to light?

2. Is there a steering committee for the East Ham Town Hall Campus (EHTHC) redevelopment project, as there is for the re-build of the Atherton Centre in Forest Gate?


Response – An East Ham Campus Programme Board was established in November 2014 and they convene on a monthly basis. Prior to this Board being established it was simply called a programme board. 


Comment: The only difference appears to be the capitalisation in the name. When was the (lower case) programme board established?

3. If so, please provide a list of all current and past members of the EHTHC steering committee, the organisations they represent and the dates of their membership. Where members are council officers, please state the department or directorate for which they work.

Response – All members of the Programme Board are LBN officers. The Chief Executive chairs the meeting and representatives from the following services are members of the Board:

  • Kim Bromley-Derry – Chief Executive
  • 
James Thomas – Director of Commissioning (Children’s Services)
  • 
Siobhan Fry – Principal Lawyer

  • Paul Durrant – Senior Business Partner Strategic Commissioning and Community

  • Deborah Hindson – One source MD

  • Mark Butler – Director of Asset Management Services

  • Gary Bird – Interim Head of Communications 


Comment: That’s the current membership; who was on the original board? In evidence to Overview and Scrutiny (OSC) Kim Bromley-Derry insisted no membership list was kept. This answer is consistent with that, but I remain sceptical.

4. Please provide a list of dates of meetings of the steering committee, along with copies of agendas and minutes. 


Response – Please find attached the following: 


  • 12th November 2014: Agenda states 10th November but held on 12th 
  • 25th November 2014
  • 
1st December 2014

  • 12th January 2015 
  • 
9th February 2015: No agenda was despatched for this meeting 
  • 16th March 2015 


Please note that the name of a junior officer has been redacted.

Comment: Again, these are meetings of the new (upper case) Programme Board. Kim Bromley-Derry said at OSC no minutes were kept of the old board. But reports submitted to it were used to compile the report Cabinet received at their September meeting, so there was some documentation. Perhaps OSC should ask to see it.


5. What project management framework does Newham work within? (e.g. PRINCE2, PMBOK, etc.) 


Response – Newham Council has recently developed a new Project management methodology called MAPP (Managing and Achieving Programmes and Projects) which is embedded in an automated ICT solution called Verto. This work has evolved into the implementation of a corporate PMO. MAPP methodology and Verto system are mandatory to use in every new project at Newham. 


Comment: The clear implication here is that Newham had NO project management framework in place until now. This is truly shocking.

6. Please provide a copy of the project charter and the project initiation document (or their equivalents in the project management framework you use) for the EHTHC redevelopment project 
 

Response – As this project was initiated before the introduction of MAPP, these documents are not available. 

Comment: To someone who has worked in public sector project management this is simply unbelievable.

7. Which mayoral advisor’s portfolio currently includes oversight of the EHTHC project? 


Response – As this project crosses over a number of portfolios, Sir Robin Wales and Councillor Lester Hudson have oversight.


8. Which mayoral advisor’s portfolio included oversight of the EHTHC project prior to the election in May 2014? 


Response – Councillor Conor McAuley. 


Comment: This will be news to Cllr McAuley. He gave evidence to OSC in March that his involvement was limited to shepherding the initial phase through the planning process. After that responsibility passed to Lester Hudson and Andrew Baikie. 

9. Which of the council’s scrutiny committees has oversight of major building and 
redevelopment projects such the EHTHC and Atherton Centre?

Response – This is dependant on the nature of the scrutiny being undertaken but it is likely that Building Projects would come under Regeneration Scrutiny Commission. However, the work plans of all Scrutiny Commissions are approved by the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny who can determine which commission is most appropriate including Overview and Scrutiny Commission. 


Comment: We know that OSC itself has taken an interest in East Ham Town Hall, but only after the problems were publicly revealed. They  have yet to publish their report, so we will have to wait and see what that has to say.

Election results – 2015

8 May

East Ham

Candidate Party Votes Percent
Stephen Creswell Timms Labour 40563 78%
Samir Jassal Conservative 6311 12%
Daniel Charles Oxley UKIP 2622 5%
Tamsin Julia Mucha Omond Green 1299 2%
David Thorpe Liberal Democrat 856 2%
Mohammed Farid Aslam Communities United 409 1%
Lois Austin TUSC 230 0%

 

West Ham

Candidate Party Votes Percent
Lyn Carol Brown Labour 36132 68%
Festus Akinbusoye Conservative 8146 15%
Jamie Ross McKenzie UKIP 3950 7%
Rachel Anne Collinson Green 2651 5%
Paul Reynolds Liberal Democrat 1430 3%
Andy Uzoka Christian Peoples All. 369 1%
Cydatty Bogie Communities United 115 0%

 

Stratford & New Town – council by-election

Candidate Party Votes Percent
Charlene McLean Labour 4607 57%
Matthew Gass Conservative 1778 22%
Isabelle Clare Anderson Green 1170 14%
Jamie Ross McKenzie UKIP 403 5%
Joe Mettle Christian Peoples All. 99 1%
Bob Severn TUSC 70 1%

 

There’s really not a lot to say about any of this. The results were a forgone conclusion even before the candidates were formally announced, though Stephen Timms’ 78% share of the vote is certainly eye-catching. I doubt there’s another MP in the country with as much as that.

Charlene McLean was easily returned to the council, with what is now the highest personal vote of any member. Something she might mention to Sir Robin when she sees him at Labour group on Monday!

In West Ham Festus Akinbusoye, the Tory candidate, put up a decent show in what he knew was an unwinnable seat. I don’t share his politics, but I can’t help but wish him luck for the future. The Conservatives made a lot of fuss about the number of new BAME candidates they had selected, while neglecting to mention that they were all in hopeless seats. If there’s any justice central office will give him a crack at something better next time. Samir Jassal’s ‘Vote for Firstname Lastname’ blunder on his leaflets – which went viral and even appeared on Have I Got News for You – is unlikely to be looked on so kindly.

The Greens can be proud of their achievements too. A saved deposit in West Ham (by 12 votes – who says every vote doesn’t count?) and over 1,100 votes – a 14% share – in the Stratford by-election. Starting from a zero base in the ward that is impressive. 

There was some concern on Twitter this morning about UKIP coming third in both seats. Yes, they did. But it is a very, very distant third. The hard right continues – thankfully – to struggle in Newham.

Finally, as I predicted, the Liberal Democrats lost their deposits in both seats. Their failure to even put up a candidate for the council by-election shows they no longer have any real presence in Newham. Is that the sound of the world’s smallest violin I hear? 

Your 2015 candidates

10 Apr

Nominations closed yesterday for the general election and the council by-election in Stratford and New Town ward. Here’s a list of the candidates standing:

By-election – Stratford & New Town

  • Isabelle Anderson, the Green Party
  • Matthew Gass, the Conservative Party
  • Jamie McKenzie, UKIP
  • Charlene McLean, Labour Party
  • Joe Mettle, Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Bob Severn, Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition

General election – East Ham

  • Mohammed Aslam, Communities United Party
  • Lois Austin, Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition
  • Samir Jassal, the Conservative Party
  • Tamsin Omond, the Green Party
  • Daniel Oxley, UKIP
  • David Thorpe, Liberal Democrats
  • Stephen Timms, Labour Party

General Election – West Ham

  • Festus Akinbusoye, the Conservative Party
  • Cydatty Bogie, Communities United Party
  • Lyn Brown, Labour Party
  • Jamie McKenzie, UKIP
  • Rachel Collinson, the Green Party
  • Paul Reynolds, Liberal Democrats
  • Andy Uzoka, Christian Peoples Alliance 

At last May’s election Stratford voters had a three-way choice between Labour, the Tories and the Christians. This time there are three new options – Green, UKIP and TUSC – though it won’t make much difference to the outcome. And it says something about the enfeebled state of the Liberal Democrats in Newham that they couldn’t find a single person willing even to put their name on the ballot paper.

Voters have a similarly broad choice in the general election but the results are a foregone conclusion. The only thing worth noting is the presence of a Communities United candidate in each seat. The jailing of their leader last year is obviously no deterrent to throwing away £1000 on two lost deposits. Kamran Malik has removed himself from the scene of the crime. He is standing Brent Central.

General election update

7 Apr

GE2015 predictions

The brainiacs at FiveThirtyEight.com have come up with constituency-by-constituency predictions for the UK general election.

Their prognostications for the two Newham seats make for predictable reading. I doubt it took them very long to come to forecast the winners or their overwhelming share of the vote.

If I had any quibble with their forecast, I’d say they have significantly over-estimated the likely Lib Dem scores. In my view, they’ll be lucky to save their deposits.