Tag Archives: East Ham

East Ham United

3 Mar

East Ham CLP AGM

When I blogged a couple of weeks ago about East Ham CLP’s AGM I suggested rival factions, specifically Newham Momentum and those still loyal to the former mayor, would be “putting together slates and cooking up deals to ensure that the ‘wrong people’ don’t wind up in charge.”

This clearly hit a nerve and Newham Momentum responded on their own blog, claiming this was just “rumours and misinformation spread by local Blairites.” The secretary of Newham Momentum added

“Ours is a broad and democratic Party. Newham Momentum is always willing to work with those comrades who genuinely respect this proud democratic tradition and are willing to work with us to combat cuts in local services whilst campaigning for the election of a radical, socialist Labour Government under Jeremy.”

So what actually happened?

Pretty much exactly what I predicted. Very few of the main officer positions were contested. Once Tahir Mirza had secured the chair on behalf of Newham Momentum, other candidates started to drop out, leaving right-wingers Lakmini Shah and Mariam Dawood to pick up the posts of vice chair (campaigns) and treasurer, while Momentum’s Syed Taqi Shah became secretary.

The full slate of elected officers

Chair: Tahir Mirza
Secretary: Syed Taqi Shah
Treasurer: Cllr Mariam Dawood
Vice Chair Campaigns: Cllr Lakmini Shah
Vice Chair Membership: Cllr Moniba Khan
Women’s Officer: Sophia Naqvi
Youth: Azka Rasool
LGBT Officer: Victoria Mitchell
BAME Officer: Cllr Sugathan Thekkepura & Asad Shan (Job Share)
TULO: Cllr Pushpa Makwana
Political Education: Tariq Hussain

After the meeting the new chair tweeted

I am very thankful for East Ham CLP to elect me as a Chair and all of us very determined to take @jeremycorbyn vision forward, every single officer elected is true socialist

And West Ham CLP membership secretary Mehmood Mirza chipped in, saying

@jeremycorbyn supporters win landslide @easthamlabour CLP after almost 2 1/2 years of special measures, thanks to all the delegates who supported the left candidates, congratulations to @TahirMirza01 Chair CLP & @SyedTaqiShah1 to be secretary,@moniba27 Vice Chair Membership.

One view is that this is “a diverse officer team consisting of pro-Corbyn Left and other local activists.” A more realistic assessment is that it’s a stitch-up that is politically unsustainable. After years of mismanagement under Sir Robin and his crew, East Ham members deserve better.

The AGM also selected delegates for the London regional conference Tahir Mirza, Victoria Mitchell and Cllrs Ayesha Chowdhury and Sasha Das Gupta.

After the meeting formally closed there were three guest speakers. MP Stephen Timms and London Assembly member Unmesh Desai spoke unchallenged, but Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz was rudely interrupted twice by the chair in an attempt to cut her her short. She ploughed straight past him. Which may be a metaphor for the next couple of years in Newham Labour politics.

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East Ham AGM announced

14 Feb

After a hiatus of more than two years, East Ham CLP is going to have a meeting. And it’s an annual general meeting to boot!

All 10 of the branch (ward) parties held their own AGMs late last year, under supervision of the London regional office. Local officers and general committee delegates were elected and now – at long last – the CLP is going to elect its own officers.

The agenda has been circulated

East Ham Labour Party – Annual General Meeting 2019

The Trinity Centre, East Avenue, London, E12 6SG

Monday 25 February 2019

Registration from 6:30pm. Meeting to start at 7pm.

  1. Introductions & apologies for absence
  2. Election of CLP Executive Officers for 2019/20 (at least half (7) must be women)
    • Chair
    • Vice Chair
    • Vice Chair Membership
    • Secretary
    • Treasurer
    • Women’s Officer
    • Policy Officer
    • BAME Officer
    • LGBT+ Officer
    • Youth Officer
    • Disability Officer
    • TU Liaison Officer
    • Political Education Officer
    • Social Media Officer
  3. Election of up to 4 Regional Conference delegates (at least half (2) must be women)
  4. Nominations for Regional Board
    • Chair
    • Vice Chair
    • Women’s Officer
    • Disabilities Officer
    • Ethnic Minorities Officer
    • LGBT Officer
    • 2 CLP Reps from Section 5 – City of London, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Barking &
      Dagenham, Havering & Redbridge (at least one must be a woman)
    • 2 NPF Reps (at least one must be a woman)

No doubt rival factions are busy putting together slates and cooking up deals to ensure that the ‘wrong people’ don’t wind up in charge.

There was evidence of this at a number of the branch AGMs. At the Manor Park ward AGM an alliance between Momentum and Sir Robin’s former allies, led by former deputy mayor Ken Clark, backed a mixed slate of Momentum and right wing candidates and effectively blocked supporters of the new mayor. 

This unholy alliance was born at the council Labour Group AGM back in May. Momentum-aligned councillors were elected as Group chair and chief whip, while the Walesite old guard held onto the chairs of Council and overview and scrutiny. Subsequently the same coalition has voted together to push for the referendum on the future of mayoralty to be held at the same time as the London elections in 2020, against the wishes of both Rokhsana Fiaz and Sadiq Khan. It is also jointly campaigning against plans to reform the Every Child a Musician programme.

It is worth keeping an eye on East Ham. While the two camps may be happy to ally for now to keep the mayor’s supporters out, there is a bigger prize in prospect and both factions want to grab it for themselves. At some point parliament will vote on new constituency boundaries, with the likelihood that one or both of our sitting local MPs will have to re-apply to be the candidate . One of the safest seats in the country will soon be up for grabs. It could all get very messy.

 

East Ham re-booting

4 Dec

Oddbodcharge

After close to two years of inactivity it looks like efforts to revive East Ham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) are finally underway.

Despite being one of the safest Labour seats in the country, the East Ham party has been in ‘special measures’ since early 2017, when the last general committee (GC) meeting broke down in ‘acrimonious circumstances.’

Since then there has been a General Election and elections for a new Mayor and councillors. Also huge disputes and lack of records over which organisations were affiliated and entitled to take part in a Mayoral candidate trigger ballot, as well as allegations of non-resident members.

Most of the ten branch parties (one per ward) don’t meet regularly and there were no East Ham delegates at party conference. Regular and necessary business, like the re-run trigger ballot meetings and candidate selection meetings for the local elections earlier this year were supervised by officials from Labour’s London regional office. As an aside, none of this happens in West Ham, where all CLP and branch meetings take place regularly and on time.

London regional officers are again involved. 

All of the ten ward branches have had an AGM scheduled and members have been notified. Little Ilford and East Ham South met last week; East Ham North meets tonight; East Ham Central and Boleyn tomorrow. Wall End and Manor Park will meet on Thursday.

Beckton and Royal Docks branches met last night and, according to its new Twitter account, it was the first time in five years Royal Docks Labour Party had met!

Word so far is of well-attended meetings, with over 35 members at Little Ilford. Also the word is of well-behaved meetings. Royal Docks branch elected completely new officers, including, for the first time ever, a woman! The ward is unique in Newham in being represented by three male councillors, despite party rules that normally forbid this. 

Once the new officers – chair, vice-chair secretary, treasurer – and GC delegates are elected it clears the way for the CLP to hold its own AGM and elect officers. Separately, officers are contacting affiliated organisations – trade union branches and socialist societies – to identify their delegates.

London region will continue to supervise, which will impact on efforts to select Parliamentary candidates and support Council by-elections elsewhere in the capital, but this is good news for local members who have been deprived of any way to participate in party affairs.

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

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.