Tag Archives: newham

The Ballad of Mas Patel

19 Mar

Fgslabour 2018 Mar 17

In good Sir Robin’s golden time, when loyalty no harm meant,
A zealous Walesite councillor was I, and so I gained preferment.
To teach my ward, I never missed: mayors are by the GMB appointed
And damned are those who dare resist or touch Our Leader’s anointed!

And this be law, that I’ll maintain until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever mayor may reign, Still I’ll have my SRA, sir.

When Rokhsana was our candidate declared, to ease the party’s grievance,
With this new wind about I steered, and swore to her allegiance.
Old principles I did revoke; Set conscience at a distance,
Passive obedience was a joke, a jest was non-resistance.

And this be law, that I’ll maintain until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever mayor may reign, Still I’ll have my SRA, sir

The illustrious House of Fiaz and democracy’s succession
To these I do allegiance swear – while they can hold possession.
For in my faith and loyalty I never more will falter,
And Rokhsana my lawful mayor shall be – until the times do alter.

(After The Vicar of Bray)


Vile and insulting

8 Mar

Image 2

Remember how Andrea Leadsom torpedoed her own bid for the Tory leadership when she said being a mother gave her “a very real stake in the future of our country,” in contrast to the childless Theresa May? Even Tory MPs described the remarks as “vile” and “insulting.”

Well evidently Cllr Lakmini Shah doesn’t.

In a call with a local Labour member, a recording of which I have heard, she says Rokhsana Fiaz doesn’t understand how important free school meals are because “she’s not married, she hasn’t got children, so she don’t know how hard it is for parents.”

Member: “Cllr Shah?”

Lakmini Shah: “Yes, it is.”

M: “Hi, yeah, I just spoke to you. Basically, I’m with my wife right now. And she’s saying, telling me to vote for Rokhsana, but I told her that, look, you know, they are going to scrap the free school meals. We’ve got two kids in school in, like, infants and one in nursery, so…”

LS: “Yeah”

M; “…but can you explain to her – I’ve put you on loudspeaker – can you just say what you said earlier…”

LS: “Okay”

M: “…about the free school meals?”

LS: “Okay. So Robin has had free school meals for children [pause] and that cost £3 million a year to the council. So Rokhsana says parents should be… because she don’t have children, she’s not married, she hasn’t got children so she don’t know how hard it is for parents. I’ve got three children and I know how hard it is to pay for school meals.

“So they, um, going to stop this free school meals to save this 3 million. I’m not sure if it’s 3 million or 6 million a year, I have to find that number out.”

This is absolutely outrageous.

Lakmini Shah isn’t just some random member canvassing votes for Sir Robin, she’s Cabinet Member for Work & Skills and Domestic Violence Prevention.

Sir Robin needs to take ownership of this and offer Rokhsana Fiaz a full and unreserved apology for what is being said by his campaign.

And Cllr Shah should resign as candidate for East Ham South. If she doesn’t, members should take the decision for her.

The vision thing

7 Mar

Sir Robin has a vision

Sir Robin’s vision for Newham in 1997 (my emphasis added):

There are too many people, those currently living in Newham and those attracted from other London boroughs, who survive on low incomes or who present themselves as homeless. Whilst we will offer support and carry out our legislative duties, our aim will be to increase Newham’s property values and raise the income profile of all our residents.

What we must take action to avoid is a continued flow of people from other boroughs requiring sustained support.

Which helps to explain why, 20 years down the road:

  • The Carpenters Estate remains empty, despite offering hundreds of good quality, low cost homes
  • There’s been an explosion in high-rise ‘luxury’ apartment developments, particularly in Stratford
  • Developers are rarely, if ever, held to the requirement for 35-50% affordable housing set out in the local plan
  • The homeless are routinely harassed in Stratford
  • Poor and vulnerable families are encouraged to take up housing far away from London
  • The many private landlords sat on the Labour benches in council are Sir Robin’s most loyal supporters

Now that he’s being challenged for the party’s nomination Sir Robin is promising to build record levels of ‘council-owned housing.’ But he doesn’t mean council houses, or even affordable homes – he means housing built by Red Door Ventures, the private rented property company owned by the council which charges full market rents for its properties. And which is currently buying up blocks of flats on the other side of London.

RDV is funded by loans from the council; money which is borrowed from the Treasury or banking sector and then re-lent. If the housing bubble bursts and RDV goes bust, guess who’s left with the bill? (Clue: the same people who will ultimately pick up the tab for the Olympic Stadium ‘investment’)

Under Sir Robin’s watch the proportion of people living in private rented accommodation in Newham has rocketed. A report in the Guardian last year said

The regeneration of the borough – or as others would call it, the social cleansing – has increased the number of privately rented housing to 40% of the housing stock, the highest proportion of all London boroughs. The effect of the drop in home ownership means that residents become transient and many social housing tenants are pushed out

The landlord registration scheme may keep the worst offenders out of the market, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for the greedy and unscrupulous. Which shouldn’t be a surprise: Sir Robin had a vision.

It’s time now for a fresh view.

Academy antics

7 Mar


Councillors are so opposed to academies they are paying millions of pounds for this one to expand

Last Monday Newham council passed a motion, proposed by Cllrs Mas and Salim Patel, declaring itself opposed to local schools converting into academies.

Given that half of all Newham schools are already academies and that by April 75% of local primaries will be in ‘multi-academy trusts’, this is all a bit late. Where have these newly radicalised anti-academy councillors been for the past few years?

It also raises an interesting question about the mayor’s apparent preference for expanding academies at the expense of local authority maintained schools.

Back in April last year, Sir Robin and his cabinet approved a plan to expand Brampton Manor Academy and Forest Gate Community School by a total of six forms of entry. Under the plan Brampton would take in an extra 120 pupils a year (on top of the 300 who already join year 7 each September) and FGCS would take an extra 60.

Despite the two schools being academies and therefore directly funded by the Department for Education, Newham council will be footing the bill for the extra classrooms required. And what a bill – the expansion was costed at over £29 million. That’s around £1 million per additional classroom.

Cabinet April 17

Headteachers in other local schools were, understandably, very concerned. They argued that there was no solid evidence that these extra places will be needed. Creating permanent additional capacity at these two academies will likely mean fewer pupils enrolling at other local schools, reducing their income and, potentially, threatening their long-term viability.

To add insult to injury, funding of a previously agreed special educational needs development in Stratford was cut by £7 million to pay part of the cost.

And now it appears the academy expansion bill is getting bigger. On 22 February – less than a week before full council passed its motion – Sir Robin’s cabinet approved a new capital budget that allocated £34.75 million for the extra classrooms at Brampton Manor and Forest Gate schools – an increase of almost £5 million (17%) in less than a year.

Cabinet 220218

None of this was mentioned in the anti-academies motion, or in the debate. Did the councillors Patel not know, or were they sparing Sir Robin’s blushes?


24 Feb

Details of the mayoral selection hustings have been announced:

Dear member,

As part of the process to select Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Newham, we will be holding two hustings meetings for you to hear from the candidates and ask them questions.

They will be held at:

Tuesday 27 February at 7pm at Royal British Venue, 30A Church Road, London, E12 6AQ

Thursday 1 March at 7pm at Old Stratford Town Hall, 29 Broadway, London, E15 4BQ

Entry is restricted to members who are eligible to vote in this selection. Please bring your membership card or other ID with you and you will only be allowed to attend one of these meetings not both.

We look forward to seeing you next week.


London Labour Party

There doesn’t appear to be a mechanism for members to pre-register a preference for which session to attend and it isn’t clear quite how people who go to the first one will be kept out of the second. But I’m sure the rule-abiding members of Newham Labour Party wouldn’t try to do anything improper!

Head to head

21 Feb


Out with old, in with the new?

The Labour Party has written to local members to confirm the shortlist for the mayoral selection:

Last night, the selections panel for the process to select Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Newham interviewed candidates to decide the shortlist that members in Newham will select from.

Their decision is that the shortlist will comprise of:

Rokhsana Fiaz
Sir Robin Wales

Voting starts on 1 March and there will be at least one hustings event – details of which have not yet been confirmed.

In the meantime, party members can get a flavour of the two candidates by reading the in-depth Q&As each has had with London blogger Dave Hill:

Q&A with Rokhsana Fiaz

Q&A with Sir Robin Wales

Banner headlines

15 Feb

Mwarne 2018 Feb 15

Just as the open selection for Labour’s mayoral candidate is about to get underway, the council has seen fit to install a series of new banners across the borough. These extol the virtues of the Dear Leader’s policies, showing him surrounding by his adoring and grateful public.

This is a straightforward misuse of public money to support a candidate in an internal party selection.

And even if the trigger ballot had gone the other way and Sir Robin was already the Labour nominee, how can you justify this blatant propaganda barely 10 weeks ahead of the election?

The trouble is that Wales Rob-in has been in office so long that council officers can no longer distinguish between working in the public interest and working for him.