Tag Archives: newham

Spot the difference – 2022 edition

18 Apr

Mirza  and Rahman

Below are a dozen policy statements, six from Conservative mayoral candidate Attic Rahman and six from his independent rival Mehmood Mirza. But can you tell which is which?

  • employ new community patrol officer teams to pursue those who drop litter and issue on the spot fines
  • effective enforcement to deal with flytipping and rubbish on our streets
  • a thorough review of parking across the borough to ensure residents and businesses are not punished
  • meaningful consultation on parking issues
  • abolish the first car MiPermit tax to help meet the cost of living
  • free first car permit for every household
  • more resources for the police to tackle crime and support those who want to live in a peaceful and safe borough
  • bring back our own enforcement team to deal with crime, drugs and prostitution
  • primary school children will receive a free breakfast
  • invest in youth centres and services
  • raise housing standards to support private renters
  • no more council tax increases – freeze council tax for four years

Harder than you would imagine, given Mr Rahman’s professed admiration for Boris Johnson and Mirza’s previous Corbynite affectations.

By coincidence, both are also standing for council in Plashet ward. Neither has a running mate, so their almost identical policy platform means it would make sense for them to campaign together.

Greens announce a full slate

5 Apr

For the first time in its history, the Green Party will be fielding a full slate of candidates for the local elections: 66 candidates across all 24 wards in the borough, and a candidate for Mayor of Newham. The party’s aim, it says, is to elect the first opposition councillors in Newham since 2006, in Stratford Olympic Park and Beckton wards, and to beat the Conservatives to become Newham’s second party.

In 2018, the Newham Green Party stood just 11 candidates and in 2014 just two. Standing a full slate in every ward places the party in a strong position to beat the Conservatives across Newham and to firmly define itself as Newham’s second party. No other currently active national party has ever succeeded in fielding a full slate of candidates in Newham, besides Labour and the Conservatives.

Nate Higgins, co-chair of the Newham Green Party, who is standing in Stratford Olympic Park said: “When I set out over a year ago to recruit the widest and most diverse slate of candidates the Newham Green Party has ever fielded, I never even dreamed we would be this successful. In one of the most diverse and young London Boroughs, I am proud we have a slate of candidates who are more like the people we wish to represent than ever before, and who share their experiences. With 66 candidates in this election, we are now in a fantastic position to beat the Conservatives across Newham for the first time ever, and to elect some opposition councillors. I know through my year-round hard work in my home ward of Stratford Olympic Park how excited people are about having the chance to vote Green for the first time, and I know we can win.”

The Greens claim that this slate of candidates represents the party’s most diverse ever, with a wide range of ethnic minority, women, young, working class, and LGBTIQA+ candidates. Almost every ward has at least one woman or non-binary candidate standing.

Danny Keeling, the other co-chair of the Newham Green Party and also a candidate in Stratford Olympic Park said “The Green Party stands ready to give Newham voters the chance to use all of their votes on a Green Party candidate for the first time ever. Greens will not let the people of Newham down like Labour and the Conservatives consistently have.”

The full list of Green candidates:

Beckton

Solveig Bourgeon
Karen Webb Green
Alison McLucas

Boleyn

Peter Bright
Helen Lynch
Roxana Toderascu

Canning Town North

Charlotte Croft
Oscar Lessing
Cassie Leanne Thomas

Canning Town South

Oliver Reynolds
Deb Scott
Benjamin Ian Smith

Custom House

Gareth Bannister
Sean Labode
Rupa Sarkar

East Ham South

Mark Lamptey-Harding
Alex Mchugh
Liam Palmer

East Ham

Tim Boxall
Maddy Catriona
Ed Toso

Forest Gate North

Gary Pendlebury
Mike Spracklin

Forest Gate South

Ben Beeler
Kieren Jones
Emma Sorrell

Green St East

Tassadduq Cheema
Joe Hudson-Small
Rose Waddilove

Green St West

Ron Harris
Adam Mitchell
Joseph Henry Sorrell-Roberts

Little Ilford

Terrence Stamp
Amy Wilson
Waleed Zuoriki

Manor Park

Deyan Atansov
Ros Bedlow
Jenny Duval

Maryland

Chris Brooks
Ainsley Vinall

Plaistow North
Elsa Malki
Francis Moore
Aki Turan

Plaistow South

Nicholas Drew Dowden
Iain Mckeil
Anca Zahan

Plaistow West & Canning Town East

Jacintha Christopher
Christopher Luke Slevin
Peter Whittle

Plashet

Stephen Charles
Joshua Robinson

Royal Albert

Jane Lithgow
Daniel Rodrigues

Royal Victoria

Rob Callender
Gloria Goncalves

Stratford Olympic Park

Nate Higgins
Danny Keeling

Stratford

Pau Ingles
Moira Lascelles
Ed Lynch

Wall End

Melanie Bax
James Peter Buttress
Matthew Talbot Savage

West Ham

Clare Hardy
Lyubo Ivanov
Ben Parker

Mayor of Newham

Rob Callender

Strange bedfellows

16 Feb

The lion lies down with the lamb, owls hoot at noon, up is down – and left is right.

Observers of Newham’s political scene may have noticed some strange shifting of alliances over the last few years, but perhaps none stranger than the recent amity between the left-wingers now departing the Labour party in a flurry of online resignation letters, and the last men standing (yes, they are all men) from Sir Robin Wales’s cabinet.

This improbable friendship had its genesis in the infamous ‘dirty thirty’ letter, when a number of councillors wrote an open letter to the Newham Recorder to express dismay at the mayor’s plans to address the borough’s terrible air quality with an emissions-based scale of charges for resident parking. The letter was widely celebrated by most of Mayor Fiaz’s political antagonists, who felt that in the face of the worst air quality in London, the policy of Newham Council should be to… continue providing free car parking to every resident, a policy not offered by any other borough in inner London.

Newham’s Twitterati will have cleaned their glasses and wiped their screens when the resignation of the Labour whip by Cllr Quintin Peppiatt (East Ham South) prompted admiring remarks about his integrity and principles from anonymous accounts Newham Resists and Newham Socialist Labour. As lead member for education under Robin Wales, Cllr Peppiatt oversaw and encouraged the academisation of many of Newham’s schools as part of Wales’s ‘resilience’ programme – something the tweeters behind both Newham Resists and Newham Socialist Labour claim complete opposition towards . 

Cllr Patrick Murphy (Royal Docks) beat Cllr Peppiatt to the punch, resigning the Labour whip the day after Fiaz’s reselection was announced and claiming that the Labour party had “ignored” or “condoned” unspecified criticisms of her leadership. Long-standing readers of this blog will remember Cllr Murphy’s role as the Procedures Secretary who oversaw the ill-fated first trigger ballot for Newham Labour’s Mayoral candidate selection in 2016 – in which he saw no conflict of interest with his position as a ‘community lead councillor’, appointed at Sir Robin’s pleasure and with a special responsibility allowance of over £6,000 a year. 

Despite their closeness to the mayor knighted by Tony Blair, Cllrs Murphy and Peppiatt found an unlikely champion in left-wing scandal-blog Skwawkbox, which expressed outrage that Cllrs Murphy and Peppiatt were not able to resign the Labour whip without also having their Labour party membership withdrawn. Clearly, Skwawkbox has more confidence in Cllr Murphy’s ability correctly to interpret the Labour rulebook than most party members in Newham would share.

Meanwhile, Open Newham, a recent local addition to the scandal-blogging scene, has taken a break from nudge-nudge, wink-wink Islamophobia and personal attacks on the borough’s women of colour to express their solidarity with that persistent irritant of the Fiaz administration, Mehmood Mirza. The site, of which the only named contributor is former Wales ally Clive Furness, has experienced a change of heart towards Mirza, taking up his case after he was blocked by Newham Council on Twitter following a years-long campaign of obsessively replying to every post by the Council with a stream of photos of fly-tipping sites. “You don’t have to like his politics,” Open Newham coyly opens “to know that Mehmood Mirza has been the most consistent and energetic campaigner against fly-tipping and rubbish in the borough”. How touching to see them offer support to a man whom, three years ago, they were not-so-implicitly accusing of antisemitism.

Chairs of West Ham and East Ham CLPs, Carel Buxton and Tahir Mirza, plus a couple of branch chairs, recently resigned from the Labour party announcing their intention to stand candidates again Labour in the local government elections in May, under the flag of ‘Newham Socialist Labour’.

Are the last of Sir Robin’s lieutenants intending to stand – or fall – with them?

Parklet life

17 Nov

Example of a parkelt in Walthamstow

By Lewis Godfrey

I’ve just come out of a really dispiriting meeting with Newham council, and I need to vent about it.

The Newham Community Assemblies allocate money to implement different projects, which are put forward by residents. You can read more about them here.

Being reasonably civic-minded, I volunteered to sit on the Green St Community Assembly working group, the role of which is to scrutinise the projects and how they are implemented.

These projects were voted on by local residents. One of the most popular projects in Green St, where I live, is a project to deliver “pocket parks”, or parklets. You can read about it here if you like.

This looks like a fantastic idea doesn’t it? The London Parklets campaign would of course approve.

So what’s happened? Well, despite the public support for the pocket parks, Newham Council has got involved and watered down the initial proposal. Now instead of replacing car parking, the Green St parklets, so the proposal currently goes, will be put on the footway…

Huh. The initial proposal was fairly clear about where these pocket parks would be placed. Terms like “traffic calming” are used 5 or 6 times throughout the first bid. A second supplementary proposal talked about a need to mitigate rejections from motoring groups.

All of the working group understood that this proposal involved swapping car parking space for a pocket park. I assume most of the people who voted on this thought the same thing. 

Why’s this important? Well a few reasons. Firstly, Green St footways are BADLY congested at the best of times. This means that if you’re walking on Green St it can be impossible to socially distance (remember, Newham is one of the places most affected by Covid, and the pandemic hasn’t gone away. It might not for a while…). 

Secondly, a big reason to install parklets is to reduce the car parking available. You can ask The London Parklets campaign about this – reducing the parking available in an area cuts down on the amount of cars people in that area use. 

Reducing car usage is important in Newham, where a third of people get less than half-an-hour’s activity/ week, and which has the worst air quality of any place in the country.
Thirdly, the initial proposal was pretty clear that taking car parking space was the plan. Seems a bit…weird…dare I say…undemocratic… to change the proposal at the last minute…

So putting the parklet on the footway is a bad idea, I reckon. What’s more, doing so will affect other proposals to implement parklets. If I want to put a parklet in Canning Town, but somebody doesn’t like losing a car parking space, what’s to stop them pointing to Green St and demanding one goes on the pavement? It sets a really unhelpful precedent.

So…hmmm. At the meeting we just had about these issues, I asked why the proposal had been watered down. Well look, I won’t tell you exactly what was said, but the gist of it is that some people “may object”…

Of course, the working group knew people may object already, because the initial proposal had described ways of mitigating these objections, as discussed.

So where does that leave us? Well, not in a great place. The plan is currently to still take space from the existing public footway. Meanwhile, “people who may object”, who may well not live in Green St, are given a working veto over what people who do actually live in Green St get to do with our roads.

I’m very sad about this. The community assemblies were a way for residents to come up with cool projects, which tackled things like our lack of green space in innovative ways. But it seems that the things residents came up with were too radical.

If Newham Council shows guts, this project could still be a radical, exciting way of reimagining our street space. But I’m worried that the plans will be scuppered by a small, undemocratic group of very loud, very angry people. Let’s hope that Newham sees sense, and implements the project as initially proposed.

This post was originally a thread on Twitter. Reproduced here by permission.

Pass Notes: the Newham Referendum

27 Apr

Newham Voting for Change leaflets

So what’s this referendum all about then?

This is it – the referendum promised by Rokhsana Fiaz when she was elected in 2018, on the future of Newham governance – basically, who has the power and who makes the decisions. The options on the ballot on 6 May 2021 will be the Directly Elected Mayor (what we have now) and the committee system (a different model).

Oh yes. I’ve seen the garish yellow leaflets. Is it true that if I vote for the committee structure, parking charges will be abolished, council tax will be cut, diamonds will rain from the sky, and every Newham resident will get a free pony?

Don’t count on it. The referendum is about governance structures – the way that the council works and decides things – not policy, which is decided by the majority party elected. Look out for Newham Voting for Change’s materials (see above), which take a less Nigel Farage-style approach.

So how do I get a free pony?

When the Free Pony Party gain a majority of seats on Newham council; so not any time soon, I’m afraid.

So if it’s not about parking charges what’s in it for me?

It’s about having a council where power is more diversified – at the moment the Mayor has full executive power in Newham Council, but with the committee system it would be shared between all 60 councillors.

How does that work?

Newham Council has published the plan for the initial set-up. There will be four committees covering Children and Education, Environment and Transport, Economy and Housing, and Adults and Health, plus a Policy and Resources committee which has general oversight – for the corporate plan and the council’s budget, for example.

So who would be in charge?

The council would still elect a leader, but they wouldn’t have the vast executive power of the current Mayor.

Sounds interesting. Do any other councils work like that?

An increasing number. And on 6 May Sheffield are also holding a referendum on moving to the committee structure. There’s more information on the website of Newham Voting for Change, the campaign for the committee structure. 

Do they make the yellow leaflets?

No – their leaflets are purple, and deal with the actual governance issues we’ll be voting on: who has the power, and how decisions are made.

Why are there multiple campaigns?

Newham Voting for Change was set up last year by residents and councillors who’ve supported a more open system for a long time. The ‘yellow leaflet’ campaign are less transparent about who’s involved, but seem to be connected to Newham Democracy, who earlier this year unsuccessfully sued the council to take the committee structure off the referendum ballot paper.

Wait – so they were against the committee structure then, but now they’re saying it will bring about an earthly paradise?

Welcome to Newham politics. They also seem to spend a lot of time on twitter arguing about which of their accounts is the official one.

And what about the other side in the campaign?

Newham Right to Vote are campaigning to keep the Mayoral system, arguing that residents need a right to vote for the person who’s in charge.

But under the committee structure the councillors would have more power, and we vote for them, right?

Exactly.

Do say:

The committee structure is a more open, representative, co-operative and accountable way of doing things. Vote for change on 6 May!

Don’t say:

£350 million a week for free parking.

A day to shape Newham’s future

23 Mar

Newham Voices  May 6th by John Whitworth

West Ham councillor John Whitworth on why residents should vote for the committee model in the upcoming governance referendum:

May 6th is the date, not only for the election of the London Mayor and Greater London Assembly Member, but also for the important Newham Governance Referendum. This comes 20 years after this borough voted to have one of the country’s first Directly-Elected Mayors in a referendum which was perhaps not widely nor fully understood. Newham was one of only 11 authorities which voted to adopt the Mayor model and there are currently just 15, with many more referendums proposing a Mayor being lost than won. Since 2002, the voters of Stoke-on-Trent, Hartlepool and Torbay have opted to abandon the Mayor model they had previously adopted, two for the Leader and Cabinet and one for the Committee model.

Sir Robin Wales, elected Mayor of Newham in 2002, remained in office until he was defeated by Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz in the selection for the Labour Party’s Mayoral candidate in 2018. Of those who believed this model would work better with Cllr Fiaz in the post, many also felt that the DEM model was in any case flawed. She expressed the view that this model had not worked well for Newham and pledged, if elected, to hold a referendum on its future by May 2021.

How the full powers of the Mayor are used depends greatly on the incumbent’s character but, according to the Local Government Act 2000, the Mayor – elected separately from the councillors and therefore of higher status – appoints and dismisses Cabinet members. Stemming from this authority, the Mayor is able to ensure the Cabinet’s assent and exercise considerable influence over the councillors belonging to the dominant party.

In contrast, under the Committee model the Council delegates decision-making powers to committees corresponding to Council directorates, such as Adults & Health and Inclusive Economy & Housing. Full Council elects the chairs of these committees and the Council Leader, and has direct responsibility for the overall policy framework and the budget.

The campaign group, Newham Voting for Change, believes that the Committee system is more democratic, equal and inclusive than the DEM system because all councillors participate in making policy. Working in committees encourages co-operation rather than division, talent is nurtured and expertise developed more productively, and all councillors are more accessible and accountable for the Council’s actions.

Residents will hopefully participate in the referendum in large numbers to play a role in shaping Newham’s future.

The article originally appeared in Newham Voices, a new independent community newspaper distributed around the borough.

For more information about the campaign for a committee system, check out the website at https://newhamforchange.org/ or ‘like’ the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/newhamvotingforchange.

The campaign is also raising funds and you can donate at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/newham-for-change

Voting for change – online meeting

3 Mar

Newham Voting for Change logo

Newham Voting for Change, the campaign for a committee structure is hosting an online public meeting on Zoom on Tuesday 9 March from 7-8pm. All welcome – we will be discussing the campaign and the advantages of the committee structure.

I will be chairing the meeting and speakers will be local activists involved in the campaign.

Register here!

Newham Voting for Change – launch event

3 Dec

Ballot box trans NvBQzQNjv4BqqVzuuqpFlyLIwiB6NTmJwfSVWeZ vEN7c6bHu2jJnT8

Newham Voting for Change, the campaign for the committee system in next May’s governance referendum, has announced its official launch event:

 

Join us on Zoom for a public online meeting to launch Newham Voting for Change – the campaign for a committee structure in Newham.

In May 2021 Newham will hold a referendum on how the local council is run. We are campaigning for the committee system, which is more

OPEN
REPRESENTATIVE
DEMOCRATIC
ACCOUNTABLE

We’ll be joined by:

  • Ruth Hubbard, Sheffield It’s Our City – Sheffield Council will also be holding a referendum on changing to a committee structure and Ruth will talk about the successes of the Sheffield campaign.
  • Cllr Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council (Lib Dems) – Ruth will talk about how Sutton Council works with the committee structure.
  • Cllr Andrew Ansell, Basildon Councillor (Labour) – Andrew will talk about how Basildon Council operates day to day with a committee system in place.
  • Speaker from the Tower Hamlets referendum campaign – TBC.

Chair: Josephine Grahl, Newham Voting for Change

All welcome | Tuesday 8th December | 7-8pm

Register for the meeting on Zoom

 

Voting for Change

28 Oct

FullColor 1280x1024 72dpi

Following a decision by Newham Council last Wednesday, the residents of Newham will have the opportunity to make a democratic decision about how they are governed, in the long-awaited referendum on local government.

The referendum will take place on 6th May 2021, at the same time as the London Assembly and London Mayor elections. The question on the ballot will ask Newham voters to choose between a council run by an executive Mayor and a cabinet, or a committee system made up of committees of elected councillors. This is a genuine choice between an executive model, in which decisions are made by the Mayor and a small group of councillors who make up the Cabinet, and a real alternative where all decisions are agreed by committees made up of elected councillors.

A campaign in favour of the committee system has already been launched. Newham Voting for Change is made up of Newham residents and councillors.

In a statement the group said that it welcomes the council’s decision that the choice on the ballot paper will be between the Mayoral model and the committee system.

Speaking for Newham Voting for Change, Cllr John Whitworth said: “The Mayor promised this referendum as part of her manifesto in 2018 and we’re very pleased that the date and the ballot question have now been confirmed. Newham voters will get a meaningful choice between the current system and a more open, inclusive and democratic system in which all councillors get a say in determining Council policy.”

Another spokesperson for the campaign, Josephine Grahl, said: “We set up Newham Voting for Change to make the positive arguments for the committee system: a co-operative, democratic system which gives a stronger voice to the elected councillors and residents of Newham. This is a real alternative to the Mayoral model and we hope Newham residents will support our campaign.”

The campaign has set up a website, a Twitter feed and a Facebook page.

It will come as no great surprise to regular readers of this blog but, in the interests of disclosure and transparency, I am supporting Newham Voting for Change.

By-election. But not yet.

26 Aug

Julainanne Marriott

Julianne Marriott (left) in her role as education lead

Julianne Marriott has resigned as a councillor for East Ham Central ward. She had announced at a meeting of the Council July that she was standing down as Cabinet member for Education and is now leaving the council altogether.

If a by-election is called to replace her it won’t take place until 6th May 2021, in accordance with the current Coronavirus regulations. So there’s plenty of time for Newham’s political parties to pick their candidates!

Ms Marriott was first elected in 2014 and was re-elected 2018. She will now be devoting herself to a new full-time job. My understanding is that her new role is not politically restricted, so there was no legal requirement for her to resign. She could have sat quietly on the back benches until the next election, collecting the £11,000 a year allowance. That she chose not to is entirely to her credit.

In a farewell note to colleagues she said (emphasis added)

Representing the people of East Ham Central and being part of Newham Council for six years has been an amazing experience and one that I’ve learned so much from. I will forever be a cheerleader for Newham and the role of local government. I can only hope that this Tory Government learns to feel the same way.

The Tories have systematically underfunded and undermined local government over the last 10 years and has now left us with an over £33m bill for supporting our most vulnerable residents through Covid-19. I can only sign off with the exhortation that there is a real enemy out there – and it’s one we need to focus our energy on fighting.

i look forward to seeing you on the doorstep as part of our journey to getting the Labour government Newham’s residents need.

Notice of a casual vacancy has been posted on the council website.