Tag Archives: newham

Euro Elections – the Newham connection

24 Apr

Elections to the European parliament will held on 23 May and voters will have the chance to select representatives who will sit in Brussels and Strasbourg for – all being well – the next five years.

Across the main parties there are six candidates with strong Newham connections.

Cllr Rohit Dasgupta (Canning Town South) is on Labour’s list for South East England. He has been a Newham councillor since May 2018 and contested the East Hampshire seat in the 2017 general election. Dr Dasgupta is secretary of Newham Fabians.

Cllr James Beckles (Custom House) is a Labour candidate in London. He has been a Newham councillor since 2014 and is currently cabinet member for Crime and Community Safety. Cllr Beckles sits on the Progress Strategy Board and is vice chair of Newham Co-operative Party.

Rachel Collinson, who is standing for the Green Party in London, was her party’s candidate in West Ham in the 2015 general election and the GLA candidate for City & East in 2016. She stood in Stratford and New Town in the 2018 local elections. She is the Green Party Business, Innovation and Skills national spokesperson.

For the Conservatives, Attic Rahman is a former chair of East Ham Conservatives. He stood in Royal Docks in the May 2018 local elections and Little Ilford in 2014.

UKIP leader Gerard Batten lives in Forest Gate. He has represented London in the European parliament since 2004. Previously he sought election to Newham council in 2002 in Forest Gate North and in 1993 Park ward, where he won just 75 votes for the Anti Federalist League.

Also standing for UKIP, in the north west of England, is former Newham councillor (2002 – 2010) Alan Craig. Craig was the leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance before defecting to his current party. He was the CPA candidate for mayor of Newham in 2002, 2006 and 2010; he stood for mayor of London for the Christian Alliance in 2008. He is UKIP’s national spokesperson for Families & Children.

UPDATE BONUS CONNECTION!

Thanks to @E7_nowandthen on Twitter for pointing out that Change UK/The Independent Group candidate Carole Tongue represented the old London East European constituency from 1984 to 1999, and this included the Newham North East parliamentary constituency (now mostly East Ham). Ms Tongue was the deputy leader of the Labour Group in the European Parliament.

The full list of party candidates for the London constituency (8 MEP seats):

Labour:

  • Claude Moraes*
  • Seb Dance*
  • Katy Clark
  • Laura Parker
  • Murad Qureshi
  • Taranjit Chana
  • James Beckles
  • Sanchia Alasia

Conservative:

  • Syed Kamall*
  • Dr Charles Tannock*
  • Joy Morrissey
  • Timothy Barnes
  • Scott Pattenden
  • Attic Rahman
  • Kirsty Finlayson
  • Luke Parker

Liberal Democrats:

  • Irina Von Wiese
  • Dinesh Dhamija
  • Luisa Porritt
  • Jonathan Fryer
  • Hussain Khan
  • Helen Cross
  • Graham Colley
  • Rabina Khan

Green Party:

  • Scott Ainslie
  • Gulnar Hasnain
  • Shahrar Ali
  • Rachel Collinson
  • Eleanor Margolies
  • Remco van der Stoep
  • Kirsten de Keyser
  • Peter Underwood

Change UK (The Independent Group):

  • Gavin Esler
  • Jan Vincent-Rostowski
  • Carole Tongue
  • Annabel Mullin
  • Karen Newman
  • Nora Mulready
  • Jessica Simor
  • (plus one TBC)

UKIP:

  • Gerard Batten*
  • Richard Braine
  • Peter Muswell
  • Freddy Vachha
  • Peter McIlvenna
  • Robert Stephenson
  • John Poynton
  • Ronie Johnson

Animal Welfare Party:

  • Vanessa Hudson
  • Jane Smith
  • Sam Morland
  • Ranjan Joshi
  • Mina Da Rui
  • Jon Homan
  • Simon Gouldman

The Brexit Party:

  • Ben Habib
  • Lance Forman
  • Graham Shore
  • Alka Sehgal Cuthbert
  • Jimi Ogunnusi
  • Simon Marcus
  • Mehrtash A’zami
  • Aileen Quinton

UK European Union Party:

  • Pierre Kirk
  • Richard Stevens
  • Saleyha Ahsan
  • Anna Novikova
  • Angela Antetomaso
  • Richard Boardman

Women’s Equality Party:

  • Catherine Mayer
  • Bea Gare
  • Nanci Hogan
  • Aliyah Dunbar-Hussain
  • Hannah Barham-Brown
  • Alison Marshall
  • Olivia Patton-Vincenti
  • Leyla Mohan

Independents (not a party list – each candidate is standing on their own)

  • Daze Aghaji
  • Roger Hallam
  • Alan Kirkby
  • Kofi Klu
  • Zoe Lafferty
  • Claudia Mcdowell
  • Andrew Medhurst
  • Henry Muss
  • Mike Shad
  • Ian Sowden
  • Andrea Venzon

* sitting MEP seeking re-election

Correction (25/04/2019): the original version of this post said James Beckles is the secretary of Newham Co-operative Party. That post is held by Cllr Neil Wilson.

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Newham Transformed

13 Feb

New blog post from Cllr Daniel Blaney (East Ham North), on Rokhsana Fiaz’s first budget and the “change of direction after Robin Wales”:

“The Mayor [of Newham] has set out a clear ambition for housing in Newham, with a particular focus on increasing social housing stock in the borough.  This will require significant Council capital investment to complement the £107 million Greater London Authority grant under the Building Council Homes for Londoners programme.”  That is the introductory paragraph of a paper at the December 2018 meeting of Newham’s Cabinet, approving a business plan for Newham’s “Housing Revenue Account” – the obligation to account separately for Council-owned social housing.  Its technical material, and language quoted is a little dry, but perhaps it illustrates best the political change emerging from the replacement of Sir Robin Wales as Mayor in May 2018 with Rokhsana Fiaz.

The February 2019 budget is new Mayor’s first budget.  She and her cabinet colleagues regularly tout this as a ‘transitional’ budget, clearly frustrated it doesn’t in itself demonstrate the sum of the political ambition, but marks a significant change of direction. A more radical, transformative 2nd budget is to be prepared over the next twelve months.

In reality, the housing aspects of this first budget are already radical and transformational. The fact that the “Housing Revenue Account” business plan is being transformed, is a demonstration of the role of actual council housing in the new Mayor’s priorities, both in terms of investment by building new council housing, and in investment in existing stock, improving the housing of existing tenants in their current homes.

There’s much more detail in the full post, covering free school meals, the London Living Wage and changes to funding the Every Child… programme.

Good stuff.

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.

Greens call on council to back a People’s Vote

7 Nov

Newham Green Party has written to Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, calling on her and the council to publicly back a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, with the option to Remain in the European Union.

Research from Survation/Channel 4 has today shown that in a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal, more than 65% of Newham residents would vote to Remain in the European Union, representing an almost 15% shift towards Remain, the largest shift towards Remain of any local authority in the country.

The campaign for a People’s Vote hopes to give the public the chance to vote again on the final Brexit deal, between leaving on the deal the government makes, leaving with no deal, and staying within the EU.

Newham Greens Convenor Frankie-Rose Taylor, who stood for the party in the recent Boleyn by-election, said:

“As one of the poorest and most diverse boroughs in London, Newham is exactly the kind of area that would be hurt most by leaving the European Union. It is no surprise to me that Newham has swung towards Remain by nearly 15%, in the largest shift of any borough in the country. We saw through the lies of Brexit campaigners when we voted to Remain in 2016, but since then their lies have only become clearer and support has only grown.

“I call on Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and her 100% Labour council to express their support for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. Newham deserves to be protected from the hurt that we know Theresa May’s Brexit plan will bring.”

At the same time, the grassroots Remain Labour campaign is calling on its party’s MPs to vote down the Withdrawal Agreement and back a People’s Vote. Research that shows a majority of Labour voters in every single Labour constituency backs staying in the EU. In both Newham seats 77% of Labour voters now back Remain.

Counting cock-up

11 Oct

Newham council has been forced to correct the results from the May elections in three wards after mistakes were made in tabulating the counted votes.

The error was spotted by a Green Party election agent, who filed a complaint. The subsequent investigation involved the Electoral Commission.

Hundreds of votes were incorrectly attributed to the wrong candidates, but the mistake did not affect the overall outcome of the elections – the right people were declared the winners.

The issue arose where candidates who had used a ‘commonly used’ surname on the ballot paper. By law, the ballot paper must put candidates in alphabetical order of commonly used surnames. Then once the votes were counted, they are transferred onto the declaration of results. However, the declaration of results (and supporting declaration sheet) must place the candidates in order by legal surname. This can change the order of the candidates between the ballot paper and declaration where the surnames are different. In Stratford and NewTown, the Green candidate appeared on the ballot paper as Rachel Collinson and on the declaration sheet as Rachel Nunson. As a result her name was lower on the declaration sheet than the ballot paper.

When officials transferred the number of ‘split votes’ (where voters hadn’t cast all of their votes for the same party) on to the declaration sheet they failed to account for the changed positions and attributed votes to the wrong candidates.

As a result the Green candidates in two wards had their results significantly under-reported. In Stratford and New Town, Labour’s Josh Garfield was deprived of over 800 votes. Conservative, Christian and Liberal Democrat candidates were each reported as receiving hundreds more votes than were actually cast for them. 

Nate Higgins, who was a Green Party candidate in Forest Gate North, said 

“The truth is that though the council’s incompetence, there is now doubt in the entire foundation our democracy is based on. This only came out through the hard work of a local Green activist. Greens are holding the Labour one party state in Newham to account even before we’ve been elected to the council. It’s time for Greens to do it from within the council chamber. If they’ve bungled something as important and serious as our elections, what else have they screwed up?”

The correct results, and the variance from the originally published totals, are shown below:

Stratford and New Town

Candidate Party Original Revised Change
Gareth Benjamin Evans Liberal Democrat 1478 1195 -283
John Falana Christian Peoples Alliance 734 172 -562
Joshua Isaac Daniel Garfield Labour 2481 3288 807
Andrius Kavaliauskas Conservative 1341 642 -699
Sheree Venessa Miller Liberal Democrat 741 848 107
Rachel Anne Collinson Green 387 1017 630
Nareser Osei Labour 2970 2970 0
John Milton Oxley Conservative 639 635 -4
Terence Matthew Paul Labour 2821 2825 4
James Alan Rumsby Liberal Democrat 790 790 0
Shardi Claire Shameli Conservative 529 529 0
Esther Smith Christian Peoples Alliance 136 136 0

Beckton

Candidate Party Original Revised Change
Syed Hussain Ahmed Independent 598 598 0
James Edward Asser Labour 1722 1722 0
Ayesha Chowdhury Labour 1717 1717 0
Chike Dunkwu Christian Peoples Alliance 142 142 0
Emmanuel Finndoro-Obasi Conservative 454 296 -158
Joshua Darren Lindl Conservative 635 454 -181
Jane Alison Lithgow Green 152 428 276
Constance Nasmyth Conservative 296 359 63
Alice Olaiya Christian Peoples Alliance 144 144 0
June Taylor Christian Peoples Alliance 193 193 0
Tonii Wilson Labour 1445 1445 0

Green Street West

Candidate Party Original Revised Change
Hanif Abdulmuhit Labour 2991 2991 0
Muhammad N. Chishti Conservative 696 696 0
Mushtaq Hussain Labour 2715 2715 0
Mumtaz Khan Labour 2591 2591 0
Abdul Karim Sheikh Conservative 611 709 98
Kamran Yousaf [Qureshi] Conservative 709 611 -98

Cheeky Nando’s

8 Oct

Canning Town library

Newham council’s local development committee is the unlikely focus of controversy, as it considers an application for change of use for the old Canning Town library. If the change is agreed the ground floor of the historic building will be converted to into a Nando’s restaurant.

The proposal is controversial because campaigners claim that the building once hosted speeches by the like of Keir Hardie and Sylvia Pankhurst and gave birth to the GMB, one of Britain’s biggest trade unions. In fact, that all happened next door, in the old public hall which is now occupied by Community Links.

The proposal has been denounced on social media by councillors, local Labour members and residents. The Evening Standard picked up the story and even the Morning Star has chipped in:

“This bird-brained move by Newham Council shows an utter disregard for East London’s proud history,” GMB regional secretary Warren Kenny said.

“GMB understands local authorities have been driven to the wall by the Conservatives’ austerity project.

“But we had been in talks with Newham about turning the library into a learning space – which GMB would have had offices in.

“Instead they’ve chosen to feather their own nest and allow GMB’s birthplace to become yet another chicken shop.”

The local Labour Party in Canning Town North argued the library in Barking Road should remain open to the public due to its historical importance.

A Labour spokesman said: “The library is a Grade II listed building has been owned by the council and used as a public library since around 1894.

“We aren’t against Nando’s as such; we simply believe that the proposal is in the wrong place and should be in empty properties. It would enable the old library to continue with its original function of serving the public.”

The Newham Recorder reports that the mayor has been surprised by the proposals

Ms Fiaz [asked] why no GMB councillors approached her about the issue when she was elected in May. The mayor, who is also a GMB member, said she only found out about the proposals in an article published last week.

So how did we get to this point?

Newham council decided way back in April 2011 to move the library into a new ‘community hub’ space within the Rathbone Market development. The minutes of the cabinet meeting record a decision

to make an allocation within the capital programme for the purchase of the space from the developer, for the fit out of the whole 12,000 sq ft of space and for fixtures, fittings and equipment for the new Library Plus service operated by Customer Services.

They go on to note that

Councillor Furness said that this was warmly welcomed by local ward Members.

Then councillor, now London Assembly member, and GMB stalwart Unmesh Desai was at the meeting, as was Lester Hudson. Did no-one realise that moving the Library out would leave the building vacant and in need of an alternative tenant?

The change of use for the Rathbone Market building to a library was formally agreed in 2016, by the Strategic Development Committee, chaired by councillor Ken Clark.

Subsequently, an external specialist was instructed to market the old library building and find a suitable tenant to take a lease on commercial terms with a use that would provide an income stream for the Council and provide vitality and footfall for the area.

In December 2017 the then-mayor, Sir Robin Wales, received a report on the future of the Canning Town Library building

…which sought approval for the letting of the former Canning Town Library, Barking Road E16.

The former Canning Town Library building was vacated in September 2017 when the services moved to new and improved facilities at Canning Town and Custom House Community Neighbourhood Centre.

A number of restaurant and bar chains had expressed an interest, but Nando’s was the preferred bidder, “reflecting a strong covenant with a community use.”

The report identified number of benefits, in addition to the significant commercial revenue

[Nando’s] propose to make Canning Town the London hub for their project to help the UK emerging creative community as they feel this is a place where they can really make a difference. Their own research concludes that young creatives need access to resources, to extend their creative network to reach an audience that will embrace their talents. This is something they think they can help with by providing resources, skills and experience they need. It is the intention of the prospective tenant to make part of the property available for community activity in a way that they have already delivered on other restaurant sites

Sir Robin approved the recommendation. It was also agreed that

the Director of Asset Management, in consultation with the Mayoral Advisor for Commercial Property [Cllr Ian Corbett], be authorised to finalise negotiations with regard to the Heads of Terms and to have delegated authority to conclude all matters arising from this decision.

Among those present were Canning Town councillor Ann Easter, as well as Ayesha Chowdhury, Lester Hudson, Mas Patel and Quintin Peppiatt. They, along with Ken Clark and Unmesh Desai, are all now signatories to an open letter calling for Nando’s application to be rejected!

The commercial letting of the Library building hasn’t appeared out of nowhere  – it was literally years in making. Relocating the library inevitably required a new tenant be found for the old building. If Nando’s make good on their promises to build a hub for the creative community that will be a huge benefit to Canning Town.

And it ill-befits people who have been party to the decisions that got us here to be complaining now about the proposal and its supposed lack of sensitivity to Labour history. Especially as none of that history happened in the library.

Conference pairs

25 Sep

Jess Shawcroft Buxton 23 Sept 2018

West Ham CLP delegates posing with former NEC member Christine Shawcroft (picture via Newham Momentum)

It’s party conference time and it seems like half of Newham council has trekked up to Liverpool.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz had a prime slot to address conference on youth violence as a public health issue and various councillors have appeared on fringe platforms and in the media. Stratford’s Josh Garfield featured on BBC 2’s Victoria Derbyshire show and Canning Town councillor Rohit Dasgupta was interviewed on BBC Asian Network. East Ham North’s Daniel Blaney spoke at the Labour CND fringe meeting.

Other councillors attending either the official conference or Momentum’s parallel ‘The World Transformed’ gathering include James Beckles, Terry Paul, Susan Masters, John Gray, James Asser, Sasha Das Gupta, Shaban Mohammed, Hanif Abdulmuhit, Mohammed Muzibur Rahman and Suga Thekkeppurayil.

Despite the vast number of them, none of these councillors are actually delegates. West Ham CLP is represented by Tina Jess and Carel Buxton (pictured above), while East Ham has no official representation. It seems odd that a CLP for a seat with one of the largest Labour votes and majorities in the country doesn’t have a delegate. But that is a consequence of it being essentially non-functioning. Which is itself a consequence of Sir Robin’s approach to party management.

Hopefully, for the sake of ordinary party members, that is something that can quickly be put right.