Residents are angry to find that the popular Community Councils are to be abolished by the new Labour Council. A report proposing the end of Community Councils was slipped onto the agenda of last week’s Cabinet meeting at the last minute. It proposes that Community Councils are replaced by ‘Ward Forums’ that will not have the decision making powers and will not give residents the same access to officers and information.
“It is clear that Labour is trying to muzzle the voice of the local community and avoid the challenge of justifying their policies and proposals to residents in public,” said Liberal Democrat Leader Bob Sullivan.
“A ward forum appears to be little more than a fancily titled ward surgery, which all good councillors should do regularly anyway. Ward Forums will not be subject to the same legal requirements as Community Councils so they will have no decision-making powers and can be more secretive in how they work. Labour also proposes that they should meet less often and have very little support from council officers.”
Cllr Sullivan also pointed out that most wards do not represent natural communities, with some ward boundaries running arbitrarily through areas which share common interests. “One ward boundary runs straight through the middle of Lloyd Park. Issues relating to the Leyton cricket ground and Walthamstow High Street are relevant to all residents, not just those who live in the particular ward areas,” he said. “If the Labour Party is still interested in what the community want to talk about then why not reduce the current six community councils to three, representing Chingford, Walthamstow and Leyton/Leytonstone. The majority of people do not relate to ward boundaries but they do relate to these areas. This would not only make a financial saving but continue to give a voice to the boroughs residents.”