COUNCIL BACKS LIB DEM CALL TO SAVE THE CHEQUE

Waltham Forest Council has backed a Liberal Democrat campaign to ‘Save the Cheque’.

At Thursday’s (12 May) council meeting councillors voted for a motion which called on the banking industry’s Payments Council to halt its plans to abolish cheques.

Liberal Democrat Cann Hall councillor Liz Phillips, who proposed the motion said:

“Hundreds of thousands of people write cheques every day. Over a billion cheques are chased every year. Small businesses, charities and many residents – especially older people – rely on cheques to conduct their day-to-day transactions. It is wrong that the banks plan to abolish cheques when it is clear that people want to use them for years to come. I have had a massive response from Leytonstone residents who will be affected if cheques are abolished.”

The Liberal Democrats are particularly concerned about the effect on older people and the housebound. One local resident wrote to Liz Phillips:

“I write as a full time carer. My husband is very disabled and I can only get out four hours a week for shopping and all other things. How can I pay the bills without cheques?”

Internet payments are not an alternative for the nine million people in Britain who have never used the internet or for those who are concerned about internet fraud. The abolition of the cheque will lead to more people carrying and storing large quantities of cash, rendering them more vulnerable to theft.

Charities will also suffer. Lib Dem High Street councillor Mahmood Hussain, who seconded the motion, told councillors:

“As a trustee of a small local charity, 80% of the donations we receive during our fundraising come in by cheque. If cheques are abolished many small charities like mine will struggle.”

Oliver Twist Pub – crumbling wall

The Oliver Pub showing damaged wall

Residents recently contacted me about the crumbling wall at the side of the Oliver Twist pub on the corner of Oliver Road and Church Road.   The pub has been derelict for some years awaiting planning permission to develop it into flats.  The wall and fence at the side by the beer garden has started to crumble (see picture)  and looked in danger of collapsing.  I contacted the Council, who investigated.  In their opinion they agree that it is crumbling, but was not unsafe.  They will continue to monitor the situation and in the meantime have written to the owners.

The Liberal Democrat Budget tries to protect local services

At the Council’s budget setting meeting, on Tuesday night, the Liberal Democrats put forward their alternative proposals:

LIB DEMS SET OUT PLANS FOR BETTER BUDGET WHICH PROTECTS THE MOST VULNERABLE

The Liberal Democrat Group put forward a budget amendment which protects services to the most vulnerable, especially children and carers, and still freezes council tax.

The Liberal Democrat budget:

  • puts more money into children centres, young people’s services, respite care and support for carers and people with mental health problems compared to Labour’s proposals
  • maintains services to residents in Chingford, Leyton and Leytonstone through Waltham Forest Direct, so that residents will not have to travel to Walthamstow to deal with benefit and other council enquiries
  • restores residents’ ability to influence decision-making by retaining slimmed-down community councils
  • reverses above-inflation fee increases for pest control charges and sports pitch hire
  • funds extra pothole repairs this year to put right our crumbling roads.

 The Liberal Democrats will fund these services by:

  • slashing members allowances, which have grown substantially over the last decade, by over a quarter of a million pounds
  • reducing the amount spent on corporate communications and campaigns. Waltham Forest was recently revealed as the biggest spender on propaganda associated with the Comprehensive Spending Review, using almost £27,000 of taxpayers’ money to promote the fact it has to make savings
  • reducing the amount spent on subsidising trades union activity in line with other service reductions
  • using money built up in the insurance reserve to fund pothole repairs thereby reducing the number of successful insurance claims against the council
  • using other reserves to protect key services and support the transition to new ways of working

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Bob Sullivan, said:

“This is a very difficult budget for the council but Labour has chosen to protect councillors’ allowances and the council’s propaganda factory while making cuts that the Liberal Democrats would not have done. Our budget proposals protect those services which make a real difference to residents’ lives.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Forest ward, Farooq Qureshi, said:

“I am delighted that the Liberal Democrat proposals prevent the closure of the Waltham Forest Direct offices in Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford – funded by cutting councillors’ allowances and reducing the amount of money spent on glossy campaigns. The services provided by the WFD shops are irreplaceable. They should not be forced to travel to join long queues in the sole remaining Walthamstow office.”

Liberal Democrat High Street councillor Mahmood Hussain said:

“It is clear that Labour’s proposals will have a drastic impact on many people who rely on respite care to give them a vital break. By putting extra money back into this service the Lib Dem amendment gives carers a boost.”

Liberal Democrat Cann Hall ward councillor Liz Phillips said:

“Waltham Forest has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in England and Wales. It is a false economy to cut this service so drastically when the social and economic costs of teenage pregnancy are so high.”

Crescent Road – call for signs

The Focus Team is trying to get a ‘No Through Road’ sign put up at the entrance to Crescent Road, off Church Road, as large lorries attempt to use it as a cut through, only to find it difficult to turn round when they realise it is a cul-de-sac.

The Team is also trying to get a new sign for Goldsmith Road, at the junction with Park Road, as the sign appears to have been taken.

Lib Dems call for Labour council to apologise to residents

Liberal Democratshave demanded that the Council apologises to local residents for wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds on the departure of Andrew Kilburn the Chief Executive.

Councillor Naheed Qureshi says: “At a time when money is tight and every penny counts, it is a scandal that Labour councillors are prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to get rid of someone.

There are many important local services that badly need that sort of cash.

It is a bit rich of Labour councillors to complain about cuts  and then go on to waste money on this scale. Local taxpayers deserve a Council that spends their money responsibly.”

Windsor Road

Councillor Bob Sullivan is pressing the Council to investigate making Windsor Road one-way.

This road is too narrow for cars to pass each other which causes angry scenes and hooting as vehicles refuse to reverse.

We will keep you updated on progress.

Lib Dems push Government to build new schools in Waltham Forest

Cllr Bob Sullivan at George Mitchell SchoolLiberal Democrat councillors are pressing the Government to provide money for new school buildings for our local children.

“Anyone who has visited schools such as George Mitchell and Buxton (formerly Tom Hood) knows how much new buildings are needed. We owe it to the children of our borough to do all we can to provide them with the high quality education they deserve. This includes making sure that they can learn in decent surroundings,” said Liberal Democrat Group Leader Bob Sullivan.

The Liberal Democrat group is hugely disappointed that the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has hit local schools so badly. It is an enormous shame, but if Labour had made faster progress with the BSF schemes since 2003 we would not now be in the situation where more Waltham Forest schools have been stopped compared with other boroughs. However Lib Dem councillors believe the important thing is what happens next.

Councillor Winnie Smith says: “BSF was a cumbersome, bureaucratic and expensive way of funding school buildings which funnelled money into the pockets of consultants and private contractors. The government has pledged to continue to invest in school buildings and the Liberal Democrats will be at the forefront of the campaign to make sure that Waltham Forest schools get their fair share of this spending.”