LONDON ASSEMBLY LIB DEM PROPOSALS

Improving London’s environment for everyone, building more homes, and making fares much fairer

Improstephen_vince_small.jpgving London’s environment for everyone, building more homes and making fares much fairer are at the centre of a radical set of proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group in their amendment to the Mayor’s budget.

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting at City Hall where the London Assembly will consider the Mayor’s draft budget Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group said:

There are real social and environmental pressures facing London as our population rapidly grows. Our proposals are firmly rooted in meeting these challenges.

Our Lib Dem plan will deliver cleaner air and less congested roads. It will deliver a better environment for every Londoner.

Our changes to the Mayor’s budget will also provide more affordable homes, helping to address London’s chronic shortage of homes for people on low and middle incomes, helping to keep families living in the capital.

We will also make London a fairer city. We would reverse the Mayor’s harsh fare hike facing off peak travellers who live in outer London. And in every part of the capital we will drive up the adoption of the London Living Wage and ensure real action is taken against rogue landlords.

Key aspects of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly budget amendment include:

  • Tackling London’s appalling air pollution and also reducing congestion on our roads, which is currently a huge burden for London’s businesses. Specific proposals include smart congestion charging; the introduction of a workplace parking levy in central London and real action to reduce diesel vehicles entering central London.
  • Reversing the immense fare hike on off peak travel for people in outer London. Other key fare changes include the introduction of a one hour bus ticket and lower fares for people travelling on all Tube, DLR and TfL Overground services before 7.30 am.
  • Making London a more attractive city to travel around by foot and on bike, including expanding the cycle hire scheme into south east London and better provision for cyclists across the whole capital
  • Creating a new £2 billion housing investment fund – funded by prudential borrowing – more than doubling the number of affordable homes delivered across London
  • Cutting waste in the Metropolitan Police Service such as the provision of chauffeur driven cars and flats for senior police officers, but strengthening Safer Neighbourhood Teams and putting extra resources into the teams that investigate rape and sexual assault against children.
  • Making London a fairer place through real action against rogue landlords and the wider adoption of the London Living Wage.

CITY AIRPORT WANTS MORE FLIGHTS – MORE NOISE?

London City Airport

Waltham Forest E Guardian – 28 January 2015

An airport has refused to attend a public meeting as it plans to go ahead with flight path changes which campaigners claim will cause a “noise ghetto” for those living under it.

London City Airport is planning to implement new technology to enable a much narrower and concentrated corridor over Wanstead, Leytonstone and Leyton.

Campaign group HACAN East believes this will increase the noise level for people living in these areas and wants the plan scrapped.

The airport will submit its proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority by the end of February, and if the plan is passed, it could be implemented in early 2016.

In a letter to the airport from deputy leader of Waltham Forest council, Cllr Clyde Loakes, he requested a further public meeting on March 2.

He said:

“I remain concerned that a significant proportion of residents are still unaware of the introduction of the RNAV technology and the impact that this will have on the quality of life of those living under the flight paths.

“I think it would therefore be useful if residents were able to hear from you directly about the next steps that will be taken and how the technology will be rolled out.”

But in reply, Jeremy Probart of London City Airport, ruled out attending a public meeting in the near future.

He said:

“There is very little that we can add to this currently, and feel that a public meeting, such as the one you suggest, would actually be counter-productive.

“We know that some people are opposed to the proposals (and the objections received have been incorporated in the report to the CAA) and a meeting in March would not be able to offer anything in the way of further information, which may simply serve to inflame, rather than to assuage.

“Therefore we will respectfully decline the opportunity you have outlined. If such a meeting were to take place, it would make sense to hold it after the CAA’s decision on the proposals and slightly before the replicated flight paths take effect.”

To sign the petiton:

https://www.change.org/p/city-airport-stop-the-current-proposal-to-concentrate-departures-from-city-airport-over-a-narrow-corridor-of-south-london-catford-dulwich-brixton-stockwell-and-vauxhall-east-london-bow-hackney-wick-leyton-leytonstone-wanstead-barkingside-colliers-row?recruiter=9107754&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

WHAT WALTHAM FOREST LABOUR PARTY DOES WHEN IT GETS FULL CONTROL OF THE COUNCIL

Illustration by Eva Bee
Illustration by Eva Bee

What is powerlessness? Try this for a definition: you stand to lose the home where you’ve lived for more than 20 years and raised two boys. And all your neighbours stand to lose theirs. None of you have any say in the matter. Play whatever card you like – loud protest, sound reason, an artillery of facts – you can’t change what will happen to your own lives.

Imagine that, and you have some idea of what Sonia Mckenzie is going through. In one of the most powerful societies in human history – armed to the teeth and richer than ever before – she apparently counts for nothing. No one will listen to her, or the 230-odd neighbouring households who face being wrenched from their families and friends. All their arguments are swallowed up by silence. And the only reason I can come up with for why that might be is that they’ve committed the cardinal sin of being poor in a rich city.

Sonia lives in one of the most famous landmarks in east London. The Fred Wigg and John Walsh towers are the first things you see getting off the train at Leytonstone High Road station; they hulk over every conversation on the surrounding streets and the football matches on Wanstead Flats. Since completion in the 1960s, they’ve provided affordable council homes with secure tenancies to thousands of families. Named after two local councillors, they are a testament in bricks and mortar to a time when the public sector felt more of a responsibility to the people it was meant to protect, and exercised it too.

And so they must go. Last month, Waltham Forest council agreed on a plan to strip back the two high-rises to their concrete shells, rebuild the flats, and in effect flog off one of the towers to the private sector. In between Fred and John, it will put up a third block.

What’s this long and costly job (£44m is the starting estimate) in aid of? Not to build more council homes. Amid London’s worst housing crisis since the aftermath of the second world war, local politicians plan to cut the number of council flats on the site from 225 to 160. You can guess what the rest will be: luxury flats sold as investments to foreign investors and buy-to-letters for half a million pounds a pop, and some “affordable” units to serve as PR mitigation. This is in a borough where 20,000 households are waiting for a council property.

Nor is this a choice being forced on the Labour-run council because of spending cuts and tough choices, and all that blah. By its own estimates, the project will blow about £14m of public money. Councillors admit it would be far easier and cheaper to repair and refurbish the blocks. It would also leave the borough with more social housing, and Sonia and her neighbours in peace.

Here, then, is a scheme that is expensive, illogical and unpopular. How does a local government push it through? By cheating. A strong term, but I challenge you to follow the sequence and not use it too.

First, council staff outlined the options to a few handfuls of households, without giving any detailed written explanations. Sonia remembers how one of the meetings was combined with a mini-funfair, where children from the estate were given candy floss. Then last summer officials produced a scientific-looking survey of residents, to capture how they felt about the proposed “improvements”, though there were still no details.

When residents finally found out what the council’s proposals would mean for them, they kicked off. A petition went round the estate, rejecting the grand scheme and calling for cheaper and less intrusive rebuilding: 60% of the residents signed up. Then came a November public meeting attended by more than a hundred angry people, at which council representatives were shouted down, and residents organised an impromptu vote against the council proposals. They begged for assistance from their Labour MP and their Labour councillors. No one helped.

So: a council decides to play at speculative property development (and local council taxpayers should pray that London’s housing bubble doesn’t pop over the next five years). It keeps residents in the dark over what its plans mean. And in the face of the eventual and inevitable protest, it pretends they aren’t happening, referring to “a handful” of malcontents. The easiest way to prove that is by offering residents a vote, as Westminster council did recently with one of its schemes. Fat chance of that happening here.

Just underneath the municipal formalities runs a thick vein of contempt from the representatives for the people they are meant to represent – and from a Labour party machine to what was once its core vote.

“The council is treating us worse than something stuck on their shoe,” says Sonia. And although she’s lived in the area her entire life, she knows that she and her son – now finishing off his A-levels – have become second-class citizens. They are reminders of Waltham Forest’s past as one of the most deprived boroughs in all of England.

Thanks to the inflation in the capital’s house prices, the area has recently become home to a new group of the relatively well-to-do. Having tasted gentrification, local politicians want more. “The Council wants to make the borough a place where high- and middle-income people choose to live and can afford,” reads Waltham Forest’s core strategy.

What they want to do with low-income people doesn’t need mission statements. Earlier this year the council tried to shift a soup kitchen run by a Christian charity out of the town centre, where it had been for 25 years, to an industrial estate in a layby off a dual carriageway. The soup kitchen and the poor people it attracted got in the way of the council’s “growth strategy”. Only the intervention of a judge forced a retreat.

In the run-up to what’s likely to be the tightest general election in years, both politicians and commentators are already bemoaning British voters: they don’t know what they want, they’re incoherent, they’re apathetic. But Sonia in Waltham Forest can tell you what a nonsense those charges are. If politicians can strip a part of the electorate of its voice, pretend to consult when really they mean boss about, and then ignore the comeback, they really mustn’t be surprised when voters forgo the ballot box for simmering resentment.

POLICE CONTACT POINTS

The recently closed Police Station in Kirkdale Road

With the closure of Leytonstone Police Station there is now no police station in the south of the borough.

Following the closure the Police are providing a contact point at Tescos in Gainsborough Road. Officers are present every Wednesday and Thursday from 6 – 8pm. and on Saturday from 2 – 4pm.

The only other local contact point is The Police Base, 593 Lea Bridge Road, E10 6AF. It is open every Wednesday and Thursday from 7 – 8pm, and on Saturday from 2 – 3pm.

The Leyton Neighbourhood Policing Team telephone number is (020) 8721 2037.

For non-emergency calls the Police ask you to dial 101. However, for emergencies call 999.

RUCKHOLT ROAD – goes Dutch!

Waltham Forest Council is one of the few Councils, successful in their bid to Transport for London for ‘Mini Holland’ funds to radically improve cycling in the borough. One of the areas for improvement is Ruckholt Road.

At a consultation meeting in Leyton Library, Lib Dem Focus Team member, Bob Sullivan had a chance to discuss the plans with officers and residents. Overall the scheme looks innovative and will assist safer cycling in the area. Bob outlined many small changes that would improve the scheme for cyclists and residents. The main one was allowing a left turn from Oliver Road into Ruckholt Road. Blocking the left turn would only encourage vehicle rat running.

He also said that the present bus stop in Ruckholt Road by the library should not be moved to Warren Road. The area in Warren Road is constantly used by motorists to park and shop locally in the High Road.

He also felt that the two current CPZs need to be combined and the times of operation extended.

Bob says: My full list of comments and suggestions has been sent to the Council. Focus will keep you informed of developments.

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN – update

Focus has had a massive response to our petition to get all our elected councillors to have a CRB check (now called a Disclosure and Barring Service – DBS).

Councillors are Corporate Parents to all our children in care and DBS checks should be for all not just a few.

Bob Sullivan says: If you want to click here to sign the petition. You may also see the team in the High Street collecting more signatures.

 

MORE WASTE – Campaigner Bob Sullivan with Labour WFN and glossy magazine

Bob Sullivan with copies of Labour-run Council propaganda

The Council continues to spend thousands on propaganda. The Government has said that 26 editions per year of the Council’s propaganda paper WFN, costing Waltham Forest taxpayers at least £500,000, should be reduced to no more than 4 editions. Labour has ignored this, using propaganda to cover up the Council’s failures. To top it all, they have gone on to produce a further 80 page glossy magazine costing over a £100,000.

Bob Sullivan says: The Council’s campaign ‘We Need to Talk’ is asking residents what they should do in order to make savings. Should Council Tax be used for propaganda?

LEYTON WARD FOCUS NEWSLETTER – 354

The latest edition of the Leyton FOCUS Newsletter has just gone to press.

It will be delivered to every household across the ward by our team of volunteers.

Please contact Bob Sullivan on 8556 8335 if you would like to help deliver the FOCUS near your home. It is usually published about every six weeks and a round should take about 45 minutes. Thank you.

You can access a copy of the FOCUS here: Leyton 354

INFLATION BUSTING PAY RISE!!

Waltham Forest’s Labour run Council has voted to give the Chief Executive of the Council  a whopping inflation busting pay rise of £15,000 – an 8% increase. 

This makes his salary £195,000! Even the Prime Minister only gets £142,000.  Labour councillors said it was reward for overseeing council cuts.

Given that the cuts were a loss of 1,000 jobs plus salary cuts to the rest of the council staff should this have been rewarded?

On top of that, Labour councillors voted to give the redundant deputy chief executive a massive £140,000 pay off.

You can be assured that the staff who lost their jobs did not receive any golden pay offs.
Can you believe the way this Labour Council spends your money. Last year they increased the Deputy leader’s pay by 25%.

Your money down the drain

Focus will keep on reporting the arrogant and wasteful ways that this Council spends your money.