LIB DEM LEADER TO INVESTIGATE QUESTIONS OVER LABOUR’S JOBS PROGRAMME

Waltham Forest Lib Dem Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan has been appointed to a new panel set up to examine the questions surrounding the council’s £9 million Worknet programme.

Councillor Sullivan requested the enquiry in September and the panel has now been established by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny management committee. The panel will investigate claims that millions of pounds went unspent or were put away in the council’s balances.

Also on the panel will be Conservative Cllr John Moss and Labour Cllr Saima Mahmood.

Councillor Sullivan said:

“I’m pleased to have the opportunity to raise the difficult questions needed about the council’s Worknet programme.

“All of this £9 million should have been used to put our residents back to work but so far we don’t know how much of this money actually made it into these back to work schemes or if any of them were successful.

“The council, the contractors and cabinet members all have tough questions to answer. We need to know if these contracts were successfully delivered, if they weren’t delivered then what went wrong, and why residents didn’t know about it sooner?”

WHAT LOCAL BUSINESSES WANT FOR CHRISTMAS!

LIB DEMS CALL FOR COUNCIL RETHINK OVER PARKING IN THE BOROUGHWith problems over the CPZ consultation and plans by Waltham Forest Council to sell off the Stanley Road Car Park in Bakers Arms shopping area, parking is fast becoming a big issue in the Borough.

Lib Dems are opposing plans by the council to sell off the car park at Bakers Arms. And have gone further by asking the council to extend free parking times over the Christmas period to help local businesses.

Cllr Mahmood Hussain, Lib Dem Environment spokesperson said:

“With Christmas coming up, now would be the perfect time to help local businesses by extending the 15 minutes free parking time up to 30 minutes for the remaining few weeks. This would help our local shops compete with supermarkets and the big shopping centres nearby.

“And selling off the Bakers’ Arms car park is clearly the wrong decision. The car park is badly signposted at the moment but if we could bring it back into proper use it could be a great asset for local businesses.

“Cabinet members need to rethink parking in the Borough and focus on how it can help local businesses.”

Chair of the Bakers’ Arms Business Forum, Suleman Ahmed said:

“We should be taking advantage of the resource that we have in this car park at Bakers’ Arms. If the car park was better managed and better signposted by the council then it would not need to be sold off.

“Extending free parking would also be a great boost to local businesses in the run up to the Christmas period.”

EDL march update

Lib Dem Councillors Bob Sullivan, Farooq Qureshi and Mahmood Hussain outside the Town Hall
 
 
Liberal Democrat councillors joined an all-party group of councillors and residents lobbying Parliament to ban the planned march through Walthamstow. 

 

GOOD NEWS– the Minister for Policing Damian Green has this afternoon approved a ban on any protests in Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Islington for the next 30 days. 

In a statement issued this afternoon the Council and Parliament said the Police would only allow the EDL to hold a static protest outside the Houses of Parliament. 

A joint statement issued by the Council and the three Members of Parliament urged residents to stay away from all planned protests. 

Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Mark Collins also urged the public to stay away from any counter demonstrations and said they could make the situation worse. 

Lib Dem Group Leader Bob Sullivan said: 

“I hope reason prevails and the community enjoys a peaceful weekend.” 

PRESS RELEASE: TACKLING ROGUE LANDLORDS

At the recent full council meeting, councillors voted in favour of a Liberal Democrat motion to introduce Selective Licensing in the Borough.

Selective licensing has recently been introduced across the whole of the neighbouring borough of Newham. Once in place the law requires that all landlords in the area are licensed and that license can then be revoked if certain conditions aren’t met.

Lib Dems want to use it to tackle rogue landlords and in particular the growth of anti-social behaviour in private rented properties, which now make up 32% of the Borough’s housing stock.

The motion called for a full consultation on proposals to introduce selective licensing in the Borough to tackle rogue landlords, although this was diluted by a Labour amendment, which instead simply referred to ‘an evaluation’.

Lib Dem Housing spokesperson Councillor Winnie Smith, who moved the motion said:

“We’re pleased that the council are now seriously looking into selective licensing. And we hope that the Labour group will now stick to the spirit of the motion and push forward with selective licensing.

“There is a clear need to tackle the growing problem of rogue landlords in the Borough. As we heard from Leyton resident Sharon Crossland in the council meeting, there are landlords in our borough that just aren’t playing by the rules and there is only so much that can be done at the moment without this new licensing power.”

“Many residents are suffering in properties that just aren’t up to standard and paying too much for poor housing that’s blighted by anti-social behaviour.”

PRESS RELEASE: THE FAILURE OF WORKNET

QUESTIONS STILL REMAIN OVER THE FAILURE OF WORKNET – COUNCILLOR BOB SULLIVAN

The recent failures of Worknet highlighted by Nick Tiratsoo still leave questions to be answered.

We know that £2 million was allocated for the contractor Widows and Orphans but we still don’t know what the targets and outputs were in each case or how much money the council actually paid the contractor in total.

Councillor Sullivan has now asked the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny committee for a review into the failure of the programme and will be pressing the council for further answers over the coming weeks.

Leader of the Waltham Forest Lib Dems, Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“In normal times this failure would be damning for Labour councillors but in these difficult economic times it is unforgivable.”

“It is unforgivable that they have let down our Borough’s unemployed, it is unforgivable that they have allowed this failure to go on unreported for nearly three years and it is unforgivable that most of this money will now not be spent on employment programmes for our Borough at all.

“The failure of this contract could even have implications across the council. We know we’ve had problems with our schools contractor and our waste contractor and taken together it starts to paint a worrying picture for council contracts as a whole.

“We clearly need a full enquiry to get to the bottom of how this happened before the council goes down this road yet again.”

 

PRESS RELEASE: Council should do more to get compensation for Leyton Traders

WALTHAM FOREST COUNCIL SHOULD DO MORE TO GET COMPENSATION FOR LEYTON TRADERS – COUNCILLOR BOB SULLIVAN

On 27 July 2012, in a press release on the Council’s website, Portfolio Holder Cllr. Mark Rusling described Leyton Marketas ‘“a great opportunity for Waltham Forest to celebrate the Olympics”’, and claimed:

‘We have worked with the whole community – including local retailers – to get their support for this unique project.’

The final sentence of the press release was unequivocal:

‘Waltham Forest Council created the new food market through an innovative partnership with North London Business and Skateco UK’.

Three days later, Waltham Forest News made the same point:

‘Waltham Forest Council created the market to help local businesses capitalise on the extra visitors that will be flocking to the borough during the Games’ (WF News issue 71, 30 July 2012, p.7).

Leyton Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“The Chief Executive of North London Business has already resigned over this, so traders are right to expect some compensation.”

“Cllr Rusling was eager to take credit for the market before the Olympics and he and this Labour council must now take their share of the blame.

“Clearly at some point in this saga one part of the council didn’t know what another part was doing.

“I asked the council weeks ago whether they will be giving out compensation to the traders and they have refused, putting the blame squarely with North London Business.”

“As a board member of North London Business, Cllr Akram is also in a unique position to influence this decision. I think most local residents would expect him and Cllr Rusling to be considering their respective positions.”

“At the very least councillors and Cabinet members should be putting pressure on North London Business and Skateco UK Ltd to reimburse some or all of the money to the traders who were sold promises of customers that never arrived.”

‘Plot’ to extend the temporary Olympic Parking Zone restrictions

Temporary Olympic CPZ sign

When the Council and the ODA decided to implement the temporary Olympic Controlled Parking Zone, it was clearly stated that it would be withdrawn on the 9thSeptember following the closure of the Paralympic Games.

The Council also stated that they would be undertaking a consultation with the residents to find out if, in the light of their experience during the Games, they wished to make the Controlled Parking Zone permanent.

The Lib Dems have now discovered that the Council has already published a Traffic Order allowing them to extend the temporary provision for 18 months. It also states that the Council will be considering ‘in due course’ whether the provisions of the experimental orders should be continued in force indefinitely by means of permanent Orders.

Liberal Democrats feel very strongly that there is no need for permanent parking restrictions in most of the roads in areas GO1 – GO10, as they do not have a history of parking problems.

All residents are urged to send in written objections to both the temporary 18 month extension and the permanent CPZ to the Council at:

Traffic Orders,

Environment and Regeneration,

London Borough of Waltham Forest,

Low Hall,

Argall Avenue, London, E10 7AS

quoting reference: Traffic Orders T20.

Closing date for objections: 8th February 2013

Primrose Road/Vicarage Road junction

St. Joseph's Hall

Residents are concerned about what is going to happen to the old St. Joseph’s Hall on the corner of Primrose Road and Vicarage Road.

It has been boarded up for years and has become an unsightly blot on the corner.

FOCUS understands that previous plans to build a nursery and plans for flats and community hall have been turned down by the Council.

I am investigating what the problem is with this building, and will report back with any developments.

PRESS RELEASE – Waltham Forest Labour are letting our schools down

Councillor Liz Phillips has raised concerns about Waltham Forest council’s contractor Babcock after it was revealed that almost 15% of the Borough’s schools are now in special measures following their two years as the council’s contractor.

In a written answer to Cllr Phillips, the Labour Cabinet member, Cllr Clare Coghill described the council’s risk analysis programme for schools as ‘a work in progress’ and said that the council’s priority had been ‘savings of £2m from the contract at an early opportunity’.

Councillor Liz Phillips, Waltham Forest Lib Dem spokesperson for Children and Member of the Council’s Corporate Parenting Board, said:

“Almost 15% of our schools are now in special measures and yet the council won’t be seeking any compensation from the contractor who presided over this mess.”

“Surely there should be something in our contract with this company that means at the very least they must pay for failing local kids and their parents?”

“In Waltham Forest we are now on our 4thLabour cabinet member for Children’s Services in just over two years. Perhaps if someone with a bit of experience would take responsibility for more than a few months then we wouldn’t be in this situation?”

PRESS RELEASE – Waltham Forest Lib Dems slam Labour’s ‘APPRENTICE-STYLE BOARDROOM’

The total cost of the new refurbishments at Waltham Forest Town Hall has been uncovered by Lib Dem councillor for Cann Hall ward Liz Phillips. According to a written answer to Councillor Phillips, the cost of the new Town Hall reception area and what has been dubbed ‘The Boardroom’ by the council now totals £610,000.

Councillor Liz Phillips said:

“Whilst there was clearly some need for private meeting spaces for residents, these costs seem exorbitant to me.”

“This new boardroom looks like no more than a vanity project so Labour Cabinet members can sit there and pretend to be Alan Sugar.

“Labour claim that some of the costs will be paid for through renting it out but no doubt it will be Waltham Forest residents who pick up the lion’s share of the bill.

“Labour Cabinet members should reflect on whether that money could have been better spent on our young people, for example on ensuring that the council finally meet their apprenticeship targets for this Borough or keeping open Harrow Green library.”