PRESS RELEASE: Lib Dem councillors campaign against Fire Service cuts

LOCAL COUNCILLORS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN AGAINST CUTS TO FIRE SERVICES

Local Lib Dem councillors are backing their Lib Dem colleagues Terry Stacy and Stephen Knight on the North London fire authority and are launching a campaign against cuts to local fire services. Waltham Forest could lose 2 fire engines under Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans and services across London will be cut back.

Local residents are also worried about the closure and demolition of Leytonstone Fire Station amidst this on-going uncertainty. Residents are worried that because the proposals for cuts are yet to be finalised the new station could be axed following the consultation.

Residents now want assurances that the station will reopen as planned. Local Lib Dems are asking residents to sign a petition against the cuts and for assurances about the future of Leytonstone Fire Station.

Lib Dem Councillor Mahmood Hussain said:

“These fire engines are a vital part of our local fire services. Fewer engines will mean there are fewer and less mobile fire fighters protecting or Borough.“These cuts are short-sighted. The number of fire engine mobilisations in the Borough increased from 5,449 in 2005/06 to 5,607 between 2011 and 2012. The population of the Borough is still growing, which means more people and more houses to protect.”“I hope that local Labour and Conservative councillors will join us in opposing these cuts.”

Leytonstone resident Mahmood Faiz said:

“Of course we’re worried. There are big changes going on in the fire service and local people want assurances that the new fire station will go ahead. This consultation is already causing worries for local people and it shouldn’t be used as a way of sneaking in even more of Boris’ cuts to our fire services.”

Please sign our petition here: http://eepurl.com/uZtFb

PRESS RELEASE: Labour cut free rat catching service

This year the Labour council will bring an end to their free rat catching service by introducing a new charge of £25.

They are also increasing the cost of pest control in other areas, putting up the cost of dealing with mice for those on council tax benefit from £60 to £75, a 22% increase.

Lib Dems have criticised the move saying it will cause more problems than it solves.

Lib Dem Environment spokesperson Councillor Mahmood Hussain said:

“This is a false economy. A growing rat population affects everyone. For every person that is put off reporting rats by this new charge, rats will spread further and faster across the Borough.

“Mice are a growing problem for residents too and it can often take two or three visits before they are cleared from your home, landing you with a bill of hundreds of pounds.”

“Just like their u-turns over parking charges and the living wage last year, it wouldn’t cost Labour much to reverse these bad decisions and back the priorities of residents.”

Lib Dem Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“Lib Dems will be finding money in our alternative budget to show that the Labour council could cut charges for mice and keep the rat service free if they wanted to.”

PRESS RELEASE: LIb Dems welcome new bailiff laws

Waltham Forest Lib Dem leader Cllr Bob Sullivan has welcomed the new laws to tackle aggressive bailiffs planned by the coalition government next year.

Under the new laws, bailiffs will be stopped from using any physical contact when dealing with people who owe money and will be banned from entering people’s homes at night, or entering properties where children are alone.

They will also be banned from fixing their own fees and will have to follow a set fee scale.

Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“This is a welcome proposal from the coalition government that can’t come soon enough. I’ve had to deal with residents’ problems with over-zealous bailiffs for a long time and I can’t understand why the last Labour government let the current situation drag on for 13 years.

“Just because someone is in financial difficulty it shouldn’t mean they can be taken advantage of. Bailiffs should be forced to play by the rules and ensure fairer treatment for our most vulnerable residents.”

PRESS RELEASE: Labour Council is letting our children down

TWO DAMNING REPORTS ON WALTHAM FOREST PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Figures released at the end of 2012 show Key Stage 2 results for Waltham Forest primary schools have been below the national average for the past two years. Whilst our results did improve in 2012, most other areas improved even more and have left us lagging behind.

According to the most recent Ofsted report, Waltham Forest and Hackney children are now the least likely in London to be able to attend to a good or outstanding primary school. With only 11 authorities out of over 150 in England performing worse, Waltham Forest is in the bottom 8% of authorities nationwide.

Across England, 2012 saw a welcome increase in the percentage of Key Stage 2 pupils receiving a Level 4 or above in English and Maths, helped by extra money delivered through the Lib Dem Pupil premium, which targets funds at the poorest pupils.

But despite extra investment delivered by Liberal Democrats in government through the pupil premium, which will deliver over £12.5 million additional money for Waltham Forest schools in 2013-14, we are still lagging behind the national average in these key indicators.

Lib Dems believe Labour should be doing more to drive up standards in our schools and making more of this new money to drive up standards for the poorest. Splashing out money on more fireworks and other events can’t hide the fact that this Labour Council is letting our children down.

Cllr Bob Sullivan said:

“Every parent in Waltham Forest should be able to say that their child attends a good or outstanding primary school. There are great schools and great teachers in our Borough but many schools do not get the help they need from this Labour Council to overcome the difficulties they face.

“Waltham Forest Labour have now had 4 different cabinet members in charge of schools in just two and a half years and we’ve lost managers and directors too.

“When we left the joint administration in 2010 our Key Stage 2 results were above the national average but two years of Labour mismanagement have meant the rest of the country has overtaken us.

“Waltham Forest Lib Dems don’t believe more academies are the answer but we do need better local leadership to deliver a better education for our Borough’s children. It can’t be right that our children are the least likely in London to be able to attend a good or outstanding primary school.”

Barking – Gospel Oak Line – electrification urged

Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon asked Mayor Boris Johnson if he would commit to ensuring that the Barking to Gospel Oak Line is electrified before the end of his Mayoral term. His written response is printed below:

I strongly support the electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, which would permit the introduction of longer London Overground passenger trains, and bring significant benefits to the UK rail freight industry.

However, the commitment you seek can only be made by the Department for Transport and Network Rail, as the line is part of the Network Rail network. TfL (Transport for London) has offered a contribution to any funding package, reflecting the benefits for Overground services, but to date the balance of the required funding has not been forthcoming from the Government.

TfL continues to make the case for this scheme.

Leyton Sports Ground – public meeting 19 January

The Cricket Pavilion

The Leyton Sports Ground Management Committee is hoping to extend and improve the sporting facilities offered, and wants to get their neighbours involved in a residents group and have their say.

They are inviting the public to attend a meeting on Saturday 19 January. It will start at 2pm in the Long Room of the Cricket Pavilion, which is by the Crawley Road entrance to the sports ground.

If you would like more information contact Pete Towler, from the Management Committee on 020 8558 4748 or email him at petetowler@yahoo.co.uk

Old Leyton Town Hall – public house licence approved

Application Numbers: 2012/1444 & 2012/1445/LB

Location: former Leyton Municipal Offices

Description: Change of use of ground floor and basement on the High Road frontage from restaurant (use class A3) to drinking establishment (use class A4) and formation of bin store on the Adelaide Road frontage.

Public House application approved with many conditions relating to the building’s listed building status. Full details can be seen on the council’s website, by quoting the application numbers on the Planning Explorer.

Planning change ‘recipe for disaster’

Waltham Forest Lib Dems warn government that planning change ‘recipe for disaster’

Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats have criticised Government proposals to relax planning laws for a three-year period and labelled them a ‘recipe for disaster’. The Lib Dems successfully passed a motion at full council receiving cross-party support to oppose the changes proposed by the government.

The Government announced in the summer plans to kick start the building industry.  A public consultation was launched to extend the exemption for planning permission for home extensions of up to 6 metres.  Legislation currently allows for extensions up to 3 metres to avoid the planning process.  If the proposals became law, owners of street properties could find their rear windows flanked by six-metre extensions on both sides, plunging them into darkness for most of the day.

Developers could be allowed to by-pass planning controls to fast-track commercial and housing applications. Business premises would be able to expand by 100sq metres and industrial units by 200sq metres. Offices would be permitted to convert to residential use all without planning permission, irrespective of the impact they would have on a neighbourhood.

Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats fear the plans will potentially block out light, split communities, damage conservation policies and do nothing to encourage economic growth locally that is not achieved already.

The Government’s proposals are currently out for consultation.  Liberal Democrats at their annual conference also rejected the move overwhelmingly.

 

Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson, Councillor Liz Phillips, said:

“These proposals are a recipe for disaster. They have not been properly thought through.  If this is allowed to happen it could set neighbour against neighbour and split communities in Waltham Forest for years to come.

“On top of the resentment and loss of quality of life, some people’s houses will also plummet in value if they’ve got no light or a noisy factory is within a few metres of their front door.

“There is no evidence that this will do anything to promote economic growth in Waltham Forest.  The Government needs to ditch these divisive and unnecessary plans.”

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?”