Residents in Waltham Forest will be put at risk if the Mayor’s plans to privatise Fire Brigade 999 call handling go ahead, warn the borough’s Liberal Democrat Councillors.
Conservatives on the London Fire Authority backed by Mayor Boris Johnson propose to contract out the Fire Brigade Control Room that handles over 200,000 emergency 999 calls a year. They intend to push their controversial plan through before voters get a say in next May’s Mayoral and London Assembly elections, when controversial Conservative LFEPA boss Cllr Brian Coleman risks being ousted.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Farooq Qureshi said:
“I was shocked to hear of this plan. It makes no sense to separate the people answering 999 calls from the rest of the Fire Brigade. There are no private companies with a decent track record in this highly specialised fire safety work. It will just end up costing more money as the Fire Brigade will need an army of staff to check the private call handlers are getting it right. This is all about Conservative dogma rather than what is best for local residents’ safety.”
The Fire Brigade’s Union is also strongly opposed to the privatisation plan.
Commenting on the sell off Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of London, Brian Paddick said:
“As a former police chief I recognise that control rooms are an essential part of the emergency response. Privatising the fire brigade control room runs the risk of providing a second class service at a higher cost to the public.”
Many residents’ rubbish and recycling has remained uncollected for weeks.
The Council says it is caused by teething troubles experienced by their new waste contractor – Kier. Residents have been complaining to Focus that they have had to wait three or four weeks to get their bins emptied, but even when the rubbish bins have been emptied the recycling has been left. Many residents say that they have phoned the Council but have been fobbed off with excuses.
Focus says: The Council’s contractor is being paid millions to collect our rubbish and recycling. The Council should make sure rubbish and re4cycling is collected regularly and on time. There should be no excuse for such abysmal service.
Last Thursday the Labour Council voted to close down Harrow Green Library. Residents had raised a petition of over 5,000 signatures and local Lib Dems had also raised a petition of over 1,1000 signatures to save the library.
Despite these petitions, fierce local residents’ opposition to the proposal and impassioned speeches, Labour Councillors voted to close the Library. The Tories abstained and the Liberal Democrats were the only party to vote against the closure. Even local Labour Councillors, whose residents had campaigned to stop the closure, voted to shut down Harrow Green Library.
Local Lib Dem Cann Hall Ward Councillor Liz Phillips, who has been leading the campaign in the council said:
“Local residents worked hard on this issue and took time out of their day to come and speak in the debate in good faith, only to find that the Labour Party had stitched up the result in advance.
“I’m not surprised that some residents walked out in disgust. Labour has refused to listen to local residents all along and this council meeting was no different.
“The Labour councillors can’t use a cut in the budget to hide the fact that it is them who are closing down our local library.”
The closure was based on the widely criticised libraries’ review and despite the consultation process, two petitions and recommendations from the council’s own scrutiny panel that no libraries needed to close, the Labour leadership refused to change course.
Lib Dem Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan said:
“The Libraries’ Review has been widely criticised and appears to have been a foregone conclusion from the start.
“The questions asked in the consultation were clearly misleading. For example, residents were asked if they would like their library to start opening on Sundays, but weren’t asked if they minded other libraries closing for this to be achieved.
“Of course residents suggest improved services, but if they knew that the council were robbing Harrow Green to pay for those services I believe they would think again.
We held the second Ward Residents Forum meeting at the Cricket Ground last week. This meeting continues to be popular with local residents, as a lot of them turned up. We had to book the large hall for health and safety reasons as there is a limit as to how many people the Pavillion can hold.
I chaired the meeting and Cllr. Naheed Qureshi took the minutes. Unfortunately Cllr. Winnie Smith was on holiday so missed out. There was a presentation on the Councils Library Review by Lorna Lee, the libraries officer. In contrast we did have a table with a ‘Save the Harrow Green Library’ petition. A bit cheeky, but we felt that a lot of people who were campaigning in the Harrow Green area needed our support.
We then had the local Police report back as to what has been going on locally. We now have one sergeant in charge of both Leyton and Grove Green wards. The police did hand out a complicated chart of incidences in the area. I will try and get a summary of the major crime figures and report back.
There were 4 applicants for a place on the Cricket Ground Committee. Three addressed the meeting as one of them did not turn up. Each resident had one vote and by a large show of hands local resident Peter Towler was elected. Well done Peter.
I updated everyone on the applications for betting offices in the area, as there had been a big upsurge of bookmakers turning shops and pubs into betting offices. This was followed by list of suggestions as to what we can spend the £10,000 grant money on. These will be worked up and reported back for decision, probably in November. If anyone has further suggestion, then they need to contact me, Naheed or Winnie.
The open forum where any resident can bring up any query, problem or explanation of what is going on in our area ended the meeting. Any questions that could not be answered would be investigated and reported back through the minutes of the meeting. The minutes will be available on the Councils website.
The next meeting will be probably be in November. We will notify the actual date in our FOCUS newsletter and on our websites.
If you would like to help and get involved in local issues then do not hesitate to contact me.
There is already a big response to the fight to save Harrow Green Library.
The Council’s consultation is still running, so, if you haven’t signed the petition so far, please go on-line now at: http://ourcampaign.org.uk/HarrowGreenLibrary
Over 60 Leyton residents packed the meeting room at the Score Complex on Oliver Road to attend our first Leyton Ward Residents’ Forum meeting on 19th May 2011. This was the first of such meetings following the Labour Councils scrapping of the Community Council meetings.
Items on the agenda included presentations from Council Officers regarding works in the area in preparation for the Olympics and from the local Safer Neighbourhood Team; further information on how to elect a representative from the area onto the Leyton Cricket Ground Management Committee; Suggestions on how to spend £10,000 in the area and an open Q & A session where you could ask your local councillors about anything you like!
Local Councillors Winnie Smith, Bob Sullivan and Naheed Qureshi were delighted by the huge turnout (much higher than in other wards in the borough) and the positive response from Leyton residents.
Residents should note that we are in the process of collecting YOUR ideas on how to spend £10,000 in the area! If you think you have an idea on how the money can be spent to improve the area or the lives of those living in it and would like to let us know – please contact us immediately!! or collect some forms at Leyton Library and Seddon Centre Clyde Place/Beaumont Road.
We will be discussing this matter further and giving you the opportunity to comment on suggestions received at our next meeting in September!
Finally, if there is anything you would like to see on the agenda of our next meeting please let us know. These meetings are for your benefit and any input from you will be welcome!!
Click below if you want to see the minutes of the meeting –
Leyton Ward Forum Minutes 19-5-11
Leyton’s Liberal Democrat councillors have called for Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson and Conservative councillors on the London Fire Emergency and Planning authority (LFEPA) to reverse a proposal to permanently remove a fire engine from Leyton Fire Station.
The cuts threat was made by LFEPA’s Conservative chairman earlier this week when he called for the Fire Brigade to look at saving money by making permanent the temporary reductions in fire cover during the recent strikes. It could see 27 of London’s 169 fire engines scrapped and around 500 fire fighter jobs lost. The proposal was backed by Conservative members of the authority.
Local Leyton Lib Dem councillor Winnie Smith said: “It is shocking that the Conservatives are now looking at permanent cuts to the number of fire engines protecting Leyton residents. This inevitably raises questions about the time it takes for engines to get to fires and accidents and about cover if the remaining engine is unavailable. Like all public services London Fire Brigade needs to save money, but Mayor Boris Johnson has promised that there will be no cuts in frontline fire services and he must honour that promise.
“Waltham Forest Lib Dems have also expressed concern about the removal of a fire engine from Chingford Fire Station.
Councillor Bob Sullivan urges all users of this playing field to join the campaign to save it from becoming an Olympic Holding Area, which will mean it will be closed to the public from September 2011 until the end of December 2012.
Who knows what will happen then!
Please sign our on-line petition at:
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.”