Leyton’s Waltham Forest Direct shop to be axed

The Waltham Forest Direct (WFD) shop opposite the bus garage near Bakers Arms, is to be axed.  A  Liberal Democrat amendment at the budget setting meeting to retain the WFD shops was defeated by Labour councillors who decided to close the Waltham Forest Direct Shops in Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford.

It was noted that the branch in Walthamstow is staying open!

This will be a big blow to Leyton  residents who use it to sort out Council queries and benefit problems.  I have heard that a limited WFD service may become available at the new re-furbished Leyton Library.  We shall see!

CARERS NEED LOOKING AFTER TOO!

Those people who look after someone else are priceless in our society.  They need all the support that they can get.

That is why the Liberal Democrat councillors Council budget included putting an extra £300,000  into respite care, respite breaks and services for carers.  However, unfortunately the Labour and Tory councillors did not support this.  So the vote was lost – see article below for more on the Lib Dem budget..

If you are someone who cares for other people in your family or in the community, you can get free information, advice and support – just call ‘Carers Direct’ free on 0808 802 0202 or go to www.nhs.uk/carersdirect

As a local councillor, if you need help or advice, then don’t hesitate to contact me or my two Lib Dem councillor colleagues Cllr. Naheed Qureshi and Cllr. Winnie Smith.

Local Tory and Labour ‘Love In’

WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT! 

 At the Council meeting last week where the 2011/2012 budget was set, the Tories, who are the official opposition on Waltham Forests Labour Council, failed to put forward their own budget.

They also failed to support the Lib Dem budget, which tried to save some of the key services to vulnerable families and residents of the borough (see below for details).  They tried to deride it and even went on to praise the Labour budget that cut services by millions. 

Those at the meeting were taken aback by the ‘cosying up’ of the Tories to Labour.  Some even said it looked like a ‘Love In’.  When it came to the vote the Tories  then ABSTAINED on both the Labour and Liberal Democrat budgets!  So much for the Tory opposition on the Council.

The Liberal Democrat councillors were the ONLY opposition to Labour.

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.”

GOOD NEWS – Glyn Hopkin Nissan plans refused!

Good news – At last nights Planning Committee the plan to re-develop the Glyn Hopkin Nissan showrooms on the corner of Ruckholt Road and Oliver Road was refused by the committee.

Residents in the area will be delighted that the plans to build up to six stories of flats with little parking was thrown out.  This is the second time the plans have not been accepted.  I hope that the developers will go back to the drawing board and come back with plans for family houses with parking spaces and not loads of one and two bed flats.

HOW LOW CAN YOU GET!

Yes to Fairer Votes On the 5th May there will be a referendum on whether we keep the old voting system or whether we change it to a fairer voting system called AV (Alternate Vote).

Instead of just voting X for one candidate that we do now, with AV you will be asked to vote in order of your preference e.g.1, 2, 3, etc..  So MPS who now can be elected on only 1/3rd of the votes will have to get over half the votes to be elected.  So no ones vote is wasted. 

The YES campaign is going very well and winning the argument for a fairer voting system.  So well that the NO campaigners are losing the argument and having been consistently out organised by our grassroots volunteers, have been reduced to scare stories and smears to try to score cheap political points.

They have resorted to gutter politics.  As horrifying as this may sound, the No to AV campaign took out a two-page advertisement in the Birmingham Mail claiming that a sick baby “needs a new cardiac facility NOT an alternative voting system.

 This is shocking and shameful. This is not the debate that the country deserves.

 It’s clear that the No campaign don’t have the decency and integrity to regulate themselves, but this can’t go on. We need the Advertising Standards Authority to issue guidance on this campaign, and fast. Co-sign our letter to the ASA today:   http://www.yestofairervotes.org/ASA-demand-better

 This isn’t the first time that the No campaign have attempted to play on voters’ fears – but it certainly is the crudest.

 Just last week they claimed that AV would force the UK to spend £130 million on magical electronic counting machines. This neglected one simple fact – there are absolutely no plans to introduce electronic counting machines – there never were. Australia, which has used AV for 80 years, has never used counting machines.

 We must put a stop to these lies, and the only way we can do that is with an open, fair and honest debate – something that is proving surprisingly elusive.

UK voters are entitled to legal, decent, honest and truthful advertising campaigns – these adverts fail on every count. Join us in calling for the ASA to step in today, so that we can get on with the debate the country deserves. 

If you would like further information about the referendum please contact me or you can find out more on  www.yestofairervotes.org

 

Residents concern over new plans for Glyn Hopkin Nissan site

New plans for the Glyn Hopkin Nissan car showrooms on the corner of Ruckholt Road and Oliver Road will be considered by the Council’s Planning Committee on the 1st March at the Town Hall Forest Road.

The plans to redevelop the site include a 3 to 6 storey residential development of 116 dwellings – 28 x 1 bed flats, 56 x 2 bed flats, 22 x 3 bed flats and 10 houses fronting Dunedin Road. There will also be some artists studios fronting Oliver Road.  There is basement parking for only 53 cars including 9 disabled spaces.  Vehicle access is from Dunedin Road.

The original plans, which were widely objected to by local residents, were not accepted by the Council.  The new plans are very similar and I am surprised that the Planners have accepted them.  This is an over-development of the site and again has over a hundred flats and minimal parking space.  This area is crying out for family houses not more flats.  Leyton is being flooded with developments of flats with little or, in some cases, no provision for parking.

Parking is a major worry for local residents but their concerns carry no weight when it comes to decisions by the Council.

If any resident is interested in speaking at the Planning Committee, then please telephone Zainab Esmail on 020 8496 6725 before the 1st March. or contact me.

Say YES to a fairer system of voting

On Saturday I joined my colleagues Councillors Winnie Smith and Naheed Qureshi  outside Tescos in Leyton for a spot of campaigning for the Referendum on Fair Votes which is due to be held on May 5th this year.

We had a good response from the public; who seemed extremely interested in the subject. There are still many misconceptions and misinformation that are being printed to persuade people to vote no. Mainly from MPs that want to keep their jobs for life.  However, I would urge each and every one of you to find out more about the referendum and try to understand just how beneficial it will be for you!

The Alternative Vote system will change parliament forever, introducing a fair, more accountable voting system for Westminster. No more being elected by only 3 out of 10 people in your area.

 It builds on the current system and makes it better, eliminating many of its weaknesses and keeping its strengths.   It’s a long overdue upgrade to make a 19th century system fit for the politics of the 21st century. 

MPs will need to secure at least 50% of the vote to be certain of winning – under the current First Past the Post system, MPs can get elected with less than 30% of constituents supporting them. This means that MPs will need to work harder and go further to get, and keep, your support. They’ll have to appeal to more people in the communities they seek to represent. Doing just enough won’t be enough any more.

If you would like further information about the referendum please contact me or alternatively you can find out more on www.yestofairervotes.org

Refurbished Leyton Library officially opens

I attended the official opening of the new refurbished Leyton Library on High Rd Leyton on Saturday afternoon along with my colleagues Councillors Naheed Qureshi and Winnie Smith (pictured is Cllr. Naheed Qureshi and me at the entrance to the library).  The upper floors of the library are now open to the public due to the new lift which connects all floors.  On the first floor there is a very large computer room that was previously used as a reading room many years ago.  There are many smaller rooms on this floor and the upper floors that offer meeting rooms for hire.  Riverley Childrens Centre has made use of some rooms for their childrens activities already.

The library put on a good show for local children ( storytelling and facepainting) which went on through the day.  The refurbishment of the library has taken some time but it was worth it in the end.

Don’t forget that every Saturday from 10 till 12 noon we hold our councillors surgery/advice cenre at the Library.  Why not pop in to see one of us and the new library one Saturday?

GOOD NEWS – Leyton’s fire engine to be returned

Following local campaigns and a Lib Dem motion to Council urging the return  of our fire engines.  We have heard that London Fire Brigade has finally decided to return the two fire engines that were taken from Leyton and Chingford.

They were taken away last year, along with another 25 fire engines across London to cover for the possibility of industrial action by the Fire Unions.
Last Friday the Unions came to an agreement with the Fire Brigade so the engines should be returned.

This is good news for local residents whose safety could have been put at risk.