You may have read the news a few months ago, that Leyton High Road and the Ruckholt Road area are due to be given a facelift thanks to the Olympics.
Cllrs Qureshi, Smith and I were invited to a meeting recently; to take a look at the changes that are being proposed to parts of Leyton High Rd over the coming years as we build up to the Olympics.
Almost £5 million is set to be spent in the area. Changes that are being proposed include new seating areas, shop frontages and lighting along the High Rd, in particular.
Although they are in their initial stages and subject to a consultation (which I am told is going to take place very soon) , I am very excited, as some of the planned changes will, i believe, transform the area and give it a much needed facelift. I have my reservations, about a few proposed changes around the Leyton station area; which I spoke about in the meeting. I do hope my suggestions are taken on board.
The officers concerned, visited the Leyton & Whipps Cross Community Council which took place last month and outlined initial plans to the members of the public who were in attendance.
If you would like to know more about the proposed changes, please email me.
Leyton Cricket Ground was heaving in July as families gathered to enjoy a fun day out. I took my grandaughter along too and she was not dissapponted. The Noor Ul Islam Summer Fair now takes its place as a must-go event in the annual calendar for Leyton. Pictured above with me is Cllr. Naheed Qureshi and her son Zakariah.
I was extremely thrilled to attend this event as it is not every day that a mosque puts on a summer fair, which is attended by a cross section of the local community. Well, it was held over a weekend actually, such was the demand for tickets.
The Noor Ul Islam mosque which is based on High Rd, Leyton ought to be congratulated for their hard work in the borough. They have worked wonders for the local muslim community. They have also strived to bridge te gap between the muslim and non muslim community and I do hope they continue to grow as an organisation. And that other mosques take valuable lessons from them in terms of how vital the role of a mosque is in this ethnically diverse part of London.
Lib Dem Leader Bob Sullivan has responded to the need to find savings at Waltham Forest council and Labour councillors’ decision to get rid of the council’s Chief Executive. He said:
Gordon Brown’s economic legacy means that all levels of government have to make tough choices. Labour in Waltham Forest has got off to a bad start by seeking to get rid of the serving Chief Executive at enormous cost to the local taxpayer.
The Liberal Democrats will campaign to protect crucial services that affect people’s lives. We will support measures to improve efficiency and cut out waste, bureaucracy and unnecessary spending.
The council spends hundreds of thousands of pounds each year on marketing and communications and could save more if it employed fewer interim staff and consultants. It must make progress on the Arcade site and other projects where every delay costs local taxpayers money.
It is vital that the measures announced by the council are considered properly by councillors and I will ask for full details to be submitted to the relevant scrutiny committee.
Lib Dem councillors have expressed alarm at news that Labour councillors are negotiating to turn popular sports facility Draper’s Field into a car park – just a few months after pledging to protect Waltham Forest’s green spaces and leisure facilities.The news has sparked anger among local Liberal Democrat campaigners, who say the all-weather pitch and playing fields are used by over 9,000 people every month.According to information received, Labour Council Leader Chris Robbins is actively negotiating to lease the playing fields to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) for possible use as a VIP car park or other Olympic use. As a result local children and football clubs will have nowhere to play in Olympic year while international elite athletes race for medals just a few hundred yards away.
Leyton councillor and Liberal Democrat Group Leader Bob Sullivan said:“To allow Drapers Field to be given over to the ODA and turned into a car park or other Olympic facility, would be a travesty for local clubs and schools. The Olympics should be used to encourage sport, not destroy it. Under Labour the council is in danger of missing a huge opportunity to gain Olympic benefits “Drapers Field is situated at the southern end of Leyton High Road. It has the only Council owned all weather astroturf pitch in Leyton and Leytonstone. Local Norlington School uses it four days a week and if it was to be closed down then this would be a disaster for the school.
Leyton councillor and Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan has responded to press reports claiming that Waltham Forest Council Chief Executive Andrew Kilburn has left his post.
Chief Executives are appointed to serve the whole council, not just the whims of the Leader. The council has clear procedures to deal with the appointment and departure of chief executives and so far it is not clear that these have been followed.
Nationally the coalition government is introducing a new era of openness and transparency about public sector spending..
Leyton residents will rightly be concerned about anything that smacks of a behind the scenes stitch-up to suit the convenience of senior Labour councillors, especially if it ends up costing the local taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds.
Recent research by the Audit Commission shows that the average cost to councils of severance agreements with Chief Executives is over a quarter of a million pounds (£256,104).
Bob Sullivan is demanding that councillors and the public are told what the true situation is and has put a series of questions to the council about how the matter is being handled. He believes it is unacceptable that the council’s Labour leadership is keeping councillors and residents in the dark.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader Bob Sullivan has confirmed that the Liberal Democrats are challenging the result of the local election in High Street Ward. The council has admitted that it may have made an error when the votes were counted, because the number of votes recorded in the result was bigger than the number of votes actually cast.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan said:
”If a mistake at the count led to the wrong councillor being elected it is a very alarming error. The Liberal Democrats have consulted solicitors with experience in this area with a view to challenging the result. It is vital that residents can have confidence in the integrity of the local democratic process.”
Labour councillors at the Councils AGM voted to duck close examination of their policies by excluding Liberal Democrat councillors from six key council committees.
In a cynical move the Labour Party voted to reduce the size of each scrutiny sub-committee to just five members, each consisting of three Labour councillors and two Conservative councillors but no Liberal Democrats.
“Labour is running scared of proper scrutiny,” said Liberal Democrat Group Leader Bob Sullivan, who also used the meeting to raise questions about primary school places, the EMD cinema and the Arcade site.
“It is a bad sign that the first act of the Labour administration is to close down debate and discussion. They don’t seem to realise that residents expect councillors to work together on the many difficult challenges facing our area. Despite the problems caused by Labour’s actions the Lib Dem group will continue to speak up for local residents and fight for their interests.”
Until last night’s Annual Council Meeting seven councillors served on each scrutiny sub-committee. This would have given the Liberal Democrats one seat on each committee. A Liberal Democrat attempt to halt the change was defeated by the Labour majority.
The six scrutiny sub-committees deal with:
- Children and Young People
- Health, Adults and Older People
- Performance Improvement
- Community Safety and Housing
Thank you to all of you who supported me and my colleagues Naheed Qureshi and Winnie Smith in the local elections on the 6th May. We managed to overcome the surge in Labour support in the borough to win our seats in Leyton Ward. Unfortunately we now have a Labour Council. Those of you who remember the times that Labour controlled the Council, will remember that they put the rates up 62% and turned the Council into one of the worst run in the Country.
Full results can be obtained from here – http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/index/council/elections/election-results/local-election2010results.htm
Liberal Democrats last week persuaded the council to adopt one of their election manifesto pledges – even though polling day is six weeks away – and announced an expansion of the bulky waste service to include free collection of carpets, bathroom furniture and other household fixtures and fittings and a new Garden Clearance Scheme.
At the last Council meeting before the elections Labour and Conservative councillors united to endorse the Liberal Democrat proposal to introduce a garden clearance scheme for older people and residents with disabilities.
Lib Dem councillor for Leyton Bob Sullivan hailed the decision as “the return of the Weedbusters”. He said:
“The Weedbusters project was a popular and much valued scheme to held older and disabled people who could not cope with their garden. Sadly it was axed in a previous round of Labour cuts. I am delighted that the council’s environmental performance has now improved enough that the Liberal Democrats can bring it back.”
Liberal Democrat Leader John Macklin said:
“Introducing the garden clearance service for older and disabled residents in need was going to be one of the Liberal Democrats key manifesto pledges in the forthcoming elections. I am really pleased that we have been able to win support for it six weeks early.”
Free bulky waste collection service expanded
During the debate Cabinet member Cllr Bob Belam announced his decision to expand the free bulky waste collection to include household fixtures and fittings such as carpets, bathroom suites and kitchen units.
“Residents understandably get confused when told that the council will collect their sofas and mattresses for free but not their old carpets or bathroom suites. Sadly some people also choose to fly-tip their carpets and old baths instead of disposing of them properly. This new scheme is fairer to residents and will reduce fly-tipping further,” he said.
The expanded bulky waste scheme is expected to launch in approximately two months time. The expansion of the free scheme will cost £20,000 per year. Free collection will not apply to waste generated as a result of work carried out by tradesman, who will continue to be responsible for disposing of their waste according to the law.
Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats have pledged to take immediate steps to sort out the schools places crisis if the party takes control of the council following the elections in May.
Labour has held the schools portfolio on Waltham Forest Council for over ten years. When Labour’s schools minister Ed Balls visited Walthamstow last Thursday (25 March) he blamed the council for the shortage of primary school places and refused to guarantee local schools the money they need to cope with extra pupils.
“The Secretary of State and the council’s Labour portfolio holder appear to be sniping at each other instead of taking the positive steps necessary to resolve the issue,” said local Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr John Macklin.
Local Lib Dems announced that a Liberal Democrat administration will:
- Be honest about the scale of the problem and publish full details of the school place forecasts, broken down by area.
- Examine what extra capacity is available in existing schools and how quickly it can be brought into use.
- Ensure developers contribute their fair share to the cost of providing new school places by negotiating effective S106 planning agreements when planning permission is granted – this recognises that pressure for new school places comes from partly from new housing developments.
- Identify what funding is required and lobby government to help meet any shortfall, so Waltham Forest is treated on a fair basis with Newham and other boroughs which have received much more funding from government.
- End uncertainty by publishing a clear plan of action which allows local residents and parents to understand what is being done to deal with the growth in the school pupil population and organise their lives accordingly.
Lib Dems added:
“If it wasn’t for the questions asked by Liberal Democrat councillors, Labour would have swept this issue under the carpet until it was too late to take action. The shortage of school places is not an easy problem to solve because new schools cannot be built overnight and are expensive to build. But instead of the hand-wringing that Labour is indulging in we need clear leadership that is honest about the challenges we face.
“The actions we have set out today are just the first steps needed to get a grip on the situation.”
The scale of the problem was brought to light when Liberal Democrat councillors asked for a presentation to the Walthamstow West Community Council in February following an informal survey of headteachers in Higham Hill carried out by Lb Dem councillor Peter Woollcott.