Liberal Democrats pledge immediate steps to sort out schools place crises

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:

  1. Be honest about the scale of the problem and publish full details of the school place forecasts, broken down by area.
  2. Examine what extra capacity is available in existing schools and how quickly it can be brought into use.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Lib Dem campaign against City Airport Flights continues

Local transport campaigner and Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Farooq Qureshi is pressing on with his campaign against the expansion of London City Airport and the new flight paths which affect local residents.

He has urged the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to publish details about how they will review the new flightpaths and to explain how local residents will be consulted.

In October Farooq persuaded Waltham Forest Council to oppose the expansion of London City Airport. He has welcomed the recent decision by the London Assembly to ask for a review of the decision and will be asking for an update on action by Waltham Forest Council at Thursday’s Council Meeting (25 March).

Farooq said:

“Changes at London City Airport impact on a huge swathe of north east London, yet past consultations have been poorly publicised. We need a proper review of the changes which takes into account local people’s experience. We need to know now how the review will take place so we can make sure the consultation arrangements are acceptable and to give the council and local organisations time to prepare.”

Farooq is also calling for a review of Newham Council’s decision to give planning permission for 120,000 aircraft movements a year at London City Airport.

Farooq advises residents who suffer from disturbance from aircraft to report their complaint to the CAA so it can be properly logged. The CAA provides the following contact details:

  • Breach of Air Navigation Legislation (including low flying): Write to: CAA,Aviation Regulation Enforcement, K504, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway,LONDON, WC2B 6TE (Tel. 020 7453 6193). You can download a complaint form from here [PDF].

Lib Dem candidate Farooq Qureshi calls on Mayor to keep Tube ticket offices open.

Waltham Forest’s Liberal Democrat councillors will fight to retain ticket office staff at local tube stations.

Last week Transport for London, which is controlled by the Mayor of London, announced cost cutting proposals to axe 450 ticket office staff and reduce ticket office opening hours across the networks.

Local transport campaigner, Lib Dem councillor and parliamentary candidate for Leyton and Wanstead Farooq Qureshi said:

“Waltham Forest has some of the busiest tube stations in outer London. These proposals mean more inconvenience and hassle for tube users. Passengers need to be able to talk to a real person if they have queries or problems.This is especially important for those who are not regular travellers or find it difficult to use the machines.

Liberal Democrat members of the London Assembly believe the cuts will make many passengers feel unsafe and could have a negative impact in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in and around tube stations.

Farooq Qureshi has a strong record of campaigning on local transport issues including the need to ease rush hour congestion at Leyton and Leytonstone underground stations by opening additional exits, the need for better connections from Leyton and Leytonstone High Roads to the rest of the borough and Stratford, improved accessibility for disabled passengers at Leyton and the refurbishment of Leyton Midland and Leytonstone High Road stations.

Passenger numbers per year for Waltham Forest tube stations are:

  • Walthamstow –> 14.2 million passengers per year
  • Leyton -> 12.7 million
  • Leytonstone –> 9.9 million
  • Blackhorse Road –> 6.1 million

Source: TfL website

During his election campaign Boris Johnson promised to retain staffed ticket offices. His transport manifesto Getting Londoners Moving committed the Conservative Mayor to: “halting the proposed Tube ticket office closures, and ensuring there is always a manned ticket office at every station” (page 2) and claimed “I will also defend local ticket offices” (page 9).

Cllr. Farooq Qureshi and the Liberal Democrat Focus team have launched a petition against the closures. You can sign online at  or call 020 8556 8335 for a petition form.

London City Airport expansion

A Welcome Motion

A motion requesting the Mayor of London to review the decision by Newham Council to support a 50% increase in flights at London City Airport was unanimously supported by a cross party majority at the GLA. The motion raised concerns that flight path changes across many East London Boroughs would worsen the quality of lives of 100,000’s of residents, many of which already suffer considerably as a result of aircraft noise and air pollution.

Liberal Democrats Parliamentary candidate for Leyton and Wanstead, Cllr Farooq Qureshi has welcomed the success of the  GLA motion.

Cllr Qureshi said: “We have been working with Fight the Flights (FTF) to oppose the expansion of London City Airport and its detrimental impact on the residents of Leyton and Wanstead. We hope that the Mayor of London will put pressure on London City Airport and Newham Council, who granted planning permission for the increase of flights, to review the expansion and the changes in flight paths.

Lib Dems freeze Council Tax and keep rents below inflation

Lib Dems put residents first

At a time when residents are feeling the pinch from Labour’s recession, Liberal Democrats have produced a budget that freezes council tax and keeps the rent increase below inflation.

Over the past four years Lib Dem councillors have pledged to keep council tax increases below inflation while maintaining council services. Despite the Labour Government taking millions away from the Council, Lib Dem councillors have kept their pledge and have frozen Council Tax this year. Council rents have been kept to an average rise of less than one percent – well below inflation. 

That’s not all, as well as freezing the council tax; Liberal Democrats have agreed extra money for street cleaning, decreasing parking charges and for protecting children.

Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Cllr. Farooq Qureshi says: Local pensioners and families are already seeing price rises for food, energy and fares.  The more we can do to keep costs down, the more it helps all our residents – particularly those most in need.   


Glyn Hopkin Nissan car showrooms corner of Ruckholt Road and Oliver Road to be  re – developed into flats and houses

The owners of the car showroom at the corner of Ruckholt Road and Oliver Road have submitted a plan to re-develop the site with 3 to 5 storey residential development of 107 units – 20 one bed, 32 two bed, 41 three bed and 14 four bed dwellings.

Apart from 10 houses fronting Dunedin Road the rest are flats. Of the 107 units only 54 car parking spaces are planned.  There will be parking for 12 motorbikes and 107 cycles.

The Lib Dem Focus Team and residents know that trying to park a car in this area is virtually impossible and to have a development that does not include a car park space for all the houses and flats is not acceptable.  The Focus Team are also not happy with the planned 5 storey blocks of flats fronting Ruckholt Road.  We believe the plans are an over-development of the site. 

The Planning Department is asking for comments and objections to be notified to them by 19th February.  So if you want to comment or object to the plans then either write to The Development Manager, Sycamore house, Town Hall Complex, Forest Road, London E17 4JF (please copy to the  Focus Team as well). Or telephone the planning officer Ms S Malcolm 020 8496 6708.

The Lib Dem Focus Team will ask that this development goes to the Planning Committee for decision. This will enable up to 3 residents to speak, each for 3 minutes, to the committee. Your Lib Dem councillors will also be able to speak.

If you interested in speaking at the committee, or want to discuss these plans, then contact the Focus Team.

Liberal Democrats Tackle Youth Unemployment

With the recession hitting the youngest the hardest Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats have implemented proposals announced by national Lib Dem Leader, Nick Clegg, to prevent people leaving school, college and university being condemned to long-term unemployment.

Waltham Forest Council has implemented the Lib Dem policy by encouraging 16 to 18-year-olds to apply for a place on its apprenticeship scheme.

Local Lib Dem Leader and cabinet member for finance and resources, Cllr John Macklin, said:

“Making sure our residents are equipped with the skills they need to compete in the workplace and driving down unemployment are two big priorities for the council and taking on apprenticeships shows that we’re putting our money where our mouth is as an organisation. 

“Research has shown that taking on apprentices can be a real boost to the organisation by increasing productivity, increasing competitiveness and providing a committed and well-skilled workforce which makes it a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Cllr. Bob Sullivan councillor for Leyton Ward and Chair of the Scrutiny Management Committee, said:

“School- leavers and older teenagers have been let down by the Labour Government.  Despite Labours big promises, they have not provided the apprenticeships to make sure that every school-leaver who wanted to learn a trade could do so.

“My Lib Dem colleagues on the Council have not sat back, but have acted to help young people gain the skills they need for employment.”

Javell Holden, one of the council’s apprentices, said: “I’ve been working at the WFD call centre while doing a Business and Administration NVQ course since last April.

“I’ve found the course very beneficial and have just been offered a permanent job. I’ve learned many skills and would recommend this to anyone.”

Anyone aged 16-18 and interested in the scheme should email or call 020 8520 9430.

Click here for further details of the Lib Dem policy to tackle youth unemployment.

Lib Dem enforcement pledge to drivers

Picture courtesy of Waltham Forest GuardianLib Dem Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Bob Belam, announced a new scheme telling drivers exactly where CCTV enforcement vehicles will be deployed.

The initiative, believed to be the first of its kind in the Country, aims to promote safer driving, reduce road accidents and lower the number of penalty charge notices issued to motorists for transgressions such as stopping in a box junction.

Details of where the boroughs five CCTV enforcement vehicles will be are available for viewing on the Waltham Forest Council website at

CCTV vehicles are deployed in the identified areas because residents have complained about congestion, accidents and other issues in their vicinity,

Cllr Bob Belam, said: “The main aim of our traffic enforcement team is to improve safety for all of Waltham Forest’s roads users. It is not about making money at the expense of motorists.

“We hope this scheme will encourage people to drive more carefully, especially at the locations where we issue most of our penalty charge notices, and help us to improve traffic flow and reduce accidents.

Waltham Forest Council’s CCTV vehicles are responsible for recording moving traffic violations, such as stopping in box junctions, driving in bus lanes and making banned turns. They are also used for parking enforcement purposes.

The statutory penalty charge for a moving traffic violation is £120, reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.