Labour in ‘crisis’ over democracy

Waltham Forest Labour Party was pushed to ‘the brink of crisis’ this week when the Leyton and Wanstead Constituency Party passed a motion demanding a rethink of a proposal to ditch Community Councils in favour of smaller ward-based meetings. It is understood the main dissidents included Councillors Highfield, Russell and Wheeler.

Unsurprisingly, it seems Cllrs Loakes, Pye, and Robbins, who are members of the Leyton and Wanstead Constituency Labour Party, are out of touch with their grass-roots. So what hope for the helpless souls they represent?

It’s doubtful this row is keeping the Labour leader, Cllr Chris Robbins, awake at night given that only eight people (Cabinet) have ultimate power whilst the other 52 councillors seem to be little more than passengers in this political game. And as for the electorate!?

One has to ask whether Cllr Robbins was at the Leyton and Wanstead Constituency Party meeting given he has not bothered to attend his local Community Council for quite some time. This ‘self-induced home grown disaster’ demonstrates senior Labour Party members’ arrogance.

Surely there is a better form of governance for Waltham Forest?

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Democracy destroyed by Democracy

If liberty and equality are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.
Aristotle

A rushed Labour Cabinet decision provides an interesting insight into the three Waltham Forest political Parties’ attitudes to democracy.

Labour – Cllr Marie Pye, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Development, submits a last minute report to Cabinet on 10th November asking the Council Leader, Cllr Chris Robbins, to treat it as an urgent item of business.

The report to replace Community Councils with Ward Forums was unanimously agreed by the Labour oligarchy.

The rush to get this report agreed seems to be to ensure financial savings of £151k each year starting from January 2011. Yet Pye is happy to reduce the savings by £26,947.50 to provide officer support and training for Councillors to manage public meetings during a nine month implementation of Ward Fora!!!

Pye insisted the decision had nothing to do with saving money, but was motivated by a desire to improve the system of accountability.

Whilst Community Councils could be cumbersome members of the public were able to influence Councillors who ultimately and legally made the decisions. Under Pye’s new ‘Community Engagement’ strategy Councillors, we have elected to make decisions on our behalf, have had their decision making powers stripped from them and given to a Council officer under delegated powers.

The proposed Community Ward Fora will not be formal council
committees under the Local Government Act 1972 or area committees under section 18, Local Government Act 2000 or the 1990 Regulations. The meetings cannot have decision making powers but may recommend proposals to the officer with delegated powers. The executive may delegate authority for the ward budgets to an officer of the Council under the executive arrangements in Part 2 of the Local Government Act 2000. The officer must make decisions based on all the relevant factors and it is lawful for the officer with delegated powers to take into account the views of the Forum as one of those factors. However, the views of community fora or individual members cannot be the determining factor in or predetermine the officer’s decision (para 7.2.3 of Pye’s report).

ConservativesNo public statement to date!

Liberal Democrats – Eight days after the Labour Cabinet decision Leader of the Lib Dems, Cllr Bob Sullivan, accuses them of trying to “muzzle” residents by scrapping community councils. The Truth Will Out team have news for you Cllr Sullivan. Labour are not trying to muzzle residents. Labour have muzzled residents and Councillors.

Conclusion?

Waltham Forest’s Labour oligarchy who believes that  power, wealth and opportunity should be in the hands of the many, not the few (Clause IV of the British Labour Party constitution) have, ironically, used democracy to destroy democracy.

The Conservatives’ silence indicates that they are unable to be a credible opposition or simply don’t care. Leader of the Conservatives, Cllr Matt Davies, and Chair of the Council’s Scrutiny Management Committee didn’t attend the Cabinet meeting neither, it seems, did he arrange for a substitute to attend in his absence.

The Lib Dems entering the argument after the event, as usual, when Labour’s proposal has been in the public domain for over two weeks shows they too are not a credible opposition.

Waltham Forest Council is made up of 60 Councillors (Lab:36, Con:18 & LD:6) yet only 8 of them make all the decisions. Pye and her 7 Labour Cabinet cronies have stripped the last vestiges of decision making from the remaining 52 Councillors. So what is the point of having them and paying them, collectively, £546,000 in basic allowances?

“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’. The three main political Parties are out of touch so let’s call for a change in our political system which represents all within our community.