Democrat becomes Liberal

A former Waltham Forest Councillor exiled from the Liberal Democrats for speaking out against alleged corruption and racism is standing in the forthcoming by-election in Larkswood ward.

James O’Rourke has thrown his hat into the ring as an old-fashioned Liberal. Whilst we, and others, are encouraged to hear of his return, we thought the negative impact of The Scarlet Pimpernel would have discouraged Mr O’Rourke from returning to politics for life!

However, we wholeheartedly agree with Archipelago of Truth that Mr O’Rourke was a “…hard-working, case-working councillor when he was the representative for the High Street ward” and that by standing as a Liberal Party candidate it “…is the closest thing … to standing as an Independent without actually taking the plunge.”

Realistically, Mr O’Rourke is not going to beat the Conservatives on their ‘home turf’ but we wish him all the very best in dramatically reducing their majority and seeing off the other pretenders.

Advertisements

Ali family extends their empire

Not content with building their property empire in Waltham Forest the Ali family have extended their grubby tentacles into the Councils innermost sanctums – the cabinet and the mayoralty.

One week after the inauguration of the Mayor for 2012/13  Cllr Nadeem Ali, son of Cllr Liaquat Ali, hosted a celebration of Waltham Forest’s Mayoralty in the Town Hall Council chamber. The event, filmed by an asian TV channel and posted on YouTube, shows Cllr Liaquat Ali thanking family and friends for attending.

‘Chairing’ the meeting was newly elected Mayor of Waltham Forest and first citizen, Cllr Richard Sweden, so we assumed that this event was to celebrate his coming year in office. NOT SO!!!

The event was a ‘jolly’ for the family and friends of Cllr Nadeem Ali to celebrate him being the youngest Deputy Mayor of Waltham Forest!!!

Questions need to be asked of the Councils ‘Strong Leader’ Cllr Chris Robbins including:

  • Was the Mayor used to promote Cllr Ali and Cllr Ali who are known to be business men in area?
  • Was this an official Council sanctioned event?
  • Who paid for this event to glorify Cllr Nadeem Ali?
  • Were refreshments provided?
    • If so, who provided and paid for them?

Such narcissistic abuse of public facilities by Labour Councillors needs to be challenged.

If anyone can answer our questions please come forward with information.

Note: Brother of Liaquat  and uncle of Nadeem sits in his grey suit directly in front of Mayor, Cllr Richard Sweden.

Liberals find their voice

Four months after the relaunch of the Waltham Forest Liberal Party they have finally had something to say.

Former Waltham Forest Councillor, James O’Rourke, suggests he was responsible for getting the council to collect rubbish left “festering for the last three weeks” and is quoted as saying “Cllr Loakes has presided over the introduction of a contractor worse than the previous contractor – Verdant. Something I thought would not have been possible.”

He may well be correct?

Do we remember some years ago when the refuse collection contract was transferred from in-house to Verdant? Remember the uproar on blogs and local newspapers?

We do. The then politician responsible for bin collection was former councillor, Bob Belam. Bloggers and commentators filled Waltham Forest Guardian’s website with hundreds of criticisms – much of it threatening and personal – in what looked decidedly like a ‘politically’ [sic] organised campaign and also included many of Mr Belam’s former political colleagues!

What intrigues us is the ‘uproar’ to ‘Loakes the Jokes’ latest wheeze of engaging Kier to collect the boroughs refuse. Over three Guardian web articles a mere 31 comments have been recorded.

The lack of ‘official opposition’ in Waltham Forest from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats leads us to conclude, sadly, that we will have to watch the Labour Party destroy our borough until our next opportunity to remove them at the May 2014 local elections.

Waltham Forest deserves, and needs, to have elected people who put the boroughs interests above that of Party or personal interests.

Brown Envelopes

Politicians’ promises of transparency juxtaposes the reality of their actions. However, it is not actually transparency itself that is the most important thing. Transparency concerns us because it has a purpose. The purpose of transparency is accountability.

So it’s no surprise to hear that those accountable to us, Waltham Forest council and the Greater London Authority (GLA), have been negotiating behind the scenes to secure a pledge from property developer, London & Quadrant, of £1.75 million for improvements at Waltham Forest Pool & Track if it builds a residential estate at Walthamstow Stadium.

Two publicly funded organisations secretly negotiating with another publicly funded organisation to secure £1.75 million of taxpayers money as a ‘sweetener’ in return for guaranteed planning permission! Is there a connection to Councillor Marie Pye’s removal from her cabinet job for housing after her persistent denials that she was in secret talks with London & Quadrant?

Now, lets suppose the millionaire behind the Save Our Stow campaign was in similar secret discussions. He would undoubtedly be accused of bribery which could result in criminal charges.

The bottom line seems that ‘brown envelopes’ from publicly funded property developers is acceptable.

If, or rather when, London & Quadrant gets planning permission, even though a GLA report states that L&Q’s proposals do not

On balance…comply with the London Plan

it should be subject to Waltham Forest’s Section 106 policy. (Click here for general definition of Section 106).

Our fear is that that this deal will severley jeopardize the quota for affordable housing and valuable funding for infrastature (health provision, roads and schools) in and around The Stow to cover up the Waltham Forest Labour Party’s shortsightedness and ineptitude of not securing Olympic funding for Waltham Forest Pool & Track and the lack of meaningful regeneration in our borough.

The only transparency offered by the Waltham Forest Labour Party is that of its commitment to dodgy deals in the hope of electoral success at the next local elections.

Reward for failure

In a recent article we covered the publication of a damning Ofsted report which stated that vulnerable children in Waltham Forest have been put at risk due to council failures.

As a consequence the two senior Council Officers responsible swiftly ‘left’ their jobs no doubt with the blessings of the Labour Party and a large golden handshake.

Failure is almost always punished in real sports; in the shameless sport of politics, it is often no impediment.

Jon Ralston 

The latest example in Waltham Forest is the announcement that two fairly inept and failing Councillors have swapped jobs.

We agree with Archipelago of Truth that this shows (forgive us for another sporting analogy!) the strength in depth of the Labour team – or more accurately the lack of it!

But is this the entire story?

Why is Cllr Saima Mahmud still in the cabinet following her spectacular failure as Cabinet Member for Children and Young People? Could it be that her father has significant influence in the Waltham Forest Labour Party both financially and otherwise?

So what of Cllr Marie Pye who is no stranger to controversy? This is the Councillor who represents Waltham Forest Council on the London & Quadrant Housing Trust – Regional Committee and supports their plans for ‘The Stow’ and has her red sofa transported around the borough, at our expense, even though rumour has it she is not registered as disabled.

It seems if you are connected to the Waltham Forest Labour Party failure is an option; and can be well rewarded!

Once Upon a Time…

…at the beginning of this year Waltham Forest’s Head of Communications was summoned to a meeting to discuss her redundancy.

Suddenly, the Labour Party casts a spell, ‘Evanesco’, and the meeting is transformed into an interview for the post of Assistant Director of Strategy and Communications.

The only  ‘candidate’, Kathryn Myers, was given the job which attracted a salary between £71,000 and £127,000 a year.

Even the Conservative leader, Cllr Matt Davis, was subjected to Labour’s ‘Stupefy‘ spell as he was on the ‘interview’ panel.

7 months later we hear Kathryn Myers took voluntary redundancy as part of the authority’s restructuring plans earlier this month.

It seems the Labour Party looks after its own. By promoting Myers from Head of Communications to  Assistant Director of Strategy and Communications her redundancy package must of improved dramatically.

To add insult to injury it is alleged that the council is planning to give senior officers pay rises while cutting the wages of its lowest paid staff.

There are two things that spring to mind

  1. An once of hypocrisy is worth a pound of ambition (in this case literally)
  2. Waltham Forest needs strong and competent opposition to challenge Labour’s excesses.

Council’s Legal Eagle flys away

Waltham Forest Council’s Director of Governance and Law, Terry Osborne, is leaving to take another job after a mere eighteen months in post.

It seems Ms Osborne will not be missed as it is rumoured she was not well liked because of her over zealous behaviour.

We are led to believe an example of such behaviour was when Ms Osbourne threatened former councillor, James O’Rourke, with the Standards Board after he wrote an article on his blog entitled  ‘Council Cowardice’ just before the 2010 local elections. The on-line Waltham Forest Guardian picked the story up but then quickly dropped it before Mr O’Rourke’s article was also removed. Thankfully Mr O’Rourke’s article was copied by a regular contributer to this site, Nick Tiratsoo – click here to read it.

We understand that a comprehensive multi-agency enforcement operation,  relating to thirty flats built without planning permission in Walthamstow was called off at very short notice before the 2010 elections, apparently because Ms Osbourne thought it might be overly political –  ‘purdah’.

Disgracefully, sixteen months after Ms Osbornes ‘political concerns’ there has still been no action against those who built and currently rent out the thirty illegal flats. Interestingly, there has been no official comments from two High Street Councillors who are prominent in the housing market in the area

Inside ilegal flats

Cllr Liaquat Ali who is reputed to have a significant portfolio of ‘legitimate’ property in High Street ward and whose business premises, in St James Street, backs on to the illegal flats.

Cllr Mahmood Hussain whose business is in Hoe Street and has a significant rental portfolio in High Street ward

We sincerely hope that the ‘political concerns’ did not relate to rumours circulating that one or both of the above councillors have a connection to these illegal and unsafe buildings. We agree with Nick Tiratsoo’s comments, on one of our previous articles, that this matter “surely needs investigation.”

Ms Osbourne is not unfamiliar with controversy so we wish her future employers the best of luck.