L & Q Wins Race

Walthamstow Assembly Hall played host to a special Planning Committee tonight with celebrity racing pundit, John McCririck, joining hundreds of local residents and Save Our Stow campaigners to oppose London & Quadrant’s proposals.

After a tortuous four hours the four Labour Councillors (Cllr Pete Barnett, Cllr Jenny Gray, Cllr Ebony Vincent & Cllr Asim Mahmood) outvoted the two Conservatives (Cllr Alan Siggers & Cllr Ed Northover) and the solitary Lib Dem (Cllr Liz Phillips) giving L & Q the go ahead for their ludicrous scheme which does not meet any of the Councils own targets. Interestingly, it was noted that Cllrs Gray, Vincent and Mahmood needed to take their cue when voting from Chair Cllr Pete Barnett who in turn kept looking towards the Councillor formerly responsible for housing and planning, Cllr Marie Pye, who was in the audience.

The standard of the debate from those opposing L & Q’s plans was extremely high. Not so from the highly paid L & Q staff (who described their organisation as a charity) nor, bar one, Waltham Forest’s elected Councillors!

The merits for and against this development can be easily found elsewhere.

We are more interested in the fact that democracy had been given short shrift tonight by an ‘accountable’ charitable and our Labour run Council whose political interests are more important than that of the community it supposedly serves.

We understand that an irate Labour supporter challenged Cllr Pete Barnett to resign so as they could both contest the seat in a by-election. Cllr Pete Barnett is reported to have replied “You can challenge me in 2014”. (Privately, it is rumoured that Cllr Barnett and his partner Cllr Angie Bean will not be standing for election in 2014).

Sadly, Waltham Forest is now being run by a Labour Party clique who lacks vision and has lost contact with its own supporters and residents. The opposition….what opposition!!!

Waltham Forest’s residents need to challenge the political incestuous allegiances by either putting up or supporting candidates in the 2014 local elections who will put community first.

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.

Cutting through the politics of cuts

Tonight, in Waltham Forest Town Hall, a massive social injustice has been meted out upon the most vulnerable in our community.

The latest tranche of local Labour cuts, led by Cllr Chris ‘Strong Leader’ Robbins, will  have a negative impact on the homeless, mentally ill, disabled, elderly and vulnerable young a Council report admits after they make hundreds of support staff redundant.

Robbins and his Labour cronies argues it has no choice as the Government moves to the budget deficit quickly.

Cllrs Bob Sullivan and Matt Davies’ Coalition Government argues that the former Labour Governments mishandling of the UK’s finances has led them to inflicting cuts Mrs Thatcher ‘could only have dreamt of’.

It seems it is the task of the weakest to protect the banks, politicians, and millionaires. The rich people of the UK must NOT be made to suffer. These cuts HAD to be made and it is only fair that the weakest should suffer the most. This is the nature of our current politics: the Masses suffer so that a rich minority can prosperously live glorious lives.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

The Art of Misdirection

Since the revelation that fraud had occurred in the handling of money intended for Waltham Forest’s poorest areas the Council’s most senior legal Officer, Terry Osbourne, has issued a statement saying

..it appears to me that there may have been an error in the minutes produced in relation to the discussion at the committee

Whilst Ms Osbourne admits that the word ‘fraud’ was written by the committee clerk in their notebook she goes on to say that

I am satisfied that this word cannot be attributed to Ray (Head of Audit) in the way it appears in the minutes

The Truth Will Out team will happily suspend disbelief when a magician says he’ll saw a woman in half. That’s entertainment. But when Ms Osbourne says the minutes probably do not accurately reflect what was said, it’s not entertaining; its bordering on criminal.

The key word for us is probably. As a lawyer, is Ms Osbourne covering hers and the Councils back in case there is a challenge? Why would Waltham Forest Guardian print a quote from the Head of Audit as if one of their reporters had attended the meeting?

The key to magic is misdirection, fooling the audience into looking in the wrong direction.

Even stalwart anti-fraud campaigner, Nick Tiratsoo, says he has been assured that members of the committee do not recall hearing the word ‘fraud’ used as it is recorded in the minutes and that it was a transcription error.

This episode led us to consider on what other occasions misdirection has or is being used.

This time last year the Liberal Democrats self-destructed after the de-selection of prominent senior councillors. At the time The Scarlet Pimpernel said that a certain Mr Saeed Diwan had been selected as part of a fair process.

Recently the Liberal Democrats delivered a Focus team calendar in Chapel End ward. No mention of Mr Diwan who, less than a year ago, apparently said he was best placed to be a Chapel End Councillor because the ward is diverse and that he funded the Hoe Street Lib Dem shop! Mr Diwan and his conies contributed to the ousting of long serving Liberal Democrats who, according to the figures, would have been returned as Councillors, albeit on a reduced majority.

So what of the present? Well, it’s the Lib Dems who continue to misdirect the residents of Walthamstow.

Defunct ex-councillors, Khan, Meiszner, Smith, Wheatley and Woollcott still, almost a year after the local elections, purport to be Councillors of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The Truth Will Out team have drawn this deception to the the Council’s Director of Governance & Law, Terry Osbourne.

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?

Should have gone to SpecSavers

In the days well before ancient Greeks ever toyed with pseudo-democracy, a biblical sage wrote, ”Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

Waltham Forest now, more than ever, needs exciting and visionary government yet is getting political drift, administrative incompetence, and a culture of secrecy under the ‘strong leadership’ of Cllr Chris Robbins.

Visionary leadership seeks to take people into a new, morally engaging and uplifting future. Under Robbins and his Labour cronies we are getting procrastination and blinkered vision.

A case in point is Walthamstow Dog Track – The Stow.

Since 1933 this iconic site has been the home to greyhound racing, speedway and banger racing attracting punters, and their money, from far and wide.

The Council recently carried out a a borough wide ‘needs assessment’ for retail and commercial leisure uses in Waltham Forest. The study showed that projected growth in the population and expenditure over the period 2009-2026 is expected to lead to an increase in retail and leisure provision in the borough.

What better place to put a facility charged with providing a mix of leisure and much needed housing, than a site with a long history of leisure facilities with the space for housing.

The opportunity to provide much needed housing and leisure facilities is a chance to fulfil a significant part of Waltham Forests needs, and the Council’s role in that is critical.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Robbins, needs to show some backbone and take the lead of the process and not just call for a meeting between L&Q and the Save Our Stow campaign, headed by multi millionaire, Bob Morton, as Cllr Marie Pye did but ensure Waltham Forest gets the leisure and housing it desperately needs .

Yes, there’s a risk. But to not accept that in the face of the benefits both socially and economically for Waltham Forest would be short-sighted.

If it is vision we want from our councillors then maybe we, the electorate, need to go to SpecSavers before we next enter the polling station otherwise we get the politicians we deserve.

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.