FAROOQ QURESHI

Farooq Qureshi

The Liberal Democrats are utterly devastated at the passing of former Waltham Forest Councillor Farooq Qureshi.

Farooq served as a Councillor for Forest ward from 2004 to 2014.

Many will remember him as their friendly and approachable local Councillor who was always happy to stop and chat, and to whom no problem was ever too small.

Farooq also served as Mayor of Waltham Forest from 2006 to 2007 and used the opportunity to raise funds to upport the cardiology unit at Whipps Cross Hospital amongst many other worthy causes.

To Farooq, being a Councillor was not a title. It was a commitment and one which he took very seriously, and with a genuine compassion for the people he represented. He carried out his role with humility and truly invested himself in those who had trusted him to be their Councillor.

Farooq’s achievements as a Councillor are far too numerous to list and many of them are small and personal because to Farooq being a Councillor was not about grand investments, or bids and schemes, it was about people and the little things we can all do every day to improve the lives of the people we share our community with.

Farooq has been a calming presence and a role model to many within the Liberal Democrats, and his absence will be sorely missed by those who were fortunate enough to experience his wisdom and good humour, and by those with problems big or small who found in Farooq a sympathetic ear and a man who would not stop until every avenue to solve their problem had been exhausted.

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and worked with him.

Celebrating Carers Week (11 – 17 June)

Carers Week (11-17 June) is an annual awareness campaign to bring caring right out into the open – recognising and celebrating the contribution carers make to families and communities throughout the UK.

This Carers Week we want to draw attention to the brilliant local carers in our area who work tirelessley, often without recognition or support.

Across the UK right now are around 6.5 million carers, looking after elderly, disabled or unwell, family and friends. As our population ages and people live longer, more and more of us will find ourselves becoming carers for those close to us. Many people don’t identify themselves as carers, they feel they are just doing what anyone else would so they don’t always know what support is available to them!

This Carers Week, caring charities like Carers UK are coming together with local communities to make sure carers stay Healthy and Connected. Caring can be a hugely rewarding experience, enriching relationships and bringing satisfaction and wellbeing. However, the hours of care that the 6.5 million carers provide for ill, seriously ill or disabled loved ones often comes at a cost to their own health and wellbeing. All of us, wherever we live, whatever we do, have a part to play. 

If you want to find out more, or help support carers week by running a local event then have a look at the links below.

If you’re reading this as a carer then thank you!

Check out Carers UK here.

Get involved with Carers Week to raise awareness for local carers here.

MS Awareness Week 23-29 April

23-29 April 2018 is MS week, which is a chance for us all to do our bit to raise awareness and money to make sure no one has to fight MS alone.

MS is a neurological life long condition which affects your brain, spinal chord and central nervous system. As a result MS can create many different symptoms, and is different for every patient.

Of the over 100,000 UK sufferers of MS almost three times as many are women than men. Typically people are diagnosed with the condition in their 20s and 30s.

If you want to learn more about MS click here. 

If you want to get involved and be Bold In Blue to raise money and awareness click here. 

TOWER BLOCK SAFETY FEARS

Lib Dem campaigner Bob Sullivan

Following the disaster in West London, former long-serving Liberal Democrat Councillor Bob Sullivan contacted the Council to confirm that they are preparing to look the tower and high rise blocks in Waltham Forest and review the planning permissions already given to developers.

This review should include checking the cladding, fascias and building materials used and planned to be used.

It would seem from discussions in the media that many tower blocks built, and being built, may have cladding and other materials that are not completely fire proof.

Waltham Forest Guardian reporter Tom Barnes followed up Bob Sullivan’s request with the following report on the online version of the Guardian:

TOWER BLOCK FEARS: Waltham Forest council won’t tell us if its flats have sprinklers after Grenfell Tower fire

Concerns have been raised over the safety of Waltham Forest’s high-rise buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

Campaigner Bob Sullivan is calling for a full review into fire safety at tower blocks in the borough after the blaze in west London last week, which is thought to have killed at least 79 people.

The Liberal Democrat activist and former councillor wants a probe to ensure residents in council-owned and private blocks are not as risk, as well as reviews at towers currently under construction.

Mr Sullivan said:

It is imperative that the planning permission for new blocks being built is gone over again, we need to make sure.

I have not seen anyone mention sprinklers, you would have thought it would be 100 per cent certain we should have them now.

I would have thought nobody would move into any tower block now without asking questions, I certainly wouldn’t.

I am hoping the council decides to review tower block safety, I am very concerned about Waltham Forest and we should be on the forefront of this.

We need action to do something about every block above six or eight storeys, I would even class those types of buildings as a small tower blocks.

Although several council-owned towers, such as Redwood and Hornbeam Towers in Leytonstone, have been demolished in recent years, some, like John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers, remain standing.

A host of plans for new high-rise blocks have also been approved, including a 16-storey block in Dunedin Road, Leyton, and four blocks between 10 and 16 flights in Wickford Way, Walthamstow.

Campaigner Bob Sullivan wants action to ensure tower block safety

The catastrophic fire at 24-storey Grenfell Tower, in North Kensington, broke out at around 1am last Wednesday (June 14) and is likely to become Britain’s deadliest blaze in more than a century.

The speed at which the fire spread is believed to have aided by new cladding fitted to the building, while sprinklers had not been fitted inside the flats, despite calls from residents.

Waltham Forest council says no blocks in the borough use the same cladding as was installed at Grenfell and all high rise homes either have fire risk assessments in place or currently underway.

The local authority also confirmed sprinklers will be installed at the 10-storey Lea Bridge House hostel redevelopment in Leyton.

However, the council has not responded to requests by the Guardian to reveal how many of its blocks are fitted with sprinkler systems.

Council leader, Clare Coghill, said:

All of us were horrified to see the tragic events unfold at Grenfell Tower. Our thoughts and sympathies are with those affected by this terrible disaster. 

We understand that residents of Waltham Forest will be shocked following this incident, and concerned about the safety of their own homes and properties.

We want to let residents know that their safety is always our main concern.

We are looking at what further checks may be needed in the light of recent events.

We will work with the fire brigade and our colleagues across London to implement any changes recommended after this terrible fire.

 

Tom Barnes posted an update on 22nd June:

Waltham Forest council confirms no sprinkler systems have been fitted in any of its tower blocks

Fred Wigg and John Walsh Towers

John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers in Leytonstone are owned by Waltham Forest council

No council-owned tower blocks in Waltham Forest are currently fitted with sprinkler systems, it has been confirmed.

Concerns have been raised over safety at high-rise blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in Kensington last week, which is now thought to have killed at least 79 people.

The speed at which the fire spread is believed to have aided by new cladding fitted to the building, while sprinklers had not been fitted inside the flats, despite calls from residents.

Do you live in one of the council blocks? Get in touch by e-mailing thomas.barnes@london.newsquest.co.uk or call 07795507440

Waltham Forest council has now confirmed to the Guardian none of its blocks are currently fitted with sprinkler systems.

However, the local authority said it planned to fit sprinklers in three towers used for sheltered accommodation.

A spokesman said:

Although none of our council blocks have sprinklers fitted, we have secured funding from the London Fire Brigade to install sprinklers in three sheltered blocks this year.

Although several council-owned towers, such as Redwood and Hornbeam Towers in Leytonstone, have been demolished in recent years, some, like John Walsh and Fred Wigg Towers, remain standing.

A host of plans for new high-rise blocks have also been approved, including a 16-storey block in Dunedin Road, Leyton, and four blocks between 10 and 16 flights in Wickford Way, Walthamstow.

The catastrophic fire at 24-storey Grenfell Tower is likely to become Britain’s deadliest blaze in more than a century

NEWS RELEASE: Widow’s Pension Cuts: Cruel and Unnecessary

The Widow’s Pension is designed to help create security and safety for families when they lose a loved one. But this week it is under attack from a new wave of Government cuts. With less money being paid to widows, widowers and surviving civil partners from April 2017 onward.

The changes will only effect those families who lose a loved one after April 6th 2017.

The new rules will add pressure to families when they’re struggling most. Families who’ve just lost a parent are learning to cope on a single income and with one fewer parent. The previous system helped to ease the financial stress with a ‘parachute payment’ which is now greatly decreased.

Families with a terminally ill parent are facing the worst of it, with many having planned for life under the old system now having to look again at the support they can offer to their children or loved ones.

If you want the Government to change its mind and reverse cuts to bereavement benefits, then please share this article with friends and family.

If these changes effect you, friends or family you should visit www.turn2us.org.uk to get support and help.

SHOCK FOR SCHOOLS AND PARENTS

Local schools to lose millions as budgets slashed

Local Liberal Democrats are fighting against school funding cuts in Waltham Forest. Recent figures from the National Union of Teachers show that schools in Waltham Forest will lose £20,185,760 in real terms by 2020. This amounts to a loss of £538 a year for each child, – the equivalent to cutting 541 teachers from our local schools.

The teaching unions have compiled a list of anticipated budget reductions by 2019, access School Budget Reductions.

Veteran former Lib Dem councillor Bob Sullivan said,

This is crazy.  It is putting our children’s future at risk.  As a result of the Government cuts schools are having to consider drastic budget reductions such as reducing the number of teachers and, would you believe it, even introducing a four-day week.

Bob and the local Lib Dems are calling on the Government to reverse these cuts to schools funding. The local Lib Dem Team are in contact with schools to better understand their funding problems and will be fighting hard for our local schools.

Please sign our petition here http://www.walthamforestlibdems.org/save_our_schools

SAVE OUR LOCAL PHARMACIES!

Save Our Local Pharmacies Campaign

Local pharmacies under threat from the latest Conservative cuts to the national health budget.
This Government’s real terms cash cuts to pharmacies across the UK could be about to take their toll. The Lib Dems don’t as yet know what pharmacy used by hundreds of local people is facing closure, cutting off lifeline services for many elderly and vulnerable residents.

Local Campaigner Bob Sullivan says,

For many people the trip to get vital medicines from the pharmacy is long enough already.

Cutting money to local pharmacies is nothing more than robbing Peter to pay Paul. It will only increase the strain on hospitals and GP’s practices at a time when the NHS is already in enough trouble.

The £170million reduction in NHS funding for community pharmacies will put pharmacies across Waltham Forest out of business too.

Local community pharmacies are vital to keep older frail people independent. These people need to be at the heart of our community, on our high streets, with people. In the community rather than in our hospitals.

You can sign our petition here and join hundreds of local people who are already backing the campaign.

DUSTBIN COLLECTIONS OVER CHRISTMAS

Christmas service changes

The Council has advised that refuse/recycling collections will be one day later than usual for the week after Christmas.

Regular scheduled collection day Changed collection day
Monday 26 December Tuesday 27 December
Tuesday 27 December Wednesday 28 December
Wednesday 28 December Thursday 29 December
Thursday 29 December Friday 30 December
Friday 30 December Saturday 31 December

WILL WALTHAM FOREST TENANTS GET A REFUND OF THE WATER CHARGE?

In March of this year Southwark Council lost a High Court case on water charges which could affect councils all over London including Waltham Forest.  Councils collect payment for water and sewerage services from tenants on behalf of Thames Water and in return the councils receive a commission fee.

The High Court found Southwark Council should have passed on any savings to tenants, as they were technically reselling water services. Southwark has already announced that they have “decided not to appeal the decision,” and are refunding current and past tenants up to £700.

Waltham Forest should do the same.

Waltham Forest Council say they accept that establishing the legality of a practice is a matter for the Courts”. Yet instead of refunding people straight away, they are still ganging up with other councils to hire “an external firm and a barrister” to give them legal advice on what to do.

The local Liberal Democrats believe that Waltham Forest Council should follow Southwark’s example and refund their tenants without further delay.

HOW HIGH CAN WE ALLOW DEVELOPERS TO BUILD?

Focus has previously reported on the massive high rise flat developments in Waltham Forest.

Forest Ward Focus Team members were with residents at the Planning Committee when the Council agreed the over development of buildings, of up to 18 storeys, in Lea Bridge Road.

Only recently Leyton Focus Team member Bob Sullivan and residents spoke against the 16 storey block at the end of Dunedin Road.

It appears that developers are having a field day as the Council continually agree the building of unaffordable multi high rise flats in the borough.

The latest plan submitted by the owners of the Mall shopping centre in Walthamstow is to build four blocks including one of 27 storeys!  Currently local residents have presented a 2,000 plus petition to the Council in protest against the plans. If you would like to support the local residents then contact ‘Save Walthamstow Town Centre’ on line: SAVE OUR TOWN CENTRE

Focus says:  In our experience the Labour Council never listens to residents and carries on agreeing the over development of every bit of land for multi high rise unaffordable flats.