Labour and Tory Love-In!

WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT! 

 At the Council meeting last week where the 2011/2012 budget was set, the Tories, who are the official opposition on Waltham Forest’s Labour Council, failed to put forward their own budget.

They also failed to support the Lib Dem budget, which tried to save some of the key services to vulnerable families and residents of the borough (see earlier report for details).  They tried to deride it and even went on to praise the Labour budget that cut services by millions. 

Those at the meeting were taken aback by the ‘cosying up’ of the Tories to Labour.  Some even said it looked like a ‘Love In’.  When it came to the vote the Tories  then ABSTAINED on both the Labour and Liberal Democrat budgets!  So much for the Tory opposition on the Council.

The Liberal Democrat councillors were the ONLY opposition to Labour.

The Liberal Democrat Budget

At the Council’s budget setting meeting, last night, the Liberal Democrats put forward their alternative proposals:

LIB DEMS SET OUT PLANS FOR BETTER BUDGET WHICH PROTECTS THE MOST VULNERABLE

The Liberal Democrat Group will yesterday (Tuesday 8 March) put forward a budget amendment which protects services to the most vulnerable, especially children and carers, and still freezes council tax.

The Liberal Democrat budget:

  • puts more money into children centres, young people’s services, respite care and support for carers and people with mental health problems compared to Labour’s proposals
  • maintains services to residents in Chingford, Leyton and Leytonstone through Waltham Forest Direct, so that residents will not have to travel to Walthamstow to deal with benefit and other council enquiries
  • restores residents’ ability to influence decision-making by retaining slimmed-down community councils
  • reverses above-inflation fee increases for pest control charges and sports pitch hire
  • funds extra pothole repairs this year to put right our crumbling roads.

 The Liberal Democrats will fund these services by:

  • slashing members allowances, which have grown substantially over the last decade, by over a quarter of a million pounds
  • reducing the amount spent on corporate communications and campaigns. Waltham Forest was recently revealed as the biggest spender on propaganda associated with the Comprehensive Spending Review, using almost £27,000 of taxpayers’ money to promote the fact it has to make savings
  • reducing the amount spent on subsidising trades union activity in line with other service reductions
  • using money built up in the insurance reserve to fund pothole repairs thereby reducing the number of successful insurance claims against the council
  • using other reserves to protect key services and support the transition to new ways of working

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Bob Sullivan, said:

“This is a very difficult budget for the council but Labour has chosen to protect councillors’ allowances and the council’s propaganda factory while making cuts that the Liberal Democrats would not have done. Our budget proposals protect those services which make a real difference to residents’ lives.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Forest ward, Farooq Qureshi, said:

“I am delighted that the Liberal Democrat proposals prevent the closure of the Waltham Forest Direct offices in Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford – funded by cutting councillors’ allowances and reducing the amount of money spent on glossy campaigns. The services provided by the WFD shops are irreplaceable. They should not be forced to travel to join long queues in the sole remaining Walthamstow office.”

Liberal Democrat High Street councillor Mahmood Hussain said:

“It is clear that Labour’s proposals will have a drastic impact on many people who rely on respite care to give them a vital break. By putting extra money back into this service the Lib Dem amendment gives carers a boost.”

Liberal Democrat Cann Hall ward councillor Liz Phillips said:

“Waltham Forest has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in England and Wales. It is a false economy to cut this service so drastically when the social and economic costs of teenage pregnancy are so high.”

Save Our Cheques Campaign

Lib Dem MP David Ward has laid a ‘ten minute rule’ bill in Parliament, and this has passed its first reading and the next one will be next June. He is campaigning to save the use of cheques from becoming a thing of the past. Your Focus Teams supports this campaign as it is a very useful and convenient way of sending money to pay small businesses and charities. 

If you would like to support the campaign please sign the petition below. You can also join this campaign, and sign the petition, on line at: 

Waltham Forest News

This free sheet drops through our letter box every two weeks and yet it is hardly free. We, the taxpayers, pay nearly £500,000 a year to have this published and delivered. The defence of this has always been that it pays for itself through revenue from advertising.This is not true as the adverts are for events held by borough departments who have to pay with their budget funded by the taxpayer.

Your Liberal Democrats believe that this paper is, more than ever, a council propaganda publication and a waste of our money.

It is time this paper was replaced. It does not need to be paid for by the residents of Waltham Forest.

Our local councillors need to be telling residents about what is happening in the borough as well as asking for opinions on borough matters as we do in our Focus newsletters.

GOOD NEWS – our fire engines to be returned

Following local campaigns and a Lib Dem motion to Council urging the return of our fire engines,  we have heard that London Fire Brigade has finally decided to return the two fire engines that were taken from Leyton and Chingford.

They were taken away last year, along with another 25 fire engines across London to cover for the possibility of industrial action by the Fire Unions.
Last Friday the Unions came to an agreement with the Fire Brigade so the engines should be returned.

This is good news for local residents whose safety could have been put at risk.

Labour hypocrisy over school sports

Drapers Field with all-weather pitch in the distanceWaltham Forest’s Labour councillors have been condemned for outrageous hypocrisy for putting down a motion on school sports partnerships at the last council meeting while simultaneously.

  • Slashing funding to the London Youth Games
  • Hiking charges for schools sports days and other sports activities
  • Seeking to concrete over the playing fields at Drapers Field for two years

Liberal Democrat Councillor Naheed Qureshi said:

Labour talks the talk but we see their true colours when it comes to the decisions for which they are responsible. Their withdrawal of funding for the London Youth Games, school sport fee increases and closure of Drapers Field shows that Labour’s commitment is all words and no action.

Colleague Councillor Bob Sullivan added:

Drapers Field will close for two years so the Olympic Delivery Authority can use the playing fields to do its laundry and catering. This will deprive local children and Norlington school of their current playing fields. Labour has consistently failed to set out any clear plans for the future of Drapers Field once the ODA leaves the site.

Labour councillors at London Councils (Waltham Forest representative Cllr Chris Robbins) earlier this week voted to cut funding for the London Youth Games by £130,000. This will lead to a loss of over half-a-million pounds [£650k] of match funding and raises questions about the future of the Games

Labour councillors have proposed the following sports fee increases

  • A 12% increases in the cost of school football and school cricket
  • A 23% increase in the cost of casual Saturday pitch hire
  • A 25% increase in the cost of hiring Leyton County Cricket Ground
  • Increases of 33%  in school sports day fees

More Flights – More Air Pollution

‘Fight the FlLondon City Airportights’ loses Judicial Review

Local people and green campaigners reacted with disappointment after a High Court judge refused to overturn Newham Council’s decision to expand London City Airport.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Farooq Qureshi commented: ” Many people in east and south east London are already facing serious problems with noise and disturbance from overflying aircraft. Further airport expansion will have a terrible impact on local people’s quality of life, as well as an increase in air pollution breaches and undermines efforts to tackle climate change.”

Leader of the London Assembly Liberal Democrat Group Caroline Pigdeon said: “I remain convinced that greater scrutiny should have been given to the original planning decision by Newham Council. Questions remain as to why Waltham Forest Council never objected to the planning decision despite the serious impact that the airport is already having on so many of its residents.”

Facelift for High Road Leytonstone

As you may have heard, after having been left out of the first round of pre-Olympic ‘sprucing up’ funding, High Road Leytonstone has now been allocated £2 million.  

The plans, extending from the Green Man through to the Thatched House, can be viewed on the Council’s website at: www.walthamforest.gov.uk/traffic-schemes  

   

Local campaigner John Howard was pleased to see, at last, there is a proposal to demolish the disused public toilets in Kirkdale Road  

CHURCH LANE – he queried the removal of the turning circle and the apparent disappearance of the public car park, while a proposal still remains for a ‘play area’.  

The Council has advised that this plan is to be redrawn to show continued access to the car park.  

The Plaza showing the distance between the sculpture and the flowerbed   

THE PLAZA – John questioned the suggestion to reroute the road to run between the sculpture and the flowerbed. Regular users of this area will know that there are aften more than one bus at each bus stop, and the W16 drivers have a break before returning to Chingford. Additionally, the vehicle access routes to the car park and the LT building were not shown. 

He has now been advised that London Buses supported concerns about the reduced road layout on The Plaza, and a site meeting was being convened to resolve the problem.  

The FOCUS Team is watching developments.

HE COULD NOT BELIEVE IT!

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan was surprised to receive an invitation from a Charitable Trust inviting him to attend a function at the Town Hall. This is to honour, among others, disgraced former Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead, Harry Cohen. He could not believe it?

Needless to say he will not be going to honour a person who falsely claimed thousands of pounds from taxpayers when an MP.

Does Harry Cohen deserve to be honoured?

What do you think?