Lib Dems slam Waltham Forest pest control increases

Liberal Democrat councillors have slammed Labour for sneaking through massive rises in pest control charges just before Christmas, with only two week’s notice of implementation and just eight months since the last price increase in April 2010.

Labour Council Leader Chris Robbins’s decision will force residents to pay:

  • 60% more for bedbug control (now costs £155, up from £97)
  • 53% more for flea control (now £115, up from £75)
  • 40% more for mice control (now £105, up from £75)

The poorest residents (concessions for those on Council Tax Benefit) are also hit hard with increases of up to two-thirds:

  • 64% more for bedbug control (now £90, up from £55)
  • 51% more for flea control (now £65, up from £43)
  • 28% more for mice control (now £55, up from £43)

Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Councillor Naheed Qureshi said:

These massive price increases are an another extra burden on local residents, Many people may now think twice about whether to call out the pest control service. This risks further infestations as the pests will spread further and possibly affect neighbouring houses before action is taken.

It’s a short-sighted decision which shows Labour councillors simply don’t care about the effect of their decisions on local residents.

The council’s Chief Finance Officer estimates that the price increases will generate an extra £75,000 for council coffers. The decision was taken by Councillor Chris Robbins on Tuesday 21st December 2010. The new charges came into effect on Tuesday 4 January 2011.

Spotlight on Drapers Field

Leyton Liberal Democrat councillor Bob Sullivan was interviewed by the BBC last Friday (7 January) about his campaign to save Drapers Field.

Waltham Forest Council intends to rent the playing fields to the Olympic Delivery Authority for nearly two years, to concrete it over and use it for a laundry and storage area. This is despite the fact that Drapers Field is used by over 100,000 people a year and nearby Norlington School uses the playing fields four times a week for sports activity.

The council is so embarrassed about the situation that it banned BBC cameras from filming in front of the Drapers Park sign. Bob Sullivan said:

This shows that Labour just wants to sweep this issue under the carpet and avoid scrutiny of their decision. In the run-up to the Olympics we should encourage young people to take part in sport – not take away one of the few playing fields and open spaces in the area.

Labour has still failed to come clean about their plans for Drapers Field after the Olympics, although plans exist which show housing on part of the grounds.

Labour hypocrisy in Waltham Forest over school sport

Waltham Forest’s Labour councillors have been condemned for outrageous hypocrisy for putting down a motion on school sports partnerships at tonight’s 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

Forest ward Liberal Democrat councillor Farooq 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 clsure of Drapers Field shows that Labour’s commitment is all words and no action.

Leyton and Liberal Democrat Group Leader 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 has 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

Halt Conservative plans to cut Waltham Forest’s fire service, say Lib Dems

Local Liberal Democrat councillors have called for Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson and Conservative councillors on the London Fire Emergency and Planning authority (LFEPA) to reverse a proposal to permanently remove a fire engine from Leyton Fire Station.

The cuts threat was made by LFEPA’s Conservative chairman earlier this week when he called for the Fire Brigade to look at saving money by making permanent the temporary reductions in fire cover during the recent strikes.  It could see 27 of London’s 169 fire engines scrapped and around 500 fire fighter jobs lost. The proposal was backed by Conservative members of the authority.

Leyton Lib Dem councillor Winnie Smith said:

It is shocking that the Conservatives are now looking at permanent cuts to the number of fire engines protecting Leyton resident. This inevitably raises questions about the time it takes for engines can get to fires and accidents and about cover if the remaining engine is unavailable. Like all public services London Fire Brigade needs to save money.  But Mayor Boris Johnson has promised that there will be no cuts in frontline fire services and he must honour that promise.

Waltham Forest Lib Dems have also expressed concern about the removal of a fire engine from Chingford Fire Station.

At the 8th November finance committee of LFEPA Conservative Chairman Brian Coleman proposed an amendment to ask officers to report on whether there was a supposed oversupply of fire engines, which could be cut back.  The amendment was passed with the support of all Conservative members voting for the amendment. Cllr Terry Stacy, the Liberal Democrat member on the committee, voted against the amendment.

Ward Forums not fit for purpose says Lib Dem Leader

Ward Forums will not be fit substitutes for Community Councils unless changes are made to Labour’s proposals, say local Liberal Democrats.

It is clear that Labour is trying to muzzle the voice of the local community and avoid the challenge of having to justify their policies and proposals to residents in public.

said Liberal Democrat Leader Bob Sullivan.

A ward forum appears to be little more than a fancily titled ward surgery, which all good councillors do regularly anyway. Ward Forums ill not be subject to the same legal requirements at Community Councils so they will have no decision-making powers and can be more ecretive in how they work. Labour also proposes that they should meet less often and have very little support from council officers.

Cllr Sullivan also pointed out that most wards do not represent natural communities with some ward boundaries running arbitrarily through areas which share common interests.

One ward boundary runs straight through the middle of Lloyd Park. Issues relating to Walthamstow High Street are relevant to all Walthamstow residents, not ust those who live in High Street ward.

If the Labour Party is still interested in what the community want to talk about then why not reduce the current six community councils to hree that represent Chingford, Walthamstow and Leyton/Leytonstone. The majority of people do not relate to ward boundaries but they do elate to these areas.  This would not only make a financial saving ut continue to give a voice to the borough’s residents.

Two days left to give your views on London City Airport expansion

Sarah Ludford MEP and Cllr Farooq Qureshi have raised concerns over the expansion of London City AirportAre you affected by flights from London City Airport? Many Waltham Forest residents have told the Liberal Democrat team that they have noticed a difference in the number of noisy flights passing overhead.

The flightpaths from the airport were changed last year to direct more planes over our area.

Cllr Farooq Qureshi is reminding local residents that there are just two days left to complete the London Assembly’s survey into the environmental impacts of the expansion of London City airport.

The survey won’t take long to complete but will help ensure that local people’s voices are heard by the London Assembly and Mayor of London.

You can fill in the survey here: The survey will close on Thursday 30 September.

The London Assembly Environment Committee, including Lib Dem Assembly Member Mike Tuffrey is carrying out an investigation into the expansion of London City Airport. The survey is part of the investigation.

Council loses £100,000 grant funding for Drapers Field

Lib Dem Leader Bob Sullivan’s probing questions have uncovered the fact that the council has missed out on £100,000 granted by the London Marathon Trust towards a beach sports facility at Drapers Field in Leyton.

The plan was scuppered by Labour’s decision to hand over the playing fields to the Olympic Delivery Authority to be used for storage during the 2012 games.

The money was intended to fund the creation of an urban beach sports venue for use by the local community. The best known beach sport isbeach volleyball (an Olympic sport which will take place atHorseguards Parade in central London in 2012). However many othersports have beach variants including rugby, football and cricket.

“Labour’s plan to hand over Drapers Field for use as a storage depot during the Olympics could scupper the vision of Drapers Field as a centre for high-quality sport. As an Olympic host borough the council should encourage people to take part in sport instead of turfing them off playing fields for financial reasons,” said Leyton councillor and Lib Dem group leader Bob Sullivan.

Drapers Field playing fields are used by Norlington School and by thousands of local residents. Cllr Sullivan has raised his concerns with Sport England, who he met two weeks ago.

Details of the grants awarded to Waltham Forest by the London Marathon Charitable Trust can be found at The grant for the creation of an urban beach sports venue in Drapers Field was the largest grant ever awarded by the charity to the borough.

Lib Dems welcome High Street ward recount result

Four months after the residents of Walthamstow went to the polls, the courts today declared the correct election result. Liberal Democrat candidate Mahmood Hussain is the new councillor for High Street ward.

The court confirmed that the council made a serious mistake at the election count on 7th May and 1,000 votes were wrongly added to the Labour’ candidates’ total.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Bob Sullivan, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Mahmood Hussain to the Liberal Democrat Group on the council. At last the people of High Street ward have the councillors that they voted for. The council’s mistake at the count should never have happened. It cost local taxpayers thousands of pounds in legal fees and deprived local residents of the representatives they voted for.”

Mahmood Hussain said:

“It is an honour to be elected to serve the residents of High Street ward. I will do all I can to stand up for the interests of local people and make sure that their needs are not ignored by the Labour council.

There are lots of issues to take up, including the future of the EMD cinema, looking after Walthamstow market and local services and pressing Labour to come clean on its plans for the Arcade site. I will work with residents to improve safety and security in the area and to protect and improve the local environment.”

Mahmood Hussain has lived in Walthamstow for the past 27 years and has always taken a keen interest in the local community. He works locally and is a trustee of a Walthamstow based charity.

Residents unrepresented at City Airport watchdog for six months

View of London City AirportWaltham Forest Liberal Democrats have discovered that Waltham Forest went unrepresented at an important committee discussing flights from London City Airport because it took over six months to appoint the council’s representative.

This is despite local residents’ concern about the noise and disturbance caused by flights from London City Airport, which have increased since changes to the flight paths used by aircraft.

Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Havering Council’s were invited to appoint a councillor to sit on the London City Airport Consultative Committee in a letter sent by the committee’s secretary on 21st January 2010.

The invitation was issued after Liberal Democrat councillor Farooq Qureshi put forward a motion to Waltham Forest Council about the expansion of London City Airport in October 2009. As a result of the motion the council wrote to the consultative committee requesting representation on behalf of local residents affected by flights from the airport.

However the name of the council’s representative, Cllr Clyde Loakes, only emerged last month (August). The council has missed two meetings since the invitation was issued on Tuesday 13th April and on Tuesday 21st July.

Even if the appointment had to be delayed until the results of May’s council elections were known this does not explain why no appointment was made in time for July’s meeting.

London Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford has backed the campaign against the expansion of London City Airport and recently sent a message of support to the Fight the Flights campaign.

EMD Cinema report: a positive step forward

EMD Cinema, WalthamstowLocal Liberal Democrats have welcomed the publication of Locum Consulting’s report about the EMD Cinema in Walthamstow.

Mahmood Hussain, who was Liberal Democrat candidate for High Street ward in May’s council election, said:

“The publication of this report definitely moves the debate forward. Locum Consulting has set out a realistic vision of a cinema orientated multi-use venue which would help regenerate Walthamstow Town Centre and improve the cultural life of the area. It is extremely disappointing that the comments made by the Labour leader of the council are so dismissive.”

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Bob Sullivan added:

“Of course there are many obstacles ahead and much depends on the attitude of the UCKG which owns the cinema. We urge the church to respond positively. The council does not have the money to fund the project on its own. But it should be prepared to work closely in partnership with any Trust or Community Interest Company that emerges, and provide practical support to kick-start the process.

“Waltham Forest council must also take full account of the EMD cinema’s potential when it makes decisions about the neighbouring Arcade site. The Lib Dems will be pressing hard for the council to adopt a more constructive attitude.”

You can download a copy of the report from the McGuffin Film Society website [PDF].