PRESS RELEASE: 75% OF COUNCIL WORKERS EARN LESS THAN BENEFITS CAP!

75% of council workers earn less than the benefits cap – Councillor Farooq Qureshi

Following the debate on the coalition welfare reforms at last Thursday’s council meeting, it has emerged that 75% of council staff earn less than the £26,000 benefits cap.

The figures, which exclude those working for schools in the Borough, show that only 25% of council workers earn more than the £35,000 that someone would need to earn to take home £26,000.

At the meeting Labour claimed the cap was a ‘London living tax’ and was unfairly penalising London residents.

Lib Dem Deputy Group Leader Councillor Farooq Qureshi said:

“The welfare reforms are extremely difficult for some people in our Borough and as councillors we are on the front line of trying to help them.

“But Labour’s claim that this is a “London living tax” just aren’t credible when the majority of council workers take home less in their pay packets.”

“The Labour Party are quick to campaign against the welfare reforms but refuse to put forward any alternatives. Ed Miliband supports capping welfare spending, so where will Labour’s cuts come from?”

Leyton Police Station shutting down

Councillors Bob Sullivan, Naheed Qureshi and Farooq Qureshi outside the Francis Road Police Station

Following on from the news that Walthamstow Police Station was to be sold off, the Police have now announced that Leyton Police Station in Francis Road will be shut down from next Monday 10th December.

The front counter services are being transferred to the Custody Centre, in Boreham Close, off Hainault Road.

The front counter will be manned from 7am until 3am daily. The same hours as currently offered at Francis Road.

Boreham Close is a cul-de-sac situated opposite Norlington Road.

EDL march – update

Lib Dem Councillors Bob Sullivan, Farooq Qureshi and Mahmood Hussain outside the Town Hall
 
 
Liberal Democrat councillors joined an all-party group of councillors and residents lobbying Parliament to ban the planned march through Walthamstow.

GOOD NEWS – the Minister for Policing Damian Green has this afternoon approved a ban on any protests in Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Islington for the next 30 days.

In a statement issued this afternoon the Council and Parliament said the Police would only allow the EDL to hold a static protest outside the Houses of Parliament.

A joint statement issued by the Council and the three Members of Parliament urged residents to stay away from all planned protests.

Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Mark Collins also urged the public to stay away from any counter demonstrations and said they could make the situation worse.

Lib Dem Group Leader Bob Sullivan said:

“I hope reason prevails and the community enjoys a peaceful weekend.”

Fire Brigade 999 Service for Sale!

Residents in Waltham Forest will be put at risk if the Mayor’s plans to privatise Fire Brigade 999 call handling go ahead, warn the borough’s Liberal Democrat Councillors.

Conservatives on the London Fire Authority backed by Mayor Boris Johnson propose to contract out the Fire Brigade Control Room that handles over 200,000 emergency 999 calls a year. They intend to push their controversial plan through before voters get a say in next May’s Mayoral and London Assembly elections, when controversial Conservative LFEPA boss Cllr Brian Coleman risks being ousted.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Farooq Qureshi said:

“I was shocked to hear of this plan. It makes no sense to separate the people answering 999 calls from the rest of the Fire Brigade. There are no private companies with a decent track record in this highly specialised fire safety work. It will just end up costing more money as the Fire Brigade will need an army of staff to check the private call handlers are getting it right. This is all about Conservative dogma rather than what is best for local residents’ safety.”

The Fire Brigade’s Union is also strongly opposed to the privatisation plan.

Commenting on the sell off Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of London, Brian Paddick said:

“As a former police chief I recognise that control rooms are an essential part of the emergency response. Privatising the fire brigade control room runs the risk of providing a second class service at a higher cost to the public.”

Lib Dem councillors reaction to violence following Town Hall briefing

Liberal Democrat councillors this afternoon attended a briefing by the police and council officers at Waltham Forest Town Hall about the recent disturbances.

Speaking after the briefing at Waltham Forest Town Hall

 Liberal Democrat councillor for High Street ward Mahmood Hussain said:

“I have spent much of the last two days talking to local shopkeepers and residents affected by the violence. Over 50 businesses have been affected in central Walthamstow. It is shocking to see so many people’s hard work destroyed. I have been impressed with how people are working together to put things right.”

Cllr Winnie Smith (Leyton ward) has also been talking to and visiting businesses and residents in Leyton.

Cllr Farooq Qureshi (Forest ward) added:

“These people don’t have a political message. Looting a Lidl and smashing restaurant windows is not going to sort out any of the problems that residents face. At the end of the day it is local people who will lose jobs and income as a result of this criminal behaviour.”

Cllr Liz Phillips (Cann Hall) said:

“The police have assured us that there will be more officers on duty tonight. The council has been working to remove debris and potential weapons from the street. It is important that parents know where their children are and that everyone take responsibility for calming the situation.”

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.”

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.”

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

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: www.surveymonkey.com/s/YNDKMXS. 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.