Improving London’s environment for everyone, building more homes, and making fares much fairer

Improstephen_vince_small.jpgving London’s environment for everyone, building more homes and making fares much fairer are at the centre of a radical set of proposals put forward by the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group in their amendment to the Mayor’s budget.

Speaking ahead of today’s meeting at City Hall where the London Assembly will consider the Mayor’s draft budget Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group said:

There are real social and environmental pressures facing London as our population rapidly grows. Our proposals are firmly rooted in meeting these challenges.

Our Lib Dem plan will deliver cleaner air and less congested roads. It will deliver a better environment for every Londoner.

Our changes to the Mayor’s budget will also provide more affordable homes, helping to address London’s chronic shortage of homes for people on low and middle incomes, helping to keep families living in the capital.

We will also make London a fairer city. We would reverse the Mayor’s harsh fare hike facing off peak travellers who live in outer London. And in every part of the capital we will drive up the adoption of the London Living Wage and ensure real action is taken against rogue landlords.

Key aspects of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly budget amendment include:

  • Tackling London’s appalling air pollution and also reducing congestion on our roads, which is currently a huge burden for London’s businesses. Specific proposals include smart congestion charging; the introduction of a workplace parking levy in central London and real action to reduce diesel vehicles entering central London.
  • Reversing the immense fare hike on off peak travel for people in outer London. Other key fare changes include the introduction of a one hour bus ticket and lower fares for people travelling on all Tube, DLR and TfL Overground services before 7.30 am.
  • Making London a more attractive city to travel around by foot and on bike, including expanding the cycle hire scheme into south east London and better provision for cyclists across the whole capital
  • Creating a new £2 billion housing investment fund – funded by prudential borrowing – more than doubling the number of affordable homes delivered across London
  • Cutting waste in the Metropolitan Police Service such as the provision of chauffeur driven cars and flats for senior police officers, but strengthening Safer Neighbourhood Teams and putting extra resources into the teams that investigate rape and sexual assault against children.
  • Making London a fairer place through real action against rogue landlords and the wider adoption of the London Living Wage.

PRESS RELEASE: Lib Dems welcome new bailiff laws

Waltham Forest Lib Dem leader Cllr Bob Sullivan has welcomed the new laws to tackle aggressive bailiffs planned by the coalition government next year.

Under the new laws, bailiffs will be stopped from using any physical contact when dealing with people who owe money and will be banned from entering people’s homes at night, or entering properties where children are alone.

They will also be banned from fixing their own fees and will have to follow a set fee scale.

Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“This is a welcome proposal from the coalition government that can’t come soon enough. I’ve had to deal with residents’ problems with over-zealous bailiffs for a long time and I can’t understand why the last Labour government let the current situation drag on for 13 years.

“Just because someone is in financial difficulty it shouldn’t mean they can be taken advantage of. Bailiffs should be forced to play by the rules and ensure fairer treatment for our most vulnerable residents.”

Planning Change – ‘Recipe for Disaster’

Waltham Forest Lib Dems warn Government that planning change ‘recipe for disaster’

Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats have criticised Government proposals to relax planning laws for a three-year period and labelled them a ‘recipe for disaster’. The Lib Dems successfully passed a motion at full council receiving cross-party support to oppose the changes proposed by the government.

The Government announced in the summer plans to kick start the building industry. A public consultation was launched to extend the exemption for planning permission for home extensions of up to 6 metres. Legislation currently allows for extensions up to 3 metres to avoid the planning process. If the proposals became law, owners of street properties could find their rear windows flanked by six-metre extensions on both sides, plunging them into darkness for most of the day.

Developers could be allowed to by-pass planning controls to fast-track commercial and housing applications. Business premises would be able to expand by 100sq metres and industrial units by 200sq metres. Offices would be permitted to convert to residential use all without planning permission, irrespective of the impact they would have on a neighbourhood.

Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats fear the plans will potentially block out light, split communities, damage conservation policies and do nothing to encourage economic growth locally that is not achieved already.

The Government’s proposals are currently out for consultation. Liberal Democrats at their annual conference also rejected the move overwhelmingly.


Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson, Councillor Liz Phillips, said:

“These proposals are a recipe for disaster. They have not been properly thought through. If this is allowed to happen it could set neighbour against neighbour and split communities in Waltham Forest for years to come.

“On top of the resentment and loss of quality of life, some people’s houses will also plummet in value if they’ve got no light or a noisy factory is within a few metres of their front door.

“There is no evidence that this will do anything to promote economic growth in Waltham Forest. The Government needs to ditch these divisive and unnecessary plans.”


At the recent full council meeting, councillors voted in favour of a Liberal Democrat motion to introduce Selective Licensing in the Borough.

Selective licensing has recently been introduced across the whole of the neighbouring borough of Newham. Once in place the law requires that all landlords in the area are licensed and that license can then be revoked if certain conditions aren’t met.

Lib Dems want to use it to tackle rogue landlords and in particular the growth of anti-social behaviour in private rented properties, which now make up 32% of the Borough’s housing stock.

The motion called for a full consultation on proposals to introduce selective licensing in the Borough to tackle rogue landlords, although this was diluted by a Labour amendment, which instead simply referred to ‘an evaluation’.

Lib Dem Housing spokesperson Councillor Winnie Smith, who moved the motion said:

“We’re pleased that the council are now seriously looking into selective licensing. And we hope that the Labour group will now stick to the spirit of the motion and push forward with selective licensing.

“There is a clear need to tackle the growing problem of rogue landlords in the Borough. As we heard from Leyton resident Sharon Crossland in the council meeting, there are landlords in our borough that just aren’t playing by the rules and there is only so much that can be done at the moment without this new licensing power.”

“Many residents are suffering in properties that just aren’t up to standard and paying too much for poor housing that’s blighted by anti-social behaviour.”


This year has again seen cuts to the council budget as a result of the government’s important deficit reduction programme.

In administration in 2009/10 the Lib Dems laid the foundations for the difficult decisions that have been made over the last two years to balance the Town Hall’s books.

The success of the cuts to back office functions alongside extra money from the government for the council tax freeze has created unexpected flexibility in the budget to soften the impact on local residents and invest in jobs and growth.

This year the Lib Dems have identified over £6 million in additional savings and reserves that could be used to help residents now, invest in local jobs and ease the cuts on Labour’s failing Children’s Services.

Lib Dem Leader Cllr Bob Sullivan said:

“As a Liberal Democrat I am appalled to see that Labour are still subsidising their trade union paymasters, they are still spending half a million pounds on a wasteful council newspaper and they are still spending a million pounds a year on press officers and PR.

“And not only that but they’re hoarding money for a pre-election spending spree in 2014, when they could be helping residents now.

“Waltham Forest Labour have spent millions of pounds of tax payers money on consultants but they’re not investing enough in local jobs, they’ve spent £3 million earmarked for the Olympics on fireworks and parties whilst increasing fees for local sports and youth services, and next year they’re spending £3 million in their ‘priorities fund’ but barely 4% of it is to tackle unemployment.

“Lib Dems have identified over £6 million in extra savings and hidden reserves that could be spent now on helping local residents: Investing up to £4 million in jobs and growth, softening the blow of cuts to our struggling Children’s Services, and investing in local services by reversing the cut to Chingford South and Harrow Green libraries.”


“Waltham Forest Labour are out of touch, out of steam and out of ideas. They should get their priorities right for residents, stop wasting money on vanity projects and PR and be ambitious for Waltham Forest by accepting the Lib Dem’s budget amendment next week.”


The local Guardian newspaper has highlighted the amount of taxpayers’ money that the Labour Council is spending on campaign propaganda. Is this a smoke screen to hide their cuts to services?

In a poll by one national newspaper Waltham Forest was judged the highest spender on propaganda in the country.

The budget Councillor Bob Sullivan put forward on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group in opposition to the Labour budget showed many areas of savings including the saving of £250,000 by getting rid of the political campaigning and putting that money into respite care for children and families.

The reduction in respite care will cause much anxiety to the families who desperately need respite care for them and their children.

The Liberal Democrats were the only party to oppose the Labour budget – the Conservatives did not put forward any alternative budget, but spent time praising the Labour leader of the Council! So much for Tory opposition.


Labour councillors at Thursday’s full council meeting (12 May) rejected Liberal Democrat proposals to reform the NHS and Social Care Bill – which is currently on ‘pause’ in Parliament while the government consults.

Liberal Democrat Leyton councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“I am disappointed that the Labour party hid behind tired old slogans rather than taking the opportunity to seek to improve the NHS Bill. Given the choice between a superficial slanging match and constructive debate, local Labour councillors will choose the slanging match every time.”

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Bob Sullivan welcomed the parts of the Bill which reduce NHS bureaucracy and give more control to the patients but said Liberal Democrats were concerned by the Bill’s emphasis on competition and its commissioning proposals.

The Lib Dem Group set out a series of measures that would improve the Bill, including:

  1. No decision about the spending of NHS funds to be made in private and without proper consultation
  2. The ruling out of any competition based on price to prevent loss-leading corporate providers under-cutting NHS tariffs, and to ensure that healthcare providers ‘compete’ on quality of care.
  3. New private providers to be allowed only where there is no risk of ‘cherry-picking’ which would destabilise or undermine the existing NHS service relied upon for emergencies and complex cases,
    and where the needs of equity, research and training are met.
  4. NHS commissioning being retained as a public function.
  5. The continued separation of commissioning and provision of services to prevent conflicts of interests.
  6. An NHS, responsive to patients’ needs, based on co-operation rather than competition, and which promotes quality and equity not the market.

The proposals are in line with Liberal Democrat policy agreed at the party’s Spring Conference in March.

Unfortunately the Labour party voted down the proposed improvements in favour of a motion which contained no specific response to the current consultation exercise.

Thousands of Waltham Forest residents to get income tax cut

These are difficult times for people across Britain and particularly in Waltham Forest, which is not an affluent borough, but last week’s budget has shown that this can also be an opportunity to reshape Britain into a fairer, more equal and greener country.

Labour’s financial legacy has left Britain needing to borrow an extra £400million, every single day, just to get by.

Labour also left us paying £120million in interest on our debt each and every day – for that we could build a new primary school every hour.

In all this debt there is Good News for Waltham Forest as 88,o00 residents will be getting a £200 income tax cut and 3,700 will be lifted out of paying income tax altogether.

If you are a pensioner then you will receive an extra £4.50 a week – and those retiring now will be on average £15,000 better off over their retirement.

The Liberal Democrats in Government are making sure that eventually personal allowances will rise to £10,000. This will mean more Waltham Forest residents receiving a tax cut and even more low paid workers paying no tax at all.

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: 

Liberal Democrats Tackle Youth Unemployment

With the recession hitting the youngest the hardest Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats have implemented proposals announced by national Lib Dem Leader, Nick Clegg, to prevent people leaving school, college and university being condemned to long-term unemployment.

Waltham Forest Council has implemented the Lib Dem policy by encouraging 16 to 18-year-olds to apply for a place on its apprenticeship scheme.

Local Lib Dem Leader and cabinet member for finance and resources, Cllr John Macklin, said:

“Making sure our residents are equipped with the skills they need to compete in the workplace and driving down unemployment are two big priorities for the council and taking on apprenticeships shows that we’re putting our money where our mouth is as an organisation. 

“Research has shown that taking on apprentices can be a real boost to the organisation by increasing productivity, increasing competitiveness and providing a committed and well-skilled workforce which makes it a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

High Street Lib Dem Councillor and Chair of the Children & Young People Scrutiny committee, James O’Rourke, said:

“The Labour Government has let down school-leavers and older teenagers as, despite their big promise, they have not provided the apprenticeships to make sure that every school-leaver who wanted to learn a trade can do.

“In Waltham Forest Lib Dems have acted to help young people gain the skills they need for employment.”

Javell Holden, one of the council’s apprentices, said: “I’ve been working at the WFD call centre while doing a Business and Administration NVQ course since last April.

“I’ve found the course very beneficial and have just been offered a permanent job. I’ve learned many skills and would recommend this to anyone.”

Anyone aged 16-18 and interested in the scheme should email or call 020 8520 9430.

Click here for further details of the Lib Dem policy to tackle youth unemployment.