PRESS RELEASE: LOCAL LIB DEMS RENEW CALLS FOR OLYMPIC TRADERS’ COMPENSATION

LOCAL LIB DEMS RENEW CALLS FOR OLYMPIC TRADERS’ COMPENSATION

Local Lib Dems have renewed calls for council action over the Leyton Olympic traders mess last year. The council has so far failed to take any responsibility for the mess despite heavily promoting the market before the Olympics, whilst it was clear the planned routes for Olympic visitors were outside the area.

Local Lib Dems believe this is an issue of trust and the council should be clear about its responsibility. If compensation is due from North London Business and not the council then Waltham Forest councillors should refuse to sit on their board if no action is forthcoming.

Leyton Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“The Chief Executive of North London Business resigned over this debacle last year, so traders are right to expect some compensation.”

 “I’ve repeatedly asked the council whether they will be giving out compensation to the traders and they have so far refused, putting the blame squarely with North London Business and Skateco UK Ltd.”

 “Yet councillors and Cabinet members have consistently failed to put pressure on North London Business and Skateco UK Ltd to reimburse the traders, who were sold promises of customers that never arrived.

“No action has been forthcoming from North London Business since last year so it is long since time for Waltham Forest councillors at the very least to refuse to sit on their board or, better yet, take some responsibility themselves.”

PRESS RELEASE: Local Lib Dems to criticise budgeting, waste and misleading statements by Labour

Last Thursday’s council meeting was rightly used to bring the Borough together after the awful attacks in Woolwich on Wednesday.

However, cancelling the speeches of the three party leaders also meant that the time usually devoted to scrutinising the council’s priorities for the next year and to review the last year was lost.

The speech prepared by Lib Dem Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan, before the attack took place, contained criticism of the council’s budgeting process, attacks on money wasted on unnecessary events and exposed the misleading statements being made by Labour over the £160 million they claim to be investing in the Borough in 2013-14.

Councillor Sullivan was to say:

On budgeting

“The councils’ recent finance report show that almost all council departments were reporting under spends.

“In accountancy terms an under spend is just as bad as an over spend because it means that there is something wrong with the budgeting process.  It also means that our services are not being carried out as planned and our residents are losing out.

“So what is going wrong with our processes? And how are we building this into our planning? The council can’t continue to plead poverty simply because it is over-estimating what’s needed in the budget.”

On the £160 million

“As for investment, Labour cabinet members seem to be sending confused messages about the £160 million that they’re touting around to residents through Waltham Forest News and the various announcements and videos that they’re making.

“Many residents have read the big figures plastered over their copy of WFN and have been asking me if the council could spend some of this money on local projects.

“Unfortunately the explanation is, that most of this investment is not council money and all of it is already earmarked and being spent on other things.

“The confusion isn’t helped when Cabinet members give confusing written answers at full council meetings. Such as when Cllr Rusling declared ‘We are investing £160 million in the borough…’ in a written answer in March.”

On events

“…under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal has only spent £9 million net on players over the last ten years.

“That’s less per year than this council are spending on events!

Although these events are said to be free, they are not really, as the council tax payers are funding them.

“It seems like every day this council feels more and more like a booking agent or a live music promoter, with over a million pounds planned for events this year.”

Labour Council continues to spend your money?

Following on from spending  £650,000 on a new entrance hall at the Town Hall, Liberal Democrat councillors have now heard that another £18,000 of ratepayers money has been forked out on new committee room tables!

The Liberal Democrats say, “When we have some of the poorest primary school results in the country, is council money being spent on the right things?”

PRESS RELEASE: Lib Dem councillors campaign against Fire Service cuts

LOCAL COUNCILLORS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN AGAINST CUTS TO FIRE SERVICES

Lib Dem launch Save Our Fire Services campaign

Local Lib Dem councillors are backing their Lib Dem colleagues Terry Stacy and Stephen Knight on the North London fire authority and are launching a campaign against cuts to local fire services. Waltham Forest could lose 2 fire engines under Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans and services across London will be cut back.

Local residents are also worried about the closure and demolition of Leytonstone Fire Station amidst this on-going uncertainty. Residents are worried that because the proposals for cuts are yet to be finalised the new station could be axed following the consultation.

Residents now want assurances that the station will reopen as planned. Local Lib Dems are asking residents to sign a petition against the cuts and for assurances about the future of Leytonstone Fire Station.

Lib Dem Councillor Mahmood Hussain said:

“These fire engines are a vital part of our local fire services. Fewer engines will mean there are fewer and less mobile fire fighters protecting or Borough.“These cuts are short-sighted. The number of fire engine mobilisations in the Borough increased from 5,449 in 2005/06 to 5,607 between 2011 and 2012. The population of the Borough is still growing, which means more people and more houses to protect.”“I hope that local Labour and Conservative councillors will join us in opposing these cuts.”

Leytonstone resident Mahmood Faiz said:

“Of course we’re worried. There are big changes going on in the fire service and local people want assurances that the new fire station will go ahead. This consultation is already causing worries for local people and it shouldn’t be used as a way of sneaking in even more of Boris’ cuts to our fire services.”

Please sign our petition here: http://eepurl.com/uZtFb

PRESS RELEASE: Labour cut free rat catching service

This year the Labour council will bring an end to their free rat catching service by introducing a new charge of £25.

They are also increasing the cost of pest control in other areas, putting up the cost of dealing with mice for those on council tax benefit from £60 to £75, a 22% increase.

Lib Dems have criticised the move saying it will cause more problems than it solves.

Lib Dem Environment spokesperson Councillor Mahmood Hussain said:

“This is a false economy. A growing rat population affects everyone. For every person that is put off reporting rats by this new charge, rats will spread further and faster across the Borough.

“Mice are a growing problem for residents too and it can often take two or three visits before they are cleared from your home, landing you with a bill of hundreds of pounds.”

“Just like their u-turns over parking charges and the living wage last year, it wouldn’t cost Labour much to reverse these bad decisions and back the priorities of residents.”

Lib Dem Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

“Lib Dems will be finding money in our alternative budget to show that the Labour council could cut charges for mice and keep the rat service free if they wanted to.”

PRESS RELEASE: Labour Council is letting our children down

TWO DAMNING REPORTS ON WALTHAM FOREST PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Figures released at the end of 2012 show Key Stage 2 results for Waltham Forest primary schools have been below the national average for the past two years. Whilst our results did improve in 2012, most other areas improved even more and have left us lagging behind.

According to the most recent Ofsted report, Waltham Forest and Hackney children are now the least likely in London to be able to attend to a good or outstanding primary school. With only 11 authorities out of over 150 in England performing worse, Waltham Forest is in the bottom 8% of authorities nationwide.

Across England, 2012 saw a welcome increase in the percentage of Key Stage 2 pupils receiving a Level 4 or above in English and Maths, helped by extra money delivered through the Lib Dem Pupil premium, which targets funds at the poorest pupils.

But despite extra investment delivered by Liberal Democrats in government through the pupil premium, which will deliver over £12.5 million additional money for Waltham Forest schools in 2013-14, we are still lagging behind the national average in these key indicators.

Lib Dems believe Labour should be doing more to drive up standards in our schools and making more of this new money to drive up standards for the poorest. Splashing out money on more fireworks and other events can’t hide the fact that this Labour Council is letting our children down.

Cllr Bob Sullivan said:

“Every parent in Waltham Forest should be able to say that their child attends a good or outstanding primary school. There are great schools and great teachers in our Borough but many schools do not get the help they need from this Labour Council to overcome the difficulties they face.

“Waltham Forest Labour have now had 4 different cabinet members in charge of schools in just two and a half years and we’ve lost managers and directors too.

“When we left the joint administration in 2010 our Key Stage 2 results were above the national average but two years of Labour mismanagement have meant the rest of the country has overtaken us.

“Waltham Forest Lib Dems don’t believe more academies are the answer but we do need better local leadership to deliver a better education for our Borough’s children. It can’t be right that our children are the least likely in London to be able to attend a good or outstanding primary school.”

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.”

LIB DEM LEADER TO INVESTIGATE QUESTIONS OVER LABOUR’S JOBS PROGRAMME

Waltham Forest Lib Dem Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan has been appointed to a new panel set up to examine the questions surrounding the council’s £9 million Worknet programme.

Councillor Sullivan requested the enquiry in September and the panel has now been established by the council’s Overview and Scrutiny management committee. The panel will investigate claims that millions of pounds went unspent or were put away in the council’s balances.

Also on the panel will be Conservative Cllr John Moss and Labour Cllr Saima Mahmood.

Councillor Sullivan said:

“I’m pleased to have the opportunity to raise the difficult questions needed about the council’s Worknet programme.

“All of this £9 million should have been used to put our residents back to work but so far we don’t know how much of this money actually made it into these back to work schemes or if any of them were successful.

“The council, the contractors and cabinet members all have tough questions to answer. We need to know if these contracts were successfully delivered, if they weren’t delivered then what went wrong, and why residents didn’t know about it sooner?”

WHAT LOCAL BUSINESSES WANT FOR CHRISTMAS!

LIB DEMS CALL FOR COUNCIL RETHINK OVER PARKING IN THE BOROUGH

With problems over the CPZ consultation and plans by Waltham Forest Council to sell off the Stanley Road Car Park in Bakers Arms shopping area, parking is fast becoming a big issue in the Borough.

Lib Dems are opposing plans by the council to sell off the car park at Bakers Arms. And have gone further by asking the council to extend free parking times over the Christmas period to help local businesses.

Cllr Mahmood Hussain, Lib Dem Environment spokesperson said:

“With Christmas coming up, now would be the perfect time to help local businesses by extending the 15 minutes free parking time up to 30 minutes for the remaining few weeks. This would help our local shops compete with supermarkets and the big shopping centres nearby.

“And selling off the Bakers’ Arms car park is clearly the wrong decision. The car park is badly signposted at the moment but if we could bring it back into proper use it could be a great asset for local businesses.

“Cabinet members need to rethink parking in the Borough and focus on how it can help local businesses.”

Chair of the Bakers’ Arms Business Forum, Suleman Ahmed said:

“We should be taking advantage of the resource that we have in this car park at Bakers’ Arms. If the car park was better managed and better signposted by the council then it would not need to be sold off.

“Extending free parking would also be a great boost to local businesses in the run up to the Christmas period.”

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.