Visit to National Memorial Arboretum

At this time of special Remembrance and `Poppy Appeal’ on behalf of our courageous Armed Service men and women I was a privileged invited guest of Lichfield DC to the National Memorial Arboretum(Croxhall Road, Airewas, Staffs DE13 7AR).

I saw the Armed Services monument that has a series of stone tablets containing all members of all those who died whilst in uniform whether in combat or all causes of death and it represented as the most singular human experience to witness the engraved names from 1945 to present day. I also attended the very moving pre-recorded act of Remembrance that is performed in the Arboretum Chapel daily at 11 a.m.

As part of our `Pride of Lichfield ‘ tour we also visited the replica WW1 `Coltman Trench’ at the Staffordshire Regimental Museum. If you want to book a `Pride of Lichfield’ tour contact: Visit Lichfield (Tel.No.01543-412112)

The `Coltman Trench’ is named in honour of L/Corporal William Harold Coltman VC,DCM and Bar, MM and Bar (1891-1974) who today is the most decorated NCO in British Military history. He served as a soldier did but not even fire a single shot in battle in WW1, as he performed conspicuous humane acts of courage in life-saving rescue work, taking many comrades to safety from `No Man`s Land’, as a medical orderly `stretcher bearer’.

I would encourage our local schools to include the National Memorial Arboretum and Staffordshire Regimental Museum as worthy on their organised group visit programmes as we approach the centennial of WW1 in 2014.

Patrick Smith (Royal British Legion – Walthamstow)


Neal Chubb

Jenny Sullivan, Abbas Yousuf and the Liberal Democrats are mourning the sudden death of former Wood Street councillor, Neal Chubb.

Known by very many people in Waltham Forest for his friendliness and good humour. Neal was a stalwart of the Grove Green Focus Team. He worked tirelessly in the ward for over 10 years despite not winning a seat on the Council.

He was often seen with his Focus Team colleagues delive3ring Focus, chatting to people in the streets and collecting grumbles.

His passion for education led him to be3come a Governor at Dawlish School, Chair of Governors at Jenny Hammond School and Chair of the Council’s School Appeals committee. He was also a gifted artist.

Jenny Sullivan says: There was no one quite like Neal and we are all the poorer without him. His energy and his ability to ask the difficult questions will be greatly missed by all who knew and worked with him.

PRESS RELEASE – Waltham Forest Labour are letting our schools down

Councillor Liz Phillips has raised concerns about Waltham Forest council’s contractor Babcock after it was revealed that almost 15% of the Borough’s schools are now in special measures following their two years as the council’s contractor.

In a written answer to Cllr Phillips, the Labour Cabinet member, Cllr Clare Coghill described the council’s risk analysis programme for schools as ‘a work in progress’ and said that the council’s priority had been ‘savings of £2m from the contract at an early opportunity’.

Councillor Liz Phillips, Waltham Forest Lib Dem spokesperson for Children and Member of the Council’s Corporate Parenting Board, said:

“Almost 15% of our schools are now in special measures and yet the council won’t be seeking any compensation from the contractor who presided over this mess.”

“Surely there should be something in our contract with this company that means at the very least they must pay for failing local kids and their parents?”

 “In Waltham Forest we are now on our 4th Labour cabinet member for Children’s Services in just over two years. Perhaps if someone with a bit of experience would take responsibility for more than a few months then we wouldn’t be in this situation?”

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


ClassroomWalthamstow faces a massive shortfall in school places which will get much worse by 2013 if urgent action is not taken, according to answers obtained by local Liberal Democrat councillors at a meeting of the Walthamstow West Community Council on Monday (1 March).

Council officers told the meeting that if nothing is done 162 reception-age children due to start school in the Walthamstow area will have no school place in September; equivalent to five-and-a-half classes. Currently local schools have capacity for 3090 reception-aged pupils but the projected intake is 3252 pupils.

By 2013 over 500 pupils will not have a school place to go to.

Reasons for the shortfall include increasing birth rates and the number of families with young children moving into the borough. This means many children face being educated in temporary classrooms.

Worryingly the portfolio holder in charge of schools, Cllr Liaquat Ali (Labour, High Street) was at the meeting but was unable to provide any details about how he proposed to deal with the problem.

Liberal Democrat councillors are demanding that the council gets a grip on the situation and produces a credible long-term plan to deliver the school places that local families need.

Liberal Democrat councillor James O Rourke, who chairs the Children and Young Peoples Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said:

“Cllr Ali couldn’t point to a single action he or his predecessor, the Council leader, had taken to ensure local people have somewhere to send their children. It’s time someone got a grip on the situation.”

Cllr Patrick Smith, Liberal Democrat councillor chair of the community council, said:

“The Liberal Democrats have been worried for some time about the increasing strain placed on local primary schools by the growing population. More and more children are being crammed into temporary classrooms. We know that teachers will do their best to deliver high quality teaching but it isn’t fair that children should be expected to learn in these conditions.

“Pressure for school places comes from numerous new developments in the Walthamstow area including an expected 1,000 new families in the Blackhorse Lane regeneration area.”