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.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Mahmood Hussain on Wednnesday 18 May told Waltham Forest’s Planning Committee that the council should refuse the planning application submitted by UKCG to turn the EMD Cinema into a religious assembly hall.
Councillor Hussain, who represents High Street ward which includes the EMD Cinema site, said:
“The key questions can be summarised very simply. Does the proposed development respect the building’s heritage and listed building status? Is the impact on the area and particularly on nearby residents acceptable? Does the proposed development contribute satisfactorily to the regeneration of Walthamstow Town Centre? On all three counts I believe the answer is no.
“This view is shared by an enormous number of local residents. Our borough has hundreds of places of worship of all types and sizes. But it does not have a single cinema. We have clear evidence that the building is potentially viable as a cinema, arts and entertainment venue.
“This would bring new life to the area and stimulate the local economy – unlike the proposal before you. The proposed changes to the building would destroy much of what is special about this unique building, which is one of the oldest, largest and best preserved cinema buildings in the country.
“Residents would suffer from the absence of a proper noise management scheme and from parking problems generated by cars descending on the area from miles away.
“For the sake of Walthamstow please listen to local people, weigh up the planning merits of the case and refuse the application.”
Speaking after the decision to refuse the planning application Councillor Hussain said he was delighted that the Planning Committee had listened to the arguments put forward by objectors.
“This is good and important news for Walthamstow Town Centre but it is only one step forward. Following two planning refusals and endless discussion I hope UKCG will now abandon their plan. We must allow those who are able to bring the cinema back into use the chance to realise the cinema’s true potential.”
The Liberal Democrat Council Group put foward a proposal at the Council’s budget setting meeting which would have protected the continued funding of all four Waltham Forest Direct shops. Regrettably this was voted down.
At their meeting on 11th May, the Labour Cabinet has approved plans to close the Waltham Forest Direct (WFD) shops in Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford. They will be closed by the end of August.
It is understood that there may be plans to offer some services at local libraries instead. Although details have yet to released – we will update the information as it becomes available.
The only WFD shop to remain is in Walthamstow, which the Council say is a central location in the borough.
A Liberal Democrat amendment at the budget setting meeting to retain the Waltham Forest Direct shops (WFD) shops was defeated by Labour councillors who decided to close the Waltham Forest Direct Shops in Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford.
It was noted that the branch in Walthamstow is staying open!
This will be a big blow to residents across the borough who use them to sort out Council queries and benefit problems.
There is a rumour that a limited WFD service may become available at the new re-furbished Leyton Library. Possibly this may apply in some other libraries as well?
We shall see!
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.
Local 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].
Liberal Democrat campaigners Farooq Qureshi and Farid Ahmed have stepped up their campaign against Boris Johnson’s ticket office closures following confirmation that all four tube stations in the borough will be affected.
Sign their petition at www.ourcampaign.org.uk/ticketoffices.
In total Waltham Forest will lose nearly 60 hours of cover a week. The Mayor’s plan will hit late evening cover especially hard.
- Walthamstow Central will close at 9.30pm instead of 11.30pm on weekdays
- Blackhorse Road ticket office will shut at 6pm instead of 10pm on Saturdays
- Leyton ticket office will shut at 9.30 pm instead of 10.30 pm on weekdays
- Leytonstone will close at 8.45 pm instead of 11 pm on Sundays.
Cllr Qureshi, who is parliamentary candidate for Leyton and Wanstead, said:
“Waltham Forest has been hit hard by the Conservative Mayor’s broken promise. He said he would keep ticket offices open – but now travellers will face deserted ticket offices in the evenings just when demand for security is greatest. That’s why I’ve launched a petition and am asking for people’s experiences. I want as many people s possible to show their concern.”
Farooq Qureshi, Farid Ahmed and the Liberal Democrat team have launched a petition against the closures. Passengers can sign online at www.ourcampaign.org.uk/ticketoffices or call 020 8556 8335 for a petition form.
Full details of the proposed changes are:
- Weekdays – will open from 0600-1945 instead of 0530-2100
- Saturdays – will open from 0645-1800 instead of 0630-2200
- Sundays – will open from 0945-1645 instead of 0800-2000
This means the ticket office will be closed for 18 hours a week less than currently.
- Weekdays – will open from 0545-2130 instead of 0530-2330
- Saturdays – will open from 0645-2145 instead of 0600-0000
- Sundays – will open from 0900-1900 instead of 0900-1100 and 12.30-23.00
This means the ticket office will be closed for 17 hours 45 mins a week less than currently.
- Weekdays – will open from 0600-2130 instead of 0530-2300
- Saturdays – will open from 0645-2200 instead of 0530-2230
- Sundays – will open from 0715-2100 instead of 0700-2300
This is 13 hours 30 mins a week less than currently.
- Weekdays – will open from 0545-2015 instead of 0530-2200
- Saturdays – will open from 0645-2045 instead of 0600-2200
- Sundays – will open from 0730-2045 instead of 0700-2300
This is 11 hours 15 mins a week less than currently.
In total Waltham Forest is losing nearly 60 hours of ticket office cover.