Lib Dems welcome High Street ward recount result

Four months after the residents of Walthamstow went to the polls, the courts today declared the correct election result. Liberal Democrat candidate Mahmood Hussain is the new councillor for High Street ward.

The court confirmed that the council made a serious mistake at the election count on 7th May and 1,000 votes were wrongly added to the Labour’ candidates’ total.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Bob Sullivan, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Mahmood Hussain to the Liberal Democrat Group on the council. At last the people of High Street ward have the councillors that they voted for. The council’s mistake at the count should never have happened. It cost local taxpayers thousands of pounds in legal fees and deprived local residents of the representatives they voted for.”

Mahmood Hussain said:

“It is an honour to be elected to serve the residents of High Street ward. I will do all I can to stand up for the interests of local people and make sure that their needs are not ignored by the Labour council.

There are lots of issues to take up, including the future of the EMD cinema, looking after Walthamstow market and local services and pressing Labour to come clean on its plans for the Arcade site. I will work with residents to improve safety and security in the area and to protect and improve the local environment.”

Mahmood Hussain has lived in Walthamstow for the past 27 years and has always taken a keen interest in the local community. He works locally and is a trustee of a Walthamstow based charity.

EMD Cinema report: a positive step forward

EMD Cinema, WalthamstowLocal 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].

Waltham Forest Lib Dems consider legal action over High Street count

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Bob Sullivan has confirmed that the Liberal Democrats are considering challenging the result of the local election in High Street Ward. The council has admitted that it may have made an error when the votes were counted, because the number of votes recorded in the result was bigger than the number of votes actually cast.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Bob Sullivan said:

”If a mistake at the count led to the wrong councillor being elected it is a very alarming error. The Liberal Democrats are consulting solicitors with experience in this area with a view to challenging the result. It is vital that residents can have confidence in the integrity of the local democratic process.”

Lib Dems step up campaign against Waltham Forest ticket office closures

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

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 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.

Lib Dems call on Mayor to keep Waltham Forest tube ticket offices open

Transport campaigner Farooq QureshiWaltham Forest’s Liberal Democrat councillors will fight to retain ticket office staff at local tube stations.

Last week Transport for London, which is controlled by the Mayor of London, announced cost cutting proposals to axe 450 ticket office staff and reduce ticket office opening hours across the networks.

Local transport campaigner, Lib Dem councillor and parliamentary candidate for Leyton and Wanstead Farooq Qureshi said:

“Waltham Forest has some of the busiest tube stations in outer London. These proposals mean more inconvenience and hassle for tube users. Passengers need to be able to talk to a real person if they have queries or problems.This is especially important for those who are not regular travellers or find it difficult to use the machines.

Liberal Democrat members of the London Assembly believe the cuts will make many passengers feel unsafe and could have a negative impact in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in and around tube stations.

Farooq Qureshi has a strong record of campaigning on local transport issues including the need to ease rush hour congestion at Leyton and Leytonstone underground stations by opening additional exits, the need for better connections from Leyton and Leytonstone High Roads to the rest of the borough and Stratford, improved accessibility for disabled passengers at Leyton and the refurbishment of Leyton Midland and Leytonstone High Road stations.

Passenger numbers per year for Waltham Forest tube stations are:

  • Walthamstow –> 14.2 million passengers per year
  • Leyton -> 12.7 million
  • Leytonstone –> 9.9 million
  • Blackhorse Road –> 6.1 million

Source: TfL website

During his election campaign Boris Johnson promised to retain staffed ticket offices. His transport manifesto Getting Londoners Moving committed the Conservative Mayor to: “halting the proposed Tube ticket office closures, and ensuring there is always a manned ticket office at every station” (page 2) and claimed “I will also defend local ticket offices” (page 9).

Former Cinemas in Spotlight

Former bingo hall & cinema in Buxton Road, E17A former bingo hall in Walthamstow High Street has been thrown into the spotlight in a recent Waltham Forest Guardian article.

Whilst the EMD has been the centre of attention for the last few years the 80 year old former Dominion cinema has sadly fallen into disrepair since its closure in the mid 90’s.

Residents have been leaving comments on the Guardians website suggesting the Council considers brokering a deal with the owners of the EMD to swap buildings.

Resonding to residents comments, Lib Dem Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr John Macklin, said:

“I have read with interest residents comments regarding the Buxton Hall site and possible links with the EMD. It is something I have discussed with the Chief Executive of the Council as an idea.”

“At present we are not dealing with a certain solution but one which relies on many complex stages. We need to consider IF the council can obtain Buxton Hall, then IF the church wants to do a deal. We then have to determine whether a cinema operator will help us return the EMD to a cinema. Finally, we have the additional problems of Labours plans for the Arcade site and UKCG’s planning application.”

“I can state again that the preferred option for Lib Dems, with regard to the EMD, is a cinema but we are also aware that the UKCG has the need to provide a good quality venue for its congregation.”

In 2007 Lib Dem High Street Councillor, James O’Rourke, participated in the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment public enquiry on the future of the Walthamstow Town Centre where he suggested Buxton Hall is considered as a possible Community theatre and multi-use space.

Cllr O’Rourke said: “Working with the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment not long after my election was exciting. As a new councillor I was stirred up by the prospects for the area I grew up in and now represent. Sadly. three years on the Prince’s Foundation Masterplan has become yet another mantlepiece exhibit for Labour’s Regeneration Cabinet member.”

“We need action, as demonstrated by neighbouring boroughs, not just masterplans”

EMD: More Labour Misinformation

High Street Focus Team have received a number of inquiries from concerned residents following the delivery of a Labour leaflet in High Street ward.

Under the banner ‘Fighting to save Walthamstow’s EMD cinema’ Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Walthamstow asks residents to “join [her] and McGuffins at the council planning hearing in January as we demonstrate against plans to close our cinema.”

In response to an inquiry from High Street ward Councillor, James O’Rourke, the Councils planning department confirmed that there is no planning committee in January and stated “There are still a number of issues for discussion with the applicants and their agents and we are still reviewing all the responses from statutory, non statutory groups and residents. Once matters progress further we will be in a better position to consider a Committee date.”

In a joint statement Cllr O’Rourke and Council Deputy Leader, Cllr John Macklin, said:

“This is yet more Labour misinformation and maneuvering to add to that which has taken place over a number of years and has fed such confusion and dismay amongst residents.”

“We have had a number of meetings with the UCKG and independent cinema operators and a cinema at the EMD is our preferred option.”

Lib Dems Support Save Our Stow Campaign

Since the closure of the iconic dog track and Walthamstow landmark Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats have supported the Save Our Stow plans to retain and update the stadium to provide a modern greyhound-racing venue whilst using part of the land around the site for development in order to provide housing.  Liberal Democrats welcome this proposal which is in line with the trend for mixed leisure and housing developments used at many modern sports venues.

Waltham Forest Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr John Macklin, said:

“Whilst we’re acutely aware that Waltham Forest needs affordable houses it must not be at the expense of what little lesuire facilities we have left. We have lost too many leisure facilities in this borough and despite promises no worthwhile developments have taken place.”

Cllr Macklin added: “I am unhappy that this development is being proposed when I have worked so hard with the Save our Stow campaigners to get London and Quadrant to talk to a group that want to develop the site so that dog racing may return.”

“I had hoped that a suitable bid from those interested in opening this site for dog racing could be bought forward and I want these proposals delayed.”

Cllr Bob Belam also raised concerns saying: “We seem to be bringing plans forward for more houses without thinking about our need for infrastructure such as schools and medical facilities. Not far from the Dog Track we are faced with the loss of another facility with plans to close the Pool and Track with plans to build more houses”

Cllr John Macklin concluded: “We must ensure Waltham Forest does not build a mass of housing with no amenities or heritage. The success of our leisure venues is an integral part of building a sustainable community in Waltham Forest and ensuring that we are attractive to both our residents and visitors. There is no long-term sustainability in forcing residents out of the borough to spend their leisure time.”

Lib Dems urge Labour to drop pool and Track threat / “There is no confusion” (pt 2!)

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg meets stallholders in walthamstow on his recent visit.Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr John Macklin has told fellow Cabinet members that money is available to pay for a proposed Walthamstow Arcade redevelopment project – and urged Labour members to scrap plans that could see the sale of the Walthamstow Pool and Track facility.

Cllr Macklin, who was presenting an update on the Council’s capital spending programme  as the cabinet member for Finance, told councillors that money to pay for redevelopment of the Arcade is already contained within Council expenditure plans.

Liberal Democrats previously voted against Labour cabinet members who forced through a report recommending the sale of “land at the Pool and Track site or alternative assets…that have not yet been identified”.  This was a climbdown from an original draft of the report that explicitly cited “the Pool and Track site” for disposal. 

In trying to defend the proposals, though, Labour Leader Chris Robbins apparently confirmed that at least part of the Pool and Track facility would eventually be closed.  Labour cabinet member responsible for Sport, Geraldine Reardon, told councillors that there was “no confusion”

Cllr Robbins again attempted to distance himself from the threat to the Pool and Track at the cabinet meeting, claiming that “there never was a link between the pool and the property on the Arcade

However, the relevant report outlining the threat has now been cited by the Waltham Forest Guardian here.

Cllr Macklin believes that the report on Council expenditure will allow Labour members to drop their threat to the Pool and Track site.

The Lib Dem Leader said:

“The report confirms that money would already be in place to pay for any redevelopment of the Walthamstow Arcade site.

“In plain financial terms, it seems to make absolutely no sense to constantly be looking to sell Council land and property at the bottom of the market.  First it was the plan to sell the former St James St library building and now the proposal to sell at least part of the Pool and Track.

“But on a practical level, we don’t believe that a leisure pool on the Arcade site will act as an appropriate replacement. 

“From the continuing discussions we are having with those who use the facility, we have enormous concerns about what splitting up the Pool and Track facility would mean for the future of the borough’s only athletics track.  We also don’t believe that the Arcade site has anywhere near enough accessibility or parking for the schools and competitors who travel to use the Pool and Track. 

“The Liberal Democrats believe that the Pool and Track facility in Walthamstow needs investment, not demolition.”