Thursday, 16 July 2009

Labour Desperation

A succession of Tower Hamlets residents lined up to hammer home the message that the Labour group on the Council was failing. Local resident, Mark, from the Parkview Estate community centre, the Glasshouse, presented a petition asking for funding from the Council to help them stay open, having missed the deadline due to the Treasurer sadly passing away. Labour's response was they missed the deadline, so that is it. All they will do is to identify other areas of funding - that has been promised for some time, nothing is forthcoming, and the bills are mounting up.

Local mothers presented a petition about the fried chicken shop on Ben Johnson Road, which has an effect on anti-social behaviour, as well as childhood obesity issues. The ladies did a fantastic job presenting their petition, although were clearly nervous about standing up in front of the public. What did Labour do? Talk across them and not show them the respect they deserved.

And local Isle of Dogs resident, Gloria Thienel, presented a petition about resurfacing Stebondale Sreet, which has been neglected by Labour. Councillor Ullah (Cleaner, Greener, Safer) didn't even listen to the name of the street, and misunderstood that it needed resurfacing not repairing.

Sadly they all had one thing in common, the fact that Labour had failed, and the fact that Labour Councillors seem to think it not serious enough to listen to the residents. The patronising response of some Labour Councillors was truly shocking.

However the main momemnt of desperation came as Labour's whip, Rachel Saunders, rushed after Gloria inviting her to join the Labour party and stand for them. Once again East End resident, Gloria, gave Labour what for, and expressed her disgust.

Click here for the Advertiser's take on it.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Martin Smith's Departure

The local newspaper, East London Advertiser, has done a sterling job disclosing details of the departure of Tower Hamlet's Chief Executive, which Labour have been seeking to hide away. It is understood that Labour leader, Lutfur Rahman, told the Chief Executive that he had no confidence in him, which led to Martin Smith taking annual leave and consulting his Union.

At tonight's Council meeting Labour's repeatedly attempted to describe the events as a mutual agreement were laughable. As an employment lawyer, I know first hand how compromise agreements are negotiated and discussed. It ultimately will depend on how much is offered by the employer, as to whether an ex-employee will agree to confidentiality. Just because it is stated repeatedly that it was a mutual agreement will not make it true. No doubt having been told to go, they have come to an agreement over the terms on which he will leave.

A decision that will be paid for out of the pockets of Tower Hamlets council tax payers.

So far as I can see there was no evidence that Martin Smith had any intention of going until the Labour Advisory Board meeting.

Lutfur Rahman's statement to the Council Chamber was disingenuous - he praised Martin Smith for the work he had done, but said we needed a fresh approach. The opposition groups, led by Councillor Golds, challenged this, but Lutfur was consistently allowed by the Mayor to avoid answering the question and get away with it.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

£300k of your money...

... has gone to pay-off the Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets Council following new Council leader, Lutfur Rahman, decision to tell him to consider his future. Following weeks of silence, when Labour refused to tell the public what was going on, the news has been broken by the Conservative opposition group and the East London Advertiser. On 30 June the Labour political adviser was commenting that the Chief Exec was due to return the following day.

Now we hear that the pay off is going ahead, and £300k of your money is paying off a man who had a distinguished local Government career, helping reining in spending.

This does not represent value for taxpayers money. I think this story has more to come, I wonder what East End Lies will have to say about it.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Resident's Question Time

Last night the Police and Community Safety Board held its first Resident's Question Time event. Abu Sufian had done a fantastic job organising, and residents were able to hold to account members from the Council (officers and councillors) as well as the Fire Service, NHS Tower Hamlets, and Police.

The event allowed residents to see some of the Third Sector organisations helping out with key issues such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol addictions, as well as LIFE (the Fire Brigade leadership programme).

The evening was split into four sections: youth engagement, women and crime, drug use and supply and anti-social behaviour.

It is clear that the Police are working hard in the local area, but they need the support of residents to bring issues to their Safer Neighbourhood Teams, reporting crime and anti-social behaviour. However there is a need for shift patterns to reflect the needs of local residents. Paul Ricketts (the Borough Commander) assured us that this was starting to happen.

I raised a question about whether the powers that be had any idea how many youths were victims of crime. With the largest youth population amongst London Boroughs, it is vital that we protect our youths. Whilst there are a small number of young girls and guys that cause trouble on the streets, the vast proportion of our youths are much more likely to be the victim of crime than the perpetrator.

Other key issues that came out of the event were:
* The oversaturation of licensed premises - despite the comments of the Labour councillor that he is against licensed premises; the number of premises that can sell alcohol has been steadily increasing in Tower Hamlets
* There is a significant amount of CCTV coverage across the Boroguh
* The Police and Fire Brigade continue their investigation into the fire at the Gurdwara, but cannot release any information at the moment.
* There is still not good enough communication of what is being done.
* ASB is a blight for many local residents, and more needs to be done to solve this.