Articles

RACISM IN HAVERING –

WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD?

A Statement from Havering’s Labour Councillors

Fabians 22-5-18
Havering Labour group with former Dartford Labour councillor Johnathon Hawkes in 2018

No decent human being in the 21st century would condone slavery. However, there has been a long tradition of established road names in the borough some with debatable origins. Labour councillors have no intention of advocating any changes to our street names at this time or in the future.

However, we are pleased to see that the Tory administration has called for a review into racism. There are many aspects to this but what is crucial is to know whether the council operates in a racist manner at any level.

Are all residents treated in the same way by housing officers, children’s services teams and finance personnel? It’s clear there needs to be the raising of awareness for some council staff as to what a racist action is. Focused training needs to tackle these issues.

The Cohesion Forum is admirable in its objectives to tackle inequality. However, it fails to meet regularly and is not effectively publicised. Items raised on the agenda seem to lose their momentum because of its very loose organisation.

Havering Labour councillors want to see a far-reaching, truly independent review of racism in the council that has been highlighted by various councillors and staff employees.

Many Havering residents from differing backgrounds have occupied key roles in surpressing Covid 19, risking their lives for the sake of others. Some are in low paid jobs with few financial resources. The very least Havering council can do is to ensure everyone using its services is consistently treated with the utmost respect.

Labour councillors want to see the council keep its promise to eradicate ‘complacency and injustice’. We want to see these stirring words now translate into immediate action. The council now needs to openly and honestly interrogate every arena within its many spheres of influence.

Life will be better for everyone in Havering if our community cohesion is improved.

A Call-to-Action: End the racial inequality at Havering Council

tele lawal in the town hall

I am Councillor Tele and I am tired and black.

 

The title ‘Councillor’ does not protect you from the overt and covert discrimination at Havering Council. When I have walked into the Town Hall, and without speaking a word, Council staff have immediately directed me to the public gallery to watch the proceedings, instead of the Council Chamber where my colleagues, politicians, like me, are sitting. At meetings, I am warned that I am asking too many questions, my recommendations are not noted, and my remarks are cut short. Meanwhile, others can speak at length and with no restrictions. What they have in common is the colour of their skin.  More often, I raise my black hand, which is very visible, yet the Chair looks around the room and says, “let us move on.”

 

It is a year since I was physically assaulted at the Town Hall by a white Councillor and Havering Council has done nothing. If it was a black man who aggressively grabbed a white woman in the Town Hall, the Council would have reacted very differently. I have written a report on diversity and race for Havering Council and put forward recommendations. Emails have been sent, and meetings had about these issues. I and many have concluded that Havering Council is institutionally racist. George Floyd’s death and outcry for justice has shown me that several voices are powerful and it will take a collective to push the race agenda and that black lives matter.

 

Therefore, I am making a Call-to-Action for you to email Andrew Black-Herbert, Chief Executive: andrew.blake-herbert@havering.gov.uk and Councillor Damian White, damian.white@havering.gov.uk the following demands;

 

  1. Switch on the Town Hall lights to purple in memory of George Floyd and in support against the fight of racism on Friday, 12 June 2020. This is being done across the country by other Councils. Havering Council has also done this before, and therefore, it is not a policy issue, but merely a decision to show solidary or not. 

 

  1.  Launch an inquiry into the entrenched racial inequality at Havering Council which affects their workforce and Councillors. This should be an independent Investigation – and not someone on Havering Council’s retainer as this will lead to a whitewashed report. Recommendations must be adopted within 5-10 years.

 

  1. Havering Council should set up a task group including the BME forum and their BAME employee forum to provide solutions to tackle racial inequality in our community.

 

  1. Havering Council should create an equality fund by the next Budget Council meeting. Members in the community can apply and use the funds for projects which will bring about better community cohesion and inclusion.

 

  1. Havering Council does not know the ethnicity or race of over 40% of its workforce. How can they aim to want to achieve the ‘Excellent’ rating in the Equality Framework for Local Government when they do not capture or monitor such data about their employees? That is basic for any organisation and this failure shows clearly how much their employees’ lives matter. Havering Council must close the data gap by April 2021.

 

  1. Havering Council should diversify its Senior Leadership Team and Senior Managers within 5-10 years. At the Senior Leadership level, there is not a single black or Asian director in 2020.

 

 

In Havering, brothers George, Keane, Ryan, Charlton, and Robson Handley will be running a combined marathon in support of Black Lives Matter on Sunday, 14 June. The Romford Recorder has published an article here; https://bit.ly/2zUT4jW. You can donate here; https://bit.ly/309nrxs.

 

Please see here other ways you can support George Floyd family and the Black Lives Matters Movement in the UK; https://linktr.ee/grmdaily

 

Best

 

Councillor Tele Lawal

 

 

Londoners punished for doing the right thing.

by Cllr Judith Garfield MBE
Havering and Redbridge Labour candidate for the London Assembly

Judith Garfield
Judith Garfield with mayor Sadiq Khan -Judith joining us via a zoom call 6th May 8pm

Transport for London’s funding package from the government, agreed last week, will allow Londoners to travel safely for the next four-and-a-half months. But for our communities, it will cause added hardship – particularly for our key workers; care workers and those who are already struggling with day-to-day household bills.

The Government has insisted TfL must increase its fares above inflation next year, bringing an end to the four-year fares freeze introduced by the Mayor of London. They have also insisted that the scope and hours of the congestion charge be widened, a suspension of free travel for pensioners during peak hours, and that free bus passes for children be halted entirely. After pressure from the Sadiq Khan, the Government has now agreed to allow disabled Freedom Pass holders to continue travelling for free at all times.

When speaking with residents in Havering and Redbridge earlier this year, before lockdown they want a safe environment without pollution for which reliable, fairly priced and comfortable public transport is central. They should not be exploited by the government through its abuse of our public transport. They did not want to see politics before people and this is precisely what this government has done.

We stayed indoors because it was the right thing to do; we worked from home, maintained social distancing, missed family birthdays, and even paid our respects via videoconference. We are continuing to stay home in a heroic effort to get us past the coronavirus peak and prevent a second wave of the infection, which some of our nearest and dearest wouldn’t survive.

As the hub of COVID-19, we Londoners worked together to reduce the infection rate. The government tells us that we are ‘in this together,’ so why are they punishing us with a bad deal for our public transport? In Havering and Redbridge, this spells further hardship for frontline workers who have already been told not to expect a pay rise any time soon.

The Mayor has been honest with us all – this is a bad deal for London. But it was the only deal the Government were willing to put on the table, and one he had to accept to keep the tubes and buses running.

In 2015, austerity meant TfL lost a yearly £700 million grant from central government. Today, we are the world’s only major capital city with an unsubsidised transport network. All our transportation costs are covered by fares and some devolved business rates, unlike the government subsidised transportation networks in Paris, Seoul, or New York City.

COVID-19 has left a £4 billion hold in Transport for London’s budget this year. Travel on the tube and buses plummeted 95% in the first week of lockdown, representing an equal drop in fare revenue which the government has told TfL to fund its operations with. Whitehall has announced other transport networks in Britain will receive similar funding packages, because they have also suffered the same plunge in operating revenue. Except, they have assured private operators their bailouts will be devoid of the penalties inflicted on TfL. So, why is this government punishing Londoners?

Many of us in Havering and Redbridge rely on public transport to meet our everyday needs and get to work. Our NHS heroes, supermarket staff, refuse collectors, care workers, and cleaners all depend on TfL. Outer London boroughs like Havering and Redbridge are home to the lifeblood of this city and if we want to get through coronavirus ‘together,’ the government needs to stop punishing low-paid Londoners and the residents in Havering and Redbridge.

 

Cllr Tele Lawal 

Tele Lawal

 Title; Andrew Rosindell MP, get a grip! 

On Friday, 22nd May the MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell, published an interesting letter on his socials about the level of illegal crossings taking place in the English Channel. He urged the Home Secretary to ’get a grip on this crisis.’

The letter to the Secretary of State is distasteful and not a true reflection of Romford constituents views. During a global pandemic, where people are dying, I do not believe for second this is a major concern constituents are raising at this time.

Residents across the borough are worried about their health, employment, the risk of children returning to school too soon, the lack of PPE and how they will put food on their table in the coming weeks and months.

Businesses which are largely in the Romford constituency are concerned about the gaps in the packages announced by the government. Many have been locked out of any Government support through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme. And do not let me start with the self-employed, contractors or freelancers.

Andrew Rosindell MP should appreciate that businesses are the drivers of growth for our economy, and will be crucial to our recovery from the economic shock caused by Coronavirus. We would rather a letter to the Chancellor to address those concerns and more.

The MP for Romford is hiding behind voters, instead of boldly airing these concerns as his own. Andrew Rosindell should stop using his position to push his right-wing views. For once, I and many, would like to see him make a real and proper representation for the diverse constituency in which he was elected to represent.

Tele Lawal

 

Title: When Should Gerpins Tip Re-Open?

Havering Labour Group Leader Councillor Keith Darvill

 

Keith Darvill

Of course we all want to the tip to open as soon as possible. But it has to be done safely and effectively. Havering must not be in the position of opening Gerpins and causing miles of static traffic as happened recently in Manchester.

Social distancing measures need to be set up to adhere to government guidelines. Personal Protective Equipment needs to be available for those working at the site. We need assurances that this will actually happen as we already know that PPE is still not being adequately provided at Queen’s Hospital and our borough’s care homes. We don’t want to put people’s lives at risk, as many thousands have died as a result of the virus in this country already.

Labour wants to see a coordinated approach to a re-opening that will be in line with other London boroughs and Essex County Council. The police need to be able to monitor and supervise this enterprise, as long queues will cause frustration. Possible fly tipping en route to the tip could occur if the public are unable to reach their destination for long periods of time.

We don’t want to see political, petulant point scoring from Havering Tory Leader Damian White that helps no one. We do want Gerpins to open safely for the protection of those working there and the general public.
If those safety measures need more time to be ensured and organised, then we say take the time needed and put people’s lives first.

Better support for Havering care homes during COVID-19

Havering Labour Group Leader Councillor Keith Darvill

Keith Darvill
Day by day, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is changing people’s lives. We, as elected opposition councillors, need to ensure that the council is doing its best to ensure the safety of all Havering residents at this critical time. That is our role.

We understand the challenges and difficult decisions that now have to be made by the Tory council but we need to be able to scrutinise and question decisions so that the best outcomes are implemented for everyone’s benefit.

Havering has 60 plus residential care homes and an older than average population. These demographic factors are not new but have been intensified by the chronic underfunding of the health and social care sector for the last ten years. We, as Labour councillors, have been lobbying the government for years to increase the funding.

Now, the situation in Havering care homes is at a critical stage. Those serving our elderly and vulnerable residents put their own lives at risk because of a lack of protective equipment. They are poorly paid with little job security. We hear of people being released from hospital back into care homes without being tested, putting staff and other residents at risk.

And now information is being collated at a national level that is stoking our worst fears.

1. The Guardian and Telegraph have reported that major care operators have seen a steep rise in deaths and infections.
2. The soaring cost of PPE could bankrupt care homes. The Head of the National Care Association says that some care homes have to pay as much as £8,500 a week to keep staff and residents safe.
3. Care home residents have been told that they are unlikely to be offered ventilators if they are admitted to hospital with Coronavirus.
We in the Labour Party want to support the government and our council in its measures to fight this pandemic. However, as local councillors we need to have much more opportunity to ask questions. A desultory one-hour report back is not adequate. The group leaders’ one-hour slot is too short and limits probing questions.

All Havering councillors need to have full access to the true facts about the situation in our care homes and be able to ask questions which our casework has thrown up.

We want to serve our community at this time of uncertainty. To do that, we need full access to accurate and current information

Do we need an inquiry into the deaths of BAME people dying due to coronavirus?

By Councillor Tele Lawal, Heaton Ward

 

Tele Lawal

Throughout the world, communities are affected by the global health pandemic which has disrupted all parts of citizens’ day-to-day lives. Coronavirus does not discriminate. It sees no race, age, class, sex, or religion.

As we mourn those who have sadly been taken by the silent killer, emerging figures highlight that coronavirus appears to be disproportionately affecting black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities – while this might be an uncomfortable truth for many, this revelation is no surprise to me, and to many who identify as BAME.

While the government recently announced an inquiry into why people from a similar background like me are disproportionately affected by coronavirus (led by the NHS and Public Health England) – I fear this is merely a token gesture, somewhat a tick box exercise.

Many of us already know the underlying cause of the disparity, and what the conclusions of the review will reveal. If we discuss the robust correlation between socioeconomic status and health, it is widely known that individuals of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to suffer from poorer health, than those in the higher social hierarchy.

Those individuals in the UK are usually BAME people who are overrepresented in overcrowded/poor accommodation and insecure, low-paid employment. All of which contributes to why BAME people have a lower life expectancy and serious underlying health issues in the UK. It is already confirmed that coronavirus preys on those with underlying health conditions.

BAME people are more likely to be employed in frontline roles, like the NHS. Such keyworker roles will put them at greater risk of contracting coronavirus. The first ten doctors in the UK to die from coronavirus were from BAME backgrounds.

This health pandemic has removed the plaster once again and has shown these deaths are the consequence of inequalities deep in our society, that the government has not addressed, review after review. Clearly, we have not learned from the Grenfell Tower inquiry or the Windrush report.

We do not need another report catching dust on the government’s website and used as mere references in academic research papers or political speeches. We need life-changing action. While these underlying causes cannot be addressed in the short term to save lives, the government can start capturing the ethnicity on the number of people who have died as a result of coronavirus – at the moment age and sex are only recorded. This will enable us to explore how best to protect communities.

Havering Council should not hesitate to join the conversation and take action. Coronavirus Equality Impact Assessments (EIA) should be carried out to assess the impact on different communities protected under the Equality Act 2010. Labour Councillors have already suggested that a temporary overview and scrutiny committee should be formed to look at COVID-19 related issues, such as this, thus allowing Councillors to put forward life-saving policies and recommendations, based on information from the EIA and other sources.

I believe that communication is a powerful tool. Havering Council should produce a coronavirus information sheet, electronic or otherwise, targeted to BAME communities. This will help reaffirm the facts about how the virus is and isn’t spread – and tackle myths too. Havering Council should work with charities, organisations, and local groups to ensure those who are not known to them are receiving the relevant support during this period.

Once this crisis is over, we do not need another roundtable discussion or committee formed to analyse the report. I hope for my future and those from similar communities, we will see real legislative changes, backed with proper central government funding. But, I won’t hold my breath.

Councillor Tele Lawal | Heaton Ward
Committees : Crime & Disorder | Children Services

Town Hall
Main Road, Romford, RM1 3BB

Labour Movement what won it!
Community Organising the key to winning again.

Margaret Mullane

 

I have been a labour activist for many years. In that time I have worked for Jon Cruddas MP for eleven years and have been a ward councillor for nine. I can say with confidence that I have never fought a campaign as hard as I did in December 2019. Fast forward to the Poll of Polls at 10.00 pm on election night and I had a sinking feeling as I headed off to the count. Hours later, after a very long night, Jon Cruddas won the election – but it was close. We won locally by just 293 votes. We always knew it would be tough, and so the questions are: how did we survive in Dagenham & Rainham, and why did we lose so badly nationally?

Let’s start by looking at the local campaign. Dagenham and Rainham as a constituency formed in 2010, and Jon inherited three Havering Wards with a Conservative leaning electorate. Jon and the labour activists have worked incredibly hard to win these wards, but when the Brexit referendum happened over 70 % of Jon’s constituents voted to leave the EU. From a national perspective I watched key figures in the party calling for a second Referendum and promoting a Remain stance, and constituencies such as Dagenham and Rainham never bought into the “will of the people” rhetoric. Even last week, when asked about Brexit two of the candidates for the labour leadership said that we never challenged the Tories enough on their “Brexit at any cost” approach and again advocated for Remain, before begrudgingly admitting that, at this point, Brexit must happen.
When the Election was called, Jon met with Councillor Darren Rodwell, the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, and they both set about working on their campaigns. . Never do we hear “we only see you at election time”, as we are committed to being engaged and involved in local issues and community politics all year round. On the back of this strong foundation they utilised the 51 councillors of the area to make a powerful pro-Labour to local residents.
The Trade Union movements were paramount to the success of keeping the seat. Unite activists and leaders beat the streets with us, and were key in mobilising support when and where we needed it. Members of the London Labour parties also came in their literal hundreds to help us.

On a National level, I felt that the UK press undertook a targeted and imbalanced campaign against the leadership – But being frank, they always do. I feel that we needed a more succinct and firm stance in terms of our core campaign messages. As simplistic and annoying as “Get Brexit done” was, it stuck and resonated with the public. I feel that in seats such as Dagenham and Rainham the constituents felt Labours heart was never in Brexit and going back to what I always state in my articles, were a bit “sniffy” and dismissive in parts about Brexit and its voters. Our seat does not share the opinions of the liberal elite in London who would discount the beliefs and opinions of much of the country.
The talk now in articles is about how Labour can win back our Heartlands – and worse still, some are saying we may need to find more new ones. This for me is very worrying talk. Our vote in what is deemed “our heartlands” has been decreasing. One of the many reasons is that our voters don’t recognise the political class that represent them. Where are the Bus Drivers, Train drivers, Care workers, call centre workers, amazon workers in the House of Commons? They are not there – it can often feel like an echo chamber for the wealthy and privileged. Jeremy Corbyn has tried through his Leadership to ensure that more regular people have an opportunity to be involved in politics, but the way that the current labour party Selection process works makes this an unlikely ideal. I have said it before – the membership fee is too expensive. If you are on a zero-hours contract or struggling to pay rent and bills, how will you afford the £50.00, especially if you don’t meet the concessions criteria?

I feel that aspiring to improve things for the public is the key for the seats we need to win in the Labour Heartlands, Scotland and many other areas. We must focus not on what we think should be done, but what our Communities want and need. In Barking and Dagenham the local council has secured Coventry University in the Borough. UCU is coming shortly, along with the three markets from the City of London Billingsgate, Smithfield’s, the fruit market, and a Film Studio. What does this mean? Decent, secure jobs and educational opportunities that are second to none. The people of the Borough deserve access to fantastic opportunities for work, education and leisure, and we are dedicated to continuing to strive for exactly that.
Labour must also work to find common ground with those who wish to own their own businesses, or want a successful job in the city. Currently those people feel that Labour isn’t for them.
Housing is a hugely important issue for us. A very good offer was made in the manifesto for council housing, but unfortunately this message was lost among the rest of the pre-election noise. Many people must now rent, and the rent paid takes up so much of people’s income. Again, this was touched upon in the manifesto but was ultimately ignored in the national press. Rent controls are needed, and adopting the licensed Landlord scheme that is run in the Borough on a national level would be well received.
Crime is of huge concerns to all communities; the Tories were let off the hook on the police numbers being dramatically cut in a bizarre but apparently effective campaign where they promised to undo most, but not all, of the damage that they have caused under austerity. We need to understand the Tories won’t stand up to public scrutiny, with local candidates not turning up at hustings and a refusal to take part in media appearances, to name but a few of their avoidance tactics. We need to carry on campaigning in a different way.
Grass root, community led campaigns are the only way forward, as in Dagenham and Rainham there is at least one volunteer in every area – not necessarily Labour members, but certainly labour voters. They know that we keep in touch 365 days a year and will continue to let them know what is happening in their communities. In return, they act as champions and advocates for the community and let us know what is important to them and others like them. They see the community action, and believe me, when parties from the right and far right arrive and try to pretend to be interested and engaged in local issues, be that the BNP, UKIP or the Tories, the public will vote Labour.
However, we must never be complacent as Scotland has proved that someone will always fill a vacuum, and we once would have struggled to believe that the Tories would be representing our Heartlands! We must remain vigilant and dedicated to the best interests of people of the Borough, and trust that they will see that their future lies with Labour.

Margaret Mullane is the Office Manager for Jon Cruddas MP
Village Ward Councillor Barking and Dagenham Council
Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement
CLP Secretary Dagenham and Rainham CLP

This article first appeared on Margaret’s website

Margaretmullane.co.uk

 

 

Tele Lawal Labour candidate for Hornchurch and Upminster on the General Election and the Labour offer

Councillor Tele Lawal: A strong and local voice representing you in Parliament

My name is Tele Lawal and I am your Labour Candidate for Hornchurch and Upminster Constituency. I am honoured and proud to have the opportunity to stand for what is right in this General Election and on a promise of change for Havering.

 

I was born and raised in Havering, having been educated at local schools. I have worked here and attend community groups and a local church. In 2018, I was elected as a Councillor for Harold Hill, where I live. I believe that with my conscientious council service I have demonstrated my passion for my community and what they care about:

Protecting our environment
– Worked with residents to save Gooshays Gardens from housing development by the Conservatives
– Submitted evidence to the High Court resulting in the borough-wide traveller injunction on our green spaces
– Advocated for Briar Road estates highways to be resurfaced, which is now scheduled for early next year

Fighting for better health services:
– Protected our health care services, by preventing Harold Wood GP Walk-in Centre from being closed down
– Campaigned for better funding for our NHS in the community

Improving community safety:
– Launched a review on how Havering Council is tackling knife crime in the community
– Active member on Havering police advisory boards, such as Stop & Search Monitoring Group and Independent Advisory Group, where I work with the community and police on safety issues
– Changed the Council’s policy on collecting and storing dangerous weapons until the police retrieve the items

Better housing for all:
– Improved Havering Council’s online housing application form
– Working with residents to tackle anti-social behaviour and drug-related activity on our estates such as Harold Wood Hall/Briar Road
– Requested a review of the Conservatives’ plans to remove Community Wardens from our housing estates, but still make Council tenants/leaseholders pay for them

Supporting investment in our high streets, businesses and Council services
– I voted against the Conservatives’ increased car park charges and removal of 30-minute free parking slot
– I opposed the closure of our Children’s Centres in Harold Hill and libraries not being fully supported by Havering Council
– I have championed residents’ and businesses’ views on the regeneration projects in Harold Hill, requesting that a community hub be built

From listening to residents in Havering and hearing about their concerns for the future, Its clear, they’re tired of our current government, and the state of politics in general. Many residents want to move on from Brexit, and start focussing on the issues that matter to them – and I feel the same way.
That is why I am standing to be your Member of Parliament, because it is time for a change, and to have a local and present individual representing what you care about in Parliament. I am not a self-serving politician, but simply a politician who is strong and has a bold voice, to push back against the cuts and policies imposed by the Conservatives.

I am a Labour Candidate who is not just a local Councillor. I work full-time as a Caseworker in Parliament, dealing with housing problems, education and health-related matters, crime and immigration issues. I know first-hand how a decade of austerity, imposed by our current government, has affected people’s lives.

As your MP I would work to achieve a well-resourced police force, so you can walk the streets without fear. I want Investment in our schools meaning every child receives the best education and start to life. I would fight for our strained health services to ensure you’re not waiting weeks to see your GP, and you’re able to access the best care.

I would advocate for the protection of our environment and new affordable housing for residents in Havering. I’d demand more government funding for Havering Council, resulting in proper investment in our local shopping centres, and the reduction of car park charges.

We need a Labour MP, like me, who is passionate and only wants to improve the quality of life for all. I hope on Thursday, 12 December you will vote for change in Cranham, Emerson Park, Harold Hill, Hacton, Harold Wood, St Andrew’s and Upminster.

Promoted by Keith Darvill on behalf of Tele Lawal both at 54 Park Drive, Upminster, RM14 3AR.

Unintended Consequences

Politics is, or should be, about achieving what is possible and making (informed) choices. Policies that appear at first glance to be non-controversial can often be anything but once fully understood.

The Children’s Act is one example. The Act was intended to increase parental influence over the assistance given to children with High Needs. This is a motherhood and apple pie policy, that no one is going to be against.

Until it becomes apparent that the consequences are to drive a significant number of councils into even more dire financial problems than they have had after nine years of austerity .

The legislation has brought more children into the system, in addition to the growing number resulting from population increasing. Given the choice of care packages, what parent would not select the one that provides most support, even if the child could manage with less.

So surprise, the cost of support has shot up nationally. Councils that have not unreasonably sought to balance care with cost have been taken to court and lost judicial reviews, meaning more cost and leaving high cost packages in place. There is some extra funding to allow the Government to make the claim it is dealing with the problem, but it is nowhere near enough.

None of this would matter if the Government had respected the principle that if central government creates extra responsibilities for local government the funding it provides should be adjusted accordingly. This was known as the New Burdens rule, and was introduced by the coalition government in 2010.

However, this only applies where there is a direct link. The element of parental choice complicates this as Government will argue that they have not caused the costs to increase, it is the parents.

All this may be of secondary importance if Councils had a way of raising sufficient revenue each year to meet the additional costs. Guess what, they don’t. The capping of increase in Council by central government nine years of budget reductions and demographic changes all make the position harder to deal with.

The law allows administrative decisions to be subject to Judicial review. Nothing unreasonable about that. So should a council not satisfy a parents wishes, the matter can go to court. Again wholly reasonable. Should the court find in the parent’s favour, the council will need to provide a higher standard of care, and cost is not a consideration. To add to the budget pressure, precedents are set and similar cases have to be treated in the same way. So costs go up further. Councils across the country therefore face increasing costs as an unintended consequence of a policy change, on a spiralling scale into the millions.

There is no way out short of government recognition that the change in legislation has resulted in the additional cost and that this needs funding. Ten years of austerity have squeezed out efficiency savings, councils cannot increase council tax – so this has to fall back to Government as they instituted the legislation that caused the financial shortfall.

Do you think this is going to happen anytime soon?

Mike Lucas RIP

Sad to hear of the death of former Elm Park Labour Councillor Mike Lucas. Mike was a Councillor from 1986-1994.

Mike had a massive heart attack during the 1990 election campaign and it was touch and go for a while. Alan Williams tells the story of arriving early in the morning on election day and seeing no one around, fearing the worst

Mike survived, and was nominated as chair of Social Services in the minority administration that followed…however he never assumed this role for a variety of reasons. He did not stand in 1994, and was a bit disillusioned with Labour politics.

He had great integrity, and when we made a error in an election leaflet naming him as current Chair of Benhurst school governors rather than former Chair, we manually wrote in the correct title to 4,500 leaflets.

He was Chair of Governors at Abbs Cross until 1992 resigning when the school became Grant Maintained.

Mike had been a social worker for Newham and later Essex County Council and helped out at Community Links, the main Charity in Canning Town.

He was a loss to the Labour Party, and a genuinely decent man.

Condolences to his wife June, and Joanne, Kevin David and his grandchildren RIP.

Jean Horan RIP

Jean Horan was a most loyal member of the Hornchurch Labour Party and l well recall her enthusiasm in the Greater London Council election of May 1981 that resulted in my election to County Hall. She always enjoyed her visits to the building and once met Ken Livingstone!
She represented Hylands ward on the Hornchurch General Committee for some years. I will never forget her determination to forcefully put forward her opinions but in a cheerful and friendly manner. The Labour Party would have been much happier and successful in the 1980s had there been more members the likes of Jean Horan.

Alan Williams
GLC Member for Havering Hornchurch 1981-1986. Parliamentary candidate 1983 and 1987.