Chaotic Council Cabinet Decides Closure Of Downshall Centre “In Principle”

The campaign by Downshall Centre users forced a hurried change to the agenda at Tueday night’s cabinet meeting. Various caveats were added to the recommendation for a “Free School” to replace the Downshall Centre. But the decision was still taken “in principle” to sell the centre to E-Act, a national organisation wishing to set up a school in Ilford & voluntary groups were left no clearer about their future.

The caveats were included to ensure that the council discharges its legal obligations, particularly in respect of Equalities legislation. Cllr Keith Prince, Leader of the Conservative & Liberal Democrat coalition running Redbridge, issued an apology to voluntary organisations & users of the Downshall Centre for the way things had been handled by his colleague, Cllr Alan Weinberg, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services. (more…)

Save Our Services

“The unprecedented attack on front line services in Redbridge and elsewhere is not an economic necessity but is part of a wider agenda to undermine the public sector.”

So said the preamble to Labour’s motion to the budget setting council meeting at Ilford Town Hall on Thursday 3rd March.

The Tory led administration rejected the motion and pushed through £25 million cuts over the next 3 years with the help of their Lib Dem accessories. £15 million will be cut in the current year.

Cllr Bob Littlewood, Leader of the Labour Group said:

“The cuts proposed in this budget are unprecedented and unnecessary. The coalition government wants to dismantle the public services in this country.”

(more…)

Save Goodmayes Library

High on the list of cuts proposed by the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition running Redbridge is Goodmayes Library. They are proposing to close this modern purpose built facility in 2013. The Council feels that the tiny shop premises at Seven Kings are sufficient for all of the areas needs.

Mike Gapes M.P. Local Labour Councillors and members have been active in the campaign to oppose the closure of the Library. This weekend to celebrate National Libraries day Mike Gapes M.P. was at the protest at Seven Kings Library when hundreds of residents turned out to show how inadequate the facility was if lots of people tried to use it at once. Later demonstrators massed at Goodmayes Library itself in a demonstration of support. On Sunday Mike and the Labour Team called door to door in the Goodmayes Area collecting signatures for the petition opposing closure.

As of today the petition has 2530 signatures and it is intended to present it to the Council’s cabinet meeting on 15 February. The petition has been set up by an independent, broad alliance of local people formed to save the Library. If you have not signed go to www.savegoodmayeslibrary.org and sign there now, or call at the Library in Goodmayes Lane and sign there. We need as many signatures as possible before this vital meeting.

If you want to attend the Cabinet Meeting it is at 7.15 p.m. on Tuesday February 15th at Ilford Town Hall.

Ali at Goodmayes Library Campaigners with full clocktower

In our pictures we see Labour Cllr. Ali Hai addressing demonstrators at the Library and the Labour Team prior to setting off knocking door to door on Sunday morning.

We Are All Being Let Down By This Rotten Council

Barbara White

Barbara White

Barbara White, Ilford South Labour Party Trade Union Liaison Officer, had star billing in the letters column of the Ilford Recorder the other week with an item stressing how this Tory Council mismanages our services and wastes money. Here is her letter:

“A few weeks ago we read that the result of the Audit Commission Inspection showed that Redbridge Homes received a one star rating which would result in delays for Redbridge Homes receiving funding from the Government’s Decent homes initiative.

I have now heard that Redbridge tenants will be over-charged for rent during the next couple of months because Redbridge Council has delayed passing on the benefits of an increased Government subsidy. Many councils have already passed the cut on to their tenants but people in Redbridge will have to wait until the end of August before they benefit. If this isn’t bad enough the council have blamed the delay on one of their infamous consultation exercises. It was held to find out whether or not tenants wanted a reduction in their rent. I have no idea how much the consultation cost but Turkeys Voting For Christmas springs to mind. So that you are not in any doubt I must tell you that the tenants voted in favour of a rent reduction. If the Government has made this gesture the benefits to tenants should be felt immediately.

In last week’s Ilford Recorder Mrs Janet Cornish wrote, quite rightly, about the lack of swimming facilities in Redbridge due to the sudden closure of the pool in Ilford.. She mentioned that the hundreds of thousands of pounds have been granted from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for free swimming. A bid was made in 2001 to the DCMS for a mixed leisure complex in Winston Way. In 2003 the Government offered £10.5 million Private Finance Initiative credits. The council spent an incrdible amount of money on the first stage of the procurement process. In 2005 there was an internal power struggle and leadership changes and the Conservative council changed its mind and decided to opt for an “Olympic Pool” on the Cricklefield site. As Mrs Cornish said we do not need an Olympic sized pool, just simple, local ones where families can enjoy swimming together.

The above are three examples of the Government giving something to Redbridge which have been mismanaged by the total incompetence of this Tory council.”

Labour Presses For Progress On Library & Pool

 Cllr Bob Littlewood

Seven Kings Councillor & Deputy Leader of the Labour Group, Bob Littlewood, has had discussions with leading Councillors in the Tory minority administration recently.  He has been told that, following years of pressure from Labour Councillors & residents’ organisations in Seven Kings & Newbury wards, officers have been instructed to look at sites with a view to coming up with a locations for a library in the Seven Kings area AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Bob has also been pursuing the suggestion made by Take Action for Seven Kings (TASK) members to push for a temporary site for a summer reading scheme and passed on the fact that Sky Tours is about to be vacant and would be an ideal site.

The meeting last Tuesday about replacing the Pool resulted in a promise from the Leader of the Council that by September he will be announcing his plans for the project.  Mike Gapes MP and Bob Littlewood are to meet the Leader soon to plan a new round of lobbying for getting external funding.

As the new Chair of the Council’s Leisure Scrutiny Committee Bob will be encouraging maximum public participation at the Committee’s meetings at the Town Hall and making sure that progress reports on the library and the pool are presented at each meeting.

Allotment Sales U-Turn

U-TurnSeven Kings and Goodmayes Allotment gardeners now believe they have finally won their fight to save much loved allotments form sale, helped by local residents and similarly threatened allotment gardeners in Hainault. Goodmayes Labour Councillors and Labour Deputy Leader, Cllr Bob Littlewood, were involved early in helping allotment gardeners.

The battle began early in 2007 when Redbridge Council Cabinet voted to sell off Vicarage Lane South and Goodmayes Lane allotments. They decided in secret, with the public unable to attend or even find out that plot sales were on the agenda. Councillors were forbidden to talk about sales, yet according to Alan Weinburg, Council Leader, the decision was not a secret!

The sale move was doubly cynical as Redbridge had recently announced a “consultation” on the future of allotments. As one gardener said “it’s difficult to call it a consultation when a key decision has already been made” . Sale plans also threatened other open space with allotment holders to be displaced into Goodmayes Park extension.

They were soon joined by North Hainault Allotment Holders Society, also threatened with the sale of two flourishing sites. Sites were chosen solely because they were easy to develop. Two sites were fully occupied and the others nearly full.

When they found out allotment gardeners went to war. They protested outside Town Hall meetings joined by Labour Party members, spoke at Council, Cabinet and Scrutiy Committees and publicised their case in the local papers, radio and the national press. Their fight was even mentioned in the book “One man and his dig” by Times journalist Valentine Low.

They lobbied their Area Committees and were rewarded by a split in the Conservative ranks. Several Conservative councillors were concerned by the potential loss of open space and the risk of overdevelopment.

They could also have considered that selling four allotment sites run by voluntary groups flew in the face of a national Conservative policy that claims to support voluntary groups. Not so in Redbridge. The only Council run site, Chigwell Road, was withdrawn from sale when local residents objected en masse and it was conveniently discovered that the site was in a flood risk area.

Selling allotments also flies in the face of the growing national popularity of allotments. Ironically the voluntary sector let sites are much better occupied than the Council’s own sites so it looks as if the Council wanted to penalise voluntary success.

Most allotment gardeners are not terribly political. For many it was their first visit to a Council meeting. They went away appalled at the cynical way they were treated by Redbridge Conservatives.

Labour Delivers On New Ilford Pool & Allotments

After a very long campaign by Ilford South Labour MP, Mike Gapes, Labour members and Councillors, local residents and allotment holders, we have FINALLY persuaded the Tory Council to find the money to build a new leisure centre and pool in Ilford and NOT to sell off our allotments.

See the full story by reading the Valentines Labour News, currently being delivered in Valentines Ward, which also gives details of some of the recent work carried out by the local Labour Councillors.

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Redbridge Converstaion

On November 4th Redbridge’s Conservative Cabinet has to decide how to react to the 5,000 people who responded on line and on paper to the Council’s questions about what major developments to go ahead with and how they ought to be paid for.
They are likely to put off any solid decisions until next year.

Respondents chose school improvements and the construction of a new leisure Centre and Pool in Ilford South to replace recently closed High Road Pool above all other options.

They also chose the sale of land in North Ilford as the means to pay for these developments.

Labour supported the setting up of the Conversation, as an alternative to the Tories “solution” to the financial mess they have been in for years which was to sell allotments.

Labour also support the choices the people have made, especially the building of a new Leisure Centre and Pool to replace the recently closed High Road Pool, and we will continue to campaign until we get what the local people want.

Tory Council Fails Mayfield Residents

Labour Party members were out campaigning in Mayfield ward on Sunday. The hot topic currently is the closure of the High Road swimming pools (see item below). But your Labour Councillor for Mayfield, Ayodhiya Parkash, also continues to work hard to achieve improvements in South Park. This beautiful park has been neglected for years by the Conservative run council, despite Mark Aaron, Tory Councillor for the area, being the cabinet member responsible for the environment.

Cllr Aaron has also played a key role in ruining plans for a new swimming pool. He got them scrapped in favour of a grandiose scheme which the council could never afford. In a desperate bid to raise the money he fought to have the allotment sites at Goodmayes Lane, sold to developers. Some advocate for the local environment!

Click on this link (Mayfield Newsletter, Autumn 2008) to read in full the latest newsletter covering these issues. It contains details of how you can contact Cllr Parkash or get involved in the Park User Group which some local resident are hoping to set up.

Pool Protest

Labour Government provides funds for free swimming for children & older people but Tory council closes our pools

Many Labour Party members yesterday joined other members of the public on a march from the offices of the Ilford Recorder to the Town Centre. They were there to protest at the sudden closure of the High Road Swimming Pools, one of only two public baths in the borough.

Protestors march on the Town Hall


Protesters march on the Town Hall

The building had been condemned by structural engineers and had to close on grounds of safety. But the Tory administration in Redbridge has known there have been grave concerns regarding the building for many years. They have failed to fund necessary maintenance over many years. Plans to provide new facilities in Ilford became bogged down in factional in-fighting amongst the Conservatives. Some Tory councillors promised grandiose schemes, which couldn’t be funded, in a bid to win prestige and leadership in the Conservative group. This simply stopped more practical schemes going ahead and has resulted in the loss of huge financial support from the government for a new pool.

As a result of this shambles swimmers in Ilford and the south of the borough now have to travel to an overcrowded pool at Fulwell Cross, or out of the borough altogether. Swimming clubs and groups which used the High Road pools will not easily be accommodated, nor will those who were receiving swimming lessons.

All this comes at a time when our Labour government is providing funds to enable local councils to provide free swimming for those under the age of 16 or over 6o. But while children & older people in neighbouring boroughs benefit, there is nowhere to go for swimmers in Ilford.

Mike Gapes MP, Labour councillors & some of the party members who attended the protest
Mike Gapes MP, Labour councillors & party members at the rally