Fare Deal

Ilford South Labour Party members have been out at stations across the borough today (3 January) leafleting about the fares increase and Ken Livingstone's proposed fares deal.
Newbury Park Station Fare leafletingKen has confirmed that if elected in May 2012 he would cut fares by 7% taking them back to at least 2011 levels. Bus fares would also fall still further back to 2010 levels. The deal would also see fares frozen in 2013 and the end of Tory Mayor Boris Johnson's plan for a further inflation busting rise after that.

This is all affordable, each year Londoners pay more in fares than the Mayor's own budget predictions say they will. This operating surplus grows each year. The Tories claim the increase is to pay for improvements, but the capital budget is entirely separate from the operating budget. Ken's policy is to put money back into Londoner's pockets and purses. It is estimated that over the next 4 years the average commuter can be £1,000 better off.

Ken and Mandy
Mandy Richards, Havering and Redbridge GLA Candidate is backing Ken's campaign locally. She says:-

“In an area such as this where so many people travel to London each day, fare levels are important, for the future prosperity of London we have to ensure that people are able to afford to travel”

In our pictures Mandy is seen with Ken at a recent fundraising event and (above) with Labour members at Newbury Park. Ken will be canvassing with your local Labour Action Team in Seven Kings this coming Saturday 7 January.

Chadwell Councillors and Fare deal

The Chadwell Councillors are seen below at Chadwell Heath Station.

Boundary Commission Proposes To Abolish Ilford South

The Boundary Commission has put forward proposals to abolish the parliamentary constituency of Ilford South, splitting its wards between four other constituencies. This is part of its attempt to reduce the number of MPs in London. It seems strange to do so by breaking up one of the largest existing constituencies! Below is the response of Barbara White, Labour Councillor for Goodmayes Ward. You can also see Mike Gapes MP’s response by clicking here.

Whilst understanding the difficulties of reducing the number of constituencies in London from 73 to 68 the proposed changes would mean the total loss of Ilford South with the stroke of a pen.

Ilford South is a multi cultural area made up of many races and many faiths. We all live in harmony and we should be held up as a model and not divided by four. We share each others festivals and our lives are enriched by this.

I live in Cranbrook and under the proposals Cranbrook would join the new Wanstead and Woodford constituency. People from Cranbrook have little to do with Woodford. We are used to walking round our constituence y and passing synagogues, churches, temples, gurdwaras and mosques. This isn't the case in Woodford. People from Ilford South joke about needing a passport to visit Woodford. There is a tremendous community spirit in Ilford South which should be treasured.

The destruction of the historic Ilford South is appaling and will result in the loss of identity for many. As terrible as it may be I appreciate the fact that some change is inevitable.

If we think of Ilford town centre, the hub of life in Ilford, it appears madness to split the town centre into two separate constituencies.

Because of its diversity there are close community and religious associations between certain wards. The first one that springs to mind is the closeness of the jewish people who live in Cranbrook and Clayhall. Putting these two wards together would make sense. I believe that Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, has already presented his alternative to you. The alternative proposal was given to you by somebody who understands the area and the important links between certain wards. He has been the MP for Ilford South for almost 20 years.

The historical part of Ilford is very important. The constituents of Ilford South have had their own member of parliament for sixty six years. They want an Ilford South MP and surely they are entitled to that. Ilford South is one of the five largest constituencies in the country and to simply dismiss it is callous and brutal.

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…)

Downshall Centre “Consultation” Farce

Last night (Wednesday 16th) a farcical “public” meeting was held to present proposals by E-Act to open a Free School on the site of the current Downshall Centre in September (see post below). Below are some of the issues beginning to emerge

  • E-Act have already advertised for a headteacher for the “proposed” school. The closing date for applications is this Friday, 18th March! If you wanted to apply, you’re already too late: the project briefing days for applicants were earlier this week.
  • Back in October the Ilford Recorder ran a story about E-Act’s interest in bidding to open a free school in or near Newbury Park. It reported that a disused building such as a former office block would be used.
  • The Department for Education website shows the proposal was approved to the “business case stage” on 14th January.
  • About a dozen people attended last night’s “public” meeting held by E-Act. Most were representing voluntary sector groups using the centre. Also present were local councillor & Labour Group Leader, Bob Littlewood & union representatives. None of these people had been sent notice of the meeting. Only a couple were prospective parents, one of whom arrived minutes before the meeting ended.
  • E-Act claims to have been running a consultation since December 2010. This has consisted of a survey carried out by MORI of a about 300 prospective parents about whether they would want to send their children to a free school in the local area. No consultation of existing users of the Downshall Centre. No consultation with local residents or their elected representatives.

Some of the questions which need answering are:

  • When was the possibility of using the Downshall Centre first raised with Keith Prince, Leader of the Council, or Alan Weinberg, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services?
  • Why was a true consultation of all stakeholders not implemented as soon as consideration of using the centre had been agreed?
  • What consideration has been given to traffic management at the crossroads on which the Downshall Centre stands? This is already a longstanding problem which will be greatly exacerbated as the school builds from its opening capacity of 120 children to 420.
  • What alternatives were considered?
  • How can the results of the totally inadequate “consultation” be regarded as valid when those surveyed were not told the location of the school? Nor were they told it will take over the home of many servics provided by the voluntary sector & one of just four centres across Redbridge for the borough’s Youth Service.

Everyone accepts that there is an urgent need for more primary school places in the borough. That is why the last Labour government funded the building of new, purpose built primary schools on the old Port of London playing fields and off Winston Way. But the current proposal is not the way to go about it.

The Department for Education says free schools are “set up in response to what local people say they want”. We say:

  • This is the ConDem government hurriedly pushing through its ideological free schools agenda with the connivance of local Tories & Liberal Democrats. This denies local people the chance to say what they want.
  • This is no way to plan for the future.
  • This is top down, not bottom up government.
  • This is not transparent government.

Downshall Centre Shocker

Tonight, a poorly advertised “public” meeting will be the first to hear plans to close the Downshall Centre and open a Free School in it’s place in September.

This evening, at 6:00pm, free schools education organisation, E-Act, will present proposals to open a free school at the Downshall Centre. The proposal to dispose of the Downshall Centre to E-Act will go to the Cabinet meeting of Redbridge Council on Tuesday 22nd March.

The Downshall Centre is used by more than a dozen voluntary organisations in the borough. It is also used for meetings and sessions by various public organisations, such as the Youth Offending Team. The closure of the centre would be a huge blow to its many current tenants. They were only informed of the plans in a letter posted in their pigeon holes at the centre yesterday: it made no mention of tonight’s public meeting. But it will be the many users of these organisations who will suffer most if alternative, suitable and affordable premises can’t be found.

Residents in the local area are also likely to be concerned about likely traffic chaos as the Downshall Centre is opposite the existing Downshall Primary School.

The plans have been shrouded in secrecy. A small article in last Thursday’s Ilford Recorder advertised this evening’s meeting but did not mention a specific location for the school, simply “the proposed location in Seven Kings”. When contacted today, Seven Kings councillors Balvinder Saund & Bob Littlewood reported they had only been alerted to the proposal to sell the Downshall Centre by today’s publication of the agenda for Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. Yet the council’s ConDem administration, must have provided possible locations for such a school months ago.

Pressure on school places is enormous in Ilford South. But are these rushed, secretive plans the way forward?