Redbridge Councillor Delivers Letter To Queen

Cllr Andy Walker outside the Palace before presenting the letter Whilst all the recent focus has been on the Queen in Ireland and meeting President Obama, a campaign involving the royal household has received much less attention.

The Public and Commercial Services Union ( PCS) have been campaigning for all the cleaners in the royal household to be paid the London Living Wage. Cleaners in the Houses of Parliament earn the recommended living wage for London of £7.85 per hour.  The Union represents most of the employees in the royal household but not historically the cleaners who are employed by two private contractors. Following an approach from some employees the union began receiving applications for membership from among the cleaners and a range of issues about working conditions and health and safety issues  were raised.

PCS mounted a campaign to tie in with the Royal Wedding . There is an on line petition, tube stations and staff entrances to the Palace have been leafleted. The latest announcement from one of the contractors is that ‘efficiencies’ are being looked at in order to improve salaries. The fear is that efficiencies means job cuts.

Redbridge Councillor Andy Walker has visited Buckingham  Palace to hand in a letter signed by local union representatives and Labour Councillors from London boroughs including himself and Cllr. Balvinder Saund from Seven Kings Ward.

The letter read:-

‘I have read press reports that the Royal Household is considering lifting the pay of Royal cleaners to the London Living Wage.

I would be welcome if you could tell me whether you have any such plans as I would welcome such a development’

Cllr. Balvinder Saund, Deputy Leader of the Labour Group said

‘Low pay is a big issue for women, these are the people who clean not only palaces but supermarkets and offices. Employers paying the higher London Living Wage will make a real difference to women and their families across London. The Tories are supposed to support the London Living Wage, but when it came to signing a letter encouraging the Palace to pay the cleaners a better wage not a single local Tory signed.  A Labour administration would pay the London Living Wage to Council employees and ask firms who contract with the Council whether they pay at least the London Living Wage to their employees.’

Mike Gapes M.P. said:-

‘ I am pleased to give my support to this campaign. The cost of housing and living costs make London a very expensive place to live. All workers including those working for the Royal family should be paid a living wage’

If you want to know more or sign the on line petition visit cleaners

Watch the real news interview with a royal cleaner and footage from the protest at the Palace

Our Photo shows Cllr Andy Walker outside the Palace before presenting the letter.

Save King George Hospital March and Rally 8 April 2011


Friday 8 April saw a day of action in the fight to save services at King George Hospital.  Around 50 intrepid individuals left Queens Hospital in Romford at 4pm and made their way with banners and placards to Ilford Town Hall via Crow Lane, Whalebone Lane and the High Road.  They arrived in Ilford town centre around 5.45pm, in time for the Rally being held in Ilford Town Hall. 

The town hall was packed with almost 600 people present to hear the speakers who included: MP’s Mike Gapes, Lee Scott, Margaret Hodge, John Cryer & Andrew Rosindell; Ian Bond, Liberal Democrat deputy leader of Redbridge Council; representatives of a number of the major faith groups; and chaired by Bob Archer from the National Union of Teachers.  The message from all the speakers was very clear – King George Hospital belongs to the community, and the views of the community must be taken into account by those making decisions about its’ future.DSC00338

The campaign has united all political parties and faiths, and those with no political or religious affiliations.  The audience was told about the review currently being undertaken by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel which is to report back to the Secretary of State for Health by 22 July. 

To make sure your views are heard please contact them by:

Writing to: IRP, 6th floor, 157-197 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SP

Email to:

Phoning: 020 7389 8046

Ken Livingstone Comes To Redbridge

Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London in 2012 spent a day in Redbridge last Monday as part of his ambitious programme of meetings and events designed to reach every community in the capital in 2011.

He attended question and answer sessions at the Panjabi Centre,and with the Barkingside 21 Group. Later Ken met voters in Wanstead and Barkingside High Streets and moved on in the evening to a well attended ‘Tell Ken’ meeting at Fulwell Cross Library. Here he dealt with numerous residents questions and outlined his views on improving access to affordable housing for Londoners, bringing more business to the capital and improving the transport system. You will all know the daily frustrations of travel to work: Ken revealed the amazing official statistic that under Boris Johnson’s administration, there was only one day last year when the Underground offered a full service.

Mike Gapes M.P. said:-

‘ I am pleased Ken is spending a day in Redbridge to listen to the views and concerns of local people. The huge fare rises and cuts to vital services like youth clubs are unnecessary and really damaging for th equality of life of my constituents. Its time for new leadership and policies in out town hall, at City Hall and in government’

Bob Littlewood Leader of the Redbridge Labour Group said:-

‘ We have seen higher fares to use buses, trains and the tube now Boris Johnson is cutting Redbridge’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams. We need a new Mayor in City Hall who will listen to residents in Redbridge and acts to improve life in our communities’.

Our photo shows Ken Livingstone at the start of the day with Mike Gapes M.P. and Labour Councillors Bob Littlewood, Balvinder Saund, Aziz Choudhury and Jas Athwal.

Ken Livingstone visits Redbridge

If you want to know more about Ken’s policies for London go to

Ilford South On The March

March 2 Me Matt Bob Ilford South sent a large contingent to the TUC ‘March for the Alternative for Jobs Growth and Justice’ on Saturday March 26th. Our banner had its first outing in many years on its newly restored poles and attracted a bit of attention from photographers as we still have an embroidered one…none of this new fangled plastic! It was an enjoyable day for all and it was clear that the Police estimates of 250,000 quoted in some newspapers were way off the mark. It was easily 450,000. The first marchers were arriving at Hyde Park before we had even left the embankment.


MArch number 1 Liz and Bob 

If you missed out on this join us again in the march to save King George Hospital starting at Queens Hospital Romford at 4 p.m. on Friday 8 April and arriving at Ilford Town Hall for the rally addressed by all the local M.P’s at 6 p.m.

Cuts Are The Wrong Cure

Why cuts are the wrong cure from False Economy on Vimeo.

Ilford South Members Join The March For The Alternative

Today’s March for the Alternative, organised by the Trades Union Congress, is expected to be the largest civil society demonstration in many years. And Labour Party members from Ilford South will be there carrying the Ilford South banner. Not everyone can join the march. Whether you’re attending the march or not you can help create an online protest that matches that on the street. Here are some suggestions, courtesy of False Economy.

First picture back from the march!


Labour Publishes A Vision For Redbridge

The Labour Group on Redbridge Council this week published “Rethinking Service Provision In Redbridge” which sets out a new approach & imaginative approach to providing council services in the borough. Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Bob Littlewood, called for greater engagement with users in the provision of services, greater involvement of voluntary groups and more power for area committees.

Read the strategy here

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?

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