We sent the attached report to the government, Tower Hamlets Council and the Police last year as a lessons to learn report last June. But we never quite finished the public version of the report and then got distracted by other events. But here is a copy of the report we submitted (but with names of some contributors removed).
Below and in attached link here
Teaching unions and the Labour Party routinely claim that school budgets are being cut. It is true that many schools are going through difficult times especially if they have declining pupil numbers. But the complexity of school funding has allowed an overly simplistic narrative to emerge, that all or most school budgets are being cut. This is not true and can be contradicted if detailed analysis is available per school, unfortunately that information is not easily accessible, the point of this article.
Rising pension costs, higher national minimum wages, staff wage increases, changes in pupil numbers and general inflation are all factors making budgeting for headteachers and school governors more difficult and understandably they want more cash. But to understand changes in school finances we need to do it a school level as that is what local parents are concerned about.
But with major changes coming in school funding across England due to the National Funding Formula this subject is going to get more complex rather than less and will result in good news in a number of areas but in those areas like mine with high levels of pupil funding it will be easy to present national changes as rich areas benefiting at the expense of the poor (which is incorrect).
But in the meantime, the complexity has made it easier for misleading information to circulate.
James Cleverly MP has already got Sir David Norgrove, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority to look at national claims made by the School Cuts campaign website, Sir David said “We believe the headline statement that “91% of schools face funding cuts” risks giving a misleading impression of future changes in school budgets. The method of calculation may also give a misleading impression of the scale of change for some particular schools.” He also said, “It was not however possible to reproduce the exact figures published on the website, as the underlying data are not publicly available and the methodology is not wholly clear.”
But when it is possible to look at detailed local school data, we can also find stories giving a misleading impression.
For example, in Tower Hamlets the Labour group issued a press release recently which said, “New analysis from the National Education Union (NEU) of schools funding allocations show the Government has broken its promise that there would be “a cash increase for every school in every region” – with 31 schools in Tower Hamlets alone having seen their funding cut in 2018/19.”
I looked at the claim in detail as they related to Schools block funding allocations (the data from which the NEU made their claim) and found that of the 31 schools listed:
Twenty-nine schools had a reduction in pupil numbers year on year, as schools are funded on a per pupil basis this means their budgets are reduced (as the budget moves with the child) but their budgets fell by less than the % fall in pupil numbers.
Labour by saying they should not have budget cuts are in effect saying children cannot move schools or if they do, they cannot take their budget with them, hardly fair. We also have an issue with declining birth rates in Tower Hamlets meaning fewer children entering school.
One school had converted into an Academy school and how it was compensated for business rates changed - Labour presented this as a budget cut, it was not. And another did see its budget fall by 0.1% more than its fall in pupil numbers, due to a big fall in the number of pupils learning English as an additional language.
Separately in a recent by-election leaflet Labour claimed that seven local schools were suffering from ‘deep Tory cuts’, in fact only one had a budget reduction last year, caused entirely by fewer school pupils. Their press release actually contradicted their own election leaflets as six of the schools they claimed suffered from budget cuts were not in their press release as suffering from budget cuts!
They did not mention the other fifty-eight local schools with funding increases.
Between 2017/18 and 2018/19 total block funding for all primary and secondary schools in Tower Hamlets had increased by 2.4%. Total pupil numbers were up 1.3%. In this one year funding increased in line with inflation and by more than pupil numbers. Most people would not call this a cut. And as long as increased pupil numbers do not create the need for extra staff, they do not have a major financial impact.
But schools with declining pupil numbers do suffer as it is not always easy to reduce staffing & overhead costs in proportion to reductions in pupil numbers.
The Tower Hamlets Labour group also claimed that the National Funding Formula changes would result in a £24 million cut to Tower Hamlets schools over the next 10 years. They supplied no backup to this claim.
They also did not mention that Tower Hamlets, my Borough gets £5,893 per year per primary school pupil, the highest rate in the country. York by contrast only gets £3,548 per pupil, the lowest in the country. That is a 66% gap but the gap between teacher’s pay in Inner London and outside London is 21%. London is an expensive city, but it is not clear that it is 66% more expensive then York.
And these numbers do not include Pupil Premium which is worth an extra £1,320 for primary school pupils in receipt of free school meals. It is how the government ensures poorer pupils get extra funding.
But doing the detailed analysis to refute the Labour claims required a knowledge of school funding, downloading lots of spreadsheets and scarce time which not everybody will have. It is time that somebody centralised this kind of analysis down to an individual school level, making it easy to access and comprehend, it should not be done by the unions themselves for obvious reasons.
The Department of Education should produce some kind of analysis of the information it already holds using data tools like Tableau especially while we transition to the National Funding Formula. Until this is done it will allow special interest groups to distort the reality of school funding, school budgets have got more difficult to manage and some areas have seen real terms cuts, but I suspect that the reality is not as bad as people’s perceptions. It is then possible to have an adult discussion about what to do about it.
Lies, dammed lies and statistics - an example from Tower hamlets Labour plus how to ignore the real issues facing local schools
The Tower Hamlets Labour Group sent a press release last week saying Broken promises from Government on school funding which said “31 schools in Tower Hamlets have had budgets cut in real-terms, despite Government promise that every school would see an increase in funding.”
It was widely reported including by the East London Advertiser here
Very simply of the 31 schools they allege had budget cuts:
1 school - changed from being a local authority school to Academy and how it was compensated for business rates changed - Labour presented this as a budget cut, it was not, it is that their budget was compiled differently this year
29 schools - saw a reduction in pupil numbers year on year, as schools are funded on a per pupil basis this means their budgets are reduced (as the budget moves with the child) but their budgets fell by less then the fall in pupil numbers
Labour by saying they should not have budget cuts are in effect saying children cannot move schools or if they do they cannot take their budget with them (we also have dropping school enrollments as fewer babies born in TH)
1 school - saw a reduction in pupil numbers but its budget fell by 0.1% more than its fall in pupil numbers, I think because of a big fall in pupils learning English as an additional language.
58 schools saw budget increases year on year (including the first school)
I supplied this quote to newspapers
"In the middle of two by-election campaigns the Tower Hamlets Labour party supply misleading statistics to local newspapers. Either the Mayor and the lead Cabinet member do not understand how schools are funded or else they decided to mislead people during an election campaign. School financing is a complex area and it is true school budgets are under pressure due to cost pressures and increasing pupil numbers, but funding has increased year on year (above inflation) and we still receive the highest funding per pupil in the country. Parents should not be scared away from Tower Hamlets by this propaganda as it is pupils leaving schools which cause the greatest financial problems which this inaccurate press release may unfortunately encourage.
Our workings are attached so that they can be checked and we will ask that Tower Hamlets Council support organisations like www.fullfact.org to correct these kinds of errors”
The attached press release has more information and sources (plus at the very end the original Labour press release)
All of the information & backup is in the Excel file link here. I have not named schools in the word document as do not want to make life more difficult for schools already facing budget problems but the information is in the Excel file.
The saga of Raines House shows us everything that is wrong with Tower Hamlets Council. We spend our Council meetings either agreeing a substantial increase in some Councillors pay or discussing issues over which we have no direct responsibility. Anything other than discussing what we are directly responsible for.
We are though responsible for one of the oldest buildings in Tower Hamlets, the Grade I listed Raines House built in 1719, it will celebrate its 300th anniversary next May. For three centuries it has served the community since it was built as a school and we all agree that it needs some work to protect it from the damp and rain.
Nearby is a much more modern building, 15 Chandler street used by a number of local community groups. The two buildings are a real asset for the Wapping community, but they are owned by Tower Hamlets Council, managed by people who sit far away.
On the ground floor of Raines House, a long-standing group of elderly residents meet daily, they have a bar, kitchen and comfy seats. On the first floor is Pollyanna theatre school, where a generation of Wapping children have learnt to dance and sing. On the 1st floor of Chandler street different community groups including an NHS funded mindfulness workshop and a rape crisis group use the space to meet vulnerable residents.
But the Council has a plan to improve your access to community space. They want to build four new community hubs across Tower Hamlets and with £513 million in reserves they have the cash to do it. They also have a problem with the group of elderly residents who run the club in Raines House. They have been using the club for so many years that perhaps the management arrangements no longer match the needs of a 21stcentury bureaucracy. And despite the formation of a new management group the Council seems determined to strip them of any control over the space. They just do not fit the profile that the Council wants.
So, the Council decided with no consultation to put a new community hub into the ground floor of Raines House removing the elderly resident’s access, but they would get in return a brand-new community hub, all modern and gleaming with charges of £30 per hour for a small room, £40 per hour for a multi-purpose space, and £40 for the kitchen. But the ladies of the bingo club just want to make a cup of tea and have a natter, they do not have deep pockets.
To do the work though the Council needed planning permission especially for a Grade 1 listed building. So, they went through the full consultation process on the new interior design. But when the application first came to planning committee Councillors asked for a site visit. Then at the 2ndcommittee meeting on the 27thSeptember when residents asked to speak, the Council refused disagreeing with the definition of the words “new full report” and whether a new report was ‘full’ or not. But Councillors left berefit of information voted to reject the application. There is now no planning permission to change the building.
Residents thought they had won a reprieve, time to come up with a better plan, to celebrate Christmas at Raines House perhaps even the 300thbirthday of the building.
Unfortunately, the Council it would appear had already agreed with contractors to do the work. So, this Friday groups using Chandler street need to move out so that Pollyanna can move in while work is done on Raines House. The elderly group last week thought they had to move out this week but now have a few weeks delay. They are supposed to move to Glamis Hall in Shadwell ward even though it does not appear to be immediately available. How long will it take a 90-year-old woman to walk a kilometre and cross a major road to get from the old to their new temporary space? Is there nowhere closer they can move to?
And where do the NHS funded wellness group and the rape crisis counselling service move to? Nobody knows.
What is worse is that the Council are directly ignoring the decisions of elected Councillors who on the 27thSeptember said this in the Development Committee.
That planning permission be refused.
Members voted to refuse the application on the grounds that the internal specifications of the application would not preserve or enhance the appearance of the building and that the proposed internal alterations would have an adverse impact on the special architectural and historic character of the listed building.”
But the Council officers chose to ignore Councillors, the internal work is going ahead. The Council are saying they are removing more modern alterations, but they are rebuilding the interior of the building and not repairing the external damage which is what Raines House really needs.
So, in creating a new community hub the Council is damaging the existing community in Wapping. There is no plan, no engagement just a need to prove that something is being done. And if anybody gets in the way, too bad they can pay £40 an hour to move back in.
Raines House exemplifies the weaknesses of the Council. Doing things to the community rather than with them, not listening, a lack of joined up thinking, a lack of local knowledge exemplified by the number of Council staff who do not live locally, substituting action for vision, community hubs rather than a community vision.
The Council really need to stop, re-engage and re-think what they are doing. Do the work required to protect the building but not the internal changes until they have a plan for all of the groups both in the short term and long term.
And a last thought what do the two local Wapping Councillors elected in May think about this situation? if you see them please ask them, I have no idea what they think about all of this.
On Wednesday night at the full Council we will spend 30 minutes debating a motion on how to improve the Councils response to ASB. Peter Golds & I have proposed:
Reducing our reliance on 101 by:
A new Council run 247 telephone number to report ASB like in Newham (all of our neighbouring Councils provide a phone number on which to report ASB, not all 247), only TH only uses 101
An email address to which ASB issues can be sent like our neighbours (currently we only have ward level SNT emails) for non urgent reports
A new app & online reporting tool to which ASB reports/photos/videos can be spent using a map to mark locations like is provided in Sunderland
Fine people using NOX canisters in public or selling them like Lambeth does already (it is currently not illegal to use them)
Review the location and number of CCTV cameras as many areas in E14 have none. Other parts of the UK use trained volunteers to help view CCTV camera feed but not TH as the main argument against having more CCTV cameras is the need to have more staff to look at the feed
We have used examples from our neighouring Boroughs to prove that the ideas are practical and affordable
The full motion is below
Motion regarding Anti-Social Behaviour & Crime in Tower Hamlets
Proposer: Councillor Andrew Wood
Seconder: Councillor Peter Golds
The Council notes:
The results of the 2018 Tower Hamlets Annual Residents' Survey show that the top concern for residents was crime with 41% concerned. Only 48% rated Policing as excellent, very good or good, the lowest rating of the subjects surveyed. 60% felt drug use or drug dealing issue was a big problem.
It is clear that residents are deeply concerned about the impact of ASB and drug dealing on their neighbourhoods.
We have four core problems as regards ASB and the issues that affect people’s quality of life
1. Reporting difficulties leading to frustration from residents and probably under reporting
2. The use of NOX canisters and the limited means the Police have to control their use
3. The distribution of CCTV cameras with heavy concentrations in some areas and few elsewhere
4. There being different processes and contact methods for different issues which affect residents, a noticeable example being the 7 different steps in the Councils ‘Who do I call Crime & ASB reporting in TH’ flowchart or the flowchart used by Limehouse SNT mapping all of the different contact methods.
5. That the council requires a 1-page flowchart (with links to other information) to document the information indicates that there is a communication problem.
Given the reductions in Police numbers and funding we need to find ways of using the resources we have more effectively.
The main method for reporting ASB is the 101 service but this has fundamental problems:-
• It can be difficult to get through especially at night
• It is one dimensional and cannot easily be use it to share locations, video or photographs.
• It does not record other quality of life issues, in particular noise
• It’s lack of integration frequently results in SNT teams requiring residents to report issues twice:
o Firstly on 101 to get a CAD reference
o Secondly, to the SNT via email or their own phone perhaps using WhatsApp to share photos
Tower Hamlets is disproportionally dependent on the 101 service unlike our neighbours who usually provide other methods for reporting ASB.
• Newham residents are able to call their Enforcement and Safety Team on a 24 hour number. There is also an online reporting tool.
• Greenwich residents are able to report non-urgent incidents to the Anti-Social Behaviour Team by email and phone number.
• Southwark residents have access to an Antisocial Behaviour Unit contactable by telephone or email
• Hackney residents have an ASB team for streets, public spaces and parks contactable by phone and email
Other London Boroughs also have online reporting forms prominently displayed when residents undertake an internet search on the boroughs name and ASB.
Tower Hamlets by contrast provides no central email address or phone number to call and only has an online reporting form at the very bottom of a long web-page.
This may explain why the Borough Commander’s report for 2016 showed Tower Hamlets had the worst rates of ASB in East London.
This Council therefore proposes the following:
1. The establishment of a 247 phone service together with a central email address for all ASB and quality of life related issues
2. This service to be fully integrated, dealing with noise and other related issues to ensure that residents only need to know just one number/one email
3. The Police agree that ASB reported to the Council is included in any allocation of resources to ensure that residents do not have to also call 101 in order to secure the allocation of Police resources to their area
4. The development of an online tool + app allowing residents to report a range of issues online. This could be based on the 'MyStreet' App rolled out in Sunderland this year. Other possibilities are the FiFiLi app, OWL. The council could simply buy the license for ‘My Street’ which would be the equivalent of an online One Stop Shop for quality of life issues. As with FiFiLi this would have the ability to tag precise locations on a map and to share photographs.
These solutions will:
Ensure that residents have the ability to share precise locations, videos, pictures across multiple platforms but that it would all go to same place.
That easily obtained software solutions which are now available will help integrate and share this data with partners
The Council notes:
That the Labour manifesto for 2014 pledged “A 24hr noise and ASB hotline to help tackle rising crime – Nuisance noise doesn’t sleep, that’s why Labour will introduce a 24h hotline to report noise and anti-social behaviour at weekends to ensure people’s complaints are addressed.”
By instituting proposals outlined above will reduce pressure on the 101 service, allow the collection of more data, reduce the frustration residents feel as they have multiple methods for reporting issues and provide the council and partners with more intelligence as where to focus necessary activities.
The Council resolves to follow the example of Labour controlled Lambeth Council and:
Implements its Public Space Protection Order for Novel Psychoactive Substances, which allows Police Officers, PCSO’s and THEO’s to issue fines up to £1,000 per incident Borough wide. The order prohibits the “ingestion, inhalation, injection, smoking, possession or otherwise use of intoxicating substances” in public spaces. The order also provides powers to stop the selling or supply of intoxicating substances.
Such has been the success in Lambeth that the council is now extending their PSPO for another 3 years having first introduced it in 2015
This, if introduced in Tower Hamlets will provide the Police and Council with more tools to combat the young men often in cars who litter our streets as they party.
The council notes that:
The Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect in May 2016 and makes it illegal to sell or import Nitrous Oxide for human consumption (exempting medical supply). However, the use of Nitrous Oxide, as opposed to the import and sale of nitrous oxide remains legal. Equally whilst driving when intoxicated may result in fines or a custodial sentence, Nitrous Oxide is not one of the drugs with a specified limit within the Road Traffic Act.
The legal situation with regard to Nitrous Oxide remains confused which is why the adoption of a targeted Public Space Protection Order while we work alongside our local MP’s and Ministers, London Councils and the Local Government Association for an enforceable solution to this ongoing problem
This council institutes a review of the current CCTV and lighting network.
The Council rightly highlights on its social media the successes the cameras have had in arrests (3 a day). Those areas with little or no CCTV feel left out. Criminals and boy racers know where the holes are in the CCTV network i.e. Limehouse Op Naga or Wapping High Street. Temporary cameras can help but the Borough has changed a great deal in the last 15-30 years but that the locations of our CCTV cameras has not followed to the same extent. Given the S106 and CIL resources the council has in the bank, it should also be possible to add new cameras as well.
The council calls upon the further use of LED bulbs would also help reduce costs and improve visibility on our streets.
The council notes that Norfolk County Council have recruited local residents as unpaid Police Support Volunteers to help with CCTV monitoring. This would be an opportunity for Tower Hamlets residents to take part in assisting the fight against ASB.
Councillors are meant to hold regular advice surgeries where you can go and talk to them at a fixed location at a fixed time for advice or help or a good old moan. Jim Fitzpatrick MP does as well - basically he covers central government, national and international issues. Local Councillors cover local stuff i.e. TH Council and housing associations (although the Council has restricted some issues we can deal with as statutory)
Peter Golds & I still do them every Saturday between 1pm and 2pm at Cubitt Town library but that will come to an end soon as only two of us now (I will be there Saturday though)
I will be holding a surgery in Lab 3 at the Ideas store at Canary Wharf the first Thursday of every month 5.30pm to 7.30pm (except January when 3rd Thursday). I am there now as a test and it is OK so will continue, pop in if you want to have a chat. Once a month is less then I used to do so I will look at what I call pop up surgeries elsewhere at different times and I continue to take case work etc through Facebook or by FB PM, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone as I did this afternoon. I am usually able to pop in and see people by prior arrangement as well so I am available.
Other Councillors in the area will also hold surgeries so if you look at the attached link and click on your local Councillor you will find their surgery times. So for example Kyrsten Perry will have surgery every second Thursday* of the month (except Sept) from 5:30pm - 7:30pm at Alpha Grove Community Centre, Alpha Grove, Isle of Dogs, E14 8LH. July surgery will be *Friday 13th July.
But please try and contact your local Cllr first as it helps spread the workload - remember you have 12 Councillors in the main area covered by this FB group (Poplar, Limehouse, Lansbury, Isle of Dogs).
Also if you ask for help it does mean we will record details on the Councils IT systems to get you an answer so you have to give us consent to do that (although you can also talk to us anonymously as well)
For Jim Fitzpatrick
Jim’s surgery is on the 1st, 2nd and 4th Friday of each month between 3.30 pm and 5.30 pm at Trussler Hall, 78 Grundy Street, E14 6DR.
For an appointment please call Louise or Joytera on:
0207 536 0562
Jim's experienced caseworkers are based at Trussler Hall every weekday from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm (well worth calling them for advice directly not just to book a slot with Jim)
political map of london Councillors by party - Peter Golds & I are that little patch of blue in the east end
I was re-elected on Thursday 3rd May for another four years as Councillor for Canary Wharf ward. Unfortunately Tom Randall lost by just 6 votes to Kyrsten Perry representing Labour.
We now represent the fastest growing ward in the county so there is a lot of work for us to do.
I will continue to work hard for the next four years to represent Canary Wharf ward and to ensure good governance in Tower Hamlets as 42 of the 45 Councillors are now Labour. With only Peter Golds, myself and Rabina Khan (PATH party) providing opposition to John Biggs as Mayor.
But one of the first things I will be working on is a proper holiday in May :)
In summer 2014 I brought two babies into the world and over the following year I plan to give birth to five more babies but I need your help to do it
The first baby was the Facebook group "Canary Wharf & Isle of Dogs Residents" which was born on the 29th June 2014. I started it because many of my residents live in towers that I cannot access, so how do I talk to them as their elected Councillor and more importantly how do they talk to each other? This is the only place where many people (but obviously not all) can communicate with each other about issues, lost cats, recommendations, naked men & dog poo :) With over 11,000 members it will continue to grow and my main role now is a bit like being a gardener. I pull out the weeds, put some fertiliser down and check that people entering the garden are the right people to come in.
I cannot count how many posts I have made in the last 4 years but recently FB said my FB Friends had liked my posts 40,000 times. But on my main email account cllrandrewwood@gmail I have received 17,472 emails and sent 4,536 emails in 4 years (I also have 3 other email accounts with even more emails)
Not forgetting this website
But I was surprised by how little my fellow Councillors communicated by comparison with the exception of Peter Golds. There are 9 Councillors in the core area covered by this group (Limehouse, Poplar, CW, Island Gardens, Blackwall & Cubitt Town) do you know who they are? outside of the election period how much work have they done?
Some have done a good job at the Town Hall but you need Councillors who will do both jobs, the Town Hall job and the local job of working with & for residents.
I also try to communicate on Twitter at @andrewwood17, Streetlife and now Nextdoor. There are 7,000 plus homes in Canary Wharf ward with over 9,000 voters but maybe only around 2,000 doors can you easily knock on which is why I spend so much time on social media but am also door knocking where I can
The 2nd baby born in summer 2014 was the Isle of Dogs Neghbourhood Planning Forum. It is a non-party poliitical resident led group and its membership includes Lib Dems, Greens, Marxists, Conservatives etc etc. Labour party members & candidates are in it as well and are also on the Committee and have made important contributions especially on estate regeneration policy
But over the last 4 years I have done the majority of the work, first setting up the Forum, doing its Comms (except during election periods), gathering the evidence, setting up meetings and talking to stakeholders.
But I have done so as a resident not as a Conservative Councillor regardless of what others think (but being a Councillor does help open doors) and will continue that work regardless of the election outcome
Only by changing planning policy can residents influence what is happening. It has more power then many people realise, you can get a feel for the scale of work by looking at the Councils website
I have chosen or need to be non-party political for the following reasons:
One - I hate the tribalism of British politics. I am half-German and I naturally prefer a more consensual style of politics
Two - I know many of you are put off by UK party politics (sensible people)
Three - some people really do hate people from other parties, I don't, democracy is about choice and the role of policians like me is to provide you with choices at election time
Four - both the Forum and Facebook work better if party politics are left outside of it
So you wont have seen from me posts extolling my party or saying how crap the other party is (although I have been critical of the Council, they are not yet good enough and my job is in part to hold them to account). As you may have noticed my party, the Conservatives are not doing very well right now at a national level but I could say the same about the Labour party as well but these are local elections on local issues (even if you are voting on national issues that does not change the job of a Councillor). All the parties in this election have good candidates and some not so good candidates (and a few who should not be re-elected), it is your job now to sort out which ones are which :)
These are the 5 things I want to do - the new babies I refer to
1. Set up a new Neighbourhood Planning Forum for the northern Isle of Dogs. In April 2016 the Council removed the northern part of the original area that residents voted on in November 2014. I should have done this sooner but have been too busy.
2. Re-start the Police Safer Neighbourhood ward panel, I brought the ward panel back into Canary Wharf ward when i got it restarted at Alpha Grove Community Centre but it has lapsed again (I am not allowed to Chair it) but I have helped the Limehouse Ward Panel expertly led by Conor and know what a difference a good ward panel can make
3. Set up a website as the mirror image of this FB group but to make it easier to find information. I tried to do this last year but again ran out of time to finish it
4. Try and get the Council to improve the security of the area by setting up Public Space Protections Orders like was done around Ropemakers. I was the 1st person to mention PSPO's there. Also introduce physical secuity measures like CCTV (we have no Council CCTV cameras in any residential area of CW ward) better lighting, anti-moped gates etc using the £169 million of funds from developers and the government sitting in the Council bank account
5. Last but not least ask you if you want to set up a Town (Parish) Council for the Isle of Dogs. It would be a new lower level of local government, with its own powers, budget and staff (TH Council would stll be responsible for 95% of what it does but purely local stuff could be managed locally)
I do not think TH Council does a good job of managing the island, they are too big, too remote, do not know the area and have too many false assumptions about the area. I think a Town Council run locally by local people could restore some power back to the island and provide better services.
I grew up in Singapore and have seen what effective government looks like (which is why John Biggs jokes with me that I am really a member of the Peoples Action Party of Singapore) and except for their policies on democracy and capital punishment there is some truth in that
Plus many other things I want to do but this post is long enough
But I need your help now to do all of this.
If you want me to do these things and to continue the work I have already done then re-elect me on the 3rd May. But my workload is enormous and I am currently failing to keep on top of everything (& being a Cllr is meant to be a part time job!)
So I really need help, so please, please elect Councillors who will do the work & also communicate with you elsewhere regardless of which party they belong to. But in my ward elect Tom Randall to help me. He does a lot of work locally behind the scenes to help me to do my work.
Some of these things I can do & will do if I do not get elected (ironically not being re-elected would give me more time :)) but on balance being a Councillor would make my work easier and I wont be able to help people as much if I am not a Councillor
So it is up to you now
1. Vote - even if it is not for me - turnouts on the IoD are too low compared to others areas in TH - if you are a Commonwealth or EU citizen you can vote as well
2. Tell your friends & neighbours who you are voting for especially those not on social media - in 2014 I got elected because a local Marxist told people to vote locally for Conservatives because we do the work
3. If you want me to be re-elected and to give birth to those 5 babies then please share this message on FB or by email
And for members of other parties who will inevitably object to this post, perhaps your party should have tried harder to communicate with residents over the last four years by setting up your own FB groups or getting involved in this one but you are welcome to add to this post what you will do
PS this is what I look like when I do the majority of my work, drinking tea on a sofa, looking at my laptop, looking a mess
I have been a Councillor since May 2014, an amazing four years, fascinating, sometimes very frustrating, occasionally boring but always interesting. I have seen Tower Hamlets Council at its worst – Lutfur Rahman refusing to answer questions, OFSTED saying that we had failed the youngest people in our society, an unwillingness to engage with residents, secrecy over spending £119 million, trying to kick the press out of Council meetings. The list goes on and that is part of my job to expose what is happening. If nobody holds the Council to account they are more likely to make mistakes and to not deliver, imagine the House of Commons with only one party in it!
But my fundamental impression of the Council is that while it is improving, it is doing so at 20mph an hour speed, the rest of the world is driving at 30mph and developers are building at 40mph. The Council needs to catch up and fast but it is still not fulfilling its potential despite some excellent officers and lots of S106, CIL & New Homes Bonus cash. Part of that is because I do not think the Executive Mayor model of government works.
The failure to replace the large climbing frame in Ropemakers playground for over a year now is a good example. The Council has more developers cash then it knows what to do with but cannot get around to replacing a critical piece of child play equipment. The complete failure to deliver any playgrounds in Millharbour (the densest small place in the UK) is another.
But the Isle of Dogs has some amazing things going for it. Canary Wharf, beautiful & historic docks, Island Gardens, the river Thames, Mudchute Farm. The ability to walk to Greenwich through the foot tunnel. Docklands Sailing Centre, the Rowing club. One of the most diverse and international populations in the world. The list could be even longer if the Council focussed more on quality of life and how to make Tower Hamlets a better, safer and more comfortable place to live.
It is why I have focussed so much on long term solutions. Much of my time has been spent working with the Isle of Dogs Neighbourhood Planning Forum, it is non-political but it has real powers to deliver change. Only by changing Planning Policy can you influence the nature of development here. But unfortunately the Isle of Dogs has been required by the GLA & Tower Hamlets Council to deliver much of London’s housing targets. Canary Wharf ward as a result is the fastest growing small place in the UK. We are becoming more like Manhattan but without a plan for how that will work, something I am trying to fix.
I am half-German and grew up in Singapore, in both my mom’s home town and in Singapore I have seen better government, in some areas much better government. For me it is extremely frustrating to see how poorly Tower Hamlets Council performs in comparison. It is why I got involved in local government, I think I can make a contribution to making things better.
Now on the 3rd May it is up to you. The question will be whether you want to re-elect me or not and whether you want to help me in my work by electing Tom Randall as my running mate. The population of my ward will almost double again by the time of the next election in 2022, you need to elect the two most effective Councillors that you can, they will have more work than most other Councillors in London.
The simple rule should be if somebody does a good job you re-elect them, if not you throw the bum out :) But in this case I know some of you will vote on the basis of national issues to ‘send’ a message. That is your democratic choice but I will be standing on local issues, it is all I can do.
It is not that I do not have sympathy with those national issues. The decision to cut Police funding, the Windrush scandal (& it is a scandal), unhappiness over the process of Brexit etc etc (I could add even more). These are all valid concerns that I share but Councillors have no powers over national or international issues. That does not mean that I will not try and influence national debates as you can see from my articles for Conservative Home. https://www.conservativehome.com/author/andrew-wood
But most of my work is purely local and you have to decide whether you want to vote on local issues in what is mainly a Labour Borough or national issues (repeating lasts year general election).
After four years I know how to be an effective Councillor. I have made mistakes in the past and there are things I want to change in how to do my job and I think Tom & I can make a real difference in the next four years, I hope you will give us that chance by voting for the both of us.
Picture with from L to R with myself, Dr Anwara Ali (our Mayoral candidate) and Tom Randall, my running mate