Why do we get the wrong politicians? What do Councillors actually do for their £11,693 a year up to £43,763 a year allowance? Are the 45 Councillors worth £904,552 a year in total?
This weekend Labour Party members are picking Councillor candidates for next Mays local elections for the island wards. So this post is really aimed at them and Liberal Democrats who I think are also in the middle of selections.
Last weekend the Labour Party selections took place for Limehouse ward and as a result Cllr James King was not selected and Mile End Cllr Asma Islam was also not selected (David Edgar & Puru Miah had already decided to stand down)
The removal of James and Asma as candidates was a surprise.
The Conservatives and Aspire parties have already picked most of their candidates
Fergus Collie is also looking for running mates I believe :)
In Tower Hamlets where the Labour Party is the biggest party and therefore thanks to First Past the Post most likely to win the most Councillor positions (42 out of 45 in May 2018 with less than 50% of the vote!) internal selections are often the most important elections.
Why do we have Councillors at all?
In May the majority of voters chose to keep the Executive Mayor system where all of the power and responsibility lies with one person, currently Mayor John Biggs.
So if the Mayor has all of the power, why do you need 45 Councillors?
You may be told you need to elect Labour Councillors to have a Labour Mayor, that would be a lie, two different jobs with two different election processes.
The main role for all Councillors is:
Too many Councillors cannot / won’t do all three aspects of this job, some do none. Some are lazy and some are worth every penny.
But you elected them, so you as residents have to take responsibility for this as well.
Around ten Councillors get co-opted by the Mayor as Deputy Mayors and Cabinet Members, and get paid extra as a result earning between £43,763 a year for a Deputy Mayor and £33,085 a year as a full Cabinet member. The Mayor can give them some of his power if he chooses to. Most work hard but there is nothing in the public domain that details the amount of work they do.
But for the rest their main role should be to scrutinise the Mayor.
A few Labour Councillors do this extremely well, most don’t. Most seem to think that to criticise the Council is to criticise the Labour Party.
I believe Boris Johnson has made a number of errors, one reason why he has done so is a lack of effective opposition, although I think Keir Starmer is turning that that around. But in a democracy a weak opposition is not good.
Given that there were only 3 opposition Councillors after May 2018, now 5 thanks to two by-elections, Labour Councillors need to do more of this job.
Will the people you select be able and willing to do this scrutiny role?
What do we Councillors do?
With the exception of a few Councillors, I do not know what most of them do (because they are so invisible not because I do not think they do the work). But as an example in the last 48 hours I have:
You need to elect / select people who can do this range of activities and more.
If you don’t that puts more pressure on the Councillors who are able to do all of the above, the larger the number of effective Councillors the better off you will be.
In a democracy fundamentally the quality of government ultimately rests with the people
Residents meeting to discuss issues at Salvor Tower, Thole Court, Coxswain Court, Maine Tower, Ostro, Able Quay etc
7pm Tuesday 7th December 2021 on Zoom, link below
Attached as pictures and as a PDF, click on this link here is a reply from NHG about some of the issues raised.
Topic: Residents meeting Harbour Central
Time: Dec 7, 2021 07:00 PM London
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The main consequences of the governments decision to refuse the Westferry Printworks 2018 planning application for 1,524 homes are:
1. The secondary school which was granted planning permission in 2016, which the Department of Education has said it will build for Canary Wharf College secondary school has been held up because Richard Desmond (the owner) won't sign the lease for the land as he was meant to do in 2016 - this decision means that Desmond is less likely to sign that lease - I will ask the Council/DoE to compulsory purchase the site to force a decision on Desmond - Cllr Peter Golds & I raised this issue with the government a few months ago
2. Richard Desmond can appeal the Ministers decision to the Courts but only on narrow legal grounds - that his decision was taken on incorrect information
3. We do not know what Desmond will do know with his smaller 2016 planning permission for 722 homes and a secondary school - he can build it now or he can sell the site or he can sit on it as work has started to see what happens in the market (see the JP Morgan site as an example) or maybe submit a different planning application (which is what I suggested)?
4. We lose the £43 million of CIL that was in the 2018 permission as the 2016 permission was zero CIL rated due to the costs of cleaning the ground - but as the Council were unlikely to spend the money to our benefit I am not sure we will miss it locally - this area has generated hundreds of millions in £ for the Council in the last 20 years - have you seen many benefits from this £?
5.. The impact on future similar tall planning applications as the government has clearly objected to developments that negatively impact sailing in the docks, and that affect the views from the Old Royal Naval College, Tower Bridge, and Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. This may help reduce the size of developments on the island especially to the south of Marsh Wall.
The fundamental problem remains
The Isle of Dogs / E14 area is heading towards a future that I call Manhattanisation - that it becomes the densest and tallest place in western Europe not just in London - we already have the 5 tallest residential buildings in the UK.
Development has slowed but is continuing, see picture I have zero confidence that the Council & the GLA will prepare properly for that future, at least Manhattan had more time to prepare, on Wednesday I asked the Cabinet member responsible, what happened to the Development Infrastructure Funding Study (DIFS) for the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar (she did not even know what I was talking about) https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/isle-of-dogs-and-south-poplar-opportunity-area-planning-framework
This is the document that says £503.7 million needs to be spent between April 2017 and March 2022 on new infrastructure & transport to support future development in the area. The document is 4 years old now. BUT very little of what was detailed in that and in the Mayor of London's 2019 Opportunity Area Planning Framework for the Isle of Dogs and South Poplar area has happened.
For example, we know that there are problems with electricity supply to Marsh Wall - something foreseen more then 4 years ago and nothing was done to fix the problem in advance. This is because Tower Hamlets Council is just very poor at delivery (& is mainly focussed on building itself a new Town Hall in Whitechapel for around £130 million)
I do regret the loss of additional housing on the site, we do need more homes in London but 722 homes versus 1,524 is more sustainable given the lack of infrastructure locally. I did suggest to the developer that a different scheme might have got support, I liked the 2016 application except for the wind flow issues that could have been partially designed out.
Other parts of Tower Hamlets with better transport connections than this site need to deliver more homes. something the Council is not keen to do
But the decision by the Inspector and Minister have some important positives as regards future developments
Especially because of the impact on the Old Royal Naval College, Tower Bridge and Maritime Greenwich WHS.
*31. The Secretary of State has given careful consideration to the Inspector’s analysis at IR.A.420-435 and IR.B.235-240 and IR.B.302 in relation to the effect of the scale, height and massing of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the surrounding area. For the reasons given at IR.B.235-236 and IR.B.302 the Secretary of State agrees that the appeal scheme would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area (IR.B.302).*
*44. The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector’s analysis of effects on sailing conditions in the Millwall Outer Dock at IR.B.246-253, 294 and 303, including that there would be a significant adverse effect on sailing conditions in the Millwall Outer Dock for novice and inexperienced sailors, which would represent a significant disadvantage of the proposals (IR.B.246).*
Who to thank for this decision
The newspapers - The Times and Daily Mail who did so much reporting on this case especially about the relationship between Desmond and Jenrick and the controversial Conservative Party dinner where Jenrick met Desmond A Council lawyer called Rachel McKoy who has sadly left TH Council who identified the key ground for the legal challenge that made Jenrick admit his decision was unlawful Council planning officers created this mess in the 1st place by not making a decision within the statutory time limit of 4 months. They delayed making any decision allowing / forcing Desmond to go to the government more than 8 months after he submitted his application but subsequently did a lot of work on the two appeals (the government will now pay their costs) Mariya Talib and the residents who supported her judicial review because it kept the pressure on the Council to respond John Biggs etc now claim credit but we have a lot of developments locally where no decision has been made long after the 4 months have elapsed and the person who set up the ASDA funfair involving one or members of the Strategic Development Committee is still very active as if nothing happened.
File is here click on link 21-11-18_dl_ir_land_at_former_westferry_printworks_site_235_westferry_road_london_e14_3qs.pdf
A quick update on some recent development news - during COVID lockdown none of us were entirely clear what would happen next but things are starting to become clearer - residential development will continue on the Isle of Dogs including new large towers but maybe at a lower pace?
We are still heading for a Manhattan + level of development
Harbour Exchange/Marsh Wall - consultation to start soon for a 53 storey 469 home residential tower on the north west corner of the office site closest to South Quay Plaza DLR station opposite Pan Peninsula on the other side of the docks "planning to hold a digital consultation for two weeks from Monday 15 November with an interactive consultation website, where people can learn about the scheme and the public benefits.
As part of the consultation, we will also hold a public webinar for members of the public and local stakeholders to see the project team run through the scheme, ask questions and give feedback. The webinar will take place on Zoom at 6pm on Wednesday 24 November – registration email is OneEastPoint@fourcommunications.com
OHG Bellamy Close/Byng Street - OHG have partnered with Mount Anvil to develop this - it already has planning permission for a 25 storey resi tower and replacement houses and residents are moving out to allow demolition but Mount Anvil want to make some changes for example by adding 6 storeys. See pics below & website.
In-person public exhibition on Thursday 18th November (4pm-8pm), Phoenix Heights Community Centre, 140 Byng Street, E14 9AR
Meet the team webinar at Monday 22nd November, 6pm This event will take place via Zoom and will include a presentation on the design proposals followed by a Q&A session. You can register for this event by visiting the website. www.Bellamy-byng.consultationonline.co.uk
OHG Kingsbridge Estate - OHG in the 4th phase of public consulation with residents - options range from complete demolition and rebuild to maintenance only - will eventually result in a ballot of residents and maybe a planning application
Other news included for completeness
South Quay Plaza Berkeley Homes - 5 extra storeys to be added to the yet as unbuilt 3rd tower - from 35 to 41 storeys - see here for more detail - planning application soon https://www.facebook.com/groups/1458438024296291/permalink/3141841582622585/
OHG Tiller Road (Winch, Starboard, Kedge) - waiting for a planning application following successful ballot earlier this year maybe including Tiller road leisure centre https://www.facebook.com/groups/1458438024296291/permalink/3032808500192561/
Park Place Canary Wharf Group New resi development on the estate waiting for a planning application https://group.canarywharf.com/portfolio-and-places/future-projects/park-place/
Still waiting for a decision
Westferry Printworks - still waiting for the government to decide on larger 2018 planning, the decision will probably be made by Michael Gove as Minister - expected soon
30 Marsh Wall - waiting for planning decision on a new student housing scheme
Ballymore Cuba/ Manilla - waiting for planning a decision on 2 resi towers
225 Marsh Wall - has planning permission for a smaller tower but new developers want a taller tower to match the Madison
Orchard Wharf - by the river next to Good Luck Hope - resi scheme above a new working wharf https://www.facebook.com/groups/1458438024296291/permalink/2430570230416394/
Other development news
North Quay - has planning permission https://www.facebook.com/groups/1458438024296291/permalink/3120377241435686/
Reuters car park Blackwall Way - has planning permission https://www.facebook.com/groups/1458438024296291/permalink/3078115955661815/ ASDA - has planning permission for a bigger scheme - the allegations about the behaviour of some Councillors has not been investigated
Skylines - has planning permission but I have doubts it will be built
McDonalds by Prestons roundabout - site being cleared atfter planning permission granted for 3 towers for student housing https://www.facebook.com/groups/1458438024296291/permalink/3097728277033916/
The Spire Greenland West India Quay - stuck after demolition https://www.facebook.com/groups/1458438024296291/permalink/1798477836958973/
Blackwall DLR aparthotel to be residential only
I am sure I have missed a lot and may amend as I remember more
The results of the two Liveable Street surveys are below including the 1st draft
For the 2nd main survey, the results are from the 1st week – Saturday 18th to Friday night 8pm when I announced on the radio show I do with Cllr Puru Miah that I was able to segment the results, see point 2 below – will update next week after more results are received - but these maybe impacted by the results of the 1st week
I conducted the surveys for three reasons:
Also interesting was that 35 residents have sent in pro-Liveable Streets emails to Councillors since the Mayor announced a pause. Each email shows the name of the person. Those emails showed a clear trend as to their names i.e. Andrew Wood is an Anglo-Saxon name. Puru Miah is not.
The 6 collectors on SurveyMonkey were:
Facebook IoD & E14 – the Canary Wharf & Isle of Dogs Residents group that I run – mainly E14 but was shared elsewhere on Facebook – 26,765 total members but 20,082 active members in last 28 days
Facebook TH Opp LS – the Tower Hamlets residents against the Liveable Streets Proposals with 2,312 members – but the survey suggests not all members of this group are against Liveable Streets :)
Facebook TH wide – posted in some Tower Hamlets group like Tower Hamlets Community 5,024 members, Tower Hamlets Residents 1,473 members
Twitter – my Twitter @andrewwood17 but shared on Twitter by others
Nextdoor – only in the E14 area
WhatsApp – in 3 WhatsApp groups: LB Forum, MyTowerHamlets, Our Tower Hamlets
Of note is that E14 based areas have been barely affected by Liveable Streets so far as even the Barkantine work (no road closures) is very different to what has happened in the Weavers ward area (lots of road closures) for example
I will do more analysis next week on point 3 – the response rates
Click on each link for the survey results in PDF
Tower Hamlets total results 2nd survey data_all_210924-total.pdf
Twitter results data_all_210924-twitter.pdf
Facebook Isle of Dogs & E14 data_all_210924-facebook_iod.pdf
Facebook Opposed to Liveable Streets data_all_210924-facebookoppols.pdf
Facebook Tower Hamlets wide data_all_210924-facebook_th.pdf
Draft survey data_all_210925-draft.pdf
Q2 illustrates some very different responses by social media tool - in terms of results but also the number of submissions - here are the questions in order as to what the Mayor should do next:
Green - He should extend & strengthen the programme
Dark Blue - He should stick to the existing proposals
Yellow - He should pause to reconsult residents
Light blue - He should scrap the whole thing
Orange - Not sure
I have been in Germany for the last few weeks for my mums 80th birthday party.
So I did some tweets yesterday about good ideas we can take from Germany, some serious ideas except the 1st one :)
Plus also lots of pictures of cakes 😁 I will explain the relevance to E14 in a future post but visiting Memmingen where my mum lives can be very frustrating when I compare their social infrastructure to ours Maybe best to read on Twitter or via the pics below https://twitter.com/Andrewwood17/status/1429824235938189316?s=20
Campaigning for the May 2022 local elections started last year if you knew where to look but it is becoming increasingly obvious as parties start stepping up activity ahead of May 2022 that it is underway now.
So, I thought I should make clear what my own plans are.
At this stage– 9 months away from the local election, I plan to stand as a candidate for the Canary Wharf ward election as an independent (a member of no political party).
A reminder there are 2 Councillors for the ward, so you will have two votes.
Democratic elections are about choice and the good thing is that Canary Wharf ward will be a real contest, as a ward that different political parties (Aspire, Labour, Conservative) have won in recent years and will all fancy their chances here so your vote really will matter. In May 2018 there was a 7-vote difference between the 2nd, 3rd, 4th candidates!
As an independent candidate whether I get re-elected or not will be up to you as voters. I will have no party machinery behind me, no automatic bank of support I can rely on, no money except my own.
If I fail to get re-elected then I can go on a lovely long holiday, first proper one in 8 years, stop working 7 days a week, and get a chance to read some of those books I still buy as if I have the time to read them
But as a now experienced Councillor who still has a long list of things I want to get done (more on this in coming weeks including a Mayoral manifesto and a local Council for the Isle of Dogs), I feel a duty to stand again. If you want me to represent you for another 4 years I will do it, if not I can relax and go do something else.
But to be honest one of the things I am struggling with is to what extent I try and finish stuff in the next 9 months (that infrastructure analysis for the Isle of Dogs!) and how much time I spend on campaigning. I know the two reinforce each other but a lot of the work I do is not visible or so boring that many people won’t be interested (trying to change the Councils strategic plan targets for example or writing fire safety recommendations).
One reason for standing again is that we do not have enough Councillors today who are both capable and who will do the work (see my analysis of Cllr work levels) and Tower Hamlets has less Councillors (45) then almost any other local authority so we cannot afford to have too many duds. Today we have around 15 excellent Councillors, 15 OK Councillors and 15 poor ones. You as voters need to do a better job voting for good people next May, but then political parties also need to pick better candidates!
So, one of the things I aim to do over the coming months is provide residents with a better understanding of local politics, issues and what Councillors actually do when we have a Mayor with all of the power. So that come next May you will be able to make
To register a political party takes time, it can be done like Rabina Khan did with PATH in 2018 and Lutfur Rahman did with Aspire. But I quite like being an independent, it allows me to work with people from other political parties.
Will I re-join the Conservatives?
I was asked if I would re-join the Conservative party recently and I said no. I am politically homeless at a national level as no major party represents my views. I am like former Conservatives David Gauke and Rory Stewart, the Conservative party nationally has moved away from me, and I have wide policy differences even if the Westferry Printworks decision was the final straw for me.
Excel file /uploads/4/2/7/8/42789711/mes___meetings_by_councillor.xlsx
ODS file mes___meetings_by_councillor.ods
See Twitter comments here twitter.com/Andrewwood17/status/1415232789025378305?s=20
or below as a PDF
The original interim London Fire Brigade report into the fire at New Providence Wharf is here
I have underlined the key sections and then added comments or questions to the PDF here london_fire_brigade_preliminary_fire_investigation_report__053666-07052021_new_providence_wharf_[redacted].pdf