Friday, September 21, 2007

Allotment Reprieve

a hangman's nooseAt Full Council yesterday evening the item on allotments was again brought forward to an earlier part of the proceedings.

The Council Leader announced that the item was being withdrawn to be referred back to Cabinet. A tactical withdrawal in the knowledge that he knew he was going to lose the vote. There followed quite a bit of what passes for debate on these occasions. Opposition councillors pointed out that there are other ways to raise capital via for example PFI, and pointed to Newham who have done this. However, the Council Leader indicated that Newham is favoured as the darling of the Government but attempts by Redbridge have so far failed. Councillor Moth asked for the allotment leases to be renewed to give the tenants security of tenure but this was ignored – significant that!

One wonders whether the four Area 3 councillors who had apparently changed their minds on Wednesday evening have really done so, or were they too making a "tactical withdrawal" being in the know on how Thursday evening’s events would unfold?

The Ilford Recorder has it about right "Stay of execution for allotments" – make no mistake, the allotments are still on death row and this book has many chapters to go.

The issue of the sale of Car Parks was also referred back to Cabinet.


  1. On both issues, allotments and car parks, residents MUST UNITE in opposition to them. Please begin by voting in the two on-line polls on the Redbridge-i website.

  2. Thanks for an excellent summary of what happened at Council. Some Conservative councillors (and probably Lee Scott MP) are concerned about the possible electoral damage by a Council that wants to destroy green spaces. Othere are genuinely concerned by the impact on the environment and allotment holders.

    Well done all those who worked on Area 3 councillors to change minds, whatever the reasons for their conversions on the road to Damascus they are welcome as reformed people.

    However, Morris Hickey is right. This isn't the end. One possibility is that Cabinet will go away and try to pressurize recalcitrant Tories into voting the "right" way, but I doubt that will not work now. Rebellion is contagious. A worse possibility is that they'll drop plans to sell New North Road and Fulwell sites preserving the Conservative heartlands but leaving Vicarage Lane South and Goodmayes as the sacrificial lambs in the south where there are few conservative cllrs and likely to be even fewer after the next election. Will the Area 3 cllrs remain committeed to no sales?

    There could be some "cosmetic" changes to the Strategy doubtless to be presented as a radical compromise.

    Of course they could do the sensible thing, recognise that allotments are popular even among non gardeners, and boost support for allotments. If they do that in six months time everyone will have forgotten land sales, the Council will bask in the warm glow of protecting the environment,and we'll all be happy. Alas, common sense has been lacking so far, this sales programme has been partly driven by the Director of Leisure Services and he ain't a man to give up easily. (even if his department has trouble responding to Freedom of Information Act requests in the legal timescale as evidenced at Council - some places he'd be sacked for that but not in tolerant Redbridge where poltically adept officers survive whatever the massive problems in their departments.

    Whover through politics was a rational process? Perhaps it isn't a process at all.

  3. There is a link to the allotment poll on the side bar of this blog and from there you can find the Car park poll.

  4. The principal issue here is whether democracy exists in Redbridge and whether Cllr Weinberg and his miserable allies are prepared to recognise that they are servants (paid as well)of the people and therefore have an absolute and undeniable duty to act in accordance with the views of the people; however much they would no doubt like to be pocket dictators they should remember that most of them end up in dire circumstances.

  5. We all know that the Government and Livingstone are insisting on thousands more homes being built, so we must acknowledge that this is a major driver of events.

    However, it seems that Council Officers are taking the easy option in pouncing on allotment sites for development, rather than applying some thought to the matter.

    Certain cllrs have been saying for some time 'why not sell off the Ley St Council Depot, transferring everything to the Hainault Business site'? Officers have alleged there isn't enough room to accommodate all the Depot's functions anywhere else in the Borough. However, a stick is now being applied to appropriate parts of Officers' anatomies on this matter.

    None of this excuses the gross ineptitude of certain senior Councillors in this whole matter.