Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Interview – Keith Prince

This is the fifth of a series of interviews with the Leaders/Spokesmen of five local political parties published in the order that they were received. UKIP did not respond to the invitation.

Keith Prince is the Leader of Redbridge Conservative Party and Leader of the Council.

What are the main priorities for Redbridge over the next 4 years?

Safer cleaner Borough; Preserving and improving green space; Improving and supporting our Town Centres; and delivering value for money.

What do you see as the most difficult challenges facing the new administration?

Continued uncertainty around Government funding, we simply do not know how much grant will be given to local authorities in the future. Ever increasing demands on services.

How important is co-operation and consensus between all parties in running a council?

Whilst there is much to be said for consensus and we have achieved more in this way this year than probably in any other year, there is also an argument for strong leadership.

Assuming you are in opposition, on what single issue would you most like to influence the council, and why?

Making people feel safe.

What do you consider to be realistically achievable over the next 4 years?

Very difficult to predict due to the uncertainty around Government funding; the ever increasing demand for school places and Adult Social Services.
That having been said we are committed to providing a new pool in the South of the Borough; more schools; the regeneration of Barkingside High Road; and a Blueprint for the future of Ilford Town Centre.

Which environmental/community issues are of most concern and how would you deal with them?

The protection of our Green Spaces; ensuring we invest in our green spaces and use our planning powers to protect them.
Working with the community on cohesion by producing and following a strategy.
Encourage people to follow a healthier life style by providing more and investing in green gyms and promoting cycling in the Borough.

Which business/economic issues are of most concern and how would you deal with them?

Defending and promoting our local shopping centres through the extension of the Redbridge Card and continuing with initiatives to keep the centres clean and safe such as CCTV. Encouraging employment and training initiatives, helping residents with money advice.

What one thing could central Government do to make the job of running a local authority easier?

Devolve more responsibility and the funding to local authorities.

If elected what would you wish to be judged on after 4 years?

Delivering on promises and having listened to the residents and businesses in the Borough.


  1. 'Preserving and improving green space' I'm very glad to hear this, given the council's desire to sell off allotments for housing development not much more than a year ago!

  2. The allotments in Redbridge are not green spaces. However, they are populated by hundreds of keen eco-gardeners who think they are green!

  3. hes probably thinking of installing more billiard tables in the conservative club?

  4. I note that "anonymous" does not have the guts to make a stupid remark with a clear identity.

  5. As opposed, Morris, to those that do make stupid remarks with a clear identity?

    However, I seriously hope that there will be some clarity with regard to "protection of green spaces" as there will otherwise be a perpetual discussion about what is or is not a "green space". We do not want to reach a situation in which an 'open space' that can be built upon is not included as a "green space" even if anyone with a micron of common sense would assume that said 'open space' is indeed a "green space".

    Vis-a-vis Anne's comment - why are allotments not appaently classified as "green spaces". They look pretty green to me!

  6. My comment is referring to the fact that Allotments are not listed as Green Spaces in Council documents. My guess is that it is because they are not fully available to the public. Not unlike Green Corridors formed by back gardens, a well recognised benefit for wildlife and the environment but not officially Green Spaces and not very easy to protect. The Borough does recognise the value of Allotments but this recognition was prominently stated in the now ‘infamous’ Allotment Strategy, since replaced by an agreed Action Plan.
    These thoughts are mine and mine only.

  7. Is it fair that a Pensioner living in Redbridge under Chadwell Heath [Zone 5] that travels into work on his older persons freedom pass cannot do so before 09:30, unlike someone travelling on the bus or tube. Merely because one travels on the Metro train line as opposed to the Bus or Tube. When people in Zone 6 and on the tube (Upminster, Hornchurch etc) can. This is on my mind as a relative has just encountered this problem on the way to work!! Does anyone know if there are changes likely [particulary before 07:00!]? Kevin Madden, Chadwell Heath

  8. Kevin Madden's contribution starts off by confusing us - in one breath his relative is a pensioner, in the next, a worker - and, in doing so, provokes an argument which is completely contrary to his own - why should anybody who is working get free travel at all?

    I am a freedom Pass holder and, after I stopped work (my employer's decision, not mine!) but before travel before 09.30 was permitted, had to attend appointments at Whipps Cross hospital on a couple of occasions which necessitated travelling before the permitted time. I didn't complain - I don't believe in looking a gift horse in the mouth - and paid my fare on the two buses I needed to get there.

    Ironically, it is the extension of validity of the Freeedom Pass to 24 hours that causes the problem Kevin refers to, as the TOCs have not extended the concession on their services accordingly.

    No doubt, if the Council Taxpayer digs deep enough into his/her pocket, the anomaly could be removed but I don't see that happening any time soon ...

    I think Kevin's relative is suffering from directional dyslexia as the free 173 bus to Dagenham Heathway, the free 62 bus to Becontree or the free 368 bus to Barking connect with free rail services ...

    Whether or not it is worth canvassing Keith Prince's support for an extension to Freedom Pass validity is debatable. Residents of the boroughs south of the Thames - where there are very few underground services available - can, I am sure, put up a much stronger argument through their elected representatives ...

  9. Hiya. There are many people who are over 60 that work and have the older persons freedom pass. The "baby boomer" generation. Whether this should be provided to them whilst they still work is a different argument. As for diagnosing "directional dyslexia" - I'll leave that to the GPs!! Mine is a simple question. Why should a tube / bus user be able to use it rather than someone nearby on the metro train network (which serves, for example, the LBs of Redbridge, Havering and Newham). Thanks. Kevin

  10. I have little doubt that Kevin Madden is making, in a somewhat obscure way, a party political point. He should be making it to the government, or to the TOCs (as Knowsie indicates), but not to just one of London's 33 local authorities.

    Kevin also needs to understand that somebody has to meet the cost of a "free" facility. As Knowsie also indicates, in the case of Freedom Passes the costs are met from council tax.

  11. Hello. I want to make clear I am not making a party political point, just an observation that has recently cropped up. It doesn't matter if it is Con, Lab or Lib!! Thanks.

  12. Sorry, Morris, but you were wrong when you said that Kevin "... should be making (his point) to the government, or to the TOCs ..."

    Although the Freedom pass is funded through a mixture of national grant and council tax, the cost of providing the travel concession is negotiated between the London Councils and the local transport operator, Transport for London. So neither the government nor the TOCs are directly involved, as far as Kevin and his relative are concerned.

    The London Freedom Pass is probably the most comprehensive and valuable concessionary scheme in the country. Kevin's relative might care to compare the benefits of the Freedom Pass with the travel concessions that would be available to him/her if he/she moved just a couple of miles down the road into the County of Essex ...

    ... I'm sure he/she would find the comparison a very sobering and salutary exercise ...

  13. Knowsie. Government can be, and has been, involved in deciding, for example, that concessionary bus travel should be national and not simply local - but not extending it north of Hadrian's Wall or west of Offia's Dyke!

    I am accutely aware of the differences between the Freedom Pass and the Essex concessions - my back garden fence is the boundary and, fortunately, I am on the right side. The downside is that even though the Freedom Pass is valid on Essex bus services, the County Council does not seem to provide very much to the west of Chelmsford. That is why the 549 from Loughton to South Woodford is such a pathetic service.

  14. Morris, I think you're getting confused here - Kevin's comments referred specifically to free rail travel and the only Government involvement to date is in respect of free bus travel. As far as the boundary arrangements for the English Bus Pass that you refer to are concerned, might this not be because the Scots had their own free pass two years before the English and the Welsh had theirs SIX years before ...

    ... and as for the quality of services outside of London, is this not the result of bus de-regulation which, in general, resulted in a concentration on one thing - and one thing only - maximum profit ...?

    ... Individual need doesn't enter into the equation at all ...

  15. Under the system of "bus deregulation" outside London there are some services that are either contracted or supported by the local authorities - Essex County Council for those in Epping Forest. In the case of the 20, 167, 397 and 549 they are London services, but part-funded by Essex in respect of those parts of the route in Epping Forest District. Some of the other services around Loughton and Epping are "supported" by Essex, but to a degree that provides only minimal services.

    What you say about bus travel is, of course, true. My point is that if government can make that "universal" to the extent that my Freedom Pass is valid on bus services in Hampshire, and the pass held by my cousins in Hampshire can be used on buses in London, then the government is capable of making the legal provision - either by amendment to existing law, or by new specific provision - to extend their use to national rail services.

  16. The point about de-regulation is that support varies considerably in different parts of the country and really comes down to how much of the taxpayer's money the local authority decides to spend - in some parts of the country, you won't see a single bus after 5 o'clock at night! Some of this stems from the predatory activities of some of the larger operators who took over the smaller companies they couldn't bankrupt by arcane methods and shut down all the 'social' i.e.: non-profitable services. Something I've noticed on my travels around the country are that evening services are much better where two of the big boys are in competition. Bournemouth springs to mind, where a lot of services run very late at night but, of course, this could mean a hefty tax bill if they are publicly supported.

    There is no consistency amongst local authorities, either.

    Essex County Council, for example, publishes a wide range of bus maps, whilst Thurrock Council devolve all responsibility to Traveline for timetables and do not even acknowledge its responsibility for bus services on its izzy-whizzy interactive map!

    IIRC the English Bus Pass caused quite a lot of problems for Express Coach operators when it was first introduced and the regulations may have since changed but the cost to Council Tax payers if the Government ordered that rail travel be included would be astronomical!