Saturday, May 08, 2010

Behind the Headlines

Redbridge Council Elections

Firstly congratulations to all those councillors elected and commiserations to those who weren’t.

A special mention for Loraine Sladden and Gary Monro. Loraine was a fearsome campaigner on the Health Service proposals and a keen supporter of nature issues on Fairlop Plain. Outspoken with a sense of fun and humour rare in politicians, we will miss her. Gary did not have a high profile but was prepared to engage and discuss issues. He may appear to be quite laid back but he took the job seriously and put considerable thought into it. A rising star no more, at least for now. Time now for both to relax and recover.

As said earlier the turnout for the locals was huge. There were variations of course, but the Labour vote doubled in most wards, more in some. The LibDems were also well up but a little more varied. Spectacular increases in Loxford, Clementswood and Valentines, but more modest where they had a big lead from 2006 – except in Chadwell, more later. The conservatives did well too; their vote generally increasing by about 50% with a few fluctuations. Again carrying a big lead over from 2006 meant they could hang on to most of their established seats.

Prior to the elections my wards to watch were Hainault and Chadwell. In Hainault we had one BNP councillor with the prospect of another two. However, once the Ilford North result was declared I was pretty confident that we would lose our BNP councillor. A total BNP vote for the whole constituency of 1545 and the local turnout, announced at the parliamentary count, pushing the winning post up to about 2,000 made their position look decidedly dodgy. And so it turned out to be, but it was close between the Tories and Labour. A portly Labour veteran was very worried that he might win which is probably why he didn’t ask for a recount.

Down in Chadwell the LibDems were without their star striker, Gary Staight. He effectively stood down by standing in Seven Kings where he was not expected to win. Nevertheless I expected the LibDems to hold on and the Greens to put in a reasonable show. So did Labour. Our portly Labour veteran was asking around for somebody to tell his paper candidates that they had won. I guess they will learn to live with their allowances as others have done. The Greens presence and their campaign against the incumbent LibDems could well have been the difference here and it was not lost on many that the lead Green stood for Labour in 2006. Conspiracy? I don’t know!

Valentines was interesting. The LibDems had pinched a seat here from Labour in a by election. Councillor Islam who was elected in 2006 in Roding ward had also moved here presumably expecting to win. The councillor who won the by election topped the poll and Mr Islam lost by 36 votes. He did ask for a recount. He wanted a recount of the split papers but all he got was a check of the bundled papers. It was fascinating watching the body language during the exchange between him and the Returning Officer which went on for ages. Even after the re-check was done the LibDem big guns all surrounded the Returning Officer like football players surround referees on penalty decisions. The result stands.

Elsewhere Mayfield returned to Labour. It had had two Conservatives for 8 years but the last two defected to Independent a year ago, so no surprises there.

I’ve already mentioned the two Tory losses in Aldborough and Cranbrook but to be honest those two wards were vulnerable in the circumstances - but Clayhall? The Labour candidate who won actually topped the poll. There’s something going on there that I don’t know about! I don’t see any way back for Ronnie Barden now, so good luck and bon voyage.

So, we have lots of new faces on the Council – 23 to be precise. Most of them are completely unknown quantities, but they all have to prove themselves in office and they will be getting the full B21 scrutiny treatment especially those up here in the north. Of those we know Andy Walker has been a leading campaigner on the Hospital situation and Barbara White is of course known for her role in the Bramley Crescent Residents Association and on Gants Hill regeneration. David Poole has been a regular at Area Committee 3 meetings and we know his views on speed humps, don’t we just! Ali Hai is of course a prominent member of TASK [Take Action for Seven Kings] and there is one Paul Canal who I am going to have to educate on Climate Change.

Bring it on.


  1. I know you, Alan, and I know Paul Canal. I forecast a draw on Climate Change!

  2. "A portly Labour veteran was very worried that he might win which is probably why he didn’t ask for a recount"

    I watched as the ballot papers were recounted, checked and double checked, by the returning officer, hence why Hainault was one of the last wards to be announced.

    There can be absolutely no doubt about the validity of the result in Hainault.

    Hainualt residents voted to return THREE CONSERVATIVE candidates to the Town Hall.

    Many thanks to all those involved in making this happen.

    A special thanks must go to Morris Hickey, B21 and Area 3, for making the last three years, an enlightening and educational introduction into the world of local politics.

    I thank the good residents of Hainault, and I will do my best to represent you all on the council.

    Very best wishes, and Kind Regards

    David Poole

    Newly elected Conservative member, for Hainault Ward.

  3. Yes David, there was a recount for Hainault - but who asked for it?

  4. The British Nazi Party, so I understand, who then ended up with 1 vote less than the original count!

    Thanks, David Poole, for your kind words.

  5. Strange then, why they left before the recount was over.

    Yes, thanks David for your kind words, where are my manners?

  6. According to the Ilford South Labour Party "The Conservatives have lost the London Borough of Redbridge to “No Overall Control”."

    Who writes this stuff? Where have they been for the last year?

  7. Contemplating their navels - and in self-denial about their own losses over the period 2006-2010.

  8. Cllr Vanessa Cole8:11 pm, May 09, 2010

    Dear Alan,

    Many thanks to Barkingside 21 for being the first to bring the news to a wide section of the Borough and doing it in a fair way! On the item Women in suits - I don't agree with all women lists, or being a 'favourite' of anyone. Politics should be about policy, not whether you are male, female, colour, religion etc - isn't that what we criticise parties like the BNP for? because they 'box' people up. Life is about choice, I have been more than fortunate of having a very supportive partner, who wanted me as a person to be able to stand on my own 2 feet and declare what I wanted, what I believed in.

    Whether you are male or female, you do need the backing of your partner or otherwise life can be slightly tricky but not impossible - there is the old saying, if you want something done, ask a busy person - women on the whole are known (scientific fact) to be able to be multi skilled and CAN cope. No offence meant, but the leaders of the 3 main parties are men - I don't need a man to 'assist' me in either putting forward my views or shoe-horning me into a safe seat, that is not being smug that is being able to say to the wider public - this is me, as a person, the fact I happen to be female happened 53+ years ago - if you like what you see and hear, vote for me, if you don't then you won't !

    ALL councillors whatever their party, whatever their gender, colour, creed etc should work 101% + for their residents - residents want their voice heard and heard effectively so it changes their way of life - not whether it conforms to some PC agenda!

    Thanks once again for the postings and I look forward to the next 4 years of being able to contribute.

    Kind regards


  9. Nick Hayes (Fullwell Ward)1:28 am, May 10, 2010

    Many thanks to the residents of Fullwell ward for returning Ann Candy, Harold Moth and me to council for another term. We will continue to do our best for you.

    Our next surgery is on Saturday (15 May) from 10am to 11.30am at Trinity Hall in Mossford Green. No appointment necessary.

  10. I have in interest in Clayhall Ward as my father has a house there.

    I never particularly warmed to Ronnie Barden but there was strong local support (so my Dad's neighbours tell me) for a particular candidate whose name was next to "Barden" on the ballot paper and I guess that voters just skipped over it.

    As Morris has hinted, what a pity that they couldn't have ignored the other end of the ballot paper.

  11. Will these Councillors try and do something about the junction at the end of Clayhall Avenue? We shall see!

  12. As the Secretary of the Redbridge Pensioners Forum and not necessarily a supporter of any one political party I wish to put on notice to all those elected including our members of parliament that the pensioners will be watching very closely the positions they take on issues relating to older people.
    Our views and those advocated by the National Pensioners Convention still hold subject to the decisions over the next few days (or less) of continuing talks within the national parties which may have certain ramifications on our policy.
    In respect of The Council, with all its new members and fortunately some older and wiser heads we are concerned about those issues which affect us namely, Social Services, Health, Transport. The recent Joint Commissioning Report which whilst flawed in many areas has some good points, and should be acted upon in the interests of those within our society which it purports to represent and not be used to score political points or fuel individual egos.
    For those within our community who think for some perverse reasons that getting old means we sit down and fade away let me point out that there are two things certain in this life, birth and death, yes we all get older and we will all at some time require the services which Central and Local Government hold within their power to give or take away, so it is within all of our interests to ensure that those services which we all will at some time need are protected.
    Coming to the Council Elections. First thank you B21 for being fair and even handed. I am genuinely sorry to see Loraine go, we had our differences but she was and I hope will continue to be a thorn in the side of the bureaucracy which calls itself NHS Redbridge (or has it changed its name again) who knows.
    I am also pleased that at last we have some representation in Ilford North "well done Mike". Ronnie Barden "what can I say" passing of an era, never was in favour of Area Committees but then he was not the only one. Good luck to him, Ronnie come and join the Forum we need some more grumpy elder people.
    Good to see my old sparring partner and strongest supporter and helper of the Poppy Appeal still with us, "no names no pack drill" and I don't care who knows it, in my humble opinion the best and most astute councillor who actually reads and understands her portfolio, you would have been a loss to Aldborough and the Council.
    The best "or most" have retained their seats, there are possibly others who did not and should not have been re-elected. But that is what democracy is all about at least Barking and Dagenham showed the way and we at the last minute followed in getting rid of the BNP, Question is what follows if we do have proportional representation???????


  13. Roger Backhouse2:16 pm, May 11, 2010

    I am surprised to see such eulogies for some of those who've had to leave the Council. Though there are others gone whom I liked, even if their politics weren't mine.

    One of those Conservatives who has gone and I will not miss distinguished their self (see, I am not bringing gender into this) when the campaign to save allotments was in full swing by writing a letter to the Recorder, purporting to be from an 80 year old allotment holder who'd attended a Leisure Scrutiny committee. It was then signed by another Conservative member.

    This letter praised the chair of the Scrutiny committee who had just "chaired" a notably chaotic meeting which had, suprise surprise, backed Conservative plans to sell allotments. The author claimed to have been persuaded by the chair of Leisure Scrutiny to see the wisdom of the Council's plans to sell allotments!

    Now as it happens I knew all those in the public gallery at that meeting. Not one of the allotment holders was aged 80, and none would have been persuaded of the Council's case by the complete mess up of a meeting we'd just witnessed.

    As an example of unprincipled dirty tricks it takes some beating. I knew the letter was suspect, but it took a tip off from a fomer Conservative councillor, to whom I am grateful, for exposing the truth of who wrote and signed the letter.

    So do not be fooled by an apparently pleasant exterior and high levels of activity.

    The ancient Curse of the Allotments has now struck at least two of those who tried to sell plots. It may yet strike again.

    Roger Backhouse

  14. Proportional representation in my newbie opinion is a really unknown quantity.
    People who do not vote now for their conviction and vote for their second choice could vote with their convictions and it would change the pattern of voting completely because votes which don't have a chance now on a 'local' list would add up nationally.
    I wonder if our political masters have thought of that one!

  15. Roger - are you CERTAIN that no 80-year old was present at that meeting? Very many meetings seem to have been haunted by somebody around that age.

  16. To reply to Roger Backhouse's fear of a renewed attack on the allotments, the awareness of the allotment plight in Redbridge, together with other factors, have made allotments incredibly popular in the Borough.
    Hard work for the Societies but well worth it because, before selling statutory allotments they must relocate according to strict rules and,... good luck to them to find a suitable location!
    The Fairlop Oak roundabout, would not be sufficient, nor even the re-landscaped Craven Gardens car park!

  17. I do not think my comment re proportional representation has been taken seriously.
    We have seen the stitch up in the new government (but I will hold fire on that to see just what does happen) and are about to see a re-run of the last time it happened on Redbridge Council. Memories are very short but look back to 2006 and look at the four London Councils which ended up with a pact between Conservative and Lib Dem, Budgets slashed within weeks all aimed at those least able to defend themselves, namely the elderly and other disadvantaged groups, Well they are all back in the control of the party which bucked the national trend in London so at least there are some members of the public with sense.
    For those who want to see proportional representation in whatever form, think on? Slippery Clegg (or whoever takes his place) will hold the Labour and Conservative parties in thrall and every little Group (excluding the Greens who I do have some sympathies with) The Facist BNP will get members in parliament as will other weird groups it is inevitable and then this democracy which we enjoy will be lost.


  18. So John, you are quite happy to disenfranchise minority groups, except of course those you have some sympathy with?

  19. I think you miss my point, its not about disfranchising anyone its about having a stable and democratic system of government which looking at European history over the last century we can (I think I am right in saying) have produced the most stable governments even when we probably abhor their politics, there were of course exceptions in the twenties and thirties and they all came about because no one party had the confidence or majority of the people behind them, The other exception was of course The Churchill Government 1940/May 45 Not Elected as Prime Minister but without doubt the man for the job. Who placed the best of both parties within his cabinet Note only one Liberal member the others were experts within their own fields including those with no political affiliation. it might sound familiar but there were major differences and look what happened in the 45 Election.
    My main point though is that There is a real danger of Fascist groups gaining power through the back door, I have little sympathy with those who have been elected and have then betrayed their parties just to get a seat in the place of power, the poor souls I sympathies with irrespective of their party are those who slogged their guts out in all weathers to see there work taken for granted, I did all of those jobs for over forty years and no bugger even said thank you.


  20. No John, you’ve missed my point. If we try to eliminate a minority view other than through legitimate democratic means then we will have lost our Democracy.

    I know you John, and I know you did those things for over 40 years because you believed in them. If you do these things expecting thanks, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. Respect is another matter.

  21. Britain, at local Council level has let in a lot of fascists under First Past the Post. Stable government in the 1980s saw the industrial base of this country destroyed. STV in Ireland and AV in the Australian House of Commons have not resulted in fascists getting elected. There has been far more stable government in Ireland and that has the Liberal preferred option. STV provides a geographical link between MP and constituent, stable government and sanity. First Past the Post only guarantees the first of these. AV may not be fair but it can be a step on the road to STV as if it is implemented then people will get used to a preferential voting system and so the transition will be easier.

  22. The industrial base of this country was being systematically destroyed in the 1970s by inept Governments, inept management, and trade unionists with significant though then secret links to the Soviet Union.

  23. You cannot, surely, be suggesting, Judith, that Margaret Thatcher, that systematic destroyer of Industry, had "secret links to the Soviet Union"!!

    It would explain a few things.

  24. Red Robbo, Arthur Scargill, Jack Jones......