Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Gathering of Redbridge Motions

Last Thursday evening there was the monthly gathering of Redbridge councillors for what is known as Full Council. These are rather formal occasions presided over by the Redbridge Mayor and there are strict rules on protocol and public participation; although they have been relaxed in recent years and the use of “electronic devices” is now permitted with the Mayor’s approval. That means Twitter - social media or in this case unsocial media.

This is good news for people like me who can sit at home with a split screen watching television while keeping an eye on what our councillors are up to. The problem for the Mayor is that she cannot see what the councillors are tweeting, which one could be forgiven for thinking that they were in the building opposite taking part in some traditional Christmas entertainment.

Our Chair was there with a tabled question, only to report that his question had been answered in that day’s morning papers before he had even asked it. The opposition were not pleased and dived in calling it blatant electioneering. Not that they were electioneering when they floated their own scheme using pooled resources a year or two back.

But to the substance of the meeting. You might think that these occasions are all about running (checks spelling) Redbridge Council, but you would be wrong. These are intensely political affairs and most of the time is spent on issues over which the council has no direct control. It is a game of finger pointing and trying to embarrass the other side – what your side did while in government or how many times have you disagreed with your own party while in government.

To the business end and the motions:

Betting Shops:
Cllr Ruth Clarke’s (Con) motion demanding that Government change the law to allow the Council to stem the tide of betting shops in the Borough was passed despite Labour Party support.

Barkingside Crown Post Office
Cllr Debbie Thiara’s (Lab) motion opposing the closure or downgrading of Barkingside Crown Post Office was also passed with the conservative group voting against but Cllrs Mrs' Cole, Clark and Ryan abstaining.

Lifts at Newbury Park
Cllr Ruth Clark’s (Con) motion calling on the Mayor of London (Con) to complete the abandoned step free access works at Newbury Park Station was passed after an amendment to include pressure on DfT for Seven Kings station.

Maternity and A&E at King George Hospital
Cllr Andy Walker’s (Ind) motion that all parties work together to improve the poor healthcare rating in the local hospital trust was passed unanimously. This motion was taken earlier in the agenda after the public deputation on the same subject, but not the one on acute care beds which didn’t appear on the published agenda. (Howls of protest from Labour Cllrs)

Acute care beds for Winter
Cllr Jas Athwal’s (Lab) motion to write to the Chief Executive of our local hospital trust demanding it identifies acute care beds ahead of winter was amended (or watered down if you are Labour) by Cllr Mrs Ryan (Con) and then passed unanimously.

There were also two petitions:
Cllr Ian Bond (LibDem) presented a petition on road safety and parking concerns at Nightingale school.
Cllr Gwyneth Deakins (LibDem) presented a petition opposing road safety concerns in Clayhall Avenue.


  1. Opposing road safety concerns? That has a distinct whiff of political suicide about it! (Hopes....).

    1. oops. I forgot to put the link in, now done.

    2. She only "presented" the petition, which cllrs are obliged to do. We do not know, as yet, who organised it...

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. I think it's fairly clear where the LibDems stand on this and I got it from your side bar....
      Hill Farm residents fight new Clayhall U-turn ban

    5. It was Cllr Deakins who organised the petition. see this

  2. Her problem is that, having presented it, she becomes ipso facto associated with it.

  3. People might think that Full Council is about running Redbridge but it isn't really. The Council is essentially run by the Cabinet and at Full Council they can and are held to account. The council may not have control of all of these issues but they are able to influence decision makers and stand up for residents through these motions. Motions which require action by the council are best in my view but sometimes it is correct to simply show your public support for an issue, a group or an individual. The discussions do get party political and rightly so but that doesn't mean all sides won't join together to vote for something they know is important. I believe all of the issues debated last week are important to residents and it is right that our local politicians make their views known even if they don't have direct control over something.

  4. The Council is essentially run by the Cabinet " even this is not true,it is Officers, and councillors just rubber stamp their decisions.
    The Council consisted of just 30 members in 1965, unpaid except for actual expenses and Town Clerk, Now we have 63 members and a hugely paid "Chief Executive"

  5. Re the vote about the post office in Barkingside High Street, chapeau bas to the three Councillors (all Mrs!) who were brave enough to voice their opinions. At Area 3 meetings, Cllr Mrs Ryan did express her views when the subject was spoken about by members of the public.The other Conservative Cllrs might have remained silent (I cannot remember).
    The other two Cllrs (Area 4) also have my admiration and I have voiced that opinion before.

  6. Anne will understand when I express the view that Redbridge Motions might be a "double entendre"......

  7. Or in the case of the Library end of Barkingside High Street, Motions will be denied

    1. The business end of the High Street is actually in Cranbrook Road opposite the Magistrate's Court.

  8. I attended this Full Redbridge Council. It was a long one - I took a mini-cab home as it was freezing and nearly 11pm and I am 80, so a bit of luxury does not go amiss from time to time.

    Councillor Ruth Clark and Councillor Vanessa Cole's motion calling on Transport for London to make Newbury Park access free had an amendment proposed by Councillor Bob LIttlewood, adding Seven Kings Station. Both the amendment and the motion were carried unanimously. Great!

    It was a fascinating evening! I was not down to speak so was able to relax and enjoy the bun fight! At times it was excellent with good debate and points being made. At others it was a bit like a kindergarten at its very worst. Three Councillors - who had best remain nameless, but would do well to go on a slimming diet - sat side by side and all they did all evening was jeer or guffaw. And they get paid to do it!

    Sitting near me in the gallery was a student who is doing an internship with a Redbridge Councillor. It was his first time sitting in the public gallery and he was clearly appalled at some of the behaviour and confused in that he could not understand half of what was being said.

    The sound system in the Council Chamber needs sorting out! And with a number of speakers it was impossible to understand a word they were saying! They mumbled incomprehensibly and spoke far too fast. There were times when I wondered what was going on. A few were very clear - the Mayor was clear and so were some of the Councillors - whilst all the speakers from the public gallery were clarity itself! Perhaps the microphone in the gallery is better than the ones the Councillors have on their desks. As a result of the fact that many of the Councillors could not be understood, it was a bit difficult to follow much of what was being said. At times the strain to hear was too much!

    I was amused by the accusations of "playing party politics" flying across the floor - for it seemed to me that they were all at it with the elections not far away!

    But it was an interesting evening none the less - and I had a few laughs with those in the gallery! It was one more nail in the coffin of Transport for London (Tfl) and those who think they can hoodwink us locals into believing that there will never be an access free station at Newbury Park! I fear that Boris may well rue the day he ever heard of Newbury Park (and you may recall that when I confronted him in Ilford High Road a year or two back, he told me that NP was Network Rail and not Tfl - until one of his aides corrected him and told him that he was chairman of Tfl and NP comes within his remit! "What fun," as Miranda Hart's Mother would say!)

    1. One of the problems with the microphones is that some people seem to think they should speak with the thing almost resting on the lower lip. The most effective way is to stand up, speak up across the microphone - and then shut up! Used properly there is nothing wrong with them.

    2. Reading Ron Jeffries' prose is an absolute delight.
      I cannot help smiling at the idea of the three well-fed Cllrs who were enjoying the occasion, which brings to mind: is there still a buffet awaiting the Cllrs even after such a late debate?

  9. One of the problems, that although £70,000 was spent on the sound system and the redundant voting system (which took nearly 2 years to get to work) that the microphones are set as if councillors were sitting when they speak, but of course they stand and therefore are too far away, which is a problem with most councillors, because they cant speak properly in public with a few exceptions being the mayor, Bob Littlewood , and Alan Weinberg, and very few others. Perhaps these erudite Councillors could hold a workshop for the rest of the members,to teach them how to speak to the gallery properly (although one doubts that the gallery will have any interest in poorly crafted speeches)