An election thank you

Rachel and Seyi write…

With all the awful events going on in the world, it’s difficult to remember that the General Election was in fact only a week and a half ago. It was a rollercoaster of an election in so many ways: the shock of it being called at all, the sharply compressed campaigning period, the media scrutiny, and the wonderful rise in the polling of the Labour party.

Seyi and I wanted to write a blog post to say a very heartfelt thank you to our residents for your support. Thank you for re-electing Lyn Brown in such an overwhelming way and returning her as our wonderful MP. Thank you for your constant and much appreciated support for the Labour party. Thank you for bearing with us whilst we have been busy campaigning, we are sorry if any of the work we’ve been doing has slipped at all, and we will get back to it now that the post-election exhaustion has abated.

And most of all thank you to all of you for being so encouraging to all of the local activists during the campaign. Local Labour members were hard at work here in Forest Gate North, across West Ham, and especially in local marginal seats. That includes long standing party members, newer members, people who’ve been involved for years and people who came along for the first time.

The residents we all met shared our dismay at the callous disregard the Tories have for all of us, and were a constant source of positive reassurance. Every person who gave us a quick thumbs up, who smiled at us on a street stall, who told us on their doorstep we could be sure of their vote, or stopped us to express their support, you all helped buoy us up through a tiring time, and we appreciate it more than we can say. We never ever take your support for granted, and will keep on working as hard as we can to make Forest Gate North a better place.

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Quick updates shared on Twitter today

Seyi writes…

Quick live update from our second West Quadrant Community Neighbourhood meeting: Keep Newham London Moving programme has started & these are the roads & lamp posts to be done next.

 

KNM

 

 

It’s also been confirmed that all new lamp posts will have non-sticky paint so no more annoying massage stickers!

Also the #ForestGate North RPZ will be reviewed later this year to look into concerns raised to @rectripp & I around visitor permits, timing, needs of businesses, carers, vulnerable and elderly residents and those without a phone to pay for a parking ticket. When we get a confirmed date for this review we will let you know.

I also (selfishly) raised the yellow box junction issue on Romford Road/Vicarage Lane, before an enforcement camera is in place we need to think about those wanting to turn right toward Atherton and the flow of traffic.

 

On 27th @NewhamLondon took someone who fly-tipped on Maryland Sq to court & he was fined a total of £8,841 to pay in full within 6months!

 

Also, are you interested in designing your ideal home in ? is holding a Co-living workshop on Wednesday 24th May.

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Support the Forest Gate Festival

Rachel writes…

Every year, Osborne Road in Forest is given over for one Saturday in June to a day of festivities. There is food, drink, entertainment, dancing, singing, items for sale, and a general atmosphere of celebration and love for the area and community during our Forest Gate Festival. Last year you might remember that this great event was funded by local people to make it happen, and this year the festival organisers are asking that we do the same.

You can donate to the Forest Gate Festival online here

The Festival is organised and run by a team of volunteers, so every penny you give will go into making the festival as big a success as ever. There are even some rewards you can claim if you give a certain amount of support, from having your name on the ‘heroes wall’, free cake, to having a banner on the stage.

Every penny counts. Please support the Festival, and ask your friends and family to do the same.

 

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FGQs Update

Seyi writes…

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Inspired by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s use of questions from the public during Prime Minister’s Questions, I asked Forest Gate North residents to submit questions they wanted me to consider asking at the next full council meeting on January 30.

I received a total of seven great council related questions from a diverse range of residents (good mix of female/male names and non-British surnames). Topic questions ranged from litter, cycling, crime and supporting small businesses. Here is the question I selected and asked Councillor David Christie.

What is the future strategy on improving Newham streets for cyclists and to provide better facilities for pedestrians in the residential areas such as Forest Gate so as to encourage a healthier alternative to our increasingly congested roads?

Response from Councillor David Christie:

Newham is currently developing a strategy for increasing the levels of cycling in the borough over then next 10 years. The strategy will cover options aimed at making cycling a normal choice for a wider range of people in Newham by creating a better cycling environment. It will explore assessing existing infrastructure to see where improvements can be made to make cycling safer and more attractive; providing education and cycling proficiency support to children, families and adults; improving access to hiring and maintenance of bicycles; more long term and cheaper cycle hire schemes; solutions to reduce theft of cycles; and promotion and community engagement to spread cycling take up. Any strategy that is developed will need to consider how Newham can work with a range of partners including Transport for London and the highways agency to deliver increased cycling rates as issues such as road and junction safety will require a joint approach.

I then asked a supplementary question:

Some of the roads in the scheme are for 20 mph zone. Will you be extending this into Forest Gate and Stratford?

Response from Councillor Christie:

I think there is a very good augment in some areas. It is a good symbol in wanting to make the roads safer. I will look at the data and explore this in the coming months.

Following my visit to Emmanuel Church on Romford Road on Christmas Day I was stunned at the number of homeless and vulnerable members of Forest Gate and also with the new government grant awarded to Newham  so my question was:

On 28th December I was very pleased to learn that Newham Council has been awarded nearly £400,000 of government funding to provide help for its rough sleepers. Can the Mayor please provide a copy of the strategy to help rough sleepers including a critical evaluation of our current approach and how this new funding government grant will be spent.

Here is Councillor Andrew Baikie the then Mayoral Advisor for Housing’s response:

We are all aware that there are many homeless in London and that the number is increasing.There are many reasons for this, but any of us here today are at risk of losing our job or our health and from there it is only a few short steps away from being street homeless. Nobody should have to spend even one night on the streets, which is why we responded to a DCLG funding round which focused on rough sleeping and we are pleased to have been awarded nearly £400,000 which can be used to give rough sleepers in Newham access to the much needed support they need to move off the streets. While this funding is welcome, there is still much more work to be done in central government to address rising levels of homelessness across Newham. Our bid focused on prevention and early intervention. We know this is the best way to deliver good outcomes for rough sleepers but still mindful of getting value for money for the community as a whole. In particular, our grant will fund:

  • A new, joined up assessment hub which will provide a safe and supportive environment in which homeless people can be triaged and a plan developed getting them the help and treatment they need
  • Analytical work to help us identify the vulnerable at risk from rough sleeping earlier so that we can intervene before they find themselves on the street.

Wider strategy on rough sleeping

This project will complement Newham’s wider approach to rough sleeping. Sadly many people living on the street have serious mental and physical illnesses and substance dependency. It is therefore vital that we strike the right balance between making sure we intervene early and support residents with complex needs but without neglecting effective enforcement to prevent illegal activity.

Operation Alabama is Newham Council’s award-winning, multi-agency response to rough sleeping. Operations include our substance misuse and enforcement teams, the Police, the UK Border Agency, and Thames Reach –our commissioned outreach service. Operation Alabama provides a holistic, balanced and practical response to rough sleeping.

As our first priority is to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable people who find themselves on the street, this is why Thames Reach provides emergency support to those who need it. This is backed up by referrals to: health, mental health, substance misuse service, and other appropriate services.

With Operation Alabama, Outreach staff and local police worked together to help rough sleepers in Newham off the streets: a total of 145 people were moved safely from the street into hostels and other accommodation, 35 were referred to drug and alcohol services, and 20 supported to return to their home countries.

We also provide access to pan London hostel accommodation provided as part of the Mayor of London’s No Second Night Out initiative and range of other accommodation. During the recent cold weather, we increased patrols, specifically to engage with those very entrenched rough sleepers who have previously refused all offers of support.

 The Council currently funds 163 units of Accommodation Based Services for single homeless people. We can, and do, make a difference. We are all aware of rising homelessness – driven by factors beyond our Control and with an unsympathetic government – so it is especially important to ensure that local government is doing everything possible to help. That is why I have asked council officers to review our current offer to make sure it is suited to the needs of our homeless population, including assisting those with the most severe barriers to living independently. I will update Council on this work in the coming months.

I then asked a supplementary question

I have been out with officers on Operation Alabama. We are doing amazing work, but this has not been translated to residents. Is there anything we can do to publicise the amazing work being done.

Response from Councillor Baikie

There will be a communications programme as it develops. I hope that other members will support it.

On the whole I think #FGQs pilot was a success and I am willing to give it another go. The next Council meeting is in May 18th but this will be an Annual General Meeting if there is provision to ask questions I will trial FGQs again if not the follow Full Council meeting is Monday 10th July (deadline for submitting questions will be Monday 26th June).

There are  a few rules to make this pilot work please read here before submitting a question.

You can also submit a question at my advice surgery, Saturday 1st April, 29th April, Sat 20th May 10:30am, The Gate Library, Woodgrange Road E7.

 

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NCT Newham

Seyi shares…

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We are looking for a new group of volunteer mums who would like to train as Breastfeeding Peer supporters throughout Newham. 

The training is free, we are looking for a very diverse group – all ages/ethnicities/languages. We would love your help in finding these women. 

I have attached the recruitment flyer with all the details, please could you help us get it out through your local networks.

 This is a fabulous opportunity for local mums to support other mums.

 

 

 

 

 

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Support Forest Gate’s schools

Rachel writes…

I just (this moment) responded to the Department for Education’s consultation on the schools funding formula. Today is the last day for submissions, so I thought I should take a moment to write a blog post about why you should respond too.

Respond to the consultation here.

The consultation is long and detailed which may put some people off (though surely that is not the point? What are you suggesting?!), but when I did my response I only answered the first question where I set out my concerns, saying that despite their socioeconomic disadvantage, Newham pupils now enjoy enormous success after investment in their education, and that risking this by reducing funding now is something I would urge government to reconsider.

I then clicked past all the others and clicked ‘submit’, so it took only a couple of minutes.

There has been plenty about the schools funding consultation in the news, but the top and bottom of it is that most schools, and particularly London schools, stand to lose out substantially if the government’s plan to review how they are funded goes through.

There have been several campaigns against it, of which I think the most interesting and vibrant is schoolsjustwannahavefunds which you can find on twitter, and their website is here. Newham teachers have also published a great set of briefings and information that you can read here.

The most crucial reason to respond now is that there have been some tentative signs that the Tories may be wavering. This could be a great time to respond, and potentially make a difference. If you are, like me, a little weary of surveying all the various ways in which you’d like the world to change, and sometimes pessimistic about our chances of success, this could be a great and targeted use of a small amount of time and energy. We can only live in hope!

 

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Make a difference in Upton Lane

Rachel writes…

Make a difference in Upton Lane
Monday 20th March, 5.30pm – 7pm
Pie Republic , 80 Upton Lane, London, E7 9LW

Do you have an idea for a community event or group? Come to our drop-in and find out more about the funding and support available from Newham so you can make it happen. Meet local councillors, meet other interested residents and get the information you need to make a difference to your local area.

For more details, or if you are interested but cannot make this event, please contact:
glennette.bowlesdove@newham.gov.uk
or call 0203 373 8382 or 07817 385000


Now, those who have been reading this blog closely, or those who are as fascinated by ward boundaries as we are, will notice that this is taking place in Forest Gate South, not North. Avid readers will also remember that I am no longer lead councillor for Forest Gate (Forest Gate North and South). This is all true. But whilst I was lead councillor, a drop-in surgery in Upton Lane was one of the things I was planning. And we’d even got a date in the diary, so it seemed churlish to cancel once there had been a reorganisation.

The idea was prompted by several things. Firstly, exactly like our drop-in in Maryland last year, by the idea that the constant availability of Let’s Get the Party Started funding, and Go for It grants is all very well, but it’s also great to get out and talk to people about them, and to focus on a particular area. Also, there was some discussion in a break out session at the Faith Conference last year from participants from Upton Lane that they would like to see some more community events there, and in particular they wondered if there could be an Upton Lane food festival. I thought this was a great idea, but also an ambitious one, and that trying to encourage some smaller community action would be a useful first step.

So here we are. We’ve printed leaflets that have gone out to the surrounding area, but I thought I’d blog about it too. If you live on or around Upton Lane and you are free, please do pop into Pie Republic tomorrow to buy a hot drink, say hello, and chat with me, Mas Patel, and officers about how you could get involved in creating a group or holding an event. Or just pop in to say hi. I hope to see some of you there.

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