Just a quick note, as I haven’t the time. As the title suggests due to a police investigation into Lutfur Rahman it seems that hes been booted out of the party, and therefore the race for mayor.
As Ted Jeory pointed out Harry’s Place seems to have broke the news first;
Heres Teds piece; Lutfur Rahman: Abbas wields the knife
The Advertiser’s : Labour drops its front-runner in East End mayor battle and their piece on Helal Abbas’s selection;
Supporters of ousted Tower Hamlets mayoral candidate mobilise online campaign
check out Andrew Gilligans blog over at the Telegraph;
and finally Dave Hils blog over at the Guardian;
I’m sure there are many others but I think you get the jist, I think this deserves a good old east end knees up, maybe even street parties………..hurrah
Jim Fitzpatrick who last year accused the Tower Hamlets Conservative Party Councillors of mud-slinging in the run up to the election in thier accusations of mispending public funds. The accusations by the Conservative Party councillors was that he had been basically been misusing public funds, in that he had “used House of Commons provided stationery and pre-paid envelopes when sending unsolicited correspondence to constituents in July 2009.”
Tory councillor Ahmed Hussain and Peter Golds, the Conservative leader in Tower Hamlets, received mail from Mr Fitzpatrick. Mr Hussain said: “This is political campaigning, and I want it to be investigated. This is misuse of taxpayers’ money.” – MP ‘spent taxpayers’ money on coffee morning mail shots’ Evening Standard October 2009
Mr Golds detailed his accusation in a letter to the parliamentary commissioner for standards in September 2009.
After quite some time and some unnecessary delays and denials, the commission went on to confirm that the allegations by Mr Peter Golds had basically been correct, and that Mr Jim Fitzpatrick had actually been “in clear breach of the rules of the House” he was ordered to pay back the money for the envelopes, and assorted stationary. Not just the £24 he offered but the full £557 for sending out some 1,700 letters and envelopes unsolicited which is clearly in breach of house of commons rules & regulations, which had spanned a few years.
Although the commitee found that “the seriousness of the breach was well towards the lower end of the scale” they became more disturbed by the fact that Mr Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar & Limehouse has now been accused himself by the parliamentary “Commons standards and privileges committee” yesterday of delaying the outcome of their investigation into the Conservative allegations until after the election so that he could;
Please take the time to read through the entire committees investigation (Standards and Privileges Committee – First Report Jim Fitzpatrick), you will find evidence of Mr Fitzpatricks disregard for the commitee and his delaying of an official investigation into his conduct.
In Mr Fitzpatricks own evidence he admits to delaying the investigation for political gain;
“15. When asked why he had changed his mind about accepting rectification, Mr Fitzpatrick replied that, whereas he had told the Commissioner in May 2010 that the decision “was not influenced by the imminence of a general election” he would now say that the decision had not been “wholly influenced” by the imminence of the election. Mr Fitzpatrick told us about a meeting he had attended during the election campaign, at which the complaint about his use of expenses had been raised by a political opponent but he nonetheless felt he had won the support of the meeting. He gave us to believe that if he had by then been found to have breached the rules “that would have been a very different issue.” – Mr Fitzpatricks Evidence
In the conclusions it shows that;
“20. It is clear from his oral evidence that Mr Fitzpatrick calculated that, if he accepted that he had breached the rules and apologised for that breach, the information could be used against him by his political opponents in the general election campaign which was then imminent. This, together with his view that the rules were unreasonably restrictive, caused him “discomfort” and led him to change his mind just two weeks before Parliament was dissolved—which was more than a month after the Commissioner had sent him a draft of the letter of rectification. Immediately after the election, Mr Fitzpatrick denied to the Commissioner that the imminence of the general election had had anything to do with his change of heart. However, he told us in oral evidence that this was not wholly true. ” – Conclusions of the committee
One of the committees recommendations are set out below;
22. We are disappointed that Jim Fitzpatrick chose in the run-up to the general election to rescind his acceptance of an offer by the Commissioner to rectify what was a minor breach of the rules—which would have required only an apology, his agreement to transfer the expenditure to the correct account, and the repayment of £24. We recommend that Mr Fitzpatrick apologise to the House in writing, through this Committee, not only for the breach but also for his conduct, which had the effect of postponing the resolution of the complaint against him until after the general election. We further recommend that Mr Fitzpatrick repay to the House from his own pocket the entire £557 cost of provided stationery and pre-paid envelopes misused by him in the period 2007-09.” – Commitees Recommedations
So with his own mouth it looks like he’s admitting to playing the political game in the hope of securing his position within parliament, and on such a minor matter. If hes willing to waste taxpayers money, and then to delay an investigation into such minor matters then what else is he capable of?
These are the types of politicians we have running our local issues, can we really trust any of these people?
On another note, almost a week later and there has not been a peep from the East London Advertiser on this. Surely this is classed as local news, surely it deserves a mention on their website?.
Please read latest post also “January 2013 –
Leanne Minick Tragedy: Inquest still gives no answers after 2 years and 4 months”
First of all I would like to express my extreme sorrow and regret to the parents and family of this beautiful little 8 year old girl Leanne Minick who lost her life in a tragic accident at Sandall House near Victoria Park.
I’m am very uncomfortable writing about these matters or even expressing myself in this way, so please forgive my reluctance in describing these matters. As I sometimes feel that words if spoken incorrectly in these situations can sometimes reduce the emotional weight and impact of the facts, and that this can be looked upon as insulting to those closest to the story.
Something has begun to bug me about the reporting and facts surrounding this tragic event. Firstly after reading the front page of the East London Advertiser on Thursday;
“The Death of eight-year-old Leanne Minick, who plunged from her 15th-floor flat on Saturday, has sparked safety fears over tower block windows.
Angry residents have said the tragedy at Sandall House near Victoria Park could have been prevented. One neighbour told how Leanne’s mum Clair Sieberras and stepdad Ian Whitmore had nailed Ian Whitmore had nailed Leanne’s window shut but were instructed to remove the nails because they were ‘dangerous’.
And June Morton, MD for Old Ford Housing which owns the property, said there are ‘no safety flaws’.” – East London Advertiser 16 September 2010
Like most others i imagine, were disgusted to read about the nailing shut of the windows to protect your child, and also the accusation of the parents being to told then the remove them. . So was this true or was this an off-the-cuff remark made stupidly at the time or was this the truth? Of course it stands to reason that Old Ford would immediately deny this, and seeing as now that the East London Advertiser have even removed this quote from their website, then I would imagine that Old Fords legal team have swung into action. I’ve had experience myself with observing how these legal teams operate, and let me assure you its not a pretty sight.
Something about this entire situation just doesn’t feel right, so I tried to look myself to find sources of information from family and friends maybe that had given other qoutes regarding this, so i looked for any tribute pages or others that may have been set up in her memory. I’m no facebook officianodo either or fan for that matter, and have never really searched or used the site myself, but one thing i am good at is Googling or using the search engine google to put it another way. But I cannot seem to find any such tribute sites.
I have also searched for other sites reporting the nailing shut of the windows, and found nothing. In fact now that the East London Advertiser has removed it there is only one other post and thats on this persons site;
and even thats also just referring to the now edited article on the East London Advertiser page.
Apparently though Safety concerns have been raised regarding the windows at Sandall House by other residents in the block;
Fourteenth floor resident, Shohel Ahmed, 28, a student, said: “I feel very sad about it because she was really little.
“It could have been my cousin or my brother. There’s no safety like a grill on the windows. When I look after my cousins, the children know they mustn’t go near the windows. But I worry, it’s impossible to look after all the time.” – East London Advertiser 13 September 2010
‘Absolutely not safe’
One mother of a two-year-old girl said she had been complaining to Old Ford for the last year about the windows because she was worried about her child’s safety.
And another mother, Sahra Mohamed, said: “It is absolutely not safe. The windows are not safe.
“They can’t shut properly. When they are open the children climb on them.”
Ms Mohamed, who applied for a transfer from the block in the aftermath of the tragedy, said she would only feel safe on the ground floor.
She added that her son had witnessed the death. – BBC News “Parents ‘warned of windows’ in tower where girl died” 14 September 2010
Now with the accusations of complaints regarding the windows being chucked at Old Ford Housing Association and Old Fords denial that any complaints had been recieved, this started pricking my curiosity as I’ve heard of complaints regarding other housing associations never being dealt with and even complaints going astray. Old Ford now claim that child proof safety locks were installed on all the windows to Sandall House in 2004.
“New windows, with child restrictors, and balcony doors were installed at Sandall House at the end of 2004.” – June Morton, managing director for Old Ford Housing Association
As these types works to windows and doors usually fall within the scheme of major works and should need planning applications submitted, I then immediately wanted to confirm the truth of this myself so went to the Tower Hamlets Planning website, as all installations of these kind have to go through rigorous planning proceedures, and also have to adhere to health & safety guidelines. For me anyway, its usually pretty straightforward to find unknown planning applications, that I can then look through at my leisure.
Typing “Sandall House” into the planning departments search facility though is another matter, the council planning page and online archive usually stores all applications going back to the year 2000. Searching using “Sandal House” only reveals 3 planning applications for that site, going back to October 2009. I’m not saying that the planning applications for new windows in 2004 have been removed, but where are they?
What i did find though was this page on the Tower Hamlets site regarding replacement window compliance, which goes into some detail about window replacement, building regulations and the FENSA scheme. The FENSA scheme is something that all replacement windows should adhere to by law since April 2002. The FENSA scheme ensures that windows are installed to the correct building & safety regulations, and needs qualified installers to be approved. The work must then be checked and certified by FENSA inspectors. So the question stands were these windows and safety catches installed by qualified FENSA installers, in 2004 as June Morton claims?
More searching revealed another twist, I also found an unfinished newsletter to residents of Sandall House on Old Ford’s website that points to the fact that residents on the estate were to have their windows overhauled or renewed which was dated June of 2010. Now if this is true that the windows need replacing or overhauling, then this would surely back up somewhat the residents were saying regarding the safety of the windows.
So my questions are this;
Where are the planning applications for the installation of the windows in Sandall House in 2004?
Were the windows child-safe? and installed adhering to the FENSA scheme?, If so residents should demand to see the safety certificates.
Why does it seem from the newsletter that the windows now need overhauling/replacing?
Sorry if any of this upsets anyone, this is definitely not my intention. Its just that something about this entire situation bugged me right from the start, not that my own delusions about all of this mean anything or prove anything in anyway, its just that i finally had to put this out there just in case others felt the same.
Again my heart goes out to the parents, family and friends of Leanne, and all those effected by this utterly tragic episode in the lives of everyone close by.
Please if anyone has any more information regarding the state of the windows or that complaints had been made, then please feel free to comment, because if safety was an issue then this definitely needs to be addressed and quickly.
As a result of the collapse of Connaught, one of Tower Hamlets Homes major works contractors, work on the St Vincents Estate in Limehouse E14 involving the installation of new kitchens has now halted. At least 5 families have been without a kitchen for around 5 weeks, as the old kitchens were removed at the start of the financial problems that hit the contractor Connaught. Sub-Contractors to the company initially went on strike as they had not been paid, which started the problems on the estate as the works temporarily halted. These contractors were then paid and work begun again, albiet behind schedule, when connaught finally collapsed as reported here 2 weeks ago work came to a grinding halt again, leaving all future works unstarted on the estate. Tower Hamlets Councils (in-house) void properties team who bring empty properties up to a decent standard normally replacing damaged kitchens and internal decoration have now been brought in and installed new kitchens in the homes of the 5 families who were living without one.
Apparently at least one of the sub-contractors to Connaught who were installing new electrical installations into the homes on the estate has also not recieved any money from Connaught who have now slipped into administration.
Residents on the estate are questioning why the void properties team who are quite capable of installing new kitchens and carrying out the Decent Homes Works and also the major works, then why does the council need to pay another contractor hundreds of thousands of pounds extra to do the same work?
All future work on the estate that was contracted to Connaught is now officially halted as internal wranglings within Tower Hamlets try to figure out how to proceed.
Why did it take the Respect Party this long to admit to backing Lutfur Rahman for the position of Mayor, when i personally heard George Galloway state this at the supposed Anti-Fascist rally in June of this year.
Read about it here on Mr Jeory’s Blog: Respect statements on Mayor
Here at the Advertiser: Respect back Labour candidate Lutfur Rahman in Tower Hamlets mayoral election
and here is Andrew Gilligans take: Lutfur Rahman: yet more backers he really shouldn’t want
Heres again is my own recollection of the Rally earlier in the year, where Mr Galloway made his statement backing Lutfur Rahmans bid for Mayor. Why was it that no-one believed me then, some even laughing at my stating that Lutfur was even considering going for Mayor. IMO this signifies the real death of the Labour Party in this borough, a party that I’ve been almost conditioned to support from an early age, seems now to be imploding on itself locally. How they could not keep this scum-bag out of local politics, I’ll never know, and by finally announcing they will back Lutfurs bid for Mayor, their former political enemy, the Respect Party has finally lost it.
A member of a campaign to save Roman Road Market, has let me know that at tommorow evenings Council Meeting at Mulberry Place at 7:30pm, residents will be asking the council a question regarding the selling off of the Safeway’s Carpark. They would like to know if the council consulted any residents of the area before selling off this much needed carpark for £150,000 so that over 200 flats could be built.
If readers know anymore, or would like to contribute please respond through the comments or email..
Yesterday between 12 & 1pm estate cleaners & ground workers employed by Poplar Harca protested outside Poplar Harcas Offices in East India Dock Road. The protest has been bubbling up for quite some time, for over a year Estate Cleaners/Ground Workers have been feeling abused by Steve Stride’s approach to his front line staff.
Apparently Poplar Harca pay their estate cleaners/ground workers and gardening crew far below the London Living Wage which was set up because of the higher cost of living in London. The London Live Wage tackles poverty directly and gives workers the bare minimum that stops them falling into the poverty trap. In Tower Hamlets the workers claim to be the lowest paid estate cleaners of any organisation acrosss the entire borough.
All of the estate cleaners were working for an agency around 2 years ago, and were then brought in-house over two years ago. Those employees were given a contract that restricted them to wages that make it difficult to survive in todays climate.
They also suffer from restrictions on their actual pay-scale. They do not enjoy the same status as other Poplar Harca Employees when it comes to pay-scaling. Where all other employees enjoy regular pay reviews and differing levels of pay linked to time of service, those at the lowest end of the employee spectrum working for Poplar Harca are left out of these types of bonus structures. This they argue leaves a disallusioned workforce feeling left out and abused by their employer.
Add this to the fact that they were also burdened with a contract that tied them into also working one weekend a month for no extra pay. Working both Saturday and Sunday without pay left them feeling abused by their employer Poplar Harca. Over the past few years, they argue that Poplar Harca have slowly decimated the front line workforce, on some estates you would have had upto 8 estate cleaners, where now there are around 3 to 5 workers, this has led to increased patches for each worker and ultimately more work. If you go walking around the estates now, you will see weeds growing through concrete, rats and mice now plaguing the estates, and overworked and overburdend workforce.
For over 2 years they have been fighting to be heard by Mr Stride who apparently turns up in person to the meetings with Union reps, but still to this day they feel they are getting no-where. Steve Stride the CEO of Poplar Harca whos own wages have gone up by at least 73% since 2003 (over 3 times the rate of inflation). Who still is part of the Local Government Pension Scheme adminstered when he was a housing manager at Tower Hamlets Council cannot see that all of his employees should be paid at least the London Living Wage immediately, and from sources within Poplar Harca themselves doesn’t seem to support it.
“The living wage campaigners say that low pay condemns workers to a grinding life of poverty, many having to do two or three jobs, with limited time to see their own families. ” – BBC May 2010
Even Tower Hamlets Council has a policy on the London Living Wage, where all directly employed personel are at minimum paid the London Living Wage, and contracted ‘should’ be paid this scale. Shame they dont try and pressure their beloved partners though
Union reps met previous to yesterday’s protest and were told by Poplar Harca that the London Living Wage would be reflected in their pay no earlier than April 2011 over 8 months away, but were instructed that there would be no backdating of the payrise, unlike the cleaners for the London Underground. No promises were made either though regarding bringing all employees into the wage structuring that is enjoyed by all other employees
All those attending the protest turned up within their one unpaid dinner hour to show support for their representatives inside who were to have another meeting from 1pm onwards to try and negotiate again for the raise to start sooner than April. Cleaners I spoke to had still not heard the outcome of yesterdays meeting.
Tension surrounded the protest as around 5-10 members of staff including senior members of the cleaning staff and other supervisors turned up and stood apart from the protestors laughing and shouting abuse at the protestors, who felt this was “out of order”. This became so heated that some felt that a fight was about to break out.
I asked Debbie Cordrey – Poplar Harcas Chair of the Finance & Audit Board, about this neglect of estate cleaners myself in an earlier post, asking whether the rumours I was hearing were true regarding staff treatment. In her capacity as Chair of that board she would have probably been instrumental in descisions made regarding paying staff wage rates that can lead people into poverty. After accusing me of “suggesting that we (Poplar Harca) are some kind of secret society that meets under cover of darkness” she then goes on to avoid answering the question. I wonder if Debbie who was Senior Unison shop steward at Island Homes, who was summarily dismissed on 4 February 2009 from Island Homes, and is now a public champion for Poplar Harca, I wonder if she would spare a thought now for those down-trodden by Poplar Harca. I wonder also if she knows the Unison representatives trying to fight for the cleaners, as a senior shop steward herself for Unison, I wonder how she feels?. Not enough I imagine to answer a simple question over a month ago, about issues she probably once stood for.
Mayor Boris Johnson is so supportive of the idea of the London Living Wage, and sees the need to give assistance to those who are most vulnerable to the effects of falling into poverty within London, has just recently raised the London Living Wage by another 25 pence per hour to £7.85 per hour.
As I’ve already stated in my earlier post, sources tell me that apparently Poplar Harca Estate Cleaners are the lowest paid in the borough, whether thats true or not, it is a fact that Poplar Harca cannot seem to see the importance of the London Living Wage. As campaigners keep pushing, this is about being treated fairly and bringing a small sense of pride in working at the bottom end of the scale. Its not much to ask, they dont want the earth but just a ‘dignified form of living’…
As always if there is anything you read here that is incorrect or that you dispute, please contact me and I will retract any statements that you prove otherwise. Unlike some I undoubtedly encourage free and open discussion, in fact I demand it. All responses will be published unless containing any defamatory, abusive or other derogatory statements.
Connaught have called in KPMG to handle the administration of the company. KPMG are hoping that the majority of workers jobs can be transferred to other companies.
What does this mean for the future of Tower Hamlets Homes Major Works programme? Lets also hope that in this uncertain time that these workers manage to find work elsewhere. Reading between the lines though, it would seem this may be just the tip of the iceberg for these type of companies.
For all those interested in the history of scandals and state of this company and its downfall, I’ve assembled a few interesting links for you:
Using the word “Connaught” as a search in Inside Housing Magazines search engine brings every article up regarding the company in date order: “Connaught at Inside Housing Magazine”
Using the same search at the Telegraph: “Connaught at the Telegraph”
On another note; sorry to all of you that have been salivating at the thought of my latest articles, *wink, I’m sorry that I’ve not been writing anything, just had other stuff get in the way. I’ll try to pick up the pace again soon.
Just an update really.
Connaught, one of the Councils Major Works Contractors has suspended share trading today amid concerns for its future….