Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats are prepared to hit the ground running for the snap election sought by Prime Minister Theresa May in an announcement this morning and expected to be backed by the House of Commons in a vote tomorrow.
The two constituencies in the borough will be fought by experienced local campaigners, with Elaine Bagshaw standing for Poplar and Limehouse and Will Dyer running in Bethnal Green and Bow.
A damning report from Ofsted released today shows that children most at risk of harm are being failed by the local Labour Council. Children’s services and safeguarding were rated inadequate overall, with particular concern expressed that “Insufficient scrutiny by the chief executive, the Director of Children’s Services (DCS) and politicians has meant that they did not know about the extent of the failures to protect children until this inspection.”
Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrat members attended the party's Spring conference in York last week, voting with other party members for motions calling on the Government to provide emergency financial assistance to the National Health Service, create an 'NHS Passport' for the 59,000 EU citizens working for the NHS and reinstate the 'Dubs' scheme to provide sanctuary to unaccompanied child refugees stranded in Europe.
As you may be aware, a planning application has been submitted for King Henry’s Wharf and Phoenix Wharf and the Construction Management Plan for the development is currently open for comments. These buildings are beautiful parts of our Wapping community, and it is a shame that they been have left unused for so long. However, the plan to re-develop them will cause a great amount of disruption to traffic in Wapping.
Please look at the Construction Management Plan here, and comment by 23 March at the latest. You can email comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate the need for housing across Tower Hamlets, and would love to see these beautiful areas developed. However, the disruption to our lives during this time would only be worthwhile if we see significant commitment to social/affordable housing, and an improvement to local services:
- What is the commitment to social and affordable housing in this development?
- What is the commitment to sustainable development: parking and services to support the additional number of properties?
- What will be the impact on the 100 bus service and other road transport?
- What other options have been considered, which would avoid so much disruption to Wapping High Street
- Will the Council respond to our comments with a consultation before approving this plan?
We believe in the sustainable development of good, affordable housing in Tower Hamlets. But we should not accept major disruption to Wapping residents without sufficient local benefit.
This weekend, our friends at Community Solutions will once again be holding a mini-marathon around the Shadwell Basin.
Community Solutions is an important part of our local community, and works with local groups to provide services and help raise funds. They help with lots of services including "Helping Hands" supporting at-need people in the community, and "Trumpers Jumpers" giving fun activities for children.
Please come along on Saturday if you can, at the Shadwell Basin from 11.00-16.00. If you can't make it in person, you can donate on the JustGiving page here.
Locals in Wapping are reaching the end of their tether with dangerous driving around Wapping every evening.
Youths are using our quiet streets for car racing, with car crashes, drug use and intimidation a common problem. We are calling for proper policing in the area, and this has become urgent with a number of car crashes in recent weeks.
We have met the head of Tower Hamlets Police, who has called for more police in our Borough, to reflect the increasing crime and population. Local campaigner Stephen O’Shea says “Commander Williams is committed to fixing anti-social behaviour in Wapping. However, she can’t do this until the Mayor of London improves police numbers in Tower Hamlets. Let’s help our police and build a campaign for proper policing in the Borough.”
Please support this by signing our petition, sending Mayor Sadiq Khan a message to give Wapping and Tower Hamlets the police that we need.
Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats are calling for an investigation into the handling by the Metropolitan Police of allegations of corrupt and illegal practices during the 2014 Mayoral election. We are backing a letter from Steve O’Connell, Chair of the GLA’s Police and Crime Committee, requesting the Deputy Mayor of London for Policing and Crime to initiate a probe into how no criminal prosecutions were pursued, despite significant evidence.
The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government’s failure to provide enough extra cash for the NHS in today’s budget, warning that local services will struggle to cope with growing demand.
Ahead of the budget the Liberal Democrats called for a £4 billion funding boost for NHS and care services this year. That would amount to a cash injection of £10 million for local NHS services in Tower Hamlets and £11.3 million for social care across Tower Hamlets. The Budget announced by the Government today will instead see the share of national income spent on the NHS fall in the coming years.
NHS services in Tower Hamlets currently face a funding gap of £578 million by 2020-21, analysis of local NHS plans has found. The NHS funding crisis also risks being made even worse by the Government’s hard Brexit plans, which are set to increase borrowing by £100bn in the coming years.
Liberal Democrat spokesperson Elaine Bagshaw commented:
“The Government is refusing to stump up the extra cash NHS services in Tower Hamlets so desperately need.
"This is a woefully inadequate response to the impossible pressure our NHS and care services are under.
“Chronic underfunding of our NHS is leading to longer waiting lists, cancelled operations and loved ones being stranded in hospital.
“Only the Liberal Democrats are being upfront with people that to protect our NHS and care services, we may all need to pay a little more in tax.
“We will also stand up against Theresa May’s reckless plans to pull out of the Single Market that will blow a £100 billion hole in the public finances. It’s clear you can’t have strong NHS and care services with a hard Brexit.”
Plans to change business rates that will see massive rises for London shops and other small businesses while going easy on off-shore multi-national internet giants have been slammed by the Liberal Democrats.
Official figures show that Tower Hamlets area will see business rates rise by 8.7 per cent.
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrat PPC for Poplar & Limehouse constituency, said:
“Many local small businesses are extremely worried about this change. Against a backdrop of increased rents and fierce competition from online retailers, many shops and small businesses are being punished by the Conservative government simply for committing to the economic life of their neighbourhoods.
“Why should a local sandwich shop face an increase that could threaten its entire business, yet Amazon’s giant warehouses enjoy a taxcut?
“If that were not galling enough, local firms have to pay increased business rates for improvements they make to properties that in many cases they don’t even own. Even the Conservatives should admit that this cannot be fair. It is time they held their hand up, admitted they have got this all wrong, and start again.”
Elaine Bagshaw has called for ministers to reform both business rates and corporation tax so firms will be taxed according to their ability to pay. Elaine Bagshaw added: “Vince Cable is chairing a commission for the Liberal Democrats to come up with a fair and effective system. The sad thing is that this was avoidable, but the Conservatives shelved a proposal from the Liberal Democrats during the last coalition government to reform the system.
“Small business owners in Tower Hamlets are already reeling from the Conservative Brexit government’s decision to go for a hard Brexit and take us out of the Single Market. Now they are being asked to pick up the tab while the government let big international business off the hook. This is yet another example of a Conservative Government that has lost any right to call itself ‘the Party of Business’.”
After a Council meeting lasting over three and a half hours, we left still with no clarity over what’s happening with children centres and youth services but with a clear picture of the disfunction on the Council, which operates without an effective opposition and is letting residents down.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Andrew Cregan said, “Liberal Democrats have been vocal on the need for this budget to protect our vital children’s centres and nurseries. We hope the services will be preserved as the Mayor and Labour councillors have promised, and we will be watching closely to ensure young people and mothers don’t bear the brunt of these changes.
We’re glad the Mayor has listened to our concerns and is setting up a taskforce to look into the impact of Brexit on our borough. Many businesses in our area are dependent on access to the single market, and we have many EU citizens living in the borough who have no idea what will happen to them in the future. I look forward to taking part in the taskforce and ensuring businesses and residents are able to prepare for the impact of the Conservatives’ Hard Brexit.”
Parliamentary spokesperson for Poplar & Limehouse Elaine Bagshaw said, “The Council meeting itself was a shambles. Insults thrown back and forth from the opposition and Labour benches. A Speaker totally incapable of controlling the meeting. Opposition “amendments” that were actually just political posturing with no real attempt to amend the budget and make things better for local people. Tower Hamlets needs and deserves a fresh start - a total and clean break with the baggage of the past so that we can build a better borough for local residents.”