Things got busy again, after a short period of quiet over December.
Whilst meetings haven't yet got back into full swing (a few have been cancelled), they are happening. Casework is also keeping me busy and picking up fast.
Questions To Council
During Council, on January 18th, I put 4 questions to the administration.
First, I asked if they'd meet with Romford FC and discuss plans to bring the team home. I'm proud to support our local football club and have the shirt to prove it!
Sporting clubs, like Romford FC, are vital to their community. They provide a community asset and bring all walks of life together. It's time Romford FC get a ground in Romford.
I asked the administration for information on the levels of benefit fraud in Havering. Unfortunately, they don't have this data as it is collected by DWP.
My final two questions related to the budget consultation. I secured a commitment, from the administration, for publishing the response data in full. This will allow us to see if they are ignoring the public or not.
I also raised concerns that the consultation was misleading. It gave two different figures for the waste collection costs. £650k per year, or £745k over 4 years. It can't be both.
Read my in-depth report on full council on the link below.
I've been fighting hard to support vulnerable residents in Romford's High St.
Residents contacted me to report drug addicts sleeping in the communal area. The front door had been broken and they would often defecate there. Residents encountered this every day, but felt ignored.
I worked with them to secure action from Havering Council. A new door is on the way and a Closure Order has been issued by the courts. This makes it illegal for anyone to be in the building without the resident's permission.
Speaking Up For Romford
Major London news outlet, My London called me for a comment on Romford. They were putting together an article about how North Street has ben forgotten and has fallen into decline.
They questioned whether Romford needs or wants the higher-end homes planned for the area, and whether Romford was more of a low-income area.
I commented that I thought the development there was a vote of confidence in our town. I believe that we need a mixed economy here, not just the low-end. I'm proud of our town and I'm proud that it's attracting young professionals as well as those on lower incomes.
Romford is a great place to live!
Yet again, I came across fly-tipping. Yet again, I got my hands dirty and uncovered the source.
If fly-tipping contains addressed mail, it can legally be blamed on that address. Within reason. What I found showed that the household waste came from a flat just 10 metres away. I passed the evidence to Havering Council, who'll issue a fine and who quickly cleared it away.
All credit to our street cleaning team!
I'm going to be taking a deeper dive into fly-tipping in Havering. Colleagues and I will be putting together a strategy to present to the administration. We believe the proposed fortnightly bin collections could make things worse.
I've also collected the last 7 years of data around the amount of fly-tips and the cost to the council. There are some gaps, which I'm trying to fill, but I then aim to publish this and to reveal if things are getting better or worse.
A new Asda
Plans have been submitted for a new Asda Express in the old Romford Station Co-Op. The application is for a licence to supply alcohol.
I've got concerns about another supply of cheap alcohol in our town-centre, as well as whether these supermarkets are hurting our pubs and restaurants.
I'll be keeping an eye on this application.
Councillor Ray Morgon reaffirmed the HRA's commitment to delivering the Bridge Close development in Romford.
Bridge Close will see an additional 1000 homes in our town centre. The council has set aside around £75m for the development, which will also include a new school.
And the rest
January saw Romford host a Lunar New Year celebration in the market, also known as Chinese New Year. This marked the year of the Rabbit for most SE Asian countries. Others mark it as the year of the cat.
As usual I published my payslips, which was picked up by The Telegraph in the daily political brief (image below). This month I also mulled over the sacking of Nadhim Zahawi.