Roundup - November
I was told that things get a bit quieter over November, but boy was that wrong. There's no rest for the wicked, and none for me either!
Much of the month was spent supporting various local causes and groups, which I'll outline below. But there was also plenty of casework to deal with. As the cold weather sets in, people are raising more concerns over their housing. I've seen cases of mis-repair, neglect, and some serious issues around anti-social behaviour.
Everyone deserves a decent home, whether they are a social tenant or private owner. If you're a council tenant or leaseholder and have issues with your property, drop me an email and I'll see how I can support you.
Due to a change in the date, and a pre-planned family occasion, I missed my first meeting as a Councillor. I was due to be at the Overview & Scrutiny Board on December 10th, Cllr Viddy Persaud stood in for me.
A calendar of meetings I attended is below.
Finally, of all the things to highlight from November, I wanted to thank you for the privilege I had of laying a wreath on Remembrance Sunday. I only have this honour as I have been elected as your Councillor. It was moving to see so many people turn up and to see the town united in remembering those who have lost their wars due to war.
As always, please get in touch if you have any questions or concerns. And, keep warm if you can.
Town Hall Meetings - November Click underlined dates for agenda
7th - Safeguarding Conference on Domestic Violence
17th - Voluntary Sector Compact
Protecting Weekly Bin Collections
Hopefully you've seen my campaigning around protecting our weekly bin collections.
Labour and the Resident's Association (HRA) have proposed cutting bin collections to a fortnightly collection. They claim that this is a much-needed cost-cutting exercise.
Investigation into the details has shown that it may not break even for over a decade, meaning the council spending money it doesn't have at a time when they are cutting back funding to vital services such as the Citizen's Advice Bureau.
I've been out campaigning to keep the collections weekly, with a borough wide petition and regular press coverage. I also tabled a motion, in Council, to protect weekly collections and to carry out a properly costed consultation. Labour and the HRA voted against the motion, in favour of continuing their consultation, complete with the incorrect claim about making a saving.
This issue will impact every home in the borough. I believe Labour and the HRA are playing politics with this, to justify cuts in other areas.
You can read the council's response to my petition on the link below.
Poor housing conditions
High Street - Romford
I was contacted by a resident who is facing horrendous conditions in council housing. The communal area to their block is being used by drug users, who defecate and sleep there. They have raised this issue with the council multiple times - with no luck.
On flagging the issue with housing, I secured a visit from council officers. They identified a broken door, which is now due for urgent repair, as well as a communal door that is propped open. Allowing entry to anyone.
Officers will now be visiting the block daily.
Slow Repairs - Rotunda
Residents in the Rotunda often write to me about slow repairs and mis-repairs. This includes the doors, lifts, and this month a serious leak.
A leak was spotted dripping from the building on to the carport below. Cars were being damaged by dripping paint and material was seen coming away from the ceiling and walls. Council officers inspected the site and identified a leak as coming from a residential property. They have, since, been liaising with the resident to prevent the leak.
I have been informed that the council inspect their housing stock roughly once every 5 years, with a maintenance schedule being designed around that. The Rotunda isn't down for any new doors however, I will continue to report all issues in a hope to get it prioritised.
Community cohesion is important to me so, I attend the monthly Interfaith Forum as well as sitting on SACRE (the body that governs religious education in Havering).
The Interfaith Forum held a quiz night in November, which my team won! I'm not taking the credit though, we won due to a 'fastest finger first', thanks to a teammate.
Whilst great fun, the night also played an important role in highlighting that we have more in common than not. Did you know, for example, that the Islamic call to prayer is essentially the Lord's Prayer (as said by Christians)?
As Havering becomes increasingly diverse, it's important that we make efforts to understand each other. The Interfaith Forum meets monthly, and you'll be more than welcome. We all bring food to share and rotate between different places of worship. Each evening consists of talks from the faith leaders on a pre-agreed topics. People of no-faith are also represented!
The fantastic team at TFL and Network Rail took a group of us on a tour of the revamped Romford Station. This was a chance to see the huge amount of work they have undertaken, making most of the station accessible by lift. I used this opportunity to also flag the state of the underside of the railway bridge and to highlight the dangerous lights outside the station.
I got down to my first Romford Town game and watched them thump Halstead 4-1. Unfortunately, Romford have to play far outside the town, and this limits who will travel to see them. It's high time we work out how to bring them back to Romford!
Finally, I attended a meeting of voluntary sector leaders at Havering Volunteer Centre (HVC). Our borough is alive with a huge voluntary sector, but it is often unseen. HVC is working to raise awareness of volunteers in line with London's Lifelines, a campaign which launches Monday. Check out their website and let them know if you volunteer.
As the Member Champion for the Voluntary sector, I've written to the council with suggestions on how they can maintain funding for the HVC and our local CAB. Now is not the time to strip these services, as more and more people come to rely on them.
Going door to door
Whilst I am very active on social media, it's not the real world and it isn't where I am going to meet those most in need.
This is why I spend at least one evening a week going door to door in my ward. Recently, I've been securing signatures for my bin petition, but I've also been picking up some great casework.
If you have an issue on your street, that you'd like me to come and speak to residents about, drop me an email.
I would usually have published my payslip, as a Councillor, with this update. However, it hasn't yet arrived in the post. As soon as I have it, I'll get it up online.