Roundup - September 2023
September was really an active month!
I campaigned both locally and nationally, standing up for Romford at all levels and utilising my position as a committee chairman to ensure real scrutiny.
This involved meeting MPs, from Conservatives and Labour, and explaining Havering's financial situation around housing. More on that below. I also oversaw a committee meeting that looked at housing repairs across the borough. And, during full council I asked two questions with one focusing on preserving our town's heritage.
Scrutiny also extended to 'calling in' a decision made by the administration, which will see Havering commit £10m to providing housing for Ukrainian refugees. I felt that the decision shouldn't go through without some tough questions.
Alongside my scrutiny, I've also written some thought pieces. This includes some in the Havering Daily and another in the national Conservative blog 'Conservative Home'. Being asked to contribute to a national platform is a real honour and it is a chance for me to influence the national party and national politics as well as local.
National and local politics shouldn't be separated, they sit side by side. Councillors are the best people to tell Parliamentarians about the problems in our ward, we have a much closer connection to residents than most politicians.
I am committed to using my platform to champion Romford and Havering. It'll be uncomfortable at times. I'll be challenging my own party as much as I challenge Labour and the HRA. I think that's the right thing to do.
Finally, I've been using my position to discuss the topic of immigration. It's one that I'm getting a lot of flack for, especially from some traditional Conservative voters. I'm not afraid to debate and to hold different views on certain topics. Good political parties have robust debate and often have a wide spectrum of views. This is how it should be.
I appreciate that not all of you will agree with my stance on migration and nationalism. But, I appreciate your continued engagement with me. Debate makes us stronger.
So, as we ramp up into the pumpkin-spice season (Autumn is my favourite by far), I wish you all the best and hope that you continue to engage with politicians local and national.
Don't give us an easy ride, we answer to you.
On 11th September, I took part in an all party parliamentary group (APPG) on temporary accommodation and homelessness.
I raised the problem that Havering is facing, where the housing allowance for those on welfare doesn't cover rent costs. I suggested that this needs to be raised otherwise Havering will be stuck.
I also called for clarity on new building safety laws, which have cause a halt on the Waterloo Development.
After my visit, I have received an invitation to meet further and to help a presentation to the treasury. London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, (who has a staff member at the meeting) has also since called on the government for clarity on building safety law.
It is my responsibility, as a representative for Romford and Havering, to put residents above party politics. I'm not afraid to lobby my own!
Read more about my visit on the link below.
I continue to highlight issues with fly-tipping in Como St car park.
My most recent report was marked as 'cleared' by the council, despite the mess being there 3 weeks later.
Today, 29th September, the site is finally cleared. But, a lot of mess remains.
Como St car park is being sold, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored and left to become a dumping group. The site is covered by CCTV and so prosecution is possible.
Given that the council are cracking down hard on residents who litter, I'd like to see them work harder to fine those dumping across Romford.
A new waste management contract is coming into place soon. I'll be working closely with Officers to ensure they prioritise fly-tipping.
I'll be holding my next ward surgery on October 14th. This will take place between 12:00 - 14:00 at Hope Cafe, on Romford market.
If you have an issue you'd like to raise with me, and if I'm your local councillor, drop by to chat. The coffee is on me.
Protecting Romford's History
I'm proud of Romford, it's a place of fantastic history and we can really make the best of that. However, it will require a commitment from out council.
That's why, during full council on September 6th, I asked the administration to commit to expanding our conservation area. I'm pleased to say that the administration signalled they understand the importance of protecting our heritage and identity and that they are going to carry out a consultation.
£10 million for Refugee Housing
Imagine you are in charge of a council with a huge housing waiting list. You are given a chance to get 20 homes for free, paid for by government.
The catch? For the next 3 years you have to house refugee families and you have to buy 30 homes on your own.
That's the situation Havering was given, with a grant of £6.5m offered in the event Havering committed £10m of their own.
The administration approved the grant but, I felt it needed more investigation and so I 'called it in' for scrutiny.
The short of it is that this represents a great deal for Havering. In 3 years, we will have homes we wouldn't otherwise have had. Homes we can house local families in, paid for by Government. It will mean a reduction in our spend to keep people in hotels and a stable family home for the most vulnerable.
Read more on this scheme, and why I think supporting refugees makes financial sense for Havering.
Poor Kids Can't Eat Flags
In a contribution to national Conservative blog, Conservative Home, I encourage my party colleagues to talk less about flags and immigration and to focus on something more important.
It's a national emergency and a tragedy that 1/3 children live in poverty and many go without food. Our poor can't fill their stomachs with union flags and shouts of "God Save The King".
I'm a patriot but, before knocking on doors to talk about flags, I want to talk about what can be done to reduce the cost of living and to get food into kids stomachs.
Read my piece on the link below.
What's On In Romford?
Romford FC are at home to Little Oakley. Romford have had a great start to the season and are just 3 points (1 win) behind league leaders. They have lost just 1 league game this season.
Find out how to watch them, as well as more on their Women's team at www.romfordfc.com.
Quiz Night is every Thursday at the Golden Lion. Proceeds go to Macmillan.
Madonna tribute act, Laura King is performing at the RUSSC on 13th October. Tickets are £10 for non-members, details below.