Councillor Report (May-June 2018)

General News: This has been a very busy month and within a day of getting elected I have immersed myself in council and ward activities. I have been appointed on the overview and scrutiny committee of the council and the Health and Wellbeing Board. I am pleased to be on both bodies. I have also attended three Labour group meetings now. I am happy to report that amongst the Mayor’s 5 pledges, the Anti academisation motion that was passed earlier last year is in the process of being formalised in the next few weeks. I also attended the first Citizen’s Assembly on 24th May 2018 which was the first such activity involving participatory democratic practices in local authority.

Health and Wellbeing Board: I have recently attended the first inaugural health and wellbeing board which only includes three councillors (Cllr Masters, Cllr Marriott and myself) and is chaired by the Mayor herself. In the first meeting on 13th June 2018 we discussed issues around the Best Start in Life Scheme, the borough mental health strategy. It was pointed out by myself and the mayor that the report/document provided with regard to mental health strategy needed a fresh approach. The Health Watch report had some interesting ideas about practice visits. One of the partners Powerhouse works specifically with women with learning disabilities. They are based in Canning Town South (chaired by Cllr Ruiz) and over the coming days I shall be liaising with them more to make this a priority agenda for me on the board.

There is much more to be done on this and a half day away day workshop is being organising between CCG and LBN to strategize our response for next year.

Surgeries: In the last 5 weeks I have already received more than fifteen case work on various issues ranging from environment, parking and housing in the branch. Two of the most challenging so far has been related to housing. They are both very complicated and despite my best efforts not all decisions have been positive. I am working closely with the Cabinet lead for housing, Cllr Gray to see how best we can help.

I have received casework from two residents in Paragon Close regarding Parking and harassment. I have referred it to the members enquiry team. Once I hear more I shall be able to respond.

I have also been following up a casework regarding Japanese knotweed which is a rather harmful form of weed which is illegal to dump and needs urgent action by the environment team. I can report more on this when I hear more.

My casework timings for this year will be every first Thursday of the month from 6-8 PM. I had my first formal surgery on 07th June 2018 in the Canning Town Library

Meetings:

On 20th May 2018, the three CTS councillors met to discuss strategic plans for the ward and how the three of us would work and share the casework load.

On 21st May 2018 we had the first informal Neighbourhood meeting which was attended by CTS, CTN and CH councillors. Important issues regarding all three wards were discussed. With regard to parking our joint decision was to have a similar parking restriction to CTN 10-2 (5days a week) which seems to work well in that ward. It was acknowledged the restriction in CTS and CH were difficult and caused too much hardship for our residents and visitors.

30th May 2018- I attended two meetings. One was with Lisa Preston who is Community and Enforcement manager for our neighbourhood regarding crime prevention. I asked her for an audit of what existing video cameras exist and whether it is possible to move things around depending on ’crime hotspots’. I was told video cameras cost up to £30,000 so it is not very straightforward to request more unless a case can be made.

On the same day the three councillors also met up with River Christian Centre to discuss their ambitious development plans which will whilst keeping the community at the heart of all decision making lead to regeneration of the area with new affordable residential homes. Given I am not on strategic planning I am not entirely involved with it. Overall the initial plans are very promising.

09th June 2018- Cllr Alan Griffiths, Unmesh Desai AM and myself (amongst others) attended the Cooperative Party Local Government Conference. As the three CTS Cllrs are Labour-Coop we are very committed to making cooperative principles part of our long term strategy in the borough. I attended panels on community wealth making based on the Preston Council model, the modern slavery charter amongst others. I have let Cllr Griffiths and the Mayor know about my intention to champion and bring forward a council strategy towards modern slavery and making sure we become signatories of the modern slavery charter.

12th June 2018- I attended a community walk about with CH councillors and borough officers. We walked around Freemason’s road and Edwin Close in CTS and other roads in CH. Concerns were raised about crime and also how the Freemason’s road needed a major uplift.

15th June 2018- I attended a meeting with Unmesh Desai AM in the City Hall to discuss crime related issues in CTS. Given his role on the Police Crime committee he has promised to help us with our queries. A joint strategy with him and CTN councillor – Cllr Mohammed is being devised.

Community events:

22nd May 2018- I attended Ramadan Radio where I spoke alongside Detective Superintendent of the borough Shabnam Chaudhry regarding crime and what we could do as a borough. My point was increasing youth services and finding ways to fund it. Research shows this leads to reduction of crime.

24th May 2018- I attended the opening of the Rosetta Arts Centre Wharfside Art Tunnel which connects the Nature Park with CTN through the underpass. The nature park for those who don’t know is part of our borough. More details here: http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/a13-underpass-in-canning-town-transformed-into-urban-artwork-1-5529750

03 June 2018- I attended a community Iftar event organised by Imaan and the Inclusive Mosque Initiative at St Ethelburga’s Church.

16th June 2018- I attended the first Queer Newham event in Stratford Library with Cllrs Garfield, Osei and Paul. I remain committed to making our borough safe and welcoming for everyone irrespective of their gender, race or sexuality. Some of you will remember the FOI I carried out last year (http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/crime-court/sharp-spike-in-homophobic-crime-in-newham-despite-survey-s-claim-it-is-best-london-borough-for-gay-parents-1-5159071) which showed the high levels of homophobic hate crime in the borough. I shall be working closely with fellow councillors and community groups to tackle this.

Labour Party Activities:

  • I campaigned for Janet Daby in the Lewisham East by election.

  • I have been elected on the national committee of the LGBT Labour socialist society.

  • Organising a one day event with Young Fabians in Newham for July.

You can download a printable version of this report from here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WqaxkeLROqxMBTEAtRckJuMMZrWcpdZ_/view

© 2019 Rohit K Dasgupta

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