Labour chief whip Cllr Azfal Akram 'conspired to fix controversial planning applications' in Waltham Forest

Cllr Akram denies any wrongdoing.

Cllr Akram denies any wrongdoing.

First published in News East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

The chief whip of the Labour Party in Waltham Forest tried to fix the outcome of controversial planning applications relating to mosques by threatening a councillor with deselection, his colleague has claimed.

Cllr Azfal Akram is accused of trying to pressurise Cllr Karen Bellamy into supporting proposals for a mosque in Higham Hill, Walthamstow.

He is also said to have urged her to vote through a mosque expansion in Chingford Mount Road and the conversion of Leytonstone's Colgrave Arms pub into a mosque at a meeting in September 2012.

In addition, he is alleged to have put further pressure on another of his Labour colleagues and planning committee member, Cllr Ebony Vincent.

The Higham Hill application was not submitted or discussed at the September meeting, but the other two were.

The committee agreed with the recommendation of officers on the items, rejecting the Chingford application but approving the Leytonstone one.

The allegations were made by chairman of the planning committee, Cllr Peter Barnett.

He said the alleged attempts could expose the council to legal challenges over decisions to approve other controversial applications, such as the bid to build a housing estate at Walthamstow Stadium. 

Cllr Akram denies the allegations.

The Labour Party announced it had suspended Cllr Akram as chief whip in October last year, but no details of the allegations were made public.

Now the full content of Cllr Barnett's complaint has been published ahead of a meeting of councillors to discuss the claims on Monday January 21.

Cllr Barnett claims Cllr Akram spoke to Cllr Bellamy prior to the meeting and then put pressure on both her and Cllr Vincent during it by using eye contact and gesticulating.

Cllr Akram also sent Cllr Bellamy a text message during the discussion of the Colgrave Arms item, which said: "I HOPE YOU ARE GOING TO SUPPORT THIS ONE".

Then a week later Cllr Vincent told Cllr Barnett she had received a phone call from the owner of the Star of India restaurant in Leytonstone, Shah Ahmed.

Cllr Barnett said: "He [Mr Ahmed] asked councillor Ebony Vincent to thank me on his behalf as he was told by councillor Afzal Akram...that he (Afzal Akram) had reached a deal with me over application 2012/0028 [Colgrave Arms] to predetermine the outcome.

"I completely refute these allegations".

He added: "These matters must be investigated or it calls in to question all recent decisions of the planning committee.

"The EMD, and the dog track could be called in for a judicial review because of suspected predetermination.

"I would finally state both myself and all other members of the planning committee make decisions on planning issues only".

In his evidence to the panel, Cllr Akram said he did not put pressure on any councillors and said the text message to Cllr Bellamy was "tongue in cheek".

Cllr Akram added he had discussed the application with Cllr Bellamy but was only answering her questions about what the reaction would be from the Muslim community if she did vote against it.

He claimed that the allegations are malicious because Cllr Barnett was worried that Cllr Akram would change the people on the committee.

He said: "I think I am being got at by Councillor Barnett or there is a wider conspiracy.

"This sort of thing happens around selection time.

"Cllr Barnett has had it in for me for a while. He lost his position in 2008, I think, as Chief Whip to a councillor I put up and supported." 

Comments (38)

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4:33pm Mon 14 Jan 13

NorthcoterE17 says...

It is good that this is out in the open, finally.

It's no surprise that Council planning votes are pre-determined. Usually 4:3 in favour.

Applause to those who have risked de-selection in order to blow the whistle on this malpractice.

Cllr Akram should step down. LBWF's long lost credibility has just sunk another depth. A full INDEPENDENT inquiry into the Stadium decision is needed. While at it, it would be worth investigating how the Leyton Marsh ODA basketball centre got the go ahead. Did it not transpire that free Olympic tickets were given to those who helped make the centre happen?
And now there is talk of developing Leyton Marsh again for a permanent larger Ice Rink.

If the Whip himself is corrupt, what chance for ensuring the cabinet acts with honesty & integrity?
It is good that this is out in the open, finally. It's no surprise that Council planning votes are pre-determined. Usually 4:3 in favour. Applause to those who have risked de-selection in order to blow the whistle on this malpractice. Cllr Akram should step down. LBWF's long lost credibility has just sunk another depth. A full INDEPENDENT inquiry into the Stadium decision is needed. While at it, it would be worth investigating how the Leyton Marsh ODA basketball centre got the go ahead. Did it not transpire that free Olympic tickets were given to those who helped make the centre happen? And now there is talk of developing Leyton Marsh again for a permanent larger Ice Rink. If the Whip himself is corrupt, what chance for ensuring the cabinet acts with honesty & integrity? NorthcoterE17
  • Score: 0

4:44pm Mon 14 Jan 13

SXH says...

The Leytonstone one was strange, The truth is coming out Cllr Akram

.
The Leytonstone one was strange, The truth is coming out Cllr Akram . SXH
  • Score: 0

4:45pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Trevor 2 says...

Only to be expected from the violin players in the big white building on Forest Road!
Only to be expected from the violin players in the big white building on Forest Road! Trevor 2
  • Score: 0

4:51pm Mon 14 Jan 13

SXH says...

NorthcoterE17 wrote:
It is good that this is out in the open, finally. It's no surprise that Council planning votes are pre-determined. Usually 4:3 in favour. Applause to those who have risked de-selection in order to blow the whistle on this malpractice. Cllr Akram should step down. LBWF's long lost credibility has just sunk another depth. A full INDEPENDENT inquiry into the Stadium decision is needed. While at it, it would be worth investigating how the Leyton Marsh ODA basketball centre got the go ahead. Did it not transpire that free Olympic tickets were given to those who helped make the centre happen? And now there is talk of developing Leyton Marsh again for a permanent larger Ice Rink. If the Whip himself is corrupt, what chance for ensuring the cabinet acts with honesty & integrity?
I agree, anyone corrupt should be out. too much going on in this borough needs investigating.

It's how many get voted in each year.
[quote][p][bold]NorthcoterE17[/bold] wrote: It is good that this is out in the open, finally. It's no surprise that Council planning votes are pre-determined. Usually 4:3 in favour. Applause to those who have risked de-selection in order to blow the whistle on this malpractice. Cllr Akram should step down. LBWF's long lost credibility has just sunk another depth. A full INDEPENDENT inquiry into the Stadium decision is needed. While at it, it would be worth investigating how the Leyton Marsh ODA basketball centre got the go ahead. Did it not transpire that free Olympic tickets were given to those who helped make the centre happen? And now there is talk of developing Leyton Marsh again for a permanent larger Ice Rink. If the Whip himself is corrupt, what chance for ensuring the cabinet acts with honesty & integrity?[/p][/quote]I agree, anyone corrupt should be out. too much going on in this borough needs investigating. It's how many get voted in each year. SXH
  • Score: 0

4:53pm Mon 14 Jan 13

yummystow says...

If this issue is been looked at maybe all the planning permissions given by the council over the last 5 years need to be investigated.
If this issue is been looked at maybe all the planning permissions given by the council over the last 5 years need to be investigated. yummystow
  • Score: 1

5:00pm Mon 14 Jan 13

SXH says...

True i think all that Cllr Akram has been involved with needs investigating.
True i think all that Cllr Akram has been involved with needs investigating. SXH
  • Score: 1

5:10pm Mon 14 Jan 13

Sam Hain says...

"tongue in cheek"? I hope it's boot up backside!
"tongue in cheek"? I hope it's boot up backside! Sam Hain
  • Score: 0

5:32pm Mon 14 Jan 13

NT says...

Its all here:
http://democracy.wal
thamforest.gov.uk/ie
ListDocuments.aspx?C
Id=611&MId=3142&Ver=
4
Worth reading if you like a laugh!
Its all here: http://democracy.wal thamforest.gov.uk/ie ListDocuments.aspx?C Id=611&MId=3142&Ver= 4 Worth reading if you like a laugh! NT
  • Score: 0

6:28pm Mon 14 Jan 13

cynicalsue says...

NT wrote:
Its all here:
http://democracy.wal

thamforest.gov.uk/ie

ListDocuments.aspx?C

Id=611&MId=3142&
amp;Ver=
4
Worth reading if you like a laugh!
Let's hope that they haven't stored the evidence in the asbestos-filled basement!
[quote][p][bold]NT[/bold] wrote: Its all here: http://democracy.wal thamforest.gov.uk/ie ListDocuments.aspx?C Id=611&MId=3142& amp;Ver= 4 Worth reading if you like a laugh![/p][/quote]Let's hope that they haven't stored the evidence in the asbestos-filled basement! cynicalsue
  • Score: 0

7:09pm Mon 14 Jan 13

SXH says...

That's an excuse they seem to use allot now.
That's an excuse they seem to use allot now. SXH
  • Score: 0

8:01pm Mon 14 Jan 13

NDevoto says...

"I completely refute these allegations".

refute means to prove something wrong.
He has so far failed to do so.

-
"I completely refute these allegations". refute means to prove something wrong. He has so far failed to do so. - NDevoto
  • Score: 0

8:16pm Mon 14 Jan 13

waltham says...

The photo is great with Cllr "fix" Robbins behind ---only one missing Cllr "l&Q" Pye ...

The dog track was "fixed " everybody in the borough knows that.

4-3 you cant beat it !!!!!

L&Q -l hope you have not paid out -some people might not return the money
The photo is great with Cllr "fix" Robbins behind ---only one missing Cllr "l&Q" Pye ... The dog track was "fixed " everybody in the borough knows that. 4-3 you cant beat it !!!!! L&Q -l hope you have not paid out -some people might not return the money waltham
  • Score: 0

8:43pm Mon 14 Jan 13

bishbosh says...

@ waltham...i guess we all have to be careful what we say on these threads but anyone with a brain can see what happened over the dog track. With WF lead on housing sitting on the L and Q local housing trust committee (and why not as the council has to work closely with large developers)...to forge working links..i guess for the benefit of local residents and the community that elected them. Does anyone on gods earth not believe that the future of the Stow was not discussed....leave it at that!! Why else would L and Q pay 10 million over the market value price. The decision to turn the Stow into housing was in my view made on that day. The residents consultation meeting attended by no labour councillors but officers from the planning department was nothing more than the council telling local residents what was going to happen. I will always remember one officer saying "we had to produce a development brief for the Stow because L and Q put pressure on us" and another saying "we convinced L and Q to open up the development by including a footpath through it" and to "reduce the density to 316 from 326" this was still way above acceptable levels. The council were not interested in local views and this is a disgrace and a stain on WF democracy. Just examine any large planning decison made over the last 5 years and you will see glaring inconsistencies in interpretation and attitude toward the Stow that in my view had to be turned into housing by the council at all cost. Those that attended the meeting all felt the same. I hope the campaigners and residents get their judicial review opportunity. A pre determined decision...of course it was.
@ waltham...i guess we all have to be careful what we say on these threads but anyone with a brain can see what happened over the dog track. With WF lead on housing sitting on the L and Q local housing trust committee (and why not as the council has to work closely with large developers)...to forge working links..i guess for the benefit of local residents and the community that elected them. Does anyone on gods earth not believe that the future of the Stow was not discussed....leave it at that!! Why else would L and Q pay 10 million over the market value price. The decision to turn the Stow into housing was in my view made on that day. The residents consultation meeting attended by no labour councillors but officers from the planning department was nothing more than the council telling local residents what was going to happen. I will always remember one officer saying "we had to produce a development brief for the Stow because L and Q put pressure on us" and another saying "we convinced L and Q to open up the development by including a footpath through it" and to "reduce the density to 316 from 326" this was still way above acceptable levels. The council were not interested in local views and this is a disgrace and a stain on WF democracy. Just examine any large planning decison made over the last 5 years and you will see glaring inconsistencies in interpretation and attitude toward the Stow that in my view had to be turned into housing by the council at all cost. Those that attended the meeting all felt the same. I hope the campaigners and residents get their judicial review opportunity. A pre determined decision...of course it was. bishbosh
  • Score: 0

9:00pm Mon 14 Jan 13

SXH says...

I did not think the land on the stow was big enough to take 316 homes,
I did not think the land on the stow was big enough to take 316 homes, SXH
  • Score: 0

9:44pm Mon 14 Jan 13

NT says...

Spot on about the photo, waltham.
Particularly since the unshaven man behind Cllr Akram looks as if he's wearing prison fatigues....
Spot on about the photo, waltham. Particularly since the unshaven man behind Cllr Akram looks as if he's wearing prison fatigues.... NT
  • Score: 0

9:45pm Mon 14 Jan 13

bishbosh says...

sorry...habitable rooms per hectare...over 250 is deemed high density. The standard seems to have been ignored. There is plenty of room for a further 50 or so homes on the Stow if current building standards are to be believed..watch this space
sorry...habitable rooms per hectare...over 250 is deemed high density. The standard seems to have been ignored. There is plenty of room for a further 50 or so homes on the Stow if current building standards are to be believed..watch this space bishbosh
  • Score: 0

9:54pm Mon 14 Jan 13

SXH says...

First were pulling down high rise, then putting them back, where is there brain.(if they have any)

So true NT :)
First were pulling down high rise, then putting them back, where is there brain.(if they have any) So true NT :) SXH
  • Score: 0

12:24am Tue 15 Jan 13

Don't Give Up says...

Maybe Cllr. Northover, who was on the Planning Committee and spoke a lot of sense, was correct and fully justified when he criticized a number of the decisions the committee reached when he resigned as a councillor.
Maybe Cllr. Northover, who was on the Planning Committee and spoke a lot of sense, was correct and fully justified when he criticized a number of the decisions the committee reached when he resigned as a councillor. Don't Give Up
  • Score: 0

2:58am Tue 15 Jan 13

Trevor 2 says...

NT wrote:
Spot on about the photo, waltham.
Particularly since the unshaven man behind Cllr Akram looks as if he's wearing prison fatigues....
'Robbing Robbins' OUGHT to be in prison fatigues!
[quote][p][bold]NT[/bold] wrote: Spot on about the photo, waltham. Particularly since the unshaven man behind Cllr Akram looks as if he's wearing prison fatigues....[/p][/quote]'Robbing Robbins' OUGHT to be in prison fatigues! Trevor 2
  • Score: 0

3:36am Tue 15 Jan 13

Mohammed f Christ says...

cynicalsue wrote:
NT wrote:
Its all here:
http://democracy.wal


thamforest.gov.uk/ie


ListDocuments.aspx?C


Id=611&MId=3142&
amp;
amp;Ver=
4
Worth reading if you like a laugh!
Let's hope that they haven't stored the evidence in the asbestos-filled basement!
Interestingly, as I passed the Town Hall recently a van entered -from an Asbestos removal/management company....
May mean more documents can be released soon :)
[quote][p][bold]cynicalsue[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]NT[/bold] wrote: Its all here: http://democracy.wal thamforest.gov.uk/ie ListDocuments.aspx?C Id=611&MId=3142& amp; amp;Ver= 4 Worth reading if you like a laugh![/p][/quote]Let's hope that they haven't stored the evidence in the asbestos-filled basement![/p][/quote]Interestingly, as I passed the Town Hall recently a van entered -from an Asbestos removal/management company.... May mean more documents can be released soon :) Mohammed f Christ
  • Score: 0

7:49am Tue 15 Jan 13

Helen, Walthamstow says...

Leaving aside the question of Cllr Akram (and I bet there's more to the allegations from other party members than meets the eye), the real question is how we deal publicly with large or contentious planning applications.

The planning committee is the only statutory committee of the council. It is also the only one that should not be whipped at all - members should be completely free to vote as they think fit in the light of the evidence. Yet there is no doubt that some of their most controversial decisions have been influenced by the views of the leaders of the Labour Party which holds the majority of the seats. It has been embarrassingly obvious in some cases with mute party vote fodder incapable of even offering a comment while the arguments raged around them.

I don't know if it is legally possible, or perhaps it is something to campaign for, but I believe the planning committee should contain a majority of truly independent people from outside the council and outside the party ranks. It's the only way to move towards decisions based on the facts and the impacts on other local settings and people. (Though the government seems rather over-enthusiastic about over-ruling local decisions).
Leaving aside the question of Cllr Akram (and I bet there's more to the allegations from other party members than meets the eye), the real question is how we deal publicly with large or contentious planning applications. The planning committee is the only statutory committee of the council. It is also the only one that should not be whipped at all - members should be completely free to vote as they think fit in the light of the evidence. Yet there is no doubt that some of their most controversial decisions have been influenced by the views of the leaders of the Labour Party which holds the majority of the seats. It has been embarrassingly obvious in some cases with mute party vote fodder incapable of even offering a comment while the arguments raged around them. I don't know if it is legally possible, or perhaps it is something to campaign for, but I believe the planning committee should contain a majority of truly independent people from outside the council and outside the party ranks. It's the only way to move towards decisions based on the facts and the impacts on other local settings and people. (Though the government seems rather over-enthusiastic about over-ruling local decisions). Helen, Walthamstow
  • Score: 0

8:13am Tue 15 Jan 13

Trevor 2 says...

Helen, Walthamstow wrote:
Leaving aside the question of Cllr Akram (and I bet there's more to the allegations from other party members than meets the eye), the real question is how we deal publicly with large or contentious planning applications.

The planning committee is the only statutory committee of the council. It is also the only one that should not be whipped at all - members should be completely free to vote as they think fit in the light of the evidence. Yet there is no doubt that some of their most controversial decisions have been influenced by the views of the leaders of the Labour Party which holds the majority of the seats. It has been embarrassingly obvious in some cases with mute party vote fodder incapable of even offering a comment while the arguments raged around them.

I don't know if it is legally possible, or perhaps it is something to campaign for, but I believe the planning committee should contain a majority of truly independent people from outside the council and outside the party ranks. It's the only way to move towards decisions based on the facts and the impacts on other local settings and people. (Though the government seems rather over-enthusiastic about over-ruling local decisions).
I don't think 'Cap'n Robbing Robbins' and his gang of pirates would appreciate their dastardly plans (pun intended) being scuppered by independents!
[quote][p][bold]Helen, Walthamstow[/bold] wrote: Leaving aside the question of Cllr Akram (and I bet there's more to the allegations from other party members than meets the eye), the real question is how we deal publicly with large or contentious planning applications. The planning committee is the only statutory committee of the council. It is also the only one that should not be whipped at all - members should be completely free to vote as they think fit in the light of the evidence. Yet there is no doubt that some of their most controversial decisions have been influenced by the views of the leaders of the Labour Party which holds the majority of the seats. It has been embarrassingly obvious in some cases with mute party vote fodder incapable of even offering a comment while the arguments raged around them. I don't know if it is legally possible, or perhaps it is something to campaign for, but I believe the planning committee should contain a majority of truly independent people from outside the council and outside the party ranks. It's the only way to move towards decisions based on the facts and the impacts on other local settings and people. (Though the government seems rather over-enthusiastic about over-ruling local decisions).[/p][/quote]I don't think 'Cap'n Robbing Robbins' and his gang of pirates would appreciate their dastardly plans (pun intended) being scuppered by independents! Trevor 2
  • Score: 0

11:10am Tue 15 Jan 13

bishbosh says...

@ Helen.. I agree. When major planning decision go against the majority view as with the Stow those with interest look closely at the reasons why and in what way it best suits the community. The council ploughed on ignoring public opinion and better alternatives knowing 4:3 would be the outcome and the "nodding dogs" would be secure in their political futures . As you say elected representatives should be open minded up to the last minute and make their own informed choice..most of all listening to those that elected them. I suspect the Stow has not been the only planning decision made very early...anyone interested enough can see every effort was made "within planning rules" to turn the Stow into housing. Values enshrined in viability, heritage, local economy, visitor and tourist attraction and indeed planning guidelines were generally ignored to obtain the desired outcome. Democracy in WF stinks as it would anywhere when it cannot be practiced in a supposed open democratic planning meeting. Enfield Council kicked out a similar sized L and Q development on the old Middx Uni site in Cat Hill. The campaign against is similar to The Stow including local MP's with the majority not wanting high rise blocks of flats and burdens on local infrastructure. Enfield apparently not as cash strapped as WF sent L and Q back to the drawing board effectively tying them up for years to come. It takes elected members with character to ignore the whips and their own political ambitions to do what is right..many fail. How do you get totally independant members to sit on these panels?
@ Helen.. I agree. When major planning decision go against the majority view as with the Stow those with interest look closely at the reasons why and in what way it best suits the community. The council ploughed on ignoring public opinion and better alternatives knowing 4:3 would be the outcome and the "nodding dogs" would be secure in their political futures . As you say elected representatives should be open minded up to the last minute and make their own informed choice..most of all listening to those that elected them. I suspect the Stow has not been the only planning decision made very early...anyone interested enough can see every effort was made "within planning rules" to turn the Stow into housing. Values enshrined in viability, heritage, local economy, visitor and tourist attraction and indeed planning guidelines were generally ignored to obtain the desired outcome. Democracy in WF stinks as it would anywhere when it cannot be practiced in a supposed open democratic planning meeting. Enfield Council kicked out a similar sized L and Q development on the old Middx Uni site in Cat Hill. The campaign against is similar to The Stow including local MP's with the majority not wanting high rise blocks of flats and burdens on local infrastructure. Enfield apparently not as cash strapped as WF sent L and Q back to the drawing board effectively tying them up for years to come. It takes elected members with character to ignore the whips and their own political ambitions to do what is right..many fail. How do you get totally independant members to sit on these panels? bishbosh
  • Score: 0

12:01pm Tue 15 Jan 13

mdj says...

It's grimly amusing to see that Labour don't like arm-twisting and back-room manoeuvres - when they're on the receiving end! This confirms what the rest of us could only surmise from outside appearances.
This issue is only part of a much larger picture. It's long been baffling to wonder what unique skills qualified Cllr Akram to be Chair of ALL the local Primary Healthcare Trusts, as well as occupying a seat in every single public-private quango the area, all adding up to a very nice accumulation of expenses and allowances from the public purse in return for benefits to the public that are very hard to assess.
Let us hope that this represents a weakening of the code of Omerta that has masked the in-breeding and in-fighting in our toxic local political culture.
There must be decent Councillors unhappy with what has been going on: now is the time for them to speak out, and dissociate themselves from this Council's seedy record. They would be doing themselves, as well as us, a service.
It's grimly amusing to see that Labour don't like arm-twisting and back-room manoeuvres - when they're on the receiving end! This confirms what the rest of us could only surmise from outside appearances. This issue is only part of a much larger picture. It's long been baffling to wonder what unique skills qualified Cllr Akram to be Chair of ALL the local Primary Healthcare Trusts, as well as occupying a seat in every single public-private quango the area, all adding up to a very nice accumulation of expenses and allowances from the public purse in return for benefits to the public that are very hard to assess. Let us hope that this represents a weakening of the code of Omerta that has masked the in-breeding and in-fighting in our toxic local political culture. There must be decent Councillors unhappy with what has been going on: now is the time for them to speak out, and dissociate themselves from this Council's seedy record. They would be doing themselves, as well as us, a service. mdj
  • Score: 0

1:14pm Tue 15 Jan 13

Trevor 2 says...

What I'd like to know is when there is so much evidence of dodgy dealings by certain councillors how the hell do they keep getting re-elected or is that dodgy too?
What I'd like to know is when there is so much evidence of dodgy dealings by certain councillors how the hell do they keep getting re-elected or is that dodgy too? Trevor 2
  • Score: 0

1:51pm Tue 15 Jan 13

VillageIdiot69 says...

Trevor 2 wrote:
What I'd like to know is when there is so much evidence of dodgy dealings by certain councillors how the hell do they keep getting re-elected or is that dodgy too?
I refer you to the 125% turn out in the High Street ward in the last election Trevor.
[quote][p][bold]Trevor 2[/bold] wrote: What I'd like to know is when there is so much evidence of dodgy dealings by certain councillors how the hell do they keep getting re-elected or is that dodgy too?[/p][/quote]I refer you to the 125% turn out in the High Street ward in the last election Trevor. VillageIdiot69
  • Score: 0

2:10pm Tue 15 Jan 13

E17ResidentE17 says...

I am usually quite supportive of the Guardian's reporting on matters to do with the Council. However I think the article on this case is a little one sided and doesn't highlight all the findings in the case.

I have just finished reading all the documents on this complaint on the council website. This includes all the interviews with all the parties concerned. The only thing I can see as being proven from the original complaint is that a text was sent by Cllr Akram to Cllr Bellamy. Apart from this nothing else has been proven and infact in some cases the complainants can't even agree amongst themselves on what happened or what was said.

Please balance up the story and lets look at the facts.

I have been living in E17 for 2 years now and have had no prior dealings with Cllr Akram and therefore have no idea of what he is like or as to whether Cllr Akram did what he has been accused of doing or not. From my reading of the papers and I am no expert by any means there isn't enough evidence provided to prove that he whipped the Labour Group on the planning committee. Text on its own - Is that enough???

As much as I enjoy reading comments on this site, this is my first comment I have made. I do not wish to engage in debate through comments and will therefore not respond to any comments others make on my point. It's my view and therefore please respect that as I respect all other point of views.

Thank you.. Lisa
I am usually quite supportive of the Guardian's reporting on matters to do with the Council. However I think the article on this case is a little one sided and doesn't highlight all the findings in the case. I have just finished reading all the documents on this complaint on the council website. This includes all the interviews with all the parties concerned. The only thing I can see as being proven from the original complaint is that a text was sent by Cllr Akram to Cllr Bellamy. Apart from this nothing else has been proven and infact in some cases the complainants can't even agree amongst themselves on what happened or what was said. Please balance up the story and lets look at the facts. I have been living in E17 for 2 years now and have had no prior dealings with Cllr Akram and therefore have no idea of what he is like or as to whether Cllr Akram did what he has been accused of doing or not. From my reading of the papers and I am no expert by any means there isn't enough evidence provided to prove that he whipped the Labour Group on the planning committee. Text on its own - Is that enough??? As much as I enjoy reading comments on this site, this is my first comment I have made. I do not wish to engage in debate through comments and will therefore not respond to any comments others make on my point. It's my view and therefore please respect that as I respect all other point of views. Thank you.. Lisa E17ResidentE17
  • Score: 0

8:28pm Wed 16 Jan 13

Mohammed f Christ says...

I would like to know more about that '125%' High St. vote business; is there anywhere the facts are available? I've heard several mentions about it, and it's astonishing to me that A) It may be true; and B) They got away with it...? How, why, what can be done to have it reviewed..?
I would like to know more about that '125%' High St. vote business; is there anywhere the facts are available? I've heard several mentions about it, and it's astonishing to me that A) It may be true; and B) They got away with it...? How, why, what can be done to have it reviewed..? Mohammed f Christ
  • Score: 0

10:47pm Wed 16 Jan 13

mdj says...

'I would like to know more about that '125%' High St. vote business;..'

Briefly, this was nothing to do with postal votes; the High St ballot papers were (let's presume) accurately counted, but a few days later an observant local citizen, a statistician, noticed that the total of votes counted exceeded those cast.

It emerged that each Labour candidate had been awarded 1000 extra votes, out of fresh air. The Lib Dems had to spend a lot of money in court to get the result overturned, and regain one seat.
The anomaly was put down to the fatigue of staff who had counted two elections in one night; but it seems strange that the errors all fell one way.
As a rookie independent candidate at the count the overall Council turnout seemed high (higher than for the general election, believe it or not, in an era of supposed voter apathy).
It seems odd also that all the 'professional' politicians at the count, equipped with their electoral rolls, tellers' returns, turnout forecasts &c, did not notice a thing! Perhaps being a Councillor is less demanding than they give you to understand.

Hanging like a bad smell over the episode is the fact that the Returning Officer, the then Chief Executive, was almost at once paid £346,000 to retire without notice, or any allegation of grounds for dismissal, under a non-disclosure agreement. This was the first executive action of the present 'Strong Leader'.
'I would like to know more about that '125%' High St. vote business;..' Briefly, this was nothing to do with postal votes; the High St ballot papers were (let's presume) accurately counted, but a few days later an observant local citizen, a statistician, noticed that the total of votes counted exceeded those cast. It emerged that each Labour candidate had been awarded 1000 extra votes, out of fresh air. The Lib Dems had to spend a lot of money in court to get the result overturned, and regain one seat. The anomaly was put down to the fatigue of staff who had counted two elections in one night; but it seems strange that the errors all fell one way. As a rookie independent candidate at the count the overall Council turnout seemed high (higher than for the general election, believe it or not, in an era of supposed voter apathy). It seems odd also that all the 'professional' politicians at the count, equipped with their electoral rolls, tellers' returns, turnout forecasts &c, did not notice a thing! Perhaps being a Councillor is less demanding than they give you to understand. Hanging like a bad smell over the episode is the fact that the Returning Officer, the then Chief Executive, was almost at once paid £346,000 to retire without notice, or any allegation of grounds for dismissal, under a non-disclosure agreement. This was the first executive action of the present 'Strong Leader'. mdj
  • Score: 0

12:04am Thu 17 Jan 13

SXH says...

mdj "It emerged that each Labour candidate had been awarded 1000 extra votes, out of fresh air"
By doing this can they put in extra Labour Councillors? is this how they remain in power?
That's allot of money to pay a Chief Executive (to keep quite it sounds like)

Can the community not remand a re-count if this is being done?
mdj "It emerged that each Labour candidate had been awarded 1000 extra votes, out of fresh air" By doing this can they put in extra Labour Councillors? is this how they remain in power? That's allot of money to pay a Chief Executive (to keep quite it sounds like) Can the community not remand a re-count if this is being done? SXH
  • Score: 0

10:05am Thu 17 Jan 13

mdj says...

SXH: We are assured, and have to accept in the absence of other evidence, that it was a genuine error by staff who had been up all night counting.
It does seem odd that the errors all went in one direction, though, and that the investigation was carried out by those who committed the error.
As for recounts, I seem to recall that there is a window of time to ask for these just after an election, but quite a short one. The Lib Dems had to go to the High Court to resolve the issue, which cost several thousand pounds.
You may recall an issue recently covered in this paper, when local people asked to see the candidates' expenses forms for the last election: they were told by the Council, first that they had been destroyed (which is illegal before a certain time has passed), secondly that building work at the Town Hall placed them out of reach, then finally that asbestos in the basement where they were stored made it impossible to access them!
You need to bear in mind that Labour have been in power here for 27 years, and the official culture in the Town Hall will do their bidding. One senior official is a former Labour Leader of this Council, and others have no doubt been hand-picked for loyalty. The present Chief Executive was picked from a shortlist of one, after the Leader had a 'quiet word' (his own expression, used in an on-the-record interview) with the other two short-listed candidates, who then failed to show up for interview!
SXH: We are assured, and have to accept in the absence of other evidence, that it was a genuine error by staff who had been up all night counting. It does seem odd that the errors all went in one direction, though, and that the investigation was carried out by those who committed the error. As for recounts, I seem to recall that there is a window of time to ask for these just after an election, but quite a short one. The Lib Dems had to go to the High Court to resolve the issue, which cost several thousand pounds. You may recall an issue recently covered in this paper, when local people asked to see the candidates' expenses forms for the last election: they were told by the Council, first that they had been destroyed (which is illegal before a certain time has passed), secondly that building work at the Town Hall placed them out of reach, then finally that asbestos in the basement where they were stored made it impossible to access them! You need to bear in mind that Labour have been in power here for 27 years, and the official culture in the Town Hall will do their bidding. One senior official is a former Labour Leader of this Council, and others have no doubt been hand-picked for loyalty. The present Chief Executive was picked from a shortlist of one, after the Leader had a 'quiet word' (his own expression, used in an on-the-record interview) with the other two short-listed candidates, who then failed to show up for interview! mdj
  • Score: 0

10:53am Thu 17 Jan 13

SXH says...

Thanks mdj 27 years say's it all and in the future anything we wish to know, is in the Town Halls basement :)
Thanks mdj 27 years say's it all and in the future anything we wish to know, is in the Town Halls basement :) SXH
  • Score: 0

1:40pm Thu 17 Jan 13

tjw422 says...

That dreaded old 4-3 farce again. Hundreds of very local residents around Central station signed a petition against high-rise development being introduced into what was essentially a long-term 2 and 3 storey housing area. It was totally ignored by the 'planning' team because 1 local resident wanted it as he owns a local restaurant. The introduction of Benidorm 2 is now well on the way, as we already have the drunks, countless chicken and chips outlets and the dog filth. The only thing we're missing from this eyesore 4-3 farce is a bit of sand and sunshine.
That dreaded old 4-3 farce again. Hundreds of very local residents around Central station signed a petition against high-rise development being introduced into what was essentially a long-term 2 and 3 storey housing area. It was totally ignored by the 'planning' team because 1 local resident wanted it as he owns a local restaurant. The introduction of Benidorm 2 is now well on the way, as we already have the drunks, countless chicken and chips outlets and the dog filth. The only thing we're missing from this eyesore 4-3 farce is a bit of sand and sunshine. tjw422
  • Score: 0

4:06pm Thu 17 Jan 13

SpursSupporter1 says...

Well whats new? Nothing what so ever we all know that certain Councellors within Waltham Forest are as crooked and criminals at a magistrates court but why the hell have the police not been brought in just exactly where do the brown envelopes stop been passed around?
Well whats new? Nothing what so ever we all know that certain Councellors within Waltham Forest are as crooked and criminals at a magistrates court but why the hell have the police not been brought in just exactly where do the brown envelopes stop been passed around? SpursSupporter1
  • Score: 0

5:42pm Thu 17 Jan 13

Mohammed f Christ says...

NorthcoterE17 wrote:
It is good that this is out in the open, finally.

It's no surprise that Council planning votes are pre-determined. Usually 4:3 in favour.

Applause to those who have risked de-selection in order to blow the whistle on this malpractice.

Cllr Akram should step down. LBWF's long lost credibility has just sunk another depth. A full INDEPENDENT inquiry into the Stadium decision is needed. While at it, it would be worth investigating how the Leyton Marsh ODA basketball centre got the go ahead. Did it not transpire that free Olympic tickets were given to those who helped make the centre happen?
And now there is talk of developing Leyton Marsh again for a permanent larger Ice Rink.

If the Whip himself is corrupt, what chance for ensuring the cabinet acts with honesty & integrity?
This is the same Azfal Akram that upset folks in Chingord and another Ward by attending Ward (planning/protest) meetings to influence the outcomes in his personal favour, yes..?
An example of the extremely low Ethical standards that Council officers are getting away with in WF.
Where the heck is the Oversight and accountability in this Borough? I really want to get involved.... Grrrr
[quote][p][bold]NorthcoterE17[/bold] wrote: It is good that this is out in the open, finally. It's no surprise that Council planning votes are pre-determined. Usually 4:3 in favour. Applause to those who have risked de-selection in order to blow the whistle on this malpractice. Cllr Akram should step down. LBWF's long lost credibility has just sunk another depth. A full INDEPENDENT inquiry into the Stadium decision is needed. While at it, it would be worth investigating how the Leyton Marsh ODA basketball centre got the go ahead. Did it not transpire that free Olympic tickets were given to those who helped make the centre happen? And now there is talk of developing Leyton Marsh again for a permanent larger Ice Rink. If the Whip himself is corrupt, what chance for ensuring the cabinet acts with honesty & integrity?[/p][/quote]This is the same Azfal Akram that upset folks in Chingord and another Ward by attending Ward (planning/protest) meetings to influence the outcomes in his personal favour, yes..? An example of the extremely low Ethical standards that Council officers are getting away with in WF. Where the heck is the Oversight and accountability in this Borough? I really want to get involved.... Grrrr Mohammed f Christ
  • Score: 0

6:37pm Mon 21 Jan 13

Walthamster says...

Excellent news that councillors are finding the courage to speak up about the disgraceful set-up in Waltham Forest.

It's not just about each individual dirty trick. It's the way the whole lousy stitch-up has paralysed the working of this borough. Huge disasters like the L&Q's plans for the dog track, smaller ones like maintenance contracts, the rottenness all the way through. Our town centres deteriorating during a 10-year boom, workplaces and amenities closed down, poverty increased.

No wonder the council's actions never seem to benefit the people of Waltham Forest! And the laziness and incompetence of council officers makes sense if you think how many good ones must have left in disgust.

This kind of thing has gone on for so many years, sometimes dragged into the open by this newspaper or by local campaigners such as mdj or NT, posting on this site. But despite many efforts no one has been able to get action taken by the government or police.

Let's hope that enough honest councillors will stand together to make a difference. Best of luck to them. a lot of people would vote for the councillor of whatever party who helped clean this place up.
Excellent news that councillors are finding the courage to speak up about the disgraceful set-up in Waltham Forest. It's not just about each individual dirty trick. It's the way the whole lousy stitch-up has paralysed the working of this borough. Huge disasters like the L&Q's plans for the dog track, smaller ones like maintenance contracts, the rottenness all the way through. Our town centres deteriorating during a 10-year boom, workplaces and amenities closed down, poverty increased. No wonder the council's actions never seem to benefit the people of Waltham Forest! And the laziness and incompetence of council officers makes sense if you think how many good ones must have left in disgust. This kind of thing has gone on for so many years, sometimes dragged into the open by this newspaper or by local campaigners such as mdj or NT, posting on this site. But despite many efforts no one has been able to get action taken by the government or police. Let's hope that enough honest councillors will stand together to make a difference. Best of luck to them. a lot of people would vote for the councillor of whatever party who helped clean this place up. Walthamster
  • Score: 0

4:20am Tue 22 Jan 13

richard codd says...

i again state i will give evidence at a judicial inquiry into the dealings between myself the chandlers and simon baxter richard codd
i again state i will give evidence at a judicial inquiry into the dealings between myself the chandlers and simon baxter richard codd richard codd
  • Score: 0

1:59pm Tue 22 Jan 13

G_Whiz says...

Typical Corruption - and a taste of the divided futures our different cultures face.

Look up who have been caught vote rigging in the past too!

Ban all religion.
Integration - not segregation! -
no getto's
no 'you're not marrying a non Muslim, Hindu, Christian' etc.

for all our futures sake!

You all know i'm right too.
Typical Corruption - and a taste of the divided futures our different cultures face. Look up who have been caught vote rigging in the past too! Ban all religion. Integration - not segregation! - no getto's no 'you're not marrying a non Muslim, Hindu, Christian' etc. for all our futures sake! You all know i'm right too. G_Whiz
  • Score: 0

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