Councillors in Waltham Forest fail to hold promised number of public meetings in 2012

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Waltham Forest Town Hall in Walthamstow. Waltham Forest Town Hall in Walthamstow.

MANY councillors in Waltham Forest again failed to hold the promised minimum number of public meetings with their constituents in 2012, according to council data.


There are supposed to be three 'Ward Forum' meetings every year in each of the borough's areas so that politicians can engage with residents and allocate grants of £10,000.


The forum system was introduced at the start of 2011 after the council controversially axed its larger Community Council meetings, which had been held four times a year.

Read the council's response to this report here:

http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/10132580.Minimum_number_of_ward_meetings_will_be_held___council/
 

The cabinet member responsible at the time, Cllr Marie Pye, said the changes would improve local democracy and make councillors more accountable.
 

She told that Guardian of her hopes that most councillors would hold more than three meetings per year.
 

But throughout 2011 councillors in only 11 wards out of 20 bothered to hold the minimum required.


And now a new analysis by the Waltham Forest Guardian suggests that in 2012 there was a slight improvement, with 13 out of 20 wards holding the meetings.
 

However it appears that since the introduction of the forum system no councillors have arranged more than three meetings per year.


The latest information was gathered by combining data on the council's website and the listings pages of every edition of its freesheet 'Waltham Forest News' this year.


Wards which failed to hold three meetings this year include Forest, Higham Hill, Grove Green, Lea Bridge and William Morris.

In Cathall and Cann Hall wards there were two meetings but ward councillors said they were available for discussion with residents "informally" three times during the Friends of Langthorne Park Roller Skating Weekend.

Last year the council defended the changes and said attendance at forum meetings was higher than Community Council meetings.

Comments (23)

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4:03pm Thu 27 Dec 12

Trevor 2 says...

Probably too busy spending their ill-earned allowances!!
Probably too busy spending their ill-earned allowances!! Trevor 2
  • Score: 0

4:09pm Thu 27 Dec 12

SXH says...

They cannot be bothered to attend meetings which supports community groups in funding but they seem to remind the community how much they support them regarding to funding.

I do not recall councillors being available for discussion in Cannhall Ward?

It is within their Constitution to attend these meetings but they are still being paid for this work??? questions need answering here.
They cannot be bothered to attend meetings which supports community groups in funding but they seem to remind the community how much they support them regarding to funding. I do not recall councillors being available for discussion in Cannhall Ward? It is within their Constitution to attend these meetings but they are still being paid for this work??? questions need answering here. SXH
  • Score: 0

6:51pm Thu 27 Dec 12

Don't Give Up says...

It would be interesting to know what action, if any, the council will take against the ward councillors who have failed in their obligation to hold at least 3 ward forum meetings in a calendar year.
Further, can the Guardian name and shame any councillor who has failed to attend 2 or more of their own ward forum meetings in each of the past 2 years?
It would be interesting to know what action, if any, the council will take against the ward councillors who have failed in their obligation to hold at least 3 ward forum meetings in a calendar year. Further, can the Guardian name and shame any councillor who has failed to attend 2 or more of their own ward forum meetings in each of the past 2 years? Don't Give Up
  • Score: 0

6:59pm Thu 27 Dec 12

SXH says...

Don't Give Up wrote:
It would be interesting to know what action, if any, the council will take against the ward councillors who have failed in their obligation to hold at least 3 ward forum meetings in a calendar year. Further, can the Guardian name and shame any councillor who has failed to attend 2 or more of their own ward forum meetings in each of the past 2 years?
I second that. it would be very interesting
[quote][p][bold]Don't Give Up[/bold] wrote: It would be interesting to know what action, if any, the council will take against the ward councillors who have failed in their obligation to hold at least 3 ward forum meetings in a calendar year. Further, can the Guardian name and shame any councillor who has failed to attend 2 or more of their own ward forum meetings in each of the past 2 years?[/p][/quote]I second that. it would be very interesting SXH
  • Score: 0

9:16pm Thu 27 Dec 12

Cornbeefur says...

A few years ago they had a Councillor in LBWF (Labour again) who lived in the USA and claimed maximum expenses.
A few years ago they had a Councillor in LBWF (Labour again) who lived in the USA and claimed maximum expenses. Cornbeefur
  • Score: 0

12:47am Fri 28 Dec 12

mdj says...

What a surprisingly eventful day! The O-Regen case dropped, the Big6 bill comes in, and now this.

We seem to be developing a new midwinter festival for the secular age; 'The Burying of Bad News'. Perhaps at the New Year 'free' firework display the Strong Leader will light a bonfire of WF Guardians to keep the Bad News Spirits away; children will be handed souvenir copies of WF News to show them that the Good News is 'free' as well.

Thank you WFG, for keeping your beady eye on the ball on this issue.This is a service worth paying for.

I would say that our Councillors have some explaining to do, but they have no shame, so why waste time asking them?
What a surprisingly eventful day! The O-Regen case dropped, the Big6 bill comes in, and now this. We seem to be developing a new midwinter festival for the secular age; 'The Burying of Bad News'. Perhaps at the New Year 'free' firework display the Strong Leader will light a bonfire of WF Guardians to keep the Bad News Spirits away; children will be handed souvenir copies of WF News to show them that the Good News is 'free' as well. Thank you WFG, for keeping your beady eye on the ball on this issue.This is a service worth paying for. I would say that our Councillors have some explaining to do, but they have no shame, so why waste time asking them? mdj
  • Score: 0

8:25am Fri 28 Dec 12

Helen, Walthamstow says...

Cornbeefur wrote:
A few years ago they had a Councillor in LBWF (Labour again) who lived in the USA and claimed maximum expenses.
Are you thinking of TORY Cllr David Divine who in 2003 refused, at least initially, to resign after he had accepted a job in Canada? I can't remember the outcome of that one.

But I do remember a huge row in the late 1990s or early 2000s about another Chingford TORY, Jane something, who moved to Glasgow but continued to attend full council meetings, charging us top fares for the journeys.

Then there was a Lib Dem from, I think, Cann Hall ward who not so long ago continued to hold her post while living in Kent.

I expect there have been a few Labour members who have done something similar.

It's not a sin confined to one party.
[quote][p][bold]Cornbeefur[/bold] wrote: A few years ago they had a Councillor in LBWF (Labour again) who lived in the USA and claimed maximum expenses.[/p][/quote]Are you thinking of TORY Cllr David Divine who in 2003 refused, at least initially, to resign after he had accepted a job in Canada? I can't remember the outcome of that one. But I do remember a huge row in the late 1990s or early 2000s about another Chingford TORY, Jane something, who moved to Glasgow but continued to attend full council meetings, charging us top fares for the journeys. Then there was a Lib Dem from, I think, Cann Hall ward who not so long ago continued to hold her post while living in Kent. I expect there have been a few Labour members who have done something similar. It's not a sin confined to one party. Helen, Walthamstow
  • Score: 0

11:10am Fri 28 Dec 12

Sam Hain says...

Thanks for the correction, Helen, this accords with my memory too - but, then, consider the source of the misinformation...!
Thanks for the correction, Helen, this accords with my memory too - but, then, consider the source of the misinformation...! Sam Hain
  • Score: 0

11:55am Fri 28 Dec 12

SXH says...

Helen thanks for info, very interesting.

Maybe thats why many cannot attend these meetings to support residents who have voted for them, (second homes somewhere).
Helen thanks for info, very interesting. Maybe thats why many cannot attend these meetings to support residents who have voted for them, (second homes somewhere). SXH
  • Score: 0

12:17pm Fri 28 Dec 12

SXH says...

Would be interesting to see how many Community Councils meetings these councillors attend also, (i am sure they get allowances for them )
Can the Gaurdian find out
Would be interesting to see how many Community Councils meetings these councillors attend also, (i am sure they get allowances for them ) Can the Gaurdian find out SXH
  • Score: 0

1:43pm Fri 28 Dec 12

BruceG says...

Not sure that the source material for this is correct, as I've attended three Ward Forums in Higham Hill and I think there is at least one more in the New Year. The venues were different (Whittingham, Walthamstow Academy and premises in the local park, as I recall).

The three councillors were present at all of them and I found them to be helpful.

I don't recall seeing a reporter at any meetings but I may not have spotted him/her.

I not particularly political but where I live is important to me, which is why I go, and, to be fair, our councillors seem pretty diligent.
Not sure that the source material for this is correct, as I've attended three Ward Forums in Higham Hill and I think there is at least one more in the New Year. The venues were different (Whittingham, Walthamstow Academy and premises in the local park, as I recall). The three councillors were present at all of them and I found them to be helpful. I don't recall seeing a reporter at any meetings but I may not have spotted him/her. I not particularly political but where I live is important to me, which is why I go, and, to be fair, our councillors seem pretty diligent. BruceG
  • Score: 0

1:52pm Fri 28 Dec 12

BruceG says...

SXH wrote:
Would be interesting to see how many Community Councils meetings these councillors attend also, (i am sure they get allowances for them )
Can the Gaurdian find out
Thought these had been replaced by the Ward Forums.
[quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: Would be interesting to see how many Community Councils meetings these councillors attend also, (i am sure they get allowances for them ) Can the Gaurdian find out[/p][/quote]Thought these had been replaced by the Ward Forums. BruceG
  • Score: 0

5:09pm Fri 28 Dec 12

NT says...

Its worth noting that the community ward forums were deliberately placed outside the local government legislation, so have no official status or power at all.

Thus Cllr Pye can wish all she wants, but her peers have no need to listen, and certainly no obligations re meetings.

Batty of course but no way an accident.
Its worth noting that the community ward forums were deliberately placed outside the local government legislation, so have no official status or power at all. Thus Cllr Pye can wish all she wants, but her peers have no need to listen, and certainly no obligations re meetings. Batty of course but no way an accident. NT
  • Score: 0

5:23pm Fri 28 Dec 12

Ever Watchful says...

NT wrote:
Its worth noting that the community ward forums were deliberately placed outside the local government legislation, so have no official status or power at all.

Thus Cllr Pye can wish all she wants, but her peers have no need to listen, and certainly no obligations re meetings.

Batty of course but no way an accident.
Does that mean that any decisions made, or actions taken at a Ward Forum are not enforceable, and that Councillors are not accountable?
[quote][p][bold]NT[/bold] wrote: Its worth noting that the community ward forums were deliberately placed outside the local government legislation, so have no official status or power at all. Thus Cllr Pye can wish all she wants, but her peers have no need to listen, and certainly no obligations re meetings. Batty of course but no way an accident.[/p][/quote]Does that mean that any decisions made, or actions taken at a Ward Forum are not enforceable, and that Councillors are not accountable? Ever Watchful
  • Score: 0

5:25pm Fri 28 Dec 12

SXH says...

BruceG wrote:
SXH wrote: Would be interesting to see how many Community Councils meetings these councillors attend also, (i am sure they get allowances for them ) Can the Gaurdian find out
Thought these had been replaced by the Ward Forums.
Appologies i meant Community safety Board
[quote][p][bold]BruceG[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SXH[/bold] wrote: Would be interesting to see how many Community Councils meetings these councillors attend also, (i am sure they get allowances for them ) Can the Gaurdian find out[/p][/quote]Thought these had been replaced by the Ward Forums.[/p][/quote]Appologies i meant Community safety Board SXH
  • Score: 0

6:11pm Fri 28 Dec 12

NT says...

Ever watchful: the answer is yes.

The meetings have no legal status whatsoever.

And as to the ward forum budgets, attendees and councillors may huff and puff, but ultimately if the designated council officer doesn't agree, it wont happen - check the small print.
Ever watchful: the answer is yes. The meetings have no legal status whatsoever. And as to the ward forum budgets, attendees and councillors may huff and puff, but ultimately if the designated council officer doesn't agree, it wont happen - check the small print. NT
  • Score: 0

6:11pm Fri 28 Dec 12

NT says...

Ever watchful: the answer is yes.

The meetings have no legal status whatsoever.

And as to the ward forum budgets, attendees and councillors may huff and puff, but ultimately if the designated council officer doesn't agree, it wont happen - check the small print.
Ever watchful: the answer is yes. The meetings have no legal status whatsoever. And as to the ward forum budgets, attendees and councillors may huff and puff, but ultimately if the designated council officer doesn't agree, it wont happen - check the small print. NT
  • Score: 0

6:16pm Fri 28 Dec 12

NT says...

Apologies for double posting
NT
Apologies for double posting NT NT
  • Score: 0

9:30pm Fri 28 Dec 12

leytonoldboy2 says...

Interesting that Grove Green is one of the wards not holding all its meetings as Chris Robbins is on of their councillors. I wonder if he's ever been to one of these or the community council meetings for his ward OR to his surgery. I suspect not.
Interesting that Grove Green is one of the wards not holding all its meetings as Chris Robbins is on of their councillors. I wonder if he's ever been to one of these or the community council meetings for his ward OR to his surgery. I suspect not. leytonoldboy2
  • Score: 0

10:16pm Fri 28 Dec 12

SXH says...

NT wrote:
Ever watchful: the answer is yes. The meetings have no legal status whatsoever. And as to the ward forum budgets, attendees and councillors may huff and puff, but ultimately if the designated council officer doesn't agree, it wont happen - check the small print.
Very interesting NT so when Councillors remind us how much they support us regarding funding and need our vote for future elections we know different :)
[quote][p][bold]NT[/bold] wrote: Ever watchful: the answer is yes. The meetings have no legal status whatsoever. And as to the ward forum budgets, attendees and councillors may huff and puff, but ultimately if the designated council officer doesn't agree, it wont happen - check the small print.[/p][/quote]Very interesting NT so when Councillors remind us how much they support us regarding funding and need our vote for future elections we know different :) SXH
  • Score: 0

12:43pm Tue 1 Jan 13

bishbosh says...

The best thing for the current WF regime is to do a Barnet and sell most of the services off. Rationalise space at the Town Hall..sell two thirds off to property developers who will provide much needed affordable housing. As I type this idea gets better and better. I think I will e mail the residents friend Councillor Pye and get the ball rolling
The best thing for the current WF regime is to do a Barnet and sell most of the services off. Rationalise space at the Town Hall..sell two thirds off to property developers who will provide much needed affordable housing. As I type this idea gets better and better. I think I will e mail the residents friend Councillor Pye and get the ball rolling bishbosh
  • Score: 0

11:17am Wed 2 Jan 13

BruceG says...

bishbosh wrote:
The best thing for the current WF regime is to do a Barnet and sell most of the services off. Rationalise space at the Town Hall..sell two thirds off to property developers who will provide much needed affordable housing. As I type this idea gets better and better. I think I will e mail the residents friend Councillor Pye and get the ball rolling
Interesting ideas...

I reckon most of our assets have been sold off and Shared Services is a ConDem model being considered pretty well everywhere.

Shared Services can work really well in the private sector mainly because it is employed in a group of companies and/or a geographically scattered organisation to secure economies of scale. If employed between local authorities then who will be accountable (not that I'm suggesting anyone actually is now!)?

I imagine that the main advantage of outsourcing (if any) is that a service could be delivered by a professional organisation to the benefit of the community. Then again...
[quote][p][bold]bishbosh[/bold] wrote: The best thing for the current WF regime is to do a Barnet and sell most of the services off. Rationalise space at the Town Hall..sell two thirds off to property developers who will provide much needed affordable housing. As I type this idea gets better and better. I think I will e mail the residents friend Councillor Pye and get the ball rolling[/p][/quote]Interesting ideas... I reckon most of our assets have been sold off and Shared Services is a ConDem model being considered pretty well everywhere. Shared Services can work really well in the private sector mainly because it is employed in a group of companies and/or a geographically scattered organisation to secure economies of scale. If employed between local authorities then who will be accountable (not that I'm suggesting anyone actually is now!)? I imagine that the main advantage of outsourcing (if any) is that a service could be delivered by a professional organisation to the benefit of the community. Then again... BruceG
  • Score: 0

7:40pm Wed 2 Jan 13

mdj says...

'I imagine that the main advantage of outsourcing (if any) is that a service could be delivered by a professional organisation to the benefit of the community...'

In theory. We are hearing that Veolia has pulled out of the huge inter-borough contract to handle waste for the next couple of decades, leaving only one possible bidder (Kier, presumably, heaven help us!)

It sounds efficient, but it stifles democracy by removing options. How can one Council in future decide to run its own in-house operation, if there are fifteen years left to run on a cross-boundary contract, however badly managed it may be?
When Kier took over our street cleaning, well over a hundred FTE jobs were lost locally, with no saving in money, despite all the fine promises. Those wages left our borough to go into the pockets of Kier's shareholders, leaving local businesses that much worse off, and no spare capacity to call out in the event of snow or flood: that's only efficient from a blinkered viewpoint.
'I imagine that the main advantage of outsourcing (if any) is that a service could be delivered by a professional organisation to the benefit of the community...' In theory. We are hearing that Veolia has pulled out of the huge inter-borough contract to handle waste for the next couple of decades, leaving only one possible bidder (Kier, presumably, heaven help us!) It sounds efficient, but it stifles democracy by removing options. How can one Council in future decide to run its own in-house operation, if there are fifteen years left to run on a cross-boundary contract, however badly managed it may be? When Kier took over our street cleaning, well over a hundred FTE jobs were lost locally, with no saving in money, despite all the fine promises. Those wages left our borough to go into the pockets of Kier's shareholders, leaving local businesses that much worse off, and no spare capacity to call out in the event of snow or flood: that's only efficient from a blinkered viewpoint. mdj
  • Score: 0

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