Congratulations, Chris! Wilford for Mayor!

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On 23 February, Chris Wilford was selected by Poplar & Limehouse and Bethnal Green & Bow Conservative Associations to be their Mayoral candidate for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets 2014 Mayoral election. Chris lives in Bow, and currently works in public policy for a leading international body. Previously, Chris has worked as a recruitment consultant in the financial services, placing candidates from new graduates to global directors. Before this, he worked on education projects for both the British Council and the House of Lords.After his selection, Chris said “Like so many others from around the world I have made Tower Hamlets my home. This is a great place to live, with its history, diversity, and dynamism. We are privileged to live here as we go about our business amidst the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s great cities.“Yet there is one shadow that looms large – Mayor Lutfur Rahman. We are all familiar with his expenses, his taxis, and not least his photograph. And I for one tired of the stories of cronyism and waste whilst our borough faces up to some of the most significant challenges in the country in areas such as child poverty and unemployment. Read more

Fighting Overdevelopment in Tower Hamlets

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Tower Hamlets Council is planning to build a whopping 43,170 new properties in Tower Hamlets by 2025 according to its latest Core Strategy document.

“The Council simply can not allow development at this break-neck speed without investing in schools, doctors surgeries and public transport infrastructure” says local Conservative councillor Cllr Emma Jones, “But Tower Hamlets Council is simply not doing enough. It is not driving a hard enough bargain with developers who are charging ever higher prices for flats, but delivering little in the way of benefits to the existing community”.

To make matters worse Mayor Lutfur Rahman is squandering money available for investment on vanity projects. He wastes £3.2 million a year on communications, including his own newspaper, while squandering £500,000 a year on “mayoral advisors”, who replicate jobs done elsewhere in the council.

With the Council paying so little attention to future community needs, even its own optimistic forecasts are forced to admit that over the next decade there will be 14,000 more children living in the borough. Based on current investment plans, school places will be nearly 20% over-subscribed in ten years time. Already, the Council is spending £1 million a year bussing young children across our Borough, to whichever school happens to have a free place.

How high will these costs rise as the council falls increasingly behind on new school places?

Councillor Jones adds “The pressure on local services as a result of more and more new developments is stretching them to breaking point. We urgently need new infrastructure in Wapping before any more development.”

Councillor Emma Jones and her team are determined that the Council will not destroy our local area. “We’ve had some big successes”, says Emma, “A number of applications have been rejected. But we must be wary of Labour/Independent plans to build more tower blocks over our area, such as at the News International Site.”

Peter Golds: We Must Build Sustainable Communities

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Over the past few weeks I have attended meetings organised by Island residents of a large estate of social housing, a newer mixed development and a gated development.

All were facing the problem of dumped cars. In each development vehicles appear to have been abandoned on what is essentially private property.

The police and council will not take action. Worse, the DVLA is delaying providing details of registered owners.

As a result people face their own limited space being blocked by abandoned cars while the authorities make it difficult to take action to remove them.

While this goes on, ever more planning applications for residential development are being waved through on the Isle of Dogs, despite there being no social infrastructure to cope.

Many of these developments are “car-free”. However the mayor has an opt-out for his supporters, namely “protected parking permits for large families” moving to new homes.

No wonder the Island is increasingly gridlocked these days.

The borough needs new homes.

However, the scale and density of present development, without schools, medical facilities and improved transport, will simply re-create the social problems of the discredited development of the ’60s.

This is not how sustainable communities are built.

They come from developers, planners and residents working together.

- Peter Golds is a Conservative councillor for Blackwall & Cubitt Town

Peter Golds: Tower Hamlets Mayor has disdain for public and councillors

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At last broadcasting has come to Tower Hamlets Council.

Having taken part in the meeting I then viewed it via the council’s website.

It will not be featuring in the Oscars but it is a step towards open government in this secretive borough.

What will be seen and noticed is the disdain with which Mayor Lutfur Rahman treats the council and public, sitting smiling at his supporters while ignoring questions from councillors who are elected to scrutinise his actions and the public who are voters.

What is not clear is the continuing dreadful behaviour of the crowd who fill seats in the public section to hurl abuse at any member who questions the Mayor or seeks clarity on his decisions.

At this meeting Cllr Gloria Thienel, one of Tower Hamlets’ outstanding community representatives, asked about the proposed Oktoberfest in Millwall Park.

The response was drowned out by personal abuse from the Mayor’s supporters.

Apart from being rude this is the antithesis of democracy.

If next year I were to become leader of the majority, then we would expect the mayor to act transparently, answer questions from councillors and the public and justify his or her decisions at full council, which is the right and proper forum for proper public representation.

Pretending Human Rights are an excuse for ignoring the public brings local government into disrepute.

When the mayor is replaced next year, it will stop.

- Peter Golds is a Conservative councillor for Blackwall & Cubitt Town

Conservative councillors get Virginia Quay crossing

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A new zebra crossing has been built on a busy road in Blackwall—after the area’s local Conservative councillors secured funding for it.

The zebra crossing, located on Blackwall Way in the Virginia Quay estate, was built and opened over the summer.

Local Conservative councillor for Blackwall, Cllr Gloria Thienel, “Residents of Virginia Quay raised the issues with me that were caused by Blackwall Way being opened to traffic. Local residents have been fed up with Blackwall Way being used as a rat-run between Canary Wharf and Aspen Way, to avoid the A13.

“Your local Conservative councillors secured the funding from Tower Hamlets Council for this zebra crossing and a 20mph limit on Blackwall Way.

“This should help stop our area being used as a rat-run and help make our area safer for all residents.

Mayor shores up fading support

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It came as little surprise on discovering that among the millions of pounds of taxpayer money being handed out in grants by Tower Hamlets, £64,000 was heading for Unite, Europe’s wealthiest trade union.

Unite maintains a political fund of millions and has been involved in a series of disputes over the selection of parliamentary candidates for the Labour Party.

The union itself commissioned an internal poll to establish how their members voted.

The result was that 45% voted Labour and 55% voted elsewhere. In fact, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and indeed Ukip all have a base of support among members.

In the 2010 general election Unite members favoured Labour over the Conservatives by just 12% points.

So where does Mayor Lutfur Rahman fit into this?

He has the support of two known political parties. Firstly there is Respect, who at the beginning of this week had seven councillors nationwide.

The party’s entire group on Bradford City Council have resigned from the party, leaving just the two Tower Hamlets members as their last resort.

Secondly there is the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party, a fringe organisation which has smaller polling numbers than those saying they have met an alien.

With this kind of support we can understand why we see so much publicly funded propaganda on behalf of the Tower Hamlets Mayor.

- Peter Golds is a Conservative councillor for Blackwall & Cubitt Town

Island Gardens building plans – withdrawn

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The threat of development on Island Gardens park has been defeated – thanks to your Isle of Dogs Conservative councillors and objections from residents across the Island.

In our last In Touch we kept you informed about a proposal to build a community centre in a Portakabin on this historic park, risking damaging the view of Greenwich Hospital across the river. Following action from your local Conservative councillors and the setting up of the Friends of Island Gardens, the plans have been withdrawn.

But the risk to local parks has not been defeated. Respect-backed Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, has implemented a commercialisation strategy for parks which has resulted in commercial events being held in Sir John McDougall Gardens and Millwall Park.

Commenting, Conservative councillor for Cubitt Town Cllr Gloria Thienel said “I am delighted the developers have seen sense and withdrawn their plan to build a Portakabin on our park.”

“Rahman’s plans to commercialise our parks have led to tents and marquees on Sir John McDougall Gardens off Westferry Road, and now proposals to build on our historic Island Gardens park.

“It is the Labour-dominated Tower Hamlets Development Committee that would have finally decided on this.

“Residents know our parks are not safe with Labour or the Respect-backed Mayor. Only local Conservatives are standing up for our borough’s green lungs.”

We see little benefit from towers

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There has been much controversy over the decision by Tower Hamlets to grant planning consent for a 75-storey building close to Westferry Circus.

This will drive a coach and horses through the carefully agreed policy previously enforced around Canary Wharf and is likely to result in a series of unco-ordinated and uninteresting skyscrapers.

As the committee was considering the application, consultation was underway for two further massive developments in the Westferry/South Quay area, one of which is for another 57-storey tower.

The problem for Islanders is that we rarely see the benefits of these developments. Our roads, infrastructure, health facilities and schools are bursting at the seams, while more and ever larger development takes place.

We are told that developers will be making available money for education, but this is needed locally and now.

Days after the development meeting, I was at my councillors advice surgery. I met two families, with children who are sending them to schools in Bethnal Green and on the City fringe.

Not easy journeys during the winter months. Unlike Mayor Lutfur Rahman, neither have a council-provided, chauffeur driven car.

As I promised to do what I could to help, we caught sight of East End Life and agreed the Mayor should spend less time posing for photographs and more time sorting out the actual needs of residents.

Register your objection to 173 housing units at Island Point, Westferry Road

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As you may be aware, Tower Hamlets Council’s top planning committee voted in June to reject plans to build a 75-storey tower on the site of the City Pride pub near Canary Wharf, which would also have seen 173 housing units at the Island Point site on Westferry Road. However, due to a technicality, the proposal came back before the committee on 18 July.

The second meeting was arranged for 5.30pm rather than the usual time of 7.30pm, and one councillor who had voted against the application first time round was not able to make this meeting.

As a result, the voting on the development in the second meeting was 4-2. The councillors voting for building the 75-storey tower were:

 

·         Cllr Helal Uddin Abbas (Labour, Spitalfields & Banglatown ward)

·         Cllr Kabir Ahmed (Independent, Weavers ward)

·         Cllr Marc Francis (Labour, Bow East ward)

·         Cllr Mohammed Maium Miah (Independent, Millwall ward)

Both the Conservative councillors sitting on the committee voted against building this development.

We think it is outrageous councillors from Bethnal Green or Bow can vote to build yet more housing here on our doorstep. But it is unbelievable, and a betrayal of local people, that Cllr Mohammed Maium Miah, who was elected by the people of Millwall to stand up against over-development of our area, should vote to put yet another inappropriate development on Westferry Road.

Your Conservative team oppose all attempts to over-develop our area. The infrastructure here is bursting at the seams. Our schools, doctors’ surgeries, buses and the DLR – all are struggling to cope with more and more people on the Isle of Dogs. This development, if built, would mean nearly 200 extra housing units dumped in our area, and many hundreds more people choking up our resources.

Tower Hamlets’ planning committee’s decision however is not the final say. These outrageous proposals clearly contravene the London Plan and the local development framework and can be called in by the Greater London Authority – but only if you make sure your voice is heard.

We have written to the GLA and we urge you to do so too. Some of the issues we have highlighted include:

·         Height and scale – the proposed development at City Pride is only 7 metres shorter than the iconic One Canada Square tower at the centre of Canary Wharf.  Existing Council planning policy states that buildings in the Canary Wharf area must ‘step down’ in height from the tall towers in. Plainly, a scheme which is only 7 metres shorter than One Canada Square does not ‘step down’, and is out of context and inappropriate in its immediate surroundings.

·         Density – the proposed scheme is 5 times more dense than the maximum density recommended in the London Plan for such sites.  This constitutes gross over-development.

·         Lack of public open space – the application contravenes the Council’s planning policy in terms of the amount of public open space that should be delivered.  The scheme would deliver less than 2% of the additional public open space that is required to accommodate all of the new residents moving into the area as a result of this development.

·         The plan as it stands concentrates all of the private housing at City Pride, and all of the social housing at Island Point. This goes against both Tower Hamlets and London-wide planning policy. Councillors agreed that it was undesirable to concentrate types of housing together – then Labour and Independent councillors voted for it anyway.

·         No consideration has been given to whether the Island Point site could be used for a badly-needed primary or secondary school on the Island. It is one of the few remaining suitable sites in our local area.

The address to send your comments to is:

Mayor Boris Johnson, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA

Or by email to: mayor@london.gov.uk and copy in Andrew.boff@london.gov.ukand Edward.lister@london.gov.uk

We will of course pass on any comments we receive.

Please make sure you have your say as soon as possible on this blatant over-development of our local area.

And remember – only the Conservatives are standing up for Isle of Dogs residents against Labour and Independent/Respect over-development of our area.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Peter Golds

Cllr David Snowdon

Cllr Gloria Thienel

Standing up to the tunnel run menace

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Tower Hamlets Council is finally taking action over the tunnel run misery at Westferry Circus—thanks to action from one of Millwall’s Conservative councillors.

The tunnel runs—which involve convoys of hundreds of cars meeting up to rev their engines late at night—have resulted in sleepless nights for many local residents.

Thanks to pressure from Conservative councillor for Millwall, Cllr Zara Davis, Tower Hamlets Council are finally implementing water barriers at Westferry Circus to deter tunnel runs from congregating there.

Commenting, Cllr Davis said: “Residents shouldn’t have to put with the noise of revved car engines reverberating round Westferry Circus in the name of ‘fun’. I have been working with the council to deter this anti-social behaviour. The police will be responsible for monitoring the situation.”