Sunday, October 16, 2011

West Ham Ward Street Surgery (and getting the Vote Out for Ken)

After my offical surgery yesterday in the Rokeby Community Centre (where apparently Katie, the Duchess of Cambridge, made a very successful private visit to the centre last week and had lunch with staff and users) I went on a Street Surgery with fellow West Ham Councillor Ron Manley (left of centre picture) and top ward secretary John Whitworth (right).

We knocked on doors and introduced ourselves to local residents and asked if they had any issues that they wanted to speak to us about.  It may have been the blue skies and warm sunshine but we had a really good reception.  We obviously reminded everyone about the GLA election next year and the importance of getting rid of Johnson as the Coalition Tory London Mayor. 

The only clear "Against" I came across had a poor opinion of all politicians and spoke highly of Arthur Lewis (former Labour MP for the area until deselected in 1983) as a "man of the people...who you could stop in the street and talk to...".  I did not live in Newham at the time and understand that many who did, had a somewhat alternative view of Arthur.  However, Mr Against, also had let me say, an extremely poor opinion (expressed in fluent east end), of Mayor Johnson, so Ken may still be in with a chance. 

Other residents expressed concern about anti-social behaviour by local youths (a tiny, tiny minority of all young people) and rogue "Rachman" private sector landlords who do not care about the state of their properties and do nothing about the bad behaviour of some of their residents.  There are a number of initiatives that the Council and West Ham Police Safer Neighbourhood team are carrying out at the moment against ASB in this area which I expect to make a big difference.  While the Council's pioneering initiative to try and licence all private landlords is I think potentially brilliant.  Protecting tenants and their neighbours, encouraging good landlords and attacking the bad. Great stuff.

Across Newham yesterday and today there has been similar door knocking by Councillors and local Labour Party members.  We are also carrying out telephone surveys of West Ham residents. 

One other story I came across yesterday was from an Newham resident about how she was complaining bitterly about this rotten Tory Coalition government when her daughter interrupted her to say "Mum, you can't complain about this government...you don't bother to vote at the election last year"... and to be fair to Mum, she accepted this and just grinned somewhat sheepishly.   Lesson learnt.
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