Sunday, November 18, 2018

Kyffin Williams: The way to the cottages

Love this. Calendar present 2018 (March) from my Mum. Painting by Welsh artist Kyffin Williams sometime 1990 - 2006. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Newham Labour Family at Unity Anti-Racist & Anti-Fascist March

This picture collage is from today's March and Rally in Central London. Newham Labour Councillors, Party members & supporters met in the morning outside Stratford Station in order to travel down together to the march.

While we were gathering there was a series of speeches including our London Assembly member Unmesh Desai and a young person, 10 year old Unais, who reminded us that the same hearts beat under our skins regardless of race or colour.

I also gave a short speech reminding everyone that only last Sunday many of us had attended ceremonies remembering those who died defending us against fascists and in November 1940 fascists bombers had rained bombs on London including Stratford, killing thousands of Londoners. We must never forget this and always fight fascism and racism in all its forms.

The march formed in Portland Place near the BBC headquarters. I helped carry the West Ham Labour Party banner with my ward Councillor John Whitworth (and others). At the end of the march there was a rally in Whitehall (near Downing Street) and a number of speeches including that of our Newham Mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, who passionately attacked all supporters of hate in our society. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Beethoven's Symphony No.9 - All Saints Festival Chorus & Orchestra Sat 24th Nov 2018

Some culture for a change on my blog even though I have a clash next weekend and cannot make it!

"Symphony No. 9 in D minor op 125 (Choral Symphony) by Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most famous pieces of music ever written. Instantly recognizable, it is unusual in featuring singing by four soloists and a full choir. The words are based upon a poem by Friedrich Schiller, Ode an die Freude (in English: Ode to Joy or, perhaps freedom). The poem has a strong message to all mankind: it is about living in peace and harmony together".

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Your November Citizens' Assembly - 20 November 6-9pm (I hope Westhammers can attend their Assembly)

Your November Citizens’ Assemblies

Join us to have your say on local priorities. The second round of Citizens’ Assemblies will run throughout November and build on the findings from the first round that took place in September.  Through the first round, and the working parties that were set up following these, 6 key priorities have been identified to address.  The top three for Stratford and West Ham are:
  1. Community Safety and Cohesion / ASB
  2. Community Development and Culture - Including Support for Young and Elderly People
  3. Environment Concerns (Litter, Flytipping) - Including Parks and Green Spaces 
Email to let’s know what priority interests you the most and we will reserve your space on the round table discussion.  
Across all of the Citizens’ Assemblies  Youth, Highways and Housing were highlighted as priorities for residents. This information will be collated and will feed into the borough wide strategy for these areas.

You can find more information and register at
For more information contact

Putting Newham Residents at the Heart of Everything We Do.
Register for Your Citizens' Assembly
Newham Heritage Week 2018
Thursday 8 November - Sunday 18 November

Exhibitions, heritage bus tour, films, walks, talks, children’s activities, open houses and more. This year we will be celebrating women’s right to vote and remembering the end of the first world war, alongside many more events and activities highlighting Newham’s rich heritage. For more information and updates on Newham’s Heritage Week or pick up a full programme in any Newham library.

Putting Newham Residents at the Heart of Everything We Do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

LAPFF Chair Cllr Ian Greenwood RIP

I was at a Newham Pension training last night and was shocked to hear of the death of Cllr Ian Greenwood.
I have known Ian for many years and he was a superb chair and Pension activist. A true friend as well of the trade union movement both here and abroad.

He will be an impossible act to follow.

I can't believe that less than 12 months we also lost Kieran as Chair.

Hat tip Professional Pensions

"The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has announced the sudden death of its chairman, Ian Greenwood, on Monday (12 November) night at age 68.

Greenwood was also chairman of the £46bn Northern Pool of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), having taken on that role in April, after being chairman and then deputy chairman of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund.
Awarded an OBE for services to local government in 2013, he was also a councillor at Bradford Metropolitan District Council, twice acting as its leader, and for West Yorkshire County Council.
Greenwood was also twice the LAPFF's chairman, first holding the role between 2008 and 2013, and then taking on the position again in July of this year following a period of interim service since January.
He had taken over both the Northern Pool and LAPFF roles from Kieran Quinn, who died in post on Christmas Day last year and was also chairman of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
In a short statement, the LAPFF expressed its "extreme shock and sadness".
Northern Pool vice-chairs Paul Doughty and Brenda Warrington also expressed their condolences, adding he "would be greatly missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him".
They added: "Ian was an inspirational and visionary leader whose knowledge and experience of local government pension schemes was invaluable.
"He truly believed and demonstrated by his leadership that ensuring ordinary people working in public sector jobs serving their communities get to live out their retirement years with security and dignity is a noble cause, and he brought great energy and significant personal commitment to that purpose.
"As Northern Pool chairman at a time of significant change, Ian was instrumental in putting in place simple but effective democratic structures that ensured we continue to deliver low costs and good investment returns for the funds' members and taxpayers alike."
Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe mourned the "enormous loss" of one of the "most recognisable" and "most influential figures in Bradford politics".
"He was immensely proud to be able to service the people of his home city, which he loved dearly, and he wore his passion for the place and its people like a badge of honour," she said.
"Ian was a pragmatic, big tent politician, motivated by an overwhelming desire to bring people together to do the right thing for Bradford. His leadership transcended cultural, community and political party boundaries and his legacy and impact will be long-lasting."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

West Ham All Saints Remembrance Service Sunday 11 November 2018

On Sunday I represented the Mayor and Newham Council at the 1918-2018 Remembrance Ceremony at West Ham Parish Church All Saints with Chair of Council Cllr Joy Laguda and our Director of Finance, Michael O'Donnell. With our local MP Lyn Brown, we each laid a wreath of poppies together with G Company 7 Rifles (our local British Army Reservist unit based nearby in West Ham), Police, British Legion and local residents.

It was good to see a large contingent of soldiers in uniform from our local regiment 7 Rifles present. In past Remembrance ceremonies at this Church, members of G Company had been on active service in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I am now of an age, that they all look too young to put their lives at risk and wish that fighting for all countries and all beliefs was only restricted to older folk such as myself over the age 50.  I doubt that many wars would still happen if this was so.

Chair of Newham Councillor Scrutiny Committees, Cllr John Whitworth and Councillor Winston Vaughan also attended (Cllr Vaughan is a British Army Veteran) While local Cllr, Jane Lofthouse actually had a lovely singing voice (and saved the reputation of the Council since none of us could hold a note).

Newham Council had supported 8 separate Remembrance events across the borough this historic weekend with the Mayor, Cabinet, Senior officers and Councillors attending.

The new Parish Priest, Revd Cannon Alex Summers, led an excellent and moving service (despite a heavy cold) and spoke about two of his great uncles, who were killed in the first world war. He and his young family had visited the war cemetery of one of his uncles in France and noted that the graves of British and German dead were buried alongside each other. It seemed fitting that former enemies were laid in peace together. I completely agree.

The Church is a beautiful Grade 1 listed building and was founded in the 12th Century.  I recommend a visit. There is a Beethoven Concert there on 24 November 2018 which I sadly cannot attend due to pre booked clash.

After the ceremony my wife Gill and I went over to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to view the "Shrouds from the Somme". Visit, look and listen to the endless names of the unidentified dead. It is heartbreaking.

Monday, November 12, 2018

"Save Our Dinner Ladies" - Ladywood Primary School Strike, Barnsley

"Our members at Ladywood Primary School in Grimethorpe, Barnsley, are in dispute with their employer over proposals to make 9 School Meals Supervisory Assistants (lunchtime supervisors) redundant. 

Donate to the strike fund

You can donate by sending money to:
Account name: UNISON Barnsley
Account number: 20031457
Sort code: 608301

Or send a cheque payable to UNISON Barnsley to:
Branch Office, 4 Burleigh Court, Barnsley, S70 1XY.

They started with 6 days of strike action in September 2018 and since 4 October 2018 have been on indefinite strike. There are seventeen members in total who are taking action; nine SMSAs and eight Teaching Assistants and Higher Level Teaching Assistants.

We believe that the Ladywood dispute is hugely significant and that its outcome may determine the approach that other schools take to addressing budget difficulties. Our members, through their determination and courage, are showing that low-paid support staff are no longer a soft target when savings need to be made.

We hope you will be able to support our members by sending a message of solidarity to

You can also follow us on social media: (on Facebook and Twitter: @UNISONBarnsley).

Every message will be passed on to our members and they really do make a difference. 
Robin Symonds

UNISON Regional Organiser, Yorkshire and Humberside"

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Clear out West Ham CLP HQ aka "the Pie Shop"

Our local Labour headquarters since the 1970s has been sold to a developer who is going to build a high rise block on the site.

It used to be a newsagents and a "fish n chips" shop in the past.

The national Labour Party has a large capital sum and we locally have been promised contractually a space in the new building that will be twice the floor area at a peppercorn rent.

This was probably the 3rd clear out that we have had but we are nearly there. A van full of rubbish was taken to the Newham tip but a number of historical items are being rescued and stored until we get our new home.

The "Vote Labour" roof car sign has not been used according to CLP Premises officer, John Saunders, since Arthur Lewis times. However, I put the plug into my car and it worked. 

Paul Cockerell - Life long Socialist, Trade unionist & Hammers fan - RIP

On Friday afternoon I went to pay my respects at Paul's funeral at Manor Park crematorium.

Paul was a Forest Gate North and West Ham Labour activist who also lived round the corner to me.

A lovely non religious service for a life long socialist, trade unionist, music lover & West Ham FC supporter.

I sat next to a UNISON staff member who remembered the kindness of Paul and his wife Sue, 30 years ago to him when he was a student living nearby.

Some wonderful eulogies from his niece, lifelong university friend and neighbour.

Then typical generous East End wake at the Forest Gate Tavern.

Perfect send off. 

Rest in peace Paul. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Turning rubbish into pensions

Picture collage from a visit on Friday with Cllr Joshua Garfield, Newham Council Pension officer and our Canadian fund managers, Fiera Infrastructure (top left) to the Cory Riverside "energy from waste" plant in Belvedere, Bexley, Kent. 

Newham Council staff pension fund (LGPS) has invested in this company. Look to right side of collage, top to bottom for a outline of what this plant does.

Top right, a rubbish cart dumps rubbish, then a crane collects the rubbish and places it into a furness where the rubbish is burnt and provides the heat to make steam, which drives turbines to produce electricity. This electricity serves 160,000 London households. The "cake" from the burnt rubbish is then transported by barges along the River Thames to be turned into breeze blocks to build homes.  Apparently the pollutants caused by this process are lower than the "normal" air quality in the locality.

Obviously, due diligence was done to ensure that our pension fund investment in this plant was made on the basis of matching liabilities and maximising return but the idea that instead of expensive and wasteful landfill, rubbish is turned into electricity and into pensions is very attractive.