We were split into pairs by Ward organiser, Alan Griffiths which personally I think is too small a team for a canvass but his argument was it prevented the chatting and gossiping you get in larger teams....As if Labour Party activists ever gossiped!
I was paired with Canning Town South Councillor, Bryan Collier MBE. Who is I think universally recognised as a hard working, dedicated and competent Councillor and community activist. Bryan was for many years an Environmental Health Officer and UNISON member in one of my favourite branches, Lambeth local government.
We went to a relatively new block in Butchers Road, Canning Town managed by L&Q Housing Association.
The first home we visited were enthusiastic Labour supporters and pleased with free school meals for their children and that their son was learning to play the violin at school under the "every child a musician" programme. Their young son who was present didn't seem to share their enthusiasm quite so much but wouldn't it be brilliant if Canning Town was known in the future as the home of a violin maestro!
We had some fun and games trying to get into the block. There was no "drop key" panel which made me wonder how the emergency services can gain immediate access to the block? There was probably the most sophisticated door entry system I ever come across. When you rang a door number, if it was not answered it was transferred to the occupants’ mobile phone number. We were eventually let in by a resident who was not even at home (or so he told us I suppose).
The block was in a good condition (well done to caretakers, maintenance and management staff). There were complaints by residents about anti-social behaviour by some local children in the car park and people leaving rubbish bags outside the communal bin areas. Bryan has already held one meeting with L&Q, local sector Police and residents about this problem and will see about holding another.
The very positive response to Labour that we received did surprise me a little since many residents were not originally from Newham. Bryan was recognised by some as a good local Councillor but without being at all flippant or complaisant in the slightest, we had some very good and interesting canvass returns.