Friday, July 29, 2022

Keep British meat safe

FSA changes will remove many daily onsite inspections, not only putting jobs at risk, but undermining the integrity of the meat the British public eats every day

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Chesham & Little Missenden walk & history


A fantastic collage from last Sunday's 9 miles walk with Gill around Chesham and Little Missenden in the Chilterns. 

I want to concentrate on this blog more on the history and politics of the places we visit, rather than the beautiful scenery, which I can post photos on Facebook. 

The highlight of the walk was stopping off for a Cream Tea at the 1000 year old Church of John the Baptist in Little Missenden. The vicar gave us a guided tour of the marvellous medieval wall paintings in the church which had been covered up by the puritans. 

There was also a fascinating plaque in the church, remembering money left by the wealthy in the 18th century, to pay for a loaf of bread every Sunday to the 6 oldest parishioners who attended that service. 

Hopefully, noone will tell Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak about this traditional tory approach to poverty or it will give them ideas...

Newham Pension Committee - 27 July 2022

 A really constructive & well chaired meeting.  Cllr Dr Rohit K Dasgupta first meeting as Chair. 100% agree that we need to thank @NareserOsei for her great work as previous chair (and our officers and advisors)

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Be an effective Newham Councillor training - with Lewisham Mayor, Damien Egan


It was great to see so many Newham Councillors, new and old, turn up for this training led by Lewisham Mayor, Damien Egan, the LGA and Newham officers. 

I have known Damien since before he became Mayor and he is an great exemplar of British civic office. He is in my experience, a genuine, consensual politician who is also thoughtful, courteous and promotes the role of Councillors above himself.  

I still don't believe in an executive mayor model in UK local authorities but he would make a natural leader in any Committee model council. 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Mayor of London's Summer Reception 2022

Some pictures from the Summer Reception that took place last Thursday at the new London City Hall (in Newham!). I was there as Chair of UNISON London Labour Link with Yvonne Green as Vice Chair (and we had a great turnout of regional and national officers). 

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, met with us (UNISON) and we discussed various issues but also for a photo with the local Newham "Crew". 

Other speakers at the reception included Leader of Camden Council, Cllr Georgia Gould and Dawn Butler MP. I was able to offer my congratulations in person to local MP, Stephen Timms, on his knighthood. 

A good evening and was able to catch up in person and chat with lots of people. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Green on Green: A great day to wash your dirty laundry in public?

Please see the fascinating exchange of emails between the two Newham Green Councillors Nate and Danny (The Green Group Leader) copied into 64 Labour Councillors, Mayor and various officers. 

From: Nate Higgins (Councillor) <>
Sent: 17 July 2022 22:59
To: Danny Keeling (Councillor) <>; Conrad Hall <>; Council - All Newham Council Members <>
Cc: Corporate Management Team <>
Subject: Re: Message on behalf of Cllr Vaughan, Chair of Council

 Hi all.

 I would like to apologise for my colleague's remarks and disassociate myself from them. I would also like to make clear this is not 'normal summer weather' to be enjoyed, this is seriously dangerous to public health and life, and the result of climate change.

Please do whatever is necessary to ensure the health of all council staff and councillors, and I will fully support the council in doing that. Any questions about the rescheduling of business can wait until safety has been assured. 

Please stay safe all. 


 From: Danny Keeling (Councillor) <>

Sent: Sunday, July 17, 2022 9:57:22 PM
To: Nate Higgins (Councillor) <>; Conrad Hall <>; Council - All Newham Council Members <>
Cc: Corporate Management Team <>
Subject: RE: Message on behalf of Cllr Vaughan, Chair of Council

Evening all,

I hope we all have had a great weekend?

I must stress that the last council meeting lowered the amount of full council meetings in the calendar – has this full council been cancelled or postponed?

I am fully understanding this unusual weather but we do have this beautiful expensive building on dockside that could assist us against the heat, alternatively do one of our property/facility managers have appliances to assist.

I do believe all of us have taken measures getting from A to B and working in these hot conditions already.

Are we not still able to hold full council, especially with the assistance of the brilliant space at Dockside. I feel like this is a very last minute decision. We have known about the heat for a good amount of time and making the meeting more comfortable, could have happened last week. There are plenty of brilliant and amazing spaces the council have throughout the borough that could have air conditioned spaces.


1.       Is this cancelling or delaying?

2.       Why was this decision made so late knowing the temperature already predicted?

3.       Do we expect residents to go to work on the day we do not go and hold full council ‘because it is too hot’

 I do obviously hope everyone is well and enjoying this Summer weather.

 Danny Keeling

Councillor, Stratford Olympic Park

Leader of the Green Group

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Chilham, Godmersham and the Stour Valley walk.

Off message but Gill and I had a marvellous walk 2 weeks ago in Kent. Check out the route and map in this Pathfinder book. It is a 10 mile circular walk (graded as a "Orange walk" - which are described as "a more challenging walk"). 

Start of walk is in Chilham which is a very pretty "chocolate box", medieval hill top village with a square, a pub, a church and an impressive Jacobean Mansion. 

You soon join the North Downs Way uphill through woods and tracks then leave it to join a track into Godmersham Park. Some great views and a real sense of isolation.  The park Manor House was once owned by the brother of author, Jane Austin, who used to visit him here and used it to provide details for some of her novels. 

The main picture above is of the weeping willows and the River Stour is from the park. 

You later follow the Stour Valley path and come across many superb views but hardly any other walkers. 

While there is lots of ups and downs, there is nothing too strenuous but 10 miles is a bit of a stretch but you can shorten the route if necessary. As a reward at the end, the village pub has a very nice beer garden, while the café does great coffee and cream teas.  

I will post lots of other photos from the walk on Facebook. 


Saturday, July 16, 2022

Letter to the NEC - Re-Open the Kirklees Investigations /Hearings


"Dear Kirklees 15 supporter,

As many of you will have heard Mr Holmes has now been told he cannot hold office due to the recent rule change governing unemployed members.  A small win in a bigger battle.

Mr Holmes, I am sure, will seek any way around this up to and including trying to gain employment to dodge the rule.

For this and the reasons of trade Union good practice we need to lobby the NEC to ask for the rule I investigation to be reopened and brought to a full and fair completion, it is simply not good enough to abandon the case. 

To this ends we ask you all to spare a moment to send a letter to the NEC via the General Secretary,,  marked 'for the urgent attention of the NEC'  It would be very good if this email was sent before the next meeting of the NEC on Monday the 18th.  

For your ease we have written a proforma letter, which you may like to use, or certainly feel free to write your own.

Many thanks in anticipation of your support 

The Kirklees 15

Letter to the NEC  - Re-Open the Kirklees Investigations /Hearings

Dear NEC,

We are writing to you ahead of the NEC meeting on 18th July 2022.

We wish to bring to your attention the events at the UNISON NDC 2022.

Many delegates exercised their frustration with some of the Events and actions by the NEC, particularly in relation to the former president Mr Holmes which resulted in a motion of no confidence in the NEC being passed.

In your statement to conference, the  NEC said. “we have listened and apologise’’.

We hope you are still listening to your members and delegates, and fully accept the sovereignty of conference, as we now ask that you Restore the UNISON rule I Investigation into the conduct of Officers within Kirklees UNISON.

This week it became clear that within the Tory Party an investigation was held into the behaviour of an MP, this investigation found there was a case to answer. It was also by a decision of members of a committee this was not taken further, and the case was closed.

We cannot be seen to act like the Tory Party. The day we draw any parallels with UNISON and the Tory party is a sad day indeed.

Trade unionists in Unison from all ends of the political spectrum call upon the NEC to do better.

Reopen the rule I investigation and show your values in action. We do not tolerate this behaviour in the employers we deal with.

Nothing short of the investigation being heard and allowing the conclusion of a Trade Union process will suffice for the whole Union. The many stewards and staff over numerous years have a case and It Must be Heard.

(picture from massive fringe meeting at NDC supporting the Kirklees 15)

Friday, July 15, 2022

TUC Webinar: Protecting workers from extreme temperatures in the workplace

A heatwave warning is now in place for the next week across much of England and Wales. How can unions protect workers from extreme temperatures? 

Take our 15-minute online course

As temperatures soar throughout the summer, employers are responsible for providing a working environment that is reasonably practical, safe and without risks to health. Are workers in your workplace at risk? What can you do to protect them? Our new course shows ways to assess extreme temperature risks in the workplace, and how to get your employer to act on them.Take the course now.

Watch our webinar

Watch a recording of our recent webinar: Protecting workers from extreme temperatures on what reps can do to ensure their employers assess risks and introduce any necessary prevention or control measures in the workplace.

Sign our petition

Sign this petition calling on the government to change laws for an absolute maximum working temperature to keep people safe from the risks associated with excessive heat and sun exposure.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Newham Council Education, Children & Young People's Scrutiny Commission


My first such Scrutiny tonight in East Ham Town Hall. Chaired by Cllr Elizabeth Booker. Our current Ofsted inspection was obviously a key issue. 

Check out agenda Will try and find youtube link.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Facebook Community Standards (The Curse of Terry Paul?)


I have had a few bizarre messages from Facebook over the years. None stranger than today when I was informed that this post from 8 years ago, had in some way contravened "Facebook Community Standards". The post is about my preparation the night before I took part in the London Triathlon in 2014. 

There appeared to be some sort of appeal process, which I followed but at the end I was told that they may or may not get back to me due to Covid? 

While I think it is a good thing that Facebook algorithms are checking content this sort of arbitrary nonsense brings such censorship into disrepute. 

Of course this is yet another fine mess that Terry Paul has got me into....

Saturday, July 09, 2022

UNISON National Labour Link Forum 2022

Picture collage from UNISON Labour Link National Forum which took place on Friday in York. This was the first "in person" Forum since 2019 due to Covid. "Labour Link" is the (voluntary) political fund in UNISON that is affiliated to the Labour Party. 

I was an elected member of the Greater London delegation. We had arrived the night before for our delegation meeting (followed by delegation meal). 

Forum started with a well deserved presentation to our former General Secretary, Dave Prentis, thanking him for his decades of service to the union and to Labour Link. Dave also spoke about the battle ahead to get a Labour Government elected. There was a minutes silence to remember UNISON members who had passed away since we last met. Followed by a report from the Standing orders committee and on our Annual report. 

Next we began to debate motions. I was really pleased that during the course of the Forum nearly all members of our delegation spoke. Some of them for the first time. I moved our regional motion on "Stop Workers Being Charged to have #DBS Checks When They Start Jobs" which was passed unanimously. I will post on this important campaign another time.

Before Lunch we had Angela Rayner MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (and former UNISON activist who I remember well attending these forums) give the keynote speech. She started by breaking the welcome news that both she and Keir Starmer had been cleared by the Police over the so called "BeerGate" investigation. They had both pledged to resign if they had been prosecuted. A clear sign of integrity in contrast to the appalling behaviour by Boris Johnson. Angela gave a barnstorming speech, without any notes and dealt decisively with a range of questions during the Q&A. 

After lunch we continued to debate motions and managed to complete all 18 by 3pm. After a break, we had a MPs Panel. Four MPs & (and also UNISON members) spoke about their roles & took part in Q&A. Daniel Zeichner MP, Liz Twist MP, Bambos Charalambous MP and Chi Onwurah MP. 

I asked the panel the question about what would advise us to say to working class Tories when on the campaign trail for Labour? Some good responses about listening to people and showing them respect but also asking the question - do they feel safer in their communities under the Tories and are they better off financially? 

Our National Chair (and NHS nurse) Linda Hobson closed the Forum and we look forward to next year's (hopefully we will return to it being a 2-day Forum). 

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

The Isle of Harty Walk

Off message but on Saturday Gill and I went on this marvellous 8 mile Pathfinder walk around the "Isle" of Harty in Kent (now part of the Isle of Sheppey but once separate). Definite "Big Sky" country with panoramic views. Very quiet and remote walking along marshland, dykes and seacoast. Stopped at the lovely ancient Harty Church. We had lunch in the hide (see photo above). 

It is about 1 hr 15 by car from East London. We stayed the weekend in a hired Caravan in Leysdown-on-Sea.

The Isle of Sheppey is probably the last part of mainland Britain to be seized by a foreign power. It was briefly occupied by the Dutch Navy in the 17th century and ransacked. 

The walk went past UK aviation history. The first powered flight was here and the Short Brothers also built her the first ever aircraft factory. Now nearly all traces of such industry is long gone. 

Other photos on Facebook

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Rishi Sunak's resignation letter


Rishi Sunak's resignation letter

Dear Prime Minister,

It is with deep sadness that I am writing to you to resign from the Government.

It has been an enormous privilege to serve our country as Chancellor of the Exchequer and I will always be proud of how during the pandemic we protected people's jobs and businesses through actions such as furlough.

To leave ministerial office is a serious matter at any time. For me to step down as Chancellor while the world is suffering the economic consequences of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other serious challenges is a decision that I have not taken lightly.

However, the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.

I have been loyal to you. I backed you to become Leader of our Party and encouraged others to do so. I have served as your Chancellor with gratitude that you entrusted me with stewardship of the nation's economy and finances. Above all, I have respected the powerful mandate given to you by the British people in 2019 and how under your leadership we broke the Brexit deadlock.

That is why I have always tried to compromise in order to deliver the things you want to achieve. On those occasions where I disagreed with you privately, I have supported you publicly. That is the nature of the collective government upon which our system relies and it is particularly important that the Prime Minister and Chancellor remain united in hard times such as those we are experiencing today.

Our country is facing immense challenges. We both want a low-tax, high-growth economy, and world class public services, but this can only be responsibly delivered if we are prepared to work hard, make sacrifices and take difficult decisions.

I firmly believe the public are ready to hear that truth. Our people know that if something is too good to be true then it's not true. They need to know that whilst there is a path to a better future, it is not an easy one. In preparation for our proposed joint speech on the economy next week, it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different.

I am sad to be leaving Government but I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we cannot continue like this.

Kind regards,

Rishi Sunak Hat tip picture. Hopefully this is it and this is the end of Boris (and this Tory Government)

Monday, July 04, 2022

Happy 4th July & 130th anniversary of the election of Keir Hardie as MP for West Ham South


"I was really pleased that I was recently able to respond to a request by the Keir Hardie Society (via a former UNISON colleague) for a pdf copy of the booklet issued in 2012 to mark the 120th anniversary of Keir Hardie's election. He was elected on 4 July 1892 for West Ham South and was the first Labour MP in the UK. 

The Keir Hardie Society have now put the pdf on their website where it can be downloaded in full (12 pages on his life and times)[v4].pdf

Many thanks to officers from Newham Council's Archives and Local Studies Library for sending me the pdf". 

The Last British Revolution – Happy Birthday America


Hat tip "Harry's Place" 2008 Today is the day when the British freed themselves from a despotic monarchy and declared independence.

Unfortunately, they were unable to liberate their homeland of the British Isles, but those Britons willing to stand up to a tyrannical king went on to become “Americans” and created a world superpower, invented the corndog, and gave the world Bob Dylan”.

Happy Birthday to all our Revolutionary American Cousins!

The picture above is considered to be the first flag of the United States, the “Grand Union” or “Continental Colours” (properly spelt of course) flag that was in use 1775-1777.