Thursday, 24 February 2011

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow this week

  • Monday 28 February participating in a debate in parliament on the government’s Big Society plans.
  • Tuesday 1 March taking part in the first two sessions of the Education Bill Committee.
  • Wednesday 2 March attending the Public Accounts Committee’s hearing on public service pensions and speaking in a debate organised by Soundings and Compass in the House of Commons on the Big Society.
  • Thursday 3 March participating in the second day’s scrutiny of the Education Bill.
  • Friday 4 March speaking at a conference hosted by Substance on the future of youth services, and later attending an event at the Town Hall with the Waltham Forest Muslim Trust
  • Saturday 5 March holding a drop in advice and policy surgery for local residents at the Mall Shopping Centre in Walthamstow between 12pm and 2pm and then attending events for International Women’s Day in central London.

We're taking the Banner to the March for the Alternative!

On March 26th is the TUC March for the alternative and Walthamstow CLP will turn up in strength to support the event. We're assembling in the town square at 10.30am, and then we make our way to near Embankment. TUC expect large numbers, so exact meeting place there will be confirmed later (possibly Temple). You can also check our facebook event page, and the Calendars tab at the top of this blog.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The EMD 'Rave'

In Walthamstow we're host to a very special piece of cinema architecture known as the EMD Cinema, which has not been open to the public since 2003, though there is much local enthusiasm to restore it. It is currently lying empty and is vulnerable to damage from the elements and from intruders. It suffered from a rave party in 2003 and there were fears that another party was happening last Saturday night. A local resident - Caramel - has posted an account on facebook this morning of some of what happened and extracts are given below. (You can read her full account here, and you can read much more about the EMD Cinema on the McGuffin Society website, especially the 'story so far' page) 

I myself was around from about 10.30pm till 2am, and can confirm some of what she says - especially about droves of people turning up on the late trains. I've added a few of my photos from the evening - taken in low light so fairly basic quality. You may also have followed Stella Creasy MP's bulletins on twitter or facebook.

"As one of the people up till the wee hours on Sat night working to protect the EMD, I thought I’d give an account of what happened…
Sound equipment being unloaded, seen through the fence

One of our Cleveland Park residents noticed vans going into the Arcade site at 9ish (the rubble car park bit behind the blue hoardings). They seemed to have replaced the gate padlock with their own, they said they were squatters and they put up a fancy legal notice on the gate saying they intended to live there and couldn’t be evicted. Police said they couldn’t do much at that stage.

We contacted the police and also the council and MP. Within half an hour council leader Chris Robbins was here on site marshalling council officers to take action. Shortly after that, the squatters were seen to cut through the big metal fence between the Arcade site and the back of the EMD. It became clear that they intended to occupy the cinema and hold an illegal rave (there was one there in 2003, very soon after the UCKG church took possession of the building).

Stella Creasy MP and Council Leader Chris Robbins in discussion with the Legal adviser to the squatters
Stella Creasy, MP arrived soon after and together she and Chris did a great job of getting council officers and police to act fast and smart. Council workers used vans to block the entrances to the Arcade site which meant no more vans could get in. Police manned the front of the cinema and, once they had permission to do so, began stopping more people from entering. The council’s noise team arrived and served a legal notice against loud music.

Stella Creasy and squatters legal adviser Nick
Ultimately we think the rave was prevented because the squatters failed to get their generator inside so they didn’t have enough power for a sound system. We saw a generator on a van circling the block unable to get in. With no music, it was the rave that never was.

A hell of a lot of people did arrive though – the word having presumably been sent out on Facebook, text, etc – hundreds of people arrived on the last tube and then wondered around aimlessly looking for the party. Some snuck into the building, others wandered around like zombies. 

As I understand it, the Arcade site is now secure and just 10-20 squatters remain in the cinema, hopefully leaving soon. I’ll leave it to others (Stella, Bill from McGuffins) who went inside to report on the condition of the cinema. But I believe that – while there was superficial damage like graffiti from this and the 2003 rave – the far more worrying thing was the state of disrepair that the UCKG have let the building get into.

Finally, I can’t praise council leader Cllr Chris Robbins and MP Stella Creasy enough. Our most senior politicians coming along in person definitely spurred the police and council officers into working fast and working smart. It’s clear that, together with great work from police and council officers, we averted a massive rave that would have damaged the cinema more."

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Council wins BSF Judicial Review

From LBWF website: 11 Feb: Waltham Forest Council has won its Judicial Review regarding the cancellation of The Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

Waltham Forest Council’s Leader, Cllr Chris Robbins, said: “The government now has to go back and reconsider how the devastating decision to cancel BSF projects in Waltham Forest was made. It is a victory for common sense and fair play. They must now make a decision on our funding based on the real evidence about the difficulties our schools face.
“We have said all along that we want to sit down and have an amicable discussion with the government about the difficulties our schools face.
“Whilst we are disappointed that we had to pursue a judicial review to get the government to reconsider their decision, we are hopeful that this judgement will now open the door to a real and constructive conversation about improving schools for Waltham Forest’s young people.”

Thursday, 10 February 2011

What's happening this week

The coming week is a busy one:
  • 14 FEB - East and West branch meetings - check with your branch secretaries
  • 15 FEB - Housing Interest Group - message from Peter Woodrow: "We are reviving the Housing Interest Group. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday 15th February at 7pm in Room 7 at the Town Hall. Marie Pye, our Cabinet Portfolio Holder, will give an update on the housing situation in Waltham Forest. We will then discuss how the Council should react and what can be done to minimise the harm to our residents."
  • 16 FEB - LGC meeting, 23 Orford Road 8pm, delegates have voting rights
  • 17 FEB - CLP AGM, 23 Orford Road 8pm, new list of delegates have voting rights
and next month don't forget:
26 MAR - TUC 'march for the alternative' in london - watch out for news soon of our CLP plans to march with the banner!

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow this week

  • Monday 14 February asking about the impact of housing benefit reforms in Department of Work and Pension questions and then attending the first meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education, which I vice-chair. The group was launched last month and its aims are closely linked to the campaign to end legal loan sharking.
  • Tuesday 15 February attending the Public Accounts Committee to examine the BBC’s digital media initiative.
  • Wednesday 16 February participating in the Public Accounts Committee’s discussion of banking support.
  • Thursday 17 February participating in the question time for Business, Innovation and Skills to ask ministers why they are delaying action on tackling legal loan sharking.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

BSF Judicial Review update

More from Waltham Forest council leader Chris Robbins: "Judicial Review: Unfortunately I am unable to give you any additional information as we still await the judges decision. Last week was taken up with the presentation of the case by all 6 boroughs and on the Friday the government were given an opportunity to respond. Hopefully we will get an announcement next week."

Tackling Legal Loan sharking Debate - Update from Stella Creasy

Following the work that we have been doing on this issue in Walthamstow for some months, this week I brought before parliament a motion to secure action to cap the costs of credit and so tackle the problems caused by legal loan sharking. Against a well funded high cost credit industry campaign against these proposals, we had the support of a wide range of organisations including the Citizens Advice Bureau, Consumer Focus, the Church Poverty Action Group, Compass, the GMB, Unison, The Co-operative movement and the Better Banking Coalition. Within parliament we also secured widespread support from MPs across parliament including within the Conservative and Liberal Democrat backbenches for these proposals.You can find some of the press coverage – including the discussions I took part in on BBC breakfast news and on the Today programme – as well as an article I wrote about the politics of this proposal here.

Despite the matter being brought as a backbench issue, the Government threatened to vote down the idea by using its majority. Consequently, an amendment was tabled by them which watered down these ideas, seeking only that Government be asked to consider caps rather than introduce them. The Government also today used parliamentary procedure to prevent the second reading of the bill I have drafted with these proposals. It will come back before parliament for consideration again on the 14 October 2011.  

Despite the actions of the ministers yesterday, I believe we are making progress in pushing for action to tackle legal loan sharking. Yesterday the vast majority of speakers in the debate from all parties set out their agreement with this proposal and called on the Government to support them even if they were being made to vote against them. I will continue to work with colleagues from across parliament and all those who are supporting these plans to increase the pressure on the Government to act. You can find the full transcript of the debate including my speech where I raised what these companies do to our community and pledged that we would not forgive or forget if Ministers fail to act to protect the poorest consumers here. Having committed to Walthamstow residents when I was elected that I would seek to act on the causes of poverty and debt in our society I want to reassure residents that I will not give up in seeking progress on this matter. I also want to thank all of you who have helped so far in this campaign. 

Where to find Stella Creasy MP for Walthamstow this week

  • Monday 7 February participating in questions to the Secretary of State for Education
  • Tuesday 8 February participating in the Public Accounts Committee discussion on banking support, then the second reading of the Education Bill and chairing the All Party Group on Youth Affairs discussion on the National Citizens Service
  • Wednesday 9 February participating in the Public Accounts Committee discussion on the Thames Gateway
  • Thursday 10 February meeting with representatives of the Waltham Forest Hazara community and then addressing the London Young Labour forum along with Ken Livingstone and Sadiq Khan MP
  • Friday 11 February appearing on the Daily Politics show and then hosting an expert advice session for Walthamstow community groups on asset management followed by an appointment only advice surgery for local residents. To book an appointment please call 020 8521 1223.
  • Sunday 13 February attending the Lea Bridge Road Mosque celebration of the prophet’s birthday and dropping into the Over 60s afternoon tea in the stow event at St Michael’s Church Hall. Details below.