New Vision Homes under the spotlight
Sheerwater residents delivered a petition to Woking Borough Council on June 19th demanding that New Vision Homes carry out more consultation before the Sheerwater Regeneration Scheme is finalised.
The petition asked the Council to postpone decisions on the scheme until the Sheerwater Residents' Forum is recognised under the Communities Act. Once this is in place, NVH will have to take residents' views into account. The petition also asks for public meetings for residents to put their views.
Sheerwater residents in Jubilee Square on June 19th with a petition for Ray Morgan, Woking Council CEO.
The petition was presented to Council on July 10th by the Chair of the SRF, with help from our member Vicki Kirby answering questions from councillors. The galleries were packed and so many turned up that a room upstairs had to be set up with a video link.
Our newly-elected councillor M. Ilyas Raja rose to his first challenge to point out the upset and confusion caused by the inadequate consultation by NVH Housing Association at a cost of £1.4 million, and was applauded for his contribution. Worst examples were given as:
- Home owners are promised 10% on top of their house value before demolition, but even 25% would not be enough to replace like-for-like in terms of property price rises, carpets etc.
- Although a promise was given by the Council that rents will not go up on moving to a new tenancy, many residents with back gardens and small children want an assurance that they will have a garden for their children's safety.
- The elderly and disabled want the option of staying in Sheerwater where they have the security of friends and family living nearby.
- The multi-faith group is alarmed that with 58% Christians and 42% other faiths, a single facility will prove to be unmanageable. St Michael's church will be demolished and Hindus and Muslims cannot use the same replacement facility as is being implied.
- The football club should not have to move outside Sheerwater.
One member, one vote
A report on the Special Labour Party and Trade Union Conference in London Docklands on March 1st, by our delegate Liz Evans
Ed Miliband opened the debate by saying (summarised): "With these changes we will complete the journey begun by John Smith 21 years ago to make Labour a modern, democratic and open political party based on the principle of one member, one vote. For the first time, the local party will have a direct relationship with those working people who have positively consented to pay their affiliation fee and to be a part of the Labour Party. It is about a transfer of power and trust to our members and supporters in future leadership elections. You shouldn’t have to pay the full membership fee before you can play a valuable role in the Labour Party, and it will also make it possible for more young people to get involved locally. At the same time we will protect the special rights of members to stand as candidates, to select candidates and to hold office within the party."
The NEC considered over 300 submissions from Labour affiliated organisations and CLPs (Woking included). The NEC had backed the reforms in the Review into Labour Party Reform by recent General Secretary Ray Collins, Lord Collins of Highbury 28 to 2. The conference voting college was divided 50/50 and voted as follows: CLPs: For 37.87, Against: 12.13; Affiliated Organisations (Unions, Association of Labour Councillors, Young Labour, Co-op Party etc): For 48.42, Against 1.58. The reforms were therefore finally agreed by conference with 86.29% in favour.
Leadership Elections The practice whereby one person is able to have multiple votes will be abolished. This will instead be replaced with one vote each for Members, Affiliated Supporters and Registered Supporters.
Members of affiliated unions will need to opt-in to a portion of their dues going to the Labour Party, rather than to opt-out, and a new category of Affiliated Supporters will be set up for them to be able to register their vote for Leader via the party instead of by their union. They will need to declare their support for Labour values, provide the party with personal contact details and be on the electoral roll.
Although the Woking CLP Executive wanted trade unions and other affiliated bodies to be able to nominate candidates for Leader, no speaker from an affiliated body raised this point so I did not raise it.
Nominating and shortlisting will remain with the House of Commons members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Constituency Development Plans for CLPs to enable joint-working with a trade union, will be promoted more and a model agreement will be developed with the unions. The NEC will oversee and endorse all CDPs.