Council to build new swimming pool in Wanstead


Redbridge Council have announced that a promised new swimming pool will be built at Wanstead High School.

The facility will be funded through borrowing, use of Council funds and attempts to secure a contribution from Sport England. The pool will be 25-metre and open to the public.

“I’m delighted that we’re building a swimming pool in Wanstead,” commented Cllr Sheila Bain, cabinet member for civic pride.

“It will be a great local facility to have which can be enjoyed by all age groups and will benefit our community for years to come.”

Work on the new pool is expected to start in Autumn 2018.


Council withholds information following FOI request


Redbridge Council has failed to respond in full to a Freedom of Information request submitted by Wanstead Ward News.  The information sought concerns expenditure against specific Council cost codes.

Redbridge Council has provided information about sums spent against cost codes for floral decorations, car allowances for staff, concert fees expenditure, civic regalia, arboriculturalists and footways & cycle tracks.

The Council has failed to provide any information about expenditure against cost codes for car leasing, cassette tapes, compact discs and stray dogs.  This is despite two written requests for the information to be made available.

Following a request for clarification, Redbridge Council has provided further detail about items purchased against the cost code for civic regalia.  The response states that the civic regalia budget is used to fund new mayoral robes, alterations to robes, repairs to mayoral chains, civic gifts and hand-written scrolls and engraved mayoral badges which are presented to retiring mayors and deputies and their companions.

The Freedom of Information Act (2000) gives the public the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations including local councils.  Organisations are usually expected to respond to requests within 20 working days and must explain why any information cannot be provided.

Redbridge Council has so far failed to offer any explanation as to why it cannot provide expenditure amounts for the missing cost codes.

Council cuts expenditure on footways and cycle tracks


Redbridge Council has cut £261,771 from the budget for footways and cycle tracks since 2015.

The reduction has been revealed following a Freedom of Information request about spending against Council cost codes.

In 2015/2016 the Council allocated spending of £3,044,664 against a cost code for footways and cycle tracks.

In 2016/2017 the figure was £2,782,893, representing a reduction of £261,771.

According to the Redbridge Council website it is facing “unprecedented financial challenge.  Government cuts have meant we have had to approve savings of around £125m since 2011 of which £30.3m has to be saved over the next five years”.  The page appears to refer to budget discussions in 2017.

A different page on the website, published on 22 November 2017, states “we’ve already approve savings of around £132m with an additional £73m forecast for the next five years”.

The page includes a quote from Cllr Kam Rai, Cabinet Member for Finance and Support Services:

“The actions we have taken are designed to deliver the Councils services and priorities within the 2017/2018 budget.  We’ve been able to do this by achieving additional savings across the Council so that we can allocate resources to where they are needed most – to help provide social care for children, vulnerable people and the elderly”.

Council agrees pay and display on Wanstead High Street


Redbridge Council has voted to introduce pay and display parking in Wanstead High Street.

The new scheme will start in February 2018, one month later than originally planned, and follows a controversial public consultation.

After local opposition to initial plans, Redbridge Council launched a “full and thorough consultation” on its proposals in March 2017.

The Council claimed consultation packs were delivered to approximately 4,200 properties but this was disputed by campaign group We Want Say and local residents.

A summary of the findings of the consultation stated the average response rate was 20%.  With specific reference to questions about parking on Wanstead High Street, 36% of respondents indicated that pay and display controls would make it easier to park while 31% indicated that it would make it harder.  Twenty-four percent of respondents stated that pay and display would neither make it easier nor harder while 9% didn’t know what effect the measures would have.

Tweeting from the Council meeting at which the proposals were agreed, Wanstead & Leyton Conservatives claimed the introduction of the plans overrode “people’s views”.

Council spends £1m on car allowances for staff


Since 2015 Redbridge Council has spent more than £1 million on car allowances for staff, an investigation has revealed.

The statistic was uncovered following a Freedom of Information request regarding amounts spent against Council cost codes.

In 2015/2016 the Council spent £585,147 against a code code for ‘car allowances staff’, while in 2016/2017 the figure was £466,952.  The total spent since 2015 amounts to £1,052,099.

The revelation comes after it emerged that Redbridge Council had spent more than £14,000 on ‘civic regalia’ since 2015.

An email attempting to clarify how the car allowances were used and how many staff received the payments was sent to Redbridge Council Press Office on Friday 12 January.  As of publication no response has been received.

M&S “committed” to Wanstead


There has been speculation on social media that the promised Marks & Spencer Simply Food store due to open in Wanstead is to be replaced by an outlet for American fast food chain KFC.

This rumour is untrue according to information received from Marks & Spencer.  An M&S spokesperson told Wanstead Ward News:

“Our new Wanstead store will be opening in early 2018. We’d like to thank the community for their patience. We will provide a date for our opening as soon as we can. We’re working hard on the store and remain committed to bringing the very best of M&S to Wanstead.”

Redbridge spends £14k on ‘civic regalia’


The Redbridge Council website.

Redbridge Council has spent more than £14,000 on ‘civic regalia’ since 2015 an investigation has found.

The figure was revealed following a Freedom of Information request regarding amounts spent against Council cost codes.

In 2015/2016 the Council spent £7,417 against a cost code allocated to ‘civic regalia’ while in 2016/2017 the figure was £6,785.

At a meeting due to be held on 18 January 2018 Redbridge Council will vote on reducing council tax reduction support from 80 per cent to 75 per cent for working age households.

In December 2017 the Council was ordered to pay £4,500 in compensation by the Local Government Ombudsman after it upheld complaints from families who suffered “considerable discomfort” after being placed in unsuitable accommodation by the Council.

As part of the investigation information was requested about spending against other cost codes but the Council has so far failed to respond in full.

Clarification on the ‘civic regalia’ items purchased and a quote was requested via email from the Press Office at Redbridge Council on Friday 5 January.  No response has so far been received.