M&S “committed” to Wanstead

marks_and_spencer

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.”

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Redbridge spends £14k on ‘civic regalia’

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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.

Homelessness

streetlink

The lack of affordable housing and homelessness are issues of national importance.

But there have been two recent stories about these issues which have significance for residents of Wanstead Village Ward and the London Borough of Redbridge.

The housing charity Shelter has listed Redbridge as the 11th highest London Borough for the number of homeless people per member of population.  It has been estimated that 60 people are sleeping rough while 6,197 are in temporary accommodation in the Borough.

The second story is that Redbridge Council has been forced to pay compensation to families who suffered “considerable discomfort” while placed in temporary accommodation by the Council.  The Local Government Ombudsman upheld complaints by two families who endured problems including torn mattresses, damp conditions and rodent-infested rooms.

It seems clear from these stories – revealed by the local paper – that Redbridge Council could do better in their attempts to tackle homelessness and provide suitable accommodation for those in need of temporary shelter.

A new initiative has been launched to enable members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with local services to support them.

By entering details on the Streetlink website, communities can alert local authorities or outreach services to people sleeping rough so they can be located and connected to long-term support.  Further information can be found at: www.streetlink.org.uk.

Safety in the snow and local crime

This week there seem to be two issues of concern to residents of Wanstead Village Ward.

The first is the response of Redbridge Council to the wintry weather which affected the capital earlier in the week.  Residents questioned whether gritters had treated the main roads and whether pavements were made safe.

The second issue is local crime.  Residents raised concerns about theft from vehicles and suspected drug dealing from parked cars.  The Wanstead Village Ward has two Metropolitan Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams (depending on where you live) who should be the first point of contact about these issues.  Further information about the Snaresbrook Team can be found here and the Wanstead Team can be found here.  Both teams can also be followed on Twitter.

If you are a member of Facebook please join the Wanstead Community Forum in which you can raise and discuss any issues.  The Forum exists to provide an opportunity to air any concerns so the community can work together to make Wanstead a better place for everyone.

Political debate

Some residents will already be aware that due to local boundary changes a new Wanstead Village Ward has been created as part of Redbridge Council.  In May 2018 voters will have the opportunity to elect three new councillors to represent them.

The main political parties have announced some of the candidates for these seats and campaigning has begun.

Earlier this week the following tweet was published by Redbridge Labour:

redbridge_labour_tweet

It made me feel very dismayed.  Apart from the appalling quality of the image it shows the low level of political debate and discussion on offer to voters.  It is no wonder that politicians and politics seem to be held in such low regard by many people in this country.

I believe we can and must do better.  Can I suggest to Redbridge Labour that they delete this tweet and any others like it?  Let’s raise the level of debate and do our best to encourage everyone to engage in the issues affecting our community in an intelligent, civilised, well-mannered and creative way.  Let’s debate together the very best ways to make the world a better place for everyone.  And may the best ideas win.