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.
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.
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.