Monday, December 05, 2016

"Housing Associations have lost their soul" Call for new campaign group to make them more democratic and accountable.

At the Labour Housing Group fringe at this year’s Labour Party Conference former UNISON Regional Secretary Frank Hont (and now Liverpool Council Cabinet member for Housing) described Housing Associations as having “lost their soul”. This was in front of Labour Housing shadow minister John Healey MP. 

This motion calling for a campaign for greater democracy and accountability in Housing Associations was recently put before the UNISON Community National Service Group Executive.

This community SGE notes:

That UK Housing Associations used to be genuinely progressive and democratic social housing organisations accountable to their tenants while providing high quality, affordable homes and responsible services.

Many used to have effective and well run Tenant & Resident Associations (TRA) and have executive boards that reflected the local community as well as being open, transparent, inclusive and most important of all - accountable.

Trade Unions, TRAs and local authorities were seen as vital stakeholders and partners.

Recently Housing Associations have started to dismantle TRAs and replace them with “focus groups” and so called “residents representatives” - interviewed and appointed by senior management.

Elected Councillors have been removed from Executive Boards.

Some Housing Associations refuse to recognise the human rights of their workers by de-recognising trade unions while victimising and blacklisting union activists.

Housing Associations which treat their residents badly also tend to treat their workers badly as well.
This community SGE resolves:-

To campaign and lobby against all Housing Associations that do not have democratically elected and financially supported independent Tenants and Residents Associations or recognise trade unions.

To ask the NEC to see if it is feasible to help set up a body that would work with other trade unions, councillors, Assembly members, MSPs, MPs and resident groups to campaign to make Housing Associations become democratic and accountable.

To support the call that at least 50% of all Housing Association Board Members should be genuine Resident elected representatives (which may include local Councillors and community organisations and at least one trade union representative).

Campaign for residents of Housing Associations that consistently fail to be progressive and democratic and do not perform adequate housing management functions to be given the right to be allowed the opportunity to vote on a transfer of their homes to another Landlord including Local Authorities.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Mayor lost support of Newham Labour Party Branches and membership

This afternoon the last Newham Labour Party branch, Green Street East held its trigger ballot meeting and voted 32 to 5 for an open selection process for the next Newham Labour Mayoral candidate.

This means that a majority of Labour Party branches in Newham agree with an open selection and if you count the numbers in each branch an overwhelming number of individual Newham Labour Party members have also voted for an open contest.

In the two selection meetings I have attended (Forest Gate North and Co-op Party) supporters of the current Mayor have argued that this affirmation process was actually a "vote of no confidence" in him by Party members. He has since lost 11 out of 9 branches.

Tonight the West Ham Labour Party Women's Forum also held its trigger meeting and in the biggest meeting held in the current contest they voted decisively for an open selection as well by 46 No votes to 36 Yes.

I hope that since an overwhelming majority of branches and Labour Party members want this to happen it will happen. this space :)

Saturday, December 03, 2016

UNISON Service Group Executive offers full support to fight Union Busting at Clarion Housing Group

Picture from Wednesday's meeting of the UNISON Community Service Group Executive (SGE) in our National headquarters in London.

The Community SGE is made up of UNISON elected representatives from Housing Associations and Charities across the UK.

The SGE offered full support and solidarity to the fight for human rights and trade union recognition in Clarion Housing Group.

Clarion merged Circle Housing Group and Affinity Sutton that same day to become the largest Housing Association in Europe but it has announced that trade union recognition and protection for workers will not transfer over to the new Group.

They have made an active choice to deliberately de-recognise their trade unions. They did not have to do this.

Clarion claims that they are neither "for or against" trade unions? How bizarre? Trade union recognition is a basic human right. Are they neither "for or against" racism, sexism, homophobia...? Of course not. You cannot pick and choose which human rights which you want to respect.

UNISON, Unite and GMB, who represent staff in both organisations think that this is "Union busting" and cannot understand why unlike other Housing Associations who are merging, they want to attack their trade unions?

The unions have reluctantly decided to hold an indicative ballot of all union members for industrial action and also a campaign to persuade all UK local authorities to "boycott" Clarion until it agrees to respect the human rights of its workers and recognise trade unions. Other actions are also being considered which I will post upon later.

Check out "Inside Housing" report here.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Dear Robin (time to say goodbye or face an open election)

Dear Robin,
The results of the Mayoral Trigger Ballot have already shown that the Labour Party in Newham is deeply divided over the question of your automatic re-selection as mayoral candidate for the election of 2018. The majority of members taking part in the Trigger Ballot have voted ‘No’, including 10 wards, which is a resounding vote for democracy and shows that the party does not support your sole candidacy. The party wants an open and democratic selection process to commence immediately.
We request that, if you wish to continue to seek the nomination, you agree to take part in an open selection contest. This competition will be open to any member of the Labour Party in Newham, including ourselves which would produce a result that will be accepted by all members. 
We believe that a contested selection will unify the local party as all members will be involved, whether the winner will be yourself or someone else. We propose that the terms for the election be one member one vote (OMOV). Newham Labour Party members clearly want an open process, so we should replicate the process adopted for the selection of the Labour candidate for London Mayor.
We therefore call upon you to accept an open selection process, conducted under the terms of OMOV, so that the wishes of the party members can be clearly heard and the result accepted by all. In this way, the Labour Party in Newham will be able to pursue its mission of serving the community and improving the lives of all the residents of this borough.
Yours sincerely,
Cllr Kay Scoresby & Cllr John Whitworth

"The Mayor does not have a Mandate from Members" The People have Spoken

Check out the latest from Newham Recorder following the vote last night in 4 Labour Party branches for an open selection process for the next Mayor.

The current mayor has now (in the speeches of his supporters at selection meetings) "lost the confidence" of a majority of Newham Labour Party branches and members.

One of the wards voted against him 36 to 3 in favour of an open selection!

An overwhelming majority of Labour Party members have also voted for change. "The people have spoken".

The only way for the current Mayor to regain a mandate is by an open selection process.

I will publish the open letter to Sir Robin Wales sent today by declared Mayoral candidates, Cllr Kay Scoresby and Cllr John Whitworth next.

Latest Newham trigger ballots swing results in favour of open selection process
The number of Labour wards in favour of an open selection process for the 2018 Newham mayoral race have taken the lead.
Four wards – Boleyn, Canning Town North, East Ham Central and Plaistow South – voted “no” in last night’s trigger ballots, meaning the “no” results now tally 10 while those who voted “yes” stand at nine.
This means that the majority of wards want to see several candidates put forward as Labour’s choice in the Mayor of Newham 2018 election rather than Sir Robin Wales being automatically reselected.
Green Street East, the remaining Labour ward which was due to vote on Sunday, will not be allowed to take part following a dispute over its registration process, the Recorder has been told.
A further 11 affiliated organisations, the majority of whom have already voted, have yet to declare their position which may affect the outcome of the result.
Newham Co-op Party voted “No” with the final result being Yes: 36 to No: 37
However a spokesperson for Trigger Democracy has “called upon Sir Robin Wales to announce his support for an open selection”.
They said: “It is clear following the four No votes last night that the mayor does not have a mandate from members to serve a fifth term.
“He would only get that if he won an open and democratic selection including other candidates.
“A decisive majority of wards and Labour memebrs, young and old, black, white and Asian, those from the left and those from the right of the party, new members and those who joined before Newham was even created, have clearly voted for choice and democracy.
“If Robin Wales is deemed to have been reselected on a technicality and refuses to take part in an open selection he will have lost the confidence of his local party members.”
Last night’s ward results were as follows: Boleyn: Yes 3, No 36; Canning Town North: Yes 17, No 21; East Ham Central: Yes 29, No 31; Plaistow South: Yes 12, No 19.
The voting process ends this weekend and a final result is expected on Monday".

Clarion Housing Group face Strike Call & Boycott

I do not understand at all how a progressive organisation that wants to do good for society has made a political decision that trade unions are automatically "bad" and that they will only work with them if they are forced to do so by a legislative process.

The trade unions are not the enemy so why pick a completely unnecessary and divisive fight?

Hat tip Inside Housing

Thursday, December 01, 2016

"Second councillor puts name forward as potential 2018 Newham mayoral candidate"

Newham Recorder "A second councillor has said she will stand as Labour’s 2018 Newham mayoral candidate if there is an open selection process for election.

Cllr Kay Scoresby, of Canning Town North ward, said she believed “it is about time we have a woman” [as Newham Mayor] and said she had been encouraged to stand by both Labour and non-Labour members in the Newham community.

Her announcement comes ahead of four key votes tonight in the borough to decide whether or not Sir Robin Wales is automatically re-selected as Labour’s next mayoral candidate in an affirmative nomination process known as a trigger ballot.
Speaking exclusively to the Recorder, Cllr Scoresby said: “If people vote no – and I sincerely hope they do – then they will have an open process where Sir Robin can join in. At the moment it is a one-horse race.
“My style [of leadership] would be very collaborative. One of the first things I would do is to have a big conversation with all of our stakeholders.
She added: “We have some fantastic charities in the borough that have been overlooked in the work that they do.”
Cllr Scorebsy advocated “proactive” working with health officials, schools and community group and said she wanted to restore the early years provision that was based on council-run, registered children’s centres before it was cancelled last September.
She said that if elected, she would also speak to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, about tackling the borough’s housing crisis at the “planning and development stage”.
“50 per cent of the land is used by the council. We should be looking at how we utilise that with people,” she said.
The teacher and married mum-of-three, who has been a councillor for more than 10 years, made her announcement earlier today. It follows on from Cllr John Whitworth’s declaration to run less than three weeks ago.
He said: “I welcome Cllr Scoresby’s entry into the contest as I believe the trigger ballot process should result in Labour Party members being given a choice for their candidate for mayor.
“I hope her standing will encourage other Labour members to also put themselves and their vision for Newham forward.”
A spokesperson for Sir Robin Wales was approached for a reply but declined to comment.
The wards set to vote later are Boleyn, Canning Town North, East Ham Central and Plaistow South.
In Tuesday’s trigger ballot vote in West Ham ward, 20 members voted “no” and eight voted “yes”. Green Street East is expected to take place on Sunday although this is yet to be confirmed.
At present the “yes” votes still lead with nine wards in favour of keeping Sir Robin as the selected Labour candidate for Mayor of Newham, with six wards voting “no” and one affiliated organisation, the Newham Co-op Party, also voting “no”.
A further 11 affiliated organisations are also in the process of voting and have yet to declare.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fabians Relaunch in Newham (better late than ...)

"We are pleased to announce two meetings of Newham Fabian Society.  All Fabian members welcome.

December Social
Tuesday 6 December at 7PM
With Guest Speaker Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham. 
Trinity Community Centre, East Avenue London E12 6SG.

Annual General Meeeting
Wednesday 11 January 2017 at 7PM
Guest speaker:  Andrew Harrop, General Secretary of the Fabian Society
Trinity Community Centre, East Avenue London E12 6SG.

Further details from Tahmina Rahman,
Secretary, Newham Fabians

I think this is the first meeting of the Newham Fabians for several years.

You can join the National Fabians here but I am a member of the Newham Fabians for £7 per year.

Not sure what I have signed up to with my £7 and what it entitles?

Anyone know?

(Picture of a #MayorWhitworth look-a-likey at the last Newham Fabian event)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

West Ham Labour Branch votes 20-8 for change at Newham Town Hall

Great result tonight from West Ham Labour Party Ward meeting. 

20-8 vote in favour of change

I now think that the popular vote of members is for change but we will see.

Members voted for an open selection process for the next candidate to stand in the elections in 2018.

The current Mayor would be automatically shortlisted to be a candidate in any road.

I think it is about time we had an alternative choice and open process. 

Clarion the Union Busters?

Circle and Affinity Sutton Housing Associations are merging this week to form "Clarion Group" the largest Housing organisation in Europe owning 130,000 homes. Astonishingly management have chosen this time to announce that trade union recognition and collective bargaining will not transfer over into the new Group.

As if Housing Associations generally didn't already have a reputational problem due to high salaries to Chief Executives and poor governance they are now attacking the human rights of their employees!

The unions are planning an indicative ballot on industrial action and are also about to start a campaign calling on all local authorities to "boycott" Clarion and not enter into any partnership or planning agreements until they recognise trade unions.

This should be a fundamental matter of principle. We cannot allow any Housing Association to become an "union buster".

I hope this completely destructive and entirely unnecessary dispute is sorted ASAP.

Check out further information on the UNISON Clarion site and twitter @unisonclarion