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Listening to the opinions, ideas and concerns of the
people of Newham is the single most important part of my job. I
live in the borough, the people I represent are also my neighbours
and I want to make Newham a better place for all of us.
When I was elected Mayor of Newham, I made a commitment that I
would listen to residents' views. Providing excellent services is
founded on you letting us know what we are doing right and what we
need to improve - so I want to encourage as many of you as possible
to speak directly to me. If we don't agree about the best way to
solve a problem, talking to each other will at least help us to
work out the best solution.
There are three different ways that you can talk directly to me.
First, by attending one of the regular 'Here to Help' events. There
is no need to make an appointment to attend a 'Here To Help'
session - just come along and speak to me. You can ask a question
or express a concern to me or to one of my colleagues from the
Cabinet if it comes under their particular area of responsibility.
We will then look into your area of concern and get back to
There was a wealth of issues raised at the last event in
September, including housing problems, employment advice for
graduates and a building put up without planning permission. There
are rarely instant solutions to these problems, but we are working
on them and I will keep in touch with individuals on the answers I
get and the progress I make.
I also hold Question Time events. These usually follow a
walkabout during the day, which provides another chance for us to
speak to each other. And whenever time permits, I get out and about
in Newham to talk to the people who live and work here.
We all regularly encounter frustrating situations, from the
mundane to the more complex. But we can achieve so much by
expressing our point of view reasonably and listening to each other
with consideration and respect. I want people in Newham to have
excellent services and I believe that everyone can make a
contribution to that goal. Please let me know what you think.
Information on future Here to Help events and Mayor's Question
Time will be
this site and in
The Newham Mag.
Dealing with the shortage of affordable housing to rent and to buy
in Newham is one of my key priorities.
My view is that local authorities play a vital role in providing
decent homes for people but power must be shifted further to
tenants and buyers. Public money is not the only solution to
providing new housing.
Through the 1980s and early 1990s the best council houses in
this borough were sold, and we simply do not have the money to buy
them all back. But Newham Council is working in partnership with
the Government to purchase thousands of properties without using
public money. Instead we are borrowing money from the private
sector and within a few years we will be able to use the value of
these homes to provide more affordable housing.
Crucially, we are working to build mixed communities where
people with different levels of income live, in both rented and
owner-occupied accommodation. I have no interest in creating sink
estates, I want to walk down a street in Newham and see high
quality housing for everyone in the borough.
At the same time we are piloting our Choice Based Lettings
scheme, which for the first time in 25 years, offers applicants for
social housing a say in where they live. This is proving extremely
popular with our tenants.
There is a nationwide shortage of affordable housing. The
problem is severe in some areas of Newham and I would not claim
otherwise. That is why we are doing something about it. In Newham
we are pioneering ambitious plans to increase the amount and
quality of social housing.
We have a long way to go to meet our housing needs, but I am
determined to deliver an improvement, and I believe that slowly but
surely, this can be achieved.
Just as the nights are drawing in and things are getting wintry,
there are a number of festivals and events to look forward to.
During the first week of November we will be celebrating Diwali,
the festival of light; the end of the holy month of Ramadan, Eid Al
Fitr, and Guy Fawkes' Night. As these celebrations are likely to
involve fireworks, please observe safety rules and show
consideration for others, and let them all be joyful occasions.