Newham

Newham's new Mayor and cabinet tackle careless funding decisions of the old administration

7 June 2018 in Council and democracy
At the first cabinet meeting held by Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and her new Cabinet on Tuesday 5 June, Rokhsana paid tribute to young Corey Junior Davis who tragically lost his life nine months ago in Forest Gate.
She outlined the support that had been offered to young people ahead of the Crimewatch Show which would broadcast a reconstruction of the moments leading up to his murder.

She and her members then considered items left over by the previous administration. The items considered were:
  • Cancelling an award of £661,920 to Memorial Recreation Ground, for a new synthetic sports pitch. This follows a decision by councillors Seyi Akiwowo, James Beckles, Rokhsana Fiaz and Veronica Oakeshott, who were previous members of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission who requested a “call-in” of the decision after it was approved by the previous Mayor Sir Robin Wales and his cabinet.
The committee raised concerns about the appropriateness of allocating a significant amount of money to the project and recommended that big money decisions should be postponed until after the local elections, as any incoming new administration, would want to determine spending priorities.

Decision

Decision-making was delegated to cabinet members as Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and Councillor Susan Masters declared an interest on the call in, and withdrew themselves from the process. Members agreed that the funding for this project would not go ahead and that revised options for the £661,920k of funding will now need to be drawn up to reflect the priorities of the new administration.

The proposals will include supporting residents’ health outcomes and supporting youth provision through varied sports programme that appeal to young people in Newham. The options will be presented to Mayor Fiaz and her cabinet for consideration at a future meeting. The council will also look at the future management of the site, to ensure enhanced governance arrangements in line with the Mayor's commitment to transparency and social value outcomes.

Mayor Rokhsana said: “The decision by the previous administration to carelessly allocate more than half a million pounds to a project with no clear benefits for the wider community is unjustifiable. Any proposal agreed in future will ensure it is truly about improving the health and well being of all our residents and diverse community.

Councillor John Gray, Cabinet Member for Housing and Chair of the Investment and Accounts Committee said: “This is the first time in 17 years that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in Newham has been able to successfully halt the decision making process and I welcome it.''
  • Varying the lease on a pocket of land in the south of the borough to allow the development of a new free school at Royal Wharf in Royal Docks. Royal Wharf was given planning permission in 2012 and it will comprise a comprehensive mixed use development with up to 3,385 homes, retail, financial and professional and leisure services. As part of the Section 106 Agreement a new primary school and nursery would also be built to for the new families in that area.

Decision

The Mayor and cabinet agreed to vary the lease to include educational  purposes as well as to dispose of freehold interests to enable the construction of the school.
 
Councillor Julianne Marriott, Cabinet Member for Education and Children and Young People said: “This development already has around 2,000 people already living on it and will have roughly 8,000 people by the time it is finished. We have no choice to agree this proposal to ensure our children can attend a school near their home and we fulfil our duties as an education authority. But it is a travesty that the only way we can have new schools in the borough is through free schools.”

Mayor Rokhsana said: “We will be bringing forward the Full Council motion on academies to the July cabinet including how we can support schools in the borough. We will be asking government to enable us to build our own schools where demand determines it, give local authorities more powers to take over failing academies and to enable schools to return to local authority control.”
 
Mayoral proceedings was also held on the same day and saw the Mayor announce the first set of appointments to outside bodies.

Decisions were made on:

  • awarding a contract of up to £98million over four years for catering, cleaning and providing  ground maintenance services for the borough’s schools 
    Decision: This contract will have a break clause of a year.
Rokhsana said: “I have pledged to review all our sourced services and end out-sourcing from day one. However, we need to approve this contract to ensure that our schools have certainty over the next year about providing school meals for the borough’s children.”
  • procuring occupational therapy services to meet growing demand 
    Decision: procurement process was approved to enable individuals and family members, who may be carers, to live more safely, confidently and independently in their homes.
Councillor Susan Masters, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “Our occupational therapists are really making a difference to the lives of people who use our adult social care, services helping to improve their health and well being.”
  • whether the council should adopt Marshgate Lane in Stratford which forms one of the routes to the London Stadium and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
    Decision: The council will adopt the road as it is a key route in the borough. 
Rokhsana said: “The Olympic Park and the surrounding area is in the hands of the LLDC and we are hampered in unleashing the benefits of that part of Newham for our residents. Having control over all the access points provides us with extra influence and leverage.”

Councillor Rachel Tripp, Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways, said : “It is important that we keep hold of all our highway networks and roads as un-adopted roads end up in poor condition to the detriment of the borough. However we also do not want to take on financial liabilities and our highway teams and engineers will ensure that the roads being adopted are in good condition and we ensure that we receive the money from the developer to maintain the roads for an initial period of 30 years.”

Mayor Fiaz’s first Cabinet where she will bring forward her proposals as the new mayor will be held in July.