Table of Contents
- Overview of Community Councils and the inevitable Tower Hamlets nonsense
- Establishing a Community Council in your neighbourhood – the technical stuff
- Current issues by James Frankcom, Spitalfields & Banglatown Steering Group
- Spitalfields & Banglatown Parish Council – Analysis and Comment
LW asked James Frankcom, Secretary of the Spitalfields Steering Group, for his comments on what has been happening with the Spitalfields & Banglatown Parish Council proposal and we have decided to reproduce it in full.
We had extra space ‘cos Tower Hamlets Council couldn’t be arsed to reply when we asked some questions anyway.
James is part of the Spitalfields & Banglatown Parish Council Steering Group along with along with local campaigners David Donoghue, Juliet McKoen and Santokh Kaulder.
His comments about the problems with using ward boundaries for community councils are very interesting.
Take it away James!
Problems with using ward boundaries
“The reservations I have about using the current wards as the model for parishes is that these wards or rather large and have been drawn out crudely so that they have an equal number of voters living within them principally for electoral reasons and don’t reflect “places” where people live.
Spitalfields & Banglatown Ward includes Whitechapel Market and Whitechapel Station and the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green.
It’s nuts. Lansbury is not a place. Neither for that matter is “Weavers” or indeed “Banglatown” or “Redcoat”.
They are just invented names given to areas which are more or less equal in population. Nevertheless, any change would be good from the current system of direct rule. I would propose using wards as the basis and then consider dividing wards into smaller parishes.
Current situation confusing
The current situation concerning the state of the campaigns is confusing. We have grave concerns about the security of the survey Tower Hamlets is using.
We believe that the online survey is wide open to manipulation and corruption.
We have had third-party independent assessment of the online survey and they have told us that the format they are issuing is notoriously “leaky” and could very easily be tampered with to allow multiple false entries to be inserted.
The other issue which concerns us is a change in tactics by the Labour Party. We are aware that they have submitted around 400 paper survey forms already, but there has been no evidence of them collecting these forms on the street or at public meetings.
So where have they come from?
The council has shown no inclination to check and verify any of the responses that they get.
The ‘Campaign of No Information’
The other principal concerns in stage 2 are the ‘campaign of no information’ the council has led. They promised to inform each household about what the proposal would mean and send them a booklet.
They printed thousands of booklets but they just weren’t delivered. The officers managing the process are new to Tower Hamlets and are only now beginning to see how this borough council behaves “differently”. The people delivering the booklets are the same lot who deliver the town hall magazine [Our East End] and they just binned them. Hardly any were received in the main area of the consultation.
We would therefore doubt the outcome of this process and think it is a foregone conclusion and that the outcome will be negative because it will be engineered to ensure a negative outcome. This would be alright if it was just a “consultation” but the responses are being treated quantitively as if it was some sort of poll.
Need for proper ballot and count
That is not the way these things are meant to be done and if they want to have a poll then they should do it in the official way with the proper checks by a ballot and a count.
All of the reasons why Labour said they were opposed to the proposal back in October have been resolved. The name has been changed to Spitalfields and Banglatown, the ward boundaries have been changed to remove the goods-yard and to include the whole Chicksand Estate.
But now for unspecified reasons labour continues to oppose with every fibre of their being making spurious claims that we are somehow cutting out the poor areas from the parish (which is not true) and that the parish will be “leaving“ Tower Hamlets and leaving poor areas “behind“.
The simple matter is that the boundaries of the proposals for a parish which people are being invited to consider were drawn up and agreed by Tower Hamlets council, not us, and are all different to our original proposal.
The other point is this, whilst we recognise that Banglatown has an important cultural significance for many local people it is this name which has been the most divisive factor of all!
Many opposed to ethnically-based name
We have had many complaints from people of all backgrounds (especially from other Asian backgrounds) who don’t think anywhere should have an ethnically based name imposed on it. We accept the name ‘Spitalfields and Banglatown’ because LBTH have made it compulsory but we have reservations about the wisdom of calling anywhere after one ethnic group that may not still be living here in 25 years time, like the Jewish community before them.
There is no precedent for it in local government.
We fully expect this flawed consultation to result in a foregone conclusion but we stand ready to go to judicial review.”
James Frankcom, Secretary Spitalfields Forum
Related Internet Links
- Community Governance Review Phase Two Consultation Form - Tower Hamlets Council
- Spitalfields & Banglatown Town Council Campaign (Facebook)
- Spitalfields Town Council- Spitalfields Forum
- Queens Park Community Council
- Bid to set up Spitalfields town council gets thumbs down from Labour Tower Hamlets claiming it's 'elitist'
- Spitalfields Town Council - Spitalfields Society
- Set up a town or parish council - Gov.uk
- Create a council - National Association of Local Councils (NALC)
- A new council in London’s East End: a bid for democracy or island of privilege?
- Should a new parish council be created in the Spitalfields and Banglatown area?
- Spitalfields Neighbourhood Planning Forum
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets community governance review Consultation document (PDF)
- Community governance reviews guidance - Gov.uk