London Borough of Waltham Forest: the local authority that can’t even finalise its annual accounts – AN UPDATE

Mystery continues about the fate of LBWF’s 2018-19 externally audited annual accounts. As a previous post outlined, these were due on 31 July 2019, so that they could be signed off by the Audit and Governance Committee, but the auditor, Ernst and Young LLP, was tardy in starting work; then became entangled in ‘historical audit issues‘, possibly dating to as far back as 2007; and in the end was forced to move the completion date forward to September, with the delay and extra work estimated to cost an extra £140,000. However, when the Audit and Governance Committee met on 26 September 2019, there was still no progress, and so it was agreed that ‘a special meeting of the Committee be arranged t... »

LBWF’s press, communications, and PR operation: less about providing information, more about ‘controlling the narrative’

It is a staple of LBWF public utterances that ‘Communicating with our residents is important to us and we strive to ensure our residents are kept informed’. Indeed, in recent year, LBWF has underlined that it sees communication not just as a matter of informing, but also of transforming, a way of turning out ‘active citizens’, co-partners in the development of the borough. Thus, for instance, a recent council document promises: ‘We will commit to ensuring residents are more engaged and involved in the decision making of the Council, recognising that they are often better placed to decide how services are shaped or deliver them directly themselves’. Given this context, it is unsurprising to f... »

Cllr. Keith Rayner at it again UPDATED

Cllr. Emma Best has posted on Twitter a piece of film recording an exchange with the puffed up Cllr. Keith Rayner at last night’s Council meeting. In it he refers to her as ‘dear’, to the amusement of his Labour colleagues: The full clip can be viewed here:  Cllr. Rayner, it will be remembered, in recent years has had considerable difficulty settling his council tax bill, being issued with two notices for late payment in 2015-16; a further reminder for payment in 2016-17; and shortly afterwards, a summons (which subsequently was mysteriously withdrawn). It might be imagined that, having blotted his copybook so compre... »

Amy Lamé finds a congenial home

One name that has cropped up recently in relation to Waltham Forest is Amy Lamé, London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s £75,000 p.a. Night Czar, ‘TV personality’, and ‘active’ Labour Party member. Her link to Waltham Forest is because she has been intimately involved in Mayor Khan’s plan to pilot Walthamstow High Street as a ‘Night Time Enterprise Zone’, something he has buttressed by granting LBWF £75,000 to run initiatives such as a ‘shop local late’ campaign. Of course, as so often is the case, the back scratching is mutual, and so LBWF’s spin machine has taken up Ms. Lamé big time, positioning her as Leader Cllr. Clare Coghill’s new best friend: However, at the end of last wee... »

LBWF councillors: what do they do, and is it value for money?

What is it that LBWF councillors do? Are they proficient or laggard? And can it be said, given that they are paid via allowances from the public purse, that residents get value for money? This post looks at some of the evidence dispassionately. It does not pretend to be definitive, for reasons that will become clear, merely an introduction to what hopefully will be a longer debate. It should be said, to start with, that wider discussion about councillors’ performance is currently polarised. Those who are close to the action invariably stress the difficulty of the role, and the hard work that is being put in. One recent report from the umbrella body, London Councils, perceptively describes so... »

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