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Documenting Past Failures: (9) the collapse of LBWF’s pet charity, O-Regen

The registered charity O-Regen was set-up in 1997 as part of the redevelopment of Cathall estate, and charged with running community facilities in the south of the borough together with various programmes to benefit local residents. From the start, O-Regen appeared blessed. It was presented with a £4.5m endowment as well as a portfolio of 16 leasehold properties yielding an income of £120,000 p.a.; its board of trustees included many of the borough’s ‘great and good’ – at one time or another, the likes of Michael Polledri and Guy Davis (‘big players in the business and construction scene in Waltham Forest’, as the Waltham Forest Guardian described them), plus a raft of councillors, including... »

Documenting Past Failures: (8) the self-defeating silence of Councillor Marie Pye

Shortly after the Independent Panel report, I attended a Community Council meeting, and heard Cllr. Marie Pye vociferously denying any responsibility for the NRF/BNI fiasco. So I wrote her an open letter explaining why I thought she was wrong. Needless to say, in true Waltham Forest style, she never replied. However, to some extent the last laugh is on her, because if you Google ‘Cllr. Marie Pye’ today, amusingly, my letter comes up as entry four. Anyway, here is the letter in full, as I believe still that it makes a perfectly valid point.   22 January 2010 Dear Councillor Pye The NRF-BNI fiasco I was surprised to hear that, after the Community Council on Monday night, you t... »

‘Forget the homeless, what about the coffee drinkers?’ LBWF v. The Christian Kitchen (Part 1): Councillor Terry Wheeler makes a stand

A local correspondent writes as follows: ‘Waltham Forest Council is big on celebrating its own perceived achievements and spending our money to do so. You would think that having a local charity like the Christian Kitchen which feeds the homeless 365 days a year would be worth celebrating, but unfortunately, in 2013 our less than enlightened leaders decided otherwise by revoking its licence to operate from Mission Grove Car Park, Walthamstow, for an hour every evening from 7.30 to 8.30pm. In the battle that followed, which ended with the High Court declaring the Council’s decision unlawful, one councillor, Terry Wheeler of Cathall Ward, spoke out and defied the leadership, and in an em... »

Waltham Forest Pool and Track, again

Reporting on Tuesday’s planning committee meeting, Amanda Connolly writes: ‘Last night we had a great turnout at the Pool and Track Application. We had 12 articulate, emotional and compelling speakers. The Chamber and seating areas were full. The general feeling from Committee and Councillors was that if we didn’t pass the plans, the whole project was at risk of failing (and as the Council has already let the place be demolished that would be a travesty). Long story short, the plans were passed with some minor conditions that they “continue” (!!) to consult with users over their concerns (including child safeguarding issues and disability access, amazing we had ... »

Documenting Past Failures: (7) The Independent Panel and a ‘scathing’ report on LBWF’s ‘deep-rooted culture of non-compliance with procedures to prevent fraud’.

In mid-2009, the crisis around the BNI finally came to a head. The Council had spent c. £116,000 on a series of seven or eight disparate inquiries into the programme, (Waltham Forest Guardian, 17 June 2009)  culminating in the PwC report, but some were obviously flawed, few convinced, and almost all begged further questions. Negative press coverage continued, as when the Waltham Forest Guardian revealed that, contrary to previous assurances, BNI money was being used to subsidise Waltham Forest’s 2012 projects department, with the further revelation – that the documentation here was also in chaos – then adding insult to injury (Waltham Forest Guardian, 19 August 2008). LBWF had ju... »

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