Cllr. Dhedi

A second eagle-eyed reader of my Barnett v. Dhedi post contacts me to ask if the Cllr. Dhedi referred to is one and the same person as Shabana Qadir, of Private Eye fame.

I’m pleased to confirm that they are indeed one and the same, and for good measure append the oft cited April 2010 Private Eye piece, which I am bound to say, reveals little of interest about Cllr. Dhedi, though a great deal about the unappealing world where would-be councillors like herself sometimes choose to earn their spurs.

‘Saving the Wales

Like many councils, the London borough of Newham has a large “communications” department devoted to telling taxpayers – at taxpayers’ expense – what a great job the council is doing. Last year it cost £2.6m.

Under the regime of elected labour mayor Sir Robin Wales, Newham does such a fantastic job that a glossy free magazine, The Newham Mag, is necessary not once but twice a month to convey all the good new. The Newham Mag cost the taxpayer £521,529.21 in 2008/09, with the “In Focus” pullout costing an additional £69,281.50.

Material for the “In Focus” sections is generated by Newham’s “influential councillor team”, which consists of eight full-time “community officers” and seven caseworkers. Their job, ostensibly, is to get councillors out into their communities, “engaging” with people. The real purpose is to promote Labour councillors and generate glossy election-style material.

For example, a recent “Manor Park in Focus” pull-out pictured Labour councillors Sathianesan, Singh, Corbett, Sheekey and Marway grinning with staff and pupils of a primary school which is getting new classrooms; Cllrs Baikie, Marway, Kazi, Corbett and Sheekey and unnamed residents at a “community safety” day. And so on.

The “community engagement officer” given as a contact is John Wyman-White. In another life Mr W-W has had a career as a professional Labour Party campaign organiser. He has acted as organiser for Islington South MP Emily Thornberry as agent for Jeremy Corbyn MP in Islington North and as campaign organiser for Bridget Prentice MP in Lewisham East. He stood as a Labour candidate in the 2001 and 2006 local elections in Islington. But from being a committed Labour activist he has apparently morphed into an impartial, non-political council officer.

Meanwhile the Green Street “community engagement officer” Shabana Qadir, is standing for Labour in Waltham Forest council on 6 May – which appears to be a breach of the rules governing “politically restricted” posts. The head of the community engagement team is Jenny Wilmott, who boasts of her Labour party loyalties on her Linkedin pages. And the councillor with responsibility for the team is Richard Crawford – Mayor Wales’s closest political adviser and fixer.

As the Eye has previously reported, Mayor Wales is looking for spending cuts. It would not be surprising if the axe fell on “In Focus” – once the 6 May elections are out of the way’.