Picture caption: Tony Abbs from the council’s Repairs and Maintenance team with Sir Robin and Cllr Andrew Baikie
I recently visited Chatsworth Road in Stratford, the site of the first homes to be built directly by Newham Council for 30 years. They are being built by our very experienced repairs and maintenance team, so the quality of the work will be high.
We have 17,000 people on our housing waiting list and hundreds of homeless families approaching us for help. To give those residents a fighting chance of getting a home, we need a rapid and unprecedented expansion of affordable properties.
This first scheme will provide six homes which should be available in the autumn. More sites have been identified and construction will begin on them as soon as possible.
We have been at the forefront of numerous ground-breaking housing policies for some time with initiatives like Red Door Ventures, Local Space, and NewShare.
Our borough-wide private sector licensing scheme, the nation’s first, has improved rented accommodation standards by tackling rogue landlords who exploit residents’ desperation by exposing them to dehumanising conditions. We’ve launched more than 800 prosecutions since 2013.
We created Local Space, our own unique housing association, which has delivered high quality and stable temporary accommodation for 1,400 homeless families in Newham and neighbouring boroughs. There are plans for 800 new homes.
NewShare, our shared equity scheme, allows people to become home owners provided they can finance half of the property through a traditional mortgage. If they can, we offer them an equity loan for the remainder, to be repaid within 25 years.
Through Red Door Ventures, our private housing company, we are expanding the supply of high quality rented accommodation by building thousands of new homes.
Housing policy is not just about creating bricks and mortar. Supply is a huge issue throughout London and schemes such as Chatsworth Road will go some way to providing more homes.
But housing also needs to be genuinely affordable for residents and there needs to be a firm link between what people earn and what they are required to pay. This is something I am currently exploring. I want to ensure as many homes as possible remain within the reach of Newham residents.
Picture captions: Shama Ahmad MBE, Newham and Essex Beagles, Devendra Patel, Marie Collier, Keith Hasler, Lew Boyce, Val Fone, Christine Bowden, Paul Chelliah, Kevin Jenkins OBE and Mark Noble.
Newham Council is not just a provider of services that residents rely on. It also celebrates civic pride and at the council’s Annual Meeting this week, Freedom of the Borough and the titles of Alderman/Alderwoman were conferred on some special people.
The awards are the highest the council can bestow. Mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “We offer them sparingly, but when we do, they are awarded to remarkable people. Each recipient has made a significant contribution to Newham life, past and present. All are ambassadors, helping to improve how we are perceived locally, nationally and internationally.”
The honours are two of the last vestiges of local government from times past. Today they do not confer any rights or privileges, but are honorary titles for people of distinction who have given eminent service.
Their approval by councillors was the final business of the 2015/16municipal year, the 50th anniversary years since Newham was formed from the amalgamation of East Ham and West Ham county boroughs.
Shama Ahmad MBE – Honorary Freedom and Alderwoman
Shama was a councillor from 1990 to2014 and ceremonial mayor in 1996/97, the first Asian woman in Britain to attain such a position. In 2002 she received an MBE for services to the community.
Christine Bowden – Honorary Freedom and Alderwoman
Christine was a councillor from 2002 to2010 and Deputy Mayor from 2006 to2010. She had a portfolio that covered human resources and industrial relations. She helped deliver single status for Newham, so that women were paid the same as men.
Lew served as a councillor from 1982 to1994. During his time on the council Lew served as Chief Whip and also chaired the committee that introduced the council’s first race relations policy.
Paul Chelliah – Honorary Freedom
Paul has served the community for more than 30 years, first as a volunteer at the Trinity Centre in Manor Park, and latterly as Centre Director. He is committed to improving the quality of life for residents.
Marie Collier – Honorary Freedom and Alderwoman
Marie was a councillor from 1998 to2014. She served as Chair of Council and was Civic Ambassador in 2002/03. She has been a key figure in an ambassadorial role for Newham inside and outside the borough.
Val Fone – Honorary Freedom
Val has worked for disabled people’s rights for almost 40 years as a community worker, a carer and as a councillor for eight years. She works tirelessly to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against in any setting.
Keith Hasler – Honorary Freedom
Keith, a councillor for 14 years, served on the first Newham Council in 1965. He was instrumental in persuading the Government that Newham should be regarded as inner London for the purposes of teachers’ pay, making a significant difference to Newham’s ability to recruit teachers.
Kevin Jenkins OBE – Honorary Freedom and Alderman
Kevin has served local people for 28years as a councillor and through his work at Canning Town care charity Community Links, which he co-founded. His support of young people is shared as best practice across the country. He received an OBE in 1996.
Mark Noble – Honorary Freedom
The Canning Town-born captain of West Ham United has led a side challenging at the top of the Premier League and enjoyed a star-studded testimonial match for 15 years service to the club. He is patron of Richard House Children’s Hospice in Beckton.