A Bank Holiday breather
The London and Mayoral elections have been something of a distraction over the past few weeks but with them out of the way and a Bank Holiday weekend to take a breather, I’m getting back into blogging mode once more and might as well start with those elections...
Boris Johnson has secured a second term as London’s Mayor. He won by just 60,000 votes, or 3 per cent, with 1.05 million votes to Ken Livingstone's 992,000. The turnout was very low (a mere 30/% of the London electorate) meaning that only one in six Londoners actually voted for Mr Johnson, who has pledged to “make a storming start”. In his 9 Point Plan for London (see: http://www.backboris2012.com/9pointplan) he promised the creation of 200,000 new jobs over four years and to support businesses. However, he made no specific mention of the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) so we will obviously need to lobby hard over the next four years to ensure our voice is heard in City Hall and the Mayor’s Office.
Talking of local businesses, engaging with them is on the urgent ‘to do’ list of many voluntary and community sector organisations right now, as they could provide a much-needed alternative source of income as funding is cut. But also, funders, contracts and tendering opportunities want to see Volunteer-Involving Organisations (VIOs) becoming more business-like and volunteers drawn from the corporate world can bring skills and expertise that otherwise might be beyond the reach of many organisations. I’m delighted to have become involved recently with the local Business and Enterprise Board (chaired by Michael Polledri of Lea Valley Estates) and I hope this will bring many useful synergies - in both directions.
Controversial car parking charges at the Town Hall have been rescinded in the evenings and at weekends from 1 June. This follows VAWF’s call for this compromise at the Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF) on 14 March. We were informed then that no review would be undertaken until the scheme had been in operation for 6-9 months but when something so plainly isn’t working, the Council’s swift and pragmatic decision not to prolong the agony is most welcome.
The Investment and Contract Readiness Fund is a new £10 million pot managed by The Social Investment Business, on behalf of the Office for Civil Society that aims to ensure social ventures are better equipped to secure new forms of investment and compete for public service contracts. The Fund will open to social ventures on 21 May 2012 (see: http://www.beinvestmentready.org.uk/)
The Council’s Equality Plan 2012-2015 has just been launched (see: http://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/documents/finalversion/equalityplan2012-...) This is an important document for residents and those working for and with the Council. In response to The Equality Act 2010 it sets out the equality priorities the Council will focus on over the next few years and how they will be delivered.
Borough Commander, Chief Supt Steve Wisbey left his post in Waltham Forest at the end of April to take up a leading role with Olympics security. It was a pleasure to work alongside him on the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) (now disbanded) and the Community Safety Board (CSB). I wish him all the best in his exciting but onerous new role. His successor is Detective Chief Supt Mark Collins, former Head of the National Prevent Delivery Unit. Mr Collins' experience in that role will be invaluable to the work of the local Prevent Communiity Resilience Panel (CRP) of which I am a member. I look forward to meeting him and welcoming him to our borough.
The Leader of the Council, Cllr Chris Robbins has kindly agreed to have another ‘catch-up’ meeting with me immediately after this Bank Holiday weekend. I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss in light of recent events.