On Saturday 24 April 2021, the sun was shining on Noel Park. At midday, I gathered with other Labour Party comrades outside Wood Green tube station to speak to postal voters. If there was ever a time to vote using a postal ballot, it would be now given that we are still in the middle of the global pandemic. Britain has already suffered immensely with two Covid waves. There is a third wave in parts of Europe. Voting from the comfort of your home is the safest way to cast your vote at the forthcoming London mayoral election.
My colleagues and I knocked on the doors of registered postal voters in the Noel Park ward. There was generally a very positive response. People were very glad to see us, which made for a nice change. Politicians can sometimes get a bad press and having the door slammed in your face is the worst of all reactions that you expect.
My fellow Noel Park Councillors, Emine Ibrahim and Peray Ahmet, Cllr Mat White, ward vice chair, Lotte Collett and I were joined by Catherine West MP as we managed to cover a fair bit of the Noel Park ward. The mayoral election is fast approaching of which not many people are even aware. Knocking on doors and alerting people to the election date is important. Equally important is countering all the negative campaigning that opposition parties are throwing at Sadiq Khan and the Labour Party.
Tomorrow (13 April 2021) is the start of the long awaited Ramadan. Holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Many families will observe Ramadan without their loved ones who died in the pandemic. My thoughts and prayers with those families.
During Ramadan, iftar (a hot cooked meal) will be available for collection every day in Ramadan from my local mosque, Masjid Ayesha Tottenham (115 Clyde Rd, Ldn N15 4JZ). The mosque’s expert chef, Sadik and his team will be preparing delicious meals. You are all welcome.
On this #InternationalRomaDay, we must take a stand against racism towards the Roma – an acceptable form of racism in the UK and Europe today. We also need much better awareness of the Romani Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis and the continued marginalisation of the Roma people to this day.
The Roma people are the largest minority group in Europe. They are originally from India. They moved to Europe 1000 years ago. According to some sources, up to half a million Roma people were murdered during the Second World War.
On Sunday 28 March 2021, I took advantage of the longer day with the start of the British Summer Time delivering leaflets for Sadiq Khan and Labour Party in my ward, Noel Park with my Cllr colleague and London assembly candidate, Emina Ibrahim.
It is a difficult time in the middle of a pandemic for the election to take place. However, the election is also well overdue having already been postponed by one year. Sadiq Khan has enjoyed five years as the Mayor of London. He has served Londoners well during that time. He deserves to be re-elected. It is good to see that he commands a healthy lead against the Tory candidate.
In any other election, I would be out on the doorstep speaking to residents along with my Labour Party comrades. This has not been possible thus far because of lockdown measures. It is hoped that it may be possible to knock on doors in the coming weeks with the easing of lockdown rules.
Today (26 March 2021), #Bangladesh marks its golden jubilee, 50th anniversary since independence. I remember the many martyrs who died in the liberation war in 1971. My thoughts are also with my British Bangladeshi community who have been most affected by Covid-19.
As Tottenham Constituency Labour Party’s Campaigns Vice Chair, I chaired a meeting this evening to coordinate our campaigning ahead of the London Mayoral election on 6 May 2021.
Sadiq Khan won in 2016 with the biggest personal vote for any politician ever. He made history despite the Tories’ most racist election campaign in living memory. There had not been a more racist election campaign since the 1964 Smethwick by-election in which the Tory candidate used an openly anti-Black slogan.
The Tories now have a candidate in Shaun Bailey who made xenophobic comments regarding just about every minority group in society. His values are not the values of London.
We need to re-elect Sadiq Khan with an even bigger vote share than 2016. Voter turnout maybe low because of the pandemic and the continuing fears of a third wave. The safest and the most convenient way to vote will be through postal ballot. Everyone can apply to vote by post. You have until 5pm on 20 April 2021 to apply for a postal ballot. Please Google ‘Apply for a postal vote’ and fill in the form on gov.uk website and return it to the Electoral Services in your local authority. In Haringey, the council has posted a postal ballot application form with a pre-paid envelope to every household. Please look out for it, complete it and send it back at your earliest convenience.
Postal ballot certainly made a big difference in the November 2020 US Presidential election. Joe Biden secured the most votes ever cast for a presidential candidate. If the US can do it, we can do it too. Please sign up for a postal ballot and encourage at least one other person to do so.
I was born in Bangladesh and spent my childhood there. I moved to Haringey, London at the age of 12. My Bangladeshi heritage is an important part of who I am. Bangladesh declared its independence on 25 March 1971 from West Pakistan, which is modern day Pakistan. The Pakistani army launched a violent and brutal crackdown on the people of Bangladesh known as “operation searchlight”. This was followed by a bloody nine-month war with the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation on 16 December 1971.
This month, Bangladesh celebrates 50 years since its independence. It is no longer considered by the UN as one of the least developed countries in the world. There has been a huge investment in the most marginalised and the destitute in Bangladesh lifting 25 million people out of poverty in the last 15 years.
This week, a New York Times article suggested that President Biden should look to Bangladesh as an example of how to invest and empower America’s poor. This indeed is a great testament for a country that was famously written off by Henry Kissinger as a ‘basket case’.
Bangladesh has seen a phenomenal growth in its GDP in the last few years. It has consistently had a GDP growth of between 7 and 8% which is higher than India and China. Bangladesh presents huge opportunities for the Bangladshi diaspora living abroad to go back and exploit those opportunities. At the same time, foreign investors are also eying up opportunities in diverse areas such as large infrastructure projects, IT, hydrocarbon and renewable energy, pharmaceutical and ready made garments.
UN Anti-Racism Day or the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’ is on Sunday 21 March 2021. This day is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.
Are you aware that there is such a day? Does your organisation or company mark this important day in the calendar?
It was really amazing to see so many great events take place on the International Women’s Day recently. I hope that companies and organisations across the globe will also mark the UN Anti-Racism Day. The fight against racism in the workplace and in society generally is everyone’s struggle irrespective of the colour of your skin.
Noel Park is a great place to live and work. I am proud to represent this ward where I grew up and my parents continue to live. Quite a number of properties have pre-fabricated bathroom pods at the back that are now past their shelf life. They might have asbestos making it unsafe for residents in those properties. In September 2020, 76 leaseholders received estimates from Homes for Haringey for major works including the replacement of bathroom pods. The estimates were rather exorbitant. Some of the estimates were so high that you could buy a house with that price in other parts of the country. The whole issue proved to be rather controversial for understandable reasons and residents who are affected have raised the matter with the Council repeatedly.
The Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel carried out a scrutiny review in the issue and made a number of recommendations. I gave written evidence to the Panel which I have set out below.
There is an admission from Homes for Haringey (“HfH”) and the Leader of the Council that the Section 20 Notice to leaseholders was framed inappropriately. In my view, the timing and the content of the Section 20 Notice were hugely problematic. The Section 20 Notice did not make it clear that it was just a consultation. Instead, it had the words “major works bill” written at the top with a two-week deadline to come up with a payment plan. This is completely unacceptable especially given the unfortunate timing that it arrived in the middle of the global pandemic. I would like the Section 20 Notice to leaseholders to be withdrawn until all of the concerns can be addressed some of which I have set out below.
My understanding is that leaseholders were sent estimates of works that may be required to their properties. Some of these estimates exceeded £100,000 which is an exorbitant sum of money. These estimates may go down when a detailed survey is carried out. Equally, there is a possibility (albeit unlikely) that the cost of works could go up. It is not reasonable nor is it fair to expect leaseholders to come up with funds when there is such uncertainty about the costs. Therefore, in my view, a detailed survey should be carried with a meaningful input from leaseholders before proceeding any further. It is only fair that leaseholders also have a say about which contractor will carry out the works. My understanding is that leaseholders had no input into how Engie was appointed as a contractor.
There is a significant concern that the cost of works may be high because of a lack of proper maintenance and repairs by HfH over the years. This should be properly investigated. It is no fault of the leaseholders if there is evidence that HfH had failed to repair and maintain these properties in a timely manner. Therefore, it is my view that leaseholders should not have to pay any increased cost that could be attributable to a lack of timely repair and maintenance.
Leaseholders have also expressed concerns about the proposal to replace a bathroom pod with another bathroom pod. It is felt that other options may not have been considered more carefully such as a permanent brick extension. One leaseholder has written to me with a proposal not to have their pod replaced at all. They live on the first floor with a council tenant on the ground floor. The leaseholder has no objection to the ground floor pod being replaced, but they could incorporate a bathroom within the existing internal brick structure of their flat without needing a pod on the first floor. This option should be considered and where appropriate, it should be given to leaseholders.
Leaseholders have also told me that previous estimates they were given were much lower. In some cases, previous estimates were less than a quarter of the estimates that they were sent recently. It would be good to understand how the estimates could have gone up so significantly. Again, the question of whether the delays to these works might have increased the costs cannot be ignored.
Some leaseholders do not agree that all the proposed works are necessary. Before requiring leaseholders to pay for works, there should be a process to ensure that the leaseholders are entirely satisfied that the works are absolutely necessary (not just desirable). It does not appear that what constitutes “absolutely necessary” has been set out with any clarity to the leaseholders.
An amicable resolution to the current stalemate should be found so that the leaseholders are satisfied and that there is no adverse effect on their wellbeing. In a recent scrutiny meeting, representatives of the leaseholders mentioned the enormous psychological impact that all of this happening in these uncertain times. We must not lose sight of the human impact of the decisions we make. It is particularly important that we take into account people’s wellbeing before proceeding with any decisions.