Dominance of councillors at Wanstead Local Forum frustrates audience members

PUBLISHED: 16:12 30 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:21 30 September 2015

Cllr Elaine Norman at a Youth Debate,  Redbridge Town Hall. Picture Isabel Infantes

Cllr Elaine Norman at a Youth Debate, Redbridge Town Hall. Picture Isabel Infantes


Councillors have been accused of using the latest local forum to “take political potshots” at one another.

The scrapping of the conservation panel and funding for a new playground in Christchurch Green prompted the strongest reactions during a heated meeting in Wanstead on Tuesday.

Chairwoman of the Wanstead Playground Association Sarah Boud asked the panel: “Will the council offer any funds to boost the £57,000 already raised by parents and businesses to renovate the playground?”

Chairing the panel, cabinet member for children and young people Cllr Elaine Norman said the authority was “not in a position” to agree to more funding but would look at more “innovative” ways such as crowdfunding to raise money.

Leader of the Conservatives Cllr Paul Canal said the council should support the campaign with “real money” and not some “excellent words”, prompting a round of applause from the audience.

Cllr Paul Merry (Lab, Wanstead) was accused of misleading the public by a member of the Conservatives after suggesting conservation panels had not been abolished, but that money for them had withdrawn.

Before asking his question about benefits for low income families, a member of the audience said: “We are at a Wanstead forum where members of the public are asking questions. It should not be used for councillors to take political potshots at each other.”

Another audience member accused the panel of not reading out all the questions that had been submitted online, but instead talking among themselves.

The woman had raised an issue online about the placement of a parking bay, but her question had not been read out with the others at the beginning.

Cllr Norman said that time had been given at the start of the meeting to discuss parking issues and would be addressed again at a forum in October.

The councillors, did however, come together when an audience member raised the migrant issue and potential cost to the borough.

The panel received a round of applause when they agreed that help should be given to migrants after three-year-old Syrian, Aylan Kurdi, was found dead on a beach.

The next local forum meeting will be held on October 21 at Prospect Hall Woodford Community Centre, Woodford Green.

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