“Rebel” Labour councillor answers critics

Politics / Wed 8th Oct 2014 at 05:20pm

Dear Sirs,

With regard to ‘Councillor cannot pick and choose which title to use’ in Readers Letters (October 02), Harlow TUC are disappointed that the alleged Labour Party member withheld their name and address.

We and Cllr Forman are more than happy to debate the issue with any member of the Labour Party. Perhaps the author of the letter should have attended Robert Halfon’s public meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner at Park Inn at which we stated our case.

As to conflict of interest, it is long-standing practice in political and trade union circles that individuals may hold more than one title. In attending certain events it is not uncommon to attend in only one capacity.

With reference to the Passmores Traveller site protest, Cllr Forman attended in her capacity as Chair of Harlow TUC for the simple reason that Harlow Labour Group of councillors nor the local party had formally discussed and voted upon a particular Traveller policy. I am aware that the Labour Group is scheduled to formally discuss Travellers at its meeting this month.

However, Harlow Council has decided a number of initiatives including adding to Travellers’ difficulties by seeking a review of powers from government to enable the swift removal of Travellers from boroughs. Harlow TUC views the root cause as being decades of refusal of Tory councils, five in Essex, to build Traveller sites. Harlow Council is allegedly seeking remedies for the root cause by lobbying Essex County Council.

However, it is right and proper for Cllr Waida Forman to make a stand on behalf of Travellers as it accords with both trade union and Labour Party policy and traditions to tackle discrimination in society. In addition, Cllr Forman is a local branch officer of a Labour affiliated trade union, a union branch which affiates to Harlow TUC. This means there is absolutely no question of a conflict of interest between trade union and councillor roles.

On a national level, the United Kingdom has been criticised by both the United Nations and European Union for its failure to honour its’ commitments under international conventions in relation to the treatment of Travellers.

On a local level, one of the most galling aspects of the current anti-Traveller campaign is for Robert Halfon MP to cite the plight of those on the housing waiting list. At the same time Robert actively promotes the sale of council houses, votes for punitive reductions in Housing Benefit, refuses to support constraints on private landlords and votes for a 50 per cent reduction in council budgets over the lifetime of this government.

Ordinary workers need to realise that attacking minorities will not hasten the day that they get a decent and affordable home. However, Harlow citizens may have a better chance if Robert Halfon were to join Cllr Forman in signing up to the Trades Union Congress’ Peoples Charter campaign for a decent home for all.

David Forman
Harlow TUC

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1 Comment for “Rebel” Labour councillor answers critics:

2014-10-13 12:26:00

So it's official then! It's Labour Party policy to spend tax payers money on those who pay no tax whatsoever, and expect those who do to pay to clean up their mess, whilst at the same time creating traveller sites on land which could be used for other things to benefit communities! And they wonder why they losing votes hand over fist! It's simple - it's cos they are so totally out of touch with the tax paying fair minded electorate! Frankly if we're being criticized by the EU, then we're doing something right! After all this is the same EU who wants prisoners to have the vote!

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