Tower Hamlets social care – have your say

As a part of the work that I’m doing as the chair of the council’s health scrutiny panel I’m asking local residents to let me know how they feel about their social care services.  There has been a lot of change recently, with reablement and personalisation transforming the way in which services are delivered, and the Independent Mayor’s budget decisions last year also seeing significant change.  I want to know what people value about their current services, how they feel about changes they have already seen and any suggestions they would like to make for the future.  I hope this will put me in the best possible position to inform the budget process when the Independent Mayor’s proposals are published later this year. 
Please do circulate the letter below to anyone who might want to respond, and or attend the public meeting. 
There ‘s a deadline for this particular exercise, but the health scrutiny panel is a public meeting anyone can attend, and I’ll always try to take questions and comments from those who want to participate – see here for information about meeting times, or contact me. 
Health Scrutiny Panel Adult Social Care Review
Tell your Councillors what you think about
the support services you use
Adult Social Care is the care and support services that help frail and disabled people remain independent, active and safe. This might include helping someone bathe or preparing cooked meals. Support services can be provided in people’s homes, in a community centre or in a care home.
As your local Councillors and members of the Tower Hamlets Health Scrutiny Panel, we’d like to hear your views on the adult social care services you use. We’re in a time of significant national change and uncertainty for public services and we’d like to understand what this has meant for local people.
Tell us what you think
We want to make sure that our discussions reflect the views of all the different residents who use adult social care services, and what’s important to them. We’re therefore asking that everyone get in touch with us with answers to the following questions:
What is really good about the social care services you currently use? What is most important to you?
Have you any suggestions of how we can improve the services you use?
Have you noticed any changes to your services recently? Do you know if your services will be changing in the future? What do you think about these changes?
Come and meet us on Tuesday 8th November 2011
Health Scrutiny Panel will be hosting a public meeting where you can share your views and discuss them with Councillors and the managers of the services. This event will take place on Tuesday 8th November 2011, at 6pm at Toynbee Hall. Please use the contact details below to confirm your attendance.
Everyone is welcome to attend the event, whether you’ve responded to the questions or not. Although we may not be able to talk about everyone’s specific feedback, we will make sure all the main points raised by people are discussed.
You can send your responses whichever way suits you best, the deadline is Tuesday 25th October 2011.

Call Rob Driver on 020 7364 4697
10am – 4pm, Monday – Friday
Health Scrutiny Panel c/o Rob Driver
6th Floor,

Mulberry Place

5 Clove Crescent

London E14 2BG

Please get in touch if you have any questions, or if you require any kind of support to send your responses or attend the event, for example an interpreter or help with transport.
I look forward to receiving your responses and meeting you at the event on 8th November.
With best wishes,
Cllr Rachael Saunders
Chair of Tower Hamlets Health Scrutiny Panel

We must have guaranteed permanent affordable homes on St Clements Hospital site

 Both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson promised that they would use Community Land Trusts to increase the supply of affordable housing in London and give local people power over their communities.  The St Clements Hospital site in my ward appears to have mayoral support to become a CLT, but there are concerns that the CLT will not have the ability to determine permanent affordability of the homes on the site.  Without this power homes built there will be out of the reach of local people.  I have written the letter below to David Lunts, Director of Housing and Regeneration at the GLA, in the hope that this can be resolved. 
St Clements was originally built by public subscription, and has always been used in public service.  Homes that are built there must be affordable for local people – and in one of the poorest wards in the country, that means homes for social rent, and guaranteed permanent affordability of the homes that are for sale. 

Dear Mr Lunts,
I am writing as a local councillor for the Mile End East ward of Tower Hamlets.  The St Clements Hospital site, currently being disposed of by the HCA, is in my ward.  
I was glad to see Richard Blakeway’s letter to the Guardian in which he stated his and I assume the Mayor of London’s ambition to have a Community Land Trust (CLT) on the St Clements site. 
I share the ambition to have a CLT on the St Clements site.  The lack of affordable and family sized housing in Tower Hamlets has massive consequences for health, education and wellbeing in Tower Hamlets.  It is because we must do all we can to increase the supply of genuinely affordable housing that I support the Community Land Trust model, in where the land is held in trust in perpetuity by the community, guaranteeing long term affordability for both those who buy and those rent at social rent levels, through the council’s housing register.   
I support a CLT because it is the model that can deliver much needed social housing on the site as well as ensure permanent affordability for those who buy, as the land trust remains the right to buy back the property at a fixed rate, ensuring that local families are not priced out.  It is vital that the CLT is able to restrict resale values if local people are to be able to access homes that are built there. 
I very much hope that it is this model of a CLT, the model widely understood in existing CLTs, with genuine, permanent affordability built in, that is adopted on this site.  St Clements is a site that has always been in public service, built originally by public subscription.   I hope to be able to work with you and with the GLA to ensure that the St Clements site continues to have a use that reflects the needs of the people of Tower Hamlets. 
Best wishes,
Cllr Rachael Saunders

They shall not pass

Link to my piece on Labourlist which attempted to explain to outsiders why the ban on the EDL march was so important

Full text:

To deserve people’s votes, to merit elected office, you have to be able to keep people safe, and when the people you represent are fearful, or feel under threat, you need to be clear about how you are going to do about it.  That is why we, as Tower Hamlets Labour Party, worked with Hope not Hate and a coalition of local organisations to collect the 25,000 signature petition that saw the EDL banned from marching in Tower Hamlets, and why we asked questions and put pressure on the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and police until the ban was secured. 
It was inspiring to talk around my ward, Mile End East, after the recent riots, and talk to people, across communities, about the organisation that swung into action when it was needed.  Older men stayed out on the streets, not looking for trouble, but not accepting it either.  Women worked together to make sure everyone else was safe and inside. 
Inspiring, but sobering as well, because that knowledge of how to deal with trouble was developed through necessity. 
Searchlight was started in Tower Hamlets by east end Jews who came back from fighting Nazis in Europe to discover fascists marching through their home streets and beating people up.  In the 1970s and 1980s racist attacks led by the National Front saw anti racist community organisations and action committees develop in response. Bangladeshi children would be let out of school early to avoid trouble, with mothers, fathers and older siblings walking together to pick them up together for safety.   The early nineties saw a massive concentration of BNP activity in Tower Hamlets, and massive local organised response.  This link includes descriptions of some of the worst attacks local people, mostly Bangladeshi, had to deal with.  Huguenots, Jews, Bangladeshi – the people of Tower Hamlets often came here because they were escaping racial and religious persecution.  They developed local ways of standing up to it.    
This march had to be banned.  The great story of Cable Street in 1936 is the unity of the east end anti racists, Irish dockers, Jews, trade unionists, communists and the Labour Party, standing together to stop the fascists from marching.  For me, there is a greater lesson – never again.   The Battle of Cable Street represents the heroism of the people in Tower Hamlets, but that heroism was necessary because of the failure of police and government to make us safe.   The people of Tower Hamlets had to protect themselves that day because the police decided to protect the right of the fascists to march.  It is right to be proud of the fight that expelled the racists from Brick lane, from Millwall and from Cable Street, but it is right to recognise the huge price that was paid, in literal physical terms, with the well known racist murder of Altab Ali, and in terms of the women and men who got into trouble, got criminal records, had their futures damaged.   It is right that we now demand that the police, the council, the government, protect local people – we should not have to fight and protect ourselves. 
Politicians have to be able to keep people safe.  We also have to be able to build a future for our children, to pass on a better life and greater opportunities to the next generation.   We did that, in Tower Hamlets, whilst Labour had power in the council and government and whilst violence was not a routine occurrence on our streets.   GCSE A*-C pass rates have multiplied in Tower Hamlets since 1998, partly because of national government funding, more because of a massive collective community effort that saw a huge increase in the number and diversity of local people becoming school governors, targets set and a drive for excellence that teachers, parents and students were all a part of.  We will do everything we can to ensure our young people have a bright future.  When meeting and talking with local groups over the last few weeks the determination is absolutely clear; this generation will not have to fight racists and fascists – their lives will be better.   It is the police and other authorities, not the sons and daughters of Tower Hamlets, who must take on responsibility for keeping hate mongers off our streets. 
A number of people from outside Tower Hamlets have offered their opinions across the media over the last few weeks, saying we should be able to cope with the EDL marching, that their right to march was more important than our right to safety, that if they were violent they would just show themselves up, that we should all hold hands to stop them passing, that it was our responsibility to fight and “get” them.  Those people were wrong.  If a racist, Muslim-hating group of violent thugs is allowed to dominate our streets again, we will stand up to them again, and our community will have to deal with the consequences again.   Over the last decade that we have had the same peace on our streets that everyone else expects, the people of Tower Hamlets have come closer to accessing the opportunities we all deserve.  Labour politicians get elected to use the power of the state for the betterment of our people.   
We are never able to be complacent about the possibility of racists, fascists coming from outside and breaking our peace.  There were issues last summer, when the EDL threatened to come and march and tensions rose as a result, and over the last few months there have been incidents of drunken racist slogans being chanted and local Muslims being threatened. 
 The campaign to ban the EDL from marching in Tower Hamlets was successful.  As I write, the two demonstrations – EDL and UAF – went off with limited incident.  Although there has been some trouble this evening, I hope it remains relatively calm.  The police did all they could within the law, and our next step is to look at campaigning to strengthen legislation around hate based static demonstrations.    
If it had been needed, the people of Tower Hamlets would have been out on the streets in their tens of thousands today, stopping the violent, racist, Muslim hating thugs from threatening us.   As it was, most people were able to happily go about their daily business, having united and campaigned through democratic means to stop the EDL through the rule of law.    
¡No pasarán!  They shall not pass.