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Kingston & Surbiton Constituency Labour Party (“the CLP”) owns an office in Kingston-upon-Thames. The CLP is seeking a tenant to share the premises on a long-term basis. Approx [40] square metres plus use of large meeting/conference room and kitchen.

Office space to rent

160 London Road, Kingston, KT2 6QW

Approx [40] square metres plus use of large meeting/conference room and kitchen.

 

Kingston & Surbiton Constituency Labour Party (“the CLP”) owns an office in Kingston. The CLP is seeking a tenant to share the premises on a long-term basis.

The office is conveniently located on the outskirts of Kingston Town Centre and is within walking distance of Kingston Hospital.

We would ideally like to offer the space to a charity or an organisation in the voluntary or not-for-profit sector. Potential tenants need not share the values of the Labour Party and the CLP will not imply that the tenant and the Labour Party are connected.

We offer the following facilities:

  1. Open-plan office space with room for up to [6] desk spaces. This space is accessed through 2 lockable doors and this area would be reserved for the exclusive use of the tenant.
  2. One designated parking space is available at the rear of the property
  3. Use of communal kitchen and 2 toilets
  4. A large meeting/conference room with tables and chairs is also available. This space would be shared with the CLP on a basis to be agreed. Depending on how the room is configured the room can accommodate up to 40 people.
  5. Total space is approximately 93 square metres (1,000 sq feet)
  6. The CLP hosts regular monthly all-member meetings in the conference room together with various committee meetings. As many such meetings occur in the evenings the conference room will generally be available for use by the tenant during normal working hours however the CLP would reserve the right to book the conference room during working hours as long as reasonable notice is given to the tenant.
  7. Utility costs (heat, light, power, cleaning, wi-fi etc) would be shared in the ratio 80% to the tenant and 20% to the CLP on the basis that the tenant will be the principal consumer of such services.
  8. Council tax would be shared 50:50 and the cost to the tenant would be approximately £2,100 per annum.
  9. Some reconfiguration & redecoration work would be undertaken by the CLP (and paid for by the CLP) before any tenant moves in
  10. Basis of tenancy: a licence to occupy would be offered eg for a 5 year term with the tenant having the right to terminate at any time on giving 6 months’ notice. The terms could be extended thereafter by mutual agreement 

If you are interested, please contact stephen.dunkling@gmail.com 

 

Property to Rent in Kingston

Kingston & Surbiton Constituency Labour Party (“the CLP”) owns an office in Kingston-upon-Thames. The CLP is seeking a tenant to share the premises on a long-term basis. Approx [40] square metres...

Labour Chair, Laurie South, gives details about the Leadership election and goes on to discuss some of the issues as briefly as possible, trying to identify how we got here.

This blog gives a number of details about the Leadership election and goes on to discuss some of the issues as briefly as possible, trying to identify where and why problems have arisen. Inevitably some members will try and read into this discussion support for one side or the other and label it right-wing or left-wing. That would certainly be a misreading of the discussions held by the Executive Committee(EC): the EC have tried to adhere to the fact that there is a constitution which states that there is a One Member One Vote system and it is for the members to decide, and all individual members have their own views.

Rather the paper is intended to show that we have made major changes in the democratisation of the Party while at the same time expanding the Party enormously. Almost inevitably these two changes have led to unforeseen situations and disputes, so there is more thinking to be done.

This paper is an attempt to say that we are where we are and now need to get through the Leadership Election without acrimony or splits in the Party. We then need to identify where difficulties have arisen and put processes in place which enable us to resolve situations that arise in a democratic and collaborative way. To do otherwise would be to fail the millions of people who stand to gain a better and more equitable life under a Labour local and national government.

A brief history: how did we get where we are now

From 1900 until 1922 Labour MPs had a chairman who appeared to have “emerged”. The title Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party came about in 1922 when the first ballot was held but only Labour MPs were eligible to vote. In 1983 an electoral college to vote for a leader was created, a legacy of Michael Foot. Under this system Trade Unions and Socialist Societies had a 40 per cent vote, the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) had a 30 per cent vote and Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) had a 30 per cent vote. Each CLP decided in whatever way it saw fit how it would cast its vote. There were a variety of practices followed from decisions made by the chair, Executive Committee meetings, votes at a meeting or full balloting members.

In 1993 the electoral college was modified so that the Trade Unions, PLPs and CLPs had an equal third share in determining the Leader. Instead of each CLP deciding how to cast its vote in whatever way it saw fit, each member in each CLP had a vote. CLP votes were counted at national level and the electoral college, CLP section, voted in accordance with the broad allocation to each candidate. Under this electoral college system some members, i.e. those who were trade union members, MPs and CLP members, had 3 votes, others had 2 votes, and others, i.e. a CLP member not in an affiliated trade union, only one. Under this system Ed Miliband secured a very strong trade union vote but a smaller CLP vote than David Miliband. He became Leader because of the weight of trade union votes.

A true “One Member One Vote” (often called OMOV) system was only introduced in 2015. It came at a time when the Leader, Ed Miliband, was trying to reduce the influence of the affiliated trade unions, and create a larger and wider Labour Party membership. This is when the Registered Supporter and Registered Affiliate members appeared for the first time. It was hoped that they would link into CLPs and convert from Registered Supporters or Registered Affiliates to full Labour Party Members taking part in policy making at local and national level, campaigning and fund-raising.

Issues

It has always been the case that a challenge could be mounted on the incumbent leader and it is recognised that this is extremely important in a democratic party. Over the years there have been a number of such challenges through the PLP (e.g. Tony Benn challenged Neil Kinnock who was then Leader). The present challenge is the first under the “One Member One Vote” system which is what makes it different from previous challenges. It is argued that the requirements for a challenge, 20 per cent of the PLP (and MEPs) pre-dates the OMOV system, exceeds the powers of MPs under OMOV, and defies the membership that voted overwhelmingly for the present Leader. Some of those holding this view make a strong case that the PLP should have remained united behind the elected Leader, particularly at this historic juncture. On the other hand, the PLP could argue that it has a national role as either the government or the opposition. To undertake these wider national roles, the post of Leader needs the support of MPs and so the MPs need a vehicle through which to challenge the Leader if they are not confident that the Leader is providing the right leadership to the PLP.

If the PLP did not have the power to challenge a Leader, there would be, at present, no other mechanism through which to make a challenge to the Leader and, in theory, the leadership of the Labour Party could be at the disposal of the Leader no matter how the Leader behaved. This is clearly a very unsatisfactory state of affairs in a democratic party. There needs to be a process by which a Leader can be challenged. The question is in what circumstances, how and by whom.

The current system of leadership election is only one-year-old. Most of the Labour MPs were elected in a period when they had a 33 per cent stake in electing a Leader. They will be looking for particular leadership skills and abilities from someone with whom they work closely on a day to day basis. The membership, on the other hand, may be looking for a Leader who embodies and inspires the values that attracted them to join the Labour Party. As things stand, the two requirements may differ particularly when the Party is in government. There should be less of an issue in opposition though there will be diverse views on specific issues.

A vital consideration is actually winning elections. Inspiring the Party is one thing, actually getting elected to power so that the values can be translated into implementable policies is another. In an era in which the leaders of political parties are afforded an almost presidential status, love it or hate it, that leader has to have a wider appeal to the electorate. No matter how hard members work in their constituencies, if the leader does not inspire credibility and trust in the wider electorate, power though the ballot box will elude the Party.

It is also important to remember that we have an elected National Executive Committee (NEC) entrusted with ensuring the Party’s aspirations are met. One of its tasks is to ensure that no group, whether from the right or the left, tries to usurp the Party’s constitution. It could well be argued that the NEC mirrors the old tripartite division of Trade Union, CLP and PLP that underpinned the electoral college system, and the Party is now very different. But it is the NEC we elected according to the constitution that we all work to at the moment.

So what next?

We are in a period of transition when major changes have taken place in how a Leader is elected and in the democratisation of the Party. This may make some of the powers, checks and balances from a different era appear inappropriate. It may also be that important changes appropriate to increased democratisation have been overlooked: the system may not be right rather than the people operating within it wrong. It has been noted that there is currently no other method of challenging a Leader than the PLP route. We have also seen a major increase in the membership. Eighty per cent of the membership in Kingston and Surbiton have been members for 14 months or less, and this is probably true across all CLPs. Times have been so turbulent that interaction with new members has, in a new age of mass party membership, not been all it could.

It is therefore vital that we do not allow ourselves to be lured into condemning each other, finding conspiracies under every action or rushing into demands for changes which might have unexpected consequences. After these elections we will need a careful period of discussion and consideration to determine what further changes are needed to extend democracy and accountability in the Party. We will also need to consider the longer term relationship with trade unions, which has been a vital springboard for the Labour Party in the past. How does the role of Trade Unions in the Party sit alongside a much wider membership in the CLPs and increased member democracy?

For the present every member who joined up to 12th January 2016 has a single transferable vote to cast for the candidate they think will best lead the PLP, inspire members and win power through the ballot box.

So how does the election for a Leader work?

1. The NEC has decided:There will be a freeze on membership eligibility to vote so that only members joining before 12th January 2016 will be able to vote. There has been a rush to join over the last month with very little membership change between January and June 2016. The NEC therefore argued that it had a duty to ensure that voting members were committed to the values and aspirations of the Labour Party. Others may take a different view and argue that simply by joining a member is showing that commitment to Labour Party aims and values and should be empowered to vote immediately. That is a debate for later.

2. CLP meetings would not take place during the election period (which has been standard practice in respect of other local and national elections) except where there was urgent business connected with elections other than the Leadership and any Party Conference business. CLPs are allowed to hold “supporting nominating meetings” for the Leadership elections but they must be held under strict conditions including a 30-minute time-frame: 3 minutes per speaker restrictions: screening of all present to ensure that only those eligible to vote do so: and secret ballots with a teller representing each candidate at the count.

3. The incumbent Leader will be on the ballot paper for Leadership automatically and all challengers will have to have 20 per cent of the PLP and MEPs nominating them.

So here is the timeline

(i)            All full members who joined the Party prior to 12th January 2016 will have a single transferable vote.

(ii)          All affiliated members will have a vote so long as they are registered as affiliated members and joined their affiliated Trade Union or Affiliated Organisation before 12th January 2016.

(iii)         All Registered Supporters who paid £3 for membership had an opportunity to pay a £25 registration to become Registered Supporters with Leadership Election voting rights. Those who became members after 12th January 2016 could have become Registered Supporters with Leadership Election voting rights had they paid an extra £25

(iv)         The window for Registered Supporters to opt to pay an extra £25 to enable them to vote in the Leadership Election ran from 5pm on Monday 18 July to 5pm on Wednesday 20 July. Link here

(v)          Monday 18 July at 7pm — Nominations for Leadership challengers open (MPs and MEPs)

(vi)         Thursday 21 July at Noon — Nominations for leadership challengers closes

(vii)        Friday 22 July — Hustings period begins for nominated candidates

(viii)      At present the way things stand, Kingston & Surbiton CLP will not be holding a supporting nomination meeting because the restrictions imposed by the NEC are too bureaucratic, a vote will represent the views of the people who attended the meeting but has no binding force on any member, each of whom has a single transferable vote

(ix)         Monday 8 August at Noon — Members must be fully paid up and in compliance to be eligible to vote. If you have lapsed in your Party subscription you will be ineligible to vote

(x)          Week beginning Monday 22 August — Ballots packs will begin to be despatched (you'll receive yours in the fortnight following)

(xi)         Wednesday 14 September — last date to request a reissue of your ballot paper

(xii)        Wednesday 21 September at Noon — Ballot closes

(xiii)      Saturday 24 September — Special conference to announce result

Laurie South

Labour Chair

The Leadership Elections

Labour Chair, Laurie South, gives details about the Leadership election and goes on to discuss some of the issues as briefly as possible, trying to identify how we got here....

At the full Council meeting on 26th April 2016, Labour’s Councillor Linsey Cottington, seconded by Labour’s Councillor Sheila Griffin, moved a motion that the pilot outreach worker for street drinkers to be extended for another 12 months.

 At one of the few Council debates that was not over-shadowed by political knock about, all councillors who spoke showed the sympathy, care and understanding that we would expect from our elected representatives. Perhaps everyone realised that, in the words of a song, “..there but for fortune go you or I”.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the discussion was that the Tories moved a motion, which they then used their majority to push through, to find the money to extend the project only until the end of October but they did concede that they would consider extending it further if there was no coherent strategy. The project  funds two outreach workers who have already established a rapport with the street-drinkers. As Linsey Cottington was quick to point out, this extension allows Council to learn the lessons from the project and develop a strategy for the whole of Kingston.

It is easy to condemn street-drinkers but their stories reveal how like anyone else they are. Addiction is a terrible affliction but how common it is. For every drinker on the street there are ten, twenty, thirty times that number who keep their addiction hidden. In fact it was said of a former leader of Kingston council – and how true this is we cannot say – that officers would try and get a decision in the morning because after lunch he was too often beyond rational judgement. Addiction consumes all, trampling down relationships all around, as erstwhile friends and family back away, uncomprehending, hurt, despairing and not knowing what to do.

But addiction to alcohol, that most dangerous of drugs which is pushed at us on every occasion, masks a whole raft of problems. Amongst these features mental illness. And mental illness, something that affects one person in four at some time during their life, has been for too long the subject of prejudice, ignorance, discrimination and joke. Since 2010 twenty percent of the inadequate budget devoted to mental health has been slashed away. Those ignored and rejected in their time of so much need, resort to what solace they can find: too often that includes the self-medication of drink or drugs.

Things go wrong in our lives: relationship breakdown, misfortune, stupid decisions. For many of us the pain and anguish is contained, often with the help of an extensive support network. But for many others it creates a personal disaster and emotional discontinuity in the flow of their lives. The discontinuity becomes a way of life and the everyday spirals beyond control. Suddenly they are homeless, alone and destitute.

We have ridiculously poor provision for the homeless. And even that which exists is short-term and limited. Many homeless find a bed for the night but then are sent back out on the street for the day. There are very limited toilet and washing facilities for those without funds. Getting a job is extremely difficult for those who do not have the means to make themselves presentable, nor an address through which to communicate, nor the means through which to engage in job search or employer interaction.

Food is a problem for the homeless. How, if you are on the streets, do you find the money to purchase it and how do you cook food even if you have some money? Is it a wonder that those on the street eat the unhealthiest of foods: this adds to the unhealthy life-style and to the decline in well-being.

It is easy to see why people in this situation self-medicate with drink and drugs to escape from reality and just make it to the next day. The boredom of their lives on the streets increases the attraction of drink and drugs albeit a short-term palliative. But most of all, a hard, cold, tarmac and concrete bed, with the ever present danger of robbery and attack, means alcohol and drugs are almost a pre-requisite for sleep.

If the extension is an attempt to brush this issue under the carpet in a period of tough budget decision making, then the Kingston and Surbiton Labour Party will be up in arms. The Council must start its review and strategy development now. If it fails, the remaining months will sail by and nothing but futile hand-wringing will have occurred. Use these months well. All councillors acknowledged the need to act. Let us see it happen.

Labour brings motion to tackle street drinking

At the full Council meeting on 26th April 2016, Labour’s Councillor Linsey Cottington, seconded by Labour’s Councillor Sheila Griffin, moved a motion that the pilot outreach worker for street drinkers to...

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