Newham Council's loan to West Ham United
Following up on my thoughts on whether this decision might potentially be ultra vires and the coverage on the BBC yesterday: last night the council voted to approve a loan of £40 million to West Ham to support its bid for the Olympic stadium in Stratford.
The Guardian reports that the vote was unanimous, which would be a surprise if true: one Newham councillor I spoke to this week was adamant that he would abstain. I e-mailed the head of 'Democratic Services' at the council today, asking for a breakdown of the vote, but inevitably, there was no response.
The question of whether West Ham eventually takes over the stadium is of less interest than the use of public money - at a time of swingeing cuts - to underwrite the financially stricken club when commercial lenders have evidently refused to do so. I know many Hammers fans would prefer to see the redevelopment of the East Stand instead of a move - although it's not as though Spurs supporters are entirely overjoyed about a move to Stratford either:
North London is indeed "theirs" - and they're welcome to it.
According to the BBC, "a council spokesman refused to say whether it would be liable for the debt if West Ham defaulted, citing commercial confidentiality". I'd imagine it might be of interest to local people to know whether, in five years time, we'll have few local services left after the cuts have hit hard, but instead the controlling stake of a Premier League / Championship football club?
Wanstead Flats - amending the Epping Forest Act
Now that the Home Office has announced that it still intends to create a Legislative Reform order to amend the Epping Forest Act - even though it admits that it has no need to do so - discussions have started about the possibility of a judicial review of this decision. More news soon.
Newham's e-Petition facility
So far, Newham council has failed to confirm that formal permission has been granted by the Divisional Director of Finance and the Executive Member for Finance, Property and Assets for the petition submitted by my employer, apparently the first one requested, to go live.
This is despite promising to do so "no later than 21 January". Not a terribly impressive start to the new electronic era of "listening to and acting on the views of the public".
The imprisonment of Edward Woollard
Having writing about the disproportionate sentence handed down to student protester Edward Woollward, I see that an online petition on this issue has been set up - see here.