Voluntary Action Waltham Forest are a major player in the social infrastructure of our borough. They are committed to shaping the future of the borough in partnership with its inhabitants, the local council and community groups. They were asked by the council to draw up a report on the Hoe Street and Wood Street areas under the Better Neighborhoods initiative, to outline the problems and make recommendations.
A lot of work went into it, lots of people were consulted and the result was a good report, a fair, balanced and comprehensive look into the difficulties facing us and the resources available to deal with them, it was well received. Critical of the council in some areas, it pointed out solutions that involved working with the community groups and local people in ways that extended democracy and participation. Genuine involvement of the local population in their own lives.
That was the problem the report exposed the councils lack of commitment to real participation. The council is very good at setting up consultative bodies to take advice from or ignore as they wish, as long as they do not interfere with their long term aim of contracting out all council services and removing non statutory services from their books.
They did not want to be told they cannot run a youth service by using ASBO's and dispersal orders, that they have to engage with the young people of the borough and find out what they want and need. That they cannot just dump housing in the hands of Ashcan Homes and use the residents associations to report faults and repairs, that residents need to be consulted about services and planning.
So instead of using the report as part of the debate for a better borough they banned it. Their normal reaction when a messenger brings them news they don't want to hear, ban it and pretend it does not exist, then label the messenger and extremist or worse.
But judge for yourself, you can download the report here and make up your own mind, click on the image to download a 1.3mb file, .