Standards going unchecked

Regulatory bodies are failing to fulfil their duties due to budget cuts and declining staff numbers, according to a new report.

The analysis investigated losses in regulatory enforcement capacity across food, the environment, health and safety, consumer protection, employee rights and local spaces.

Across the regulatory areas examined, average budgets had fallen 41% in real terms and staff numbers by over a third during the last decade.  This has led to an “enforcement gap which threatens to undermine the very rules which keep our society running properly”, the research claims.

According to the report, between 2009-2019 the Forestry Commission had its funding cut by 53%, while Local Authority spending on environmental and regulatory services fell 31%.  Funding at the Food Standards Agency fell 51%, while there was a 60% drop in manpower amongst Local Authority food standards staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The research claims that there was a 58% cut in funding at the Health and Safety Executive, a 49% cut in spending on Health and Safety by Local Authorities in England, and a 22% fall in fire and rescue staff in England during the same period.

The Enforcement Gap 2020 report has been published by Unchecked.uk, a project of The Ecology Trust, a grant-making charity which tackles the root causes of environmental and societal problems.  It was founded in 2019 and is supported by the JMG Foundation, The Kestrelman Trust and The Funding Network.

In a letter to The Times to coincide with publication of the report, twenty major organisations from across UK civil society warn that “steep reductions in inspections and monitoring of regulated businesses in recent years risks undermining the achievement of public policy objectives”.  The letter has been signed by organisations including Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth, Mums for Lungs, the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the National Consumer Federation.

“The analysis we are publishing is alarming and is cause for serious national concern,” said Emma Rose of Unchecked.uk.

“With important regulators operating with on average 50% less funding than ten years ago, there is a need for a closer look at the state of our public protection infrastructure.

“As a country we believe in fair play, common standards, and everyone playing by the same rules – but the truth is, the people we rely on to enforce those rules are being hamstrung.”

Arnold Pindar, Chairman of the National Consumer Federation, said:

“We live in an increasingly complicated world, and we expect high standards – clean air, safe water, and better goods and safe products.  Strong enforcement is needed to bear down on high-risk suppliers and rogues, and keep us safe from harm.

“However, enforcement capacity has been cut back since the early 2000s, and Unchecked.uk’s research shows how serious this has become.  It confirms the major concerns highlighted by recent National Consumer Federation Congresses.

“This cannot carry on.”

New law to ensure ‘bare-bones service’ during transport strikes

The Evening Standard has published a story about new laws to ensure a minimum level of service is maintained during industrial disputes on public transport.

The article is based on comments made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps about legislation likely to be included in The Queen’s Speech.

“It is a basic right for workers to be able to get to work,” Mr Shapps told the Standard.

“The ability of a few people to prevent anyone from being able to earn a living has come to an end. The new law will prevent London being brought to a standstill, with all the additional environmental damage done by people reverting to cars,” he said.

“There will be a bare-bones service provided, preventing ordinary workers being effectively held to ransom.”

The Queen’s Speech sets out the Government’s agenda and is given during the State Opening of Parliament which marks the start of the Parliamentary year.

Following the General Election, the State Opening of Parliament is due to take place on Thursday 19 December 2019.

Central Line platform display boards not working (again)

The platform display boards at Wanstead appear to have stopped functioning after working for just 5 days.

The boards, which relay information about the destination and timing of trains, were fixed on 27 November 2019 but were not working on the morning of 2 December.

The previous fault took 29 days to repair. Once again, we wait…

TfL employees earning over £50k revealed in 984 page report

Transport for London (TfL) recently announced a £111m operating loss for the first half of 2019-20. Although this represents a deficit reduction of 40 per cent compared to the same period in 2018-19 it is still a substantial figure.

The Wanstead Post has been exploring information about employees earning over £50,000 which “reflects an accurate picture of senior staff in post as at 31 March 2019”. Some of the posts and the salaries they attract make interesting reading. In some cases there are several posts with the same job title and salary as well as other roles which seem to cover very similar areas. Please see below for examples:

Problem-Solving & Evaluation Manager – £50,000-£54,999

Ambience Delivery Manager – £50,000-£54,999

Ambience Inspector – £50,000-£54,999

Drug & Alcohol Assessment & Treatment Services Manager – £50,000-£54,999
(To advise the company on matters relating to Drugs & Alcohol Assessment and Treatment Services for employees of Transport for London)

Ambience Manager – £55,000-£59,999

Ambience Delivery Manager – £55,000-£59,000

Vegetation Contract Manager – £55,000-£59,000
(This role has responsibility for overseeing the delivery of Vegetation Management across an area of LU track infrastructure.)

People Management Advisor Specialist – £55,000-£59,000
(This role is responsible for applying expertise in the provision of advice and guidance to ensure TfL treats its people fairly and has good relationships based on openness, mutual trust and respect.)

Events Co-ordination Manager, Events Manager and Events Planning and Delivery Manager – all earning £50,000-£54,999

Head of TfL Events Team – £75,000-£79,000

Head of Experience – £75,000-£79,000

Head of Profession – £85,000-£89,999

According to the most recent Annual Workforce Monitoring Report, Transport for London (TfL) employs 27,453 people on a permanent basis. The full 984 page report of those earning over £50k can be found here: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/data-transparency-report-2018-19.pdf

General Election candidates

© Electoral Commission

The following candidates have been confirmed as standing for election as Member of Parliament for the Leyton & Wanstead constituency:

(Candidates listed alphabetically by surname)

John Cryer – Labour Party
Ashley Gunstock – Green Party
Zulf Jannaty – The Brexit Party
Noshaba Khiljee – Conservative Party
Henry Scott – Independent
Ben Sims – Liberal Democrat

An open letter about the Central Line

I write at the end of another appalling week on the Central Line during which there have been daily issues resulting in minor and severe delays as well as suspension of service. It has been an utter misery for commuters.

The level of service has been steadily deteriorating for months with many truly terrible weeks. Anyone using the line does so with constant anxiety and stress not to mention exposure to the dirt and filthy pollution. For commuters it is a daily hell which can result in the loss of work as well as income.

This dire situation cannot continue. I have long campaigned for all parties to come together to work to improve the situation. My experience is that many wish to work collaboratively and do their best while others are negative, rude, lack a customer service ethic and wish to blame everyone else. Meanwhile, the customer suffers.

Everyone involved – Central Line staff, TfL and the Mayor of London – need to stop squabbling and work together to tackle this deteriorating situation. At the very least emergency measures need to be put in place to provide a basic level of service for those who use the line to get to work, earn a living or get to school. If this failure continues those responsible must be held to account.

Platform display boards not working for 17 days (so far)

As regular readers will know The Wanstead Post has long campaigned to #improvethecentralline.

Commuters using Wanstead Station will have noticed that the platform display boards stopped working on 30 October 2019 and 17 days later have yet to be repaired.

The Wanstead Post has raised the issue with Central Line management and received the following response:

“I’m sorry for the impact that this is having on your journeys. I’ve had a response from the station that we’re chasing the contractor responsible for maintenance and that parts needed for the fix are on back order. Once received they will be installed as a matter of urgency”.

We wait…

Which underground line is the most polluted in London?

The Central Line is one of the most polluted underground lines in London according to research by the Financial Times.

The investigation measured fine particles – known as PM2.5 – which can penetrate into the lungs and have been linked to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and respiratory infection.

Air in carriages on sections of the Central Line was 8 times above safe limits recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Other lines in the top 10 of the most polluted include the Northern, the Victoria, the Jubilee and the Bakerloo.

“Fine particles of dust, metal, skin and clothing fibre have built up in the tunnels over a century of use, leaving a toxic miasma that is stirred up by passing trains and inhaled by passengers,” according to the article by Camilla Hodgson, Leslie Hook and Steven Bernard.

Jenny Bates, an air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth, told the FT: “These are shocking, worrying findings. We know particulates are the most dangerous of the air pollutants. We must sort out this terrible level of bad aor. It’s absolutely essential for the health of anyone using the Tube.”

Read the full investigation by the Financial Times here.