INDEX July 22, 1988
Points from the post

THE dust has well and truly settled after the hearing in the Court of Appeal and we have taken stock of the position and are now preparing for the hearing before the District Auditor to challenge any unlawful expenditure in 1986/87 accounts. Yes, 1986/87 - that's how long it takes to go through the machinery and we are still awaiting a hearing date.

For some the failure of the fight in the High Court marked the end of the battle, but for others it only served to make them redouble their efforts on behalf of the citizens of Waltham Forest to secure a fair deal from the council.

Recent correspondents in this newspaper have asked what our objectives are in the future. We are not a party political body, but in order to be an effective local force we need to consider the important political issues affecting local government, because they affect us all as ratepayers and citizens.

Ratecapping - is it the answer to the problem of soaring rates and poor local services? Poll Tax ~ will it produce more winners or losers ? Is it better than keeping the local rates with a revaluation or a form of local income tax ? Who does know the answers to these questions ? All the political parties expound their individual beliefs and we will have to accept whatever is decided for us.

While the protest against the massive rate in 1987 was the basis of our formation we should not give the impression that we were only concerned with keeping rates down - important though that was. The other equally important factor was keeping the services of the borough at an acceptable level, as most of us have to rely on these services, be it education, looking after an elderly relative, maintaining council housing or simply keeping the town clean.

We now know we will not be ratecapped next year. Most people think our rates will go through the roof, but will the Labour councillors be mindful of council elections and so produce a'reasonable' rate to curry favour?

In the present climate might there be a further imminent by-election with another sure fire Labour loss. Then they would surmise, with the short memory of the electorate, they could blame all their misdemeanours on whatever ruling party prevailed and so hope to win the council elections at the end of that year. Sounds a long shot ? When you are desperate, long shots are the only terms open.

We have learned the devious ways of some politicians and, unfortunately, we are the pawns in their games. Of course they might have learned some lessons and when ratemaking time comes round they might really consider the ratepayers ability to pay. There is nothing any of us can do about it, but we can keep long memories and be be wise to all their moves.

That is the task we set, ourselves: To expose the inefficiency and the political corruption of this council, many of whose members have an utter contempt for the views and wishes of the people they represent.

Perhaps by reminding the people of Waltham Forest of the actions of those in authority over them, can democracy reassert itself in this borough.

We don't presume to say who should in due course replace them. That is for the electorate to decide at the next council elections (unless we succeed in disqualifying some of them before), but we must all be less apathetic and really take an interest in what is happening under our noses.

Waltham ForestRatepayers' Action Group.

Waltham Forest Guardian, July 22, 1988