Last night, 6 May 2014, at the first ever Redbridge Citizens Accountability Assembly, three candidates for leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Keith Prince (Conservative), Cllr Ian Bond (Liberal Democrat) and Cllr Wes Streeting (on behalf of Cllr Jas Athwal - Labour), agreed to work with Redbridge Citizens to move the Redbridge Council from 80% to 100% compliant with the Citizens UK Social Care Charter. This would make Redbridge the first London Conservative borough to become fully compliant.
This is brilliant news for care workers as they would then be paid the London Living Wage of £8.80 an hour. All the candidates also agreed to champion the Living Wage among local businesses, agreeing to co-host an event with Redbridge Citizens and the Borough’s 10 largest employers to promote the Living Wage.
Bernadette Harris, from Saint Thomas of Canterbury and one of the co-chairs of the Assembly, said:
“We commend your commitments here tonight on the Living Wage for care workers. Now we would like to see you take the next step and make the Redbridge Council an accredited Living Wage employer by ensuring that the Living Wage becomes part of the procurement process for all contracted out staff.”
Naomi Clifton, from Salvation Army Ilford, the other co-chair of the Assembly, said:
“We made history tonight. As a result of our Assembly, and regardless of who wins the election, an important step has been made towards paying hundreds of care workers in Redbridge the Living Wage.”
In addition, the three candidates agreed in principle to work towards establishing a landlords’ register in those parts of the borough where there was evidence of sub-standard housing, and to have regular meetings with Redbridge Citizens to make sure that the commitments made are stuck to. The councillors also remarked on what a diverse crowd of people was before them: people from all race groups and nationalities, not to mention faith backgrounds, including Christians, Muslims and Sikhs. The councillors were impressed by Redbridge Citizens’ ability to bring all of these groups together to create a common social justice manifesto.
These pledges came as part of Redbridge Citizens’ first ever Accountability Assembly held at Salvation Army in Ilford last night. Redbridge Citizens is an alliance of schools and faith and community groups that work together for the common good. Following a year of listening in the community to identify the issues that were important to people, 93 community leaders assembled to put asks to the candidates for leader of the council.
Bernadette Harris reflected on the importance of creating exciting, relevant politics:
“Because this is Citizens UK, and our most important aim is to prepare people for public life, we make serious politics engaging and fun. And in keeping with this wonderful tradition, we have written a song for tonight.”
Thereafter, the entire room, including the three candidates, sang the Redbridge Citizens Song together.
Yet, at the same time, Redbridge Citizens engages in disciplined politics. In Bernadette’s words,
“We value this relationship because Redbridge Citizens is a permanent alliance of civil society organisations – we will be here in five, 10 and 20 years time. This means that we want to build relationships with all key decision makers in the Borough to allow us to do politics together.”