Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Ashford Green Party resolutions on the 'Progressive Alliance'

Earlier in August, with the Green Party leadership context getting underway, I published an article about some of the underlying issues LINK. These include the proposal for a 'progressive alliance' which forms part of the Lucas-Bartley platform.

Their election statement for co-leader proposes in their 'Comprehensive Plan to transform the Green Party':

CRACK OPEN THE POLITICAL SYSTEM by exploring a one-time alliance with other progressive parties at the next election in order to replace our failed electoral system with proportional representation. 
At a recent meeting Ashford Green Party discussed the progressive alliance and passed the following resolutions which will be of interest to Green Party members:

Enforcing the democratic process in regards to The Progressive Alliance

Ashford Green Party believes that any formal national electoral alliance between the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) and any other political party should be arrived at through the conventional internal democratic process by which any other policy is agreed.

Ashford Green Party is calling on the leadership and all other members of the party to immediately cease from claiming that the GPEW supports a progressive alliance until a policy is passed by conference or an internal referendum which gives all members a voice on the matter. 

Ashford Green Party is calling on the national GPEW to remain neutral on the issue of an electoral alliance in its use of resources and infrastructure, such as membership emails, website and social media accounts, unless and until a policy proposal is passed advocating that position. This is to ensure neither the supporters or those that oppose the policy proposal have an unfair advantage.

RESULTS – For 16, Against 3, Abstain 2

Opposing an electoral alliance with The Liberal Democrats

Ashford Green Party believes that the Liberal Democrat party has proven itself unfit for governance, having enthusiastically and unapologetically enabled the Conservative Party to deliver an austerity government which hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in Britain. This included the disgraceful cuts to the disabled which has seen thousands of people die. They are also guilty of destroying the trust of young people by going back on their promises over tuition fees.

Ashford Green Party believes this makes them a party whose values are incompatible with the Green Party of England and Wales and should not be considered for a national electoral alliance.

Ashford Green Party is calling on the Green Party of England and Wales not to enter a national electoral alliance with the Liberal Democrat party.

RESULTS – For 10, Against 8, Abstain 3

Opposing an electoral alliance with the Labour Party

Ashford Green Party believes that as long as the Labour Party is suffering a political identity crisis, it would be unwise to form an alliance with the Labour Party.

Ashford Green Party believes that Jeremy Corbyn is an ally to our cause. However, whilst the Labour Party is in its current state, with the majority of its MPs purposefully undermining Corbyn and pushing against our shared core values, Ashford Green Party also believes it would be unhelpful to form any alliance with the Labour Party.

Ashford Green Party does not accept the proposal of helping elect neoliberal Labour Party MPs who do not represent the sort of Labour Party that Jeremy Corbyn embodies, which a formal national alliance would result in.

Ashford Green Party is calling on the Green Party of England and Wales to not enter into a national electoral alliance with the Labour Party, until and unless there is a significant change to the ideals of the parliamentary Labour Party, which both unite the Labour Party and are more in accord with the Green Party’s values and policies.

RESULTS -  For 11, Against 6, Abstain 4

Voting for  Green Party leader, deputy leader/s and the executive closes at noon on Thursday.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Caroline Lucas: Corbyn's support for NHS Bill was not 'inept'

Caroline Lucas' letter to the Guardian

 I have no wish to intrude on the Labour leadership debates and I have no idea whether former shadow health minister Heidi Alexander is right in her critique of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership style, but for her aides to pick out Corbyn’s support for my NHS reinstatement bill as evidence both of his “ineptitude” and of his shadow chancellor’s “undermining” her strikes me as both desperate and depressing (Shadow cabinet inept and shoddy, says MP, 20 August).

My private members’ bill, drawn up after extensive consultation with health experts and health service users, would have reversed the creeping marketisation of the NHS – under both New Labour and the Conservatives – and stripped away the costly market mechanisms that waste NHS money and lead to inefficiencies and the fragmentation of services.

Perhaps a more interesting question is why the rest of the Labour party didn’t join their SNP, Plaid and Lib Dem colleagues in giving it their backing too. With a few honourable exceptions, they chose to abstain instead. Yet this is precisely the kind of policy a successful Labour party would surely be expected to promote – as well as demonstrating a greater willingness to work alongside colleagues from other parties on those areas where there is common ground between us.

Overcoming party tribalism and finding practical ways of working together will be crucial to any hope of progressive policies finding a majority at the next election.

Caroline Lucas MP
Green, Brighton Pavilion

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Kilburn, Corbyn and Khan

Some local Labour Party members complained to me last week that they were 'always the last to know' about Labour events in Brent - Wembley Matters often knows before them.

Brent Council's photo of Khan visit
It does seem that Sadiq Khan's PR visit to South Kilburn, to sing the praises of Brent Council's housing and regeneration programme, was kept under wraps - perhaps to avoid any embarrassing interventions by local residents (see Kilburn Times Letters page this week).  Jeremy Corbyn's visit to the Rauch City Church (the former Gaumont Cinema) in Kilburn High Road this evening was only a rumour until a few days ago.

It is perhaps fitting, given some of the more over the top declarations of support for JC, that tonight's event is being held in a place of worship.

Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt has always been close to Khan, at one time there was even a wild rumour that he might land a City Hall job, but he has not joined the Labour List LINK group of councillors backing Owen Smith.

Given their closeness he may have known about Khan's intention to come out in support of Owen Smith in today's Observer.

These are our local councillors who are supporting Smith:

The list of councillor supporters of Corbyn is rather harder to access as it is in no particular order but Cllrs Claudia Hector and Rita Conneely are on the list. A year ago Cllrs Tom Miller and Abdi Aden signed upto support Corbyn.

I am happy to update these lists if any councillor wants to be added.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Jamaican Olympic success began in Wembley - in 1948

Guest blog by Philip Grant

The headlines from the Olympics are full of the achievement of Usain Bolt, in winning three sprint gold medals for the third successive Games. But Bolt was only following the giant strides of one of his predecessors. For a “small island”, Jamaica has produced some fantastic athletes, but where did this Olympic success begin? The answer is: Wembley.

The first time that a team from Jamaica took part in the Olympics was at the London Games in 1948. The people of the island had raised the money by public subscription to send them, and most of their athletes reached England after a 24 day voyage on a banana boat. There was no specially-built athletes village for the competitors at these post-war “austerity Games”, and while the men were housed, along with some other Commonwealth teams, at Wembley County School in Stanley Avenue (now part of Alperton Community School), the women stayed as guests of local families. You can read more about this on the Brent Archives website  LINK

The Jamaican Olympic Team at Wembley County School, July 1949 [Courtesy of the 'Old Alpertonians']

The Jamaican team captain, Arthur Wint, was already in England, having just finished his first year as a medical student at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Born into a middle-class family at Plowden, Manchester County, in 1920, his life had already been interesting. At 17 he was named Jamaica’s “Boy Athlete of the Year”, and in 1938 he won the 800m gold medal at the Pan American Games in Panama. The Second World War put an end to international competitions, and when the RAF started to recruit from the British colonies, he joined up with his brothers, Lloyd and Douglas, in 1942. Along with many other Jamaicans, they were trained in Canada. He gained his “wings” in 1944, and saw active service as a Spitfire pilot until 1947, when he left the RAF having won a scholarship to train as a doctor.

At Wembley Stadium, the Jamaicans showed the world what their athletes were capable of. Wint won silver in the 800m, then went head-to-head with his team-mate Herb McKenley (who had finished 4th in the 200m) and several top Americans in the 400m final. McKenley was the favourite, having recently broken the world record, but the long-striding, 6’5”, Wint overtook him in the home straight to win Jamaica’s first Olympic gold medal. McKenley took the silver medal, and they were both hoping for gold in 4x400m relay. However, disaster struck when Wint pulled a muscle while trying to chase down the leading USA runner on the final lap. 

Arthur Wint taking gold ahead of Herb McKenley in the 400 metres final [Source Brent Archives - 1948 official Report]

Arthur Wint promised his disappointed relay team-mates that they would have a gold medal at the next Olympic Games. At Helsinki, in 1952, that promise was delivered. In the individual events Wint again won silver in the 800m, while McKenley took silver medals in both the 100m and 400m. As part of the Jamaican 4x400m relay team they then won gold, in a world record time of 3:03.9.
The 1952 Olympic 4x400m relay champions, Jamaica. L-R: Arthur Wint, George Rhodon, Herb McKenley and Les Laing


After qualifying as a doctor at Bart’s in 1953 (and running his final race, in an athletics meeting at Wembley Stadium in the same year), Wint went back to Jamaica in 1955. He worked as the only doctor and surgeon in Hanover Parish for many years, and in 1973 was awarded the Jamaican Order of Distinction for his service to charities, schools and business. He returned to England in 1974 for four years, as his country’s High Commissioner in London, before working as Senior Medical Officer at Linstead Hospital in Jamaica from 1978 to 1985. He died at Linstead in 1992.

Usain Bolt is a modern giant of athletics, but Arthur Wint, who was known as “the Gentle Giant”, set a high standard for Jamaica’s Olympians to follow. If Bolt can follow his glittering career on the track with a life of service to his country and people like that of his predecessor, he will rightly be remembered as a true Great.

Philip Grant.

Swimming pool at Wembley Lesiure Centre opening soon

Wembley Leisure Centre will be opening soon at Grand Felda House on Empire Way, Wembley Park which is yet another student accommodation block.

The Leisure Centre will be run by Better, an off-shoot of the GLL social enterprise. There will be 100+ station gym as well as the 25m swimming pool.

Swimming facilities for Wembley have long been an aspiration for many families. Recently the French School's application for a pool on its site was turned down by Brent Planning Committee.  A few years ago a temporary pool at Chalkhill Primary School proved very popular.

It appears from their website that the pool will be bookable by school groups and families but it will be important to check out the costs.

This is what Better say about swimming lessons on their website LINK:
Better Swim School teach more than 90,000 swimmers throughout the UK, and our swim school programme is designed to be flexible and affordable, with prices starting from as little as £3 per lesson (dependent on location). Our experienced, qualified teachers follow the Amateur Swimming Association's National Learn to Swim Teaching Plan. We support all swimmers to progress and take the plunge, whatever their level of ability. Suitable for all age groups, our classes include:
  • One-to-one sessions
  • Under 5s
  • Adult lessons
  • And much, much more...
On your first visit you can to collect your child's membership card from reception. You'll also get a free swimming hat from your swimming teacher, as these must be worn for every lesson.
Progress Tracking
Better Swim School provides an online tool - our Home Portal - that helps you to track your progress or your child's progress in the pool. Once you book a course, it's easy to set up an account using your unique barcode number. Once registered, you'll be able to log in to access information and updates directly from your swimming instructor. Features include:
  • Record of Achievement - clear and regular updates on progress, including achievements and areas for improvement.
  • Book Lessons - choose dates, times and Swim School Stage (subject to availability).
  • One account for multiple children - perfect for schools and families.
  • Allowing you to move up unto the next class upon successful progression.
  • Printing your Parent Barcode to gain quick access to our centres at lesson times.
  • Pay Online - skip the queue and go straight to your lesson.
Our Lessons
Lessons are delivered on a rolling programme that allows pupils to join at any stage and progress at their own pace. For those who want to make waves quickly, one-to-one lessons are available, as well as intensive courses during the holidays. Our lessons operate for 50 weeks of the year with a gap in lessons over the Christmas period.

Anger mounts in black community over threat to Brent Sickle Cell project

For readers unfamiliar with the impact of sickle cell this video provides some background

There have been a number of angry reactions to Nan Tewari's guest blog LINK about the threatened cut to the funding of the Brent Sickle Cell project which highlighted the threat itself and the failure to adequately consult with the populations most affected in Stonebridge and Harlesden wards.

The decision of the Brent Clinical Commissing Group to hold a consultation meeting at an inconvenient time in Wembley Park drew this response:
The decision to hold the meeting away from Harlesden and Stonebridge is a deliberate and cynical act of tokenism by Brent CCG and renders the meeting as merely a 'paper exercise'. Why is Brent CCG treating this vulnerable group of patients in such a dismissive way?

It would appear that Brent CCG is increasingly showing itself to be incapable of performing it's functions with any degree of competence.

Time it was held up to public scrutiny.
One comment asked bluntly if it was 'because we are black?'

Nan herself put it in the context of the treatment of residents in Harlesden and Stonebridge and the perceived lack of action by local councillors.
As if it weren't bad enough that the Central Mid A & E was closed down.....

As if it weren't bad enough that sickle cell treatment was moved to Northwick Park, 2 buses away......

As if it weren't bad enough the Harlesden population lives a decade less than others in Brent......

I suppose after closing down the Stonebridge adventure playground, Brent's councillors are too embarrassed to take Brent CCG to task over this - if indeed the sleepy councillors can even be bothered about it - after all, Harlesden and Stonebridge are pretty much captive voters for them.
Leroy Decosta Simpson, Harlesden activist said that he would would like to see the paperwork and get his 'big bwoys' to look into it.

Philip Grant in his usual meticulous way looked at the documentation and wrote:
The report that went to the CCG's Governing Body on 6 July includes the following important paragraph:

'Overall the service is seen by service users as a valued and forward thinking service model that supports the management of this long term condition, in an area of particularly high prevalence. However, the agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) demonstrate a level of performance that requires improving. The service provider has cited a number of operational issues which has adversely impacted on performance and delivery of the KPIs.'

The first sentence confirms that the project, which had only been running for a year, was already providing a very valuable and worthwhile service to the people who needed it most.

The second sentence refers to the failure to meet some of the "Key Performance Indicators", showing that the service needed to be improved, while the third sentence shows that there were reasons to show why these KPI's had not been met in the first year.

Given the positive impact of providing the service in its "start-up" year, it is difficult to understand why it was not given at least another year to make the improvements that were needed. Instead, the CCG's Executive recommended, and the Governing Body accepted, the following option:
'Not to extend the pilot but explore alternative sustainable models for care for example a peer support model with Brent Council or the use of the PAM tool can be explored to support this cohort of patients.'

It appears that the CCG wants to pass some of its own responsibility for (and cost of) the care of sickle cell sufferers onto Brent Council, whose services are already stretched, without consulting with or considering the needs of 'this cohort of patients'.
Nan Tewari, referring to the last paragraph, responded:
A fellow patient rep who attended the CCG meeting said afterwards, that the Brent Council public Health rep on the Governing Body said flatly that the council had no money to support a project.
This issue, which disproportionately affects Brent's Black Caribbean and Black African population, is one that could cause massive disaffection.  The CCG's decision needs to be reviewed, proper consultation put in place and an independent Equalities Impact Assessment carried out.

Incidence of sickle cell trait is approximately 1 in 4 West Africans and 1 in 10  Black Caribbean.

The Brent Patient Voice submission to the CCG can be found HERE

The Brent CCG Governing Body papers can be found HERE

The Grunwick strike began 40 years ago today: 'WE ARE THOSE LIONS' - commemoration events


From Grunwick40
It's an important day.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first moments of the Grunwick strike – and we're proud to announce our plans to commemorate it. 

We'll be running a series of inspiring, thought-provoking events exploring Grunwick and its legacy, launching with Grunwick Memories on Saturday 27 August.

Grunwick Memories is a free event, giving you the opportunity to explore and contribute to the Grunwick archive held by Brent Museum and Archives. Come along and take part in a story sharing session and add your memories and experiences of the strike to the Archive. You will also get an exclusive look at some of the materials that will feature in the upcoming exhibition.

Grunwick Memories will take place at Brent Archive, on the second floor of The Library at Willesden Green, Willesden High Road NW10 2SF, from 2-4 pm on Saturday 27 August. Please join us! Email museum.archives@brent.gov.uk or call 020 8937 3600 for more information.

Other upcoming events:
We are those lions: The story of the Grunwick strike 1976-78 exhibition, launching October 2016 at The Library at Willesden Green. Look out for the launch date – coming soon.
The Great Grunwick Mural unveiling, Chapter Road, NW10. Be the first to see our amazing murals in place near the original Grunwick site. The design and unveiling details are still under wraps, but we'll be revealing details over the next few weeks, along with the names of our special guests, who'll be providing music and entertainment.
Explore Grunwick in more detail at our November events, a film screening and discussion on “Race and the Unions” at SOAS, November 2nd, and Grunwick 40: The Conference, The Library at Willesden Green, November 26th – booking for these events will open in October.

Yours in solidarity,

Grunwick 40

PS: Don't miss out on the reissued anniversary edition of Grunwick: The Workers’ Story, by Jack Dromey and Graham Taylor, with an updated introduction – due out in late September.

Sufra NW London offer intensive 10 week catering training programme

From Mohammed S Mamdani, Director, Sufra NW London

Chef Ignacio is on a mission to recruit, train and find employment for 20 adults in the catering industry.

This autumn, Sufra NW London launches Food Academy Plus, which will transform the lives of people who are on a low-income or long-term unemployed. It’s an intensive 10-week programme, requiring a commitment of 24 hours each week, which will include all the training, coaching and support needed to find sustainable employment.

It’s our most exciting project ever (I know I’ve said that about everything we do, but seriously, it gets even more exciting every time!).

Across the programme, participants will learn professional cooking skills, project management skills and customer service. There will also be compulsory study sessions in numeracy, literacy and ICT, work experience in a professional restaurant at the London Designer Outlet – as well as the support of a mentor and employment coach throughout. There will be plenty of real-life experience, including setting up a food stall outside Brent Civic Centre.

The programme will end with a pop-up restaurant at Sufra NW London, where we will invite local employers to see the skills of our graduates first-hand and head-hunt for new chefs, waiters and restaurant staff.

As an incentive, participants will receive a free chef’s uniform, 3-month bus pass and access to all in-house support and opportunities available at Sufra NW London. That includes a discretionary fund, which is used to financially support vulnerable and/or low-income volunteers. It really gets better and better!

We’re making a huge investment in this programme, and Chef Ignacio has a little bit of the Gordon Ramsey about him. He takes no bullsh*t and is looking for committed people who really want to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

Interested candidates will need to complete an application form, which is available here. The deadline for applications is Thursday 22 September 2016 with interviews the following week.

VOLUNTEER: To support the programme, Chef Ignacio is looking for additional volunteers to assist with basic skills training in literacy, numeracy and ICT as well mentoring new recruits. You can find information on both roles here.

PROMOTE: If you work for a charity or community organisation, and would like us to come and present the opportunity to your service users or members, Paul and Karlem will be happy to come over for a chat.

What’s happening to the regular Food Academy programme?

It’s still happening. Chef Ignacio will continue to invest in the cookery skills of young people. If you’re aged under 19 years (and older than 12) expect to be astounded by Ignacio’s knife skills and his focaccia bread.

The course runs on Saturday mornings from 10am to 2pm for 5 weeks. At the end you’ll receive a recognised AQA certificate. You can register here.