Sunday, 26 March 2017

Grunwick 40 Exhibition just closed but keep the struggle going and perhaps display it yourselves

From Grunwick 40

The doors to the #wearethelions #Grunwick strike exhibition closed at 5pm today. As the record-breaking run ends, the Grunwick 40 team would like to thank everyone who made this exhibition possible: curator Poulomi Desai, designer Neelu Bhuman, artist Anna Ferrie, the staff at Brent Museum & Archives, Graham Taylor and Dr Sundari Anitha who gave generously of their time to assist with text and research, and the committee of volunteers who have put in over 18 months of unpaid and unseen work behind the scenes to make this entire project happen. All this couldn't have been possible without the financial support of the many individuals and trade union branches who donated to our crowdfunding appeal, very generously topped up by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Near Neighbours. Final thanks, of course, go to the actual strikers themselves, the lions who continue to inspire us with their courage and commitment.

For now, the exhibition will go into storage but we would love to see it travel around the country. If you have a space that may be suitable for displaying it please message us to discuss. The Grunwick story may be 40 years old but we hope its lessons and legacy will continue to resonate for generations to come.

'Remind me, please, who is our local Council meant to serve?' - Brent Council propaganda on Wembley Stadium condemned

Brent Council's celebratory announcement of the approval of the Wembley Stadium - Tottenham Hotsput planning application to increase the number of full capacity events at Wembley Stadium has drawn stinging criticism.

Cllr John Warren has written to fellow councillors:
Am I the only member appalled at the "celebratory " tone of the Your Brent piece on the Wembley Stadium / Spurs planning approval on the Brent website?

The piece mentions the "extensive consultation process, "but is completely silent on the results of that consultation! Our intelligence is then insulted by a quote from a Brent Council spokesman, who speaks about a " balance being struck." What balance?

It is complete propaganda...and why are we celebrating a decision which offends a very large number of our residents? The phrase "rubbing salt in the wound " springs to mind.

Cllr John Warren
On Friday Philip Grant on a comment on this  blog wrote:

It is sickening that, this morning, Brent Council's website has a banner headline celebrating Spurs being given full capacity use of Wembley Stadium, linked to a Council press release about the Planning Committee decision which does not mention the objections made by local residents and businesses:
Remind me, please, who is our local Council meant to serve?

... and then, to add insult to injury, at 1pm today the Council emailed me "Spurs are on their way to Wembley!", a copy of the latest "Your Brent" digital news-sheet, with the same banner headline celebrating the Planning Committee decision.

But this is a very distorted news report, because it makes no mention of the very valid objections put forward to the committee, by local people and some councillors on behalf of their residents.

It is as if the Council's press release reporting the decision was prepared before the Planning Committee meeting took place, which it probably was!

Philip Grant
This is the Council's statement. complete with an image of celebratory fountains, posted on its website on the evening of March 23rd - the day of the Planning Committee:
Temporary increase to full capacity events at Wembley Stadium approved
23 March 2017

An application from the FA/Wembley National Stadium Ltd to temporarily increase the number of full capacity events at Wembley Stadium has been agreed by Brent Council's Planning Committee this evening (March 23).

The decision, which follows an extensive consultation process, paves the way for 22 additional full capacity events for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club matches, of up to 90,000 fans to take place at the stadium between August 2017 and July 2018.

Under current rules there is no limit on the number of events that can be held at a maximum capacity of 51,000.

It is understood that Tottenham Hotspur are set to make the national stadium their temporary home while their new ground at White Hart Lane is developed.

Wembley had originally requested permission for an additional 31 full capacity events but this was reduced to 22 prior to the application coming to committee. The application has now been approved subject to a number of additional measures being put in place, including ones designed to deal with the impacts of increased numbers of people in the area. These include controlling parking and traffic, signage, street cleaning, event management and control of public safety including aspects such as alcohol sale and street trading. The Committee heard from objectors and the applicant before making their decision.

A Brent Council spokesperson said: "Wembley Stadium is a highly valued part of our borough bringing visitors from around the world. We are pleased that a balance has been struck between recognising the impact on local residents and businesses whilst enabling the Stadium to make good use of its facilities and support a London club to operate in the capital while their ground is being redeveloped."

"We look forward to working closely with the Stadium, the Football Association and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in the forthcoming year both on the management of events and their work in the local community that they outlined in their application."

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Hear what Brent residents and councillors said at the Planning Commitee on Wembley Stadium application

If you missed the Brent Planning Committee that approved Wembley Stadium/Tottenham's request for more high capacity events at Wembley Stadium you can get a flavour from the sound file below.

Speakers in order were:

Dr Ruth Kosmin, Barn Hill Residents' Asssociation and an economist (0.10)
Dr Michael Calderbank, Wembley Park Residents' Association (8.40)
Denise Cheong, Wembley Champions (15.00)
Niral Babla, Wembley High Road Business Association (25.14)
Fatema Karim-Khaku, Barn Hill Residents Association  and transport consultant (30.44)

Cllr Shafiq Choudhary (Barn Hill ward) (36.50)
Cllr Sam Stopp (Wembley Central ward) (43.40)

Cllr Ketan Sheth (59.50)
Cllr Muhammed Butt (102.12)

What you can do for Clean Air for Brent

From Transition Willesden

Clean Air for Brent is a coalition of local residents' groups, Transition Towns, Friends of the Earth and the Council to improve air quality in the borough.  We met earlier this week, and are keen to involve people in having their say on air quality in Brent and also on diesel vehicles, especially in view of the results from our pollution monitoring in October.

Last October we carried out air pollution monitoring in Willesden, Dollis Hill and Cricklewood, and found 7 out of 10 sites were above the EU legal limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), with Cricklewood Broadway being well over twice the limit (see maps here and here).  For more about the project see our online group.

Brent Council
 is consulting residents and businesses on its Air Quality Action Plan for the next 5 years.  You have until Thursday 30th March to add your comments. Please take a little time to read the plan and respond to the survey online here.  You can also email feedback to

If you have less time, please sign one or more of these petitions against diesel.  It is largely the increase in diesel vehicles that is having such an impact on the air we breathe:

-Ditch diesel in the UK by Friends of the Earth
-One directed at car companies from Greenpeace.
-You can also write to MEPs asking them to clean up vehicle testing.  They will be voting on this issue on 5th April.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Wembley Stadium 'Goliath' wins against local residents

Rob Davies did not receive notification that his request had been granted. The Chair refused a substitute from the same residents' association

Despite some excellent well-researched speeches by supporters of local umbrella group 'Wembley Champions', Barn Hill Residents' Association and Wembley High Road Traders' Association,  Brent Planning Committee tonight approved Wembley Stadium/Spurs planning application for 22 additional full capacity (91,000)  events per year with only one councillor voting against.

Earlier it had looked more evenly balanced when councillors asked some searching questions about the application and mitigation measures with Wembley Stadium often floundering in response. Councillors appeared to be very  doubtful of the benefits for local people and concerned about a capacity increase of some 60,000 spectators and the subsequent impact on traffic, train and bus over-crowding, littering and anti-social behaviour.

However after another confusion over whether the Committee could defer the decision, with the wrong legal advice being given at first to say they couldn't, there was a short break.  After the break they were informed that they could defer after all (this after a member of the public showed them a copy  of the law), but no councillor moved a motion to do so and a straight vote was taken  for or against the officer's  recommendation of approval.

Cllrs J Mitchell-Murray, Moher, Maurice, Long, Kabir and Agha all voted for the increase in the number of events and increased capacity despite all their early scepticism. Outgoing Kilburn councillor Cllr Pitruzzella, who had asked some challenging questions of the stadium team, was the only one to vote against. She will be a great loss to honest Brent politics.

Unusually written statements were read out from Cllr Muhammed Butt (he'd decided not to attend the meeting) and Cllr Ketan Sheth. Butt claimed that on balance the application would be good for local people.

Usually when non-committee councillors make representations, as was the case with Cllr Stopp and Cllr Choudhary, they are asked to declare any interest and reveal any approaches that have been made to them - this was not the case with the written statements.

Brent Palestine Day - Bridge Park - Saturday

Wembley Stadium's last minute lobby of Brent councillors with glossy PR brochure on planning application

If the David and Goliath nature of the battle between local residents and Wembley stadium over the increase in the number of events and increase in capacity proposed during Tottenham Hotspur's stay at the stadium needed any further it is exemplified by a brochure that Wembley stadium has sent to all Brent councillors and Alice Lester, David Glover and Chris Heather in the Brent Planning Department.

The Stadium has full-time advisers and public relations officers spearheading their campaign while residents rely on their own resources and campaign in the free time available after they have done their jobs.

In an email to councillors and officers, Chris Bryant, Wembley Stadium head of operations says:
I contacted you on 26 January 2017 regarding our proposals and planning application for Wembley Stadium to host Tottenham Hotspur Football Club during the 2017/18 season, to enable the development of their new ground in Tottenham to be completed.

Since that time Wembley Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur (THFC) have been through an extensive period of consultation and discussion with the local community, key stakeholders and your officers. The Council itself has sent out around 41,000 consultation letters.

During our discussions we have obtained a much better understanding of the impact on local residents and businesses that additional events at the Stadium will have. Some will be negative, others positive. We recognise there are aspects of the event day management that can be improved, including closer partnership working with the Council and THFC. We have also learnt from the European games THFC has recently played at Wembley.

Consequently, as well as reducing the total number of additional games sought during the temporary period (August 2017 to July 2018) from 31 to 22 in response to public, stakeholder and officer feedback, we have also discussed and agreed with officers an extensive package of mitigation measures for all the additional full capacity THFC events. Many of the initiatives included are in addition to our existing commitments, which are ongoing. These will be secured by a legal agreement.

In addition, THFC has outlined an extensive package of community measures, which will be delivered through the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation during its tenancy. The Foundation has already made a significant positive impact in Haringey, Enfield, Barnet and Waltham Forest, and would extend its programme to Brent residents for the coming year if THFC is hosted at Wembley.  Details of the agreed mitigation measures and the work of the Foundation are provided in the enclosed brochure for your information.

Wembley Stadium has valued the longstanding support of Brent Council since before even the initial bid for the new Stadium and associated local regeneration was made in the 1990s and we welcome the officer’s recommendation to grant planning permission.

We look forward to working with the Council and THFC over the coming year and beyond and will be asking the Planning Committee to support a temporary variation of the event cap. We ask you to please consider the enclosed information. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
Here is the brochure sent with the email:

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Still time to book for Thursday's 'Rich man - poor man' Sufra fundraising dinner

 Sufra NW London, the largest provider of emergency food aid in the London Borough of Brent, is organising a fundraising dinner with a twist – which could see local business leaders and dignitaries including the Leader of the Council and the Mayor of Brent, served a tin of baked beans for dinner!

At the Rich Man Poor Man – Gala Fundraising Dinner on Thursday 23 March at Brent Civic Centre, guests will be randomly designated as ‘Rich’ or ‘Poor’. ‘Rich’ guests will receive a luxurious 3-course meal prepared by award-winning caterer Greenleaf, whilst ‘Poor’ guests will be served a few tins from the food bank.

“The event is an opportunity to highlight the everyday reality of those who don’t have enough to eat. Poverty is indiscriminate and in an uncertain economic climate, even working families find themselves unable to afford the everyday cost of living,” said Mohammed Mamdani, Director of Sufra NW London.

The event will be co-hosted by Asad Ahmad (BBC London) and Fatima Manji (ITN News), with comedy by Imran Yusuf, in the presence of local celebrities living in and around Brent.

“In the last year, Sufra NW London has provided emergency food aid to nearly 4,000 people. Despite living in a welfare state, there are so many things that can go wrong. In these times of crisis, we are here to help,” added Mamdani.

The event is sponsored by MyLotto24, Quintain, Cygnet Properties, Beta Charitable Trust, Sisk Builders, Daniels Estate Agents, Segro, Oakray and Print Express, with donations from other local businesses. This funding means that all proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to the food bank, ensuring that the service can keep running for the coming year.

Tickets cost £40 for an individual and £350 for a table of 10 and can be purchased online at