|Outsdie Brent Civic Centre last night|
The girl had been scribbling away on one of the comments cards that had been distributed and onlookers assumed she was doodling out of sheer boredom. But then she took the microphone and gave an impassioned speech from her notes. She mentioned the hardship that would be caused to single and working parents, and how the closure of the Adventure Playground would mean there was nowhere for the community to mix, people would just stay in their flats and not let their children go out. She also mentioned CCTV cameras which she said aren¹t as necessary when young people have somewhere to go.
The councillors responded that at an earlier meeting the users of the Millennium Centre had spoken up for their centre in a similar way (thereby apparently implying it was pointless trying to argue from a human perspective)
Doug Lee from the Playground spoke about the six months that kids aren't at school, the length of time the playground has been in operation and the money Brent Play Association has raised on behalf of other groups in Brent (supplementary schools, CVS, Pakistani Workers Association to name just three)
Glynis Lee said that the council were saying 20% cuts to front-line services but Stonebridge Adventure Playground was getting a 100% cut. The cuts were going to decimate front-line services, whilst councillors sat in their glass tower taking a 20% rise and people in Brent were suffering.
Although Jo Coburn from BBC Politics, who chaired yesterday’s meetings for a fee of £2,500, wanted to get into the subject of where the cuts should be made, Glynis was having none of it.
She told the councillors they were elected by the people of Brent as Labour councillors and were doing the work of the Coalition. She asked, ‘how do you guys sleep at night?'
Deputy Leader Cllr Michael Pavey said they did have trouble sleeping but to not go ahead with these measures would be breaking the law and they weren't prepared to do that.
The Youth Parliament representatives also mentioned the increase in councillors' allowance and Butt responded they wanted to attract the best councillors and not just retired people or those with enough funds to do it.
People in the room also asked about proposals to work with the voluntary sector to continue to provide services in some way, and Anne O'Neil from Brent Mencap pointed out that the procurement process would hinder this unless it was vastly improved.
An important question was raised from the floor about the use of Section 106 money for communities affected by redevelopment. Cllr Butt answered this, unsatisfactorily according to some, implying that these funds just went into the general pot, and not to the respective communities.