Friday, 22 September 2017

Hear Rashid Nix on Crisis in the Community - Stonebridge Hub tonight

Tonight at the Stonebridge Centre Green Activist Rashid Nix is speaking about Crisis in the Community, as part of The Mind Cafe's Black Mental Health Matters Event.

Born and bred in South London, Rashid Nix's background in housing activism and youth mentoring represents a fresh perspective on London's issues. Rashid is down to earth and one of The Green Party's most engaging speakers, so if you can get there tonight (from 6.30pm) - entry is free.

The Stonebridge Centre.
Address. The Hub, 6 Hillside, Stonebridge, London, NW10 8BN

Preston Library 60s Film Night Saturday 30th September


African soldiers of the Great War - Kingsbury Library Sept 26th


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Brent CEO's Standards complaint against Cllr Duffy upheld but no apology made as yet

Brent Standards Committee will receive a report at its September 28th meeting on a complaint made by Brent Council's CEO, Carolyn Downs, and Cllr Liz Dixon against Cllr John Duffy (Labour, Kilburn ward)

The agenda item states:
 
Members’ Code of Conduct Complaint about Councillor John Duffy

In June and July 2017, the Council’s Chief Executive and Councillor Liz Dixon made a Members’ Code of Conduct complaint about Councillor John Duffy. The background to the complaint is recorded in the attached Decision Notice as is Councillor Duffy’s response, a discussion of the issues arising and the reasons for the Deputy Monitoring Officer’s decision.

The complaint about Councillor Duffy was upheld and by way of sanction it was recommended that:  

Councillor Duffy apologises to the Chief Executive;
- the decision notice be published on the Council’s website for 6 months; and - the decision be reported to this Committee.

Councillor Duffy did not exercise his right to request a review of the decision which is now final.

To date, Councillor Duffy has not apologised to the Chief Executive. The decision notice has been published on the Council’s website and this is the reporting of the complaint and the decision to this Committee.
 
MONITORING OFFICER DECISION NOTICE
Brent Members’ Code of Conduct Complaints about the conduct of Councillor John Duffy

The complaints

On 26 June 2017, the Council’s Chief Executive, Carolyn Downs, made a Members’ Code of Conduct complaint about Cllr John Duffy, Kilburn Ward. The complaint alleged that Cllr Duffy had breached the general principles of conduct, in particular, integrity and leadership and breached the following general obligations:
·      4(1): You must treat others with respect.
·      4(2)(b): You must not bully any person.
·      4(2)(e): You must not make frivolous, vexatious or repeated complaints against another member or an officer of the Council.
·      5: You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the Council into disrepute. The Code of Conduct amplifies the general principles of integrity and leadership in the following terms:
·      Integrity: You should not place yourself in situations where your integrity may be questioned, should not behave improperly and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.
·      Leadership: You should promote and support these principles by leadership, and by example, and should act in a way that secures or preserves public confidence.  

The factual and evidential bases of the complaint is an email sent by Cllr Duffy on 26 June 2017 to the Chief Executive and all councillors criticising the Chief Executive. The broader context is as follows. On 26 June 2017 at 15:01, the Chief Executive sent an email to the Mayor giving her advice regarding a request for an extraordinary meeting of the Full Council in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The Chief Executive advised on the legal and constitutional rules, explained the procedure for calling an extraordinary/special meeting and set out the options and possible permutations. The Chief Executive also mentioned the member drop in session which had been arranged and suggested that the discussion of this very important topic could take place at a scheduled meeting of Full Council on 10 July 2017 - which had been in all members’ diaries for some time - and that normal rules could be suspended to enable a fuller and longer discussion. The email stated that “Clearly the decision to have the meeting before the 10/07/17 is your decision but I thought it transparent to share with all Councillors my advice to you.”. Accordingly, when sending her email to the Mayor, the Chief Executive copied in all other councillors. Shortly afterwards at 15:36, in his email reply (also copying in all councillors), the Mayor thanked the Chief Executive for her helpful advice and expressed his agreement. The Mayor, however, confirmed that: “If 5 councillors sign a requisition asking me to call an extraordinary meeting I will consider their request very carefully before making my decision.” 


Cllr Duffy initially replied by email at 16:21 (also copying in all councillors) and then re-sent his email at 16:29. In substance, the emails are virtually identical: the second email inserted a few more words which are immaterial to my decision. For ease of reference, I have re- produced below the actual content of Cllr Duffy’s second email with the additions underlined.
“The CEO behaviour is disgraceful and out of touch with reality.She says it’s not her decision but clearly she is trying to manipulated the Mayor and the situation. 

She is well aware there was more than enough members support for a special meeting but she has decided to ignore that. 

The Labour group should not stand by while she swans off to “gold”
(Personally I do not think they are doing a good job , the evacuation in Camden was a shambles)telling everybody else what to do , while she neglects Brent residents and thinks a bosses bulletin will suffice for our residents and local councillors Her first loyalty should be to Brent . 

Disgraceful behaviour and what I have come to expect from this CEO who is out of touch with Brent residents and seeks to enhance her own reputation instead allowing Brent residents information”.
The reference to “gold” in Cllr Duffy’s email is to the Chief Executive participating in the London-wide emergency support provided to Kensington and Chelsea Council following the Grenfell Tower fire. 

Given that these email exchanges lie at the heart of this complaint, they are appended to this decision in full. 

On 1 July Cllr Liz Dixon also made a complaint about Cllr Duffy email. Cllr Dixon complained that:
“In an apparent attempt to make representations on behalf of his residents Cllr John Duffy has made a number of widely distributed disparaging remarks about the personal and professional integrity of Brent’s Chief Executive, Carolyn Downs. In doing so, Cllr Duffy also publicly belittled the importance and effectiveness of London’s Gold Command structure and process. While Cllr Duffy has every right to make representations, and is free to speak critically in holding Brent Council to account, on this occasion his disreputable behaviour has fallen below the expected standard and as such Labour Group Executive is taking this action. This complaint is made on the basis of comments made in the attached emails which we believe to be entirely unwarranted, defamatory, malicious and vexatious.”
On 3 July 2017, the Chief Executive also complained about a further chain of emails between Cllr Duffy and officers (and copied to all councillors) which she felt demonstrates vexatiousness. The email exchanges concern an additional briefing session arranged for Members on fire safety in Brent. In his exchanges on 29 June 2017, Cllr Duffy, amongst other things, made further critical remarks about the Chief Executive’s advice to the Mayor. For example, “...it proves her strategy of kicking everything to the 11th was flawed...”; “Why did she change her mind, was it because before the ink was dry on her email stopping a special meeting the facts were becoming clear that her decision was wrong and was unravelling in front of her” and “The CEO had decided not to have a special meeting and the Mayor and some other councillors support it and now we are in a mess and we look like we have something to hide”. Cllr Duffy copied all other councillors as well as other members of the Corporate Management Team into his email.

The response

In his initial response to the Monitoring Officer, Cllr Duffy reaffirmed his criticisms of “Gold”. For example, “I do not think Gold are doing a good job, you cannot make me say they are. They are useless and need to get their act together and start relating to the victims in K +C.”

Cllr Duffy also repeated his criticisms of the Chief Executive. For example, “The CEO made no attempt to contact me before she cancel the meeting....”, and “She mislead Councillors saying I had not enough Councillors knowing that I had”

Cllr Duffy also claimed that the Monitoring Officer was not impartial. 

In a subsequent response to the Monitoring Officer, Cllr Duffy said “I honestly do not care, what you do as I think the CEO behaviour is out of control and she believes because she wares a gold badge at meetings she is above dealing with local Councillors and residents 

It is clearly is no use complaining about her, as it will be you who will deal with complaint. You and the CEO have sought to misuse your powers to curtail debate.”.

The issues

Under section 27(1) of the Localism Act 2011, the Council has a duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members and co-opted members of the Council. Enforcing the general principles and obligations set out in the Code of Conduct is key to discharging this important statutory duty. 

In accordance with the Council’s complaints procedure, the Monitoring Officer carried out an initial assessment of the complaints and found that they fall within the scope of the Code of Conduct. Cllr Duffy’s emails clearly relate to Council business and ward matters and it is equally clear that he was acting in his capacity as a councillor. 

My determination of the complaints are set against the following legal and political background.
Councillors are entitled to criticise officers and their decisions and, depending on the circumstances, do so publicly and robustly. Criticism does not in itself amount to bullying or failing to treat someone with respect. Councillors are also entitled to challenge officers as to why they hold their views and officers can reasonably expect to be held accountable for their views, decisions and actions. However, if criticism is a personal attack or of an offensive nature, it is likely to cross the line of what is acceptable behaviour. Similarly, unwarranted comments which undermine public confidence in the administration of local government affairs and/or impair the mutual trust and confidence between members and officers are unlikely to be acceptable. 

Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour. Such behaviour may happen once or be part of a pattern of behaviour. Amongst other things, bullying behaviour attempts to undermine an individual. 

When a Code of Conduct complaint concerns something a member is alleged to have said or written (as in this case), a finding of breach will only be lawful if it fully respects the important right to freedom of expression enjoyed by members of local authorities in the interests of effective local democracy. 

My decision has accorded due respect to Cllr Duffy’s fundamental right to freedom of expression. 

This right has a long tradition in our common law and was embedded in domestic statute law by the Human Rights Act 1998. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that: 

“1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it
duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention
of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for
the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.” 

This includes a right to express views which others may find objectionable or even offensive. Further, comments which constitute political expression attract an enhanced level of protection under Article 10. There are limits however. And the right itself is limited and not absolute which means it has to be balanced against the duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members. Further, the right has to be balanced against competing rights such as the Article 8 right to private life etc. which includes the protection of the reputation of others.

The decision

In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct Complaints Procedure, before deciding the outcome of this complaint, I consulted the Council’s Independent Person and have taken her views into account. 

Cllr Duffy’s reaction to the Chief Executive’s advice was entirely without justification. The Chief Executive had stated the legal and constitutional rules accurately. And the rules had been applied correctly: at the time of writing, a request for an extraordinary meeting of Full Council had been received from 4 members only (i.e. not 5); in any event, the request had not been signed by the members and was not accompanied by a notice of the motion to be debated at the meeting as required by the constitution. The advice was balanced, set out the options and stated in clear terms that the decision had to be made by the Mayor. The advice was also given transparently. 

Against that background, the allegation (which was stated twice) that the Chief Executive’s behaviour was “disgraceful” and that she was trying to manipulate the Mayor and the situation was unacceptable. As was the suggestion that “The Labour group should not stand by while she [the Chief Executive] swans off to “gold”” and the accusation that the Chief Executive “seeks to enhance her own reputation”. 

Cllr Duffy’s response was an unreasonable and excessive personal attack. These comments are unequivocally and deliberately offensive, disparaging and defamatory. Although I acknowledge that the Grenfell Tower fire is an emotive issue and feelings were running high at the time, the comments I have referred to amount to an unjustified attack of a personal nature and do not concern fire safety issues. 

In my view, those aspects of Cllr Duffy’s email crossed the line and failed to treat the Chief Executive with respect and brought his office and the Council into disrepute. This is especially so because Cllr Duffy copied all other councillors into his email. This amounts to breach of obligations 4(1) and 5 of the Code of Conduct as well as the obligation to maintain a high standard of conduct and, in particular, the principles of integrity and leadership (see para. 3). 

I am also satisfied that the email Cllr Duffy sent on 26 June 2017 in overall terms either by itself, or when read in conjunction with his email exchanges on 29 June 2017, is vexatious and unjustifiably offensive and bullying in nature. The persistent and targeted criticisms of the Chief Executive in emails which were sent to all other councillors and senior officers have no reasonable foundation, were intended to undermine the Chief Executive and have a harassing effect. 

This amounts to breach of obligations 4(2)(b) and 4(2)(e) of the Code of Conduct as well as the obligation to maintain a high standard of conduct and, in particular, the principles of integrity and leadership (see para. 3). 

For these reasons, I am satisfied that my findings of breach are a necessary and proportionate interference with Cllr Duffy’s right to freedom of expression. The Council has an important statutory duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct by members and the serious, deliberate and unfounded accusations of wrongdoing which Cllr Duffy repeated and disseminated to others crossed the line and amount to an unreasonable and excessive personal attack. In addition, such an attack on the Chief Executive, without consequence, could expose other officers to similar treatment.
Further, the unfounded accusations of manipulating and misleading others and acting out of self-interest and other such personal attacks do not attract the higher level of protection that political expression does. Alternatively, even if they did, the findings of breach would still be necessary and proportionate in all the circumstances. 

For completeness, I note that Cllr Duffy was also disparaging about “gold” and made other criticisms of the Chief Executive being “out of touch” and neglecting Brent residents. As set out above, Cllr Duffy has a fundamental right to hold opinions on these matters and to express those opinions. As a matter of law, I do not have to agree with or approve of Cllr Duffy’s comments in order to respect his fundamental right to make such comments. 

Cllr Duffy has not disputed that he sent the emails the subject of the complaints under consideration. In any event, I am satisfied that there are no factual issues which need investigating before a decision can be made because the meaning of the emails which has caused offence and the context is clear. For these reasons, I have been able to conclude that there has been a clear breach of the Code of Conduct without an investigation.

The sanction

I recommend that Cllr Duffy apologises to the Chief Executive within 5 working days of the end of the period for requesting a review of my decision. 

This decision notice will also be published on the Council’s website for 6 months and will be formally reported to the Standards Committee. 

I am satisfied that these measures are proportionate to the clear and serious breaches of the Code of Conduct by Cllr Duffy. 

In accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct Complaints Procedure, as far as the complainants are concerned my decision is final and there is no right of appeal or right of internal review against my decision. 

As far as Cllr Duffy is concerned, he may request in writing within 10 working days of receiving this decision notice that the Monitoring Officer review my decision that he breached the Code of Conduct and/or the sanction imposed. The reasons for requesting a review must be given and any new supporting documentation provided. 

LOOQMAN DESAI
 
DEPUTY MONITORING OFFICER, BRENT COUNCIL



Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Clarification on recent press coverage of our '1.5 degrees' paper in Nature Geoscience

The authors of the recent report that received wide media coverage today, including on the Radio 4 Today programme, have issued the following clarification LINK


A number of media reports have asserted that our recent study in Nature Geoscience indicates that global temperatures are not rising as fast as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and hence that action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is no longer urgent.

Both assertions are false.

Our results are entirely in line with the IPCC’s 2013 prediction that temperatures in the 2020s would be 0.9-1.3 degrees above pre-industrial (See figures 2c and 3a of our article which show the IPCC prediction, our projections, and temperatures of recent years).

What we have done is to update the implications for the amount of carbon dioxide we can still emit while expecting global temperatures to remain below the Paris Climate Agreement goal of 1.5 degrees. We find that, to likely meet the Paris goal, emission reductions would need to begin immediately and reach zero in less than 40 years’ time.

While that is not geophysically impossible, to suggest that this means that measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are now unnecessary is clearly false.

Authors: 

This opinion piece reflects the views of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Oxford Martin School or the University of Oxford. Any errors or omissions are those of the author.

22 storey block incorporating a pub to replace The Boat in Alperton

The Boat (Pleasure Boat) as was
As planned

Plans revealed at today's consultation propose the replacement of the two storey 'The Boat' public house in Alperton by a 22 storey block incorporating a replacement pub and 'affordable' workspaces.

The joint venture between developers and Heineken includes 99 'affordable' homes with parking for 6 disabled Blue Badge holders only.

Brent Council would  achiueve £1.5m planning gain.

Today's consultation ends at 8pm this evening. The second consultation session is Thursday September 21st  3.30pm-8pm at Brent Play Association, Peppermint Point, Alperton

Out of sight, out of mind: Voices from Cricklewood on PSPO’s

Guest post by Scott Bartle, Brent Green Party

Resistance to poverty

Guest post by Scott Bartle

 
In March, Cllr Tom Miller, Brent Labour’s ‘Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities’ announced in the local newspaper a £2million splurge on CCTV and expansion of the use of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs). 

This week, it was announced that the council has extended the PSPO ‘borough-wide’, with further claims from Cllr Miller of obtaining the ability to:
“create a borough that residents feel safe and protected in, and the introduction of this borough-wide PSPO will boost our efforts to get rid of street drinking and anti-social behaviour in Brent, whilst making sure that those who need help for substance abuse are given the support they need” LINK
Protection Orders (PSPOs) were created under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and allow councils to criminalise, non-criminal behaviour. Where Anti Social Behaviour Orders (Abs's), introduced 16 years earlier in 1998 (under the Crime and Disorder Act) were directed at individuals, the PSPOs are zonal and cover anyone within them.

PSPO’s are instead selected as a means to tackle called ‘undesirable or antisocial behaviour’, as they require less consultation than byelaws and are easier to enforce. A breach in a byelaw requires a trip to court & to be proven ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, whereas breach of a PSPO is determined merely by a ‘reasonable belief’. There is also limited scope to scrutinise or challenge a PSPO despite their use to target minority or vulnerable groups and curtail their human rights. 

Cricklewood Consultation 

Last year Brent Council offered a consultation on extending the use of PSPOs as a ‘crime reduction initiative’ around Chichele Road in Cricklewood. On this occasion, the target of the PSPO were people congregating on a road seeking work at a place where there was this tradition for nearly 150 years. Historically these were Irish people, but a recent Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) suggested it was now people originating from Eastern Europe. Those who offered people work were from a variety of backgrounds, including British, Asian, Eastern European and others. 
The results of the consultation indicated that a whopping 91.67% of people strongly agreed / agree with extension of the the PSPO scheme. This left only 4.17% of people who strongly disagreed / disagree with it continuing. As such, the Labour run council, in disservice to the origins of its party name voted for an extension of the PSPO with a nonchalance for workers best placed within an England of a century ago.
“We are not concerned with the very poor. They are unthinkable, and only to be approached by the statistician or the poet.” E.M Forster (Howards End, 1910).  
Lies, dammed lies and statistics 

As with most statistics, the devils in the detail and its noteworthy the 4.17% who responded and strongly disagreed, were actually only one person (myself). This left only 23 people who strongly agreed to the scheme and agreed with the proposals. 14 of these people left comments and it is these voices of Cricklewood that are worthy of further examination. 

Voices from Cricklewood
  1. Male, aged 25–34 identifying as Asian British / Pakistani
“It’s necessary. This whole thing about people picking up casual workers causes the roads to get blocked as well during times of high traffic and this can cause buses to be delayed. It’s also problematic when the people looking for work just stand on the pavements and are in the way of people trying to walk and get somewhere. Really, this PSPO should be a permanent thing” 
This person’s concerns related to public infrastructure, claims that people seeking work were responsible for bus delays and the use of pavements. 

2. Male, aged 45–54 identifying as Mixed/Dual heritage, White & Asian.
“I have heard too many local anecdotes from neighbours that there are still too many instances of casual workers causing public disturbances in the local area.”
The definition of anecdote is ‘accounts regarded as unreliable or hearsay’. For many, rush hour for most people is a time of public disturbance. 

3. Female, aged 35–44 who did not wish to disclose ethnicity
“I don’t think its safe when I see large group of casual workers coming off a coach or waiting to be picked up on the road” 
This person felt scared upon witnessing the demographics of casual workers. It is unsaid if this is a fear of men, or a fear of particular men (i.e. people from eastern Europe). Yet, perhaps conflating the behaviour of a small minority of violent men with all men or people from Europe. 

4. Male, 55–64 identifying as White British
“It should be applied wherever and to the extent necessary.”
No qualifications but to the ‘extent necessary’, might be everything or nothing. 

5. Male, 45–55, identifying as White British. 
“I think this is important to continue to help improve the safety of people in the area”
This person cites safety which is relational to an unspecified danger. Is this person also scared of men or just ‘mostly Eastern European men’? 

6. Male, 55–64, identifying as White British
“What needs to be stopped is groups (almost exclusively male) of people continually and regularly gathering and drinking on the streets (particularly Cricklewood Broadway & Cricklewood Lane (particularly on the grassed area outside B&Q)”
This person identifies ‘street-drinkers’ as a problem, which is nothing to do with workers on Chichele Road. As detailed earlier, ‘street-drinking’ is an indicator of other social problems.

7. Male, 55–63, identifying as White British 
“This has to be kept going to safeguard surrounding areas as well as Cricklewood. Thank you.”
‘Safeguarding’ occurs a response to a perception of risk, danger or fear. 

8. Female, 35–44, identifying as White British
“I would be very grateful if this were extended. I am a woman who lives on (a nearby) road and used to feel very intimidated by the often large groups of men congregating on the corner of Sheldon Road and Chichele Road and stopped walking down Sheldon Road as a result. Since the PSPO order came into effect, the sizes of the groups has reduced and I feel able to use the road again”.
This person felt intimidated by ‘large groups of men’, over-estimating danger?

9. Male, 45–54, identifying as Mixed / Dual Heritage.
“It’s really important to have this in place and enforced properly. The gangs of men who still gather there are very off putting to the local residents and businesses. And note they still gather there despite the order currently in force.”
This person highlights the PSPO as ineffective, but wishes to prevent people or ‘business’ from experiencing ‘off-putting’ or unpleasant feelings. 

10. Female, 45–54, identifying as White British
“There are still large numbers of men waiting on the corner of Sheldon and Chichele Roads for large parts of the day. I haven’t seen any evidence of them being moved on by the police.”
Another person reports that the PSPO has been ineffective. 
11. Female, 35–44, identifying as White British
“I would still like something to be done about rough sleepers in Gladstone Park. I would also suggest that casual labourers are not the only source of ‘antisocial behaviour’ in Cricklewood. We are subject to near weekly racist abuse as Muslims on Cricklewood Broadway and in Gladstone Park — I do not walk in the park alone with my kids any more and have not done so for over 6 years because every time I went someone said something offensive to me. I am English. I am local. I do not feel safe or comfortable on Cricklewood’s streets. Please do something about this.”
A local woman who doesn’t feel safe on Cricklewood streets or Gladstone Park because of regular abuse relating to their religion, perhaps as a consequence of wider societal issues. 

12. Female, 55–64, identifying as White British
Without the PSPO in Cricklewood it is intimidating trying to walk in the area because of the large groups of migrants loitering looking for work. They also hang around the street corners at the weekend but when there is no work, drinking and loitering and it is not pleasant.
Here the fear of ‘large groups’ has been specified as ‘migrants’, indicating support for a PSPO based upon wider negative societal attitudes. ‘Loitering’ is an interesting term as its defined as ‘without purpose’ yet these people at Chichele road were ‘looking for work’.

13. Male, 55–64, who did not wish to disclose ethnicity.
“Please extend to include undesirables, loitering dealing in questionable substance on the street”.
This person does not specify the ‘undesirables’ and those ‘dealing in questionable substance’ are by definition not the people looking for work. 

14. Female, 45–54, identifying as White British.
Situation better but still not cured. Can be very intimidating to walk along the pavement where these people gather. Please extend the PSPO
This person, whilst supporting the PSPO indicates that its use has been ineffective. This person wishes for a PSPO to solve intimidation and fear of people gathering. 

In summary 

The intention of the PSPO was to prevent people congregating on a road seeking work, at a place where people have done so for nearly 150 years. Yet the voices from Cricklewood introduced us to people in fear of ‘men, migrants or groups of people’ as well as ‘loiterers’ and ‘undesirables’. The voices of Cricklewood sought for the the PSPO to be used as a a mechanism ‘where-ever’ for the benefit of ‘business’ to tackle social problems ranging from ‘drinking’ to ‘racism’ on ‘hearsay’. Yet similar to ‘crackdowns’ from time immemorial on other societal ills such as ‘gambling’, ‘drugs’ or ‘prostitution’, voices of Cricklewood identified that the PSPO was ineffective. 

So what to do? 

Across the country, from Newcastle down to, Brighton, Exeter or Hackney The Green Party have been vocal in their objection to PSPOs. This is because CCTV & PSPOs merely displace social issues & criminalise people who are of minority groups or are vulnerable. 

The voices from Cricklewood indicated a number of people feeling scared and intimidated walking around their local streets. Yet, the people themselves identified that these issues were wider than people seeking work. Racist or religious abuse are considered hate crimes, yet despite government initiatives reports of hate crime are said to be increasing. Societal issues can’t be tackled by a PSPO anymore than they could be tackled by an ASBO. 

If we take the current headline example of ‘street-drinking’, In guidance produced for Police Commissioners, Mark Ward of Alcohol Concern highlighted that ‘Street drinking’ is often an indicator of other problems.At the end of August, Brent Food Bank told the Brent and Kilburn Times that provision of food for people in poverty has increased by 200% in 3 years. Shelter reported a there are millions only one pay check away from not paying their mortgage or rent. Understandable, given average rents in Brent are 75% of average earnings and homelessness has doubled between 2009 and 2014. In addition, Brent has the 13th highest rate of unemployment in the country.

People will need to seek work to get money and support their families and the ‘men’ or ‘migrants’ of Chichele road are no different. Others, might understandably struggle with the pressures that society places upon them and turn to ‘street-drinking’ or end up homeless. In cold weather, Alcohol Concern report that the people ‘street-drinking’ do so because they are homeless. 

The common thread of what does work to help ‘street drinkers’, according to best practice relates to the building of trusting relationships. Coercion in any relationship can be toxic and it is understood that legal coercion, such as that occurring as a consequence of PSPOs aggravate factors associated with social exclusion and undermine individual motivation to change.

Claims such as that made by Cllr Miller above, that people should be criminalised for their own support or protection is an example of what sociologist John J Rodger describes as the criminalisation of social policy. It is evidence of a neoliberal philosophy in action, where the criminal justice system and its associated sanctions are used in place of social welfare. Furthermore, placing people at risk of a criminal record and a £1000 fine as offered by a PSPO burdens people with more problems to get back on track.

If the problem is people congregating for work: how about provision of somewhere safe to do so? If the problem is littering (which is classified as anti-social behaviour in the ‘crime’ figures) then is it not the councils responsibility to provide bins? If roads are congested, isn’t Transport for London & the cities infrastructure under shared ownership?

If a report in the paper was true that people were ‘defecating’ or ‘urinating’ outside, how about Cllr’s remembering that the provision of public toilets is vital public service. Brent is similar to other Councils across the country who do not see toilets as a priority. Brent has a mere 12 public toilets listed that do not include Library’s leisure centres or the civic centre. Yet its not just these workers who are affected, its older people and those with disabilities.

If we recognise a theme of all of these issues relates to poverty, then its time to vote for a political party that will offer a basic income. In the meantime, this borough-wide PSPO needs to be scrapped as criminalising people affected by the poor decisions of government is not a proportionate response. Especially given, the Cricklewood Consultation indicated that implementation of the ‘borough-wide PSPO’ may in part be based upon both fear of and negative societal attitudes towards people perceived as ‘migrants’.