Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Fascist graffiti removed from railway footbridge at Gladstone Park

The fascist graffiti that was painted on the railway footbridge bridge linking Kendall Road and Gladstone Park has been painted out ahead of the community 'paint out' that had been planned for 5pm this evening.  LINK

As I understand it Network Rail had also undertaken to remove it but a local resident beat them to it.

A clear message to  fascist individuals or groups that they are not welcome here.

Have you say on how Brent Council allocates social housing to those on the waiting list

King's Drive Estate, Wembley this morning
Brent Council is consulting on how social housing is allocated to people on the housing waiting list. This is what they say:
Residents are being invited to have their say on how the council allocates social housing in Brent.

The council is launching a consultation that asks people to give their views on the criteria for distributing the limited number of social houses currently available.

Brent is proposing changes to ensure that social housing is shared out fairly to people in need. These changes include a proposal to give residents in temporary accommodation priority for social housing that becomes available on the estate where they are living, so that they don't have to move neighbourhoods. Another change looks at giving priority to homeless families living in temporary accommodation on an estate that is being regenerated to move into social housing within the same area.

The full list of proposed changes is available online here. The consultation will end on 22 January 2019, ahead of the Cabinet decision's in March with the agreed changes then set to begin in April.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: "It's really important that social housing is distributed fairly given the chronic shortage of genuinely affordable homes in Brent. We are asking for as many views as possible. These changes impact everyone on the waiting list.

"We do have ambitious plans to build more homes in Brent, but these changes work with the limited supply of homes that we have available to us right now."

Brent last reviewed how it allocated social housing in November 2014 and made changes to its scheme in January 2015.
Detailed proposals are not available until you actually start the process of filling in the on-line consultation AVAILABLE HERE  so I have reproduced them below:

To see all the options click on 'read more' below.

Monday, 12 November 2018

The stress & strains of being a GP - 'Who would be doctor?' Brent Patient Voice Debate November 15th 7pm Learie Constantine Centre

Dear Brent Patient Voice members and friends
“Who would be a doctor?” is the topic of our public meeting and debate on Thursday 15th November next at the Learie Constantine Centre, 40-47 Dudden Hill Lane, NW10 2ET at 7pm (refreshments from 6.30)

We are focussing on the strains and stresses facing GPs. They are our first and principal port of call when we need to access NHS services. Yet

  • Practices are merging or closing;
  • Workload problems are leading to burnout or early retirement;
  • The NHS wants GPs to do more to relieve the load on hospitals;
  • Plans to boost GP numbers are way off target;
  • Few GPs welcome extra admin and new organisational structures.
What are the answers?
  • Will switching to digital help reduce workload?
  • What does Primary Care Home mean for doctors and patients?
  • How do new roles such as healthcare assistants, community pharmacists and nurse practitioners fit in?

We are fortunate to have recruited highly qualified speakers to lead our debate. They are Dr MC Patel, new Chair of Brent Clinical Commissioning Group, and long-serving Brent GP, and Dr Pauline Foreman, Medical Director for Practice Support at the Royal College of General Practitioners, and also a GP in Hertfordshire.

We look forward to seeing you on 15th November. Please take this as notice of our AGM from 7 to 7.20pm that day, including reports, minutes and elections to the Steering Group. We urgently need someone to manage our communications and mailshots like this one. Please contact me at robisharp@gmail.com if you can help. I can also supply a flyer for this meeting if you can put up one in your surgery etc.

With best wishes

Robin Sharp
Chair BPV

Respond to Barnet's plans for West Hendon Playing fields at consultation meeting tomorrow

Although in Barnet the West Hendon Playing Fields are also a resource for Brent residents. You may wish to contribute to the consultation.


Public drop-in session at the West Hendon Community Hub Tuesday 13th November. You can come and look at the draft masterplan and provide feedback. The session times are:

10.30am – 12.30pm
3.15pm – 7.00pm.

Gadwall House, Perryfield Way
Hendon, Barnet,
The Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy (SLC) has been appointed to undertake an appraisal of the options available to Barnet Council for the development and creation of a sports hub with associated community facilities at West Hendon Playing Fields

From Barnet Counci:
In line with the strategies' recommendations, the council has appointed The Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy (SLC) to undertake an appraisal of the options available to the council for the development and creation of a sports hub with associated community facilities at West Hendon Playing Fields.

Give us your views
Please give us your views on the options by completing the online questionnaire(External link). We welcome responses from everyone including organisations interested in the future development of these sites. We would also like to hear the views of people from outside the London Borough of Barnet area.
To request a questionnaire in an alternative format, please:
  • email: nicola.cross@barnet.gov.uk,
  • telephone 020 8359 7404, or
  • write to us at: Greenspaces, London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London, N11 1NP.
How we will use your feedback
SLC will use the results of the engagement to inform the development of an options appraisal report for consideration by the council. This will lead to the development of a draft master plan for the delivery of the preferred option, which will be the subject of further engagement later in the year. Amendments will be made as necessary to the draft master plan following this further engagement, and it will be brought to a meeting of the Environment Committee. Subject to the outcome of this meeting a full public consultation on the final master plan will then take place.
Detailed information HERE

Your neighbourhood turned upside down? Have your say on new Brent Local Plan

Brent Council has opened cosultation on the Brent Local Plan Preferred Options. It is a highly detailed document detailing possible developments  in Brent divided into stages of 0-5 years, 5-10 years and more than 10 years.

The borough is divided into 7 'places' (Central, North, North West, South, South East, South West). The main growth areas with far-reaching proposals are in Central (Wembley Central and Wembley Park). South East (Cricklewood, Willesden Green, Kilburn, South Kilburn) and North West (Kenton, Preston and Northwick Park).

Wherever you live in Brent you may be surprised that redevelopment of familiar buildings or areas is on the agenda. For example in Central (Wembley) ASDA, Kwikfit and The Torch pub on the corner of Forty Lane and Bridhe Road are included. Both sites of the College of North West London in Wembley Park and Dudden Hill will be freed up by a move to a new building in Wembley. Along with the college in Wembley Park the shopping centre next door (Curry's etc) and McDonalds are due for redevelopment. In South Kilburn the sites of Carlton Vale Primary and Kilburn Park Primary will be up for development if the schools move to a new site as well as all the planned redevelopment of the remaining blocks on the estate.

The document gives a list of developments that are on stream as well as possibilities. This is a list of residential developments in Wembley Park already given planning permission.

Northwick Park (above) is the main development site in North West Place:

There is potential for some tall buildings, subject to being a high quality design. These should respond to the height of the existing hospital buildings, stepping down towards the MOL (Metropolitan Open Land) and areas to the north. The appropriate height, extent and location of buildings will be identified within a masterplan for the site. Consideration will need to be given to the site’s location next to MOL to ensure that there is no inappropriate impact on its setting. Part of the site also falls within the Ministry of Defence (MOD) safeguarding zone for RAF Northolt, in which the MOD will need to be consulted if development is over a certain height
– 15.2m for development that occurs within the boundaries of the University of Westminster Campus and the majority of the hospital campus, and 45.7m for the hospitals eastern car parks and residential accommodation.

Furthermore, there is an area of green space located to the rear of the student accommodation, which has an open space designation. Whilst it might be appropriate through the masterplanning and development process to relocate or disaggregate this open space, overall no net loss will be acceptable. This will be in addition to satisfying the urban greening requirements and providing sufficient children’s play space, in line with London Plan policies G5 and S4. Running adjacent to the site’s southern boundary is the Capital Ring. Development should not impact upon the functionality of the Capital Ring, and should seek its enhancement wherever possible.
Interestingly Chancel House, the former DWP building in Neasden Lane, is ear-marked for a 6 form entry secondary school and college.  As the local authority is not allowed to provide new schools this will be a free school unless a Labour government, committed to not creating any new academies or free schools (policy is not absolutely clear), is elected.

I do urge readers to look at the document in full because it is impossible to cover all the details in this article. These are proposals that will transform your neighbourhood over the next 10 years.

Consultation events (Booking required unless drop-in)
Tuesday 20 November, 7pm-9pm
Thursday 29 November, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Wednesday 5 December, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Thursday 13 December, 6.30pm-8.30pm

Drop-in Session
Granville Centre, 140 Carlton Vale, , NW6 5HE
Monday 26 November 2018, 12noon-4pm
Brent Civic Centre, Engineer’s Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ
Tuesday 4 December, 11am-3pm
Ealing Road Library, Coronet Parade, Ealing Road, Wembley, HA0 4BA
Monday 17 December, 4pm-8pm
Kingsbury Temple, Kingsbury Road, London, NW9 8AQ
Wednesday 19 December, 4pm-8pm

The quickest way of giving your comments is by completing the online survey. HERE
Alternatively you can email us or send Brent Council your comments by post by using the addresses below. When responding by e-mail or post, please use the Local Plan Consultation Response Form and set out clearly the page number, paragraph, policy, figure or image your comment relates to.

Email: planningstrategy@brent.gov.uk

Post: Paul Lewin, Team Leader Planning Policy, Brent Council, Engineers’ Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ
The deadline for responses is 5pm on Thursday 3 January 2019.

 Full Option document. Click on bottom right corner for full size version.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Fascist graffiti reappears near Gladstone Park - help community paint it out!

Graffiti on the railway bridge linking Kendal Road and Gladstone Park
Ariel view of the bridge
Local residents spotted fascist graffiti today on the Kendal Road railway bridge that crosses over into Gladstone Park.

This follows an earlier episode when racist and fascist graffiti was found near Jewish homes in the area. LINK

That graffiti was removed by loacl people in a clean up and similar action will be taken regarding the swastika above.  On Tuesday evening at 5pm local people and anti-racist actvists will don rubber gloves and bring paint and brushes to get rid of this unwelcome sign of the presence of fascist sympathisers in our midst. Meet at the bridge.

An organiser of the 'paint out' said:
Our community is saddened and angered that fascist graffiti has again appeared in our happy multicultural area. We are going to paint it out in a show of our strength. We won’t be divided by hate!
These stickers have also appeared in the area:

The NSZ (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne - National Armed Forces was an anti-Nazi and Anti-Soviet Polish resistance movement often accused of anti-Semitism although that has been challenged as Soviet propaganda. After a split in the organisation in 1944 NSZ-ZJ (the Lizard Union) was formed which appeares to have been a more extremist wing.  LINK

BE PREPARED FOR HUGE CHANGES: Universal Credit roll out starts in Brent on November 21st

Universal Credit, the controversial new integrated benefit system, is being rolled out in Brent. This is the Council' announcement:
The government's long-awaited Universal Credit is being rolled out in Brent from November 2018 on the following dates:
  • 21 November 2018 for Harlesden Job Centre
  • 5 December 2018 for Wembley Job Centre
This means that residents with a change in circumstances or those moving into Brent making a claim for the first time will have to apply for Universal Credit instead of the benefits listed below:
  • Housing Benefit
  • Job Seeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
The six benefits above will be merged into one single payment - Universal Credit. Unlike many of the existing benefits, Universal Credit will be paid once a month, rather than weekly, fortnightly or four weekly as housing benefit is traditionally paid, and will be paid directly into the claimant's bank account in arrears. This is a change for many residents who currently have their housing benefit paid direct to their landlord.

The government wants all Universal Credit claims to be both made and updated online. If residents do not have access to the internet, they will be able to visit one of the above Job Centres for assistance. Each Job Centre will have a front of house team specifically set up to help and assist residents to make and maintain their Universal Credit claims online.

To make an application for Universal Credit, residents will need to apply directly to the Department for Work and Pensions via their website https://www.gov.uk/apply-universal-credit There is also a free helpline available for those that need any extra support: 0800 328 5644.
Councillor Eleanor Southwood, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform said:
These are huge changes, particularly for residents who are already struggling to get by. The first port of call for formal advice is the DWP, who are implementing the changes. However, I want to remind residents that the council is here to help and you should contact us if you're worried that you might be falling into rent arrears or if you need support with your council tax.
This video tells you about the on-line process:


There is going to be a public information meeting about Universal Credit on November 23rd  at Chalkhill Community Centre:

Why Universal Credit Should Become a Core Trade Union Issue
A briefing on Universal Credit, prepared by Waltham Forest Stand Up for your Rights,
Who in the Future will be Affected by Universal Credit (UC)?

1. To date, of the 1 million households now on UC, the vast majority (except in local pilot areas), have been the unemployed. However that is about to change. From now on across the country all new or updated benefit claims (with a few exceptions) including those in work who receive Tax Credits have to be made through UC.
2.  DWP also plans to force everyone on benefits (including those on Working and Child Tax Credits) to claim UC even if there has been no change in their circumstances. DWP has refused to initiate transfers of Tax Credit claims on to a UC regime. Instead people have to initiate UC applications, a fraught and costly process. Testing forced transfers, called ‘managed migration’ by DWP, is due to start for some Tax Credit recipients in July 2019.
3.  Nationally, DWP’s plans mean 3 in 4 of the planned total of 7 million families on UC, would be in work. So of the estimated 16 million people nationally in families receiving UC, around 12 million would be in working families.
4. This note outlines the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) plans on UC as at early November 2018. These plans have changed many times. DWP has said they may change again if more problems with UC come to light.
5. UC has been criticised by welfare and other advice agencies after cases of severe hardship came to light and a series of analyses on the impact of UC especially after funding was cut. Arguably UC has become so discredited that what its future should be and indeed whether it should have a future is a matter for serious political debate.
Why have People found the UC Application Process so Fraught?

6. Firstly the forms are very lengthy – running to tens of pages. Secondly DWP want people to fill them in online. Even experienced advisers find the process; setting up accounts, locating and scanning in all the documents which DWP require to ‘verify’ a UC claim, often takes many hours, not counting verification visits to DWP offices.
7. DWP’s own research found barely half could complete the process without help. One in 4 claimants were not able to claim at all without help. Many have found applying for UC more difficult than applying for Tax Credits.

The UC application process is most intimidating and unsuitable for those with poor language, writing or IT skills.

The process especially frightens those with mental health problems eg anxiety, as DWP’s own research shows.
8. Thirdly the risks, if things go wrong, have been largely put on to the applicant. Imposing on applicants financial penalties arising from the complex UC application process, is unreasonable given the widely known problems people have faced in completing UC applications to DWP’s satisfaction. Government November 2018 changes have reduced, but not removed, risks imposed on people when those on Tax Credits are forced to apply for UC.
9. If people do not successfully apply within 1 month of a DWP deadline they risk losing ‘Transitional Protection’ which protects, for a while, their money if UC pays less than they get with Tax Credits. Further DWP only allow UC claims to be backdated by one month – less than the 3 months allowed for backdating of some benefit claims.
Do Tax Credit Recipients lose Money?
10. First of all, UC claimants face gaps in payment imposed by DWP in two stages. The UC system builds in a gap in payments, reduced in the 2018 Budget to a minimum of 3 weeks, after applying for UC. On top of that gap 1 in 5 claimants have faced on average a 4 week delay by DWP (ie on top of the 3 week gap) in receiving some or all of their money. DWP do not expect the % facing additional delays in some UC payment to be reduced during 2018.
11. Indeed there may well a big rise in the current UC claim processing delays by DWP under the strain of a six-fold increase in the rate of new UC claims planned by DWP for 2020 plus the more complicated circumstances of future UC claims with working income and child care costs, (unlike the mainly simpler unemployed cases so far).
12. Secondly amounts paid under UC differ from what working families get on Tax Credits. Some would get more money under UC. But overall working families face a net loss on average of about £250 a year on UC, after the 2018 Budget measures notably the higher work allowances. The Budget reduced, but did not end the losses.
13. UC losses are bigger for (mainly female) single parents, and disabled people loss of Severe Disability Premium.

UC hits women more. The combined impact of tax and benefit changes hits women 7 times as severely as men.
14. UC’s Minimum Income Floor has adverse impacts for many self-employed people eg taxi drivers, often BME.
15. Tax and benefit measures in the 2018 Budget only partially offset the overall losses since Summer 2015 from for instance the benefit freeze. Overall tax and benefit changes reduce income just for the lower income groups.
Does UC Contribute to a More Hostile Environment for Workers?
16. As well as financial losses, UC can intrude into peoples’ lives. Under the UC regime, workers can be pressed by DWP to job search to increase hours or earnings. This is worse for some eg single parents with child care duties.
17. For the first time workers are now at risk of ‘sanctions’ – loss of benefit. UK has the 2nd most demanding set of ‘benefit conditionality’ terms out of 39 countries. Under UC sanctions are 4 times more frequent than pre-UC.
18. Insisting everyone has to apply for UC online is not user friendly, especially for those nervous of computers.
Is Universal Credit Actually Simpler?
19. One advantage claimed for UC is ‘simplification’ with 6 benefits rolled up into 1. The comparison is misleading: no one person ever receives all 6 benefits simultaneously. It is also partial: UC does not include some benefits.

The difficulty of making UC claims shows that any ‘simplification’ is not usually to the advantage of applicants.
20. Other aspects of ‘simplification’ may not help people. Paying UC as one payment may be convenient for DWP, but it means women will lose out when all money goes to one person, the higher earner, usually male. At the moment Child Tax Credit and the childcare element of Working Tax Credit typically go to the woman in a family.
Women with no direct access to money find it more difficult to leave when facing domestic abuse or violence.
Are there Other Benefits of UC?
21. DWP has claimed UC increases work incentives. That is so, but to a very limited extent. For the (1 in 3) people in work facing the highest effective tax rates they are cut from slightly over 90% to 85% with UC. The evidence is such incentives have little effect. Using sanctions implicitly admits that the work incentives are not effective.
22. DWP has argued that benefit take-up will rise under UC. But the user–unfriendly nature of UC, its toxic reputation and what an official report calls DWP’s ‘culture of indifference’, reduce the chances of higher take-up.
23. The DWP says that UC will reduce fraud and error. The NAO report refers to ‘a lack of evidence’ on this claim.
24. Government UC plans will increasingly affect people in work. Recent changes to UC have reduced the delays and the financial costs for workers, but not eliminated them. Reducing delays and more funding are not enough to make UC suitable. It is very user-unfriendly and intrudes oppressively into peoples’ lives. A harsh UC regime drives people into taking unsatisfactory work, putting downward pressure on work T&Cs – a core union concern.
25. There is a very strong case for Trade Unions to call on political parties to back ‘Stop and Scrap UC’ and, so long as UC continues, urging councils to minimise the impacts. Some Boroughs have set up information, advice and advocacy services eg Tower Hamlets, and others have committed to not evict tenants in arrears as a result of UC.
26. Pushing more people on to UC should be immediately halted, whilst a fundamental review considers the options.


Saturday, 10 November 2018

Cllr Butt tells 'One Tonne' Walk' marchers from Sufra Foodbank that he will try and find a way of supporting their appeal for a new van to transport food collections

I joined workers, supporters and users from SufraNWLondon foodbank this afternoon as they collected food donations at Asda, Wembley Park and then pushed food bins and carrying trays of food started transporting them to the foodbank on St Rapahel's Estate.

Why were they setting out on walking that distance?

Sufra's van, used for transporting food from collection points all over the borough, has broken down and is a write-off.  They urgently need a new van but the cost is about £20,000. An on-line appeal has raised about £8,000 so far so the walk was aimed at publicising the appeal and at the same time make the point of why the new van is so desperately needed.

At Brent Civic Centre the leader of Brent Council came out to meet the 'One Tonne' marchers.  He said he would spend Monday exploring ways of helping the van appeal.

If you would like to donate on line, please follow this LINK