Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Third Brent councillor resigns - now a Wembley Central by-election

Former Brent Labour Councillor James Powney has revealed on his blog that Cllr Luke Patterson has resigned.  This brings to three the number of Labour councillors who have resigned.

Brent Council has now posted this statement:

Councillor Luke Patterson, a local Councillor for the Wembley Central ward in the London Borough of Brent, has resigned today.

Councillor Patterson notified Carolyn Downs, Returning Officer and Chief Executive of Brent Council, of his decision to stand down with immediate effect. His resignation creates a vacancy for the office of Councillor for the Wembley Central ward. Two electors have contacted the Chief Executive to request a by-election which will take place on 23 January 2020.

The Notice of Election will be published on our website on 13 December 2019 and nominations will be accepted from 16 December to 24 December 2019.

Further information will be available after the General Election on 12 December 2019.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact our Electoral Services team.

'Old St Raphs' to be excluded from redevelopment/refurbishment plans going to Brent Cabinet

Brent Council Press Release (unedited)

Recommendations for which parts of St Raphael’s should be included in proposals to improve the area, and create more much-needed affordable council housing, will be put to cabinet by Brent Council on Monday 9 December.

The council is considering two approaches, infill development and redevelopment, for the future of the estate, which straddles Neasden and Stonebridge.

Since November 2018, the council has been working with residents to create community-led masterplans for each approach while undertaking a detailed study of the design and financial considerations around the proposals.  

Following this work, the council is recommending that only the area known locally as ‘St Raphael’s Estate’ be included within the future masterplans, and that the area known locally as the ‘Old Estate’ is removed from the masterplanning exercise.

The council is also recommending that a local lettings plan be established once infill or redevelopment has taken place, to help the council tenants most in need living across St Raphael’s to benefit from the opportunities created.

Carolyn Downs, Brent Council’s Chief Executive said: 
"We’re committed to making sure, alongside residents, we develop the best possible options for the future St Raph’s. Our recommendations to cabinet are the result of detailed work from industry experts and nearly a year of feedback from residents, and conversations with more than 50% of households on the estate. We look forward to continuing to work together with residents, local businesses and community groups to develop the masterplans for both infill and redevelopment.” 
The council has written to all households on the estate to share its recommendations, and to answer frequently asked questions.

A series of drop in sessions for residents on the estate will also be held over the next two weeks at Henderson House, Henderson Close:
  • Tuesday 3 December – Friday 6 December (9.30am – 12.30pm and 2 - 5pm)
  • Monday 9 December  - Thursday 12 December (9.30am – 12.30pm and 2 - 5pm)
Comments from residents on this news welcome.

What has Brent got to offer tourists?

Old St Andrew's Church, Kingsbury, Brent's only Grade 1 listed building - not on the tourist list
As part of its Inclusive Growth and Regeneration Strategy Brent Council is looking at what would attract tourists to the area. A report going to Scrutiny tonight seeks to go beyond Wembley Park, aound the Stadium and Arena which has many hotels to look more widely at the borough.

People will have their own ideas but it terms of heritage I would includes Old St Andrew's Church in Kingsbury, dating from the 12th century and incorporating Roman brick from an earlier villa and much more recent mural at the Bobby Moore Bridge have been left off - presumably because the Council has covered most of it with advertising! Classifying Boxpark as a market seems a bit odd

This is the list (unedited):

Event destinations: 

o   -  Wembley Stadium

o   -  Wembley Arena 

Arts, culture and heritage: 

·       -  The Kiln Theatre, Kilburn

·       -  Troubadour Theatre (meanwhile), Wembley Park

·       -  Lexi Cinema

·       -  Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden

·       -  Shri Vallabh Nidhi Mandir, Ealing Road

·       -  Shree Swaminarayan Mandir temple, Kingsbury

·       -  Brent Museum and Archive, Willesden

·       -  Gaumont State, Kilburn

·       -  Churchill’s Bunker, Neasden

·       -  Metro Land (Brent contains some of the best Holden Stations)

·       -  Blue Plaques

·       -  Public art – murals and street art (e.g. Kilburn, Willesden, Church End,    Ealing Road)

·       -  It should also be noted that heritage and culture can be seen in Brent’s town centres through the food, drink, music, and clothing. To name a few; Harlesden Town Centre’s Caribbean, Brazilian, Polish and Somali influences, amongst many others; Ealing Road’s South Asian; and Kilburn’s Irish heritage. 
          Pubs and clubs 
o   -  Ace Café

o   -  Paradise Pub for club scene

o   -  Windermere is best statutory listed 1930s pub

o   -  Emerging night time economy in Kilburn

Parks and open space: 
o   -  Fryent Park

o   -  Gladstone Park

o   -  Welsh Harp Reservoir

o   -  Roundwood Park

o   -  Barham Park

o   -  Kind Edwards Park 

·       -    Ealing Road

·       -    LDO (including Cineworld)


·       -  Church End

·       -  Kilburn

·       -  Queens Park Farmer’s Market

·       -  BOXPARK 

            Brent Town Centres

·       a)  Ealing Road and Kingsbury – destinations for South Asian food, clothing and jewellery.

·       b)  Harlesden – global array of music, cuisine and clothing, with prominence of Caribbean, Brazilian, Polish and Somali in particular.

·       c)  Kilburn – night-time economy offer, including pubs and restaurants, with The Kiln as the cultural anchor. Also the night tube at Kilburn station and great connectivity across 4 stations in total

·       d)  Willesden – food and drink offer (highlighted in the recent nomination for the Great British High Street ‘rising star’ award. 

The report notes the Joint Events Committee in Wembley Park and continues:
In addition, the council also deploys its own operational teams to manage the impact of each event on the local neighbourhood. This includes traffic management, enforcement of event day parking restrictions, street cleaning before, during and after each event, CCTV support, and other enforcement around licensing and trading standards. A new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) is proposed to extend enforcement powers to control other anti-social behaviour such as ticket-touting, littering and street urination. The council is also a committed partner in a programme to make the Wembley zone a ‘best in class’ sporting venue. This includes delivering on proposals to upgrade road signage, wayfinding and toilets and improvements to the public realm, better coordinated communications and a comprehensive network of crowd security measures including ‘hostile vehicle mitigation’ installations.
The report reviews public toilet provision in the area and concludes that there is sufficient - something that is likely to be disputed by many locals.

Further footfall is not likely to be welcomed by the residents of Pinnacle Tower who were unable to access or exit their properties during the recent NFL events. There had been an unauthorised 2 hour closure of Fulton Road but nonetheless Brent Council told the property manager that such difficulties were inevitable on such a site as a result of event day increases in pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Mapesbury asphalt compromise?

A rather excited Cllr Dar has posted this on Twitter:

Although not mentioned in Cllr Dar's tweet the pavement survey LINK and petition must have been influential.

This is what the MaPRA circular says:

Pavements. Met with Council Officers today.  Faced with opposition from Cllr Lia Colacicco and also a residents’ petition against asphalting the pavements in 3 streets in the Mapesbury Conservation Area, the compromise they are offering is to give up their plan for wholesale replacement of the pavements with asphalt and instead (starting with Dartmouth Road) to carry out much-needed systematic repair. This would mean replacing/rectifying many cracked and defective paving stones with new paving stones (not asphalt) and providing a new treatment around the trees which is not yet defined/specified. There is an option for trees of either a surround made up of grey, recycled synthetic rubber balls, which are porous and don’t crack like tarmac or paving stones, or, if people want, there could be a built-up tree pit around each tree allowing residents to come together and plant and tend small plants around the base of the tree outside their home. The Council is open to suggestions from MapRA.

The proposal represents a good compromise; less cost than either wholesale replacement by paving or asphalt, lower environment impact, maintains the paving stone look in the MapRA area with less disruption while work is carried out. It should leave paving free of trip hazards. It may, however, not leave all of the pavements quite as smooth as new asphalt or completely new paving stones.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Brent Council by-election will take place on January 23rd 2020

Barnhill ward

The by-election for the two vacant seats in Barnhill ward will take place on Thursday 23rd January 2020.

The vacancies follow the resignations with immediate effect of Sarah Marquis and Michael Pavey.

The notice of election will be published on the Brent Council website on December 13th 2019 and nominations will be accepted from December 16th to December 24th.

A busy time for Brent Electoral Services...

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Let Brent Breathe! Clean Air report goes to Scrutiny on Wednesday

A very thorough report by  the Air Quality Scrutiny Inquiry, chaired by Cllr Thomas Stephens, will go to the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday December 4th. Cllr Stephens was aided by 6 fellow councillors and two co-opted organisations, Clean Air for Brent and Brent Cyclists.

Cllr Stephens seems to be a bit of a Mystic Meg when he writes:

We are pleased that the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee gave full formal endorsement to this report, and its recommendations, at its meeting on Wednesday 4 December 2019. We now look forward to each of these recommendations being considered by, and respond to, by Cabinet at the earliest opportunity in the New Year.
Never mind, the report is very welcome and if implemented effectively will make a major contribution to improving air quality to the limited extent that one can do it in one borough. I have posted the full report below for detailed appraisal but these are the 10 recommendations which are elaborated in much more detail.

List of recommendations
  • Recommendation 1: That the Council update the Air Quality Strategy, and set out an aspiration to meet World Health Organisation limits on air pollution, commit to addressing inequality in air quality and complement the wider climate emergency agenda. We should also lobby national government where we are unable to effect change ourselves.
  • Recommendation 2: That the Council, in consultation with Transport for London and the Football Association, agree a strategy to reduce the air quality impact of non-resident car usage in Brent.
  • Recommendation 3: That the Council set up a Green Brent Partnership: a forum with organisations impacting air quality in Brent – including the private sector, community organisations and campaign groups – to agree shared targets to improve air quality locally. We should also lead by example by taking steps to reduce the air quality impact of Brent Council’s own activities.
  • Recommendation 4: That the Council closely monitor and review the air quality impact of current policies, most particularly the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and consider implementing and/or lobbying for stronger measures if necessary. It should also keep the provision of air quality monitoring sites under constant review.
  • Recommendation 5: That the Council make the delivery of healthy streets a central corporate and political priority across the borough, working closely with local residents to expand the number of healthy streets locally.
  • Recommendation 6: That the Council outline, publish and consult on a clear strategy for engagement with Transport for London on active travel initiatives – including the planned Willesden-Wembley Cycle Superhighway, measures to improve public transport provision and any future initiatives to improve accessibility over the North Circular.
  • Recommendation 7: That the Council expand the number of initiatives for dealing with the air quality impact of housing and the built environment, and engage closely with experts to consider further steps as new evidence and technology emerges.
  • Recommendation 8: That the Council continue to promote green space as a way of supporting active travel, and because of its wider benefits to health, the climate and biodiversity, but ensure that measures to improve greening are not promoted as a alternative to dealing with the underlying causes of poor air quality.
  • Recommendation 9: That the Council continue to promote measures to improve air quality in our schools, and where possible enhance and expand on existing initiatives. It should work in partnership with schools and students to agree a shared approach to improving air quality in the borough.
  • Recommendation 10: That the Council, working with the health sector, statutory partners and Brent’s public health team, spearhead a public health awareness and behavioural change campaign about air quality. The local NHS should also play its full part in delivering this, and lead by example in the measures they take to improve air quality.
Background Illustrations

Click bottom right corner for full page view:

New Brent 'Gateway to Support Services' launches tomorrow without a website

I understand the 'Gateway to Support Services' provided by Age UK (Brent, Harrow and Hillingdon) at a cost of £1.5m will launch tomorrow without the promised website.  This leaves residents wanting to use the new advocacy and carers service unable to find out about referrals or contact them.

Readers will recall that the contract was awarded without Scrutiny due to 'officer oversight' LINK and has affected the financial viability of several Brent voluntary organisations.

The new organisation is due to offer:
  • Care Act Advocacy
  • Mental Health Act Advocacy
  • Mental Capacity Act Advocacy
  • Carers Services
  • Social Isolation Prevention Services
Ironically Brent Advocacy Concerns, operated by unpaid volunteers from their  Willesden Community Hospital closed on Friday after 31 years as a result of the high rent demanded by NHS Property Services. A tiny fraction of that £1,5m would have enabled them to survive.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

EXCLUSIVE Lottery Community Fund withdraws support from Wembley Central Big Local Partnership

The Wembley Central Big Local area

The  Trustees of the Local Trust that manages the Big Local programmes funded by the Lottery have dissolved their formal relationship with the Wembley Central Big Local Partnership LINK .

The public face of the Partership is Wembley Futures LINK  Among the partners listed on its website are Ark Elvin Academy, Elsley Primary School, Barham Community Library, Federation of Patidars, Wembley Crime Prevention, Daniels Den, SAAFI, Daniel Estate Agents and The Hub Group (developers of the 'Twin Towers' on the Chesterfield House site).

The Local Trust explains Big Local:
Big Local is an exciting opportunity for residents in 150 areas around England to use at least £1m to make a massive and lasting positive difference to their communities (over 10years).
It is about bringing together all the local talent, ambitions, skills and energy from individuals, groups and organisations who want to make their area an even better place to live.
The decision by the Local Trust follows complaints by members and previous members of the Partnership outlining a number of conflicts and concerns regarding the Wembley Central Big Local and formal concerns by the Trust itself over the Partnership not meeting minimum criteria and unacceptable standards of behaviour by Partnership members  witnessed by the Trust itself.

They conclude that the current Partnership is dysfunctional in its current form, there is mistrust amongst many of its members and no credible plan to move the Big Local programme forward to deliver the local priorities previously agreed.

The Local Trust suggest there is a high level of risk in terms of investing the Big Local funds appropriately and a reputational risk locally and more widely.

The Trust will now 'take ownership' by following up with CommUNITY Barnet as the Locally Trusted Organisation.

They conclude that though they regret having to take such action there is no workable alternative.  In doing so they say they are acting in the best interest of the individuals, the area and the  programme.