Monday, 24 June 2019

Hear about the PCS union's pay campaign Wednesday 26th June - civil servants fight back on pay & restriction on TU rights

Speaker Cathy Cross – PCS officer
Brent Trades Council open meeting on
Wednesday 26th June 2019 7.30pm
PCS pay campaign-Repeal the Trade Union Act

Hard working civil servants have seen the value of their pay fall through the floor over the past decade. They need a pay rise. 
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)  members in the civil service voted by four to one in favour of strike action and action short of strike over pay. The ballot turnout of 47.7%, was the highest ever achieved, but is still just under 3,000 votes short of reaching the required 50% threshold.
In a politically motivated attack on workers’ rights, the coalition government introduced an undemocratic restriction with the Trade Union Act 2016 requiring a 50% turnout threshold and other restrictions.
Willesden Trades and Labour Hall

375 High Road

London NW10 2JR
Willesden Trades and Labour Hall
375 High Road
London NW10 2JR
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Thursday, 20 June 2019

Brent Momentum presses Council on education, regeneration, universal credit evictions and fossil fuel divestment

The latest Bulletin from Brent Momentum reveals areas of frustration with Brent Council policy implementation many of which have been covered on Wembley Matters.

Education is a major issue with the failure of the Council to oppose the academisation of The Village School and the proposals for a free school at the Roundwood Centre, are source of contention. The Bulletin does not refer to the proposals to close Strathcona School but I presume Momentum will support the threatened NEU strike action.

The failure of Brent Council Regeneration proposals to take account of community concerns in Granville/Carlton and Bridge Park is criticised as is the failure to ensure the quality of new build on the South Kilburn Estate.

Momentum strongly support the cross-party Divest Brent campaign which is urging Brent Labour to fulfil its local election pledge to divest its pension fund from fossil fuels.

Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council is often accused of making promises and then not fulfilling them, so Momentum is pressing for Butt's promise to not evict Council tenants unable to pay rent due to Universal Credit delays, to be incorporated into official  Brent Council policy.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Queensbury pub WON'T be demolished but Wembley green space WILL be built on

Save the Queensbury Campaign present their case against demolition of the pub

Mapesbury Residents' Association present their case against demolition of the pub

 The developer's planning advisor and the publican present their case

It was an evening of contrasts at Brent Planning Committee today. The latest round of the Willesden Green Queensbury pub saga ended in victory for the Save The Queensbury campaign when councillors rejected the Officers' recommendation and voted down the developer's latest plan B by 5 votes to 2.

No less than four local councillors from Willesden Green and Mapesbury spoke against the developer's proposal and there was a written submission by Cllr Tom Miller who could not attend. A powerful submission by Deputy Mayor, Cllr Lia Colacicco, was read out for her by Cllr Liz Dixon, with Cllr Colacicco following proceedings via the livestreaming. She argued that there had been no proper consultation by the developer, merely an exhibition with no discussion, it was an off-the-peg design that would not win any prizes and emphasised the Planning Inspector's comment that 'less than substantial harm' occasioned by a development, does not equate to a less than sub-substantial objection.

The most telling submissions were made by Ian Elliott of the Save The Queensbury campaign and a spokesperson for the Mapesbury Residents Association who clearly had hundreds of people behind them. They had done their research and mastered their brief which was not always the case with planning officers who were left leafing through their numerous documents in some desperation.

Perhaps the most pathetic moments were when the developer's planning agent tried to claim that there WAS a kitchen in the plans and officers tried to indicate a tiny space on the projected plan, unmarked, which they said was a kitchen space; and when officers tried to justify that a black 'tin roof' on the new building would somehow both be in keeping with, and enhance, the area.

The combination of strong community campaigning winning the support of councillors led to victory.

This morning the Save the Queensbury Campaign said:
We’ve asked Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt and Chief Executive Carolyn Downs to review officer conduct running up to & including the meeting last night. Misleading content in reports, biased extracts, incorrect verbal info given to councillors brought local government & planning into disrepute.
In contrast the arguably more far-reaching plans to build on green space in central Wembley went through unanimously with no representation from residents and ward councillors. There was a passionate intervention from the public gallery after the committee had unanimously agreed the proposal with little discussion. The resident lived opposite the proposed development and felt that she had not been properly informed or consulted.

Another London Road resident lamented that her neighbours were not interested enough to get themselves organised and that the area felt neglected by ward councillors and their MP Barry Gardiner. A new development at the end of London Road would add to congestion and crowding and she declared vehemently that after what had happened she wanted to move out of Wembley.

The architect for the development admitted that few people had turned up at the London Road consultation and that this was a continuing problem with people only getting involved when it is too late.

Officers did not mention that many of the trees that will be cut down to make way for the housing development have Tree Preservation Orders on them but it appears that when the development is on Council owned land little can be done to stop the felling.  Planning officers accepted the claim that planting saplings on the estate will make up for the loss of mature trees.

The loss of green space which is both a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation) and a wildlife corridor is a worrying precedent when we have a council desperate to build much needed housing but with a blind spot regarding the environment and heritage. Officers accepted that a few bird and bat boxes was sufficient mitigation for the loss.

The Save The Queensbury Campaign have now published their own account of the meeting HERE

Staff to strike over Strathcona school closure

From Brent National Education Union
Brent Council Cabinet voted on Monday to move to a Formal Consultation regarding the proposed closure of the Roe Green Strathcona site school. This was despite overwhelming opposition from staff, parents and the community to this during the informal consultation where a massive 463 written responses were received with only 3 in favour and 460 against (99.4%). A petition with 396 signatures opposing the closure was also delivered to the Council but was ignored too.
The Council also received an unprecedented letter from Brent North MP Barry Gardiner where he stated that there were so many flaws in the informal consultation that...
 If council officers had been actively trying to prepare a case for the closure of the school, these are precisely the measures they might have taken.
Brent National Education Union has highlighted the risks to staff jobs if Strathcona is closed – and they have conducted a ballot of their members for action which was overwhelmingly supported.  They are seeking an urgent meeting with Gail Tolley, Strategic Education Director, to try to resolve these concerns. Failing this NEU members will be on strike on 25th June.
Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NEU Secretary, said :
It is extraordinary and shameful that Brent is refusing to listen to parents, governors and staff at Strathcona - a school in the top 3% of the country. At the same time as it is preparing to close Strathcona because it says there are not enough pupils, it has given planning permission for ARK Sommerville - a primary Free School in Wembley- to open! You do wonder what is really behind this proposal.
Brent Councillor Jumbo Chan said:
 It is disappointing Brent Council is proposing to close a local school, thus ignoring both staff and parents. The fact that there may also be a new academy being opened compounds this disappointment. Brent Council should reconsider its decision, and seek a new alternative.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Pride of Brent Youth Awards nomination deadline extended to June 23rd

From Brent Council

The deadline for nominations for the Pride of Brent Youth Awards has been extended to Sunday 23 June 2019.

Nominate a young person today for the Pride of Brent Youth Awards!!! Use the link below to download a nomination form.

Pride of Brent Youth Awards 2019

Nominations are now open for the 2019 Pride of Brent Youth Awards. The Pride of Brent Youth Awards aim to celebrate the achievements of our young people across Brent. We want to recognise young people who try hard to make a difference in their community and those who often put others before themselves. We would like you to nominate those young people who make Brent a better place to live and work in 2019.

You know who they are: they’re the young people who have excelled often overcoming their own personal difficulties to do so. They are the young people who lead by example and who make time to help others in their community.

These young people come from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, ages and cultures. The positive impact they make can be seen throughout life in Brent.

Nominate a young person today and help us celebrate the young people who really do put the Pride in Brent.

Nominations must be received at the Civic Centre either in electronic or hard copy by Sunday 23 June 2019.

There will be a Pride of Brent Youth Awards ceremony taking place on Saturday 20 July 2019 here in Brent Civic Centre.

Access the nomination forms and guidance using the link below or go to the front page of the Brent Council website.

If you have any questions, please email us -

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Planning Committee to decide whether to build on designated open space in Wembley Central

At the end of the long London Road, off Wembley High Road, there is a little known open space adjacent to the playing fields behind Ark Elvin Academy and Elsley Primary School. The open space is designated as such in Brent's Core Strategy Policy CP18 but planning officers argue in their report going to Planning Committee on Wednesday 19th June that it should be built on, partly because part of it has been covered in tarmac:
Officers do not consider that the site has the character or usability of conventional open space despite its designation as such. Officers therefore consider that the space could appropriately be developed for residential uses without materially detracting from the value of the playing fields open space designation.
The site is close to a Grade 1 Site In Nature Conservation (SINC) which is close to the brook to the south and is also designated as a woldlife corridor.

When I visited the site much of it was fenced off but these photographs show the nature of the site.

It is planned to remove 29 of the 43 trees on the site, including all those that have a tree preservation order.  I am not sure if it is proposed to fell the very handsome mature oak on the site that can be seen in the satellite view. Officers argue that there will be a net gain as 85 new trees will be planted as pat of the development.

Overall they argue that the loss of the open space is outweighed by the gain in terms of housing. The plan for the site can be seen below. Click bottom right corner for full page view.

As well as new housing there will be a replacement community centre slightly smaller than the present one but no new youth centre:

NAIL (New Accommodation for Independent Living) Residential Units (25 total)
     17x studio flats 8 x 1 bedroom flats
Residential Units providing temporary accommodation (53 total)
32x 1 bedroom flats (which are adaptable to a 2 bedroom layout)
21x 2 bedroom flats (which are adaptable to a 3 bedroom layout)

General Purpose Residential Units for Affordable Rent (92 total)

10x 1 bedroom flats
61x 2 bedroom flats
13x 3 bedroom flats
8x 3 bedroom houses
Community Centre (293sqm indoor space + 168sqm outdoor space)

There have been four letters of objection to the development and a 57 signature petition of objection from nearby households. Elsley Primart School supported the development on the basis of local housing need.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Kingsbury’s Post-War Prefab Homes – free talk on Tuesday 25th June

Local historian (and Wembley Matters correspondent) Philip Grant will be giving a free talk, at 11am on Tuesday 25th June, as part of Kingsbury Library’s regular monthly “Coffee Morning” events. His subject this time is the “prefab” bungalows that were built just after the Second World War, to provide urgently needed temporary homes for families.
Nothing is left of them today (the last ones locally were gone by the early 1970’s), but they had been a feature of Roe Green Park, Silver Jubilee Park and a corner of what is now Fryent Country Park (an estate called Pilgrims Way!).

Much of the talk will include memories and photographs from people who lived in the Kingsbury prefabs. It is the social history of everyday local people, although some went on to be more widely known (including a future Leader of Brent Council, and a world famous musician).
The event is free, with refreshments (although Brent Libraries would like everyone who comes to borrow at least one library book as part of their visit). If you are not doing anything else that morning, and think that the talk might be interesting, why not come along?