Thursday, 24 September 2020

Greens call for London-wide recycling system to end postcode lottery on what is recycled

With life thrown into chaos over lockdown, and the craze for banana bread baking, Londoners are throwing away more food than the rest of the nation, as well as binning more plastic, warns Caroline Russell AM.

WRAP, an anti-waste charity, found that Londoners were more likely to have higher levels of food waste, with 43 per cent of us admitting to binning food during lockdown, compared with the national average of 27 per cent. 


Even worse was the picture of plastics, the Everyday Plastic project found households were averaging 128 bits of plastic waste in a week, up from 99 bits before the pandemic. 


Showing the rise in online shopping and food waste 25 per cent more food packaging, as well as parcel bags and PPE items were thrown away.

Earlier this year Caroline Russell found that no London Borough was able to recycle a list of seven common household items. 


In January Caroline asked all councils if they could recycle:

  • a broken plastic bucket
  • crisp packet
  • Tetra Pak container
  • Aluminium foil
  • black plastic food container
  • Biro pen 
  • and a bike tyre.

She found a lack of London-wide oversight means there is no consistency between boroughs, and residents are left confused as recycling rules vary from one borough to the next. 


Although most boroughs (29 out of 32) collect six dry recycling streams Caroline found that Havering was unable to recycle any item from the list and two London boroughs – Enfield and Kensington and Chelsea – were only able to recycle one of the items, Tetra Paks.


Caroline Russell says:

As this year’s theme for Recycle Week recognises, our key workers include the people who come to take away our waste and recycling every week under difficult circumstances and maintaining safe social distancing.


Londoners have not forgotten the impact of plastic waste but with the rise in plastic being binned it means that Government must take urgent action to address plastic pollution at its source.


My research from earlier this year found it’s just too hard to know what to do with your rubbish in London. You can recycle bike tyres in Bexley but not Brent, and Hackney recycles foil but Hammersmith doesn’t.


Londoners are deeply concerned about plastic pollution. The Mayor should be asking for the power to take control of London’s waste and sort out this rubbish postcode lottery.


Brent's Director of Public Health on new Covid measures as Alert Level raised from 3 to 4

Coronavirus cases are rising among all age groups across the country. The prospect of a second wave of this deadly virus is now real, with infections spreading to people that are more vulnerable.

This week the UK’s Covid-19 alert level was raised from Level 3 to Level 4. To prevent the spread of the virus, new measures have been introduced.

These are:

  1. Work from home, if you can. If you cannot work from home, you should continue to attend your place of work.
  2. Pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm. They must also operate table-service only, except for takeaways.
  3. Wearing a face covering is now the law for staff and customers in shops and hospitality venues, unless you are eating or drinking or are exempt. All users of taxis and private hire vehicles must also wear a mask.
  4. From Monday 28 September 2020, a maximum of 15 people can attend a wedding, and up to 30 for a funeral.
  5. Stricter enforcement. The fine for failing to wear a face covering or breaking the Rule of Six has doubled to £200. People who fail to self-isolate will face a fine of up to £10,000. Businesses will also be fined if they breach their legal obligations.
  6. Shielding. The guidance remains that you do not need to shield, unless you are in a local lockdown area.

Unlike the measures from March 2020, there is no general instruction to stay at home. Schools, colleges and universities will stay open.

You are safest when you follow this advice:

  • Wash your hands, or use hand sanitiser, regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • Cover your face, when using public transport or in busy spaces like high streets or shops where it may be more difficult to keep your distance
  • Make space, try to stay two metres away from people you don’t live with.

If you develop symptoms of the virus, please immediately self-isolate. You can book a free test online or by calling 119. Please only book a test if you have symptoms.

The fight against this terrible virus is not over. We must all take responsibility together, by following these new rules, to avoid further restrictions and keep Brent safe.

Dr Melanie Smith

Director of Public Health, Brent Council


Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Battle for the bats (and our heritage) at Brent Scrutiny

The call-in of the Stonebridge Annexe contract resulted in officers agreeing to take forward the three actions recommended by the 5 councillors who signed the call-in.  These were that the implementation of the refurbishment contract be deferred until:

1.It is certain that the proposals for 1 Morland Gardens comprised in the 1 Morland Gardens Application have received all necessary consents, including GLA consent; and

2.The legislatively required minimum of three bat emergence/re-entry surveys between May and September in one year have been undertaken, consequent assessments undertaken, the results considered and appropriate response actioned; and

3.The potential requirement of bat surveys for the Stonebridge Annexe considered and (if necessary) dealt with as above

 Much discussion revolved around the lack of legally compliant bats surveys.  Two were added to the agenda but did not cover the period required by law and so there will be delays until compliant surveys are conduction at 1 Morland Gardens.  The Committee has asked that the legal advice given to the Council be published.

Cllr Perrin suggested that the Council were in grave danger of breaking the law on protected species, a criminal offence and Cllr Lloyd pointed out that obtaining a licence regarding development where there were bat roosts was a two stage process with the initial 3 stage process having to be completed before a licence application could be made.

There was concern that the initial Cabinet decision on 1 Morland Gardens had been made without councillors given sight of a report  on protected species. 

Councillors also considered that changes in the Council's constitution should be considered regarding delegated decision making by officers. It had been established that the officer who had made the recommendation that a contract for the Stonebridge Annexe be awarded was also the delegated officer who made the decision to award the contract. Alan Lunt, Strategic Director of Regeneration, said that he had been on leave but would have made the same decision himself. This did not satisfy Cllr Perrin who said it was important that there should be separation of powers in this regard.

 Lunt emphasisied that no contract had been awarded and that this would wait until all the planning processes for 1 Morland Gardens had been completed.

 A lone voice in the wilderness was Cllr Shafique Choudhary who in the wake of Covid19 held no brief for the protection of bats. 

The complaint made by local historian Philip Grant about the planning process for 1 Morland Gardens has still to be resolved.

I recommend you read the tweets by @MaryDuffinator for a blow by blow account of the meeting.

Barham Park Arts Festival October 3rd-4th

From Friends of Barham Library

This event is still going ahead on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4 October

Barham Community Library is participating and we’ll convert our Library into an Art Gallery and will display art from at least 2 local artists from Wembley and Sudbury.


Monday, 21 September 2020

Queens Park Residents: “Brent Council – please press the pause button on plans to block our streets now!”

 From Queens Park Area Residents' Association

Queen's Park Area Residents' Association (QPARA) learnt a few days ago of Brent draft plans to block certain streets in its area, without prior public consultation, in a scheme under TfL's Healthy Streets initiative. We expect this to be implemented before 30 September.

QPARA supports initiatives which improve air quality and promote healthy lifestyles, including benefits to pedestrians and cyclists. But these new proposals, which would change the flow of much road traffic inside and through its area, are rushed and opposed by the majority of those who have heard about them. QPARA has long advocated a traffic management plan for the area, following proper consultation, but does not see these plans as the answer. While some rush hour rat runs may be diverted, concentration of traffic on key roads like Salusbury and Chamberlayne with schools, shopping, cafes, community facilities and many homes risks more jams, standing traffic and pollution there. These and residential roads like Harvist Road by the park already have long traffic queues towards junctions at busy times. Other streets west of the park, the green heart of the area with its open spaces and children's playground, could become even worse 'rat runs'.

QPARA's Chair Virginia Brand says:

In recent years QPARA has worked closely with Brent on improvements for key roads in our area, looking carefully at ideas in a joint approach. This model works well. This time it's the opposite, a sudden shift from consultation, with predictable confusion and opposition. Councils are suddenly under pressure from the centre to deliver such schemes quickly, but there is everything to be gained by holding fire and find joint solutions. We should take these issues forward with prior discussion and time to involve residents' associations and their communities properly, like so many good projects before.

QPARA has contacted Councillor Shama Tatler, the lead Brent councillor for this scheme, asking for an urgent meeting or at least an assurance of enough time for proper consultation. On 22 September she is proposing a Zoom with all residents’ associations affected in the Queen’s Park and Kilburn areas when minor changes may be tabled but this is NOT a substitute for evidence or proper assessment by those affected.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Brent Trades Council Meeting on current crisis - Wednesday 23rd September 7pm


From Brent Trades Council

Don't miss Brent Trades Council'smeeting on Wednesday 23rd September at 7pm


Sarah Woolley, Gen Secretary of the BFAWU and Vic Paulino, Unite Community Coordinator for LESE, will attend our meeting and will tell us about developments in their unions and their take on the developing situation. We welcome union reports from delegates.

COVID 19 infections are on the rise in schools, the hospitality industry, and communities resulting in new restrictive measures being imposed by a negligent government could mean more deaths, unless proper protective gear is available and testing, tracing and isolation is  given to all those who need it. The government's testing programme is on the brink of collapse as private companies fail to provide. Risk Assessments in the workplace become more urgent than ever to ensure there are no loss of lives.

The crisis will deepen with the end of furlough and the rise in demand for Universal Credit caused by the rapidly rising  unemployment are calling for fightback from all unions and trades councils.

Brent Trades Council has been campaigning for public measures in Brent to be systematically applied by the Council, met with community groups and workplace union reps and continues to work with unions to ensure health and safety measures are in place and agreed by employers. Not always the case.

I have sent agenda and minutes to delegates, but friends of our trades council are welcome to attend and contribute.

The zoom link for the meeting is:
In solidarity,

Mary Adossides
Brent Trades Council

Friday, 18 September 2020

George Michael grew up round here

A topical one-off “special” local history article by Philip Grant.


As part of Brent’s London Borough of Culture 2020, and “Brent Biennial”, a 9-metre high mural by the artist Dawn Mellor is due to be unveiled in Kingsbury Road on Saturday 19 September. It will celebrate the life of the singer George Michael, who lived and went to school in the area. Many people may not know much about his early life, and this seems a good time to share what I know about his Kingsbury connections. As George said himself, in a line from a song he wrote about growing up “Round Here”: ‘So come with me, let me show you where I've lived.’


 1. Three images of work in progress on the George Michael mural, and its location, 13 September 2020.


It was not just people from the Caribbean (“the Windrush Generation”) who came to live and work in this country following the British Nationality Act, 1948. Britain’s labour shortage in the post-war years meant that anyone with the newly created status of ‘citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies’ could do the same. In 1953, young Kyriacos Panayiotou and his cousin left their village in Cyprus, and came to London for a better life. He worked as a waiter in a restaurant, and through a shared love of dancing, married Lesley in 1957. Some people thought it was wrong for an English girl to marry a Greek Cypriot, but love is stronger than prejudice.


2. Holmstall Parade, Edgware Road, 2019.


Kyriacos and Lesley already had two daughters before their son, Georgios, was born at their flat in East Finchley in June 1963. Within a year they had moved to a larger home at 3a Holmstall Parade, above shops on the Edgware Road, close to Burnt Oak, in what was then still the Borough of Wembley. Kyriacos Panayiotou, commonly known as Jack Panos, worked in a Greek Restaurant in Edgware, becoming a partner in the business. Although Holmstall Parade looks similar now to what it did in the 1960s, the Asda superstore and Capitol Way just down the road were then a Frigidaire factory, on a site first used by the Aircraft Manufacturing Company, “Airco”, during World War One.



 3. The Redhill Drive street sign, at the corner with Holmstall Avenue.


By 1967, the Panayiotou family had their own semi-detached suburban home, nearby in Redhill Drive, then part of the recently formed London Borough of Brent. No.57 was where Georgios (or George as he would become known) lived for about ten years. He soon had friends to play with, and his best friend was David, who lived just up the road, and was a year older than him.



4. 57 Redhill Drive, Burnt Oak, in 2019.


When it was time for George to start school, he went to Roe Green Infants, then the Juniors, in Princes Avenue, the same as his sisters (and David), as that was the local state school. In those days, that was what most children did. They probably walked to school. 



Figure 5. Roe Green Infants and Junior Schools, Princes Avenue, Kingsbury, in 2019.


Years later, George wrote in a song: ‘And I remember my, my first day at school. And I remember trouble and thinkin' I was so cool.’ Whether this was about his very first day at school at Roe Green, or when he went on to secondary school, I’m not sure. You wouldn’t think this young Georgios would get into trouble, would you? Or perhaps you would.



6. Georgios Panayiotou, at primary school age. (Image from the internet)


Trouble or not, he must have been quite a bright student, although having encouragement from a good creative writing teacher at school (probably Ian Greenwood then) must have helped. Only just eleven years old, two of his poems were included in Roe Green Junior School’s end of year magazine in July 1974. How these came to light, shortly after George’s death in 2016, is a story in itself. A girl who knew him at the school had kept her school magazines. Years later, her older sister met a former classmate, Melanie, at an awards ceremony – and Melanie was with her brother, Georgios, better known by then as George Michael. The sisters had never guessed that the music star was the quiet boy they knew at Roe Green Juniors!



 7. The cover of the Roe Green Junior School magazine, July 1974. (Image from the internet)


The first of the poems, ‘The Story of a Horse’, appears above the name Georgios Panayiotou, 4S, but the second reveals his nickname. Whether this was one he invented for himself, or what his friends decided to call him (because he was brainy?), Professor Whatsisname (alias G. Panayiotou, 4S) was the author of this imaginative piece, ‘Sounds in the Night’.



8. "Sounds in the Night" by Professor Whatsisname, from "The Junior", July 1974. (Image from the internet)


From junior school, George moved on to the local secondary school in September 1974, again just as most eleven-year olds would have done then. Kingsbury High School had become a comprehensive in 1967, when the grammar school in Princes Avenue merged with the Tyler’s Croft Boys and Girls secondary modern schools in Bacon Lane. The lower years of the High School were housed in the Tyler’s Croft buildings, which had opened in 1952. Twenty-two years before George walked through that school’s gates, the first boys to start at the school when it opened had included a young Charlie Watts, from Fryent Junior School, who also went on to become a famous pop musician.



9. Kingsbury High School's Tyler's Croft buildings, beside Roe Green Park, 2019.


The photo above shows that Kingsbury High’s Lower School is next to Roe Green Park, and there’s no doubt that George spent some time there after school. In one verse of his song about growing up, he sings:


‘I hear my mama call in Kingsbury Park
Just me and David and a football that glowed in the dark
Waitin' patiently to make my mark, round here.’



10. Roe Green Park, towards the school, and a wild flower meadow that wasn't there in George's time!


Life sometimes takes an unexpected turn, and it was not in Kingsbury that George made his mark. His father’s restaurant business was doing well, so he decided to move upmarket. He found a house he liked in Radlett, and around 1976 the Panayiotou family moved out of Redhill Drive. As their new home was not quite ready, they lived above the restaurant in Edgware for several months, before George left Kingsbury High School, looking something like this.



11. Georgios Panayiotou in the mid-1970's. (Image from the internet)


The move to Radlett meant changing to a new school, Bushey Meads School, which took students from much of the western side of Hertsmere District, just north of London. One of his new classmates was Andrew Ridgeley, and they were soon friends. The two teenagers shared a love of pop music, and a desire to make a that their career. The result, in 1981, was Wham!



12. Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael as the duo, Wham!, mid-1980's. (Image from the internet)


From then on, Georgios Panayiotou would be known as George Michael, and you can read about his musical career, his generosity and his sometimes troubled private life, online, or by borrowing a copy of the biography “George”, by Sean Smith, from your local Brent Library (ref. no. 782.421 on the adult non-fiction shelves).


Although no longer living in Brent, George’s career brought him to Wembley on a number of occasions. Wham! played several concerts at the Arena in 1984, and their “Final” concert together at the Stadium in 1986, before the duo went their separate ways. George Michael was one of the stars who performed at the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley, and at the 70th birthday concert for Nelson Mandela in 1988. George’s singing of “Somebody to Love” with Queen, at the Stadium’s Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert to raise money for AIDS research in 1992, was highly rated, and the live recording featured on a follow-up EP.



13. George Michael, with Brian May of Queen, at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. (Image from internet)


George Michael was a prolific songwriter, and in 2004 he recorded a song about his memories of growing up. Called “Round Here”, it wasn’t a big hit for him, but it came from his heart and tells his story before he became famous. There is an online video of him singing and recording the song, with brief clips of film included that show various scenes from Kingsbury, and London more generally. If you watch carefully, you’ll spot glimpses of 57 Redhill Drive (at 0:05), the flats at Holmstall Parade (0:25), Roe Green Park (1:17) and Roe Green Junior School (1:35) and Kingsbury High [Lower] School (1:41), plus other places you’ll recognise. 





                          14. The CD cover for "Round Here", 2004. (Image from the internet)


George Michael, who sadly died in 2016, aged just 53, is not the only famous person who has lived “Round Here”, in the north of Brent, but he is fondly remembered by many for his music and his humanity. That is why he was chosen as the subject for a mural in Kingsbury, which celebrates his life. I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about his local connections.


15. Kingsbury Station signs, including for the London Borough of Culture 2020.


Next time you come out of Kingsbury Station, turn right, and after walking about 60 metres you will find the mural, on the end wall of a block of shops with flats above. You can’t miss it – it is 9 metres high!

Philip Grant.


Next weekend, we welcome a new member to the “local history in lockdown” team. Don’t forget to join us, to discover what part of the borough her weekly series will cover!


Sadiq Khan calls for new restrictions to be imposed early, rather than full lockdown when it's too late

 Following on from the previous two post this is a statement made by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, today:

“The Prime Minister has said that we are now seeing the start of a second wave of COVID-19 across the UK. Londoners should also know that I am extremely concerned by the latest evidence I’ve seen today from public health experts about the accelerating speed at which COVID-19 is now spreading here in London. This is made worse by the uncertainty caused by the lack of testing capacity in the capital.

“This afternoon I held an emergency meeting with London council leaders, the Government and Public Health England to discuss the next steps. It is increasingly likely that, in London, additional measures will soon be required to slow the spread of the virus. We will be considering some of the measures which have already been imposed in other parts of the UK. I am of the firm view that we should not wait, as happened six months ago, for this virus to again spiral out of control before taking action. The best thing for both public health and the economy is new restrictions imposed early, rather than a full lockdown when it’s too late - but the government must urgently ensure there is a fully functioning testing system.

“I strongly urge all Londoners to be as cautious as possible over this weekend. Please think very carefully about your actions - strictly follow social distancing rules, regularly wash your hands and wear a face covering to help reduce the spread of the virus.”