Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Donoghue 'Dust and Danger' protest Friday: Time for Donoghue to move on'

Join Brent4Europe on the People's Vote March on Saturday

Brent4Europe has invited Brent residents to join them on Saturday March 23rd for the People's Vote March, demanding that the People must have the final say in the Brexit debacle.


The march will assemble on Park Lane southbound, north of the Hilton Hotel.

If travelling to the march via the Jubilee line, please change at Bond Street station and proceed to Marble Arch station before exiting and joining the assembly area. Be prepared for crowd issues which may make Bond Street easier to exit.

To take part in the accessible march / shorter march, please assemble on the marked point at Trafalgar Square.  The shorter march will filter in behind the front of the march as it passes, giving priority access to the accessible viewing area with step-free access next to the statue of Gandhi. WE  ADVISE ALL PEOPLE WITH ACCESSIBILITY NEEDS TO TAKE PART IN THE SHORTER MARCH.

Stewards will be located near Westminster Tube Station street level lift exit to provide direction or assistance to people who will be attending the rally but not the march. They will be stationed here for a limited time only – times TBC – for more information, please see the accessibility policy for the event at

NOTE – stewards will be in green hi-vis jackets, not yellow ones.

Brent4Europe teams will meet up in advance on Saturday 23rd March.

Join up with our teams at:

11 am at Wembley Park, on Southbound met/Jubilee line platform

11 am outside Kensal Green station [Bakerloo line]

11.15 am outside Willesden Green station

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Scrutiny to consider Carlton-Granville proposals after 7 councillors call-in the Cabinet's decision

Leader of Brent Council, Cllr Butt, confronts David Kaye who was making representations
 about the proposals

The Cabinet decision of 11th March 2019 on South Kilburn has been called in. The Cabinet had approved a scheme to allow 23 social homes to be built on Granville Carlton site and The South Kilburn Trust to be given management of the entire site.

A special meeting of the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee will be held on Wednesday April 3rd at 7pm to consider the call-in. 

Seven councillors made the request for a call-in, including the three Kilburn Councillors, Cllr R Connelly, Cllr F  Hussain and  Cllr A Abdi.

In his request for the call-in Cllr Abdi said:
I would like to suggest that we do not part develop this site. The population of South Kilburn is increasing and this decision risks the future use of the site as a community facility. I am in favour of option 4 of the report presented to the cabinet. 
Any shortfall of social housing can be put right by increasing the number of social homes on the Peel site, which is approximately 20/30 metres from the Carlton-Granville Centre. The proposed number of homes on the Peel site is 308, of which 42 properties  are at social rents.

I suggest that we find alternatives ways of investing and making the Carlton and Granville Buildings fit for purpose.
Residents and campaigners  working to keep Granville Carlton as multi purpose community space run by an Alliance of community organisations have welcomed the  opportunity to present their full arguments against the Cabinet decision to the Scrutiny Committee.

Leslie Barson who has worked in Granville Carlton for over 26 years said:
We are very pleased this decision has been called in with the support of our three councillors. With the population of South Kilburn planned to more than double  and with no new multi purpose community spaces planned  we are determined to keep Granville Carlton site for the community.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Brent Council to consult on revoking byelaw that prohibits cycling in parks & open spaces

General Purposes Committee on Tuesday will consider a proposal to consult on revoking a byelaw that prohibits cycling in 55 out of 90 of our parks and open spaces.

The consultation will be preceded by a survey of parks and open spaces to assess suitability and mitigation measures that will be required to protect other park users, a speed limit of 5 mph is envisaged.

Brent Cyclists, the local branch of the London Cycling Campaign had raised the issue and pointed out how it contradicted the Council's policy to encourage cycling and exercise.

Other byelaws would still be available to deal with people who cycled dangerously.

A final decision on revocation would be made at the July Full Council meeting.


Greta Thunberg responds to the critics: '...Please stop asking your children for the answers to your own mess.'

Following Friday's world-wide schoolchildren's strike Greta Thunberg has responded to her critics on Facebook. This is what she says:

On Friday March 15th 2019 well over 1,5 million students school striked for the climate in 2083 places in 125 countries on all continents.

The favorite argument here in Sweden (and everywhere else…) is that it doesn’t matter what we do because we are all too small to make a difference. Friday’s manifestation was the biggest day of global climate action ever, according to It happened because a few schoolchildren from small countries like Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland decided not to go to school because nothing was being done about the climate crisis. We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference.

People keep asking me ”what is the solution to the climate crisis.” And how do we ”fix this problem”. They expect me to know the answer.

That is beyond absurd as there are no ”solutions” within our current systems. No one ”knows” exactly what to do. That’s the whole point. We can’t just lower or heighten some taxes or invest in some ”green” funds and go on like before.

Yes there are many many things that are very good and necessary, and improves the situation. Such as solar- and wind power, circular economy, veganism, sustainable farming and so on. But even those are just parts of a greater picture.

We can no longer only focus on individual and separate issues like electrical cars, nuclear power, meat, aviation, bio fuels etc etc. We urgently need a holistic view to adress the full sustainability crisis and the ongoing ecological disaster. And this is why I keep saying that we need to start treating the crisis as the crisis it is. Because only then - and only guided by the best available science (as is clearly stated throughout the Paris Agreement) can we together start creating the global way forward.

But that can never happen as long as we allow the ”yeah-but-what-about-nuclear-power-then-debate” to go on and on and on. This is wasting our time. This is climate delayer-ism. We need to keep a great number of thoughts in our head at same time and yet move forward with the changes at unprecedented speed.

Nuclear power, according to the IPCC, can be a small part of a very big new carbon free energy solution, especially in countries and areas that lack the possibility of a full scale renewable energy supply - even though its extremely dangerous, expensive and time consuming. But let’s leave that debate until we start looking at the full picture.

Some people seem so desperate to go on with the comforts and luxuries of their every day life that they tell others to not have any children. As children, speaking for our little sisters and brothers, we don’t find that very encouraging. It is not us or future generations who have created this. And yet - once again - you blame us.

If not even the scientists, politicians, media and the UN currently can speak up on what exactly needs to be done to ”solve” the climate crisis (in other words, dramatically lowering our emissions starting today) , then how could we, some schoolchildren, know? How can you leave that burden to us?

Once you have done your homework, you realize that we need new politics. We need a new economics, where everything is based on our rapidly declining and extremely limited carbon budget.

But that is not enough. We need a whole new way of thinking. The political system that you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can because all that matters is to win. To get power. That must come to an end. We must stop competing with each other. We need to start cooperating and sharing the remaining resources of this planet in a fair way. We need to start living within the planetary boundaries, focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species.

We are just passing on the words of the science. Our only demand is that you start listening to it. And then start acting.

So please stop asking your children for the answers to your own mess.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Brent Council v Bridge Park judgment expected on Thursday

The judgement in the case that has galvanised the Stonebridge and Harlesden communties  in the defence of Bridge Park Complex will be announced at the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday.

The 'Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Brent versus Leonard Johnson (Trustee of Harlesden People's Council) and the Stonebridge Community Trust' is timetabled for 11am on Thursday 21st March and will be held in Court Room 15, 7 Rolls Building, Royal Courts of Justice, Fetter Lane, EC4A 1NL before Deputy Master Rhys.

It is expected to last 2 hours.

Brent's drive to improve educational achievement of Black Caribbean boys under scrutiny on Monday

Monday's Community Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee will be considering a report they requested from the Strategic Director for Children and Young People on the Council's efforts to improve the educational achievement of boys of Black Caribbean heritage. This is a welcome move, not only because this is a long-standing issue but because it marks an increased level of interest in education by the committee which called for the report after being given the statistics at an earlier meeting.

A close look at the reports above will reveal the main dimensions of under-achievement.

Although Brent secondary schools are mainly academies, while most primary schools remain with the local authority, the Council retains an interest in all schools through the Brent Schools Partnership (BSP).

Although white disadvantaged boys are the most 'under performing' group nationally and locally, Black Caribbean boys in Brent  are the only group that has continued to underperform over the last few years.

The BSP set up the Black Caribbean Strategy Group, chaired by the headteacher of Chalkhill Primary School  which has become the BSP Specialist Centre for Black Caribbean Achievement. Chalkhill was chosen because of the quality of its work with Black Caribbean boys and their families. Over the last 2 years  the Centre has shared their best practice with other schools through training, school visits and shared activities including aspirational careers events and advice.

The report states that the project has undertaken:
·      A supported rigorous and robust analysis of the performance of pupils of Black Caribbean heritage and the effectiveness of key aspects of schools’ practice to ensure the pupils achieve well.
·      The designation of a Black Caribbean Achievement Champion in every school in Brent for a period of two years. The Champion will lead on the school’s plan to improve outcomes for pupils of Black Caribbean heritage, including monitoring its impact and engagement with parents/carers.
·      A programme of half termly training for Black Caribbean Achievement Champions to ensure high levels of skills and competencies to deliver their role effectively, leading to real impact on outcomes in schools.
·      A programme of training for groups of staff and for school governors.
·      The development of online resources for parents on strengthening their role and contribution to improving their children’s learning and progress, and reducing the likelihood of their children being excluded from schools. This would provide links to opportunities for accreditation, face-to-face advice and workshops. The resources will draw on the experience and expertise of local community groups.
·      Leadership and management of the overall Black Caribbean Strategy, including regular collation and analysis of the attainment and progress of pupils of Black Caribbean heritage.

 Gail Tolley, Strategic Director for Children and Young People notes:
The project is very much focused on ensuring the best possible provision for every boy. It is important to state that over 40 per cent of the group are meeting national expectations for results at the end of the primary and secondary phases, and their success must be celebrated alongside the success of the majority of pupils in Brent. This project is aiming to ensure that the boys in the 20 percentage point gap also attain their full potential. The evaluation of provision in each school will identify the factors that affect the group and individual pupils which may vary across the borough. It is important to avoid any over-generalisation of the factors that may be affecting the boys who are underperforming. The Champion is instead expected to monitor the data for every boy which includes their attendance and progress data (that school leaders usually collect from teachers every term), and to put in place the appropriate actions and interventions that address any individual boy’s underperformance.
The late Basil Bernstein noted decades ago that 'education cannot compensate for society.' By that he meant that schools alone could not solve society's problems. It is worth remembering that when so much is expected of schools, although of course they work extremely hard to give pupils an equal chance and this project is a big step forward.

It was with Bernstein's quote in mind that I suggested at a recent Governors' Briefing on the Black Caribbean Strategy that the Council needed to situate the initiative in a wider context which would include addressing some of the issues where the Black Caribbean community feels it is not being fairly treated. The most high profile example at the moment is the future of the Bridge Park Complex but there are others including the closure of Stonebridge Adventure Playground, the cuts in the youth service and the closure of Children's Centres. Nationally the Windrush Generation scandal and Theresa May's hostile environment have increased uncertainty and disaffection.

Schools don't exist on a sanitised island.

The Scrutiny Committee takes place on Monday 18th March, 6pm at the Civic Centre, Wembley Park and is open to the public.

The full report is HERE

Thousands march in London on World Against Racism Day

I made a video of yesterday's march to show the range of people and organisations that took part. The Islamophobic terrorist attack in New Zealand was particularly in people's minds along with the rise of the right in Europe and domestically. David Rosenberg's speech at the end of the video addresses some of these issues.