Thursday 30 April 2009


One of the interesting aspects of the Academy debate has been the position of the Brent Conservatives. At the public meeting on the Academy held at the Torch pub in Wembley I shared a platform with Bob Blackman, leader of Brent Tories and Hank Roberts of the NUT. As well as saying that he was opposed to an Academy on the site of Wembley Playing Fields, Cllr Blackman went further and said that in his personal opinion there was no place for private sponsors in publicly funded schools and that he favoured local democratic accountability through the local authority.

Speaking at Tuesday's meeting in the week that the Tories had suggested turning primary schools into academies, Cllr Blackman kept his comments to site issues. He argued that the temporary primary academy was already having a detrimental impact on the rolls of Preston Park and Wembley Primary schools and that Wembley Primary was considering going down to three forms of entry from four. An amazing decision considering that Wembley has just been rebuilt at the cost of millions of pounds to house a four form entry school.

He suggested that two new primary schools could have been provided in the Wembley Masterplan area to serve new housing as well as a secondary school in the south of the regeneration area. He said that the bus routes from the Stonebridge/Harlesden area to Wembley are already congested and that pupils would have to take at least 2 buses to get to Wembley Park. The route from Harlesden/Stonebridge was on the Bakerloo line but Wembley Park was on the Jubilee.

Tuesday 28 April 2009


The plan for a city academy at Wembley Park sponsored by a hedge fund millionaire, was approved tonight when two Labour councillors supported the Liberal Democrat's proposals.

The Lib Dem's Conservative coalition partners and a Democratic Conservative councillor opposed the plans. They were joined by Cllr. Habhajan Singh (Labour, Welsh Harp) who had earlier unsuccessfully moved for deferral on the grounds that the council should produce an Environmental Impact Assessment and provide fuller detail on traffic issues. The Brent Green Party had made the lack of an Environmental Impact Assessment for such a major project a major plank of its objection to the planning application.

It was heartening to see a councillor willing to step out of the party line to make a stand for the environment. However the actions of fellow Labour councillors James Powney and Ruth Moher means that an unofficial Lib Dem-Labour coalition exists on the city academy issue, despite the overall council being run by a Lib Dem-Conservative coalition.

The chair refused to call me to speak on the Green Party's submission on the curious basis that I represented a political party and that this was not a 'party political issue'! He also refused to call Hank Roberts of the Wembley Park Action Group and would only allow Jean Roberts to speak despite her protests that she had submitted both names. She made an excellent speech and cogent arguments were also made by local residents.

The application will now be referred to the London Mayor's Office and the battle will move on to that ground.

Brent Green Party's submission can be found on its website.

Brent Council Explain What's Happening

Chris Whyte, Head of Environmental Management at Brent Council, has responded to the story below with this statement:

"Compaction vehicles support the recycling collection vehicles by relieving them of bulky mixed cans and plastic bottles. This frees up space so the vehicles can continue with their rounds without returning to the depot. The bottles and cans are collected mixed and are separated at a MRF. This is standard practice and has been agreed with the council. It is a measure of the amount of waste that we collect for recycling. No waste is landfilled."

Friday 24 April 2009


The next episode in the Wembley ARK Academy story will take place at Brent Town Hall at 7pm on Tuesday 28th April. The Planning Committee will meet to consider the planning application for a permanent academy on the Wembley Playing Fields site.

Opponents of the scheme, including local residents associations, the Wembley Park Action Group and the Brent Green Party will hope to derail the controversial scheme. Their arguments will centre on a less than democratic planning process, poor and faulty documentation, increased traffic congestion, loss of playing fields to the community and the need for a new school in the south of the borough rather than the north.

ARK recruited to their primary school before formal planning position for a temporary building had been granted and has advertised secondary places before the approval of this application. They were reduced to giving out recruitment material at the nearby ASDA supermaket and attempting to sign up parents as if they were selling double glazing. Brent residents have never been fully and openly consulted on the principle of privately sponsored academies but firmly rejected such provision when they were consulted about school places provision.

Tuesday 14 April 2009


Follow this link to hear Mark Thomas make the case for the Green Party


Healthcare for London is currently consulting on proposals for two new services. The consultation closes on May 8th 2009:

  • new trauma networks based around three or four new major trauma centres

  • new hyper-acute stroke units and transient ischaemic attack (TIA sometimes called mini stroke) services

The first proposal is for three or four networks centring around one hospital designated a major trauma centre, serving local hospitals designated trauma centres. The major trauma centre would provide 24/7 immediate treatment for the most serious injuries. Local trauma centres will treat people with less serious injuries.


1. Four trauma networks - Major trauma centres at Royal London Hospital, King's College, St George's (all working by April 2010) and St Mary's (by April 2012). Northwick Park and Central Middlesex linked to St Mary's Paddington.

2. Four trauma networks - The first three as above and the fourth, the Royal Free, working by April 2012. Northwick Park and Central Middlesex would be linked to the Royal Free.

3. Three trauma networks- Just the first three with Northwick Park and Central Middlesex linked to the Royal London.

Option 1 is the preferred option as it would give wider coverage and St Mary's would deal with a small number of local hospitals. It is also closer to central London, Heathrow and Brent. Option 3 may be preferred as it would be quicker to set up. You can express an option preference.


Healthcare are proposing:

1. 8 Hyper-acute stroke units - these will provide immediate response to a stroke for the first 72 hours or until the patient has stabilised.

2. 20 Stroke units - these will provide ongoing care once a patient is stabilised including multi-therapy rehabilitation

3. TIA Services - these Will provide rapid assessment and access to a specialist within 24 hours for high-risk patients or 7 days for low-risk patients.

Northwick Park is a preferred option for all three services.

Further details


Friday 10 April 2009


Brent Green Party is ready to fight a vigorous campaign to win the Wembley Central seat in the event of a by-election.

A by-election is possible following Cllr Vijay Shah's decision to plead guilty to 11 counts of financial fraud at St. Alban's Crown Court. Cllr Shah is currently an independent councillor having lost Liberal Democratic Party support when charges were first brought against him. The other two councillors in the ward are Liberal Democrats.

Cllr Shah will be sentenced on May13th and if sentenced to three months or more , without the option of a prison sentence, would automatically be disqualified from holding a council seat. According to Wembley and Kingsbury Times sources he is expected to get a prison sentence.

Now that Cllr Shah has admitted fraud reportedly totalling around £50,000, it would be best for the electorate if he stood down immediately to allow a by-election to take place. He should not remain in public office. The Wembley Central electorate facing all the problems of the recession need to be represented by a fully engaged councillor of good standing.

The 2006 Local Election was closely fought between the Lib Dems and Labour:
Daniel Bessong (LD) 1709, Valerie Brown (LD) 1738, Vijay Shah (LD) 1824
Dhirajlal Katana (Lab) 1619, Navaratnam Paramakumaran(Lab) 1443, Zaffer Van Kalwala (Lab) 1420
Candidates from other parties all polled less than 500 votes each but the political landscape has changed considerably since 2006 and it could be an open and exciting contest.

Thursday 9 April 2009


Brent Green Party's success in forcing Wembley ASDA to act on concerns over pedestrian safety wins substantial local press coverage today.

Following a two year campaign ASDA has made changes to the access road to its Wembley depot that means lorries will no longer block the pedestrian road crossing. Brent Greens wrote to police, Brent Transportation Unit, local councillors and the ASDA CEO; gained publicity in local papers through letters and demonstrations and put photographic evidence of the danger on the party's website and YouTube channel. They put their case to the manager of the Wembley ASDA at a meeting in December 2008 and were promised action.
A new gate (see photograph) was finally completed on Sunday 5 April, with the specific intention of allowing pedestrians safe passage.
Shahrar Ali, Green Party candidate for the European Parliament and Brent Green Party spokesperson for environment and planning welcomed ASDA's action: "We are delighted that ASDA has finally taken action to remedy the dangerous parking of lorries outside their loading bay, which until today presented pedestrians with a serious obstacle to the safe crossing of a slip road. It is notable that no other official body that we impressed upon, from the council officials to the highway police, were instrumental in getting the result the pedestrians and other road users were demanding."
An ASDA spokeswoman told the Willesden and Brent Times, "We are pleased to say now that this problem has been brought to our attention, it has now been resolved and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused customers or local residents."

Tuesday 7 April 2009


Dr Shahrar Ali, Green Party candidate for the European Parliament London region said,"The government may be busy congratulating itself for facilitating consensus at the G20 summit. But there has been wanton disregard of the climate change emergency."

"By ignoring the systemic causes of financial instability and promoting economic growth at all costs, the G20 leaders unwittingly conspire to bring the devastating harms of climate change ever closer."

Dr Ali continued, "The recent film Age of Stupid showed just how oblivious go-getting entrepreneurs could be to the unsustainability of their actions. Just see how the managing director of a low cost airline could have his supposed moral purpose coloured by the prospect of a fast buck."

"No, G20. Until or unless the cost to the earth is factored into the economic equation, through the promotion of sustainable green industry and a rejection of over consumption, there can be little cause for celebration."

Monday 6 April 2009

The churchyard at Old St.Andrew's Church, Kingsbury has been undergoing a big clear-up recently. The work is being done under the Community Payback scheme where offenders do six hours a day unpaid work, rather than serving a prison sentence. Serious offenders are not eligible and most of those serving a community sentence have been found guilt of theft, traffic offences or public order offences. The scheme was recently in the news over proposals to make offenders wear high-visibility vests while at work. The scheme is run jointly by the Probation Service, Safer Neighbourhood Teams and the Local Authority.

St Andrew's Old Church dates from the 11th century and it is thought there has been a church on the site since Saxon times. It is Brent's only Grade 1 listed building and has suffered from vandalism. The church is owned by the Churches Conservation Trust but the graveyard is the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council of Kingsbury who have worked hard at clearing the churchyard in recent years.

Today in the Spring sunshine, paths had been cleared and there were masses of violets amongst the graves. The workers are constructing a hurdle type fence around the graveyard constructed from the trees and shrubs they have cut down. They explained that they hoped the ubiquitous ivy would climb over the hurdles and form a solid barrier. It was clear that the work had been done with sensitivity and perhaps even a little enthusiasm - surely better than languishing in a cell.

Sunday 5 April 2009


Darren Johnson AM, Green Party spokesperson on trade and industry, reviewing the G20 Statement said Gordon Brown had delivered a “kick in the teeth for British industry and global sustainability.” He said Brown had “managed to pull off a global stimulus that includes less than seven per cent climate-friendly investment.”

He went on, “Britain’s over-reliance on financial services has been a spectacular failure. It’s time we re-built the real economy. There are a raft of emerging technologies waiting for government investment to kick-start the Green industrial revolution that will give us the economy of the future - a balanced economy that includes heavy industry and self-reliance on energy. We have a golden opportunity to beat the recession and the climate crisis in one - and we’re wasting it.”

He concluded, “Every time we see evidence of progress we also see evidence that governments are dragging their feet. They don’t seem to understand that the policies we need for tackling climate change will bring huge social and economic benefits. “We need more Greens in elected office, because we need to push parliaments and assemblies and local councils towards a better understanding and a better set of policies.”

Full Statement


A survey on air pollution in London closes tomorrow. The Environment Committee of the London Assembly is asking Londoners to say what air pollution is like where they live and work, and how air pollution has affected them.

About 1,000 premature deaths annually in London are attributed to poor air conditions and Brent has the busy North Circular Road running right through it. Boris Johnson's dropping of the low emissions zone and the Western Extension of the Congestion Zone means opportunities have been missed to improve air quality.

Have your say by filling in the short survey. Follow this link: Air Quality Survey

Friday 3 April 2009

Brent MPs Criticise Omission of Climate Change From G20 Talks

Two of our local MPs spoke out in the House of Commons yesterday G20's failure to include the issue of climate change in their talks.

In the debate that followed the G20 statement, Barry Gardiner asked Alistair Darling, "Given that the world currently consumes each year the resources that the planet takes one year and four months to renew or replace, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is just as important that the G20 should have examined not only the credit bubble and fallout in the global economy, but the credit bubble in the global environment?"

Sarah Teather put the failings of the G20 more baldly in the Easter Adjournment Debate where she made an extended contribution. Reflecting on the Brent screenings of The Age of Stupid she said, "As the G20 meets today, having bumped climate change off the agenda, I cannot help but think that we almost certainly do live in the age of stupid. Not only has the G20 bumped climate change from the agenda, with the decision to look at it at the Copenhagen conference later this year, but it will have failed—at least I expect that it will have failed; we await the Chancellor's statement later this afternoon—to link the fiscal stimulus that so many countries are arguing for with the green economy. That most certainly is a very stupid thing indeed."

Later in the debate she said, "The G20 may have junked the environment this week, but we have time before Copenhagen in December to lay the groundwork for a serious climate deal that could make a huge difference. We need our Government to take a lead on that now, and to be at the forefront of climate negotiations. We must have a serious commitment to cut emissions by at least 30 per cent., not the 20 per cent. with time off for carbon trading that came with the European Union deal. We must also put developing countries' concerns at the heart of the climate change deal. We have grown rich in part by polluting. We must now repay that debt to the developing world by financing and sharing technology so that countries can access clean and green energy and develop in a sustainable way, and we must help developing countries to adapt to the damaging consequences of climate change that will, unfortunately, happen regardless of what we do."

Link to Barry Gardiner's Question and Darling's answer

Link to Sarah Teather's Contribution to Adjournment Debate 1

Link to Sarah Teather's Contribution 2