Saturday, 30 May 2009


Police have been alerted to a spate of asbestos dumping in Brent. According to Brent Council the dumps appear to be neatly piled on top of each other - either heavy duty corrugated roofing or broken into pieces and put into light grey plastic sacks numbering between 1-25. Police are watching out for flat back lorries that appear to be carrying asbestos or light grey bags, as well as large demolition sites where asbestos roofing may be being taken down.

Dumpings have been found in Birchen Grove NW10, The Rise NW10, Douglas Avenue Wembley, Jeymer Avenue NW2, Lindsay Drive Kenton and Mount Pleasant Wembley.

Anyone spotting dumping taking place should not approach the perpetrators in any circumstances but note details, and should not touch anything that looks like asbestos. They should report what they have seen to Ian Stewart, Waste Services Manager on 020 8937 5057.


Uniting to stop the BNP - about fifteen people turned up to leaflet at Wembley Park station on Friday evening. There were so many people taking part and it was so busy that we ran out of 500 tabloid papers and a few hundred leaflets in less than an hour.

Those taking part included NUT and UCU union members, two Brent Labour councillors, Martin Francis, Green Party candidate for Brent North, Ian Saville, the Socialist Magician, Pam Laurance from Friends of the Earth, members of the Socialist Workers Party and their friends.

Residents were urged to make sure they voted on June 4th as a low turn-out would favour the BNP.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Gardiner and Blackman Lab-Con Anti-academy Alliance

Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for North Brent and Bob Blackman, leader of the Conservative group on Brent Council and a coalition partner of the Liberal Democrats, have united to write to London Mayor Boris Johnson to persuade him to refuse the Lib Dems permission to build an ARK City Academy on playing fields in Wembley.

Their letter states:

The local Labour Member of Parliament, Barry Gardiner and the Conservative Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr. Bob Blackman, have joined together because of our concern about the inadequacies of the case that the Liberal controlled administration on Brent Council have put before you for consideration.

It is our shared view that you should not allow this proposal to pass, at the very least, until certain clarifications and conditions are provided that would make good the deficiencies of the current application. These deficiencies as they relate to the Mayor’s proper concerns are with regard to:

• The transport assessments

• Transport capacity and cost

• The environmental sustainability of the development

• The potential safety risk to the adjacent Metropolitan and Jubilee Lines

Click HERE for the full letter

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


The current disillusionment with the three main political parties in the wake of the expenses row, and the consequent possibility of a low turn-out, presents the possibility that the BNP could gain seats in the Euro elections.

Supporters of Unite Against Fascism; members of the National Union of Teachers and other trade unionists; and members of several political parties, including the Greens, will be leafleting at local tube stations this week to alert local residents to the danger.

Tonight they will be at Harrow on the Hill station from 5pm to 7pm and Wembley Park station on Friday 29th May 5pm to 7pm.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, unexpectedly failed to approve Brent's ARK Academy planning application on Wednesday. On Tuesday a coalition of objectors, including Barn Hill Residents Association, Wembley Park Action Group, Cllr Bob Blackman, Barry Gardiner MP and myself from Brent Green Party, had met with senior planners to explain our objections and stressed the broad opposition that there was to an academy on the Wembley Park site.
In another development the Government Office for London is also considering the application as it represents a departure from the Unitary Development Plan of Brent Council. They have told us that Brent Green Party's views on the matter will be taken into account when a decision on the referral is made.

Meanwhile John Timms, a drainage expert, has called into question the viability of the site on technical grounds because of its water-logged nature, lack of outlet for excess water and the immense and permanent cost of pumping out excess water. There are serious questions about the viability of a building on the site where the proposed academy is becoming known as Christie's Folly after Watkin's Folly (see photograph). Sir Edward Watkin proposed a London 'Eiffel Tower' and began building one on the site of what is now the nearby Wembley Stadium. It was abandoned after only 155 feet and eventually demolished when it began sinking into the London clay.


Cllr Vijay Shah was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on Wednesday at St Albans Crown Court for a £55,000 fraud. Shah who was elected as a Lib Dem councillor now sits as an independent for Wembley Central ward.

Any prison sentence of more than 3 months disqualifies someone from office and a by-election will be called once the 28 day appeal period is up.

Monday, 4 May 2009


Arguments over whether there was a real need for the temporary ARK Academy infant school will be fuelled by figures given out at the Scrutiny Committee on April 29th.

The figures showed that there was a total of 98 reception class vacancies in local schools as of April 27th, including 4 in the Academy itself. This included 15 at Wembley Primary and 17 at Preston Park which are both near the Academy, as well as 8 in Stonebridge, 12 at St Marys RC and 16 at st Mary's C of E. The figures bear out the claim by objectors to the Academy that it would damage local community primary schools.

The Casual Admission figures (children applying for school places during the school year outside the usual admissions process) January 2006-December 2008 provided to the Planning Committee do not make it clear whether these are net of those leaving the borough. If leavers have not been deducted the figures are meaningless. There were similar problems last year when Council publicity over a shortage of spaces did not take account of children moving out of the borough.


Cllr Bob Wharton, Brent's lead member for Children, Families and Schools, laments the neglect of the wider curriculum and the damaging impact of the SATs system which 'only relate to numeracy and English' in his interview with Alex Wellman in the Willesden and Brent Times this week. I hope this means he supports the boycott of the SATs proposed by the NAHT and NUT. The ending of SATs will be a real liberation for pupils and teachers and enable them to concentrate on the real business of learning.

However Cllr Wharton's stance is contradicted by his support for the Wembley ARK Academy which boasts in its brochure that the infant school will have four literacy lessons and three numeracy classes a day - little room for much else I would have thought.


Copyright R.Sones Reusable under Creative Commons Licence

One of Brent Council's claims in promoting the Wembley Academy has been that there is no suitable site in the south of the borough. This means that the 50% of secondary pupils expected to come from the Stonebridge/Harlesden area would have to commute by at least two buses.

It now appears that the independent Swaminarayan School opposite the Neasden Temple in Brentfield Road, NW10 might be interested in moving their school to the north of the borough or Harrow, where most of their pupils come from, or in converting the school to a state funded academy. A sensible move when the recession makes private education less affordable. Previously the Council has rejected the neighbouring Gwynneth Rickus Building (the CSD) as a possible site but had not considered the combined Swaminarayan and CSD sites.

Swaminarayan acquired the site in 1992 after Brent council closed down Sladebrook High School. Since then local pupils have had to make their way across the North Circular to Wembley to attend a community secondary school. Although transport links to the school and the CSD are poor, it would be within comfortable walking distance for children from Stonebridge, Brentfield, Harlesden, Neasden and the St Raphaels Estate. This would reduce pupil journeys by car and public transport while the Wembley Park proposal would increase them. Map

As the centre of gravity of the borough shifts towards the north with the regeneration of Wembley and the replacing of many locally-sited council buildings by the Civic Centre, a school in the south of Brent would help enhance and enrich the area, providing additional facilities in terms of education, sports and culture. There is already parental pressure for a community secondary school in the south of the borough; a school on the site merits serious consideration by councillors.