Sunday 21 February 2010

Malik makes it messy for Tories in Brent North

Click on image to enlarge

I did a double take when I saw this poster in a local shop - at first I thought it was something from the BNP! It turns out to be a campaign poster for Cllr Atiq Malik who was elected to Brent Council as a Conservative but after falling out with Cllr Blackman, leader of the Brent Conservative Group, formed the Brent Democratic Conservative Group with Cllr Robert Dunwell.

Malik has aroused controversy for his comments on Sharia law and women (Cllr James Powney is engaged in a spat with him on this subject at the moment), was accused of using an assumed name to praise himself as a potential parliamentary candidate for the Tories on a Conservative website, and is carrying out a bitter campaign against Barry Gardiner on expenses.

Malik has jumped in as an Independent candidate before the official Tory selection which takes place at the Pattidar Centre on March 4th. The Tories will be choosing from Madhuri Davda, Louise Hall, Tim Lines, Anjana Patel, Blaine Robin and former mayor Harshadbhai Patel. On the Conservative Home website Malik tells the party that no Tory could beat Barry Gardiner in Alperton, Wembley Central, Sudbury, Fryent and Queensbury wards. Look closely at the poster and you can see Malik lists all these wards as places where he is working for 'all communities' and throws in Barnhill, Kenton and Northwick Parek for good measure - the full set!

Elsewhere on Conservative Home he claims Tories will need a 10% swing to unseat Gardiner but doesn't discuss the impact of his own candidature. The Odds Checker website gives a clue: Labour (Barry Gardiner) is quoted at 1/3, Conservatives at 9/4, Lib Dems (James Allie) at 25/1, Malik at 40/1 and I bring up the rear at 100/1. No odds are quoted for the English Democrats (Arvind Taylor).

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Comment is free but libel could be expensive!

The story about the Youth Parliament elicited many comments which showed a heartfelt antipathy towards the Council from many local people. Amongst those comments are some which I have not published because they contained allegations about individuals which could have resulted in legal action.  To quote Tony Benn, it is issues that are important, rather than personalities.

I am happy to publish comments about local issues, including those which take up matters such as the extent of local democracy, accountability, consultation (or lack of it), neglect of some communities and the key Council areas of education, social care, libraries, parks, transport, planning and housing - but not personal attacks on individuals. These policy areas are of fundamental importance as we approach the local elections in May.

For those who want to air more personal concerns there is the option of setting up a blog of your own and it is easily done - follow this LINK.

Martin Francis

Sunday 14 February 2010

Dan out of prison and fighting on

Dan Viesnik was released from Pentonville last week after serving four days imprisonment for refusing to pay his fine. He is now busy helping with the Aldermaston Big Blockade which is happening tomorrow.

This video shows Dan setting out his reasons for not paying the fine and his background in anti-nuclear weapons activity. It also contains footage of Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader, speaking on the nuclear weapons issue.

Monday 8 February 2010

Kensal Rise Victory?

We have received this message from Doron & Minkie who were campaigning against the re-siting of the Kensal Rise bus stop

Victory!... thank you!

It appears that due to overwhelming community pressure Brent Council have decided to withdraw their new bus lay-by proposal... even though they recently completed pavement works to reposition cables to make way for the proposed bus lay-by!

WELL DONE TO EVERYONE. We submitted a petition to Tim Jackson with over 1500 signatures, and of course copies of all emails. They were also inundated with emails!

This afternoon we have received an email from Emily Tancred (local Lib Dem councillor) , who in turn received an email from Tim Jackson, Head of Transport at Brent. We have asked for a copy of this e-mail and believe it says something to the affect of... the council’s plan for removing these buses by making a bus stop 'was clearly mistaken'.

We are so heartened by the immensely warm and caring community we live and also work in and would like to thank you all for your time, effort and hard work given to help overturn this ludicrous proposal.

Clearly something needs to be done about the buses but hopefully in the future we can be consulted as a community in order to find a sensible solution. We have asked Tim Jackson that we be personally consulted in all future proposals. You will in turn of course be contacted by us with any such news, which of course there will be... the problem with buses and traffic congestion has not gone away!

Friday 5 February 2010

Think local, change the whole country

Empty Democracy?

The comments on the Youth Parliament story indicate widespread disenchantment with the political process as it stands. This message may be of interest to you.

My name is Annie Quick.

I'll be organising POWER2010 in London. It's my job to make sure that people in our community stand up to our politicians - making sure that they all sign up to our Pledge - and then follow through on their commitment in the next Parliament.

We need to let our candidates know that we want our democracy to have a fresh people powered start.

Help me tell them - click here to vote for the reforms you most want to see in the POWER2010 Pledge.

POWER2010 is a UK-wide movement, but it's most important at the local level. Together we will ensure every candidate standing for election backs these reforms so that the next Parliament delivers the change we need.

The best way to communicate that to them now is to vote. The more votes we have, the more legitimate we'll appear to the politicians, and the more they'll respect us.

I'll ask for more help as we get closer to the elections, but for now the most important thing you can do is vote for the reforms you want to see in the POWER2010 Pledge:

Together, we can make our democracy better, stronger and fairer.

Thank you,

Annie Quick

P.S. In the next few weeks POWER2010 will be stepping up the campaign in London, so if you'd like to get more involved in supporting us in your community sign up here:


Wednesday 3 February 2010

Kensal Rise Plea - Save Our High Street Now

An important message from Doron at Minkie’s Deli

Dear Friends,

We have only one week to pull together and fight what will ruin the top of Kensal Rise. We need your support to preserve our thriving community and not turn it into a giant bus depot!

Brent Council is trying to build a new bus stop and layby to accommodate three buses on Chamberlayne Road, just outside Minkie’s. This involves cutting down the beautiful healthy and mature tree, and narrowing the pavement which will then be too narrow for a pushchair – all to create a layby at the top of the hill: unsightly and noisy, and exacerbating already dreadful traffic congestion on Chamberlayne Road.

No residents or local businesses were consulted before this was put into play, jeopardising Kensal Rise’s family and child friendliness. Brent Council has kept this under wraps and is closing the ‘consultation period’ on FEBRUARY 5, 2010… which is THIS FRIDAY. The consultation document neglects to state that the council also intends to abolish the bus stands in Station Terrace (which holds up to six buses): this has only emerged from a telephone conversation with the transportation department. This will cause an even greater congestion problem on Chamberlayne Road.

In the last three years, Minkie’s Deli has tried to help make Kensal Rise and Chamberlayne Road an aesthetically pleasing, welcoming, family-friendly and community-driven neighbourhood. Imagine walking up Chamberlayne from Harvist Road and all you see is stationary buses on the left and right hand sides of the hill.

Send your views to Phil Rankmore, Head of Special Projects, Transportation Service Unit: BCCing us at so we have evidence that residents are complaining. Please ask your friends and neighbours to do so too. I am sure you understand why this is extremely important to us!

View the consultation documents HERE Click on Chamberlayne Road Layby and then on the two links to the consultation document and questionnaire. We really appreciate your support in maintaining a welcoming and safe environment on our high street.

Ironically, this bus lay-by will not affect Minkie’s trade. In fact it is likely to increase our direct footfall – it will just ruin the look of the area as a whole and Chamberlayne Road will be further riddled with traffic.

You can also come into Minkie’s and sign our petition.

Monday 1 February 2010

Wembley Peace Activist Sentenced to 14 Days Imprisonment

Sit-down protest at AWE Aldermaston, 27 July 2007 - pic by M. Atkinson

Wembley peace  and environmental justice campaigner, Daniel Viesnik, was today sentenced to 14 days imprisonment at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court.  The sentence was in relation to an unpaid fine of £50 and costs of £465 resulting from a peaceful symbolic sit-down protest outside the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, Berkshire in July 2007, during the Footprints for Peace International Walk towards a Nuclear-Free Future from Dublin to London.

In December Daniel had written to the Court in the following terms:

I have given the matter plenty of consideration and have thus arrived at the decision that as a matter of conscience I shall not pay the outstanding sum, either as a lump sum or by instalment. My wholly unnecessary, disproportionate and unjust prosecution, conviction and penalty for "obstructing the highway" arose from my participation in an entirely peaceful symbolic sit-down protest in opposition to what I consider to be the illegal, immoral and criminally irresponsible maintenance and development of weapons of mass murder and destruction, namely Trident nuclear warheads, and supporting infrastructure at the Aldermaston atomic death factory (also known as Atomic Weapons Establishment) in West Berkshire. The event in question took place on 27 July, 2007 as I walked nearly 900 miles from Dublin to London via Belfast and Glasgow for a nuclear-free future with an international group called Footprints for Peace. I was doing nothing more that day than peacefully carrying out my moral duty to protect humanity and life on planet Earth from the grave threat of nuclear annihilation and radiation exposure. My strength of feeling on this issue is such that I am prepared to face imprisonment rather than pay the fine, despite never having experienced prison before. I initiated a case-stated appeal to the High Court against my conviction, but eventually withdrew for reasons that do not concern this Court. In my experience the courts in general appear to be deaf to arguments of morality, conscience and common sense, especially in politically-sensitive cases such as this, with the result that true justice is often sacrificed in favour of appeasing the Establishment.

Showing his usual quiet courage and perseverance Dan maintained his dignity and respectful demeanour throughtout his appearance and addressed. the court from the dock. He was supported by about 20 sympathisers and will serve his sentence at Pentonville.

I express my admiration for Dan's principled action and his courage at a time when there is so little of either in evidence from our politicians. It is incredible that on Friday the Chilcott Inquiry failed to make Tony Blair answer for waging an illegal war, which killed thousands of innocent civilians, on a pretext of non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction; and on Monday a peace activist was jailed for not paying a fine incurred when he demonstrated against our own Weapons of Mass Destruction.