Sunday 31 July 2011

Veolia concerns should be taken seriously - Lib Dem councillor

Cllr Ann Hunter (Lib Dem) brought up the issue of the West London Waste contract at the Council meeting on July 11th with a question to Cllr James Powney. The minutes of the meeting have just been published and the exchange is set out below:
Councillor Hunter stated that she understood lead members had received representations from residents asking that Veolia be excluded from the current procurement exercise for waste disposal because they felt the company had demonstrated racist recruitment practices with reference to its activities in the West Bank and Israel. Councillor Powney replied that West London Waste was embarking on a waste procurement exercise and it could not jeopardise this by not following the proper processes. Councillor Hunter responded by saying that she would like to see West London Waste take the concerns of local residents seriously and that she had been shocked to see the advertisement for jobs on the Jerusalem Light Railway which effectively prevented the majority of local Palestinian citizens from applying. She asked how it could be allowed that Veolia was treated as a suitable contractor and felt that the matter needed to be given serious consideration.
 Residents who share the concerns should see the letter Human Right campaigners are sending to the Council HERE and if they wish to sign it send their name. e-mail and postcode

Friday 29 July 2011

Stanmore Park By-Election Result

Marilyn Ashton has been elected as the ward councillor for Stanmore Park. The Conservative candidate received 1,395 votes, 58% of the votes cast. Turnout was 28%.

Labour candidate Niraj Dattani received 509 votes; independent candidate Eric Silver received 299 votes; Liberal Democrat Sylvia Warshaw, 98 votes; Green Party Linda Robinson, 53 votes; and UK Independence Party Herbert Crossman, 48 votes.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Human Rights Activists Call for Veolia Exclusion from Major Waste Contract

Human Rights campaigners in six London boroughs, including Brent and Harrow, are seeking support for their efforts to get Veolia excluded from the current bidding process for the multi-million West London Waste Management Contract. The contract covers Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond.

The campaign is based on allegations that Veolia, a French multi-national, has demonstrated racist practices in its recruitment policies and has been guilty of grave misconduct through its active participation in violations of international and humanitarian laws and norms.

Campaigners are asking residents of the six boroughs to sign a letter to the West London Waste Authority which sets out the case LINK

If you would like to sign the letter please send your name, borough and postcode to:

Chalkhill is on the way up

Anyone involved with schools knows that it takes years to build up a good reputation in a community but that this can be destroyed by a single event. Unhappily a bad reputation can hang around for years becoming an unquestioned assumption locally despite any evidence to the contrary. Unfortunately a single event cannot change this overnight. Things are worse if the community around the school has a historically determined 'bad' reputation even though that community may have been transformed.  Restoring a school's reputation is a long hard slog that requires dedication from staff and governors and a group of parents who believe in the school - and a local authority that will back it.

That enormous effort  is paying off at Chalkhill Primary where I am one of the governors. Ofsted visited at the end of the summer term and deemed it a good and improving school with some outstanding features. A few years ago it had been a  'failing school'  and in special measures.

The extract from the Ofsted Report below indicates the substantial gains that have been made:
Chalkhill Primary is a good and improving school. Pupils achieve well and thoroughly enjoy learning. It is very popular with pupils, parents and carers. There is a strong commitment from all staff to provide each pupil with the best possible education. Parents, carers and pupils appreciate the excellent quality care provided by the school and good quality learning opportunities. One parental comment summed up the views of the majority saying, ‘Chalkhill has improved a lot in recent years. The school is welcoming and children are supported in their learning very effectively. There is good after-school provision. Teachers are very committed and my child really enjoys his learning.’ Pupils confirmed an equally positive view: ‘We like the way the school takes care of us and makes learning fun.’
The headteacher, governors and senior management team provide strong leadership and clear educational direction which is ensuring good outcomes.
These are the key strengths of the school.
Pupils achieve well and make good progress throughout the school in all aspects of their learning because teaching and learning are good.
Care, guidance and support are outstanding; pupils and their families feel extremely well supported by the school.
Relationships are strong and the school ethos is warm and welcoming and consequently pupils make good gains in their personal development.
Pupils gain excellent knowledge and awareness of how to stay fit and healthy and lead an active lifestyle. ‘Wake up-shake up’ is enjoyed by pupils, staff, parents and carers.
Children get off to a confident start in the Early Years Foundation Stage because provision is good.
The quality of singing is good throughout the school. The school has gained the Gold Sing Up award.
Good links with parents, carers and the local community contribute effectively to the provision.
Community cohesion is good at school, local, national and international levels.
Good partnership links with other external agencies enrich the provision and enable pupils to benefit from additional academic and cultural activities.
The Report illustrates the fact that a school is much more than its SAT results and shows that Chalkhill is providing a well-rounded education for its children. Furthermore it is becoming a positive focus for the local community and helping to raise its aspirations. Chalkhill is on the way up!

Congratulations to staff, pupils and parents.

Work on Chalkhill Park to start in October

School Councillors at Chalkhill Primary have received a response from the ward councillors to their letter asking when work on the new park on the site of the old  Chalkhill Health Centre will start and be completed:
Thank you for taking the trouble to write to us about the proposed park in Chalkhill. It was a pleasure to meet you on our walkabout and it is clear to us that you feel very strongly about this issue.

We share your concern that it seems to have taken a very long time to get things started. However, the good news is that we now expect work to start on the site in October. If everything goes to schedule, this should mean that the park will be completed by April next year to open in May 2012. This will mean that, by this time next year you should be able to look forward to your summer holidays with a lovely park to play in and enjoy.

We will let you know if there are any changes to these plans. Do get in touch again if there is anything else you would like us to look into for you.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Keeping Up with Brent Cuts

I reproduce below an extract from the weekly digest of the local press I circulate to Brent Green Party members. It provides an over-view of the latest news on cuts. The Willesden and Brent Times (WBT) e-edition can be accessed HERE  and the Harrow Times HERE

The contrast between Ann John's comments and the WBT editorial is interesting. The financial reasoning behind the Kingsbury High School academy decision is also significant.

HOW CAN WE AFFORD NEW CIVIC CENTRE WWOp14 (lead letter),  PLAN WILL COST US FOR NEXT 25 YEARS WBTp16, HOW WILL THIS BE PAID FOR? HTp24 Letter from Shahrar Ali as Green Party GLA candidate for Brent and Harrow questioning the financial and environmental claims made for the new Civic Centre currently under construction.
ROAD SWEEPING REDUCTIONS 'WILL MAKE US THE DIRTIEST OLYMPIC BOROUGH' WBTp2 Martin Francis criticises Brent Council's proposed cuts in street cleaning and the abandonment of the seasonal leaf service.
LIBRARY PLANS ARE 'UNLAWFUL' WWOp1 Coverage of the first day in court of library campaigners' application for a judicial review of the Council's decision to close 6 of the 12 Brent libraries. The claim is that the decision failed  to take into account local needs, could lead to indirect discrimination and that the decision was 'predetermined'.
LIBRARY SELL-OFFS ON HOLD WBTp4 Council plans to sell-off two library sites were deferred until August at Monday's Executive due to the judicial review.
JOBS FEAR AS HOSPITALS TRUST FACES £92M FUNDING CUT WBTp2 The NW London Trust (Central Middlesex, Northwick Park, St Marks) is to lose 24% of its budget. Doctors say that it cannot achieve these savings and will fall short by £25-40m.  Health Emergency say that 'it is the people whose care can be put off who will suffer. It is people waiting for operations, older people who need long term treatment and front line staff who will lose out. If staff do not lose their jobs, their their workload will increase....The government has asked for a cut too far'.
CALL FOR ACTION OVER HOSPITAL WAITING LISTS WBTp5 Hospital waiting lists have soared by 10% in Brent with 3,000 people on the lists.  Cllr Zaffar Kalwala (Labour, Stonebridge) says expected cuts will make it worse. The Trust confirmed the rise but said they are on track to better their 18 week target for referrals within the Trust.
NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICE REVAMP IS 'NOT TO MUCH TO WORRY ABOUT WBTp5 21 sergeants in the Safer Neighbourhood Teams will have to reapply for the 16 jobs that will remain after cuts. Chief Supt Gardner said that the wards to be reduced are still being considered but that the issue had been anticipated and that Brent invested in three detective sergeants and four detective constables to investigate neighbourhood crime ;so in fact this will not impact on Brent'.
HOMELESSNESS TO 'SOAR' AS CUTS BITE SAYS CHARITY WBTp9 Cricklewood Homeless Concern say that reductions to public sector provision and caps on housing benefit have led to a 'sharp increase' in homelessness. CHC after 20% cuts is struggling to deal with the average 150 people a week who seek their help. More than 10,000 people in Brent are affected by the benefit cap and are already in force for new claimants and will affect existing claimants early next year.
GOVERNORS VOTE FOR ACADEMY PLAN HTp8 The Chair of Governors of Kingsbury High says that one of the reasons for applying for academy status was their need for increased funding  because the equalisation of funding between 6th forms and further education colleges means they would lose £1,016 per student in their 400 pupil 6th form by 2013. FUNDING OF FESTIVALS WILL STOP WBTp2 Brent Executive cut the money for religious festivals in the borough on Monday saying it was unfair to give the money to certain religious festivals. Cllr Paul Lorber said the religious celebration had been open to all and were designed to improve relations between communities. In answer to his question about th Council's retention of fireworks night Cllr Ann John said this had been retained for health and safety and not religious reasons.
MANY SERVICES ARE STILL BEING IMPROVED DESPITE CUTS WBTp15 Column by Ann John, Labour leader of Brent Council who says that despite the cuts 'it is not all doom and gloom' because regeneration is continuing and they've resisted government attempts to force up council rents to unaffordable levels.  She says the Council is making Brent a greener borough through schemes to increase recycling, tackle fly-tipping and getting rid of old inefficient buildings.
COUNCIL MUST LISTEN TO VOICE OF THE PEOPLE WBTp16 Editorial which says that campaigners on various issues could 'hardly have failed to have noticed that the town hall is ignoring your views'. They cite the libraries issue, parking permits and day care centres. On the Stonebridge Day Centre they say, 'Brent council will say they had no choice; but "following orders" is no excuse, the council should have fought to keep the centre, they could have found an alternative to closing it. They could have listened to the people who pay their salaries and expenses, whose votes they canvass for at elections - the very people they are supposed to represent.'

Kingsbury High NOT Academy Campaign on Facebook

Support the students' campaign HERE

Kingsbury pupil: 'Academy status will not benefit us'

A report on the pupils' strike is now on the Willesden and Brent Times website HERE

Extract: One of the pupils, who asked not to be named, who took part in the demonstration said:
We all went into school but when the bell went everyone stayed in the playground. We stayed there for about an hour and students handed out leaflets. A meeting was called by the headteacher at 11.30am which we attended but we don’t feel our questions were answered properly. We don’t think academy status will benefit us. It can affect teachers pay and conditions and we don’t want our good teachers to leave. Funding isn’t guaranteed. Letters have been going to parents which are very one-sided.

Friday 22 July 2011

Jenny Jones Battles Against Traffic Pollution

200 Kingsbury High School Students Strike

The school students strike at Kingsbury High School did go ahead today. Around 200 pupils stayed out of lessons, chanting and protesting when the bell went. They demanded a meeting with the Head who agreed to meet them later in the morning. At this meeting, complaints were made that once again only one side of the academy argument was given. There are plans for an important school council meeting at the start of the new term.

Note: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Children's Strikes when pupils marched out of schools all over the country inspired by industrial unrest at the time. They made their own demands on issues such as corporal punishment and homework.

Incineration Fight: Haringey Today, Wembley Tomorrow?

As plans emerge for new waste management sites in Brent as part of the West London Waste Management Plan, some of which are likely to be incinerators, events in North London show us the way forward. The West London Waste Authority consulted on possible sites for waste management facilities but NOT on the processes and technologies which will take place in them. These will be detailed when planning applications are made to local Councils.

Things have reached that stage in the North London Waste Authority and a formidable campaign has developed around a huge incinerator at Pinkham Way.. Thanks to Haringey Greens for this Guest posting: Their interesting and informative blog can be accessed HERE

A packed public meeting organised by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Green parties at Hollickwood School close to the proposed waste processing plant, attracted over a hundred people on Thursday (21st July) last night. As recently as this Tuesday, Haringey Council ‘put on hold,’ the plan because as they say on their website, the North London Waste Authority (NWLA) has failed to provide enough detail on the proposals. A decision on planning permission for the development will now be delayed until April 2012, by which time the NWLA should have submitted a more detailed plan.

The speakers at the event were, Colin Parish, a local resident and founder of The Pinkham Way Alliance, Darren Johnson, Green party Greater London Assembly Member, and Quentin Given, Coordinator of Tottenham and Wood Green Friends of the Earth.

Quentin, in his statement to the meeting said, “There is a problem with waste, and what we do with it. London’s Boroughs should be more self-sufficient in waste management and we need to move away from incineration, and waste sites should aim to minimise road movement of this material, which clearly this plan does not. We should also be concerned about the effects this plant will have on wildlife, which is under pressure everywhere.”

Colin, in his statement said, “This factory, will be seventy five feet high, with a chimney almost double that size. The NWLA say that this site is an ex sewage works, but that was fifty years ago, it is now lovely woodland. The plan is for over one thousand vehicle movements a day, in and out of the plant, twenty four hours a day, and we must fight it. This is the worst traffic junction in London in the daytime, and these plans will make this situation even worse.” He also made an appeal for donations to help his group’s legal costs, which he said was the best way to stop the plan going ahead.

Darren agreed that the legal challenge was very important but said “Local residents are a force to be reckoned with, and this had had an effect on Haringey Council’s action in delaying a decision.” He went on to say, “The politics is also important, the Mayor of London can, at the end of the day, decide on whether this plant is built, and with the decision delayed until April 2012, this makes it a big issue at the Mayoral and GLA elections in May next year, which is brilliant timing. This plan is based on the low levels of recycling which we have in London, but we could be achieving over 80% recycling, like they do in many countries in Europe. If we recycled more, we wouldn’t need such large plants as are being proposed. I noticed on the way here to this meeting that the recycle boxes are tiny compared to the big grey wheelie bins. It is also unfair on the people of this area to be expected to take the waste from several boroughs.”

A lively questions and answers session followed the speeches, with general opposition to the plan from all parts of the room. The meeting resolved to continue the fight against this massive scale waste plant, which would have a devastating effect on people’s quality of life in this part of north London.

UK Without Incineration Network LINK 

Animation of the Incineration Process HERE 

Shahrar Ali (Green Party GLA Candidate for Brent and Harrow ) has written up the Pinkham, Way meeting HERE

Philip Pullman: Why it is wrong to close our libraries

I think it is a bad idea for councils to close any libraries because all libraries are treasure houses which should be looked after and protected.

Children especially are the people who can be nurtured into a love for books in libraries which they don’t easily find anywhere else.

Libraries are the only place where they can get the love of books that will engender a life time love of reading.

It is important because it is the fundamental thing that makes us civilised human beings
Follow this link to see full report of Philip Pullman's comments on the Willesden and Brent Times website LINK

Brent: London's dirtiest Olympic borough

I chatted to a couple of street sweepers yesterday who had known nothing about Council plans to cut back on street sweeping with the potential loss of up to 50 jobs. This is the full statement I made to the local newspapers after Monday's Executive decision.
After these cuts Brent will be London's dirtiest Olympic borough. Once again the Council is sacking the lowest paid but most socially useful of its employees. Autumn leaves are beautiful and fun when they first fall but as they rot on pavements soon become unpleasant and slippery. Covered in a sheen of ice they are lethal. Brent Council may end up paying out an arm and leg to ambulance chasing solicitors.

Kingsbury High Pupils Strike Against Academy Plans and Lack of Consultation

Kingsbury High pupils are planning "strike action" today (Friday) at 9-9.30am to protest at plans to turn it into an academy and not being fully consulted on the plans.

At 9.15 when the bell goes, pupils were due to refuse to go to lessons and remain on the field/playground of Princes Ave (upper school site) instead.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Initial judgement on libraries case in second week of August?

"Although reluctant, the Judge said he might be able to say which party had won by the end of the second week of August, and then provide a full reasoned judgement in October."

From an account of Day 3 of the Brent Library case by I Spy in Queen's Park LINK

An excellent account of the second day from the Bookseller  LINK

Pullman pulls them in

PullmanThe excellent Save Kensal Rise Library  blog has a posting on yesterday's proceedings which include the morning session which I was unable to attend: HERE

There was a packed audience, including many young people, for the Philip Pullman event at Queen's Park School yesterday evening REPORT

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Kiss Curls in Court - the latest from Brent Libraries hearing

I popped into the afternoon session at the High Court today to see how the case was progressing. Crammed on to an  uncomfortable, creaking bench and barely able to hear the proceedings my attention kept wandering to the back of Councillor Powney's head where beguiling kiss curls spread across his shoulders. Enough! Back to the serious stuff...

Brent Council's case was being presented and their basic claim was that their decision had been rational, based on 'the facts on the ground' (including their financial plight), that any view of the reasonableness of their decision on grounds of whether their library service was 'comprehensive and efficient' was for the Secretary of State and not the Court, and that their consultation had been thorough and followed common procedures.  They argued that Section 7 of the Libraries and Museums Act mentioned library services and facilities but not buildings as such so that guidance in the Section did not include premises. Their basic case was that the Libraries Transformation Project would give a better library service from fewer buildings.

The areas where the Council's case began to crumble a little under the judge's questioning was the timing and thoroughness of the Equalities Impact Assessment and the lack of detail in the Needs Assessment.  The judge said that the LA seemed to have only assessed needs at a very general level. He  asked if a high level decision has been made on data which had not been spelled out. He said that from the data you could not tell how particular groups, like mothers with young children or schools had been considered. They did not feature in an assessment of need for the particular fixed facility which they could attend. There was no analysis of how the Library Transformation project would cater for them.

Another issue which perplexed him, and Brent's answer hadn't yet satisfied him when the Court adjourned, was the matter of the criteria for voluntary groups to make an offer to run buildings. He was concerned about groups not being informed of the criteria and the evaluation process for bids changing over time. He also asked about whether such offers were supernumerary to what Brent considered (in its transformed state) a 'comprehensive and efficient service'.

The Council side seemed to get a little unhappier as the afternoon proceeded and the Campaigners slightly more confident but it appears that it may eventually be decided on quite narrow interpretations of terms like 'viable', 'robust', 'reasonable' and 'comprehensive'. Brent Council is arguing for a very limited concept of consultation, which is in line with their recent practice - emphasising it is not negotiation, but made great play of the pages of submissions, letters, area consultative forum meeting minutes etc - but did not tell the Court that they had ignored them all.

The proceedings will go on tomorrow morning when the case resumes in Court No 2 at 10.30am. Supporters are urged to get down to the Strand to demonstrate outside and then join the audience in the public gallery.  This helps demonstrate the strength of feeling in the community and the importance of the case.  If you are worried about getting a sore bottom, be reassured that speeches from the Council and Campaigners QCs are not likely to take much more than one and a quarters hours. The judge is unlikely to make an extempore judgement tomorrow and may announce his decision as late as August. Brent Council has promised to take no action over the six library buildings until the judgement is announced.

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Brent Libraries Challenge: Day 1

A report on the first day's hearing is available HERE on the Brent Green Blog and there is an informative, and amusing,  posting on I Spy In Queen's Park HERE

The Evening Standard has an article about the case and an interview with Tim Lott HERE

I am sorry to have missed today but I hope to make it down to the Strand tomorrow afternoon.

Library case is underway

Outside the court this morning



A Message from Save Preston Library Campaign

Many thanks to those of you who asked to speak last night at the council meeting, where the executive hoped to vote through the disposals of the six library properties.

I was invited on Wednesday last week to speak at the exec tonight.

I wasn't sure what it was about, but further enquiries revealed that the sale of Preston Library for development (together with Tokyington, for a total "in excess of £1,000,000") was on the agenda.

The disposals of the other four libraries, including Neasden, which has disgracefully already been put on the market, with flagrant disregard for due legal process, was also on the agenda.

Of course, once alerted to the under-the-radar sales plan, library users asked to be represented at last night's exec meeting.

Having received a flood of requests at the weekend to speak about the premature plans to sell the properties, it was decided ONE AND A HALF HOURS before the meeting to withdraw the proposals at this meeting.

Had this not this not happened, Brent is likely to have started the £50,000 marketing campaign for Preston and Tokyngton.

So thank you so much for making your voices heard, on behalf of the thousands of people who signed our petition, and on behalf of the thousands of Preston Library users who can't or won't, for whatever reason.

Samantha Warrington

Monday 18 July 2011

Brent's 4 Year Budget Strategy Agreed in 30 seconds

Councillor Butt summed up the 2012/13 to 2015/16 budget strategy up in one sentence, no one wanted to speak on it, and it was approved - all within 30 seconds. The budget envisages cumulative 'savings' of £67.5m by 2016. That works out as over £2m per second!

There was a much longer discussion over the Festivals and Events issue. Cllr Ann John said she had been in talks with the Hindu council who no longer wanted to speak. She claimed that the policy had to change because of new Equality legislation which meant that the events funded had to be inclusive and this ruled out financing religious festivals. Cllr Paul Lorber challenged this saying that Festivals such as Eid had always been open to people of all backgrounds and were designed to aid understanding and improve relations amongst Brent's diverse communities. He queried the funding of fireworks night in the context of the gunpowder plot, oppression of Catholics and the events celebration of a protestant victory. Cllr Ann John said that this festival would continue to be funded on health and safety grounds, not religious, because it prevented people being injured by providing an alternative to setting off fireworks in back gardens.

Cllr John  insisted that this year's festivals including Eid, Navaratri,Christmas lights and St Patrick's Day would still take place but the new policy would be implemented next financial year. There was no time however to properly organise Respect and Countryside Day.  Cllr Powney said that new equality legislation had drastically changed what the council could fund. The council was not stopping the festival, just stopping funding them..

There was no discussion of the Street Cleaning savings which will mean the loss of road sweeper jobs and huge reductions in street cleaning frequency. To his credit Cllr Moher was clear about the seriousness of the cuts but was cut off in mid-stream by an impatient Cllr John. Moker did manage to say that he hoped to claw back something from the current negotiations with Veolia.

Other high-speed decisions were made to approve the Alperton Master Plan, future ownership of Brent housing stock and the Arts development strategy. Twelve items were disposed of in 40 minutes much to Ann John's delight.

Embattled Brent Executive Delays Library Disposal Decision

Leader of the Council, Ann John, tonight withdrew the Asset Strategy for the disposal of vacated libraries from the Executive Agenda. She said that this was because of the proximity of the judicial review and  councillors were constrained on what they could say about the issue. Campaigners thought it was withdrawn because the Executive had thought they could slip it thought unnoticed but word spread quickly over the weekend with the Council inundated with many requests to speak today.

The Save Preston Library's 5,897 signature petition opposing any sale or redevelopment of the Preston Library site that does not include a Brent public library, will now be presented at the August Executive when the item is discussed - unless of course campaigner's win the judicial review in which case it will be irrelevant.

I salute Brent library campaigners

On the eve of the judicial review hearing tomorrow I would like to salute all the campaigners fighting against the closure of Brent libraries.

The campaign has involved huge numbers of people across Brent's many communities, it has organised many public meetings, much fund-raising and the involvement of many authors and musician. It has acheived publicity in the local press, national press, TV and internationally. Schools and community organisations have been involved and everyone has united to demand something very simple - our libraries are vital to the community and we intend to keep them.

This is what real democracy looks like - whatever the outcome of the judicial review you have stood up for the whole community and deserve our thanks.

Proposed Changes in Wembley Bus Routes - Have Your Say

Click on image to enlarge image
Transport for London is currently consulting on changes to the 206, 224 and PR2 routes:
  • Route 206 will be withdrawn from between Brent Park and St Raphael’s Estate and re-routed  to Wembley Park, The Paddocks
  • Route 224 will be rerouted at Harlesden Station running along Brentfield Road to terminate in St Raphael’s Estate.
  • Route PR2 is withdrawn
Currently route PR2 operates Monday to Saturdays only with a bus every 30 minutes. The changes mean that there would be a daily service along all the roads currently served by route PR2. The frequency of buses would also increase at most times as routes 206 and 224  run every 15 minutes during the day Monday to Saturdays.

Sunday service frequency
Routes 206 and 224 both operate on a Sunday. Route 206 operates every 20 minutes and route 224 every 30 minutes.

Earlier / Later buses
Routes 206 and 224 have earlier and later buses operating along the routes. Route 206 will run between about 0520 and midnight Monday to Saturday, and 0650 and midnight on Sundays. Route 224 will run between about 0500 and 0030 Monday to Saturday and about 0645 to 0010 on Sundays.  This will provide more travelling options for bus users who require the services at these times. The current times of route PR2 are between about 0600 and 2320 Monday to Saturday.

New Journey Options
New journey options are created to/from the Wembley Stadium and the relocated Brent civic centre, St Raphael’s and Brentfield Road.

Direct journeys no longer available
No replacement for route PR2 is proposed along Hillside or at Stonebridge Park however this area is served by high frequency route 18. Additionally, many users will be close to bus stops served by routes 206 and 224.
Routes 228 and 487 will continue to link the Central Middlesex Hospital area and Willesden Junction station, with nine buses every hour. (Eight buses per hour evenings and Sundays). Harlesden Station also provides interchange with rail services.

The consultation ends on August 19th. Use this LINK to make your views known.

    The Independent on Brent Library Closures Judicial Review

    The following story by Kunal Dutta was  published by the Indepdent yesterday:

    A landmark hearing on Tuesday will mark the first judicial review into proposed library closures in Britain as disgruntled campaigners prepare to take their case to the courts.

    The High Court is examining the planned closure of six libraries in the London Borough of Brent, and its ruling will be keenly watched by councils around the country. Following close behind are Gloucestershire and the Isle of Wight, where protesters have won permission to have their cases heard by the end of the year. Experts believe they could trigger a flood of similar cases.

    Brent council invited a number of "community-based rescue plans" that it allegedly did not take into full consideration in its final decision. The court will also examine whether the consultation process that decided the future of libraries across the country was conducted fairly and in line with the correct legal framework.
    Experts believe that the outcome of the review could be a major embarrassment for David Cameron's government, which has hitherto distanced itself from the library closures, insisting it is a local government issue.

    The Government came under fire from the author Kate Mosse yesterday over its refusal to intervene. She said: "There has been a naive belief on the part of government and local authorities that after the initial objections, public anger would wane. Instead it is the precise opposite: the anger has simply exacerbated."

    In a scathing assessment she said there had been "a catastrophic failure of leadership" from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, the Arts Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
    The timing of the Brent review coincides with a deadline for library tenders in Wokingham amid speculation that its library servicies could be outsourced to a private American firm by the end of this year. 

    Lawyers say that they will be probing the Government's line in relation to Section 10 of the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act, which decrees that all public complaints over libraries should go to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. 

    "Dozens, possible hundreds [of complaints] have been made by Brent residents which must under law be investigated by the Secretary of State. The closures will generally hit the poor, children, older people, those with disabilities and ethnic minorities far harder than others. It also examines just what fairness demands when library closures are proposed," said John Halford, from Bindmans LLP solicitors. 

    "The threatened libraries are important for everyone who lives, studies or works locally, but especially for low-income families and their children," said Margaret Bailey, one of the Brent campaigners. "We are determined to ensure the libraries remain open and trust that the court will quickly see Brent's decisions are senseless. Both legally and otherwise." 

    Nick Cave, Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Goldfrapp are among the stars who have contributed to legal costs. 

    A DCMS spokesman said: "We continue to monitor and assess proposals and decisions being made about changes to library services across England. We take very seriously compliance by local authorities with their statutory duty to understand the local needs for library services and to provide a comprehensive and efficient service to match that need. Use of ministerial statutory powers, including those regarding intervention, continues to be kept under consideration on a case-by-case basis."

    A look at Hannah Close, possible new waste site

    My curiosity led me this afternoon to have a stroll around  the back of the stadium to see where a possible recycling plant might be sited in Hannah Close. Careys, the local company who helped save the Welsh Harp Environmental Centre, has a lot of property in the area along with their waste management subsidiary Seneca.

    Seneca's  security guards were worried about me taking photographs and denied that the company had anything to do with Careys. The Jubilee and Metropolitan lines run behind the site and on the other side is St Margaret Clitherow Primary School and residential streets which include Quainton, Verney, Aylesbury Chesham and Village Way.

    Hannah Close, and Atlas Road which it joins, already have several recycling sites:

    The River Brent runs flows to Hannah Close and runs beneath the railway line. Wembley Brook is also close by. Campaigners in Ealing have been concerned about possible contamination of the River Brent if new waste processing facilities are built and there must be similar concerns in Wembley.

    The following photograph was taken today with waste fluid apparently flowing from Harringtons in Fourth Way.

    A further concern is the proposal, in the Wembley Masterplan, to open up North End Road and join it again to Bridge Road in Wembley. At present North End Road is closed where it meets Atlas Road. If it was opened up and joined to Bridge Road a route would be established to the recycling facilities in Hannah Close, via Atlas Road, increasing lorry traffic past the Danes Court and  Empire Court flats, which at present are a peaceful haven despite their proximity to the railway.

    Brent Libraries : a demolition job

    The Save Preston Library Campaign has issued the following ahead of Tuesday's Court Case

    Brent Council’s executive is to meet tonight to vote on disposals of half of its library properties AHEAD of a High Court hearing to decide whether its library closures are lawful.

    In the first legal challenge against library closures in the country, Brent library users’ case against the council will be heard in the High Court on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    But in an extraordinary show of contempt for due legal process, the council intends to press on with the sales – and will vote on disposals on Monday night, the eve of the High Court hearing.

    John Halford of Bindmans LLP, Helen Mountfield QC, Gerry Facenna and Edward Craven will argue that the council adopted a fundamentally flawed and unlawful, approach to the objective of making savings because it:
    • STARTED from the false premise that library closures were an inevitability, closing its mind to reasonable alternatives
    • FAILED to assess local need
    • FAILED to comply with equality legislation, and its own impact assessment policies
    • FAILED to disclose its criteria, and reasons, for rejecting alternative community-based means of retaining some or all of the libraries earmarked for closure.
    This is a landmark case for library closures, and will define the view taken by the courts in the many legal actions that are waiting to go ahead up and down the country.  Cases from Gloucestershire and the Isle of Wight will be heard by the end of the year.

    John Halford argues that the decision will have “serious, irreversible consequences” for those who rely on the six libraries.
    “Given the importance of the decision for local people, the council was obliged to explore all the options carefully and make sure that it had accurate evidence about the likely impact of the decision, in particular on disadvantaged groups. If the council had approached the matter with an open mind and avoided the errors above, the outcome of the decision-making process could have been radically different.”
    On the same day that Rupert Murdoch is grilled by the media select committee, this libraries hearing could heap further embarrassment on Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt, who has so far refused to intervene under the Museums and Libraries Act 1964, despite hundreds of complaints from residents and letters from Brent North MP Barry Gardiner.

    This case exposes fundamental failings at Brent, which claims it needs to save £1m over two years from the libraries service, but continues to spend millions on trophy projects such as the new £100m Civic Centre at Wembley Stadium with its £3m mega-library.

    Council leader Ann John has boasted of council investment in a £4m boulevard that will be created to lead visitors from Wembley Park Tube station to Wembley Stadium.

    And at the same time Brent Council is spending between £1.2m and £1.5m PER MONTH on “consultants fees”.

    Preston campaigners are acutely aware that the closure and sale of their library is not driven by efficiency, as Brent Council claims, but the need to push users to the new Civic Centre library (to create demand where none exists) and to increase capital receipts to pay for the project.

    The outcome of the case could mean the council halting the closure programme and restarting the decision-making process.

    Proposed Park Royal Waste Sites Under Attack

    The West London Waste Authority has published the results of its consultation on the West London Waste Plan. Perhaps the most important thing to note is the low number of responses: 374. This for a Plan covering six West London boroughs including Brent with a combined  population of one and a half million. In addition a petition against Park Royal waste management sites was signed by  193 people and 2237 signed one against the Tavistock Road site in West Drayton.
    Click on image to enlarge
     The main issues in the Park Royal objections were: the unfairness of locating so many sites in the area; the cumulative impact of new sites when added to existing waste and industrial facilities; proximity to housing; increased traffic; air pollution and the health impacts of pollution.

    The WLWA says that these comments will be taken into consideration when considering the Park Royal sites. of the existing sites they say these are safeguarded by the London Plan for  waste management use 'but the deliverability assessment will consider whether they will be highlighted in the final Plan, as having potential for redevelopment'.

    Wembley residents should note that no objections or comments were received about the site in Hannah Close, Great Central Way, Wembley, where Careys recently opened a new waste management plant. LINK This plant adds to other industrial sites on the Neasden/Wembley border which have given rise to community concerns about pollution and poor air quality. St Margaret Clitherow Primary School is just across the Metropolitan and Jubilee railway tracks from Hannah Close.

    Ealing Civic Society object to expansion of  Veolia's Marsh Road, Alperton site on the grounds that the River Brent already suffers from pollution and because access is limited by congestion. The powerful Park Royal Partnership objects to the same site on the grounds of loss of employment land and existing business premises.

    The consultation report includes a key submission on the thinking behind the plan:

     and another states:

    All the comments will be considered during the next stage of the Plan which will be published later this year with a revised list of sites. Meanwhile the procurement process to select the company to implement the Plan through a new 25 year contract is continuing.

    PDF of the full report is available HERE