Friday 30 September 2011

Kingsbury staff and parents vow to fight on after governors vote for academy status

Parents, staff and pupils back the strike
Yesterday, Kingsbury High School in Kingsbury, north west London was shut to all pupils and staff. Teachers from the NUT and NASUWT were taking strike action against their school being converted into a Gove academy. That evening despite all the opposition the governing body voted for conversion.

Hank Roberts, NUT Brent Secretary said at the rally outside the school, “We regret that we have had to take action today. This was entirely avoidable had our offer of not taking industrial action if the Headteacher had granted parents their wish to have an independently overseen secret ballot (as staff had) been accepted. We have even offered to pay the costs of any such ballot thus ensuring that the school would not lose anything financially”.

Shane Johnschwager, NASUWT Brent Secretary said, “We are prepared to contact our action committees indicating that, should the Governors either not withdraw this proposal for academy conversion or continue to refuse to accept our generous offer to resolve this dispute as above, we will be calling for further sustained strike action. We consider that the responsibility for any damage to Kingsbury pupils' education will rest at the Governors' door as there is a straightforward, zero detriment, and costless resolution to this dispute”.

“We asked at our meeting with the Chair of Governors and the Headteacher what possible damage could an independently overseen secret ballot of parents do to the school and education in it. Their answer was that there was none. But still they refused”.

Jenny Cooper, organiser of the Parents Action Group said after the governors voted to convert at their meeting yesterday evening, "It was reported that 74% of the parents wanted the school to become an academy. This figure is completely made up and we know it is not true. It was said that only 4 parents called for a ballot - the real figure is at least 70. The Headteacher knows this as he was at the meetings where parents asked en masse for a ballot. Governors were told that a 6% return of surveys was a signal for them to go ahead with conversion. It was actually a signal that parents boycotted the survey because of its leading questions".

Members of the two unions as well as parents will be planning their next moves and say the campaign is not over. The school does not convert until 1st December.

The Willesden and Kilburn Times reported that Councillor Mary Arnold, Brent Council's Lead member for children and families called the plans ‘short sighted’...“As a school with a high community profile you would expect the views of the staff and parents at Kingsbury High to be paramount, and the governors should take them on board.”

Wednesday 28 September 2011

A sad glorious Autumn day

A glorious early Autumn day: clear blue skies, warm sunshine, and six coffins of diminishing sizes on trestles against a verdant lawn. This was the sight that greeted mourners from Brent who made the long trip across London to Ilford for the funeral of the Kua family at the Garden of Peace Muslim Cemetery. The mourners included relatives and friends,  staff and pupils from Crest Academy and Braintcroft Primary School, the Director of Brent Children and Families Department, firefighters and the Borough Commander and other officers from Brent Police..

After prayers the burials took place. Mother and teenage daughters alternating with the younger children who were buried in a different part of the cemetery.  As we moved from one part of the cemetery to the other for each burial,  the enormity of what had happened was brought home against the background of prayer, handfuls of clay thudding on the wooden coffins, and the incongruous sound of a mechanical digger excavating yet another grave.

Bassam Kua, the father, arms wrapped in plaster and burn marks on his face, brave beyond anything I have seen before,  was supported by relatives and friends, as he moved from burial to burial. Hanin (14) and Basma (13) were buried close to their mother Muna.  As burial followed burial, each one feeling like yet another powerful blow, we came to that of little Amal, aged just 9, who had been remembered with love, joy and that easy familiarity children have, by her classmates on Monday.  She was buried near her brothers Mustufa aged 5 and Yehya aged two.

Speaking after Amal's grave had been filled in, the officiator reminded mourners that in Islam a child under 15 who died was seen as massoom (blameless) and would go straight to heaven. He reflected on the family's life in this country and the struggle for freedom in their native Palestine.

It was a calm and dignified occasion with everyone attending appearing to gain strength and solidarity not only from sharing the unbearable experience with each other, but from witnessing the courage and determination of Bassam Kua. One member of the family was missing and in everyone's thoughts. Nur, aged 16, remains in critical condition in hospital.

She has an entire community supporting her struggle.

Headteacher of Kingsbury High challenged by parent

Dear Mr Waxman,

One week ago I sent you the email below. I have not had a reply or even an acknowledgement.

Throughout the so-called 'consultation' process many stakeholders in Kingsbury High School have felt that they have been deliberately cut out of the process, indeed, that the consultation process has been nothing but a sham exercise, held only so that you could tick the relevant boxes rather than take account of stakeholder's views. By your own admission at one of the meetings I attended, you wished to collect parent's views only so that they could be "persuaded" to change their minds if they were against the school becoming an academy.

Your refusal to allow the parents a secret YES/NO ballot, and your failure to respond to my previous email are but further confirmation that you place no value whatsoever on the views of your stakeholders, but are interested only in short term financial reward.

As the Headteacher you should be setting very high standards and an exemplary example to the students. Your statement, repeated many times in meetings, that you are in principle against academies but that the school needs the money, sets a very poor standard and example. You are teaching the students that principles should be sold out for a cash reward, this is not a lesson I wish my children to learn.

Tomorrow the school will be closed as it sees a strike by a majority of its teachers. This could have been very easily avoided by you agreeing to a ballot of parents. I haven't met a single stakeholder in the school who can understand your refusal to grant this. It is time you remembered your school's motto which tells us that we will be judged by our actions.

I would very much appreciate a response to this and my previous email.

Kua family funeral on Wednesday

The funeral of members of  the Kua family who died in Saturday's fire in Neasden will be held tomorrow. It will take place at 1pm at The Garden of Peace, Elmbridge Road, Hainult, Ilford, 1G6 3SW. Afterwards at the Pakistan Community Centre, Brent Central Mosque, Station Parade, Willesden Green at 3.30pm..

Tuesday 27 September 2011

London Fire Brigade launch schools safety campaign after Neasden fire

The London Fire Brigade have issued the following statement:

Fire investigators from the London Fire Brigade have today released information about what they believe to be the most likely cause of the worst house fire in the capital in over a decade. 

Six people died and two people were seriously injured in a blaze that started in the early hours of Saturday morning in a two-story semi-detached house on Sonia Gardens in Neasden. Fire investigators believe that a chest freezer, which was in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs, may have caused the fire. The make of the chest freezer is not known at this stage.  

Earlier this week, the London Fire Brigade confirmed that a BEKO fridge freezer was in the house. However, this is not the same type of appliance as the one which fire investigators believe may have caused the fire and it has not formed part of the fire investigation.

Following the incident, the London Fire Brigade will be launching a fire safety blitz across the capital. The Brigade’s schools team will begin a pilot programme to visit secondary schools in Brent, the borough in which the fire happened. It already visits primary schools across the capital.

The Brigade will also be writing to every headteacher in London with fire safety advice they can give to children in assemblies. It will offer every primary school in London the opportunity of a visit, with a focus on children aged 6-7 and 9-10. Interested teachers should check the schools section of the Brigade’s website. 
Tomorrow, fire chiefs will also be launching a fire safety campaign on Facebook, which it hopes will reach one million people. The ‘Share it to Save a Life’ campaign will encourage people to share one fire safety tip with their Facebook friends every day for a week. People should visit the London Fire Brigade’s Facebook page(opens in a new window) for more details.

Today, fire chiefs are urging people to take four simple steps to protect themselves from fire:
1)          Check your appliances – if you notice any strange noises or smells coming from electrical appliances call a repair person and never overload plug sockets.
2)          Get a smoke alarm – fit it and check it regularly. One in ten homes still doesn’t have a smoke alarm. (Department for Communities and Local Government)
3)          Plan your escape  – know how you would get out of your home in the event of a fire
4)          Get out, stay out – in the event of a fire, get out, stay out. Call the fire brigade and do not attempt to tackle the fire yourself.
Assistant Commissioner for the London Fire Brigade, Steve Turek, said:

“Fire investigators will continue to piece together the tragic events of Saturday morning but early indications are that the fire was caused by a chest freezer in the hallway of the house. Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of those who died. This tragic event should focus people’s minds on how they can make their home safer. Our fire safety blitz will help people to do that. We will continue to work tirelessly to make the homes of all Londoner’s safer.

“There are four simple pieces of advice we are giving people to help keep them safe. Check your electrical appliances and sockets - if you notice anything strange, call a repair person. Everyone should make sure they have a smoke alarm and check regularly that it works. People should think about how they would get out in the event of a fire starting in their home and if it does, they should get out and stay out. Call the fire brigade and do not attempt to tackle the fire your self.”

Parents urge support for strike rally

A message from Kingsbury parents campaigning against academy conversion:
Mr Waxman, headteacher of Kingsbury High School, has today informed parents that the school will be closed Thursday due to strike action re the academy proposal.

This means a large number of teachers are striking and a large number of teachers are opposed to the academy conversion. So are ALL the local councillors and a large number of parents and many others in the community.

Although the school will be closed to children, the rally in support of teachers will go ahead as planned to show them our support. Please turn up in Princes Ave any time from 7.45am and preferably by 8.15am to come and stand together to show our opposition.

The government plans to privatise every school in the country; primary, secondary and special schools. Mr Waxman himself understands, as stated in his letter, that we all need to demonstrate to show our opposition to the government's policy which is trying to force all schools to take this step.

Please be there. See you Thursday!

Support Kingsbury High School Strike on Thursday

Kingsbury High NUT and NASUWT members in Brent will be on strike on Thursday 29th September against their Governors proposal to convert the school into a Gove academy. 
Please send messages of support to Geoff Williams, NUT Rep who has been doing a sterling job as a new Rep in galvanising staff to defeat this proposal. The Parents Action Group are supporting the teachers, pupils have already had a strike during the school day last term and the local community including the councillors are strongly against the conversion.   Please email Geoff at
There will be a rally and picket at the school from 7.45 am on Thursday. Bring banners/placards
Kingsbury High
Princes Avenue,

Monday 26 September 2011

Neasden Fire Aftermath: we have schools and children to be proud of

Firefighters pay tribute to the Kua family
 I am Chair of Governors at the Neasden primary school attended by two of the children who died in the house fire at the weekend. I went in this morning to provide as much support as I was able and have returned humbled by the experience. The strength and sensitivity shown by the headteacher and staff as they struggled with their own emotions but put them aside to support the children was truly impressive.

The headteacher ran three assemblies for the different age groups and read out warm and vivid accounts of Amal aged 9 and Mustafa aged 7 provided by their teachers. The children were encouraged to share happy memories of their class mates and were given time to reflect or pray during the assembly. Throughout staff were on hand to give out tissues and provide physical reassurance with strokes and pats on the shoulder for sobbing children. After the assembly the children were given time to talk in class. Time and space was set aside for children to pray later in the morning if they wished. Tributes were paid to the London Fire Brigade, ambulance staff, and the doctors and nurses attending the family's father and surviving older sister.

During the assembly and in class children were very caring and supportive of each other. Some children chose to write, draw pictures or send messages to Amal and Mustafa and others were keen to discuss other, more permanent, ways of remembering the whole family. The older children had attended the school before moving on to Crest Academy.

Bringing to life the concept of 'Brent's Community of Schools' messages of support, sympathy and solidarity came from other Brent schools and from officers in the local authority along with sound practical advice.

In a poignant moment two Year 5 girls knocked at the headteacher's office door while we were meeting after the assemblies. They had noticed how upset the head had been in the assembly and said, "We've come to see if you are okay, Miss."

Out of tragedy is born hope. We have schools and children to be proud of.

Various rumours are circulating locally about the cause of the fire including stories about a faulty fridge. The London Fire Brigade, who observed a minute's silence for the family on Saturday at an event at the Excel Centre, have issued the following statement:
A painstaking investigation into the cause of a fire in Neasden, which killed six people and seriously injured two others, in the early hours of Saturday morning is still ongoing. Fire investigators are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to establish the cause of the fire.

At this stage, the London Fire Brigade is able to confirm that a BEKO fridge freezer was at the scene of the fire. However, this is not forming part of the fire investigation at this time.

Six fire engines and around 30 firefighters were called to the fire on Sonia Gardens in Neasden, London, NW10, in the early hours of Saturday 24 September. The ground floor and first floor of the two storey semi detached house was badly damaged by the fire.

A woman aged 41 and five children – three girls aged 14, 13 and 9 and two boys aged 5 and 2 died. Two further people, a man aged 51 and a girl aged 16, escaped from the house before firefighters arrived at the scene, both were injured and were taken to hospital by ambulance.

Fire crews were at the scene within minutes of the Brigade being called about the fire - the first fire engine was there within four minutes and the second was there within seven minutes. Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service crews were also at the scene.

The Metropolitan Police has deemed the cause of the fire to be non-suspicious but investigations continue to find out how the fire started.
The investigation findings will be updated on the London Fire Brigade website HERE

Sunday 25 September 2011

Schools start the long healing process after fire deaths


A child's death is always terrible with all that curiosity, openness, zest for life and excitement about an unfolding future, suddenly and cruelly extinguished. The death of five children along with their mother in the fire in Neasden is almost too much to bear and somehow even worse at a time when as Palestinians they may have dared to hope for a better future.

Such a large family will have lots of  friends and relatives in the area and their loss will be a  terrible blow to a close-knit community. The children's schools will be holding special assemblies tomorrow as the first step in the long healing process. Staff, pupils and parents will be united in struggling to make sense of what has happened and will be seeking reassurance, support and comfort from each other. At times like this schools shoulder a huge responsibility and their central role in the community is revealed for all to see.

Muna Elmufatish and her children Hanin, 14, Basma, 13, Amal, nine, Mustafa, five, and Yehya, aged two all died in the fire. Their father Bassam Kua and sister Nur, 16, are in hospital in critical condition. My thoughts are with them them and everyone who has been affected by the tragedy.

Greens say Private Finance Initiatives should be 'nationalised'

Following the revelation that more than 60 hospitals cannot afford the rising cost of private finance initiative schemes, the Green Party calls on the Government to call these PFI schemes in.

The NHS faces a bill of £65billion for new hospitals built under PFI schemes and some NHS Trusts face annual repayments of more than 10% of their turnover. It has been claimed that across 154 different PFI projects, over £500 million of profits have been generated.

Penny Kemp, Green Party spokesperson said, “These PFI companies make huge profits. The National Audit office claimed one deal on a hospital in Bromley gave a return for the PFI contractors of more than 70%. In a time of economic austerity, this is scandalous.

"Furthermore, even the Government has no idea how much profit is being generated by the selling of private finance initiatives by construction and investment operators to other funds on a secondary PFI market.”

The Green Party believes that Private Finance Initiative needs to bought back from the companies and shown as Government debt rather than the dubious accounting stream, which does not require the capital cost of the schemes to be shown in the Government books.

Update on Brent Council Cuts

The much improved Brent and Kilburn Times has coverage of the latest Brent cuts following the Brent  Executive Decisions on Monday. Here are the main details taken from my regular Brent Green Party local press briefing: WKT E-EDITION

ANGUISH AS CARE CENTRE IS AXED WKTp1 A family expresses concern that the closure of Knowles House care home (decided by the Executive on Monday) will kill a 94 year old if she has to be moved. They said they did not know of the imminent closure until contacted by the newspaper. Cllr Ruth Moher expresses surprise that they did not know and says the moves will be based on individual needs and planned carefully: 'Residents and their families will be involved in this process'. (Families had opposed the closure in the initial consultation) OUR VIEW - AGAIN ITS THE MOST VULNERABLE WHO PAY PRICE WKTp20 Editorial on Knowles House claims it increasingly  seems 'the most vulnerable who are being asked to pay the heaviest price for the financial and political failings of the past' . They claim that 'unfit for purpose' is trailed out too readily and asks 'in this case does it mean that Brent (Council) has been negligent in maintaining a building for which it is wholly responsible?'
MOBILITY CURBED AS NUMBER OF TAXI-CARD DRIVES HALVED WKTp3 Brent council Executive voted on Monday to reduce the number of rides for people with mobility problems from 96 to 48 per year. It also ended 'double swiping' which enabled members to use two subsidies for one journey.
PUBLIC HAS BEEN MISLED OVER CUTS IN LOLLIPOP STAFF, CLAIMS COUNCILLOR WKTp2 Cllr Lorber (Lib Dem) says that the Council has misled residents over the reversal of school crossing patrol cuts because leaving staff will not be replaced and schools deemed low priority could lose their patrols to schools designated high priority. Cllr Jim Moher says Lorber is using parental concerns to 'play politics' and 'wherever there is a serious risk to safety we will not move the lollipop people'.
SCHOOLS COULD FUND SAFETY PATROLS WWOp10 Cllr Moher says patrols cost £6,000 but schools could employ volunteers if they funded their training. He said if they were unable to do so the council will look at alternatives. 'We would not withdraw the patrol unless we were satisfied there was adequate safety provision.'
AUTHOR BACKS FIGHT TO KEEP SIX LIBRARIES OPEN WKTp4 Former children's laureate Jacqueline Wilson will pledge her support for the libraries campaign when she appears at St Martin's Church, Mortimer Road, Kensal Green on Wednesday September 28th (tickets available from L'Angolo's Deli and Queens Park books £10 adults, £5 children - doors open 6pm)
STREET CLEANING - BRING SERVICE BACK IN HOUSE WKTp20 Letter from Martin Francis responding to Cllr Moher's defence of street cleansing cuts last week.  He quotes from the officers' document that Moher put to the Council to disprove his claims, and calls for the waste management service to be brought  back 'in-house' following Veolia's attempt to increase profit margins.

Friday 23 September 2011

Newcastle: teachers, students and supporters unite at Kenton School picket

Kingsbury High School unions are not the only ones taking action against academy conversion:

September 22, 2011
Teachers from the NUT, ATL and NASUWT unions at Kenton School, a large secondary school in Newcastle, began the first of three days of strike action today. They are taking action over plans to turn the school into an academy.

Kenton school picket
A picket of around 80 had assembled at the school gate by 8:15 this morning. They were joined by students from the school & supporters from anti-cuts campaigns like Northern Public Services Alliance and Coalition of Resistance.

The striking teachers have the support of the Labour-led local authority. The deputy leader of Newcastle city council spoke at a recent meeting to oppose conversion. The Headteacher is intent on pursuing academy status, despite only half the governing body having voted to do so and clear opposition from staff.

As well as further strike action next Tuesday and Thursday, picket-line discussion raised the idea of a weekend public march in the centre of Newcastle. The hope is to rally support for anti-academies campaigns both in the city and across the region.

Please send a message of support to:

Europe Against Austerity Conference Oct 1st


Saturday 1st October, London

Should Greece default?
Has the euro got a future?
Is there an alternative to cuts?
Are we facing ‘double dip’ recession?

As the European economic crisis worsens and ordinary people are made to pay, hear what the left parties and campaigns across Europe have to say. Take the opportunity to be part of the debate: join us to discuss alternatives and action for change.

Speakers include: Jeremy Corbyn MP; Unite; NUJ; Pierre Laurent, Party of the European Left; Sevim Dagdelen MP Die Linke; Sinn Fein; Olivier Besancenot NPA; Annick Coupe Solidaires, France; Max Banc Attac Germany; Piero Bernocchi COBAS, Italy; Prof Costas Lapavitsas, SOAS; Marisa Matias MEP, Left Bloc, Portugal
Registration: £5 waged / £3 unwaged / £10 delegates from organisations
Conference initiated by Coalition of Resistance.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Hirani's a Hit

Congratulations to Councillor Krupesh Hirani for coming from nowhere to Number 17 in Total Politics TOP 35 COUNCILLOR BLOGS. Good to see some of our Green councillors from around the country in the list as well.

Kingsbury Teachers' Strike Given Go Ahead

The national action committees of the NUT and NASUWT have given the go ahead for a strike at Kingsbury High School on Thursday 29th September. Approval was given in the light of the 84.5% of staff who voted against becoming an academy,  the headteacher's and governors' refusal to hold a ballot of parents and the lack of any cast iron legally binding agreements on maintaining teachers' statutory national pay and conditions. The Kingsbury Parents' Action Group have told the unions that over 60 parents have supported th call for a parents' ballot and the number is growing.

In an e-mail to members Hank Roberts Secretary of the Brent NUT and John Schwager Secretary of Brent NASUWT say:
No educator would take strike action except as a last resort and in the most exceptional circumstances. Kingsbury High becoming an Academy would overturn 90 years of national pay and conditions and potentially destroy a long history of cooperation between schools in the London Borough of Brent.

For those who question the medium to long-term consequences of the Gove agenda to state education, look no further than America, where similar reforms in charter schools have led to a wide range of damaging consequences to the teaching profession. This is from the Texas Tribune 27.01.2010 ‘Charter Schools Battle High Teacher Turnover’:

In all, more than 40 of nearly 200 charter operators the state tracked — some which oversee multiple schools — had to replace more than half their teaching staffs before the last school year. Even more established and successful operators, including KIPP and YES Prep in Houston, lose nearly a third of their teachers annually. In contrast, just six of more than 1,000 non-charter school districts statewide had more than half their teachers leave, and none of the 20 largest school districts had a turnover rate higher than 16 percent.

Huge increases in workload and the decimation of Teacher Unions in these schools have led to teacher burnout rates sky-rocketing. Does anyone seriously doubt this is what Gove intends? Does anyone seriously doubt that Gove thinks teachers are lazy and overpaid and that the union’s role is to defend this? And that by opening up markets and atomizing the state system he will achieve what the Charter schools have achieved in America and point to it as a success?

All teachers must ask themselves what kind of profession – our profession – we want to see. We are fighting for a profession that allows a long, sustainable career. We are fighting for a profession that has fair pay and conditions set nationally. We are fighting for a profession that allows teachers to teach and children to learn without excessive hours chained to a desk. We are fighting to preserve our state comprehensive education  system.

Monday 19 September 2011

Executive will make weighty decisions tonight - at breakneck speed?

I am unable to make tonight's Brent Executive Meeting because of another meeting but Wembley Matters readers may be interested in some of the items coming up. It starts at 7pm but don't be late - it will probably be over by 7.30pm despite the major items on the agenda.

Petitions on the retention of school crossing patrols will be presented and the Executive are likely to revise the cuts and delay implementation. However they remain on the back-burner and there is likely to be a gradual reduction in the hope it will attract less publicity.

The Executive will decide on a public consultation on the Wembley Action Plan in the light of changing economic conditions with possible re-zoning of some areas. Officers will seek endorsement of their response to the Government's consultation on High Speed 2 with representations of the Oak Oak interchange to Crossrail and concerns about the impact of tunnelling on houses in Kensal Green.

Changes will be sought in the Articles of Association of Brent Housing Partnership in preparation for it becoming an enhanced ALMO (Arms Length Management Association). A revised system of payments for Adult Social Services will be presented which will see some paying more for services, some less and some unchanged according to the Council. The documentation is extremely complex and the Mayor may offer prizes to anyone who understands it!

The Executive will vote to close Knowles House residential Home and Westbrook Day Centre despite the opposition of many residents and their families. They will seek to reassure users that there will be re-provision of care by' independent and voluntary agencies as near to family and friends as possible'.

New rules on the Taxicard Scheme will be agreed to reduce a projected 'over-spend'. Changes will include the limit on trips using the scheme being reduced from 96 to 48.

The very full Preventing Youth Offending Task Group Report will be presented. It stresses the importance of early intervention and has 19 recommendations for action across the Council. It merits full discussion but probably won't get it on the basis that such discussions have taken place elsewhere.

To end with better news the Executive will make a decision on renewal of the Brent Citizens Advice and Law Centre for 6 months.

Full documentation can be found on the Council website. To avoid multiple clicking follow this LINK

Saturday 17 September 2011

Kingsbury head turns down union parental ballot offer

Friday's meeting between Kingsbury High School unions and the headteacher Jeremy Waxman and Chair of Governors failed to make any progress.  The unions offered to pay for an independently overseen ballot of parents in additon to the school's own consultation. They said they would recommend that any potential strike action would be called off in the event of a ballot.

Mr Waxman rejected the offer saying that academy conversion was not a 'referendum style' issue. The unions disagreed.

The unions disagreed with Mr Waxman's offer to sign a Model Agreement on Pay and Conditions. They did not doubt his sincerity in wanting to maintain pay and conditions of staff if the school became an academy but thought that such promises were hard to keep in the medium and long term.

The unions' action committees will now be meeting to discuss next steps and will be writing directly to all the Kingsbury governors to ask for their reactions to their offer.

Angry Kingsbury parents denounce consultation 'sham'

Kingsbury High School Parents Action Group, who are leading the fight to prevent the school converting to academy status have suffered another 'kick in the teeth' in their fight to secure a full and fair consultation process with the school Governors.

On Tuesday 13th September they organised a public meeting to which representatives from both sides of the debate were invited to speak. Many different groups turned up and offered speakers, but Mr Waxman, the Headteacher at the school, and his Governing Body were notable by their absence. So, once again, instead of a debate we were given only one side of the argument, albeit ours!

The meeting heard that teachers at the school will be taking industrial action after having their voices ignored, but were told that this would be called off if the school chose to offer parents an independently overseen secret  YES/NO ballot, something we have been asking for since last term when we heard (but not from the school) that Governors were looking into academy conversion. We have since heard that Mr Waxman has turned down this offer from the teachers, which was presented to him by their union representatives on Friday..

The meeting on Tuesday 13th voted unanimously on a resolution as follows:

“This meeting supports the teachers of Kingsbury High School. We request an independently
overseen secret ballot of parents’ views on academy status for KHS where parents vote YES/
NO after hearing unbiased arguments for and against. We also request a consultation of the
wider community, including feeder and other local schools, councillors, local residents and
students. We request that there is a pause in the academy application process to allow this
full and thorough consultation to take place. We declare that if our request for a parental
ballot is not met, then we will be supporting the teachers who decide to take strike action.”

This was then sent  to the school Governors but has so far not been acknowledged.

That very same evening Mr Waxman sent out an email to parents offering to meet with them on Thursday 15th September to answer any questions that may have resulted from our public meeting. Members of the Parents Action Group took him up on this invitation and turned up to hear, yet again, his refusal to grant their wish for a simple ballot. Under further questioning as to the reason for this refusal, he eventually admitted that the so-called ‘consultation’ process he set up never had the intention of listening to stakeholder’s opinions with a view to changing the Governors’ decision. He said it was an exercise designed to find out our worries, so that we could be persuaded to change our minds, or, if he couldn’t do that, then to reassure us! We fear he has failed miserably on both these.

It was pointed out to Mr Waxman and his Chair of Governors that they have a massive advantage in that they are able to communicate with all parents via the school’s Parentmail email system and give their side of the argument, whilst parents themselves have no way to widely present their case. A request was made that he offer the parents the chance to do this so that stakeholders could present their views. This has also been turned down.

When asked whether students at the school would be able to air their views after hearing both sides of the argument, he said that this would be the case, but that those presenting the anti-academy view would not necessarily be people who believed in what they were presenting. Students at the school have already organised a petition and refused to attend lessons in an attempt to get their voices heard.

Parents are becoming increasingly worried that Kingsbury High, which under its previous Headteacher was a school renowned for its willingness to engage with stakeholders, is becoming more and more aloof from them. The ‘Kingsburian’ ideals that everyone was so proud of for so many years seems to be disappearing fast, a chasm is opening up with Governors and senior management on one side and the school’s staff, parents, pupils and local community groups on the other.

New blue bins: PR and PRoblems

The new blue topped dry recycling bins are being delivered around the borough but already there appear to be some teething problems. See Shahrar Ali's posting on  Brent Greens blog for details.

Friday 16 September 2011

Primary expansion programme hit by delays

Brent's primary school expansion programme has had a patchy start this month. Preston Manor Primary School is not yet ready and will not be completed until half-term. Places have been offered instead at the temporary building in Ashley Gardens and the children will transfer later. Not the best start for young children settling into school for the first time.

Building work at Brentfield Primary which is expanding has been disrupted because asbestos has been found resulting in part of the building being cordoned off. It is reported that some parents have temporarily removed their children from the school because they fear for their safety.

Brent personnel are dealing with the issue as a priority and there may be an impact on the timetable for completion of some of the 'bulge' classes being installed for the children currently without a school place.

Although the asbestos find is a one off, the problems do draw attention to the impact of cuts on Council services. School building works used to be managed by the Asset Management department of Children and Families  but to increase efficiency this was merged with other council departments to create the Major Projects and Regeneration Department. However at the same time a number of posts were deleted and key staff were lost from the Asset Management department. Insiders report that although the merger has resulted in a more coherent strategy that staff are considerably over-stretched due to the large number of projects underway.  Time pressures on the provision of more school places and the variety and number of the projects undertaken means that when something goes wrong it has a knock-on effect.

It would be interesting to know if the savings made by the staffing reduction have been exceeded by the additional costs of delayed projects. The social cost of children not attending school whilst hard to express in financial terms must also be taken into account.

Highgate Ward by-election result

This is the result of yesterday's by-election in Camden.


  • Anthony Denyer, Conservatives: 593
  • Martin Hay, Liberal Democrats: 111
  • Sally Gimson, Labour Party: 1,178
  • Alexis Rowell Green Party: 947
Turnout: 34.26%

Thursday 15 September 2011

Waxman digs heels in under parent pressure on academy ballot

Jeremy Waxman gave an adroit performance at tonight's academy meeting at Kingsbury High School, which was arranged after Tuesday's public meeting, but he left parents dissatisfied. He rejected their call for an independent Yes/No ballot on whether the school should become and academy, and said that the postal survey he was conducting was a more 'nuanced' way of gathering opinion. In the face of repeated calls for a ballot and criticism of the allegedly biased wording of the survey he dug his heels in and insisted that was the form of consultation he had chosen and that a ballot was not a suitable way of gauging opinion. Waxman said he would consider allowing parents to use the Parent E-Mail system to send out information.

Reminded that the teachers unions said they would call off threatened strike action if he agreed to a ballot of parents he said that the teachers' strike vote had been about conditions of service and that the two issues should not be coupled together. He told parents that he was meeting with unions tomorrow and that he was offering a binding agreement that the proposed academy would follow the National Model Agreement on Conditions of Service. Under questioning he said that he was prepared to remove the clause that allowed the employer to rescind the agreement. He admitted that all this was subject to the National Agreement continuing and there were murmers from the floor that Michael Gove wanted to get rid of it.

Waxman went on to say that the school would follow the Local Authority Admissions Code and would be subject to the same rules about admitting SEN pupils as other local schools. He insisted that Kingsbury would continue to work in partnership with other schools and that part of  Kingsbury's academy submission was that it would support The Village School. Its role in the local sporting partnership would continue.

He was strongly challenged about whether he could offer any guarantees at all as he would not be headteacher for ever and government policies and legislation changed.

When parents claimed that the information given out by the school was one sided and that the opposing case had not been given equal billing he responded that after carefully weighing up the options he was doing was what was best for the school. He was unapologetic that his material 'made the case' for academy status because 'that is the stage we are at'.  He insisted that becoming an academy was in the interests of the pupils and the local community. He was challenged that this only meant the pupils at the school now and not future pupils and that his idea of community was only the immediate area around the school: the whole community of Brent should be involved as changes would affect the future of children still in primary school or not yet born.  Kingsbury becoming an academy would take funds away from the central budget so other schools, and particularly primaries would suffer as a consequence.

Time and time again Waxman returned to the necessity of the additional funding to preserve the 6th form as a consequence of the equalisation of further education and school funding. He was warned that as more schools became academies and with free schools being given a disproportionate share of the education budget the funding advantage would soon disappear.

Questioned about consultation with students Jeremy Waxman said that he had held some talks but they were poorly attended but there had been assemblies on the subject. Senior staff had presented the arguments and not necessarily the ones they agreed with. Pressed on the need for a balanced debate he said that there would be two school parliament sessions devoted to the issue for 11-14  and 15-19 year olds.

Waxman said that the academies programme was not one that he favoured politically but the government was committed to all secondary schools eventually converting. and that this was the right time to become an academy. Neighbouring schools in Harrow, and Claremont in Brent,  had already taken the decision and he did not want to be the last to go. The way to avoid what happened to Wembley High and Willesden High when the majority of secondary schools in Brent became grant maintained was for all to convert. . He thought that all the secular secondary schools in Brent would eventually do so and that they watching carefully  what happened to Kingsbury.

Brent children agreed with Unicef 8 years ago

I was not surprised by Unicef's report published yesterday which concluded that UK children were caught in a 'materialist trap' in which parents felt pressurised to buy goods for their children. Children themselves said their their happiness depended on having more time with their families and having plenty to do outdoors.

I was involved in a consultation in 2003 on the Green Paper called Every Child Matters. The paper followed a number of high profile inquiries into the deaths of children, including some which took place in Brent. We brought together children from primary schools across Brent to hear their views on what would make them feel safe, secure and enable them to develop fully.

One of the most striking comments, that received support from pupils irrespective of the schools from which they came, was a concern that their parents had to work long hours and thus had less time to spend with their children. More than that the children also reflected on the quality of the time they they did have their parents. They described their parents as exhausted when they did get home and often irritated or short-tempered. One child said that this was when their mum or dad ended up hitting them when they did eventually get back from work.

Unicef suggest that the buying of branded goods is a way of parents compensating for the lack of time they spend with their children. In 2003 those children, now teenagers, had a simple solution. They said that wages were too low and that their parents had to work long hours or have several jobs in order to pay the bills. They said wages should be higher so that their parents could work a shorter day. They said that they would prefer to have fewer toys and gadgets and more quality time with their parents.

We are caught up in a long working hours, low wage economy with many parents working at several small jobs to earn enough to care for their family. I know of women who clean before school, work in a school in the kitchen or as a dinner lady during the day, and do an evening shift on a supermarket till in the evening. In some ways this low wage-long hours economy is supported by the tax and benefit system so that low wages are 'topped up'. Private companies are in effect subsidised and so can continue to pay low wages and maximise their profits.

As a headteacher I was always ambivalent about extended school hours that were seen as 'working parent' friendly but could see children in a school from 8am at a Breakfast Club until 6pm at an Afterschool Club - a 10 hour days for children replicating the parents' long working hours. Such provision is being eagerly advertised by academies and free schools - but at what expense to the child?

This is why the Green Party's policy on a Living Wage is so essential as a way of beginning to break out of the cycle. However Coalition policies are worsening the situation for children in many ways with cuts impacting on everything from play facilities to the ability to stay on at school to study. The housing benefit cap will have a major impact on low wage families and in Brent we are already seeing private landlords giving families notice to quit and an increase in the number forced into bed and breakfast accommodation.

Back in 2004  in reaction to the Green Paper the Mayor published a strategy document entitled 'Making London Better for All Children and Young People' - the 'All' is vital. It included the following aims:

All London’s children should have opportunities to:
• influence decisions about their city
• express their opinions on the kind of city they want
• participate in family, community and social life
• benefit from good quality, child-focused services such as health, education, social care, and housing
• be protected from exploitation, violence and abuse
• walk safely in the streets on their own
• meet friends and play
• enjoy green spaces for plants and animals
• live in an unpolluted environment
• participate in cultural events
• live as equal citizens of their city with access to every service,regardless of ethnic origin, race, religion, income, gender, disability or sexuality
 In the light of the discussions taking place in the wake of the riots we could do worse that revisit this document and renew the dialogue with children about their experiences and aspirations. As Kate Mulley, head of policy development and research at Action for Children said in reaction to the Unicef report 'The government needs to stop just hearing young people and actually listen to them'.

A child-friendly version of the Mayor's strategy is HERE

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Kingsbury High academy battle intensifies

Parents from Kingbury High School decided last night to seek an independent ballot of parents on the school's bid to convert to academy status with the ballot to be accompanied by information giving the case for and against conversion. They also voted to support the strike by teachers if their demands were not met.
This meeting supports the teachers of Kingsbury High School. We request an independently overseen secret ballot of parents’ views on academy status for KHS where parents vote YES/NO after hearing unbiased arguments for and against. We also request a consultation of the wider community, including feeder and other local schools, councillors, local residents and students. We request that there is a pause in the academy application process to allow this full and thorough consultation to take place. We declare that if our request for a parental ballot is not met, then we will be supporting the teachers who decide to take strike action.
In turn the teachers' professional associations said that they would withdraw their strike threat if the school organised an independent ballot of parents. They promised to accept the outcome of a fairly conducted ballot.

Shortly after the meeting concluded the headteacher, Jeremy Waxman, sent this letter to parents via e-mail:

Thank you to all of you who attended our Academy consultation meetings last week. I very much enjoyed discussing this important issue with you.

I was asked at one of the meetings if there would be an opportunity for follow up questions, especially for those who may have attended this week's separately organised event on Tuesday evening.
I am pleased to say that there will be two opportunities this Thursday evening (15th September): one at 6.30pm and another at 7.30pm in the Upper School Hall.

You will know from my previous letter that, after careful thought, I have formed the view that Academy status is in the best interests of Kingsbury High and the communities we are proud to serve. I would therefore be very keen to answer any queries you have. Please do come along if you would like to discuss things further.
This offer is unlikely to satisfy parents as it does not answer the demand for an independent ballot and reiterates Waxman's determination to go ahead with the academy. He will answer questions about becoming an academy but consider parents' arguments against conversion.

His approach has been to insist on his right to put the case for conversion and refuse to give equal weight to the case against and ignore the views of staff who voted 84.5% against conversion. Parents at the meeting were scornful of the school's parent survey which was openly biased towards the conversion case with the first question asking "What do you feel are the advantages of becoming an academy?" and the last asking parents what they would like the extra money gained by becoming an academy to be spent on. The survey would fail an A level Sociology examination!

In a strengthening of Labour's position, Cllr Sandra Kabir (Queensbury ward) pledged the support of the three Queensbury councillors; Mary Arnold (lead member for children and families) and Ann John (leader of Brent Council) for the campaign against academy conversion. Cllr Kabir said that the meeting was only the first step and that capaigners needed to gear up for what needs to be done. She said, "We will be with you all the way."

Later in the meeting I pointed out that staff, parents and students were only part of the process. I said that the school belongs in the long term to the whole community and that conversion would impact on future students and other schools. Councillors as representatives of the community must provide leadership on the issue and campaign strongly against the breakup of the local community of schools.

Mr Waxmana nd his senior leadership team and Kingsbury governors had all been invited to the meeting so as to have a balanced debate  but only one parent governor attended. She pledged to vote against conversion.

During the debate there were disturbing reports of Kingsbury staff feeling wary of opposing the management for fear of a future impact on their careers. One parent expressed shock that what was once a happy and united school had become one where teachers were frightened of stepping out of line. It was pointed out that Mr Waxman was a champion of pupil voice and that the School Council had been thoroughly involved in discussion about school uniform and the timing of the school day but had been virtually ignored on the academy issue. A student commented that when they had eventually met with Mr Waxman they felt that they had been given one-sided information.

Equally disturbing were reports from academy schools that spoke of special needs children being taught by unqualified staff, of teachers having less time to plan lessons and assess pupils because they were being deployed to cover absences and invigilate examinations, of high staff number (Crest Girls Academy lost 33 teachers at the end of the summer and only one third have been replaced) and a developing culture of bullying of staff by their seniors as well as a breakdown in pupil discipline.

Representatives of the professional associations emphasised that rather than just defending their conditions of service that teachers were convinced that academy status would worsen the quality of teaching and learning in the school through changes in those conditions.

The financial arguments used by Mr Waxman were challenged from the floor. The extra money that he claimed would accrue to the school would be used for buying in services currently provided by the local authority, including those for special needs and the money would evaporate as more school became academies and free schools were set up. Meanwhile other secondary and primary schools in Brent would suffer as the local authority budget was 'top-sliced'. One speaker said that Brent lost £950,000 last year because of this and that 8% of Brent's cuts were attributable to this loss.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Public Meeting on Kingsbury Academy Bid Tonight at 7pm

Why have Kingsbury staff voted against converting to a Gove Academy? Why have parents demanded a ballot? Come and discuss at a public meeting on Tuesday 13th September at 7:00pm in the Father O'Callaghan Centre, Main Hall, 26 Hay Lane, London, NW9 0NG 

Consternation over boundary changes - see the maps

The Boundary Commission's draft proposals for changes in Brent's parliamentary representation have been received with some consternation - as you can see by comments on this blog and elsewhere. Brent wards would be scattered across five parliamentary constituencies. The 12 week consultation period is now open and closes on December 5th 2011. Two consultation meetings will be held in Brent - both at Brent Town Hall in Wembley (sorry Willesdenites!) on Tuesday 20th October and Wednesday 21st October. Full details are on the Brent website along with PDF's of the maps I reproduce below for those who prefer iconographic representation LINK Click on images to enlarge

Wembley and Perivale

Hampstead and Kilburn


Riots: Green Party calls for public inquiry and reversal of public service cuts

The following Emergency Motion on the recent English riots was passed at the Green Party Conference at the weekend:

Conference is appalled at the outbreak of violence, looting, arson and murder that took place in English cities in August. The riots were a manifestation of anger that has deep roots and obvious triggers. The roots include inequality, loss of social cohesion, cuts in local public services, unemployment, increasing poverty, resentment against the police, consumerism and gang culture. The triggers were the Police’s killing of Mark Duggan and their exceptionally inept handling of its aftermath.

To address these problems we advocate immediate action to reverse the cuts in public services, increase support for disadvantaged communities and provide a 100% earnings disregard for work of local benefit. In punishing rioters there should be more use of restorative justice and community payback orders. There must also be an independent inquiry into the death of Mark Duggan and its aftermath.

These measures, however, will not deal with the roots of the problem. We call for a public inquiry into the deeper causes of social breakdown which lie as much in the excesses of the powerful as in the conditions of the powerless. This inquiry should seek to create a consensus for remedial actions which need to be as radical as those that created the welfare state 60 years ago.

Conference calls upon our elected representatives put forward these measures at every relevant opportunity.

BNCTV on street sweeping cuts

To support the e-petition against the cuts in street cleaning go to

Thanks to BNCTV HERE

Lucas supports Palestine UN bid

Caroline Lucas MP has called for support for the Palestinian bid for admission to UN:
It's time. Now. 

Rather than wait for the international community to get its act together, the Palestinians have taken hold of the diplomatic agenda. Their application for admission to the UN in September is an attempt to breathe genuine life into a peace process that currently lies inert. The Palestinians are seeking only what they have been promised for decades - but which the international community has failed to deliver. 

Appealing to the UN is the very opposite of taking "unilateral" action as they have been accused. The Palestinians have stated clearly that admission is not the same as statehood. Peace and statehood will come only via negotiations - but admission offers the best, the most effective guarantor of a resumption of good faith negotiations. Without those, a lasting peace
amounts to little more than a forgotten speech, a remark in an interview or a quickly abandoned election promise. 
The Palestinians have appealed to civil societies around the world to support them. 650,000 people signed a global petition organised by Avaaz - that probably includes you. The UK government has given us a chance to formally express that support and we ought to take the opportunity to do so.

We have watched as negotiations brought no gains - even as more illegal settlements are planned, announced and built. We do not need merely to watch any longer.

The link to the epetition site is here:


Monday 12 September 2011

Brent Fightback Meeting Postponed

The Brent Fightback meeting planned for tomorrow (Tuesday) evening is being postponed. There are other important events that some of Fightback's most active supporters will be attending, principally the Barnet Council Unison strike rally and the Public Meeting on Kingsbury High School  in the main hall of the Father O'Callaghan Centre, 26 Hay Lane at 7.00 pm.

Boundary changes will mean 5 MPs representing Brent wards

Proposals today from the Boundary Commission for England and Wales could see the people of Brent represented by five different members of parliament.  In order to distribute the electorate of each constituency fairly the following changes are put forward:
  • Kenton ward would join a new Harrow constituency , renamed from the old Harrow East constituency (Current MP Bob Blackman, Conservative)
  • Fryent and Queesnbury wards would join a new Stanmore constituency, renamed from the old Harrow West constituency (Current MP Gareth Thomas (Labour)
  • Brondesbury Park would be taken out of Hampstead and Kilburn, and put into Brent Central and the constituency would be  renamed Willesden. It will now include College Park and Old Oak wards from Hammersmith and Fulham. (Current MP Sarah Teather Liberal Democrat)
  • Brent North would be renamed Wembley and Perivale and include Tokyngton ward and Perivale ward from the old Ealing North Constituency. (Current MP Barry Gardiner Labour)
  •  Kilburn and Queens Park wards will remain in Hampstead and Kilburn constituency. Current MP Glenda Jackson Labour)
The proposals will have all the Brent political parties busy  trying to work out the impact on their vote. For older Brentonians the names will bring back memories of the two political entities that were merged to make Brent: Willesden and Wembley. 'Brent' disappears from the parliamentary political landscape.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Brent Citizen's Advice and Brent Law Centre to be funded for further 6 months

The Executive is due to discuss a recommendation to continue funding Brent Citizen's Advice Bureau and the Brent Community Law Centre for a further 6 months from October 1st 2011 to March 31st 2012. Additional funding from Brent Child and Families for outreach work at the CAB also expires in March 2012.

The battle will now commence to ensure funding in the new financial year when a further round of council cuts is due and when demand for the services will increase as benefit cuts bite.

Brent's detailed response on HS2 consultation

The Brent Executive will be asked to approve the following officers' response to the government's consultation on HS2 at their meeting on September 19th:

i. Brent Council supports, in principle, the development of high speed rail to help provide the basis for long-term and sustainable economic growth, whilst having the potential to deliver reductions in carbon emissions by achieving a modal shift from air travel. However, investment in high speed rail should not detract from funding for other rail infrastructure.

ii. Brent Council supports the proposals for the Y’ shaped network as one which delivers the greatest benefits for connecting the Midlands and the North to London.

iii. Brent Council welcomes the commitment to link HS2 to HS1. However, it is considered that the current proposal, to use existing track on the North London Line, could adversely impact upon existing suburban services, or upon future proposals to improve these. Any link should have dedicated infrastructure so as not to compromise capacity on the North London Line and/or the frequency or running speed of the HS operation.

The proposal for an interchange station at Old Oak Common is also supported in principle. However, this must maximise the potential for surface and rail connectivity with the surrounding area so that it can become a major transport hub for West London inthe same way that Stratford has developed as a major hub in East London.

There is an opportunity for interchange not only with Crossrail and the Great Western line, but also with the North and West London lines and with the existing West Coast Main Line and London Midland services at Willesden Junction, less than 800 metres away.

The Council believes that maximum benefit would be gained from linking Crossrail at Old Oak Common to the existing West Coast Main Line so that Crossrail trains could then run through onto this track and extend Crossrail northwards through Wembley Central station. This would support Brent’s largest growth area where substantial mixed use development is proposed, and make use of the track capacity anticipated to be generated by HS2.

Such a proposal would not only help maximise connectivity at Old Oak Common but would, more importantly, further relieve pressure from passengers arriving at Euston. The Council are of the view that the scope of HS2 should be widened to develop this proposal hand in hand with HS2.

Additionally the Council is concerned that the proposals do not contain details of arrangements for surface level connectivity to the hub station. The Council are of the view that the hub station should provide increased opportunity for residents in Brent, particularly those in the Harlesden and Kensal Green areas, to access employment opportunities in the region. This should be afforded by direct and suitable surface connectivity to the OOC hub station through Willesden Junction.

v The Council echoes concerns that have been expressed by residents in Brent about the potential effect on residential amenity of a tunnel for high speed trains located directly beneath their homes. Those concerns have not been addressed by information HS2 has provided during the consultation period about the impact
during construction and when HS2 is in operation.

It is Brent Council’s view that it should be possible for a tunnel to be constructed under the current West Coast Main Line track for a substantial part of the route from Old Oak Common to Euston, thus avoiding the possibility of such additional disturbance.

The Council is of the view that HS2 should undertake further work to explore the possibility of re-aligning the route (to the North Acton portal) beneath the WCML.

Additionally HS2 should ensure that construction and operational arrangements for any length of HS2 (or the HS2-HS1 link) in tunnel clearly demonstrate the absence of any impact on properties above the route so as to eliminate current concerns about amenity and blight.

The Council is also concerned about the potential impact of the proposed vent shaft on the Queens Park Station site at Salusbury Road. This is an important site which is a key part of the South Kilburn regeneration proposals, providing a mix of housing (around 200 homes) over lower ground commercial uses. The Council understands that the vent shafts are required approximately every 2 kilometres of tunnel, and that this is the distance between vents implemented on HS1. It is also understood that there is some flexibility over the precise siting of the vent shafts.

The Council is proceeding with the development of the Queens Park station site and therefore asks that the vent be located on an alternative site that is of less value to the South Kilburn redevelopment programme. For example, the vent shaftcould be located on land to the east of Queens Park station which is currently used as a builders yard/depot.

Brent Council also has an interest, as a member of the West London Waste Authority, in the potential impact of the route on the waste management site around Victoria Road in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Brent would wish to see a reconsideration of the route at this point so that it no longer impacts upon the operation of, or future operational proposals at, the Victoria Road waste transfer station.

Finally, and in the wider context, the Council is concerned about the development of HS2 proposals in the absence of plans to manage onward dispersal from Euston.Notwithstanding the positive impact of the OOC hub station on the numbers of passengers needing to use Euston, the Council is concerned that proposals for HS2 are developed and progressed in tandem with a package of measures to ensure that the transport network at, around and beyond, Euston can cope with the additional passenger numbers anticipated as a result of HS2 and regional growth.

Lollipop patrol cuts withdrawn for time being

Officers are to recommend, following the strong responses to the consultation,  that the Council should not proceed with the cuts in school crossing patrols 'at this time'. The full receommendations are below:

2.1 Agree not to proceed with the proposed withdrawal of School Crossing Patrol officers at this time,

2.2 Agree that the Director of Environment & Neighbourhood Services, together with the Director of Children & Families, undertake a detailed consultation with schools, including governors, encouraging them to contribute voluntarily to the costs of the service and further promoting the importance of road safety
education in schools,

2.3 Agree the adoption of the risk evaluation matrix set out in Section 4.2, based on rates of vehicular and pedestrian traffic flows, additional risk factors and evaluation of mitigation, and the safety ranking of sites implied by that matrix,

2.4 Agree that this matrix be used to prioritise the deployment of school crossing patrol officers at such time when there is natural turnover of staff within the service, ensuring that sites with a higher risk assessment (with an adjusted score greater than 1x106) are prioritised for cover.

2.5 Note the prioritisation of risk mitigation measures at school crossing patrol sites, particularly the introduction of speed reduction interventions and controlled crossings that will continue to reduce the adjusted risk scores of sites.

Brent Fightback recently staged a well-publicised demonstration in Kilburn against the cuts in school crossing patrols and street sweeping. The Council received the following petitions:

1. Save Brent’s Lollipops

“I believe the safety of children is very important. I oppose Labour’s plans to scrap my local lollipop person and the school crossing patrol they provide.”(Some with above generic statement, others include specific reference to particular crossings in the borough in Sudbury, Convent of Jesus and Mary Infants, Park Avenue and High Road Willesden). (529 signatures approx.)
From: Brent Liberal Democrats

2. Petition is support of Simon Isaacs from the Parents of Gladstone Park Primary School
“We the undersigned wish to express the strongest possible support for Simon Isaacs our school
crossing patrolman. We want to emphasise the quality of his personal influence on the safety of
children. Pointing out how his happy, positive and inclusive manner affects the whole community
crucially including passing drivers with no connection to the school. This criterion to the exclusion
of others should be the most important for judging whether he remains in post.”
From: Gladstone Park Primary School PSA Committee (301 signatures approx.)

3. The proposed plans to cut the fund for our School Crossing Patrol
“We the parents and children of Leopold School and residents object to our school losing our lollipop lady during the staff cutbacks. She is a valuable community member actively preventing accidents and fatalities around the school in the morning and afternoon. We would like Brent Council to reconsider its decision and keep our lollipop lady.”

From: Leopold Primary School (321 signatures approx.)
4. Petition – objection to proposed changes to the School Crossing Patrol
“We the undersigned are deeply unhappy at Brent Council’s decision to sack 30 of the 47 School Crossing Patrol Officers currently working near Brent’s schools, despite the high rates of child injury and fatality in this country, including many tragic accidents in Brent. We are also very unhappy at Brent allowing just one month for consultation, which gives no real chance for views to be gathered or for preparations to be made. The so-called consultation process is woefully inadequate.

We therefore demand that Brent’s current plans be suspended, pending adequate consultation
and consideration of all the issues.”

Lead petitioner: George Burn (682 signatures approx.)

FBU call for your support in fighting privatisation

A message from Ian Leahair, Executive Council Member of the London Region of the Fire Brigaes Union

You may or may not be aware, that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) have embarked upon a privatisation agenda of the service in London, there is no doubt that this madness and disgraceful attack on one of the best performing emergency services, is being driven by the Chair of LFEPA Councillor Brian Coleman, supported in the main by his Conservative colleagues on the authority.

The Conservative group currently have control of the authority, which was ensured by the gerrymandering of the numbers by the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, who also appears to support their actions and current direction.

You may also not be aware of the current fiasco with Asset Co (see below), the private company responsible for the supply and maintenance of the entire fleet of London fire engines and equipment, who are currently on the verge of collapse, such a collapse or winding up of Asset Co would potentially leave the entire fleet of fire engines and equipment in the hands of any creditors who already bracing themselves for considerable financial losses due to the debts owed by Asset Co.

Taking no cognisance of the current situation with asset Co, the LFB are now embarking upon outsourcing the LFB control room functions along with seeking a private company to take over the training of all London Firefighters, this embarkation can only lead to a worse service if Asset Co is the example to be followed.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) believes that the continued large scale privatisation of parts of the LFB may only lead to a worse service for the communities we serve, and we should not entertain or accept such approach from a conservative led authority, whose only agenda is to inject the private sector into an emergency service to raise profits for investors and shareholders.

The London Region of the FBU asks you, your friends, colleagues and members  to support our campaign to prevent this madness from continuing, by signing the UNISON e-petition below, against the privatisation of the LFB training and demanding that the brigade retain and enhance the current training provisions in house.

In advance of your support for this e-petition, we like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of all London FBU Firefighters.