|Rubbish in London Road that Labour councillors and canvassers walked past today
|A front garden today, a rare sight amongst the 'car parks with houses attached'
Afifa Pervez (Lib Dem) is campaigning on car parking charges and Madhuri Davda (Conservative) is calling for the end of traffic calming measures which deliberately 'slow down traffic', 'unnecessary bus lanes' and narrowing of the main roads. Both ignore the root of the problem which is that we have too many cars on our roads. Front gardens are paved over with two or more cars per household. Pervez claims that local people need their cars to get to work, take their children to school and do their shopping while Davda claims 'as Wembley's population grows, this problem will only get worse'. Of course it will if everyone of an age to drive insists on having their own cars and parents insist on driving their children to school rather than (horrors!) walking, or (even more horrifying!) using a bus.
There is something pretty illogical about assuming unblocked roads would make things easier if the driving population increases - not to mention longer bus journeys when buses lose priority, which would force people back into cars, and increased traffic placing children in danger from speeding vehicles on 'unblocked roads'. Then of course there is the increased air pollution from all those vehicles.
I support 20mph limits in built up areas and increased investment in public transport to get people out of their cars. Good local schools would reduce the need for all those school runs. While we are at it let's have some controls over the paving over of front gardens - our local streets are becoming nothing more than car parks with houses attached.
The Lib Dem's 'Focus' By-election newspaper states 'Wembley campaigner Afifa Pervez is leading the campaign to save Brent libraries'. Well, no. The Brent SOS Library Campaign is a non-party campaign made up of non-affiliated residents and some who are members of Labour, Green, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. It is not owned by an political party and Pervez does not lead it. Davda is also campaigning for the libraries but neither mention the fact that it is Coalition cuts to local government funding that has led to Brent Council's cuts.
Which brings us to Krupa Sheth, the Labour candidate who is in the unenviable position of having to defend Labour's cuts. Abracadabra - she copes with the problem in a twinkling by ignoring what the Labour Council has been doing. Instead she assures us that she 'believes in our local schools' but doesn't tell us that her parents believed in them so much they sent her to the private, fee-paying Swaminarayan School. She goes on to say that she will fight the government's 'unfair' cuts to 'Brent's schools, hospitals, police and more'. Well the Labour Council hasn't made much of a fist of that so far.
I go back to basic position: the Tory and Lib Dem candidates deserve no respect if they do not acknowledge that their Coalition government is responsible for the massive reduction in local government budgets as well as abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, cutting of the Building Schools for the Future programme which affect our children;s education and the potentially devastating consequences early next year of the Housing Benefit cap which will see many of our families made homeless. Standing up for the rights of motorists seems at the very least 'inadequate' in those circumstances.
And Labour has to be honest. They have to admit that they have been forced to do the Coalition's dirty work and that Brent Council cuts are going to hurt people and damage life chances. No more hiding behind euphemisms such as 'transformation' and 'efficiencies'. There appears to be no appetite amongst Labour councillors for a united fight, alongside the community, for justice for the people of Brent but that is what would bring them back some respect.