Wednesday 18 April 2012

Willesden Green issue remains on the boil

Robin Willow caught the public mood tonight when he thundered, 'Who owns Fryent Country Park? Is it the Council? No, it is us the people?  Whose are the trees in Carlton Vale that have been chopped down by the Council? Not the Council's, they are ours - our heritage."

Turning to the platform at the Willesden Area Consultative Forum he said, "The Old Victorian Library belongs to the people of Willesden, not the Council. It is part of our heritage and you haven't the right to take it away from us."

Robin had heard a rumour that Brent Council  were trying to overturn the covenants on Fryent Country Park in order to build on it but that was later denied by Richard Barrett leader  of the increasingly powerful Regeneration and Major Projects Department - and he should know.

However the fact that it is now possible to suspect Brent Council of planning such a move is indicative of the lack of trust residents now have following recent machinations over library closures and other issues.

Speaking about the Willesden Green Library regeneration Elizabeth Proud said that if people wanted to comment on more that cosmetic details of the proposals they were effectively told to 'shut up'. She spoke about the loss of open space, the Victorian Library building and the reduced size of a replacement building that looked like an airport building or a warehouse: 'We know an eyesore when we see one'.

Indeed when Beth Kay and Richard Barrett presented the revised plans the building looked worse than in the earlier artist's impression and there were little more than cosmetic changes to the internal layout and the floor plan. There was slightly more space between the building and the High Road and an indication that the cafe area might include retail space, that 'could' be a bookshop, but would be let at market rates.

One resident said that the plans had been underhand and imposed on residents. The Victorian Library and the open space were the heart of Willesden. She claimed the Council had deliberately run down the cafe and cinema and the 80s library had only been refurbished 5 years ago. She said that the way the Council had behaved was more like something from the old Soviet Union.

She was followed by a woman who said that the Victorian Library and open space were the heart of Willesden and in  response to Richard Barrett's claim that the landmark Victorian Library would be replaced by a new landmark building, the Cultural Centre, she said something that looks like a circus marquee will never be a landmark building. Warming to her theme she said that in removing the open space the Council were not getting rid of anti-social behaviour but of social behaviour it was a space where people could congregate and mix in all their diversity and one where people new to the area could observe local life and feel part of the community. The  Neighbourhood  Bulletin from Brent ward working had said that (contrary to the Council's claim that the space encouraged ant-social behaviour)  'the area outside Willesden Green library is no longer a haven for anyone causing anti-social behaviour' because 'a dispersal order is now in place...'

She said that the real failure had been one of 'management and marketing' and the problem could have been solved with a proper management plan.

In a corrective to the presenters' statement that local councillors had been consulted, Liberal Democrat councillor Gavin Sneddon said that they had warned officers that demolition of the Victorian Library would be controversial and that his colleague Ann Hunter had asked for two plans, one with the Victorian building and one without. The decision to proceed with the plan for demolition did not involve local councillors.

A potential bombshell was partially revealed when Richard Barrett  said that he understood that local historian Phil Grant had been in contact with the Secretary of State for Communities over whether Brent Council was the appropriate body to make the planning decision. Brent Council thought they were but would find out more. Phil said that the issue revolved around Conservation Area consent which would involve Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State, and predicted that the Council would not have a smooth ride with its planning application . He called for no amenities to be closed until full planning consent had been obtained.

No member of the public spoke in favour of the proposals, if anything the opposition has broadened and deepened.


The Local Don. said...

Robin Willow is on the right path to exposing the truth by what he says, unfortunately the real truth lies under legal jargon that Brent Council would rather not tell you about. It's time you all write to Brent Council and you local councillors to ask what do you own in your local area and post the results on this blog.

I will give you something to think about.
If Robin Willow was 100% correct in what he says, why do Brent Council staff continuously appear to ignore what appears to be an obvious statement?

Now, for local councillors who say they serve you.

Liberal Democrat councillor Gavin Sneddon said that they had warned officers that demolition of the Victorian Library would be controversial and that his colleague Ann Hunter had asked for two plans, one with the Victorian building and one without. The decision to proceed with the plan for demolition did not involve local councillors.

Brent Council pay his and Ann Hunters wages. If they felt so strong about it all, resign and get a job in the Cafe when Brent Council build it. It'll be longer hours for less money - but they'll be serving each and every person in Brent who wants a cup of tea.

Gavin Sneddons Twitter feed:

18th April 2012
At #WillesdenGreen area forum for discussion of library plans.

18th April 2012
Local people understandably concerned over plans to demolish old victorian library building in #WillesdenGreen

18th April 2012
Plans for #WillesdenGreen library due to go to planning permission on 30th April. Make your views know.

Planning permission?

If you all look in the latest edition of the Brent & Kilburn Times 19th April 2012 online. MP Sarah Teather is accused of breaking planning rules over office sign.

Gavin Sneddon talks about planning permission and the office he visits with Ann Hunter has none.

The Local Don.

Anonymous said...

I suggest that the Labour Leadership should have their salaries cut by 50% to ensure that they too are affected by the cuts that they are inflicting on the community.

As the Willesden Green Library redevelopment is continuing despite the massive opposition of local people, I suggest Councillors are not representing the views of those who elected them. So why are we paying them? Do they build their homes and then demolish them within 20 years? I dont think so! But, they find it acceptable to use our hard earned cash, paid to Brent Council to do just that. Not their money.... ours!!!

Next petition, Sack the current administration.