Friday, 28 June 2013

Is this Ikea or the Civic Centre?

Brent Town Hall Council Chamber
Characteristically, as befits their attitude to Brent's heritage, councillors barely registered that Monday's Council Meeting was the last to be held at Brent Town Hall (formerly Wembley Town Hall) before the move to the Civic Centre.

The ballroom dancers having their last dance at the Town Hall on the same evening seemed more aware of the significance of the occasion and I encountered several couples later that night, in dishevelled finery, swaying gracefully, if rather tipsily as they went home from the Paul Daisley Hall for the last time.

I had a look behind the scenes today at the councillors new quarters and I must confess that the Ikea style furnishings seemed to lack solidity compared with the oak wood panelling and aged wooden desks of the old Town Hall.

The great atrium and imposing staircase of the Civic Centre lead through to halls and offices in 'the drum' which have an overall colour scheme of grey and actually seemed quite poky in comparison with the Town Hall. The grey, spotted carpet, in the councillors' office area, already looked grubby and stained in places, but is perhaps awaiting an industrial deep clean. The Council Chamber carpet is  a rather loud turquoise.

The Civic Centre Conference Room/Council Chamber - councillors' offices are behind the translucent panels
There is no public gallery as such but these are seats for officers and public
The replacement for the Paul Daisley Hall - ballroom dancing?
Into the grey zone - a committee room
The Labour Group's Office

The Mayor's Parlour
There is also a sort of members' common room furnished with armchairs but little else at present. I have only seen the staff offices from a distance but I am sure for many workers this will represent an improvement in working conditions compared with the old buildings they have vacated, and that is to be welcomed. The hot desking does not appear to be popular and open plan offices with the boss sitting amongst the workers may not be to the taste of some.

There will be a live video feed of council meetings but I hope that will not mean a restriction on the public being able to sit in the council chamber to observe meetings in progress. The broadcasts are unlikely to challenge the supremacy of East Enders although there is potential for Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala to become a cult hero on the internet.

The Wembley Library was a welcome centre of colour and activity and some students I spoke to liked it but were worried about the difficulty of getting there compared with the Town Hall Library. They also lobbied for sound barrier glass between the main library and the children's library!

The food at the Melting Pot restaurant was tasty and reasonably priced but I was shocked when I asked for a glass of tap water to go with my lunch that 'We don't have tap water'. A Civic Centre that boasts its green credentials must surely rectify that as soon as possible if it is to escape ridicule.

1 comment:

  1. There is NO potential for Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala to become a cult hero on the internet.