Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Kensal Rise Library, Copland and Representative Democracy

Guest blog by Guestropod
Anyone following the Kensal Rise Library correspondence on Wembley Matters LINK would be struck by two things:   1. the level of interest in the matter    2. the desire to communicate that interest and the related opinions to councillors, with  the implicit expectation that the elected representatives would respond to them.
A similar level of interest and a similar expectation of a response to their concerns also seems to have characterised  the involvement of Copland students in their opposition to the dismantling of their school and its takeover by the Ark academy business. This opposition was ultimately expressed in a letter which followed up a petition signed by well over 400 students and addressed to Brent Council's Head of Children and Families. Apparently, none of these students had participated in any similar action before and many would have been unaware that it was possible for them to do so. I would imagine that the experience was worth a term's worth of Citizenship lessons.  
The original petition was ‘lost’ by Brent council and further copies had to be provided.  A copy of the follow-up letter went to every Brent councillor. LINK

Out of the 60+ councillors who were sent the letter, I gather that a grand total of 3 (THREE) managed the courtesy of a reply, (2 Lib Dem, 1 Labour).

Anyone teaching in Brent at the 2010 General Election would have been impressed by the level of interest shown by 6th form students keen to use their vote for the first time. The mock election staged at Copland and organised by Mr Allman was supported by local and national politicians and enthusiasm for the breath of fresh air and honesty which Nick Clegg appeared to be offering was palpable. Within a few months most of these students were in further education. And grants were tripled. A more effective way of disillusioning a generation of new voters is impossible to imagine.

None of those kids who signed the Copland anti-academy petition have the vote, so presumably they can be ignored. Those Copland 6th formers who voted Lib Dem in 2010 did have the vote, but they were ignored and betrayed anyway. Those contributing to the Kensal Rise Library discussion on Wembley Matters and elsewhere no doubt all have the vote, probably used it last time and are likely to vote again on May 22nd. It’s good to see the faith they seem to still have in the democratic process and in their elected representatives’ responsiveness.
I would hope that Copland's current and past students could share that faith. But I can also imagine (and sympathise with) the reasons why they might not.


Anonymous said...

Add that to 6,000 residents in Willesden Green who signed the petition against the library development, which still went ahead, and you have one very disillusioned electorate.

Anonymous said...

The question is will we have a last minute dash for votes when our current bunch of elected representatives finally realize the scale of anger in the community ?

While they might point the finger at national cuts, but there is no excuse for their own incompetency and not standing up for the rights of people in Brent. This would include immediately calling for a Judicial Review into the murky deal done behind closed doors with Copland and in the past few days we hear the another murky deal done again behind closed doors between Gillick and All Souls College

Finally this morning, Maria Miller accepts she can only but resign. In Brent the voting public will shortly get their chance to vent their anger in a little over a month, unless Brent leaders stand up for social justice and do what to most people think is "The right thing to do !"

It would actually be nice if independents actually end up with a majority, as I can't believe Labour can be proud of anything.

Anonymous said...

Let the Maria Miller affair be a reminder to those Councillors in Brent who sit and do nothing.

A little over a month to go and the pitchforks will be out.

Thanks to Martin at Wembley Matters for hosting such an informative and enlightening discussion.

Rather than the spin that is normally feed to us all I find this blog gives the story our elected representatives do not want us to hear.

Thanks again Martin

Anonymous said...

We need a right to recall useless councillors before their terms are up. But more than that, we need to be the alternative. I'd like to see more independent candidates across Brent, Willesden Green has one, come on the rest of you - there's still time to put yourself forward!

Anonymous said...

Vote 4 Martin the King of Brent.

He puts the current bunch of elected representatives to shame

Anonymous said...

Not sure Martin would want to head a monarchy, even an elected one.

Anonymous said...

But councillors, like MPs, are representatives, not delegates.

People may not like higher density development, but London needs to provide it, to house its rising population.

Anonymous said...

Add Kendal Rise Library to the long list of assets Brent Council has privatised.

So much for "Asset of Community Value"

Should read "Community Asset of Private Value"

Anonymous said...

That might be all very well, but building more residential without services such as schools, doctors police, fire brigade, transport infrastructure including cycle paths etc is a receipt for long term disaster.

We already have a schools crisis with a projected shortfall of near 100,000 school places give or take 10k.

The problem in reality is that foreign buyers and buy to let have pushed up house prices nobody can even afford with thousands of large homes sitting empty.

This is the root of the problem.

Martin Francis said...

Certainly not - but I wouldn't mind a bit of popular democracy:

Anonymous said...

Long live the Francis Revolution - can't wait till your elected Martin and Green Party are in charge of Brent! How big a majority do you plan on getting?

Anonymous said...

Can just see his avatar above with a little crown on it.

Martin Francis said...

That, my friend is not in my hands, but in those of the wise and wonderful Brent people of Brent!

Interestingly, some of those current councillor who have decided not to stand in May have told me that they feel they were more effective as community activists in defending the interests of the people than they were when they became councillors.

Backbench councillors, aside from casework and helping decide how to spend the (reduced) ward working money, find they have little power in the major decisions.

The vital and influential work of the cross-party task force on violence against women points to one area where they have had an impact.

Anonymous said...

Martin doesn't need a majority. He can rule with the Power of his Rectitude (and back-up of over 400 young Copland 'persuaders').

Anonymous said...

Brent could redeem themselves if they voted against the planning application and if they took action against the All Souls College / Gillick contract and if the contract were ruled invalid by new planning judiciary.

Many IF's, but it might just restore some form of justice in the eyes of the people that Brent Council were actually "Doing Something" and not sitting around like Muppets.

Anonymous said...

It is a total disgrace that only 3 councillors replied to the petition. Even Michael Gove would have replied if it had been sent to him. The problem is that unlike Michael Gove these councillors are ashamed to admit in public that they are allowing land which belongs to the people of Brent to be handed over to billionaires which at the same time they are moving families from Brent to Luton to save a few pounds. No councillor can be unaware of what is happening.

Anonymous said...

Kick Them Out on 22 May.

That will teach them

Anonymous said...


Councillors are doing a great job with the resources.

Brent needs more housing not a magnet for every dropout and drunk in town to get in out if the rain.

Turn all the Libraries into much needed housing. End of!