Tuesday 20 May 2014

Make Willesden Green helps reinvigorate local democracy

Shahrar Ali, Alex Colas and Martin Francis - Willesden Green, Saturday (I've forgotten the joke...)
By chance Make Willesden Green and Brent Green Party were the only campaigners outside Willesden Green Sainsbury's on Saturday where this picture was taken.

A passerby stopped me to say how glad she was to have a real choice on the ballot paper this time round and promised that her three votes will be dividided between votes for the two Green candidates and a vote for Alex Colas. She was not the first person to signal this intention and it is clear on the Willesden Green streets that Alex is winning the poster war.

Make Willesden Green invited us to their picnic on Villiers road that was held to celebrate the completion of canvassing and to thank the 24 or so local supporters who have been working for the campaign.

Alex Colas generously acknowledged the contribition I had made to the Willesden Green Library, Willesden Bookshop and Gladstone Park Primary school campaigns. Make Willesden Green had emerged from those campaigns as a way of local residents using the strength they had gained from those struggles to attempt to reclaim a voice in their community and to hold the council to account.

A former Labour Party member told me how much she had enjoyed working with Make Willesden Green. She had left the Labour Party because 'I could not stomach the idea of campaigning for  Dawn Butler'.

Whatever the outcome of Thursday there is no doubt that Make Willesden Green has already gained a victory of sorts in showing that an independent, broadly based grouping, can mount a highly professional and impassioned campaign.

They have contributed much to reinvigorating local democracy and giving the community a positive focus.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that I cannot vote in Willesden Green, but hope that many people there will follow the example of the lady who was glad that she had a real choice this time. I saw Alex in action when I was helping with the Willesden Green "town or village green" public inquiry, and he is the sort of person I would be proud to have representing me as an independent voice. (The fact that I am not commenting on the other two candidates in the photograph should not be taken as anything against them, it is just that I prefer to be non-party political).

In that role, and in the interests of encouraging respect for local democracy, I have again tried to encourage the current Leader of Brent Council to "come out" on the issue of the alleged abuses by senior Brent Council officers. This, for information, is the email which I sent to him this afternoon, with a copy to one of my current Fryent Ward councillors who has not yet replied to my email to her, in that capacity, to ask for her views on this matter:-

Dear Councillor Butt,

Further to my emails of 13 and 14 May, and to my email to Ruth Moher on 15 May, you have still not replied or, as far as I am aware, made any public statement on what you are going to do about the growing volume of disclosures about the alleged misconduct of Cara Davani, and other senior officers connected with her.

Are you trying to "keep the lid on it" until after the local elections? Well, more and more people in Brent are getting to hear about this already, and they are crying out for leadership from you. Here are a few of the more recent comments (not written by me) on one of the four or five "blog" items now being read about this issue (there are others which are worded much more strongly, but I have avoided forwarding them):

It is not surprising that Brent leaders are not commenting on the alleged corruption. The truth is they are all collaborators and they are covering each others back. There is no transparency and if there was any and they wanted to prove this, they would endorse a independent investigation to prove their innocence. As a tax payer in the London Borough of Brent I have to say I have lost all confidence in Brent Councils leadership team.

Brent council is not commenting because they can't believe that they have been exposed to the public. They are probably in shock! Your not invincible Brent Council, these things can happen even to you.

Brent council needs a fresh and honest start, and that can only be attained with new leadership! Simple.

As I have said before, on similar matters, a failure to be seen to be acting undermines respect for the Council, and this in turn weakens local democracy. Please do the sensible (and right) thing, and acknowledge that serious concerns have been raised by Brent employees and Brent citizens, and that these need to be independently investigated as soon as possible.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

Lets just hope and pray Brent residents see through all the spin over the years.

It is total incompetency at the Top

A huge swing away from the main parties is what is desperately needed.

Anonymous said...

As people (rightly) turn away from the main parties it sounds like the Make Willesden Green group could be the genesis of a "UKIP of the left", albeit on an ultra-local scale. I only wish we had the energy and vision to do something similar in my ward.