Sunday 31 August 2014

Councillors' allowances to be increased at next Council meeting plus who will Labour appoint as Tory leader?

There will be a Full Brent Council meeting on September 8th, only the second since the elections in May.  The first proved controversial with constitutional changes voted through and then later backbench concern about what had been agreed - especially the reduction in Scrutiny committees.

The meeting was noteworthy also for the public split in the Conservative opposition with the three Tories in Brondesbury Park declaring independence from those in Kenton.

That issue will rear its head again when the Council (56 Labour, 6 Tories and one Lib Dem) vote to decide which of the two Tory factions should be the Principal Opposition Group for the purposes of allowances. Perhaps Central Office will mediate before they expose themselves to ridicule.

Fiona Ledden's paper on allowances that will be put before the Council includes increases in allowances but Ledden claims that they remain some of the lowest in London and below those recommended by an independent review.

The recommendations (previous allowance in brackets) include:
The basic allowance for all 63 councillors £10,000  (£7,974)

Additional Allowances

Following the replacement of the Executive by the smaller Cabinet, the two allowances saved will be shared amongst the Cabinet members £18,711 (£14,969)

The Leader of the Council £38,964 (£35,222)

Deputy Leader £28, 397 (£24,655)

Chief Whip majority party £5,473 (no change)

Two additional Deputy whips for the majority party are proposed £2,113 where their majority exceeds 50%.   Previously there were whip allowances of £5,473 for the other two parties. They appear to have been abolished.

Group leader of the Principal Opposition  £12,658 (no change but no deputy principal oppositon group leader allowance.)

Principal Opposition  Group Allowance £2,113 (n/a)
There are a number of other allowances, many of which remain unchanged,  that can be found on the Council website HERE

There are clearly debatable issues such as the additional whips for the Labour group but as someone who has been  a trade unionist since the age of 16 I am not going to fulminate against these proposals. It is right that people should get the rate for the job and carried out properly these are very responsible positions.

However, as an electorate we know that there is varying performance by councillors in terms of the effectiveness of their casework, including basic tasks such as responding to correspondence and attending surgeries, as well as issues around Cabinet and Committee members making sure they have read and understood the relevant papers thoroughly.

Furthermore there have been problems around attendance records at Council meetings in the past and we deserve our councillors' full-time commitment to their job.

Most workers go through appraisal procedures and teachers are now subjected to performance related pay. Perhaps councillors should be accountable to an annual ward citizens' panel between elections to ensure that they are giving value for money?

That is why the Recall proposal of the Make Willesden Green Campaign in the local elections, which the Green Party alone of the parties contesting the election supported, was so important. 

Above views and any responses to comments are in a personal capacity. The Brent Green Party has not yet discussed these proposals. 

Walkers get active in Fryent Country Park via Streetlife

It has been great to see local people organising various walking groups in Fryent Country Park  on Streetlife this week. One group is walking in the park as I write this. LINK

Since I made the above video celebrating the park's Green Flag Award, Brent Council has withdrawn from the award and has privatised parks maintenance in the borough. Veolia has taken over the role as part of the Public Realm contract.

I hope that these two decisions do not signal any deterioration in the care of our park.  We are lucky to have the volunteer work of the Barn Hill Conservation Group who are out in the park most weekends clearing litter, maintaining footpaths and enhancing its unique landscape.

Fryent is a wonderful resource and deserves to be better known. With the pressure on green spaces for development it is vital that it is used and valued by local people.

I run nature walks and activities in the park for Brent School Without Walls LINK and many parents accompanying school groups are amazed to discover it for the first time.

On Saturday September 6th Willesden Harvesters, Kensal and Kilburn Fruit Pickers, Mapesbury Pickers the Conservation Group are joinign together to harvest fruit from the 900 or so small trees in the park.

If you are interested in joining them contact:

The challenge of inequality in education - a timely offer

I don't normally allow advertising on this website but I think the offer below is worthwhile for teachers, governors and others involved in education if Brent.  The message comes from Robin Richardson of Insted LINK who was a far-sighted and progressive Chief Inspector of Schools in Brent.

“Politicians in all four of the UK’s education systems are faced, as you know all too well, by both short-term and long-term challenges. It was always thus, of course … The long-term challenges are about the capacity of schools to grapple with the impact of technology on education; increasing inequality combined with decreasing social mobility; preparation for work at a time of phenomenal change in labour markets; and literacy and numeracy amongst the lowest attaining 20 per cent of young people.

… Against the backdrop of short-term and long-term challenges such as these, we urge you to take seriously your legal and moral responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. This is not, we emphasise, an add-on matter – it’s not additional to the other challenges. On the contrary, you simply cannot deal effectively with the other challenges unless you start with the Equality Act, and put and keep it at the very heart of all you do.”

Thus begins the editorial introduction to the next issue of Race Equality Teaching (RET). The issue is about the whole equalities agenda in education, not about race equality alone. Normally RET is only available through an annual subscription of £39.  But this issue is available for only £5 if orders are placed before printing begins on 8 September. If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, please click on this link and follow the instructions by clicking then on ‘Add to basket’ at the top of the page:

There are nine articles in this special issue and all are written by specialists in the topic they are concerned with. The authors and titles are as follows:

Sameena Choudry: Watching and checking on progress

Artemi Sakellariadis: Issuing a ticket but keeping the door locked

Catherine McNamara and Jay Stewart: One person’s journey at one school

Karamat Iqbal: Working out what to do with us immigrants

Gilroy Brown and Maurice Irfan Coles: Our children should know themselves

Mark Jennett: Pink is for girls and jobs are for boys

Sue Sanders and Arthur Sullivan: The long shadow of Section 28

Lizz Bennett and Laura Pidcock: Critical thinking and safe spaces

Sarah Soyei, Kate Hollinshead and Yvette Thomas: Identity-based bullying

Personalised copies of the issue will be sent to political leaders, and to bodies such as Ofsted and the EHRC.

There will be a follow-up special issue of RET later in the year, similarly about the whole equalities agenda and similarly available at a vastly reduced price. It will include articles on the pupil premium grant; spiritual, moral, social and cultural development; and religion and belief equality in the light of the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham in summer 2014. Also there will be a round-up of recent resources, reports and materials and, based on both issues, a set of recommendations to the government and Ofsted. More information at

Saturday 30 August 2014

Cricklewood sees off pitiable South East Alliance fantasists

Happy in our diversity
Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, other councillors and residents
The Brent community today came out once again in all its diversity to tell the extreme right South East Alliance that their attempts to spread division and discord in our streets was not welcome. Much to the irritation and annoyance of residents and shopkeepers the Alliance had come to Cricklewood for the fourth time to protest against what they are determined to call Muslim Brotherhood offices above a shop in Cricklewood Broadway. It isn't, and never was, such offices and the HQ is in Austria. Never mind, the SEA meandered their way to Cricklewood, fuelled by pub stops, huddled outside an undertakers and at great public expense, in the form of police overtime, shouted a few inaudible slogans.

In their delusion they will represent this as an enormous victory, complete with Star Wars style soundtrack, on a YouTube video.  It wasn't - it was just a tad pathetic.

20 or so South East Alliance outside the undertakers
They are a tiresome group and North West London  United hope they won't come again - but if they do they will be opposed.

A local resident speaks to the SEA

Friday 29 August 2014

Wembley needs affordable housing - not markets galore

Following my recent blog on questions around the delivery of social housing at Quintain's Wembley it is interesting to see that Quintain are applying to Brent Council for a number of the sites around the stadium (above)  to be used for markets and other temporary events.

The Wembley Sunday Market on the 'Green' parking site has only recently closed. That market aroused controversy over the sale of counterfeit goods although it also enjoyed a great deal of support.

A new 250 stall Sunday market is due to open  on October 5th with the operators, Market Place, signing a code of pracice with Brent and Harrow Trading Services.

However, the new application goes much further in terms of market provision with uo to 500 stalls at any of several sites and will not be limited to Sundays.

Quintain is at pains to establish a more upmarket image to complement the London Designer Outlet and of course markets add colour and activity to derelict areas - but some of the spaces at least should be busy scenes of building the affordable housing so badly needed. The proposals may be 'meanwhile' projects to make a return for the developer and liven up the area but also seem to assume, and even embed, further delays.

This is the land included in the planning application:
Wembly Arena Square, Yellow Car Park, Green Car Park, Interim Red Car Park, Land North of Wembley Stadium Station, Land Adjacent to Red House, Land opposite Hilton, Land opposite Red Car Park, Olympic Way, Wembley Park Boulevard, Wembley

Some of the spaces around the stadium
Quintain's bid states: (Full application to be decided no earlier than September 17th LINK)
This planning application proposes the use of various areas of public realm within the Wembley Regeneration Area for markets and other temporary events. A variety of markets will be brought forward over time establishing a regular offer, which will bring repeat visitors, so the markets will complement and add to the retail attractions in Wembley. The markets will offer food and non-food items, including general products, clothing, arts/crafts, retro goods, etc. 

It is envisaged that no more than 40% of the total offer over time will comprise food, of which a lesser proportion will be for immediate consumption. Themed markets are envisaged, featuring European and other overseas products, and seasonal markets will offer products for annual festivals, including Christmas, and to complement activity elsewhere on the Wembley Park estate, such as a parade for Diwali. Markets selling a variety of food and drink products, such as a French food market, would be located within an area currently designated under Wembley Park estates’ premises licenses. 

Markets will not be hosted on Stadium Event Days without the prior written agreement of the Council. Some flexibility may be necessary to support seasonal markets, such as the Christmas Market, which are anticipated to be in place over a number of consecutive days. In any event, key routes to the Stadium, including Station Square, Olympic Way and Stadium car parks will be free of markets on Event Days. Any such coincidence would be discussed fully at the relevant Safety Advisory Group meeting in advance of the Event. 

Markets will also be co-ordinated with large events at the Arena and Hilton and elsewhere across the estate; and it is also generally anticipated that only one market will be hosted on site at a time although complementary opportunities may arise on occasion. In any event, the maximum number of stalls on site at any one time will not exceed 500. Quality of all goods will be assured through the Real Deal charter between Retail Alternatives and Brent and Harrow Trading Standards. 
The hours of operation of the various temporary events and markets will be reflective of the type of event being held. It is unlikely, however, that they would be operated before 08.00 am or after 00.00 am. The setup and breakdown, however, could be outside of these hours. There are currently no residential buildings close to the proposed sites, but there are some hotels on Olympic Way, Wembley Park Boulevard and South Way. Stall holders will be made aware of the locations of the hotels and considerate working will be required of them through management, including no shouting, engines not left to idle during set up, minimal movement of metal stall frames, etc. Erection of stalls close to the hotels would not generally begin before 07.00 am. Generators are not anticipated to be required close to them. 

Stalls may be established in groups or individually in the various areas identified. Market stalls will generally be a maximum of 3m x 3m including the serving and storage area for the stall holder. Aisles of no less than 4m will be maintained between the faces of stalls. Emergency services routes will be a minimum of 4m wide. Whilst there are trees in some of the areas within the location plan, the stalls will be positioned so as not to affect the trees in any way. 

Electrical power points are established in the majority of the areas. Where these are absent, such as in the car parks, generators will be utilised. These will be sited away from public thoroughfares and all cabling in public areas will be fixed above head height, or other, to avoid trip hazards. All refuse generated by the market will be stored well away from generators during market operation and will be cleared away at the end of the market / event and the areas cleaned, as currently, by the Wembley Park Estate team. 

Market stalls will not be stored within the sites themselves in between markets since the spaces are used for other events and to support events at the Arena and Stadium. From time to time markets will be held over a number of consecutive days and in these instances the stalls will remain on the sites protected by patrolling site security. All market stalls and equipment will be cleared away from the market locations at the end of the run of each market and stored under cover elsewhere on the Wembley estate, such as within one of the empty retail warehouse units on Wembley Retail Park. 

The markets will serve both the local community and those visiting from further afield. Visitors and stall holders will park in the existing Wembley car parks which are controlled by ANPR cameras. The Wembley Park estate is managed with the aid of CCTV and ANPR cameras. The markets and other events will be managed by Retail Alternatives in close liaison with the Quintain Wembley Park team. All events will be licensed, as appropriate.

Brent Council checking that Michaela will be safe for children to start on September 15th

Michaela site yesterday

Michaela Free School, opening at the former Arena House in Wembley Park, has assured Brent Council officers that it will be opening as planned to Year 7 pupils on September 15th, two weeks after most other local schools.

However the council will also ensure that the site itself is safe and suitable for children as building work will continue on other floors of the building, and in the grounds of the school, while the 11-12 year olds start their secondary education. 

As you can see from the pictures above the site is cramped with a very small footprint and presents quite a challenge.

Thursday 28 August 2014

A decade on, has Quintain delivered for Wembley? Will the Council ensure Quintain delivers?

Just over 10 years ago in July 2004, the then London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, gave his seal of approval to Quintain's redevelopment of the area around Wembley Stadium.

It is worth looking back at what was promised and checking off what has been achieved in the last decade and those projects that appear to have fallen by the wayside.:
--> -->
This application was approved (subject to reserved matters) by Brent Council's
planning committee on 3 June 2004.  It consists of:

*   6,100 jobs

*   Up to 3,727 new apartment homes for 8,500 people (including 40% affordable housing)

*   Some student accommodation and nursing home / special care bedspaces

*   Areas of open space covering over half the site and including Arena Square and a pedestrian and public transport only Wembley Park Boulevard

*   A new cinema and other new leisure facilities (147,000 square feet /13,700 square metres)

*   New shops - designer outlets (153,000 square feet / 14,200 square metres), sports retailing (127,000 square feet / 11,800 square metres) and
stores for the local community living and working on the site (86,000 square feet / 8,000 square metres).

*   New restaurants, cafes and bars (137,000 square feet / 12,700 square metres).

*   New community facilities (88,000 square feet / 8,200 square metres).

*   New offices and workspace (678,000 square feet / 63,000 square metres)

*   A flagship new 400 bedroom, international standard hotel

*   £20 million to refurbish and update Wembley Arena

*   Parking for the national stadium and the new community

*   The headlines of a huge package of community benefits has already been agreed, including:

*   Delivery of 40% affordable housing - 17% social for rent on-site, 21%intermediate / key worker homes on-site, 2% social for rent family accommodation

*   £9m contribution to education provision

*   £2.25m for community facilities (not including health)

*         Primary health care facilities for up to 5 GPs, for occupation by the Brent PCT

*    £1.5m for construction education and training provision

*    £1m towards long-term employment education and training provision

*    £1.8m for bus improvements including £50,000 for bus stop facilities, £1m for upgrades to route PR2 and £750,000 for upgrades to routes 92 and 224

*    £1.6m towards works to Wembley Park Station to deliver a new ticket hall

*    £100,000 towards works to Wembley Central Station

*    £2.65m for road and junction improvements, including

*    Empire Way / Engineers Way (£300,000)

*    Empire Way / Stadium Way (£300,000)

*    First Way / Manor Drive Improvements plus pedestrian signage (£300,000)

*    Lakeside Way (£500,000)

*    Linking of signals Empire Way/Wembley Hill Road (£300,000)

*    North Circular / Drury Way / Great Central Way (£550,000)

*    Wembley Hill Road / Royal Route (£400,000)

*    £1m towards Stadium Access Corridor

*    £500,000 contribution towards CPZ and parking management

*    £150,000 for neighbourhood policing initiatives

*    £100,000 for community sports facilities plus providing swimming facilities

*    Youth facilities including skateboard and multi-use games area

*    Up to 7 days a year use of the Arena for community events

*    Provision of visitor information centre within development

*    Provision of City Car Club

*    £150,000 for disabled facilities grants and the Brent Access Forum

*    £100,000 for public toilets

*    £50,000 for CCTV study

*    Wireless information system to all residences and business
The financial crisis intervened of course and Quintain decided, with Brent Council's acquiescence, that the housing was not viable in the then financial situation, and Quintain instead concentrated on building lucrative student accommodation blocks which total around 2,500 units.

The borough is still desperately in need of affordable family housing and this is one of the largest regeneration sites in London.

During those 10 years several projects emerged and then sank without trace including a new primary school, a public swimming pool on the Dexion House site, a National Football Museum and a music centre, Wembley Live.

Quintain itself got quite stroppy with Brent Council in 2008 when it lambasted the Draft Wembley Master Plan as:
  • premature in advance of the Core strategy
  • contains no realistic delivery strategy
  • is too prescriptive
  • has numerous contradictions
They key passage in their response stated:

As a consequence Brent Council seemed to shrink away from any conflict with such a powerful developer. The London Designer Outlet, the Cinema and the Civic Centre have been delivered plus several blocks of private student housing and several hotels but the social goals: affordable housing (1,400 units promised in 2004) , health facilities, new school, social care facilities, public swimming pool are yet to come, if at all.

The decade has covered  Con-Lib Lab Coalition and Labour administrations - the test now is for all political parties to ensure that something of real value to the bulk of Brent residents is delivered and that they are held to their promises.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Cricklewood says 'Oh, no, not that lot again!' but ready to stand united against the SE Alliance

Most people I have spoken to in Cricklewood while leafleting about Saturday's 'Fascists not welcome here' demonstration have reacted with disbelief that a group that has so clearly failed to muster any support is coming to disturb their neighbourhood again.

However, they were once again (with a bored sigh) prepared to see them off again.

Only a handful of the South East Alliance turned up last time with a massive police escort and many more police were parked in vans in side streets ready for any trouble. The SEA were opposed by hundreds of local people with Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt and prospective Labour candidate Dawn Butler also in attendance.

Shopkeepers and families in flats above the shops were especially fed up when they heard the news which will mean four summer Saturday's disrupted for them.

The SE Alliance and their motley group of associates will try and exploit recent events in the Middle East and in Rotherham to try and muster additional support so North West London United is again mounting a peaceful counter-demonstration to show that the community is united.

Supporters should get down to 113 Cricklewood Broadway, opposite the Crown Moran, for 11am on Saturday morning.  Placards ridiculing the SEA would be particularly welcome.

Have your say on health provision in Brent on September 3rd

To book a place or ask a question email

Young people have been missing in many of the  recent consultations on health as have parents of young children. It is really important that you have your say.

Brent Clinical Commissioning Group sent this message with the poster:

We would be grateful if could please share this information with your family, friends and community associates as we would like as many of those Brent service users and local residents who have not yet attended one of our Health Partner Forums to come along and enjoy an evening of debate and discussion about health and social care in Brent.

You will be able to share your views on health and care services directly with the clinical, social care commissioners and service providers who attend the event.   There will also be opportunities to work with us on transforming healthcare across some of the priority areas for people in Brent for the forthcoming year.

We need to know numbers attending in order to confirm numbers with our caterer for the hot buffet supper.  Please therefore either call us on 020 8795 6107 or 6122 or send us an e-mail to either of the following:  

Monday 25 August 2014

Grant offered to gather young people's views on health engagement

From Health Watch Brent

Health Watch Brent - Gathering Views Small Grants

Health Watch Brent are awarding grants of up to £200 to local organisations and community groups to help gather views on key areas for health and social care services in Brent. E.g.:
  1. What services young people you engage use (doctors, clinics,family support services etc) 
  2. The perceived quality of such services
  3. How they can be improved
These grants can be used to cover the cost of engaging young people (e.g. via 30 a minute focus group). This could include room hire, printing, or even covering volunteer/staff expenses. 

The objective of Gathering Views is to encourage people to share their views via our Healthwatch survey.  Full details will be outlined soon. Please complete the expression of interest form to apply for this grant: 

For further information, please contact / 07825 215 652

Brent Council to consult on contribution to Post-16 travel costs

Brent Council Cabinet is due to agree a consultation with parents, carers and students on  6th Form and  college students' contribution to post-16 transport costs at its October 13th meeting.

Given the Council's quest for additional financial contributions one can only speculate about what this might mean.

As young people get ready to start their courses follow this link to the current scheme. LINK

Controversial issues ahead for Brent Cabinet on September 15th

Brent Council's Forward Plan gives clues to what is coming up at future Cabinet meetings although explanation is minimal. Full details of reports and agenda items are only available to the public one week before the meeting.

With the lack of an effective opposition and poor scrutiny arrangements (and doesn't the Care Quality Commission report on the NW London Hospitals NHS Trust make the case for a powerful separate Health Scrutiny Committee) early notice becomes more important, although actvists may have to speculate about what indiviual items really mean.

Here are the reports/proposals coming up for discussion at the September 15th Cabinet with my comments in italics. Note how much background information is withheld from the public on various items.

The Cabinet now alternates day time and evening meetings. This meeting will be at 2pm.

Developing a new Borough Plan for Brent 2015-2019

To approve the process and timetable for agreeing the key priorities for Brent over the next five years and the plan to achieving them. (This will be in the context of continuing major cuts to LA budgets)

Consultation on the proposed Mayoral Development Corporation for Old Oak and Park Royal

To approve the response to the GLA consultation on the proposed Mayoral Development Corporation for Old Oak and Park Royal. (This also affects Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham boroughs and it means Boris Johnson will takes planning powers away from those boroughs.Hammersmith and Fulham Council have objected LINK. Will Brent?)

Performance and Finance Review Q1

To confirm the first quarter’s performance and spending in 2014/15.

Mobile Workforce Software Procurement

To agree to procurement of a Mobile Workforce Software Solution through competitive tender that can be used by any field officer working in areas such as Social Services, Building Control, Planning, Environmental Health etc. to carry out their key tasks interacting with their line of business systems when offsite using mobile devices such as tablets.

These are the following key benefits:
* Customer service improvements and actions can be carried out immediately.
* Staff and efficiency savings as staff can spend more time in the field and will not need to travel to the office before or after their appointments.
* Potential cost reductions data will not need to be re-keyed when staff come back to the office

Initial communications provision at the new Civic Centre was poor, will this be an improvment. Interesting also that this aims to reduce use of the £100m Civic Centre by staff. The Council is already proposing to lease two floors to Air France, is this intended to release more space?

Update on Public Health Contracts

To note the progress on the procurements of the public health services and to approve the selection criteria and timetable for the procurements

School Expansion

To agree procurements and statutory consultations to take forward specific school expansion proposals.

An appendix to this report will be not for publication as it contains the following categories of exempt information specified in the Schedule 12 of the Local Government Act, namely: information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information); and, information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office holders under, the authority.

Contracts for building works associated with school expansion are lucrative but have not always delivered on time or of best quality with sub-contracting sometimes an issue.

Brent Education Commission Review

To consider the action plan based on the recommendations of the Brent Education Commission review.

The Review has major implications for the development of education in Brent LINK and includes some controversial proposals including encouraging free schools to set up in Brent to provide extra places (the current restriiction on LAs building new schools coudl be lifted by a new government in 2015) and the scaling down of Brent's school Improvement service. Certainly any Action plan needs to be subject to widespread discussion and consultation.

I would argue that Education, or Children and Families, due to the complex issues involved also needs its own Scrutiny Committee.

Brent Local Implementation Plan (LIP) submission for 2015/16 - 2017/18

To endorse the 2015/16 LIP submission to be submitted to Transport for London

To delegate authority to Operational Director, Neighbourhoods to proceed with schemes subject to results of consultation and to deliver the programme within overall funding allocation.
(Signficant expenditure/savings > 30% of budget for the function in question)

Domestic Violence Advocacy, family support and MARAC coordination services

To award the contract for the provision of domestic violence advocacy, family support and MARAC coordination services for a period of two years from 1 November 2014 to 31 Oct 2016, with the option to extend for further one year.

Housing Zones

To approve the submission of an application to the GLA to establish a housing zone and its location in the borough to accelerate housing supply.

This relates to a government initiative to release brownfield sites for housing. The Mayor of London has invited bids for £400m funding to set up 20 housing zones in the capital.

South Kilburn Regeneration Programme

To note the progress on the South Kilburn regeneration programme and to approve the progress the procurement (sic) of a developer partner for the Gloucester House and Durham Court redevelopment site.

Appendices to this report will be not for publication as it contains the following categories of exempt information specified in the Schedule 12 of the Local Government Act, namely: information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

South Kilburn residents have not been happy with the regeneration so far LINK

NW London GMB backs TTIP fight ahead of Saturday's Day of Action

The campaign organisation 38 Degrees LINK is holding a Day of Action on TTIP (Transatlantic  Trade and Investment Partnership) on Saturday August 30th. (More information below) There is more about TTIP and video of a public meeting on the issue on the excellent Haringey Green party website. LINK

Here in North West London the GMB has called for a campaign of opposition in a motion passed last month:
This North West London GMB branch notes with alarm that an EU/US Transatlantic trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is being negotiated by the EU Commission on behalf of the EU member states  - and due to be partly completed by December 2014.

TTIP, if signed, will give multinational companies the right to sue governments over regulations that the companies object to - under 'investtor-state-dispute-settlement' (ISDS) rules - outside and above the courts and parliaments of the EU member states.

TTIP focuses on removing the regulations covering labour laws, food contents, environment standards and protections, working conditions and state-provided health and education services.

The TTIP negotiations, secret up to now, are a direct threat to existing standards and Trade Union collective bargaining. They signify privatisation on a massive scale and threaten the most essential rights won by the working class after generations of struggles.

This North West London GMB branch calls on the GMB leadership to help animate a national campaign of opposition to TTIP and stimulate all GMB affiliated Labour Party branches and Trades Councils to do the same.

This GMB branch resolves to send this resolution to all its own affiliated Trades Council and Labour Parties.

The 38 Degrees website has published useful downloadable campaign materials. This is from their blog:

If you’ve volunteered to get the word out on TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) during the 38 Degrees day of action on Saturday 30th August, you’re not alone – and here are all the important materials you’ll need.

Thousands of 38 Degrees members will be handing out leaflets, getting petition signatures and making sure people know about this terrible trade deal between the EU and the US. There are over 200 events happening across the UK and there’s still time to get involved.

Here are copies of the leaflets, posters, stickers and badges you can hand out on the day. Everyone who has signed up to volunteer will also get a pack of these in the post late next week. There will be 100 leaflets plus a poster, badge, sticker and petition in each posted pack.

To download copies of these online, please click the links below:

A5 leaflet

A3 poster


Bumper sticker


Feel free to print out or photocopy any of these. There is also a Welsh language flyer coming soon. If you want any extra materials posted to you, please just drop the staff team an email.

If you can’t download the PDF versions of the materials below, here are JPEG copies:

A5 flyer front
A5 flyer back
A3 poster
Bumper Sticker
Petition front
Petition back

Sunday 24 August 2014

NW London Hospital's 'Requires improvement' rating raises serious questions about planned closures

Guest blog from local activist Sarah Cox on the Care Quality Commission's report LINK on the North West London Hospital s NHS Trust which includes Central Middlesex, Northwick Park and St Mark's hospitals.

With only a few weeks to go before the A & E at Central  Middlesex closes for ever on September 10th, this report raises grave concerns. Patients from the most deprived areas of Brent which are served by Central Middlesex will be forced to travel to the A & E at Northwick Park which is short staffed and "requires improvement".

The report also reveals that:
Patient flow through Northwick Park Hospital was having an impact on people waiting in A&E, and pressure on the critical care units was so great that some people were being discharged too early and subsequently readmitted.
Time and again the Clinical Commissioning Group and the architects of the Shaping a Healthier Future project under which these closures are being implemented, have assured the community that, transformed into a Major Hospital in which all the services for a wide area are concentrated, Northwick Park Hospital would provide better services for patients. Time and again patients and community members who are concerned for the NHS expressed our doubts. Judging by this report, we were right to do so. The NW London Hospital Trust assured recent Overview and Scrutiny meeting of Brent Council, that Northwick Park Hospital will be ready to take on the extra patients when Central Middlesex A & E closes. Really?

This report is also critical of Maternity services at Northwick Park:
CQC also identified that maternity services required improvement to ensure women received a safe and effective service. Maternity was rated as Inadequate for responsiveness, as women could not always summon the assistance they required and individual needs were not being met.
 This is due to staff shortages, yet under the SaHF proposals, Hammersmith and Ealing Hospitals will lose their maternity services. Many patients who would have gone to Ealing for maternity care will have to attend NPH in future. Will it be able to cope?

Overall, Central Middlesex is rated good, but the report points out that many staff there feel isolated from the rest of the trust. Over the last few years, services have been transferred from CMH to NPH with staff often being required to move at a few days' notice. Many staff have said that they much prefer working at Central Middlesex, but are not given the choice.

Health campaigners believe that the changes being imposed on our hospitals are driven by financial considerations and the Government's policy of handing over our NHS to private companies who will run services for profit not the needs of the patients.