Tuesday 9 December 2014

The death of Brent Council

Brent Live, the live transmission of Council meetings, failed last night, but in a broader sense Brent Council itself died.

The first reading of the 2015-17 budget included a limp defence of the 'dented shield' approach by Council Leader Muhammed Butt and his deputy, Michael Pavey, called on local people to help decide where the cuts should fall.

At times it appeared that there was a collective failure of imagination as councillors failed to grasp the enormity of what might unfold over the next few years, although Dan Filson acknowledged 'it is a nightmare, we have dreadful decisions to make'.

It is the death of a Council that serves the people.

It also died in a moral sense when Labour combined to defeat a Brondesbury Conservative motion calling for an independent inquiry into the Employment Tribunal case which found Brent Council guilty of racial discrimination, victimisation and constructive dismissal. In a cogent speech Cllr John Warren said that the same team responsible for that verdict were now undertaking the staff restructuring and would be managing the cuts in staffing resulting from budget decisions. He asked how staff could have confidence in that process and urged them to write to him with their concerns.

Labour councillors listened to him in silence and then in response Cllr Butt was reduced to making sweeping statements about valuing diversity and accused the three person Brondesbury group of not being diverse.

Cllr Wilhelmina Mitchell Murray appeared to be having difficulty in stomaching what was being said and got up and left the chamber as the vote was called. She returned after the vote.

The 'official' three person Kenton Conservative group failed to vote with their three person Brondesbury Park colleagues.

A number of councillors were absent including Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala. He was the only one of the group for whom apologies were not read out.


Anonymous said...

Well done Cllr Murray for graphically demonstrating the limits of tolerable dissent in Butt's Labour sheep-fold.
'By their absences shall ye know them'.

As for the rest, let the wolves have 'em.

Anonymous said...

2018 Local Elections might seem to be in the far distant horizon, but Local people need to realize how Brent Labour has let local people down.

Areas Brent could have easily started to plug holes in budget is getting Quintain to speed up their home building in Wembley as this would provide new money in form of Council Tax.

Anonymous said...

Camden Labour-please save your Brent colleagues!

Anonymous said...

As a member of Brent's Scrutiny Committee, Cllr. Wilhelmina Mitchell Murray was copied into my correspondence with Cllr. Aslam Choudry as I tried to get them to scrutinise "Brent's" (i.e. by Christine Gilbert, Cara Davani and Fiona Ledden) decision to appeal against the Rosemarie Clarke Employment Tribunal judgement.

On the assumption that she read the material copied to her, she would have been well aware of what an injustice that decision was, including the continuing victimisation of Rosemarie Clarke which it represented. I hope that is why she walked out, and am sorry that more did not follow that example.

By the way, as I was prevented from watching the live streaming of the meeting by what was claimed to be a "technical fault", I was not able to find out if Cllr. Butt did take the opportunity to make a statement on the Employment Tribunal case, and give a public apology to Rosemarie Clarke. From the contents of Martin's blog above, I suspect that he did not.

Philip Grant

Anonymous said...

I was looking forward to seeing the meeting streamed, and was not surprised when "technical difficulties" were cited as a reason for pulling the plug in the multi-million pound, state-of-the art Civic Centre (aka Town Hall 2).

If they didn't expose these "technical problems" beforehand, then many residents would have been in attendance. A thoroughly dishonest way to serve the electorate by a dis-credited Labour Group. The way the blog describes an Administration wringing their hands of taking any responsibility, totally devoid of ideas and an SMT scared stiff to say anything for fear of losing their un-earned megabucks pay-offs.

It's not just a disgrace, it is DISGUSTING.

Heaven only knows what the late Len Snow will have made of it, and Ann John must have been wondering "if only" about "call me Mo" Butt's coup behind her backs.

Anonymous said...

Less than a week after Osborne and the national Tory government reveals its 'vision' of one million public sector job losses with 'councils stripped bare of all but basic functions', Butt and the Brent Labour group allow themselves to get into a position where local Tory councillors are able to get away with portraying themselves as the protectors of Rosemarie Clarke and the 40% of council staff about to lose their jobs.

And for what exactly? Precisely what hold do Cavani and Gilbert have over Butt and Pavey that they can wield such malevolent influence with impunity?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a crisis needs to be created in order to justify the creation of Butt's West London Authority - Frankly I think we should go further and merge councills and rid ourselves of some of these useless councillors. 66 councillors in Brent alone!?!?? What the hell do they do seeing that some can barely be bothered to show up to keep their jobs - it's not like they actually stand up for residents, staff or principles.

Anonymous said...

Yes well done Cllr Mitchell Murray.

As Martin says, it was notable that Cllr Butt was unable to mount a serious defence of the decision to appeal the Tribunal ruling. In his speech he made an ad hominem attack upon the proposers of the motion and gave a series of platitudes about diversity. Not once did he refer to Rosemarie Clarke's case, the tribunal judgment, the decision to appeal it or the internal investigation.

Deeply disgusting.

Martin Francis said...

'COW' left a comment which I have edited to remove some personal comments about a councillor and council officer. The gist(and humour) remains intact:

The rumours surrounding my death have been greatly exaggerated. It is true that I am not the size that I once was and am now somewhat reduced with the Government cutting back on my previously generous annual income. However, I am still very much functioning in my new lithe shell.

Carol Shaw seemed distinctly uncomfortable in her chair as the Leader of her “party,” (if that is the right word for three malcontent nobodies) tried to make a point so crass and opportunistic that Cllr Mitchell-Murray had to leave to apparently evacuate her stomach.

The Leader of the borough brought the voice of reason to the debate and no doubt thwarted the Gang of Three’s attempts and left them looking like a pseudo Monty Python team performing the dead party sketch. The authentic Conservatives looked on with clear and present disdain at the activities of three political stooges. The Borough Solicitor observed with similar disdain.

So as you can see Martin, politics in my Borough is still quite alive and well and will be for some time to come. This should please you more than most as I would hate to think what you, as my most arduous suitor, would do if I were to expire. I could not bear the thought of your not being able to be at my attendance at each and every available possibility and having to spend the long dark evenings alone with only our memories and your organ, Wembley Matters, for pleasure.

I leave you and your unnamed scribes their thousand deaths to die;
For Philip, Mike, for Nan and Meg - your acolytes, to cry:

"We will not stop, until the Council's reputation shatters!"
That may yet come but not my friend, with thanks to Wembley Matters.

Anonymous said...

Final para: there was no sign either of homesick bovines or porcine aviators, Philip. The annual screening of 'It's a Wonderful Life' is the only place we'll get an ending like that this Christmas.
However, I'm reliably informed that there was nothing sinister or suspicious in the lack of streaming of the meeting by Brent Live last night. It was off-air to enable important re-branding work to be carried out and will re-launch in the new year as 'Brent Lies'. Reports that the re-branding will include the adoption of the new slogan 'Brent, the Listing Council' have been denied.

Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

As the prolix COW's bard-bothering blogger chum Cllr Sam Stopp could have told her, reputation is a ‘bubble’ and therefore would not shatter but would burst or pop, something achievable in Brent Council Labour group's case by even the bluntest of pricks one would think.
As for the news of her death being greatly exaggerated, this is a misquotation of Mark Twain (b. 1835).
And look what happened to him (d.1910).

Nice rhyme, but little reason methinks. More BULL than COW, in fact ........

Anonymous said...


Nan Tewari said...

I won't delve into the party politics of this, suffice it to say I am one of the 'where's Guy Fawkes when we really need him?' brigade.

Given the efficacy of the c-word as deployed by this borough's operatives, I also hold out no hope of us residents being able to influence anything through the bogus consultations. I would say, "lets save the consultation money" but I suspect it would only get spent on contractual home to work travel for senior officers.

So, given that these cuts are going to happen, and given that it is the most deprived sections of the community that will be disproportionately affected, what we absolutely need is a thoroughly effective staff team (residual though it will be) that will understand at a common-sense level, how to deal with people compassionately and not behave like call centre robots reading from a script.

However, I have just recollected that the HR department is headed by Brent's very own Pandora, Cara Davani, who victimised, bullied and racially discriminated against a member of her own staff. What hope then for vulnerable residents, you may well ask? It is enough to say that this Pandora has no intention of ameliorating the effects of the evils she has let fly: this Pandora has slammed the lid firmly on the remaining 'hope' that would be the only redeeming facet left of this armageddon of our services..

Anonymous said...

Kenton Conservatives are idiots: why on earth did they not vote with the other tories. What a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

You need to see Pavey's statement to staff, A total kick in the face to staff talking about taking the council from silver IIp status to gold. A load of bull I actually laughed when I read it as I wasn't actually expecting anything productive from him

Anonymous said...

Def more bull, they're all full of it.

Anonymous said...

If this is the death of Brent Council then the funeral looks like being as discreet and tasteful an occasion as when Babs pushed someone or other into someone else's freshly dug grave in some Eastenders episode I remember (or might have dreamt).
Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs today runs the story of the fraught relationship of Butt, Kalwala and 'she who shall not be named' under the heading 'Van the Man'. (Was this what Tony Blair meant by 'triangulation'?)
Maybe Private Eye could step in and throw Cllr Butt a few quid. If only to keep the stories coming. .

Anonymous said...

'Tories are Idiots' shock!

COW said...

How cruel Anon to allege that I would misquote the great Mark Twain,
Whose inaugural act in Kensal Rise would lead to such great pain.
Your rudimentary knowledge and library closures are clear links,
But your literary tic gives you away, my dear ‘anon’: “methinks.”

To Nan, are you not inspired to verse? your prose so flat and dull,
Your crypto classic references, you really should look to pull.
Look for the good and not the bad, this will improve your mind;
unless your fate, like the mariner, your soapbox to perpetually grind.

Anonymous said...

Good God you are all so pompous! Get your heads out and get real!

Anonymous said...

Could you be a little more specific?