Monday 23 February 2015

A 'mumble for Mo' as assault on children and young people is approved by Brent Cabinet

It is customary in government, when spending priorities are being decided,  for each departmental minister to make the case for his or her department to the Treasury and to the Cabinet. Their effectiveness can be gauged by their success,

Transferring that to Brent Council level it was clear at tonight's Cabinet meeting that Ruth Moher, lead member for children and families appeared to have been particularly ineffective. Putting aside Children's Centres, which are Michael Pavey's passion, the main losers were children and young people.

Petitions were presented  to Keep Stonebridge Adventure Playground, Keep the Welsh harp Environmental Study Centre, Save the Youth Service, Save School Crossing patrols and Keep Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre.

Doug Lee made a passionate speech about Stonebridge Adventure Playground and finished by accusing Cllr Muhammed Butt,  in whithering tones, of lying to the children when he visited the playground and insisted that he would listen to their views.

Asked to respond to the petition and presentation on  Stonebridge Adventure Playground, Ruth Moher instead spoke about the Youth Service cuts and seemed to imply (she was often inaudible) that Stonebridge had to close to save the Youth Service. Doug Lee pointed out that she had never visited the Adventure Playground. Apparently did not attend a hastily convened meeting on Sunday afternoon to discuss its future.

Even worse was Cllr George Crane who argued that because the one child fatality and a serious accident involving a child in Brent had not happened near schools that the cuts in school crossing patrols was tolerable. He did not seem to consider that there were few accidents near schools because of the existence of school crossing patrols...

He said that if schools really needed a crossing patrol they could pay for it out of their budgets. Collectively they had higher reserves than the Council.

Cllr Crane said that funding to the Welsh Harp Environmental Education  Centre would end in July but the search for alternative funding was continuing. Veolia had said that they could not help but Careys would consider it at their next board meeting. Oakington Manor Primary School had also expressed an interest.

Cllr McLennan and Andy Donald, Director of Regeneration,  made it clear that proposals for Stonebridge which led to the proposal to close the Stonebridge Adventure Playground and resite the Welsh School were based on new housing developments paying for Stonebridge Primary School expansion. McLennan said the housing would be 'genuinely affordable'. The Council was helping the Welsh School to find a new site in King Edward VII Park , which was subject to planning committee approval, and if this was not forthcoming would look for alternatives. There was no mention of finding a new site for the Adventure Playground.

It was evident that Cllr Krupesh Hirani had been most successful in marshaling the arguments and the support to fight off some of the proposed cuts in Adult Social Care, although it was not clear how safe the Millennium Day Centre was in the long-term.

Michael Pavey made a set piece speech extolling the Council's consultation exercise, admitting to the pain of the cuts (bit asked those who suffer the pain to acknowledge its source), refusing a Council Tax rise (the poor would suffer), and denouncing a 'No Cuts' position as 'No Cuts this year means  barbaric cuts next year' (Pickles would send people in who would take the easiest path in reducing the budget and make ruthless cuts).

The budget recommendations went through although it was hard to see whether there was an actual vote or just a collective 'mumble for Mo'.


Anonymous said...

Martin people of Brent made a big mistake by voting in Labour, none of the elected Cllrs have a courage to stand for Brent residents. Their positions and allowances are secured till May 2018. So they are least bothered. Come May 2018 Council elections people will forget what these puppets did and they will vote for them in again. My Council Tax band is F, I hardly see my ward Cllrs on the street other then during the election campaign. They will be out from their hibernation in next few weeks close to the General election.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it might have been a better option and let Pickles do the dirty work, rather than Brent Labour forever saying they are simply administering spending cuts ?

Anonymous said...

Martin's blog reports on yesterday evening's Cabinet meeting. We will see whether the elected councillors, other than those on Cllr. Butt's Cabinet, 'have the courage to stand (up) for Brent residents' at next Monday's meeting of the Full Council. I hope that they do.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

Do you honestly think Brent councillors are in it for the money? I can think of plenty of jobs that pay a lot more without all the aggro. councillors get...

Anonymous said...

Yep - they should have voted Tory / Lib Dem and got an unapologetic endorsement of the cuts.

Or they could have voted Green and got dystopia brought about by dreams of utopia...