Monday 23 February 2015

Brent Council likely to to pay the Big Lottery to close Stonebridge Adventure Playground!

Brent Council is at present wanting to turn  number of its services over to voluntary groups and charities, even to the extent in its Equalities Policy of asking council staff to volunteer.  So staff will be expected to volunteer, in their spare time, to run services where their colleagues were made redundant.

However, at the same time its treatment of voluntary organisations, such as Brent Play Association, and facilities bequeathed by local philanthropists such as Titus Barham, and agreements reached with organisations such as Fields in Trust, has been cavalier to say the least Now in the 21st century it is the Big Lottery that Brent is disrespecting.

The Big Lottery financed Stonebridge Adventure Playground, through Brent Play Association, which itself raised funds for many other businesses. Ironically the fact that it was  part-funded by an annual Council grant, limited how much the BPA could raise for itself.

Now, the Coucil is adamant that it will cut playground funding at the end of the financial year, and apprently, even while the BPA is finalising redundancy terms for its employees, has had the gall to ask if it would be possible for workers to carry on as volunteers, to cover the Easter and Summer holidays.

The closure is going to be expensive for the BPA but may also be so for Brent Council as they will be breaking an agreement made with the Big Lottery - that is if the Big Lottery decide to play ball with the Council.  My reading is that this may cost the Council up to £250,000 which they appear willing to pay.

Potential penalties are set out below:

Meanwhile Philip Grant has pointed out that:

At item 9 on tonight's Cabinet agenda is a report from Andy Donald, Brent's Regeneration Director on how he proposes to spend S.106 (planning) funds for 2015/16 (the Development Funds Programme). One of the items is: 
Title: King Edward VII park landscaping bowling green. Purpose: Landscape the disused bowling green to increase informal recreation area. Ward: Wembley Central Details: There are no legal impediments to using this funding for this project. Given the importance of King Edward VII park to providing amenity space for the future occupants of the borough's largest growth area, this park is considered a priority. Proposed spending for 2015/16: £152,044.
Is it coincidence that the bowling green is adjacent to the proposed London Welsh School to be housed in the Bowling Green Pavilion, with an additional classroom to be built on the site?  The possible use of the bowling green as a play area for the 30 or so children at the school was mentioned at the beginning of the planning process but did not form part of the planning application. It was subsequently denied that it would be used as a regular part of the school's amenities. However, there seems to be little reason for it not to be used by the school as parks are public spaces.

As Jaine Lunn  has pointed out LINK this land is subject to a trust agreement between the Council and Fields in  Trust. This raises a question over 'no legal impediment' above as the Trust told Jaine re the Welsh School development:
I can confirm that Brent Council did submit a formal request to Fields in Trust with regards to granting a lease on the disused bowls pavilion area to the London Welsh Language primary school on a 15 year term, and in addition to erect a single storey classroom block and convert the paved hard landscape area to an all weather playground.   We were advised that the bowling green and Pavilion are unused and the area fenced off, furthermore there was no bowls interest. 

I can confirm that the Council’s request was rejected by our Trustees in January 2015 because the site is protected for recreational purposes and the proposed new use would be outside the objects of the Deed of Dedication.  In order for the matter to even be reconsidered by our Trustees the Council would need to offer up for protection a replacement site of at least the size of the land being lost or provide a payment which is to be made available for investment in the facilities within the remainder of the site.  To date we have not received a revised application, which I believe would only be forthcoming should planning consent be granted.
Neither the Fields in Trust Agreement, nor Regeneration's proposal feature in the Welsh School Planning application, although surely both are relevant to the application.

So the Council will pay money to get rid of the Stonebridge Adventure Playground and will spend money on landscaping a bowling green in Wembley. They help the Welsh School displaced from Stonebridge through the same school expansion process which requires building on the adventure playground, but cut the playground's funding and pay compensation to the Big Lottery.

Who said politics is about priorities?


Anonymous said...

This seems totally ridiculous

Increasing Council Tax could save the loss of service plus the cost of Big Lottery penalties.

Surely getting those a little wealthier to pay a little more Council Tax would start to signify "We Are All in it Together"

Labour to win back any credibility both Locally and Nationally must immediately start a narrative of "Higher Taxes are Good for the Country"

All we keep hearing are keep Taxes low and we will all be wealthier. For the wealthiest they can use off shore funds etc and do not need to pay tax at all.

If you go back in history periods of high taxation were actually periods of plenty for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Stonebridge Adventure Playground: employees sacked then asked to come back and work for nothing. Isn't this the Big Society? Cameron dumps policy in 2011, Butt pulls it out of the dustbin in 2015. Part of his recycling policy I suppose.

Anonymous said...

This appears to be an obscene waste of money. Is Brent Council not accountable for their conduct and spending?

Anonymous said...

'Is Brent Council not accountable for their conduct and spending?' Doesn't look like it, they're a law unto themselves.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That's absurd. There must be a reason why they would do this. Surely, there's some logic behind it all. Something we are missing

Anonymous said...

A simple solution, Brent do not vote for Labour in May.

Anonymous said...

Yes - this is definitely a party-political issue. A Tory or Lib Dem council would never pursue such a policy...........................