Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Brent Labour Council should hang its head in shame as Stonebridge Adventure Playground closes

I visited Stonebridge Adventure Playground  yesterday for their last major children's event - an Easter Egg Hunt. Caught up in the excitement of the hunt children soon forgot about the imminent closure - indeed many children had thought that the playground was already closed on this the first day of the school Easter holiday.

The adults present were all too aware that this was the end of an era.  Salvageable equipment had been transported  from the playground building into safe storage. The outdoor play equipmentcannot be moved as the legs, embedded in concrete, would have to be cut off at ground level.

Brent Council served the playground a double whammy:  1) closure to allow Stonebridge Primary School to be expanded and housing built on the school's present annexe. The land sale will pay for the school expansion. 2) stop funding of the playground so even if the application to expand the school failed the playground would still not survive.

To add insult to injury the Coucil asked the playground workers to carry on working for nothing during the Easter and Summer holidays.

The consultation on the school expansion ends on Thursday March 2nd, two days after the playground funding stops. To comment go to LINK

The playground serves the children of Stonebridge and Harlesden, some of the most disadvantaged in Brent. The children in the new developments being built in the area will not only need school places but a safe, supervised place to play. The Council has deprived them and the present population of that.

Median income of Brent wards 2014

 Stonebridge ethnicity compared with Brent (2011 census)

Age and gender compared wit Brent (2011 census)
The 2011 census results showed that 32.1% of the Stonebridge population were under 18 compared with 22.6% of the whole borough.

The Stonebridge School Annexe. This will be demolished and the children moved into the expanded main school. The net increase in capacity of Stonebridge School as a whole will be incraesed by only 30 pupils. Houses will be built on the Annexe site.  Substantial investment has been made to make the Annexe suitable for educating children.

New housing is going up opposite Stonebridge School and the adventure playground, eventually making a continuous run of housing on both sides of the road.  The green space below and the trees are threatened by the new development. They originally provided screening from the busy main road for the school.

The empty interior of the playground building, soon to be bulldozed
Children left their signatures and messages on the piano as a farewell to the playground
On a personal note I'd like to pay tribute to Doug and Glynis Lee, the amazing playworkers and all those who fought so hard to keep Stonebridge Adventure Playground open. You are an example to all who care about their community.


Bob Blackman's record on environmental issues under scrutiny

Bob Blackman, former MP for Harrow East (he is now just a candidate) had his record put under scrutiny publicly last week  near St Anne's Shopping Centre, Harrow on the Hill, when a constituent erected a board displaying his responses to her letters on various environmental issues as well as the Robin Hood tax and TTIP.

It was a novel way to inform voters of his complacency in the face of residents' concerns.

Bob Blackman is a former leader of Brent Conservatives.

Ibrahim Taguri confirms he will not stand as an Independent in Brent Central

As Brent Green Party was meeting across the road, the signage at Ibrahim Taguri's temporary campaign office in Walm Lane was being taken down last night. Earlier Ibrahim had confirmed to me that he would not be standing as an Independent in the General Election. He had anticipated a quick resolution of the allegations about donations made in the Daily Telegraph but this has not happened.

Lauren Keith was last week selected as the Liberal Democrat candidiate for Brent Central.

On March 26th the Electoral Commission made the following statement:

The Electoral Commission has today (26 March 2015) provided an update on its consideration of two separate allegations regarding donations to the Liberal Democrat Party.

Daily Telegraph allegations

Following the allegations that appeared recently on The Telegraph online (11 March) and subsequently in the newspaper regarding Ibrahim Taguri and donations to the Liberal Democrats, the Electoral Commission requested information from the newspaper, the party and Mr Taguri to help it establish the facts in the case.

Based on the information that the Commission has seen, one alleged offence centres on the potential evasion of restrictions on donations in contravention of section 61 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA). Offences under this part of PPERA are ultimately a criminal matter and fall outside of the Commission’s civil sanctioning powers.

The Electoral Commission has therefore passed the information that it has received to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). The MPS have confirmed to the Commission that they are also aware of the allegations and that they are considering them.

Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ 

Following the allegations that appeared as part of Channel 4’s Dispatches programme (23 March), the Electoral Commission requested further information from the programme to help it establish the facts in the case.

Based on the information that the Commission has seen, the alleged offence in this case centres on the potential evasion of restrictions on donations in contravention of section 61 of PPERA and is ultimately a criminal matter. As a result, the Commission has also passed the information that it has received to MPS who are aware of the allegations and are considering them.

Donations received in the course of both cases

In both of these cases, the Liberal Democrat Party received a number of donations.

One donation in the Telegraph case, a cheque for £7,650 was delivered to the party. However, it had not been banked and the funds had not cleared and as a result no offence was committed under the donation rules set out in PPERA.

The other donations included one of £1,450 made by the undercover reporter in the Telegraph case that was received and accepted by the party; and another of £10,000 received from the ‘step father’ of the undercover donor in the Dispatches case, Mr Paul Wilmott. The Commission is in contact with the Liberal Democrats about the actual source of these donations and will provide a separate statement about this matter once these further facts have been established.

Next steps

Any decisions about what further steps to take at this stage in relation to potential evasion of restrictions on donations in either case rest with the Metropolitan Police Service.

Should further facts emerge in relation to The Telegraph allegations or Channel 4’s Dispatches, which could lead the Electoral Commission to consider any other potential breaches of PPERA, the Commission will do so in line with its enforcement policy.

Monday, 30 March 2015

TTIP: the threat to local authorities and public services

As the perils of TTIP are still not widely known and only a few organisations. including the Barnet Alliance and the Green Party seem to be ringing the alarm bells, I am reposting this long piece first published on the Barnet Alliance website LINK.

The EU and the US have been negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreement since July 2013. The consequences of this treaty could have a profound effect on EU member states at regional and local levels.TTIP would affect many sectors which are the responsibilities of local and regional authorities.
 The broad scope and myriad responsibilities of German Federal States, regional governments and local authorities across the EU would have justified involving them in the decision-making process as stakeholders. However, this has not happened. Representatives of regional and local governments as well as the public are puzzling over the content, the scope and the possible consequences of this treaty. It is therefore the aim of this short briefing to shine a light on possible consequences of this treaty for local and regional government. However, as negotiations are still ongoing, and owing to the restricted access to documentation, we can only present a rough estimation as to what TTIP will entail.

TTIP will have a profound effect on many areas under the remit of regional and local authorities and is examined in more detail here under in order to allow for a realistic assessment of risks. The source for this analysis are a series of leaked documents such as the text of the negotiating mandate of the EU Commission and drafts texts of various chapters and appendices.

As TTIP negotiations cover a very broad spectrum of topics, only those which are of relevance to local and regional authorities are considered for this briefing:

They include the planned Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) of arbitration, and issues relating to the status of public services, grants, subsidies and public tendering.

The Effects of TTIP on Local and Regional Governments.

by Thomas Fritz
Translation by Phil Fletcher

Arbitration tribunals: Local authorities and international courts.

When the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009, the European Commission was given the exclusive authority over direct foreign investments. This allows it to include into trade agreements far reaching provisions for investor protection, provisions which had already been included in a multitude of bilateral treaties. The mandate to negotiate on TTIP, which the European Council granted the European Commission, also provides for investor protection including ISDS, albeit on condition of an overall “satisfactory” result of the negotiations for the EU.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Notes from the Mansfield Enquiry

Guest blog by Peter Latham

On Saturday 28 March 2015 I went to Hounslow Civic Centre for the morning half of the NW London local authorities' Mansfield enquiry hearings into the impact of the NW London NHS 'Shaping a Healthier Future' project on healthcare for patients in NW London.
The main new thing I learnt was that the enquiry secretary Peter Smith told me that all the Clinical Commissioning Group and hospital trust NHS witnesses have declined to attend to give evidence until after all the 5 volumes of written evidence have been disclosed by the enquiry online next week. So any Clinical Commissioning Group or Healthcare Trust witnesses will be only be cross-examined at Brent Civic Centre on 9 May - after the General Election. 
Counsel to the enquiry is the barrister Katy Rensten instructed by a solicitors Birnberg Pierce.  She asked very easy leading questions for all witnesses critical of the Shaping a Healthier Future project.  There was no-one to cross-examine witnesses critical of the 'Shaping a Healthier Future' project.
The chairman of the enquiry Michael Mansfield QC asked a few well focused questions to each witness.   The other panel members are a retired Ealing GP Dr Stephen Hirst MBBS London 1974, and Dr John Lister (non-medical PhD) who is is a journalist academic with strong links to the National Union of Journalists and prominent in the pressure group 'Save Our NHS'.
It was clear from the panel questions that they are very interested in the same topics that the Brent CCG locality Patient Participation Group chairs criticise:
  • weaknesses of the evidence for the original case for the 'Shaping a Healthier Future' project; 
  • the failure to put in place the proposed community services to take the strain before the acute A/E departments were closed on 10.9.14;
  • the lack of clarity for the public as to the demarcation between Urgent Care Centres and acute A/E;
  •  the flimsy basis for the attempted implementation of the Shaping a Healthier Future projects with insufficient tendering procedure know-how.
It became clear to me that the panel and even some of the professional witnesses are not fully familiar with the full range of new NHS structures e.g. no-one was able to say where the funding for the Better Care Fund comes from - although it was thought that it involves no new money.  There appeared to be ignorance as to how limited the first tranche of implementation of Whole Systems Integrated Care is to be: in Brent just over 65s with at least one long term condition.

It became clear to me that some of the witnesses are failing to distinguish 2 quite separate issues: the political controversy over privatisation of NHS services, and the separate clinical and financial efficiency issue as to the merits of transferring more NHS out-patient services from the secondary hospitals into a community primary care setting.  This was particularly true of Professor Allyson Pollock of Queen Mary College who made a  very emotive politicised statement about destruction of the NHS by importing US style commercial privatisation.

The witness Hounslow Councillor Melvin Collins chair of NW London Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JHOSC) was very critical of the NW London and CCGs long-standing secretiveness towards them with failure to provide requested information which he said made their work ineffective e.g. at a meeting on about 23 March Dr Mark Spencer had made it clear they would only get the business case for Whole Systems Integrated Care after the general election.

The 2 witnesses from Hounslow Council, their leader Steve Curran and cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care Lily Bath, emphasised the shortcomings of their local CCG over SaHF and WSIC, but understandably had no criticisms of the local authority component of local health and social care other than emphasising their insufficient funding.

Consultant in Emergency Medicine Dr Julian Redhead, Chair of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine London Regional Board and with Imperial College and St Marys emergency trauma unit emphasised the shortage of appropriately qualified and experienced A/E staff as driving the need for centralisation of acute A/E services, and the need for a sufficient patient base to support specialist skills.  He gave rather vague oral evidence about the NHSE/Monitor 2009 patient base A/E funding cap with 30% funding disincentive for excess patients, and suggested that the whole way in which we pay for emergency medicine needs to be reformed: without making any specific suggestion in his oral evidence.

Medical practitioner Professor Allyson Pollock emphasised the transformation resulting from the repeal of sections 1 and 3 of the NHS Act 2006 by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 with the result that the Secretary for State no longer has a statutory duty to 'provide' health care  for the people of England, but only a duty to 'promote' such healthcare.  The duty transferred to the NHS Commissioning Board and local CCGs is only to meet the reasonable requirements of their population.  Public health has been carved out of CCGs and transferred to local authorities.  GP practices no longer have a specific territory.  She contended that we no longer have a National Health Service.  The present government are keen on the prime provider model which encourages sub-contracting so that we are importing US solutions and US problems.  Services are already falling away when specific services are not not specifically includedin contracts.  We are moving to the over-treatment and under-treatment of the over-expensive commercial insurance company US model whose algorithms focus on profitable premium fixing with no local accountability or local link.   She strongly proposed abolishing Foundation Trusts and the NHS internal market.  

The chairman of the enquiry Michael Mansfield QC asked Professor Pollock whether she had researched the vested interests of members of the House of Commons and House of Lords who had spoken in favour of the model of the 2012 Act.  She said that she had not researched this but that many did have such vested interests e.g. Alan Milburn.  She said that the last leader of the NHS had described it as being in 'managed decline'.

Peter Latham,  Chairman Willesden Patient Participation Group.

Now Cricklewood Llbrary land and building to be sold off

After the controversy over the attempted sale of Kensal Rise Library, Cricklewood Library is now up for sale.  As the library is an  asset of community value there is now a period in which community interest groups can lodge notice that they are potential bidders

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Brent Advocacy Concerns is looking for new trustees

Are looking for New Trustees
   BAC has been supporting Disabled People in Brent since 1988 and are looking for trustees who can help take us forward in these challenging times.
  We are seeking people who:
·      Feel they can support the aims and objectives of the organisation and the social model of disability.
·      Have a knowledge of disability issues either by personal experience or by close association with disabled people (75% of our trustees should define as disabled)
·      Are able to commit to 6 meetings a year at a mutually agreed time.
·      Feel a connection to our work and will spread the word
·      Would like to help to develop the organisation
·      Could be pro-active in helping to raise funding, sponsorship etc.
·      Could support the organisation with any skills they may have e.g. experience of disability, organising, IT, website design, management or business skills, legal knowledge, accounting, social media etc.
·      Live in the GLA area
We can offer:
·      Disability, equality awareness training
·      Management Committee training and out of pocket expenses
·      The chance to make a difference for disabled people in Brent and surrounding areas.
·      An opportunity to improve skills.
If you, or anyone you know, is interested in joining us please contact John Healy by 3rd April 2015.
020 8459 1493

Brent Advocacy Concerns, Willesden Centre for Health and Care, Robson Avenue, London NW10 3RY. Registered Charity Number 1001369

Emperor's New Clothes Rap - Cassetteboy

Friday, 27 March 2015

The future of local government should be an election issue

Readers may be interested In this editorial from the Local Government Chronicle LINK :

“Britain is walking tall again,” declared George Osborne in his Budget statement last week. For much of the past five years local government has felt a long way from walking tall after being targeted in a series of cuts that have diminished councils’ ability to provide for their local populations. “Local government is walking small and lean,” is a fair representation of its fate.
The chancellor made much in his speech of the projection that in 2019-20 public spending, as a share of gross domestic product, will be at the same level as it was in 2000, three years into the Blair administration. However, this line from his speech – a response to the critics accusing him of taking public spending back to 1930s levels – hardly tells the whole story.
Further swingeing cuts take place in the next few years before, according to the Treasury, spending perks up in what is set to be the year before the next general election. Any respite from austerity seems a long way away.
Councils will contrast their current position with that of 15 years’ ago. Their spending power is far lower, at a time the ageing population and growing awareness of the scale of need in children’s safeguarding leads to a far greater demand for services.
The Local Government Association this week revealed a projection stating that adult and children’s care would take up over 60% of councils’ tax revenue in 2019-20, leaving far less available for other services. Environmental services, libraries, roads, regulatory services and culture, in particular, face a very rough ride.
Little wonder then that the sector has been making its case for a sea change in both the government and the public’s attitude to the sector. Shortly before the pre-election purdah begins, this week saw the LGA launch its Future Funding campaign to raise awareness of the 40% budget cuts councils have experienced in the past five years and warn that we face “difficult decisions about which services continue”. Both it and the Special Interest Group of Metropolitan Authorities have produced slick but powerful videos explaining councils’ financial predicament.
Some may note the irony of a sector spending money on publicising the fact that it has little money. However, this expenditure really is a drop in the ocean. It is vital that everything possible is done to make the public – the voters – aware of the impact of councils’ financial hardship. This is not to make a party political point; it is equally entirely right that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats point out the impact of the state running a massive deficit.
As Rob Whiteman points out, election debate too often takes the form of a lightweight and unbelievable soap opera. Discussion has focused on Ed Miliband’s two kitchens, with too little debate on the housing crisis which means that far too many people have no kitchen of their own at all. Sector leaders need to make their case loudly and clearly in an election crucial to local government’s destiny.

Lib Dems select Lauren Keith to fight Brent Central

The website YourNextMP LINK has made some rapid changes today following the announcement that Lauren Keith will be the new Liberal Democrat candidate for Brent Central, she was previously listed as the 2015 candidate for Barking. She tweets at @laurenpk

Her selection as candidate follows Ibrahim Tuguri's stepping down as Liberal Democrat candidate over donation allegations. LINK  It is not clear whether Taguri will stand as an Independent.

Lauren Keith stood in the Brent local elections in May 2015 in Mapesbury ward. Result below:

Lia Colacicco Labour 1402 15% Elected
Ahmad Shahzad Labour 1278 13% Elected
Helen Ginette Carr Liberal Democrats 1257 13% Elected
Columbus Moloney Labour 1241 13% Not elected
Paul John Edgeworth Liberal Democrats 1179 12% Not elected
Lauren Keith Liberal Democrats 1067 11% Not elected
Scott Bartle Green Party 776 8% Not elected
Bertha Joan Joseph Conservative 445 5% Not elected
William Bernard McGowan Conservative 416 4% Not elected
Samer Ahmedali Conservative 408 4% Not elected

Tributes and tears as Stonebridge Adventure Playground closes

The closure of Stonebridge Adventure Playground as a result of a heartless double whammy by Brent Council (demolition to make way for school expansion financed by sale of land for house building plus withdrawal of funding) continues to reverberate around the Stonebridge community.

There have been tears from children and adults as equipment is moved out ahead of total closure at the end of the month.

The 'Stonebridge Adventure Playground  Must Stay For Ever' Facebook has received many messages of support and regret amidst tributes to Doug and Glynis Lee.

This one posted by  Robert 'Becks' Beckles speaks for many:
It's with sadness that I'm writing this, I've recently found out that the STONEBRIDGE ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND will close its doors for the final time at the end of March 2015, now to a lot of people reading this it won't mean much, but for me even at my age now, this place represents some of the best childhood memories that any young person could wish for.

Staff who were friendly, approachable, professional and made sure that the young people in their care were kept safe at all times. 

Trips like Chessington, Margate, Boxhill all for 50p!, events such as Bonfire and Halloween parties, celeb's such as Lenny Henry, Marvin Hagler, Audley Harrison and the late Jeremy Beadle (R.I.P), have all passed through the doors of Stonebridge Adventure. Playing arcade games, play fighting on the inflatable, playing on the Nintendo NES, stuffing our faces with toasted cheese sandwiches and chips or having chip butties, jam on toast or putting 2 straws in our tip-top drinks!, all added and helped make the adventure playground the best provision for young people EVER!!

So to Douglas Lee Glynis Lee Patrick Coley Everette Junior Colin Hunter Charlie Boots (Richard), Barry, Steve, Yvonne, Yasmin, Ian, Dave, Jennifer Parris-Buckley Carmen Williams, Joel and Ieisha WE THANK YOU!! Bless
Julyann Pusey wrote:
Big tribute to Glyn and Doug. Passion, tenderness, devotion, loyalty, love of people. They fought the fight from beginning to end and still they fight.....Stonebridge has lost two great soldiers. Side by side they fought Brent council. With their knowledge; wisdom and passion they made heads turn in Brent. They exposed the government for the people they really are!!.

Our West Hendon celebrates a year of resistance on Saturday with family fun day

A message from Our West Hendon

“If you fight you won’t always win. But if you don’t fight you will always lose” Bob Crow

A year ago today Our West Hendon decided to fight for our homes, for our community and for council housing across London.

We may not have won our battle yet but we know that Our West Hendon, with YOUR support, has played a crucial role in placing the housing crisis firmly in the public consciousness and on the political agenda and we believe that is something worth celebrating.

Please join us for a day of celebration. Bouncy castle, music, dance, football, facepaint...something for all the family.

1st Birthday Party, Saturday 28th March 2:00-10:00, Marsh Drive Community Centre, NW9 7QE

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Eco Hustings Public Meeting – Who is the “Greenest” Candidate in Brent Central?

Parliamentary candidates for Brent Central will be answering questions on local and national environmental issues at an Eco Hustings on Thursday 26th March at Learie Constantine West Indian Association in Willesden.

The public meeting, organised by Brent Friends of the Earth, will put Labour’s Dawn Butler together with Green candidate Shahrar Ali, Conservative Alan Mendoza, UKIP's Stephen Priestley and John Boyle of TUSC, in the spotlight to see just whose policies are really the greenest. The Liberal Democrats have also been invited.

Ian Saville, Spokesperson for Brent Friends of the Earth says, “This election is crucial for our future. We need firm resolve in our elected representatives to tackle climate change by boosting our economy with green jobs and investing in renewable energy instead of dangerous fossil fuels.”

“This meeting will be a chance for voters to see what candidates have to say on local issues, such as proposals for fracking in Park Royal and the expansion of Heathrow airport, and national ones, such as climate change and energy policy. We invite local residents to come along and ask questions on these and other environmental issues. After all what is the point of politics if we haven’t got a habitable planet?”

The free event takes place on Thursday 26th March at Learie Constantine West Indian Association, 43-47 Dudden Hill Lane in Willesden, NW10 2ET, starting at 7.30pm. The venue is 2 minutes from Dollis Hill tube station, Chapter Road exit. All are welcome to attend. Refreshments will be available.

Update: Dawn Butler  (Labour) has now confirmed attendance in addition to Shahrar Ali (Green), Alan Mendoza (Conservative)  and  Stephen Priestly (UKIP)

Parents chain themselves to school entrance in protest against forced academisation

Parents chained themselves across school entrance

Report from Brent NUT and ATL

Parents and their children used 20 metres of chains and padlocks to chain themselves across the front entrance of their primary school. They were there to support the teachers and support staff who were taking strike action against the school being forced to become an academy. St Andrew and St Francis Cof E Primary in Belton Rd, Willesden, Brent had taken their first day of action last week and this week they are on strike for two days.

The parents are demanding an independently overseen ballot with full information of the arguments for and against an academy. The so called consultation was a mere letter supporting an academy and a form that asked parents if they did or not. On a small turn out the majority agreed. But the IEB ignored a meeting of parents held at the school who made it clear they were unanimously against an academy. This was not even mentioned in the consultation report sent to the DfE.  Both parents and the education unions have been talking to and handing out information to parents about why the school should not be an academy. The parents’ petition has reached over 360 signing to say they are totally against a forced academy and demanding a fair ballot.

The staff, parents and children sang songs, blew whistles, banged drums and shouted No academy! There was a fantastic feeling of solidarity among the crowd and a determination to continue the campaign.

Irene Scorer, a parent, said, “Today was fantastic. We really showed that we support our teachers and support staff. We’ll keep going until they give us a ballot. We’ll be looking at how we can escalate the campaign. We won’t be bullied into becoming an academy.”

Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NUT secretary, who represents the majority of the teaching staff at the school, said, “It was great to see so many parents with their children supporting the staff today. The IEB still refuse to recognise the parents’ democratic right to be heard – and we will keep shouting until they do!”

Hank Roberts, ATL Secretary, who also represents staff at the school said, “Today shows that support for the staff taking action against the school being forced to become an academy is growing. 

We also have more staff joining the strike this week. Some children were in school today taught by strike breakers from senior management. But with the growing support from staff and parents to continue and increase such action, the IEB needs to start listening and agree a ballot.”

After Easter more strikes are planned if the IEB do not agree to a ballot for parents which the Unions have even offered to pay for. What have they got to fear from this?
The Brent and Kilburn Times gives the following quote from Brent Council:
A Brent Council spokesman said: “It is central government policy that schools in special measures become academies. Since this is inevitable, it is better that the future of the school is resolved speedily.
“We are aware that trade unions are against St Andrews and St Francis School becoming an academy, however it is important to note that the majority of parents who took part in a consultation earlier this year on the school becoming an academy, said that they were in favour of the proposal.”
The statement ignores the parents' views and is misleading in suggesting that forced academisation is automatic and inevitable. Other schools, with support from their local authorities, have successfully fought of forced academisation proposals.  Unfortunately Labour in Brent acquiesce in such policies even as a General Election approaches where that policy can be challenged.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Michaela Free School 'putting pupils lives at risk' claim teacher unions

Hank Roberts, Union representative on  on Brent Schools Health and Safety Committee has riased serious questions about safety at the Michaela Academy Free School in Wembley Park which opened in September 2014 but is still undertaking building works on the building while it is occupied by the Year 7 children.  This is his letter to Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council containing the draft report:
Dear Muhammed.

Please find enclosed a revised (2nd draft) copy of our document concerning Michaela Community (Free) school. This is just to clarify particular action points that we are calling for you and the Authority to take up arising from the potentially dangerous situation we uncovered and, we believe, aspects of which are still extant.

1)   For the Authority to write to the Secretary of State for Education and Michaela Community school seeking their response to the specific actions I believe should be undertaken in the section of the document on Page 7 headed “Urgent actions that need to be undertaken”.

2)   That the request in the last paragraph on Page 8 from “We call on the local authority” down to “other Brent LA schools” and further to raise with the Secretary of State both the exact present legal position of the LA in regard to potential hazards facing the health and safety of Brent pupils in free schools (and academies) and the unsatisfactory nature of the present anomalous position.

Yours sincerely,

Hank Roberts

Union Representative on Brent Schools H&S Committee

PS: I am also sending this draft document to the Fire Brigade, H&S Executive, ATL, NASUWT and NUT Teacher Unions, Brent school H&S Reps and the media requesting their observations, comments and actions as appropriate.
Below you can find the full draft document which Mr Roberts has circulated:


Campaigners win another round in the Queensbury pub battle

There was great news from the Queensbury Campaign yesterday as they won the second round of the fight against Fairview.  Congratulations to all concerned.

This is how they reported it on their website  LINK:

The appeal by Fairview New Homes has been dismissed by the government Inspector. The Queensbury is saved, again!

Two years of campaigning are summarised in a 17 page letter from the Inspector, received today. The design was flawed, the case for a “landmark” building was flawed, the impact on the conservation area would have been severe. The Inspector gave more reasons than Brent Council (they refused permissionoriginally, in March last year) and the decision is very thorough.

The Inspector noted our campaign and acknowledged that some comments he received “attest to the high esteem in which the venue is held as a well managed, safe and congenial social facility in an area where these are felt to be lacking.” Yep.

In a nutshell he says “the adverse impacts in this instance would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal.” Yep.

We are very proud of what we have achieved. We were up against a legal team in a five day inquiry and an architect who paraded his awards for design. Fairview threw tens of thousands of pounds at a QC Barrister (no wonder when you consider the price of apartments in Willesden). 

We are convinced that had we not taken full part in the Inquiry then the reasons for refusal would have been diluted and Brent’s decision probably overturned. So…….. well done us.

What’s next? The ball is in Fairview’s court but we’d like to see a scheme that retains the building. Fairview will have to go back to the drawing board (literally) and return with something more sensible, or dispose of the land to someone less greedy and willing to reduce their profit. Or they could play the long game and allow the lease on the pub to expire in 2017 and let the building dilapidate (aka The Spotted Dog).

One things is certain – we will be vigilant and continue to fight for our local community buildings, doing our best to protect them. 

You can read the inspector’s full decision here