Tuesday 31 May 2016

Butt faces another probe - this time from the Labour Party

Cameron Scott, Regional Director of the East of England Labour Party, has been asked to  investigate 'serious allegations about incidents  following the death of Cllr Tayo Oladapo' to establish the facts.

Scott has been asked to undertake the investigation because London Region staff are under pressure due to the Tooting by-election and the EU Referendum.

The Labour Group has been told that there is no intention to suspend anyone and 'this investigation implies no assumption of guilt ot wrongdoing' but it has to investigate allegations that have been received.

Councillors in the Labour Group have been asked to submit 'information or evidence they understand to be relevant to the allegations about the incidents.'

Cllr Butt already faces an independent inquiry by  Richard Penn, a former local authority CEO.

Is another Europe possible? What do you think?

It has been hard for the anti-capitalist Left to insert itself into the EU Referendum debate on either side. The choice of associating with the neoliberals and big business  of the Remain campaign or the neoliberals and  racists of the Out campaign has left many of us out in the cold.

My main feeling is that we have been dragged into a nasty debate as a consquence of the internal war in the Tory Party and Cameron's attempt to deal with the UKIP challenge.

The Another Europe is Possible campaign is an attempt to make a progressive case for Remain but faces the charge of dewy eyed complacency about the real nature of the EU.

I submit Caroline Lucas' speech as a contribution to the debate and welcome people's views.

Co-op store proposal divides community near Dollis Hill Station

76 Burnley Road

A proposal to replace a vehicle repair workshop with a Co-operative food store opposite the Burnley Road entrance to Dollis Hill Station has divided local residents. Brent Council planners have recommended rejection of the application:

In contrast to Brent Council's advocacy of the retails jobs provided at the London Designer Outlet at Wembley Stadium, Planning Officers state:

With regards to on-site employment, the Applicant has submitted information stating that there would 
be a net increase in employment on the site as a result of the proposal. The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) Employment Densities Guide (2010) sets out that Use Class B2 (General Industry) requires 36sqm floorspace per employee. This equates to a capacity, for the existing use, of approximately 8 employees, whereas the proposed retail store could create 20-25 jobs. It must be noted, however, that up to 20 of these employees for the retail unit are proposed to be ‘part time’ employees. Furthermore, your officers consider that the jobs associated with defined employment uses are more likely to be skilled jobs than those associated with a retail use. Therefore, whilst acknowledging there would be a net increase in employment on the site, your officers conclude that an employment use has a greater beneficial impact on employment, with higher skilled personnel with the potential of apprentice schemes, than the proposed retail use. 

Petitions both for and against the proposal have been submitted as well as individual comments. The majority are against:

Petition Against - The second was an organised petition from 680 addresses with 992 signatures - including 175 signatures that did not have a full address. The objections are that the introduction of the local convenience store will damage the local shops and their business. 
       Your officers are also aware of a change.org petition against the proposal titled Help Protect Our Shops, with 103 objectors, on the grounds that the Council should support local community stores 

Petition For 1)- Petition consisting of approximately 95 names. Many of these did not have full addresses. The generic supporting reason was the positive addition of a convenience store on Burnley Road. 

Petition For 2) 5 individuals from 5 different addresses who support the application based on new jobs and groceries at fair prices. 

Click on image to enlarge

A number of councillors called in the proposal so that it would be  decided by the Planning Committee rather than by officers and their reasons varied:
Name of Councillor 

Councillor Harrison

Date and Reason for Request


Details of any representations received

We understand that the Co-operative Group proposals will result in the employment of 20-25 people with priority given to recruitment in the local area.

Name of Councillor

Councillor Nerva

Date and Reason for Request


Details of any representations received

We understand that the Co-operative Group proposals will result in the employment of 20-25 people with priority given to recruitment in the local area.

Name of Councillor

Councillor Collier

Date and Reason for Request


Details of any representations received

We understand that the Co-operative Group proposals will result in the employment of 20-25 people with priority given to recruitment in the local area.

Name of Councillor

Councillor Shahzad

Date and Reason for Request


Details of any representations received

Should be heard at Committee so residences can expressed their views to the committee.

Name of Councillor

Councillor Hirani

Date and Reason for Request


Details of any representations received

Concerned about the impact on local independent shops;
Concerns with the increase of traffic and spaces for loading vehicles.

Name of Councillor
Councillor Choudry

Date and Reason for Request

Details of any representations received

Concerned about the impact on local independent shops;
Concerns with the increase of traffic and spaces for loading vehicles.

Name of Councillor
Councillor Patel

Date and Reason for Request

Details of any representations received
Request that the application be discussed and decided by the Planning Committee only. 

Any person wishing to inspect the above papers should contact Robert Reeds, Planning and Regeneration, Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ, Tel. No. 020 8937 6726

LATEST UPDATE Palestinian school student winner of 'Speak Out' competition silenced

From Middle East Monitor.  I uploaded this video over the weekend but it suddenly disappeared  from the originating website.  This article explains what had happened:

 Leanne Mohamad, a 15-year-old student at Wanstead High School in London, won a regional final of the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge with her speech ‘Birds not Bombs’, in which she describes the historical and contemporary reality for Palestinians under Israeli settler colonialism.

The Jack Petchey-sponsored competition is run by Speakers Trust, and bills itself as the world’s biggest youth speaking event.

Responding to complaints by anti-Palestinian blogger Edgar Davidson, Speakers Trust CEO Julie Holness said that they took his “concerns very seriously”, and confirmed that Mohamad would not be sent through to the next stage of the contest, and “will not be speaking at the Grand Final.”

The decision to expel Mohamad, made by a Speakers Trust and Jack Petchey Foundation judging panel, was based on her breaching two rules: that “the speech must have a positive and uplifting message”, and that “a speaker should never inflame or offend the audience or insult others.”

Holness offered to forward Davidson’s email to Mohamad’s school, and said the blogger was “welcome to use [my home office number] at any time.”

Responding to the news, Mohamad tweeted: “Why is it called a “Speak Out Challenge” when I am then silenced?” While Speakers Trust has removed the speech from their website and YouTube Channel, it has been re-uploaded here.

Davidson last year praised English Defence League-founder Tommy Robinson as “simply a British patriot.” His blog’s ‘Key Readings’ includes an article that states “Palestinians are a fake creation.”


 1 Jun 2016 — After accusing 15 year old Leanne of spreading propaganda and giving grist to the racist mill attacking her, the Foundation changed their story in a statement that blames the VICTIM of the abuse for that abuse, instead of tackling the perpetrators; and stated in an effort “to protect her“ that they removed her. Therefore, instead of standing up to the bullying and abuse from the same Zionists whose manipulations and complaints led to her expulsion from the competition; they censored the victim of the abuse instead of simply turning off the racist notifications on the site they censored the victim of those notifications.

By expelling her from the competition they sided with the racist bullies and abusers.. They also over-ruled their own judges and mentors, the teachers and trainers, all of whom encouraged, edited, rehearsed and supported this young girl as she honed her speech WITHOUT ONE complaint or question mark over content.

How is this meant to empower and embolden bright thoughtful young people? What message does this give? Will this encourage others to Speak Up or Speak Out?

This statement has raised more questions than it has answered.This brave young woman has suffered abuse and name calling from the powerful far right Zionist lobby accusing her, a young Palestinian Semite of Anti Semitism and trying to silence her voice.

It is wonderful to see the support of so many humanitarians rallying to her cause to be heard, we are grateful for the supportive words from many, including the prominent Jewish human rights activist Norman Finkelstein….

”I find this episode appalling. What's going on across the pond? Have the Brits lost all their marbles? If a Jewish girl memorialized her family who perished in the Nazi holocaust, would she be disqualified on the ground that her presentation wasn't uplifting or might have offended a Teutonic nationalist? My goodness, not even a diminutive Winston Churchill would have passed muster with these judges. I once appeared on UK's Hard Talk to debate the Israel-Palestine topic. The presenter wouldn't let me speak. One viewer called the program "Hard to Talk." Maybe this competition should be rechristened, Speak Out--At Your Peril!“

Is the voice of a fifteen year old girl that dangerous?

Friday 27 May 2016

Muhammed Butt to face Standards investigation over Tayo Oladapo death announcement

Muhammed Butt - just a few questions to answer

Brent councillors have been informed that the independent investigation into issues involved in the death of Cllr Tayo Oladapo will be undertaken by Richard Penn, a former local authority chief executive. He will conduct an investigation into the Council's processes regarding the matter as well as the conduct of Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt which has been the subject of a Members' Code of Conduct complaint.

The two inquiries will overlap but the latter will be considered by the Standards Committee.  Cllr James Allie's recent appointment as Chair of that Committee was the subject of controversy in the light of a possible referral of Butt to the Standards Committee over the Cllr Oladapo affair. LINK
Sandra Kabir,  Chief Whip,  named in the appointment letter as someone who should be spoken to,  is now vice chair of the Standards Committee. As Chief Whip she was involved in the move against  Labour maverick Cllr John Duffy. Cllr Krupa Sheth, another committee member, is a close associate of Cllr Butt.

Carolyn Downs, Brent Council Chief Executive Officer told Brent councillors:

An independent investigator has been appointed to examine processes and the conduct of a councillor at Brent Council following the sad death of former Councillor Tayo Oladapo.

Richard Penn, a former local authority Chief Executive of two major metropolitan authorities with 35 years of public sector experience, is expected to start his investigations next week. Mr Penn has led a number of high profile examinations of local government, the health service, the police service and as Commissioner for Standards at the National Assembly for Wales.

Former Councillor Oladapo died at the Royal Free Hospital on 29 January 2016 following a long illness. However, Councillor Oladapo’s death was not confirmed to the council until 10 March 2016 and the death was not formally registered by his family until May.

Mr Penn’s investigation into the council process is expected to last around three weeks and it is intended that any recommendations from his report will be considered by Full Council in July.
The investigation concerning the councillor is expected to last around five weeks and will be reported to the Council’s Standards Committee.

Full terms of reference for the investigations  were sent to Mr Penn in the following letter:
Appointment to conduct investigations into Council processes and the conduct of an individual Councillor
I am writing to confirm that you have been appointed by the Council to conduct two separate but closely related investigations following the sad death of former Councillor Tayo Oladapo who was a member of the Council’s Labour Group.
Former Councillor Oladapo died at the Royal Free Hospital in the Borough of Brent on 29 January 2016 following a long illness.
For a long period of time prior to his death, former Councillor Oladapo was unable to attend any meetings of the Council and was therefore at risk of automatic disqualification. According to the Local Government Act 1972, if a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of 6 consecutive months from the date of his last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority then, subject to certain exceptions, he ceases to be a member of the authority unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period.
Former Councillor Oladapo was elected in May 2010 and last attended a Council meeting on 26 November 2014. Since then his absence from meetings of the Council was approved by Full Council on 2 March 2015; 20 May 2015; 7 September 2015; 18 January 2016 and 22 February 2016. Copies of the public reports considered at these meetings of Full Council are available on the Council’s website.
Following enquiries made by the Council’s Chief Executive, Carolyn Downs, on 10 March 2016, the Police notified the Council that former Councillor Oladapo had died on 29 January 2016 but that his death had not been registered. A copy of Ms Downs’ statement presented to the annual meeting of Full Council on 18 May 2016 is attached hereto.
In the circumstances, the Council recognises that the reporting of former Councillor Oladapo’s absence to Full Council and the approval of his absence raises issues which warrant review in the public interest. It is the Council’s objective to ensure that its processes are independently reviewed; the facts, as known and understood by the Council, and indeed the actual facts are formally reported; that any lessons are learned and that any improvements are implemented.
Against that factual background, you are requested to review/investigate the following:
1. The events leading up to the meeting of Full Council on 22 February 2016 concerning former Councillor Oladapo’s illness and continued absence from Council meetings;
 2. The information and facts known and understood by key officers and members of the Council throughout the relevant period and how this was formally reported at meetings of Full Council;
3.  Whether further or better information could reasonably have been obtained about former Councillor Oladapo prior to the meeting of Full Council on 22 February 2016; 

4. The Council’s general processes for reporting former Councillor Oladapo’s illness and continued absence from Council meetings; 

5. What, if anything, the Council could have done differently or better at the time; 

6.. What, if any, lessons the Council should take from this experience; and 

7.. What, if any, improvements the Council should implement. 

You are also requested to make any other recommendations that you consider appropriate and prepare a written report to the Chief Executive within a timescale of 2 to 3 weeks.
Arising from these same circumstances, on 13 May 2016, in my capacity as Monitoring Officer, I received a Members’ Code of Conduct complaint about the conduct of Councillor Muhammed Butt. Councillor Butt is the Leader of the Council and Leader of the majority Labour Group.
In broad terms, it is alleged that Councillor Butt apparently misled the Council over the death of former Councillor Oladapo. A copy of the full complaint is attached hereto and you are asked to investigate the following issues and prepare a separate standards investigation report which will be considered by the Council’s Standards Committee. You are asked to consider the contents of the email which is referenced in the complaint and address each allegation, save those which relate to the employment relationship between the then Labour Party official and the Labour party.
In your standards investigation report you are asked to make findings on the following:
1. Whether or not Councillor Butt was acting in an official capacity and whether the alleged conduct was capable of falling within the scope of the Members’ Code of Conduct.
2. Whether or not Councillor Butt breached the requirements or obligations of the Members’ Code of Conduct. If so, specify which paragraphs of the Code you find have been breached.
3. If applicable, the action that you recommend the Council should take in response to any finding of breach.
I also attach a copy of the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct and associated complaints procedure which you will need to consider carefully before preparing your standards investigation report. The expected timescale for this report is 4 to 5 weeks.
Inevitably, the terms of your general review will overlap with the standards investigation into the conduct of Councillor Butt and therefore your two reports are bound to contain much of the same information. As no doubt you will appreciate, however, they are intended to serve distinct purposes and will be reported accordingly.
I would suggest that your enquiries should extend in total to approximately 5 working days. If, in your assessment, a greater amount of time is needed, I would ask that you contact
The opportunity to interview and make enquiries of the officers and Members you consider are relevant to your review and investigation will be given to you.
It is suggested that in order to pursue the enquiries listed above you will need to interview the following officers:
Carolyn Downs, Chief Executive

Fiona Alderman, Chief Legal Officer

Thomas Cattermole, Head of Executive and Member Services
Peter Goss, Democratic Services Manager

Daniel Elton, Labour Group Political Assistant
I will strongly encourage any Members who you consider it necessary to interview to make themselves available. I suggest that the following may be most able to assist:
Councillor Butt – Leader of the Labour Group Councillor
Sandra Kabir – Chief Whip

Councillor Thomas – then Chair of the Labour Group
Councillor McLennan – the current Deputy Leader
The following members attended a pre-council briefing on 18th February 2016 and may be of assistance:
Councillor Butt – as above

Councillor Lesley Jones – then Mayor

Councillor Kansagra – then leader of the Conservatives

Councillor Colwill – current leader of the Conservatives and then Deputy Leader.
Yours sincerely,
Fiona Alderman
Chief Legal Officer

Barham Community Library offers Yorick, Picnic and much else

Latest news from Barham Community Library


This is still with Brent Council and we are awaiting a final draft following a meeting 3 weeks ago. It would seem the Council are too busy with other priorities.

2. HAMLET - last chance for tickets

The 80 minutes version of Hamlet specially adapted for Libraries by The Librarian Theatre is back in our building in Barham Park (660 Harrow Road Wembley HA0 2HB) on Tuesday 31 May at 7:15p.m. for 7:30p.m. start.

We have just a few tickets left so if you don't want to miss your chance please contact me (Paul Lorber) on barhamlibrary@hotmail.co.uk or on 07917094239. If texting please leave your name.


This talk by Philip Grant of Wembley History Society will take place at Barham Community Library on Saturday 4 June starting at 2:30 and lasting around an hour. The event is Free but Philip is happy for visitors to make a small donation towards our Charity.

4. BIG LUNCH  on Sunday 12th June in Barham Park. Friends of Barham Library initiated this event and we are pleased to be joined by our partners Sudbury Town Residents Association, Sudbury Court Residents Association, ACAVA and others. The event is supported by Francis Henry and Daniels Estate Agents who are helping with publicity and in other ways.

The BIG LUNCH is a simple idea from the creators of the Eden Project in Cornwall - 'Get to know your neighbours by having a lunch with them. Just make some of your favourite food and share it with others'. 

We just thought that it would be a good idea to encourage local people to have a picnic in Barham Park (no BBQs please) and chill out. We have some book and other stalls and some outdoor games and see how it goes. This is the 3rd time we have encouraged local people to take part and hope that we have some good weather and the most successful event to date. So please bring your friends and neighbours along and share your favourite delicacies with others.

We will need some volunteers to help out on the day so if you are available let me know - barhamlibrary@hotmail.co.uk


The walking in Barham Park takes place on Tuesdays from 10:30a.m. We have opened our doors in the morning on Tuesdays from around 10:30 to 12 to allow access to our toilets and to offer tea, coffee and biscuits. The walks are free as are our refreshments (although we don't refuse small donations to help replenish our stocks.)


One of our volunteers has started Wednesday morning sessions for anyone interested in sewing, knitting etc. If you are interested please get in touch - at barhamlibrary@hotmail.co.uk


We are keen to restart this if there is enough interest. Please contact Paul Lorber on barhamlibrary@hotmail.co.uk with ages of your children.

The sessions will probably be held on Saturdays - with sessions for different age groups - in slots between approx 11a.m. to 3p.m.

(the entrance is the black door inside the black railings to the left of the building along Harrow Road as you face the building. Buses 18, 92, 182 and 204 stop nearby)

We will discuss initial opening times, future activities and other matters.


Thursday 26 May 2016

Investors needed for school solar energy co-op in Brent

Details and documentation HERE

Tarmac to replace paving stones on Brent streets

Mixed pavement this morning in Kings Drive, Wembley
Sometimes seemingly small decisions pass by unnoticed but have a larger longer term impact. This may be the case with a Brent Cabinet decision made on Monday to adopt a default policy of replacing paving stone pavements with tarmac, except in conservation areas and 'frequently used footways'.

The Council is currently running a PR campaign on 'Love where you live' to inspire more pride in the borough. Tarmac pavements change the look of streets substantially but represent a small reduction in costs for a cash-strapped council. Whether they represent long-term 'best value' or inspire more pride is debatable.

There will be some patchwork tarmac repairs but in other areas entire stretches of pavement wil be replaced by tarmac:

Click to enlarge
The full report approved by the Cabinet which includes illustrations of different types of pavement surfaces can be found HERE

By reducing our freedoms the Government is doing the extremists' job for them - Jenny Jones

This is the text of the speech Jenny Jones, the Green Party member of the House of Lords, gave on Tuesday:

My Lords, I wish to speak about two proposed Bills: the Investigatory Powers Bill and the extremism Bill. I am not sure whether noble Lords know that the States, which has had similar legislation to this in the past, is now rolling it back partly because of privacy concerns but also because it has been found not to be very effective.

I have a little experience of the police and can tell noble Lords that they cannot cope with the data they have at the moment, so giving them vast amounts more data is very counterintuitive and is likely to worsen their work rate. This legislation, if adopted in its current form, would have devastating effects on people’s right to privacy and on other human rights. It seems to me that the surveillance activities proposed in this legislation go way too far, far too fast. Vast powers to monitor communications, access personal information and tamper with computers, phones and software are provided for. These powers are vaguely described, disproportionate and lack critical safeguards, including proper independent judicial scrutiny. I hope this House will examine these proposals carefully, some of which are technical and difficult. I am not very technically minded but I aim to follow the proposals closely, as they could have a serious impact on the privacy of all of us.

Turning to the extremism Bill, as others have said, the definition of “extremism” will be very difficult to pin down. This has caused problems in the past. Noble Lords may or may not know—I have mentioned it before—that I am an accredited domestic extremist as far as the police are concerned. It seems to me that if they can judge me an extremist, they are experiencing some mission creep. The minute you give powers to people, they will abuse them. They may not mean to. Indeed, they may think that they are doing their job properly. However, the fact is that I and several other senior Green Party people have been described as domestic extremists. That is absolutely ludicrous. We are elected and obey the law. I very much hope that at some point I may get an apology from the police, but none has been given so far.

I have some specific questions about the Bill and the proposal. I do not expect an answer today but they may inform the debate later as I shall certainly raise them again. Will I and other people on the domestic extremism database be banned from talking to schools, for example, under the new counterterrorism and safeguarding Bill, because that is one of the proposals? Will the list of banned people be separate from the list of those monitored on the domestic extremism database? Will there be categories? Will the proposed definition of an extremist be legally binding, or will it merely provide the police with “guidance” and thus enable them to include whoever they like on whatever list they like? Again, I refer to my comments about mission creep. Will the Bill allow the Home Office to include categories of people on the list in the way that the police currently include elected Greens? Will the definition of extremism be restricted in any way to those advocating violence—as I feel it should—or to those convicted of a serious crime, or will it bear absolutely no relation to whether the person is innocent of any crime, or even under investigation for a specific crime? How will a person appeal against being on the list and challenge the Government’s view that they are an extremist? I have tried to get to the bottom of who originally labelled me a domestic extremist and who decided that it was worth monitoring me. It has been impossible to get that information out of the police. They decline to talk about specific cases, even when they involve the person asking for the information.

If the Government reduce our freedoms, they are doing the extremists’ job for them. They are doing the terrorists’ job of changing our culture and our society. That is extremely damaging.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Get to know some of your Brent local history with Philip Grant

Wembley Matters readers, particularly in Sudbury and Kingsbury, may be interested in two local history events taking place in the next few weeks. Both are being presented by Philip Grant, of Wembley History Society, and posters are attached giving details.

The first is an illustrated talk on Saturday 4th June, at the new Barham Community Library. Visitors will have the chance to see the facilities at Friends of Barham Library’s new premises at 660 Harrow Road (part of the Barham Park Buildings, which were home to Sudbury’s own public library from 1952 until Brent Council closed it in 2011), as well as to enjoy a talk which combines the story of Wembley’s own fire brigade with the involvement of a local family in it.
The second event is an illustrated walk from Kingsbury Library on Wednesday 22nd June. As part of the “Festival of Learning”, those taking part can discover that history is not just what you had to learn at school, but things you can see as you walk around somewhere you may have shopped, without actually noticing them before.
Even if you cannot come to either event, you can still find out more about the local history of Brent (its people, places and occasions that have happened here) online. Recent improvements to the Brent Archives homepage, at: https://www.brent.gov.uk/archives , allow you to “click” on the local history articles link, to access a menu of illustrated pdf files on a variety of subjects, or on the online catalogue link, to search for places in the borough from over ten thousand pictures, from Victorian times to the present.

Monday 23 May 2016

People's Chilcot Tribunal June 8th

From Stop the War Coalition

There is a growing sense of anticipation in relation to the publication of the Chilcot report. However, after years of lies and obfuscation, it is reasonable to be sceptical about the recent media claims that the soon to be released Chilcot report will provide a genuinely scathing critique of the process that led us into the Iraq War.

Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond has already called for Tony Blair to be tried in the Hague for war crimes. It is well documented that Blair was committed to regime change (which is entirely illegal under international law) over a year before the invasion actually started.

It is also well documented that the intelligence dossiers which were used by the government to justify going into war were highly misleading. As Professor Steven Kettell noted, the weapons expert Dr David Kelly, who died in the wake of the invasion of Iraq, revealed that members of the intelligence community were alarmed about the way in which their opinion was ignored by Tony Blair's war-mongering clique.

Stop the War Coalition is hosting a People's Chilcot Tribunal to establish who was to blame for the catastrophes of the Iraq War, including over a million deaths and millions of refugees who are still fleeing the devastated country. There will be testimony from a wide range of people including former UN envoy to Iraq Hans von Sponeck, ex-soldiers Ben Griffin and Geoff Martin, writer Tariq Ali, Iraqi dissident Sami Ramadani, political commentator Peter Oborne, Stop the War convenor Lindsey German, CND chair Kate Hudson, Peter Brierley from Military Families Against the War, and former MP Alice Mahon.

You can book your place here. Please invite your friends as well. We will also hold a public meeting the day after the report is released

8th June 3pm-8pm Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre. 25 New Inn Yard, EC2A 3EAJ

Find out about the new Call 111 service (non-emergency NHS phone line)

From Brent Clinical Commissioning Group

We are ready to update local people on our plans for a new NHS 111 service in the borough. We would like to invite local people to a public event where we can set out how the new system is going to work across North West London and get your views about our plans.
This event is part of a series of events North West London CCGs have held to develop the specification for the new service and find out how the service should be accessed by patients.

14 June (5pm - 9pm)
Sattavis Patidar Centre
Forty Avenue, (Junction with The Avenue)
Wembley Park,
HA9 9PE.

Book  your place HERE

Sunday 22 May 2016

Character building FEAT on a concrete slab in Colindale

The concrete slab viewed through perspex window
Purple marks the proposed school site
Brent's new Cabinet will tomorrow  consider a proposed new free school to be built at the back of the new Morrisons Supermarket on the Oriental City regeneration site in the Edgware Road.

Both the design of the school and the chosen free school provider are likely to be controversial.  The Cabinet papers state:

The site comprises a concrete slab at first floor level with parking beneath.

It is proposed that the Council have a 999 lease interest in the land which it will then lease to the free school provider for 125 years at a peppercorn rent on the basis of the 'template' lease which the Secretary of State is empowered to grant.

The site is physically 'constrained' so it is proposed that the school will be on two levels (on top of the slab) with a roof top playspace for the 420 pupils as there is no space for a playground.  Add to this that fact that the school is very close to the traffic pollution of the Edgware Road and it is not exactly ideal.

The free school provider is Floreat Education Academies Trust (FEAT) of which more later. To enable them to take pupils from September 2016 the Council wish to grant FEAT a 3 year lease on the former Kingsbury Pupil Referral Unit in Church Lane, Kingsbury. This was refurbished to provide additional temporary infant class places but the Cabinet paper states 'but has not been used for classes to date as demand has not required it.' I also understand existing primary schools were relectant to take on the additional unit as a 'satellite'.

The fact that 'demand has not required it' but somehow there will be a demand when it opens as a free school  is a little strange.  It is very close to Fryent Primary School but a long way from the Oriental City site so it is difficult to see how there will be continuity between the two sites in terms of actual pupils. Pupils who live in Church Lane will have to take two buses or a bus (302) and a walk to get to the Morrisons site.

The Church Lane site
Never mind. Floreat seem to have assumed that the Brent Cabinet will deliver the goods. They have already set up a website for the Church Lane school LINK

So why do I sound a note of caution about FEAT?

It was founded by James O'Shaughnessy, (now Lord) former Director of Policy for  David Cameron. He was a visting fellow at the Govite Policy Exchange, consultant to Pearson, and an Honorary Senior Research fellow at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue.  LINK

He has described current education 'reforms' as a 'huge battle in an already very long war.'

Thanks to Powerbase for the following information.

Ian Moore, Director of Education, was seconded from PwC to the prime minister's education delivery team in 2006 and a senior adviser to the Conservative Party's 'Implementation Team' 2008-10,

And then there is Annaliese Briggs, who at 27 survived for just 6 months at Pimlico Primary School (one of Education Minister John Nash's chain) having no teaching qualification. Nevertheless she is in charge of FEAT's curriculum delivery!

See Powerbase for more but you get the picture.

So what is all this 'character building' stuff?

Imported from the US (there is a statement from the US Secretary of State for Defense on the  Jubilee Centre's website LINK) it is rapidly becoming a government supported industry penetrating into our schools. This is their rather dull film about the programme:


An article by Matthew Bennett on the Local Schools Network website LINK explains some of the background:
‘No excuses’ charter schools are a product of the test-based accountability systems that have dominated American public education since George W. Bush’s first term.  In the same way, English academy chains like ARK Schools and the Harris Federation developed within the culture of ‘hyper-accountability’ – to use Warwick Mansell’s term – created by the Education Act of 1988.  The ARK Schools chain is, in fact, closely modelled on the KIPP ‘network’ of charter schools.  Both target the inner cities.  Both argue that severe economic and social deprivation is ‘no excuse’ for educational underperformance.  Both aim to demonstrate – by dramatically boosting test and exam scores – that privatisation can be the miracle cure for decades of failure by state or public schools.  Both have a surprising number of financiers on their boards (of the eight trustees on the ARK Schools board, five are hedge fund managers;  none has any background in education). 

The new character education cannot really be understood without looking at the methods of behaviour management used in ‘no excuses’ schools and their English imitators.  These schools love mnemonics – displayed in every classroom, chanted by students – and their mnemonics are quite revealing.  SLANT:  Sit up, Listen, Ask questions, Nod, Track the speaker.  SMARTS:  Stand and sit straight, Make good choices, Always 100% on task, Respect, Track the speaker, Shine.  HALL:  Hallway heads and eyes forward, Arms with finger on lips, Legs straight, Lips sealed.  The rules cover the smallest details of students’ behaviour, and the slightest infraction of the rules – for example, failing to maintain eye contact with the teacher at all times – meets with immediate punishment (this is what one defender of the model calls ‘sweating the small stuff’).  Sanctions include detentions, a period wearing a special ‘miscreant’s shirt’, or a deduction from the student’s account of ‘KIPP dollars’.  (In a training video aimed at teachers in charter schools, a student is told at one point:  ‘Laughing is ten dollars’.)  Some charter schools push the principle to insane extremes.  A list of complaints made by parents against a ‘no excuses’ charter in Texas, Nashville Prep, includes the following:  ‘One student received a demerit for saying, “bless you” when a classmate sneezed.  He also received detention (1) for saying “excuse me” while stepping over another child’s backpack and (2) for picking up a pencil for a classmate’.
James O'Shaughnessy is an advisor to the US Character Lab, co-founded by Dave Levin who also co-founded the KIPP network of charter schools.

It looks as if Katharine Birbalsingh will soon have a rival in the Brent 'scariest teacher' league.

Meanwhile I hear that Gladstone School's Maria Evans and Jim Gatten LINK are to move to Oxford in July.  Gladstone has announced that it is now not in a position to open to year 7 pupils in September as no site has been found.

Paul Phillips, in post since January 2014 as Principal Designate continues in his role.  Accounts have not been filed since 2014 and there have been recent changes in directorships.

Gladstone has yet to educate a single child but has spent £175,000 on 'educational operations'.

Click on image to enlarge