Thursday, 30 June 2016

Community Day - Kings Drive - Saturday

Headteachers call for government to reassure EU children in UK of their right to stay

 I have been hearing reports of children from EU countries crying in school the morning after the Referendum fearing that they would be forced to leave the UK. This initiative by the National Association of Headteachers is welcome.

Today (Wednesday 29 June) school leaders’ union NAHT published an open letter to David Cameron calling for assurances to be given to EU pupils. The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Prime Minister,

The vote to leave the European Union has brought uncertainty to many areas of life in Britain, including education.

School leaders are reporting to us that some of their young students are worrying about their future.

Pupils are worried about being forced to leave Britain. They are fearful of a potential rise in racism and community conflict. They are concerned about their prospects in an uncertain and isolated Britain.

It is not just the economic markets that need calming. Our young people need a statement from the government to address their fears.

NAHT strongly urges the Government to give pupils from the EU better assurance that they will be able to complete their school education without interruption; that they and their families remain welcome and valued members of the communities they call home.

Our schools are the places in which we shape our future as a nation. Our teachers and school leaders can help young people make sense of dramatic changes and build their own plans. To do this, we need clarity, swiftly. Please do not ignore the impact of the EU referendum result on the next generation.


Russell Hobby
General Secretary

Clive Lewis & Caroline Lucas head up speakers list at Progressive Alliance event next week

From Compass

 Politics is in crisis and the repercussions from the result of the referendum are being felt socially, politically and economically. For many people, it feels like the country is being torn apart.

If we want a politics and economy that puts all of us first, it's time to come together and start building alliances. We need a democracy that listens and responds, that puts the people in control. We will not get there by shutting people out and perpetuating divisions, but by building bridges, alliances common cause.

In the current political chaos the Right are asserting themselves across the political terrain, while most of the Left's focus is on how Labour is pulling itself apart. Only a progressive alliance of all parties, people and movements can flip the debate to one that builds a society that is much more equal, sustainable and democratic. With a general election looming in the Autumn, a popular front of ideas and organisation is the only way to defend what we hold dear and to start to build a society that we can all live in and be proud of.

We are calling a series of public meetings to explore: what could a progressive alliance look like? How possible is it? And what can we do to start to make it feasible?

The first meeting will be on Tuesday July 5th. While this event is in London, local groups are exploring holding simultaneous events around the country. We are working on live streaming the event (details to follow) and will be hosting online discussion and meetings across the country in the coming weeks and months.

Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party
Clive Lewis MP, Labour Party
Amina Gichinga, Take Back the City
John Harris, Journalist
Hopefully SNP & Plaid Cymru speakers tbc

VENUE: Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8EP.
The venue is fully accessible for wheelchair users.

DATE & TIME: Tuesday July 5th, doors 6pm for a prompt 6.30pm start, finishing at 8.30pm

TICKETS: Please click here to get your tickets, spaces are limited.

Tickets are pay what you can to help us cover the cost of putting on the event, if you would like to come but are not able to pay, please do email

This is about parties and seats - we need to make sure that the Conservatives and Right do not win the next election - but it must also be much richer and deeper. It must be about values and movements; it is a time for all of us to step up and get involved.

This event will launch a series of conversations about a Progressive Alliance that will then continue across the country, linking up with parties, movements and organisations. There has been a lot of talk about the need for Progressive Alliances over the last week, now is the time to start organising.

£157k payout leaves Davani laughing all the way to the kennels

The Brent and Kilburn Times LINK today reveals that former Director of Brent Human Resources, Cara Davani, was paid out £157,610 when she left the Council, almost to the day, last year. Davani as well as her job with Brent, also had her own HR Consultancy and a dog breeding business.

At the time Brent Council said:
'Cara Davani, Director of HR and Administration, will leave the Council at the end of June. She intends to take a career break for a while.

The Council is grateful for the significant contribution that Cara has made over the last 3 years.’
Part of Davani's 'contribution' was to land the Council with an Employment Tribunal case in whcih she and the Council were found to have victimised and racially discriminated against an employee, Rosemarie Clarke.

Cllr Butt and Cara Davani
Council leader Muhammed Butt went out of his way to protect Davani and refused to allow any disciplinary action against her.  The Pavey review of Brent Human resources was excluded from dealing with the Employment Tribunal case. This was a decision that Pavety recently said he regretted remarking that he should have fought harder for a broader remit LINK.

Philip Grant and I both tried to raise the case at Brent Council meetings but were denied the opportunity.  LINK

I very seldom agree with Tories but Cllr John Warren's comment to the BKT hits the nail on the head:
£157,610 compensation for loss of office is a sick joke. There's no way they should have given her a penny because it's a reward for failure. It would be interesting to see how they justify it as I don't believe they needed to pay her that. Not a bad deal to be rubbish at your job and get a payoff like that.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Green Parties propose talks on progressive alliance post-Referendum vote

This is the text of the open letter that has gone from the Green Parties of England, Wales and Northern Ireland to Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron and Leanne Wood urging talks about a progressive alliance.
 Dear all,

In a spirit of openness and transparency, we are writing to you as Leaders of parties which oppose Brexit, to invite you to a cross-party meeting to explore how we best rise to the challenge posed by last week’s vote to leave the EU.

Britain is in crisis and people are scared about the future. Never have we had a greater need for calm leadership to be shown by politicians.

We have a UK Government in chaos, an economy facing a crisis and people up and down the country facing serious hardship. There is an urgent need to make a stand against any austerity and the slashing of environmental legislation, human and workers’ rights that may come with Brexit.

With the growing likelihood of an early General Election, the importance of progressive parties working together to prevent the formation of a Tory-UKIP-DUP government that would seek to enact an ultra-right Brexit scenario is ever more pressing.

This is an opportunity to recognise that a more plural politics is in both the Left’s electoral and political interests. This crisis exposes the absurdity of our first past the post electoral system. Just 24 per cent of those eligible to vote elected the government that called the referendum. The only fair way to proceed is to have a proportional voting system where people can back the politicians who they believe in, rather than taking a gamble and not knowing who they will end up with.

The idea of a progressive alliance has been floated for several years, and proposals have once again been put forward in the context of the current crisis. We believe that the time has come to urgently consider such ideas together in the context of a Westminster Government. We recognise the very different political situation in Scotland, given the strongly pro-EU majority there. We hope that co-operation between progressive parties their can ensure that this mandate is respected, and we will support them to keep all options open.

We look forward to your response,

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales

Alice Hooker-Stroud, Leader of Wales Green Party

Steven Agnew MLA, Leader of the Green Party of Northern Ireland

Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Pavilion

NUT strike on July 5th to go ahead

Assemble outside Broadcasting House W1A 1AA 11am and march to rally in Parliament Square

The NUT and UCU are due to strike on Tuesday July 5th.  This is  Kevin Courtney's message to NUT members:

Thank you for all you are doing to build for the strike action. We have received a number of messages from members concerned about the efficacy of taking action given the current political turmoil but we are also experiencing a large spike in joiners and members reinstating.

Tomorrow, we will be emailing members in the ballot cohorts with the message below which has a link to a letter I have sent to Nicky Morgan MP setting out our concerns and reminding her of the steps she can take to avert the strike:


Following the referendum we have being considering steps we need to take to support our members and our pupils.

• We are writing to our members from overseas - reassuring them of our support and determination to do everything we can to help.
• We are working on materials for teachers to use in schools at a time of increasing racial tension.
• We have decided that it is important to go ahead with the strike on July 5.

I'm writing to explain that decision and to ask for your support.


Firstly, it is important to know that under the UK's union laws there is no option of simply delaying action to September; action must be started within 28 days of the ballot closing.

Secondly, we believe the demands our strike is putting forward are now more important than ever.

Schools are facing a very difficult budget because George Osborne has FROZEN the money he gives schools, while INCREASING the money he takes from them.

As a result we are seeing:
• increases in class sizes,
• cuts to subjects especially Arts subjects,
• less individual attention for children,
• worsening of terms and conditions for teachers.

The referendum result makes this all the more important. If inflation now rises then George Osborne's funding freeze will damage education even more.

It is also vital for the Government to acknowledge that they bear the responsibility for increasing class sizes. They are not due to migrants, but due to a lack of funding and of school place planning. We are therefore calling on Nicky Morgan and George Osborne to commit to investing in education, not cutting it. This is in the interest of our country as well as our children's education and our teachers and support staff. I have written to Nicky Morgan outlining some steps she could take which would allow us to suspend our action.

But in the meantime, if you can, please support our strike - in the best interest of education, teachers and the young people we teach.

1,000 new members have joined the union since last Thursday.

Not many people know this....but there's another party leadership contest starting on Friday!

Amidst the raging publicity over the Conservative and Labour leadership contests readers can be forgiven for not registering that the Green Party leadership and deputy leadership contests are about to start.

Nominations close tomorrow at noon and the campaign commences on Friday until July 24th followed by a month of balloting.

Half of the Green Party Executive positions will also be contested.

Results will be announced at the Green Party autumn contest which assumes greater importance in the light of a possible Autumn General Election.

There has been an increase in Green Party membership applications in London since the Referendum result.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Barry Gardiner joins Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet

Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North, was reportedly booed by fellow Labour MPs yesterday evening when he had the temerity to speak up in defence of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. Corbyn has now appointed him shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

Gardiner is my member of parliament and I have clashed with him many times, as well as agreed with him on some issues, such as the Prevent Strategy. I stood against him in the General Election before last as the Green Party candidate.

We share a concern about the environment and climate change and although our specific policies, not least on the major question of whether our current economic system based as it is on continuing economic growth is compatible with tackling climate change, may differ, I welcome his appointment as strengthening the Labour Party's approach to the issue.

This is what he had to say in a recently updated Huffington Politics LINK article that demonstrates his ability to analyse the political implications of resource competition.:

Exactly one week before the Queen’s Speech President Obama gave a speech - not in London, but in New London, Connecticut - to the United States Coast Guard Academy. He said: “I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country... And so we need to act - and we need to act now.”
He said that climate change would shape how every one of America’s services plan, operate, train, equip and protect their infrastructure, because climate change poses risks to national security, resulting in humanitarian crises, and “potentially increasing refugee flows and exacerbating conflicts over basic resources like food and water.”
Last summer I was critical in this House of the government’s decision not to provide financial support to the Italian government’s coast guard operation to rescue refugees from Libya. The Government’s responded to me then that such rescue operations acted as a “pull factor” and were only increasing the number of attempts. I thought it an obscene argument then and in the intervening months we have seen that it was not only obscene, but wrong. The numbers have increased. This Saturday the Italian Coast Guard announced that more than 4,000 migrants had been rescued off Libya’s coast in 22 separate operations in just one day.
We need to look deeper into why those migrants are coming in the first place. It would be convenient for me to point to the British and French air strikes, not to mention the failure to prepare a post-Gadhafi strategy that left that country in chaos. But I want to look deeper still into why the civil war started in the first place. It was part of a much wider pattern of regional upheavals that we called the Arab Spring that began in Egypt in 2010 with the uprisings in Tahrir Square.
If we track back those disturbances we come inexorably to the 2010 drought in Russia’s wheatbelt. It was the longest and most severe drought in Russia in over 50 years. The country lost 25% of its crop and it led Russia to impose an export ban on wheat that it had traditionally exported to Egypt. The food crisis in Egypt was the pre-curser to the Arab Spring. It was the same in Tunisia and the rest of the Arab world.
On the 9th September 2010 when the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that Syria’s drought was affecting food security and had pushed 2-3 million people into “extreme poverty” few people took any notice. In fact Syria had suffered four successive years of drought: the longest and deepest failure since records began in 1900. The losses from these repeated droughts were particularly significant for the population in the northeastern part of the country, in Al-Hasakeh, Deir Ezzor and Al-Raqqa.
Small-scale farmers were worst affected — many of them not able to cultivate enough food or earn enough money to feed their families. Herders also lost 80-85 percent of their livestock. Thousands left the northeast and migrated to informal camps close to Damascus. Experts warned at the time, that the true figure of those living in “extreme poverty” was higher than the official 2-3 million estimate. What is astonishing in military terms is that nobody predicted in September 2010 that such a tinder box might give rise to civil unrest and civil war only six months later.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies is very clear on the impact of resource shortages. In 2011 they published a report claiming that climate change “will increase the risks of resource shortages, mass migration and civil conflict” and the MoD has said that it will shift “the tipping point at which conflict occurs”.
The degradation of natural resources such as forests and freshwater has removed much of the resilience that societies formerly enjoyed. And what is perhaps equally disturbing is that we are beginning to see evidence that efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change by some countries can actually shift increased risk onto others.
Climate change brings pressures that will influence resource competition between nations and place additional burdens on economies, societies and governance institutions around the globe. These effects are threat multipliers. They will aggravate those things that lead to conflict: poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tension. If Britain is to play a positive role in the world then this must be understood by our military and we must adapt.
We as politicians have to understand that the greatest threats to our security are no longer conventional military ones. You cannot nuke a famine. You cannot send battleships in to stop the destruction of a rainforest. But you can spend money on clean technology transfer that enables countries to bring their people out of poverty without polluting their future. You can invest in adaptation measures that will protect communities from the effects of climate change that are already placing their societies under stress.

Green MEP: Letwin appointment confirms worst fears about Brexit

Letwin on 80s riots
Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP for the South West, a strong supporter of the UK remaining in the EU, has responded in dismay to the announcement that West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin is to head up a special “Brexit Unit” to work on the details of the UK leaving the EU.

Mr Letwin has a chequered history. Comments he made after rioting in inner city black communities in the 1980s were widely condemned as racist and he was forced into an unreserved apology. He was also a keen supporter of the highly divisive poll tax and has championed privatisation of the NHS. In 2011 he was caught dumping his constituent’s correspondence in a bin near Downing Street. He is also a climate sceptic and has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change .

Molly said:
The appointment of Oliver Letwin to this crucial role shows our worst fears on what might happen post Brexit being borne out. Rather than choosing a unifying figure who can help a divided nation heal after a bitterly divisive campaign, the Tories select yet another Etonian; a man who comes with a history of prejudice and who played a key role in pushing the deeply divisive poll tax in the 1980’s. His free market views on the NHS and disregard for climate change, the biggest environmental challenge we face, fills me with foreboding for what a post-Brexit England will look like. Cameron needs to bin Letwin and choose a more inclusive and unifying figure to steer us through this extremely difficult process.

Given the vital role that the EU has played in protecting civil and employment rights and environmental protection, Greens believe it is essential that there is political leadership from across the political spectrum during the post-Brexit negotiations. Only in this was can we avoid the risk that the Tories will engage in a destructive and divisive race to the bottom.

Natalie Bennett calls for General Election to deliver a people's government

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has called for a General Election in November to select a Government to lead Britain into a decision on its future relationship with the European Union. The leader of the Green Party, who campaigned for Britain to remain a member of the EU, is calling for a period of calm and reflection.

Bennett said:
“What we need is calm and time for reflection, not knee-jerk reactions. Despite the imperative of the half-hour Twitter news cycle, and the pressure to take definitive steps, what we really need is time for what’s happened to sink in, then sober consideration of what comes next.

“It is critically important that we resist pressure to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty, from European states and institutions and the financial markets. This is something we must not be bounced into. It is legally our decision, and one we can put off until the people’s wishes are clearer, until we’ve cleaned up our democracy.

“Before negotiations start, we need to know what we’re asking for.

“That has to mean a General Election – that’s the only way we can reach a mandate on a way forward. We’d have a minimum period of months (the earliest practical date would be early November) to debate, discuss, inform voters, who’ll then be able to weigh up the offers by various parties.
“Dissatisfaction with the status quo in this election is clearly closely related to the failures of our current electoral system, which disenfranchises the majority, who don’t get the representation they want.

“We need an election to deliver a way forward for Britain – and a fair voting system to deliver a government that truly reflects, and delivers on, the will of the people. That’s why progressives must now consider working together for our best chance of success in any coming election. Any sort of pact must be based on an agreement to implement a fairer voting system.

“What we need above all is for a chance for the people to decide, after a full, honest, open debate. To deliver that, we need a people’s government, not the tottering 19th-century structure we have now.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Brent Cabinet amend Tenterden Pavilion community asset transfer

Following representations from residents the Brent Cabinet amended the proposal on the community asset transfer of Tenterden Pavilion and playing fields to Wembley Education Charitable Trust (Lycee  International des Londres Winston Churchill).

The amendment made the granting of the 30 year lease to the WECT subject to them entering an agreement with Forest United (1973) Youth FC, a local charitable football club for its use of the pavilion and grounds during periods when it is not in use by the WECT.

Members noted 'the additional opportunity for community access by other groups, in what will be a significant new local sporting facility.'

Members delegated authority to the Director of Resources to finalise and agree terms of leasehold and associated licence disposal to WECT in consultation with the Operational Director of Environment Services.

Speaking on the proposal Cllr Roxanne Mashari made it clear that if WECT did not reach an agreement with Forest United the proposal would come back to Cabinet.

Welcoming the amendment Cllr Michael Pavey, (Barnhill ward in which the Lycee is situated) said that the Lycee were not good neighbours- overgrown grass on frontage and refusing use as a polling station - while Forest United were good neighbours and had been responsible for kicking off the CAT process.

He pointed out that WECT was based at the French Embassy, not in Wembley.

Residents had asked for the original  proposal to be deferred or rejected. In a letter to the Council written in May, Forest United had asked  that their original bid remained on the table as a viable proposal.  They asked that a project with WECT be 'an entirely joint venture from the start with both parties having an equal say in the process and subsequent build.'  They said that 'security of access to facilities is vital to the long-term growth and sustainability of Forest united.

The amendment did not meet these demands entirely and it is clear that much will depend on the negotiations carried out by Council officers with both parties.

Magic, music and marvellous food at Willesden Green fundraising garden party

From Brent Stop the War and Brent and Harrow Palestine Solidarity Campaign


From 4pm to 9.30pm

Supporters are invited to our fundraising party in a beautiful Willesden Garden. Ticket price includes all entertainment and a deliciously varied buffet with plenty of vegetarian options as well as meat, fish, salads and desserts.

Performers include:

MC and Socialist Magician Ian Saville

From the Lyrical to the Satirical with singer-songwriter Leon Rosselson

Soula Ensemble performing Arabic music of many kinds:

Muwashah from the Arabic-Andalusian tradition, modern songs (Fairouz, Marcel Khalife) and Palestinian songs

Drinks, raffle and stall with Palestinian goods extra



Brent Stop the War email or ring Sarah on 07951 084 101

Brent and Harrow Palestine Solidarity Campaign email or ring Martin on 0208 908 3913



A beautiful garden in Willesden Green - Address will be disclosed on payment, London, NW2
Contact Martin on if you would like to help organise the event, provide some home cooked food or help on the day.

More from Brent and Harrow PSC

Residents to challenge Brent Council on playing field handover to Lycee at Cabinet tonight

Residents from the John Billam, Tenterden Parks and Neighbourhood Group will make representations to the Brent Cabinet tonight on plans to hand the Tenterden Pavilion and playing fields over to the Lycee des Londres Winston Churchill.

They will ask the Cabinet  to:

1. Defer or refuse the officers' recommendation that an agreement be entered into with Wembley Education Charitable Trust, the charity arm of the Lycee.
2. Reserve any decision in respect of the Community Asset Transfer to be made by the Cabinet and not delegated to any other body or person.
3. Confirm the erection of any new building on the site be confined to the footprint of the present building.
4. Agree stipulations for any proposal for an artificial pitch on the site.

This controversy follows others in the borough including the loss of public access to playing fields at the  site now occupied by Ark Academy in Wembley Park; loss of public access to former public space  behind Copland (now Ark Elvin) High School; the proposed move of the London Welsh school to King Edward VII Park, plans to hand over land at Kingsbury High School to Lucozade Power League, and further away in Harrow the public school's plans for new buildings defiling Metropolitan Open Land.

The Tenterden Group claim that the WECT has been unable to conclude negotiations for access to the long-established local Forest United and further that officers are 'well disposed' towards the Lycee. They claim that the Community asset transfer process has not been fair, open and transparent:
The French Lycee are not only a default bidder in what was intended to be a competitive open tender process but the sole funded proposer. In 2014 a comprehensive professionally prepared plan was agreed in principle between Forest united and the then Head of Parks, Ms G Kiefer. The plan provided  an integral; solution to the John Billam and Tenterden Playing fields and enjoyed community support. The critical elements in the plan were the incorporation of the John Billam and Tenterden pitches and a specific restriction on any new building exceeding the Tenterden Pavilion footprint. There was further provision that any pitch on Tenterden Playing Fields should not be enclosed but retained for public access when not in authorised sports use.
The Group claim that the CAT process has been compromised so far as no other accredited sports club can now re-enter the process and that as sole builder the Lycee has been given latitude beyond the prescribed closure date. There is no properly structured agreement on community benefit or participation - the sole benefit cited is polling station provision. (the Lycee has failed to provide this in 2 our of 3 occasions since it took over the former Brent Town Hall). Similarly there are no detailed plans for redevelopment of the Pavilion which raises concerns about the possibility of substantial development on the site.

The campaigners suggest that the officers' claim that the Lycee fufills various equality and diversity requirements is misleading in that less than 20% of its students  reside in Brent and only 20% of these are from ethnic minorities. The average fee is £10,500 and the Lycee is funded by the French Chamber of Commerce and has been described as 'popular with super-rich French business people fleeing to London to escape tax hikes.'

In that context the granting of a 30 year lease at a peppercorn rent  to the Lycee, with potential further development via peripheral clauses, of a site with a land value exceeding £2m raises fundamental questions.

The Cabinet Meeting is at 7pm this evening at Brent Civic Centre.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Lucas: Progressive should unite against prospect of a Tory-UKIP-DUP Brexit government

From Caroline Lucas' blog LINK

Caroline Lucas has reacted to the current crisis in both the Labour and Conservative parties with the following comment:
"Britain is in crisis and people are scared about the future. Never have we had a greater need for calm leadership to be shown by politicians - yet instead both the Tories and Labour are engaging in civil wars. At such a key moment for this country the political establishment is utterly failing the British people.  

"We have a Government in chaos, an economy facing a crisis and people up and down the country facing serious hardship - yet the Labour Party is in utter turmoil, thanks mostly to some Shadow Cabinet Ministers trying to take their party back to 1997 but also partly because Jeremy Corbyn did fail to show the passion needed in the EU referendum.

"Instead of indulging in months of introspection and infighting, this is an opportunity to recognise that a more plural politics is in both the left’s electoral and political interests.  And with the growing likelihood of an early General Election, the importance of progressive parties working together to prevent the formation of a Tory-UKIP-DUP government that would seek to enact an ultra-right Brexit scenario is ever more pressing.

"This crisis also exposes the absurdity of our first past the post electoral system. The Labour Party is no longer one natural entity and, without doubt, it would have split by now if we had a fair voting system. The only fair way to proceed is to have a proportional voting system where people can back the politicians who they believe in, rather than taking a gamble and not knowing which Labour Party they’ll end up with.

"While the other parties fight among themselves, the Green Party, and our many new members who have joined in the last few days, will take a stand against any austerity or slashing of environmental legislation that may come with Brexit. In the coming weeks we will also be holding the Establishment to account as the Chilcot inquiry is published and mounting a campaign against Trident renewal as the vote approaches.”

See also lucas' Guardian article LINK :
I know that many people who voted remain will be angry with those who opted to leave, but such feelings are misplaced. To dismiss them as bigots or racists would be a serious mistake. Instead what we should recognise from these results is a profound rage at a political and economic elite who have held power and wealth close to their chests for far too long

Red Pepper declares coup attempt against Corbyn an emergency & calls for #KeepCorbyn support

As a Red Pepper subscriber I have just received this message. Red Pepper is not an official Labour Party publication and is read by many Greens and non-aligned socialists so this is an unusual intervention.

To Red Pepper readers and supporters

Jeremy Corbyn – the Labour leader who has given us all so much hope – faces a coup threat from Labour MPs, defying the will of the Labour Party membership.

This is now an emergency. Please, do these two things to support Jeremy:

1. Sign the Momentum petition at

If you have a Labour MP, it will also let you write to them in support of Jeremy – this is vital to add to the pressure against the coup.

2. If you can make it to London, come to #KeepCorbyn protest tomorrow (Mon) from 6pm in Parliament Square.

The place and time is because this is when Labour MPs plan to put the coup motion to the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting. Share the Facebook event and invite your friends.

Jeremy has fought for all of us – now we must fight to make sure Labour Party democracy is respected and he is not ousted as leader.

Red Pepper

Referendum - Brent MPs react

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Green Party and Brent Council reactions to EU Referendum result

My view last night
I have just returned from a 'screen-free' holiday in Transylvania - no TV,  ipad or mobile phone so I am still catching up with the Referendum result and its repercussions. Some of my party could not resist finding out the news and the mood on Friday morning at breakfast was one of shock, consternation and fearfulness about a Gove-Boris Johnson administration.  This was despite the group coming from all areas of the country, rural and city, although predominantly middle class with varying degrees of enthusiasm for Remain.  It was an 'eco' walking holiday so that was also a self-selecting factor.

Also interesting was the consternation of some of the Romanian people we met on Friday, as well as a zech national who joined us on holiday,  who were genuinely concerned about the impact of Brexit on the former communist countries of Eastern Europe and in particular on their relationship with Putin.

These are the immediate reactions of the Green Party and Brent Council:

REACTING to the news that the UK has voted to leave the EU, Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:

“People in Britain are angry – and they’ve expressed that anger today by voting to leave the EU. The most important task at hand now is unifying our divided communities.

“Our party will now mobilise alongside the Trade Unions, environmental groups and others to defend our hard-won rights at work and environmental protections.

“If this referendum has shown one thing to be clear it is that the old political party system is not representing people’s views. Politics in the UK is synthetically bound to the Tories and Labour – that’s clearly failing. We’re calling on all sides to come together to fix our democracy here in Britain – starting with electoral reform for the House of Commons. The democratic deficit will not be fixed by leaving the EU – we need to look closer to home too.

“What worries us now is the fate of the many Europeans living here. The Leave campaign said they will be able to stay – and we expect them to honour that. But what about people who have made plans to come here to join family, or British people who have saved up for a lifetime to move to Spain? The prospect of shutting down the right to free movement is frightening, as are the consequences of a campaign that has at times pitted neighbours against one another, whipped up fear and allowed lies and myths to take the place of truth. Britain deserves better and I am pledging anew to fight against division on behalf of my constituents.”
 Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
"We cannot hide our disappointment at this result having campaigned strongly for a vote to Remain. But, we have to listen to the expressed view of the British people.
"We must now turn our attention to the task at hand: unifying our divided communities after an extraordinarily bitter period in British politics.
"The level of alienation against our mainstream politics is evident in this vote. The public have today rejected the views of the parties represented by 98% of our MPs in Westminster.
"There is a very clear division in the results, with very different votes in different parts of Britain. We need to listen to the generally more economically disadvantaged communities who have voted to leave, and take real action to improve their conditions as soon as possible.

"And with our sister party in Scotland launching a petition (1) for a reconsideration of Scotland's relationship with the EU, we need to acknowledge that the vote there was very different to that in England and Wales."

Brent Council Statement 
The Leader of Brent Council has moved to reassure European Union Citizens, local businesses and investors in West London following the referendum result which was announced earlier today (June 24).

Across the UK nearly 52 per cent of people voted to leave the European Union (EU) while in London and Brent the majority wanted to remain. 72,523 Brent residents voted for the UK to remain in the EU, while 48,881 voted to leave.

The vote to leave has caused turbulence in stock markets across the world and raised fears of what a 'Brexit' could mean - in particular for workers and families from Europe.

Brent Council has vowed to work closely with local businesses, public sector partners and local communities following the nationwide result.

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said the consequences of the result will be discussed at a meeting of the West London Alliance (WLA) on Monday. He said: 
"Brent is the most diverse place in the UK and a place where people from all over the world come together to work, live and play. This is one of the things I am most proud of about Brent and one of our key strengths.

"My message to our neighbours and co-workers who are EU citizens and also to investors and employers in West London is not to panic. Nothing will change instantly overnight.

"European nationals will continue to enjoy the same rights as they have now and any changes will be publicised well in advance."

Cllr Roxanne Mashari, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Growth, Employment and Skills, said: 
"The council has received many calls from EU citizens concerned about the possible impact of the referendum result and about their right to stay in the UK.

"The council's message is clear: Brent is open for business and investment. We value the hard work of EU citizens and the positive contribution they make to Brent. In the short-term the UK remains a member of the EU with existing laws and treaty obligations in place. Rules on tariffs, movement of goods and individuals will not change until any renegotiation is complete. We will work hard with other local councils, local business leaders and the West London Alliance to provide the information and support needed at this time."

Andrew Dakers, Chief Executive of West London Business, said:
 "West London remains one of the best places in the world to do business. West London is exceptionally well connected by air, road and rail. We have a highly skilled workforce that is the most productive in London. We are also home to some of the UK's leading entrepreneurs and Higher Education institutions.

"In the weeks ahead we will work with the local business community and our West London Alliance partner local authorities to ensure that the specific business implications arising from Brexit, and any support needed, is fully understood to ensure long term economic growth is sustained."
The Kilburn Times LINK reports Cllr John Warren (Conservative, Brondesbury Park) as saying:
"It’s a very bad day. I can’t believe it’s a good day for Brent in terms of the national decision but that’s not Brent’s fault.

“All the experts say that the economy will suffer. Clearly Brent has a lot of members of the community at the lower end and they are bound to suffer eventually.

“If the economy suffers, money coming to the government suffers and it has a knock on effect.
“Brent did very well out of the EU, it’s a bad day for the residents of Brent.”


60 per cent of Brent residents have voted for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union in yesterday’s referendum.

72,523 residents voted for the United Kingdom to remain in the EU, whereas 48,881 voted to leave, with 267 spoilt ballots.

The turnout was 65 per cent.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Beauty and squalor side by side in Kingsbury

There is a public right of way from St Andrews Road in Kingsbury to the historical and Grade 1 listed Old St Andrews Church which is surrounded by a fascinating graveyard. Attempts to get Brent Council to keep the footpath free of litter and fly-tipping have not been successful. It is a shame that the English country churchyard heritage of Old St Andrews cannot be better cared for.

Is this the end of Brent Housing Partnership?

There was a bit of a jamboree at Brent Civic Centre as Brent Housing Partnership showed their film Stories of Brent LINK but beneath the public relations glow things are not well with BHP, Brent Council's arms length management organisation (ALMO) for housing.

BHP was put under 'special measures' in March due to under-performance. LINK

Now the Brent Cabinet is to consider the future of the organisation LINK in the additional context of the government's housing reforms  which include high value council housing disposal,where the council is forced to sell high value stock;  'pay to stay' in which council tenants with an income of more than £40,000 income will have to pay higher rents from April 2017 - moving towards market rents, 'right to buy' and a 1% reduction in social rents.

In addition the volume of housing stock has been reduced by the South Kilburn regeneration and redevelopment and existing right to buy.

A further pressure, the potential cost of which is not revealed, is a claim for 'significant additional costs' from Wates, the BHP's asset management service which has been carrying out extensive refurbishment on the BHP's estates. 

The question arises as to whether the BHP is fit for purpose in this new situation. Officers recoemmend that the period for BHP's Recovery Plan be extended until September 30th 2016 while a review of options takes places.

These are the options:

Continuation with BHP .  
   3.29 Formally this is the most straightforward option but practically will require further and significant reform to assure continued progress, to generate significant cost reductions and to achieve wider outcomes. New operating arrangements and service structures will be needed to achieve this. Preliminary examination of a new Target Operating Model has recently been completed that may provide an initial basis for the development of these. In addition a reformed council client-side function will be required to provide strategic direction and greater assurance, and opportunities to generate additional efficiencies and savings through improved integration between the council and BHP will also be needed. The scope of services to be provided will also need to be considered including what contribution BHP could, in time, make in other areas to the council’s objectives.
 Bringing the Service Back In-house
 3.30 The majority of stock-holding councils provide housing management services directly. Simply bringing the service into the council will not in itself assure improved performance and while there may be some direct savings the challenge to generate significant further savings and service could be more fully integrated across a range of council services and functions and this could also support the achievement of wider outcomes but specific expertise and coherence in the service would need to be maintained
3.31 A number of councils with ALMOs have in recent years brought the service in- house. This would require termination of the existing Management Agreement. From the experience of other authorities a minimum period of 6 months would be needed and in a number of cases the process has taken a year. Consultation with tenants and leaseholders would be required in advance.
Service Provision through a Partnership
3.32 A housing management partnership would be formed with another housing management provider with an existing high-quality housing management service in order to raise performance and generate significant economies and efficiencies. This could be a significant local housing association provider. The scope of the partnerships activities (e.g. whether it included affordable housing development) may also be a significant consideration in choosing a suitable partner and in the extent of interest from prospective partners.
3.33 There are two main routes by which this partnership could be established. The council could directly select a suitable partner in place of BHP and enter into the necessary legal arrangements with them to establish a jointly owned housing management company. Alternatively BHP could itself be converted into a partnership housing management organisation, jointly owned and governed by the council and the selected partner. Again consultation with tenants and leaseholders would be required in advance.
4.0 Financial Implications
4.1 The HRA expenditure Budget is £56.9m. This budget is used for the management and maintenance of the HRA stock and for the repayment of the HRA debt. BHP Management Fee for the current year is £7.5m. This fee is for managing and maintaining the HRA properties on behalf of the Council.
4.2 The Housing and Planning Act will have a significant impact on Brent’s council housing and its financial position in coming years. The implications for which are currently being scoped with more comprehensive analysis to follow once the details are published.
4.3 The three options outlined in this report for the management of the council’s stock will each have differing implications in terms of the impact on the HRA and will need to be developed through the formal review process. However, it should be noted that all of the options will result in an initial cost of change, which will need to be factored into the each appraisals.

Private French School to take over Tenterden Pavilion and playing fields

Warning by John Billam Tenterden Parks and Neighbourhood Group earlier this month
Residents have promised 'strong opposition' to a bid by the Lycee International de Londres (the Wembley French School)  through its charity arm,  Wembley Education Charitable Trust (WECT), to take over the Tenterden Pavilion and playing fields. Cabinet will be asked to approve the transfer  on June 27th but  details remain in doubt - in particular an agreement with the long-established and rival bidder Forest United Youth Football Club.  Forest would have first option on the facility when it was not being used by the Lycee. John Billam is no ;onger included as the council wants to retain it as an aset.

The Proposal

.        2.1  That Members approve the proposal for a Community Asset Transfer of the Tenterden Pavilion which involves entering into an agreement to lease that includes provision for granting a lease of the pavilion for up to 30 years and granting a licence on the Sports Ground with the Wembley Education Charitable Trust Ltd (WECT), subject to continued access to community use, planning and funding.
.        2.2  That Members note proposals for the WECT, in order to meet the community use caveat above, to enter into an agreement with Forest United (1973) Youth FC a local charitable football club at the Tenterden Pavilion and Sports Ground during periods when it is not in use by the WECT and opportunity for community access by other groups, in what will be a significant new local sporting facility.
.        2.3  That Members delegate authority to the Director of Resources to finalise and agree terms of a leasehold and associated licence disposal to WECT in consultation with the Operational Director of Environment Services.
3.17       There are risks with the WECT application:
.        Most prominent is the lack of a full business plan which they have indicated would be worked up, subject to obtaining Cabinet approval. 

.        That WECT is unsuccessful with securing planning consent to build a new indoor sports facility with changing rooms together with an All Weather pitch at the ground, as there may be local opposition. 

.        The WECTi s unsuccessful with its funding proposal to develop the centre to its full potential although the risk is considered small. 

.        That WECT could exercise the lease break option in year 3,were the pupil number not to rise to 1200 at the Lycee International de Londres School. 

.        That WECT and Forest United are unable to agree terms that would allow a collaborative use of the grounds. 

Alternative/Exit Options

3.18    Officers are working with WECT to develop their proposals, however should the collaborative approach be unsuccessful with Forest United then the options for Brent are:
1.     To work with WECT on their own on the new sports facilities development proposal. 

2.     To work with Forest United to develop a much smaller Pavilion fitting on the existing pavilion foot print as detailed in Appendix 1; or 

3.     To consider developing the Pavilion itself in accordance with Brent’s Investment Strategy, provided the investment proposals stacks up, if this options were to be progressed it would be subject to a detailed business case to Cabinet at the appropriate time.

Interim Arrangements 

3.19    The poor condition and disused state of the pavilion on site has created a magnet for anti-social behaviour that has caused residents and the local residents association a lot of concern. As redevelopment plans will take some time to work through. WECT has agreed in principle to assist the Council with demolition of the pavilion. Forest United have said they will consider how a temporary structure can be built in its place, connecting into the existing services that benefit the land. The Council will need to grant a licence to enable this.