Friday 30 March 2018

The air we breathe - Local Action April 18th Harlesden Methodist Church

Clean Air for Brent invites you to a public meeting


Speakers include Professor Martin Williams (Air Quality Scientist at Kings College) and Jennifer Barrett (Air Quality lead at Brent Council)

Wednesday April 18th 7-9pm
Harlesden Methodist Church 25 High Street London NW10 4NE 
entrance from side passage in High St next to Church

Please use public transport. 8 min walk from Willesden Junction station, 12 min walk from Harlesden, buses 18, 187, 206, 220, 226 and 266

Thursday 29 March 2018

Brent Council apologises for day late payment of housing benefit

A Brent Council spokesperson said:
Brent Council is today apologising to Housing Benefit claimants, and to their landlords, who should have received their regular payment into their bank accounts on Monday 2nd April, the Bank Holiday. Instead, they will now receive the money due a day later, on Tuesday 3rd April, due to problems with an earlier payment run. We can confirm to any landlords who may therefore receive their rent payments a day late as a result that this was our error, and not that of their tenants, so this should not cause any tenants any major problems. We are working hard to identify what went wrong with this payment run, so as to ensure that there is no repeat in future.

BREAKING NEWS: DfE 'turn down' The Village School MAT proposal

Over 110 staff were on strike for 11 strike days
From Brent National Education Union
We are informed that the Department for Education (DfE) has turned down the proposal for The Village school, a special school in Kingsbury, Brent, to form a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) with Woodfield Academy. They say the MAT is not big enough.

A source from within the DfE informed Hank Roberts, NEU Joint Executive member and local NEU NUT section president of the shocking news.

Hank Roberts said:
This shows monumental incompetence on the part of the Governors, in particular the Executive Head Kay Charles and the Chair of Governors, Sandra Kabir who drove this project forward despite overwhelming opposition of staff, parents and the community.

The whole deeply flawed MAT idea should now be dropped. Brent Council should also use this opportunity to publicly reiterate its call for The Village school to remain a Local Authority school.

Kay Charles had written to Roberts on 7th March stating:
Your speculation around the size of a potential Multi Academy Trust is in error. There is only discussion about Woodfield School and The Village setting up a MAT together, no other schools are being considered.

Hank Roberts continued:
 So it is clear that it was only these two schools they were consulting on. It would be shameful, if any attempts are made to go secretly scrabbling around in an attempt to find other schools to join them enabling them to make a different proposal, without a full consultation on what would be a new proposal.
Further, the NEU are studying documents that may well prove that there have been financial irregularities at one of the schools.  
Cllr Jumbo Chan, a Brent Labour councillor said:
The unnecessary decision by the majority of The Village School governing body to become an academy as part of a multi-academy trust was an unpopular one which defied a broad coalition of teachers and support staff, parents and campaigners, so it is very welcomed news that this proposal [may now be/has been] rejected.
I was incredibly proud to have supported The Village School’s outstanding, inspirational and passionate teachers and support staff from the onset of their winter campaign. As we now move forward, it is of utmost importance that any popular view is more robustly reflected and enforced.
NOTE I have raised the possibility that all special (non-mainstream) provision in Brent could end up academised if The Village proposal went ahead LINK. Woodfield, Manor and The Village co-operated in setting up The Avenue special free school which will eventually expand to 100 pupils. The Avenue and Manor form the Brent Specialist Academy Trust.  Woodfield is already an academy. 

The statements above by Kay Charles and Hank Roberts are important in that the DfE's opposition on grounds of size could be overcome if all four schools combined in the Brent Specialist Academy Trust.

Easter Art Workshops for Children and Teens at Northfields Community Centre

Further details of the workshops are as follows:

Tuesday 3rd April, Drop-in sessions between 11am - 4pm - FAMILIES & YOUNG CHILDREN ACTIVITIES (targeted at children between the ages of 5 and 13 and their families):

- Art and interactive activities will be running all day on drop-in basis for families around the theme of the community competition

- Parents will be informed about the Festival, Community Competition and the Northfields development project

Wednesday 4th April, 3-6pm - WIDER YOUTH COMMUNITIES ENGAGEMENT (targeted at young people between the ages of 14 and 19): 

- Local young people will be informed about the Festival, Competition and the Northfields project

- Workshop activities around competition theme to get young people engaged and ready to submit their entries

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Roundwood cafe reopens in time for the Easter Weekend

The weather forecast isn't great but one bright spot for the weekend is the welcome news that the Roundwood Lodge Cafe will be open for business.  The cafe in Roundwood Park will be open 7 days a week from 8am until dusk.

Say “NO!” to hatred Join the National Happier Together Day: Tuesday 3rd April 2018

A welcome response to the Islamophobic April 3rd campaign covered earlier on Wembley Matters LINK

Say “NO!” to hatred

Join the National Happier Together Day: Tuesday 3rd April 2018 LINK

We value Britain’s rich cultural diversity. We want to live in a country that welcomes people from other places and embraces ethnic, cultural and religious difference. We reject discrimination and hatred in all its forms. We have a vision of strong, united communities based on what we have in common.

But there are a few people who don’t share our vision. They try to sow division, fear and hatred. They scapegoat migrants and refugees. They target and threaten Muslims and their places of worship.

We won’t allow their message of racism, intolerance and bigotry to weaken us. That’s why, on 3rd April, we’re holding national Happier Together Day.

What you can do:

• Join our twitter storm hastag #happiertogether at 12pm on the 3 April- encourage all your friends and followers to do the same!

• Join us outside London Muslim Centre, on Whitechapel Road E1 at 6.15pm on the 3 April, to take part in our human smile chain across Whitechapel towards the city

•like our Facebook page and share with your followers encouraging them to like and share too

• Ask your local MPs, councillors, council staff, police, fire service , NHS staff, community groups and members of the public to join your smile chain

For more information, contact:

Nozmul Hussain
East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre

Who is organising this?:
East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre
United East End
Stand Up to Racism

Brent Council urged to re-instate childminder sessions and bring Children's Centres back in-house

Brent Council out-sourced 14 Brent children's centres to the charity Barnardo's. Now childminders are petitioning the council to demand that Barnardo's re-instate childminder sessions at Harmony Children's Centre and go further in demanding that to avoid the risk of cuts in more vital services Children's Centres are brought back in house.

This is their petition that can be found on the Brent Council website HERE. I urge you to sign.

We the undersigned petition the council to Demand that childminder sessions are protected and not cancelled or moved by Barnardos. Demand that the childminder session at Harmony Children’s Centre is re-instated immediately. Bring back children’s centres in house.

Barnardos charity were awarded the contract to run 14 Children’s Centres in Brent. In January they cancelled the childminder session at Harmony Children’s Centre which was accessed by local childminders and the children in their care. They moved the session to St Raphaels Children Centre which is across the North Circular Road from Harmony, too busy a road for a childminder to cross with very small children.

In their response to our concerns it seems as though Barnardos wish to cancel all child minder sessions from their Prime Time slots which would be useless to childminders as the morning is the only times they can go out of the house with their children due to naps and school pick ups.

The childminder sessions are well attended, run by the childminders themselves, provide excellent learning opportunities for the children, provide socialisation for the children and give the childminders the chance to meet and share best practice.

As a result, Barnardos are not fulfilling their own vision of “believe in children” as they cut these vital services for local children. Therefore, we demand that Children’s Centres are brought back in house, otherwise there is a risk more vital services will be cut by Barnardos.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Build support for a London Car Free Day

Over 50 organisations across the capital sent an open letter to the Mayor of London this week requesting he direct TfL to implement an ambitious plan for Car Free Day 2018. The letter asks Sadiq Khan to publicly commit to an ambitious Car Free Day plan for London next September. The groups believe that Car Free Day could be an important catalyst for London to address the public health scourge of air pollution, and to test out car-free zones in the city that can then be made permanently car-free as envisioned in the Mayor’s transport plan. 
The opportunity to both reduce air pollution and bolster local businesses by going car-free has already motivated Oslo to commit to permanently removing private cars from the city center by 2019. In Madrid, private cars will be removed from over 500 acres of the city by 2020 in a bid to boost local commerce and improve air quality. 
Endorsers of the London Car Free Day vision include a host of charities, think-tanks, research groups, businesses, and neighbourhood forums across 15 London Boroughs. According to the letter “World Car Free Day 2018 is a tremendous opportunity to catalyse long-term reductions in air pollution [and] improve London’s transport system.” 
Car Free Day is an annual global event held in cities each 22nd September which encourages citizens to walk, cycle or use public transport for one day. While individual boroughs like Hackney, Lambeth, Islington, and Greenwich have all hosted modest Car Free Day celebrations in the past, it has never been a city-wide celebration of walking and cycling like it is in Vancouver, Paris, or Brussels. The letter points out that there is even a weekly Car Free Day in Jakarta, Indonesia, a city of over 10 million. 
The Mayor’s new Transport Strategy means that the world is now looking for London’s to lead the global transition to city centres free from private cars. The letter writers consider Car Free Day 2018 as the perfect opportunity to test new models for car-free urban mobility across London. The Day would provide an opportunity to test the air quality improvements of taking private cars out of the city centre. Small businesses across London would benefit from a day with streets full of customers on foot. 
Community supporters flagged the many benefits of hosting a Car Free Day. According to Marco Picardi at Green Westway, a community group working to improve the air quality and mobility options around the A40 flyover: 
“Car Free Day is an opportunity to test the transformative potential of car-free streets. New approaches are needed to address congestion, pollution, safety, and the public health. Car Free Day is a catalyst to make safe walking and cycling part of a daily routine for Londoners.”

Caroline Russell AM, Green Party Member of the London Assembly emphasised:
“No one should be left out of having streets that are safe and pleasant to use – a car-free day would give Londoners the space to breathe.”
“Paris has a monthly car-free day so it is possible for big cities to do this. I want Londoners to have a taste of fresher air and to see that streets can be for people, not just vehicles.”
“It would be great to see London open for walking and cycling to give people the freedom to choose how they want to travel without being intimidated by hostile streets.”
According to Rosalind Readhead, Chair of the London Campaign for Better Transport: 
There is a huge opportunity to go car-free in central London and convert road spaces to higher-value activities. We already have 6.8 million parking spaces taking up almost 80km sq. across a city where space is at a huge premium. Could we remove parking spaces and build affordable housing or expand public green space? London Car Free Day is an opportunity to ask these questions and to showcase an ambitious vision for more car-free city centres around the world.”
Other supporters think Car Free Day could make London a more liveable city for all residents: “I grew up in Brussels where there has been an annual Car Free Day for many years. The day is a pleasant opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, re-discover the city from a different perspective and get some exercise. There is something liberating and empowering about pedestrians and cyclists reclaiming the streets.” says Helena O’Rourke-Potocki, one the co-founders of Our Air Our Health, a clean air campaign in Tower Hamlets. 
A version of the letter (See below) sent to the Mayor’s office this morning is also on the online petition platform so that individual citizens from across London can express their support. 
The online petition is accessible here: .

More information

Twitter: @carfreedayLDN #LondonCarFreeDay2018 Facebook:



Monday 26 March 2018

How disruptive will Pedway/Steps work be at Wembley Stadium?

A reader has asked about the demolition and construction phase of the replacement of the Wembley Stadium pedway with steps. They were concerned about safety and impact on local roads. Please see an extract below from the Site Management Plan published on the Brent Council Planning Portal HERE 

The works are planned to take approximately 87 days and some phases will require work from 7am until 11pm. The work will not take place on Event Days.


Upon taking possession of the site, it will be secured around the areas of immediate construction work. The initial work activity will focus on clearing the site below and around the Pedway of those utilities and other items that will obstruct the pedway demolition and subsequent staircase construction. As areas become clear works to the foundations of the steps and substructure will commence. 

The foundations to the steps will be constructed in and around the existing pedway str ucture in advance of its demolition. Therefore, there will be a need to utilise small / specialist plant, such as restricted access piling rigs that will be able to access the low headroom areas beneath the existing Pedway to construct the piles. 

In conjunction with the construction of the new staircase substructure , earthworks will be undertaken to create crane mats to the south and west of the proposed staircase. These will be required to accommodate the craneage that will service the construction of the staircase superstructure. It is anticipated that these crane s will be greater than 100T in capacity/size. 

Any superstructure elements of the new staircase that fall outside of the existing Pedway may also be built in this phase , however, this will require further consideration in due course as such elements will need to be protected during the demolition of the existing Pedway structure .

Phase 2 – Pedway Demolition and Construction of Steps


This phase will commence within an agreed window of time to minimise the impact to Wembley National Stadium. This will be through a window on non - events ( or , if this is not feasible, where there are minimal events ). Due to the constraints in agreeing such a suitable timeframe, extended working hours to ensure that the works are completed within the agreed timeframe will be required (as agreed with the Local Authority) . 

The Pedway will be demolished in two stages. It is anticipated that the Pedway will be demolished using traditional excavator mounted munchers and breakers. The majority of the Pedway will be removed using excavator mounted munchers will minimise the noise and dust that will be create by this operation. Water spray dust suppression will be utilised to prevent dust from the demolition operation. 

The first stage of demolition will focus on removing the Pedway structure from the area of the new staircase construction. Once this is removed , the demolition will focus on removing the remainder of the Pedway (as it runs across Engineers Way towards Olympic Way and Wembley Park station north of the Stadium). A road closure of Engineers Way will be required whilst the Pedway is removed across the carriageway area (details as to the number and timeframes required for the road closures are not yet available but will be agreed , at the appropriate time, with the Local Authority ) .

Construction of Steps

The construction of the staircase is anticipated to be a combination of pre - cast and cast in - situ concrete. It is anticipated that the podium section that will connect to the S tadium will be cast in - situ and the staircase will be formed from precast struc tural elements. The staircase is of a modular construction and will follow a step by step process that will be prescribed by the designer and supplier. Through this phase of heavy lifting it may be necessary to have lane closure on Engineers Way to facilitate easy delivery and unloading of the precast elements. Pedestrian management will be a key feature of this phase to maintain safety exclusion zones around the works. 

The podium area will be formed using a birdcage scaffold system that will be designed and installed by specialist contractors. This will be used to support the permanent formwork panels that will form the soffit of the deck. 

Temporary works will be required to support the precast elements before they are permanently stitched into the main structure. This support will be provided by either a birdcage scaffold system, steel trestles or similar . This detail will be established early in the project . 

Two cranes in excess of 100T capacity will service the construction of the staircase to allow for lifting and installation of the concrete units and temporary works systems. 

Once the structure is completed, it will be waterproofed using a proprietary waterproofing system to allow the paving to commence and the handrailing and lighting to be installed. 

The attendant craneage will be utilised to service the paving and street furniture installation. The paving will be finished in sections and will work up the staircase. The paving at the podium level will be progressed concurrently with the stair case paving. This will be essential to ensure the programme is met within the time constraints for delivery .

Queens Parade planning application deferred

Brent Planning Committee has deferred a decision on the application LINK to build part 6,7,8 storey development on the site of the current one storey parade of shops on Queens Parade, Willesden Green.

The submission was for 117 units of student accommodation and 5 retail units.

The Committee's decision was as follows:
Minded to refuse and deferred to next meeting for a report to deal with the following;

(i)         Principle of the development,

(ii)        Servicing arrangements,

(iii)       Traffic impact and overspill

(iv)       Impact on neighbouring properties in terms of outlook, daylight and sunlight
The decision makes no mention of the possibility of fraud in comments on the application that were published on the blog the day before the Planning Committee met. LINK

Saturday 24 March 2018

New Facebook group launched for Wembley area

A range of outlets for the many voices of Wembley residents is healthy for democracy and social cohesion so I warmly welcome a new Facebook group called Wembley Online.

The group describes itself thus:
Wembley Online is a media page for Wembley and Brent. The page shares the latest news/events/offers/adverts/competitions and many more posts from Wembley and the surrounding areas. The page also shares various articles from local newspapers and magazines and keeps the members up to date with all the news from Wembley. The public also engage with the articles by commenting/liking and sharing the posts and also expressing their views on the latest developments in Wembley and Brent.
Link to site:

Quintain lodges planning application for replacement of Wembley Stadium pedway with steps

Artists' impression of the steps
The pedway in use
Quintain's planning application for the replacement of the Wembley Stadium Pedway by steps is now on Brent Council's Planning Portal  LINK. The application will be heard by Brent Council Planning Committee. Brent Council has controversially given £18,000,000 Community Infrastructure Levy monies back to Quintain for this and other claimed improvements to the public realm between Wembley Park station and the stadium.

The steps are very similar to those at the station with the addition of a broader landing at the top of the steps.

The full application contains proposals for the possible  use of the 'undercroft' beneath the steps similar to that on the South Bank which was only saved for skateboarders after a spirited campaign.

The plan involves the planting of trees along Olympic Way and the construction of two roads parallel to the steps connecting the stadium to Engineers Way.

Summary of the Planning Application:
18/0973 | Full planning permission for the demolition of the existing 'Pedway' ramp structure to the front of Wembley Stadium and the construction of a set of steps (with associated lighting) to connect ground level to Wembley Stadium Landing Level (concourse); and use of the void created beneath the proposed steps as secure storage for estate maintenance equipment; the reconfiguration of an existing unadopted estate road (Perimeter Way) to create two new roads either side of the steps connecting to Engineers Way; the use of land beneath the steps bridge as temporary event space; a revised vehicular access to Plot W03 immediately west of the application site and public realm works comprising the installation of hard landscaping, street trees, lighting columns that can incorporate advertising banners, street furniture, underground water attenuation measures, services, tree pits and other associated works. AND Advertisement consent is sought for banners to four lighting columns on Olympic Way, as proposed under this application. | Zone C, Olympic Way & Perimeter Way, Wembley, HA9
Putting aside the issue of all the alternative uses that Brent could have made of the £18 million the issue of safety arises when the stadium empties down the steps. The station steps are steep but are not used in one massive exit from the station but staggered as trains arrive at intervals. People wlll exit the stadium at the same time and descend the steps. We already know how rammed it gets on the pedway and Olympic Way at exit times - one slip and there could be a serious accident.  The illustration on the application gives a clue to how crowded it will get:

Stables in Exile Spring Group Show

Free Entry
                         Normal opening times :  Monday- Thursday  10-2pm
                    Friday 2-5pm  Saturday 10-4pm Sunday 11-1pm & 6-8pm
                              Curated by Stuart Gould  sgould27@hotmail

Friday 23 March 2018

Hey kids, get down to St Raph's tomorrow for the Great Brent Easter Egg Hunt!

Quintain up for sale again as Lone Star acts on post-Brexit concerns

The Financial Times LINK is reporting that the US private investment firm Lone Star that acquired Quintain in 2015 LINK is looking to off-load the Wembley developer to reduce its exposure to the London property market ahead of Brexit.

Lone Star acquired Quintain for about £1bn, including debt, in 2015 and the sale may raise more than £3bn.

The change of ownership last time produced accelerated, denser and higher development as well as the switch to the country's largest private 'build to rent scheme.

Who knows what the next owner will do with Wembley and whether the Labour Brent Council will continue its close relationship with them.

A spokesperson for Quintain told Wembley Matters this afternoon:
Lone Star is exploring options to introduce a new strategic investor into the ownership of Quintain. It is likely that any new investor will acquire all or part of Lone Star’s shareholding and make available new long term capital for the next phases of the development of Wembley Park. This process is in its early stages. If a transaction does go ahead, and there is no certainty that one will, it is simply an “equity reshuffle” amongst the top shareholding base and will have no impact on the management team, strategy or day to day running of the company.

Thursday 22 March 2018

The confused Conservatives of Brent North

Well, look what popped through my door from Brent North Conservatives today! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery of course, but that's not really what caught my attention.

Tories sell themselves on the basis of their efficiency  so I was struck by the fact that the front page ad for what's inside the four page paper got both items wrong: 'Reducing litter and flytipping in our neighbourhood Pg2'  was actually on Page 3. 'Our streets peppered with potholes and broken pavements Pg 4' does not appear at all on any page.,

An item on Roe Green villages battling a commercial Powerleague pitch says it is on the 'Bacon Lane campus' but does not mention the school's name (it is Kingsbury High). However, the article is illustrated  rather unhelpfully with a picture of Roe Green infant and Junior School.

I live in Barnhill ward but there was no  mention of any issues in the ward.  I am not sure what the residents of Chalkhill Estate will make of it.

Caroline Pidgeon and Sadiq Khan's exchange on Cricklewood Aggregate Terminal

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member,  has also written to Sadiq Khan about the Cricklewood Aggregate Terminal:
It is my understanding that planning permission was granted by Barnet Council last week, however, there are a number of reasons why I believe it is vital that you now carefully examine this planning application.
The reasons why I believe this is necessary include:
1) The Barnet Council planning committee decision was made by a majority of only 1 vote: 6 councillors were in favour and 5 were against.
2) The London Borough of Barnet was both the planning authority and the joint applicant
3) The votes in favour appear to have been cast on party lines with all 6 of the ‘aye’ votes being by Conservative Councillors (and with no Conservative Councillors voting ‘no’).
4) The neighbouring boroughs of Brent and Camden both posted objections to the applications and councillors from those authorities spoke against the development at the meeting, along with London Assembly Member Navin Shah.
5) The development has the capacity to impact profoundly on the wellbeing and amenity of residents in three boroughs (Barnet, Brent and Camden) in terms of air quality, congestion on the already-over-used A5 and traffic safety. It is predicted by the applicants that there will be a further 452 HGV movements per day on the busy A5 (with consequent NO2 emissions and traffic impact) and PM10 emissions from the proposed stockpiled materials.
6) The impact on air quality report presented by the applicants was formulated by comparison with a baseline scenario gleaned from an inaccurate/non-representative traffic recording for previous use of the site (for example the traffic count included about 200 bus movements when the site was being temporarily used as a bus park whilst Cricklewood Bus Garage was unable to accommodate the buses in the usual way).
7) The broader previous use of the site was as a result of uncontrolled/illegal subletting and so, even if the counts had been accurate, they represented a scenario unfit for comparison with a proposed permitted development. Proper bases for comparison would be the current situation or, arguably but sub-optimally, the existing section 73 permission.
8) The applicants had previously released (informally and to only one residents’ association during the consultation process) an air quality addendum, which contradicted the results of the addendum that they later relied upon, but they did not publish the previous report on the planning portal. That previous report suggests that there may be ‘substantially adverse’ impact on air quality from the development.
9) There is good evidence that the traffic data is flawed in relation to both junction safety and the overall capacity of the A5.

For all the above reasons I would urge you to call in, review and then reject this planning application.
Yours sincerely,

Caroline Pidgeon AM
 Sadiq Khan replied:

Reminder: Comedy at Ark Elvin Saturday April 7th