Monday 30 April 2018

Lesley Jones, former Mayor of Brent has died. Willesden Green election will take place at later date.

Cllr Lesley Jones after adopting a cat from the Mayhew
Cllr Tom Miller, has announced the death of his Willesden Green ward colleague Lesley Jones. Cllr Jones is a former Mayor of Brent.

On Twitter Cllr Miller said:
So very sad to hear of the passing of my comrade, ward colleague and partner in crime, Lesley Jones MBE. A beatnik in her youth, she was a warm person who took duty seriously - as a ward Cllr, a cabinet member, and as Mayor. Someone to look up to. Thinking of her family.
Lesley Jones was a candidate in Thursday's election. The Willesden Green ward election will now take place within 35 working days of the scheduled May 3rd election. There will be no need for nominations to be resubmitted. The decision was made by Brent Electoral officers in line with Electoral Commission guidelines:
If proof of the death of a validly nominated candidate at a contested election is received before the opening of the poll, the notice of poll is countermanded and the poll does not take place. The PARO must hold a new election.
Brent Labour Party has suspended all campaigning for the rest of the day as a mark of respect to Lesley Jones.

Brent Council switchboard up the creek - direct numbers here

exclamation markFrom Brent Council

We are currently experiencing technical issues with our switchboard and telephone payment system and hope to have this resolved as a matter of urgency.

If you need to get in touch with any of the services listed below, please dial their numbers directly as you’ll likely get through quicker.

For any other services, we will do our best to answer your call however, you may have to wait a while or your call might be disconnected.

Service telephone contacts

  • Parking Permits / Charges - 0208 290 8300
  • Council Tax - 020 8937 1790
  • Housing Needs - 020 8937 2000
  • Housing Repairs / Rents - 020 8937 2400
  • Housing Benefit - 020 8937 1800
  • Planning - 020 8937 5210
  • Arts and Libraries - 020 8937 3119

Payment hotline down

Also, our automated payment hotline is currently down. We are working to resolve this as quick as we can. If you wish to make a payment, please use our online payment form.

Sunday 29 April 2018

Olympic Way – Brent Council and Quintain asked to end cover-up

Guest post by Philip Grant in a personal capacity. Wembley Matters wrote about the murals in January 2018 when Brent Council signed a 4 year contract with Wembley City Estate Management  to continue to erect advertising over the murals LINK. As Green Party candidate for Tokyngton ward I have no hesitation in supporting the restoration of the tiles for public view and hope candidates from other parties will also support. When taking primary pupils on a Discover the River Brent walk, starting at Wembley Park and following the Wealdstone Brook to its confluence with the Brent, I used to begin with a tour of the murals - part of our local history.
I am not writing about THAT sort of cover-up (this time), but a request made by Wembley History Society that Brent and Quintain should stop covering over the tile murals, which decorate the walls of the Bobby Moore Bridge subway at Wembley Park, with advertisements.

The subway was part of Brent’s improvements, to pedestrianize Olympic Way ahead of the Euro 1996 football tournament. Its £6m cost was split between the Council, the Department of Transport, Wembley Stadium Ltd and the Football Trust. Brent’s Environmental Services Committee named it “The Bobby Moore Bridge”, after England’s 1966 World Cup-winning football captain, who had recently died of cancer. It was opened by his widow, Stephanie Moore, in September 1993, and the plaque she unveiled is set into the mural commemorating the 1966 final.

The tile murals which decorate the walls of the subway, and the fact that they have been covered up with advertisements (mainly for Quintain’s commercial activities, such as the London Designer Outlet or Tipi rental apartments – see below) for the past few years, were part of my “The Olympic Way Story” local history talk in March. After that meeting, several members asked whether there was anything Wembley History Society could do to restore these murals to public view. As the Society’s A.G.M. was to be held in April, it was decided to put a motion on the subject for discussion at that meeting.

At its A.G.M. on 20 April, Wembley History Society unanimously passed the following motion:
‘Wembley History Society calls upon Brent Council and Quintain to return the tile murals, on the walls of the Bobby Moore Bridge subway, to permanent public view, as part of the current public realm enhancements for Olympic Way. 

The Society’s members feel strongly that these murals, depicting scenes from famous sports and entertainment events at Wembley Stadium and Arena, are an important part of the heritage of Wembley Park, and add to its sense of place. 

The tile murals should be uncovered, and displayed again for both residents and visitors to see and enjoy, not hidden behind advertisements as they have been in recent years.’
After the meeting, letters in support of this motion were sent by the Society to Carolyn Downs at Brent Council (see copy attached) and to James Saunders, Quintain’s Chief Operating Officer. The letter to Brent made the point that ‘these murals are part of “Brent’s own rich history”, and should play their part in welcoming visitors to Wembley Park as part of the London Borough of Culture 2020 celebrations, while the letter to Quintain also said:
‘Quintain has promoted its developments as “drawing on the rich heritage” of Wembley Park, and our Society has been pleased to work with your company on local history matters, such as putting one of the lion heads from the Palace of Industry building on permanent public display in 2014, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the British Empire Exhibition. Reinstating the murals to public view, as part of the public realm enhancements currently underway, would be an excellent way to showcase the sporting and entertainment heritage of this area.’
Here are a few more visual examples, showing how some of the scenes displayed by the tile murals celebrate events which have taken place at Wembley’s “Venue of Legends”:

Wembley History Society is a non-political charity, set up in 1952 at the invitation of the Mayor of Wembley, to study and promote public interest in the history of Wembley, and to encourage others to preserve all things of historic interest for the benefit of the people of Wembley. The motion the Society has passed is not party political, and I hope that candidates from all parties in the local elections can support it, and that all Brent councillors elected on 3 May will see that it is put into effect.

The “Brent & Kilburn Times” has already covered this story online LINK  Although, as far as I know, the Society has only received an acknowledgement of its letter to the Chief Executive, their report says:
‘A Brent Council spokesman said: “The council currently has an agreement in place with Quintain which allows advertising on Bobby Moore Bridge and this income helps to protect vital public services. We will discuss options to make the murals available for visitors to enjoy with the Wembley History Society and other interested parties.”
When Brent made its agreement with Quintain to allow this advertising, how much money it receives from them, and which ‘vital public services’ this income protects are questions that someone may care to ask. The key question, as far as I and my fellow W.H.S. members are concerned, is why should this major piece of public artwork, paid for, at least in part, by Brent’s Council Tax-payers, and celebrating scenes from the history of sporting and entertainment events at Wembley, be covered up at all? 

Our answer is that it is part of Brent’s heritage, and should not be used as an advertising hoarding, by Quintain or anyone else. The tile murals should be restored to public view, permanently, for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors to Wembley Park. 

After all, when Brent committed up to £17.8m of CIL money towards the Olympic Way public realm enhancements last year, it promised not more advertising but:

‘… a world class public realm for enjoyment by Brent residents’;
‘… a high quality processional route for the millions of visitors to Wembley’ that would,
‘… at other times be a place to visit in its own right, hosting cultural events’; and that
‘… improved public realm has a key role in place-making’.

Philip Grant (writing as an individual).


Saturday 28 April 2018

First Port attempt to justify leap in service charges at Quadrant Court, Wembley Park

Management agents First Port have responded to residents' concerns LINK over increases in service charges with a Q&A seeking to explain how they arrived at the increases at Quadrant Court.

They quote an increase of 7% but also recognise that this does not include several major items of additional expenditure.  They do not discuss what one what resident described as the 'rocketing' charges they pay for the maintenance of the Wembley Park estate, now costing their residents at least  £100,000 a year.

The 'all-in' Tipi style private rental build by Quintain, supported by Brent Council, leaves room for increases in broadband, utility, maintenance and concierge  charges, over and above the basic rent, with residents tied service charges based on whatever deals the management agents arrange.

This is the Q&A sent to Quadrant Court residents (Click bottom left to enlarge):

Lib Dems mash up the stats in Mapesbury & launch 'red scare' attack

Bar charts on election literature are notorious for beiing 'a but dodgy' to say the least and are usually accompanied by 'Only XParty can win here!' or 'XParty can't win here'. The above from the Liberal Democrats is a good example with the added spice of a bit of 'red scare' propagands citing a potential Momentum 'control of Brent'.  On my reckoning there are only at the most two true Momentum supporters in the 63 strong Labout list. Furthermore, in my personal opinion, they would add a coorrective to the managerialist approach of the majority of Labour candidates.

So anyway how did the Lib Dems arrive at their bar chart?

They have added up the total votes of each party in the 2014 council election in the ward. As Greens fielded only one candidate and the others three each this puts Greens at the bottom below the Tories.

If, however, you list the candidates' individual results it gives a different picture  (from Brent Council website election results page):

The Green candidate vote was well above that of each of the three Conservative candidates and only 3% behind the lowest Liberal Democrat candidate.

This time round there are three Green candidates so a more representative bar chart could be made from May 3rd's results.

Meanwhile, as I said to a woman outside Willesden Green Sainsbury's yesterday, 'Yes, the Greens can win in Mapesbury.'

I should have added that the former Lib Dem councillor, turned Independent, for Mapesbury has said that she wants to see Greens on Brent Council.

Let the battle contine - on even ground...

Friday 27 April 2018

Reminder: Event for teachers and other local school workers on Sunday

Answers still needed on Brent Council's £40million payments to Winckworth Sherwood

Andrew Linnie, Brent Green Party's spokesperson on Housing and Regeneration, and council candidate for Alperton ward, spotted mysterious payments to Winckworth Sherwood LLP, a 'full-service' law firm based at London Bridge.The payments amounted to £40 million.

Andrew issued a Freedom of Information request to find out details of the payments.

Brent Council only partially answered:
The data I have been able to find for Winckworth for conveyancing;
From 2016 to 2018 we are looking at approximately 127 conveyancing transactions at a cost of
approximately £98k (127 transactions).However, 80 of these were for i4B Limited, at a cost of £62k  approx. and for the Council's Housing Revenue Account £36k approx.
Andrew responded by repeating the questions that had not been answered. The answer from Brent Council is now three weeks overdue.
Thank you for your response. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to address the the vast majority of the request. Please see below the original requested information:

"1. Total payments made to Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors in each of the years 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017."
This question has not been answered.

"2. In each year, please provide a breakdown of what the funds were paid in relation to. For instance, 'in 20XX, £X was paid across that period for conceyancing, while £Y was paid for managing education payroll services', etc."
The response only covers one small section of this question, and conveyancing is only a small example of the sorts of breakdowns that might be given for funds.

"3. In the case of funds paid in the process of being distributed to third parties, for example payroll services, please provide figures both for the amount paid to Winckworth Sherwood and the amount eventually received by the third party. For instance, if salaries were being paid to staff via Winckworth Sherwood, 'in 20XX £X was paid for education payroll services, £Y being the total amount received by the employees concerned', or if the fees paid were in relation to the purchase of a property, 'in 20XX £X was paid for the purchase of Y property, including the price agreed for the property of £A and stamp duty of £B'."

While the response kindly details figures for conveyancing being paid for other entities, it accounts for only a very small proportion of the funds shown as being transferred to Winckworth Sherwood over the last few years. In the quarterly accounts for Dec 2016-Nov 2017 alone there is in the region of £40m shown as being sent to Winckworth Sherwood. 
While I  couldn't expect a detailed breakdown of each individual transaction, a summary of what those amounts were for would be much appreciated.



Wembley traffic jams for residents today - any jam tomorrow?

Following a discussion on  the Next Door forum LINK Gary Holmyard has given me permission to adapt his comments for a Guest Post on Wembley Matters. Publication does not imply approval of all Gary's comments but is aimed at stimulating wider debate.
Yesterday’s news was all about Wembley Stadium potentially being sold to Shahid Khan as the home ground for the Jacksonville Jaguars.... I for one can only think that this is going to cause continual chaos on our roads and surrounding infrastructure, increased littering, traffic jams, while the coffers of the stadium owners increase... residents never have a say, we bought our houses and chose to live here when it was a National Stadium with occasional matches and concerts, now we are subjected to weekly or bi-weekly games disrupting our every day lives and movements.

Had I chosen to live near White Hart Lane or Highbury, then I would have no cause to complain, but I didn’t... and when the old twin towers stadium was demolished to make way for the new national stadium it was, in essence, a like-for-like replacement. This will be permanent, on top of the 1,000’s of flats being built I cannot help but believe that this is total overkill, and the companies, council and developers are milking every square inch of ground to make money for themselves and not caring about the people who actually have to live here.

My family have been resident for over 20 years… way before any total redevelopment plans were even on the table, so we did not move to the area to make money in the hope that our property would rise in value, and could move on to somewhere else. We moved here because we liked the area and it’s location for getting into town / access to motorways etc. We have spent that time working hard on our house and garden getting it to how we want, and to move now would be an enormous upheaval, and would involve finding new schools, work place consideration etc, so yes, I accept that property prices have increased, but do not agree that the only solution is to move.

Wembley still could be a wonderful place to live, if only developers and councils had long term thinking of how it all comes together. I am all for bring trade into an area, being an ex-restaurateur in Wembley Park myself, I am aware more than most as to the additional revenue match days can bring, however, I am also aware that regular clientele were turned off from travelling as they cannot park anywhere unless they want to fork out £10, £20 or £30.

My biggest concern is not so much how many flats are being built, or matches that are played, but the actual infrastructure that is not being updated / adapted to suit the additional thousands of new residents coming into the area, on top of weekly / bi-weekly matches being held at the stadium. On a normal Saturday afternoons the Harrow Road from the A406 towards Wembley is one continual queue due to matches being played and / or LDO shoppers, locals trying to go home of course compounds this!

To relieve some of the queues, it would make sense to lift the time restrictions on the bus lanes to peak times only to allow traffic to flow that more easily, plus encourage people to return to the LDO instead of saying ‘never again’! I am all for one for traffic control but with another 5,000 homes planned between now and 2020 (from this problem is going to manifest into complete meltdown. With 1,000’s of new jobs created, PLUS 1,000’s of new residents (11,500 total flats envisaged if I am not mistaken in total) it does not take long to work out the additional traffic and people movements each and every day, on top of those visiting the stadium, LDO and SSE arena.

We as locals are used to avoid peak times on event days, but it could potentially be that every day could be like an event day with the amount of additional people coming / leaving the area each day. If each flat houses 3-4 people, that is 34-46,000 people, if a quarter of those use a car, that is almost 10,000 additional car movements each day. If half go to school or work, that is around 20,000 people movements each day. This is every day, and excludes LDO shoppers and employees! I have also noticed the re-timing of the traffic lights since the LED types have been installed these have compounded the problem! A total re-think of the Harrow Road, and A406 trunk roads needs to be carried out. I know parking restrictions for event days are in place to encourage people to use public transport but we are not talking about event days, but each and every day.

SOLUTION: Have Park and Ride schemes been considered? Bicester village and many others have such a scheme, which eliminates traffic problems in the village yet gets shoppers into the shopping areas quickly and safely. The two high rises at the Harrow Road / A406 junction have been empty for many years and is the first thing that new shoppers see when visiting Wembley! If these two monstrosities were two multi storey car parks with a Park ‘n Ride scheme (with a minimal cost to the customer) it would eliminate the vast majority of congestion on the Harrow Road at a stroke! The scheme would be open for shoppers as well as football / concert goers and would enable traffic to disperse EASILY and QUICKLY at the end of a match or concert instead of all the road closures and coned re-directions that currently happens and make traffic dispersal ten times worse!

If people paid less for this scheme than parking in the car parks nearer to the “event” then this would encourage people to use it. I am sure that there would be many companies willing to sponsor the scheme also thus brining in even more revenue! I am confident that not only would this suggestion work, it would greatly improve the A406/Harrow Rd junction as well as encouraging people to return! I have thought about this idea for a long time and would like to think that someone somewhere within the Council would have put it forward for consideration, something needs to be done, and this is something that could work! However, this was turned down by the Council….

If Mr Shahid Khan can afford £900mill for the stadium, I am sure he could afford to get this scheme or something similar underway to encourage more to attend his stadium, and gain greater respect from the locals and his team’s supporters! This is my opinion, and as this is an open forum, I can suggest solutions, who knows, someone’s may be realised as ideal, in which case this would all be worth it! ‘My views’ only people! I do not expect everyone to agree, but it’s good to vent off sometimes!


Stadium Sale: STOP THE STEPS!

Yesterday's news of the possible sale of Wembley Stadium reinforces residents feelings of lack of control over this behemoth that has so much influence on their daily lives.

With the Football Association known to be unhappy about the London Borough of Quintain's plans to replace the stadium pedway with steps, there is no knowing what the view of a new owner might be. As Green Party candidate for Tokyngton ward I have no hesitation in calling for the £17.8m project to be stopped pending clarification of safety issues and the legal basis of Brent Council's decision to spend Quintain's CIL money on a project that is primarily aimed to improve what Quintain has admitted is a project to improve the aesthetic appeal of its multi-million development. The money should be used to repair and improve Brent's crumbling infrastructure instead.

A further issue emerges from the proposed sale to an American billionaire Shahid Khan.  In his statement he made it clear that the purchase would be used to improve Jacksonville Jaguars' revenue stream. Given that England will continue to use the stadium for some games as well as a possibe NFL franchise that can only mean more events at Wembley Stadium.

The sale would mean that the two businesses with the most influence on Wembley would both be American owned and distant from the local community.

If we had a council that would stand up against a billionaire to represent the interests of local residents we might be reassured but that sad truth is that Muhamed Butt and his administration have a sad record of being pally with the 'big boys' and caving in to their demands.  They are likely to approve even more maximum capacity frequent events. Yet another reason for electing a decent opposition on Brent Council.

What all this means for the possible tenure of Chelsea at Wembley while their new development is being built remains to be seen.  It is ironical that Spurs owners wanted their new stadium to be a joint NFL franchise and now they have a Wembley competitior is the sale goes through.

Paul Lorber, ex leader of the Brent Liberal Democrats has written to Brent CEO, Carolyn Downs, chasing a response to email of April 19th:
Now that the Stadium is likely to be sold in a £800 million plus deal it is even more important that the Council cancels their £17.8 million ‘Give Away’ to a company owned by private investors via a Bermuda tax haven.

The £17.8 million of public money can then be spent on much more important works to repair the large backlog of dangerous pavements and potholed roads across Brent.

This is no time to pay for private vanity project that even the FA - the current owner of Wembley Stadium - think may not be safe and do not currently support.
This was Shahid Khan's statement yesterday:
I am very pleased to learn today that The Football Association board of directors received our offer to purchase Wembley Stadium, our home away from home in London, from the FA.

One of the many benefits of the Jaguars’ commitment to London has been our partnership with the FA and Wembley Stadium. Over the past several years, it became clearer to us and the FA that the idea of our purchase of Wembley Stadium made a lot of sense for all of us.

For the FA, it would mean Wembley Stadium returning to private ownership, permitting the FA to direct its full attention to its mandate to develop talent and serve the game with the vast resources it would realize from the sale. For the Jaguars, it would deliver another – and very significant – asset and local revenue source that would further strengthen our investment in London, which as everyone knows is crucial to the Jaguars’ continued sustainability in Jacksonville. In every respect, the Jaguars’ standing in London would be improved and dramatically enhanced if we are fortunate to be approved as the new owner and steward of Wembley Stadium, and that’s good news for the Jaguars and all of Jacksonville.

If you’ve had the occasion to join us for one of our Jaguars home games in London, you know that Wembley Stadium is a very special place. Our commitment to the FA is we will own and operate Wembley with the care and respect it deserves, always being mindful that it is – and will continue to be – the home of England’s national teams as well as the ultimate destination for the world’s top entertainment and sports event, including Jaguars and NFL games. And today’s announcement is additional evidence that we are committed to create and enhance new revenue streams to boost the Jaguars, such as the incredibly successful Daily’s Place and the project we revealed last week with The Cordish Companies on the proposed development around EverBank Field.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Mapesbury hustings: Greens rap Butt

Green Party candidates for Mapesbury Ward, Scott Bartle and Lenia Evans, enlivened an otherwise bland hustings, with a rap inspired by Shaggy's 'It wasn't me', aimed at Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt, who by happenstance, was seated right in front of them.

There was a lot of common ground between the four parties represented at the hustings staged by Mapesbury Residents Association - let's face it no one is going to stand up and say, 'We want more potholes in Brent', or 'We want to make our air even more poisonous.'

The words (apologies to Shaggy)

S: One of the things that really gets us about this council, is that theres been a Labour majority since 2014 yet they just blame the Tories for everything that goes wrong. It's like they’ve gone to international pop sensation Shaggy for advice

L Cllr Butt, Mapesbury caught me
S: You let them catch you?
L: I don’t know what to do…
S: Just say it wasn’t you
L: A Failed waste strategy?
S: It wasn’t me.
L: £200K lost on Kingdom Security?
S: It wasn’t me
L: An £18million giveaway in Wemberly
S: It wasn’t me
L: Potholes make me drive wobbly
S: It wasn’t me.
L: Cutting £1.2Mil from youth facilities
S: It wasn’t me
L but finding £2.3million for CCTV?
S: It wasn’t me
L Developers acting irresponsibly
S: It wasn’t me
L  Trying to demolish the Queensbury?
S: It wasn’t me.
L: Closed 6 of our libraries
S: It wasn’t me
L: Keep on blaming the Tories
S: It wasn’t me
L: You gotta take some responsibility
S: It wasn’t me.

L: The quality of the air we breathe, the condition of the pavements, the state of housing, potholes in the road, vandalism, crime and litter are all environmental issues. If anyone will solve these problems it will be us. We hope to tell you more about this through the course of the evening.

BBC reporting FA has received £800m bid for Wembley Stadium

The BBC is reporting that the Football Association has received an offer, believed to be  £800 million, for Wembley Stadium. The offer comes from Shahid Khan, owner of Fulham FC and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Full story HERE

Building plans for Wembley section of the Chiltern line green corridor

HUB developers have issued their early plans for a site alongside the Chiltern railway line in Wembley. They are already developing the former Chesterfield House site on the corner of Park Lane and the High Road.

The HUB website states:

HUB has purchased two pieces of Network Rail land on the Eastern Fringe of Wembley High Road, situated behind its Chesterfield House scheme.

Development of the sites will be carried out over two phases, delivering up to 300 homes, continuing HUB’s involvement in the revitalisation of Wembley High Road.

Glenn Howells Architects has been appointed to draw up plans for the first phase, which will consist of around 200 homes across two buildings.

HUB has been working closely with the London Borough of Brent to help ensure the sustainable and coherent development of the Wembley Housing Zone, within which this newest development will reside.

As its name suggests, the Wembley Link area is the crucial crossover between new developments in the town centre and those emerging in Wembley Park.
Given the height of the 'Twin Towers' that HUB are building on the site of Chesterfield House I asked HUB about the height of their proposed Wembley Link development.

The 'Twin Towers' with Chiltern line in foreground
 HUB responded:
At this point we are at the very earliest stage of formulating the plans for Wembley Link and so don’t have more information that we are ready to share. We will be conducting widespread engagement with the local community in advance of putting in a planning application, in order to ensure that the proposed scheme pays due regard to local aspirations and wider plans for the area. We will get in touch with you as soon as there is more detailed information to share.
Residents have expressed concern about the loss of  part of the 'green corridor' that not only acts as a passage for wildlife and provides a green space in a built up area but also helps alleviate air pollution and muffles the sound of trains to the benefit of residents.

Residents fear that following Network Rail's sell-off of land to HUB that the opposite embankment and that further north could also be sold for development.


Wednesday 25 April 2018

Can we make a Food Forest in Northwick Park?

From Northwick Park Community Garden Team (FACEBOOK LINK)

A Food Forest in our London Park 
What is a food forest, why should we turn our London Park into one and how and when can this be done?
Our local park Northwick Park is a large community park near Wembley in London Brent. There are many playing fields in the park, where men enjoy playing rugby and football and even fly model aircrafts. If you know it, then you know that it is currently a very barren place, with not enough trees, although  some lovely trees are already established there, such as sloe, hawthorn and elderberry, plus hawthorn bushes, which serve the community foragers. 

Foragers can make hawthorn berry jam and elderberry cordial, for example, from the produce. It is a very time-consuming process, a labour of love, because picking these and turning them into food products is a bit fiddly. Yet, we are not able to buy these things in the supermarket. 

Where was the food before the supermarket?
It was on farms, in parks, gardens and larders and on the weekly market. Today, everything the supermarket sells contains plastic packaging. This is a problem for the oceans where this stuff gets dumped. 

We have been dumping so much plastic there that it comes back up and the fish are eating it; in fact, the fish are contaminated with plastic. Some people are already leaving all the packaging at the supermarket and letting the supermarket deal with their own rubbish. 

Why should we pay council tax to remove the plastic we don’t want?
Imagine all the council tax money being put to use for a good cause rather than on pointless rubbish removal. 

Hence, some people have started to reduce the waste they purchase. This is called ‘a journey to zero waste’.  There are many YouTube videos of young women explaining how to be prepared when shopping so that we can leave the plastic packaging behind. 

The Queen has banned plastic straws and plastic bottles from the royal household!
The Queen has banned plastic from the royal household after she saw what happens to the ocean, the beaches and the fish with all this plastic being dumped in the sea. Do you know that plastic never ever decomposes or goes away, that it is a waste which stays there forever? Long after humans disappear from this earth, our plastic waste will still be here.

Zero packaging is the lovely benefit of having food trees in the park. You have a chance to pick fruit for free and you don’t use plastic packaging. Just bring a box, basket or linen bag and pick as much fruit as you can eat. Only take what you need and leave the rest for others. 

Forest Food is better quality.
Forest food is better quality because we refrain from pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and so on. We are looking for the ecosystem to take care of these things by itself.  The trees form an underground internet together with the mushrooms and provide a lot of nutrients to the ground. Mixing plant species can have a benefit to each plant too.

The problem with modern agriculture is that there are vast fields of the same crop, i.e. broccoli. This broccoli requires the same food and there is no other plant that can supply this food to the broccoli – there is only broccoli and its needs. So, the need for fertilizers arises. 

Then, if the broccoli is afflicted by a pest, there is no other plant that can stop it and no predator pest which can stop its spread. The pest happily munches away on broccoli as far as the eye can see. So, now there is also a need for pesticides. 

In a food forest we are mixing species and plants and the different varieties of wildlife can help each other out. Food will ripen throughout the year; everybody can pick the fruit when they want some. 

When the vast fields of broccoli are harvested, there will huge machines, which require a lot of petrol. Petrol is required again to distribute the broccoli to the distribution centres and then to the individual supermarkets. Oil is also required for making plastic packaging, pesticides and fertilizers. 

When something happens to the oil supply we will be foodless!
Since so much oil is needed to produce and supply this food, imagine something happens to the oil supply chain? We are all foodless.

With food forests in our parks and food in our gardens, we are slightly more resilient to any supply side issues and we are in control of making food healthier by avoiding pesticides, which can contain cancer-causing substances. 

Naturally grown food contains more antioxidants. This is an umbrella term for the good things that keep us feeling and looking young, as well as preventing disease and stress. On the other hand, toxins do the opposite, they make us age faster, cause stress and can lead to disease. 

Naturally grown food is better for you.
And, in case the food is not being picked, it will fall to the ground and the wildlife can have dinner. Did you know that the hedgehog is extremely endangered and that numbers have declined drastically? The latest statistic I heard was that only around a million were left in the whole of Britain. 

This is because of the pesticide use which kills the wildlife, but also because gardens are paved over or have really strong fences so the hedgehogs have no habitat. Make a little hole in your fence and allow hedgehogs to come into your garden. They mainly eat snails and are part of a well-functioning ecosystem. Bats can keep fruit trees healthy by eating moths, which would otherwise nest in the fruit trees. And[RC1]  bees are important for pollinating the plants because without this pollination we would not get any food. All three are endangered species today. A lot of animals and plants are dying out in this world because of the terrible behaviour of our human species. We must do something to rescue the world. 

If you want to join us and want to hear more, find us on Facebook.
We are happy to help you turn your garden into a food producing garden too with the help of our friends at Permablitz and if you feel as excited as we are about food forestry and gardening, then stay in touch. 

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We are 4 food and against waste! 
Your Northwick Park Community Garden Team