Tuesday 31 July 2018

Willesden Green Library re-opens

From Brent Culture Twitter account

I'm pleased to report that the Library at Willesden Green will reopen to the public this afternoon from 1pm.

Brent Council starts voluntary redundancy process for its employees

The General Purposes Committee on Thursday will be asked to approve a voluntary redundancy process for its staff which will be implemented from the next day Friday August 3rd.

The supporting paper states:
It is proposed that a voluntary redundancy scheme be implemented across the council, with applications during August and September 2018, to enable managers to have information about potential volunteers in advance of planning and implementing restructures to achieve council savings requirements over the next period.
The council has made a commitment in its Change Management policy to seek to avoid compulsory redundancies by using voluntary redundancy where appropriate. A voluntary redundancy scheme is advantageous for both management and employees. It enables employees to come forward and initiate a discussion about their future without fear of committing themselves until all the paperwork has been agreed after exit figures have been finalised. For managers, it means that they can plan reorganisations more effectively, knowing in advance which staff are willing to leave. Implementing compulsory redundancies is a significant drain on management time and is very disruptive for the wider workforce.
All final decisions will be made in one place (CMT) which will ensure consistency and will also enable the council to ensure that implementation of the scheme is affordable in the context of the council’s savings requirements.
Each individual case will be assessed on the basis of the efficiency of the service and longer term financial considerations. A payback period of not more than 2 years is proposed. 
Applications can only be accepted where it is appropriate to delete the employee’s post (or the post of another member of staff who is suitable for the employee’s post) as there must be a redundancy situation. Where an employee’s post is not suitable for deletion, they may be placed on a central register of employees willing to take voluntary redundancy should another employee facing compulsorily redundancy in the future be a suitable candidate for their post.
The proposal is made against the background of further budget cuts outlined previously on Wembley Matters.  The paper does not state how many job cuts are required and figures will depend on the cost to the council of the required pay-outs to staff who opt for redundancy.
The Equality Impact Assessment states:
Staff 55 years of age or over represent 21% of the workforce eligible for the scheme.
 Any possible discrimination arising from the expectation of a payback period not exceeding 2 years can be materially justified by the policy objectives to contribute to the council’s savings requirements and to the avoidance/minimising of compulsory redundancies in the whole workforce. If costs are not recovered over the required period, this does not contribute to the council’s savings requirements over this period and may mean additional redundancies are required to meet the additional costs of the severance.
57% of the workforce aged less than 55 yrs are female and 50.65% of the workforce aged 55 yrs and over are female so it does not appear likely that there will be any disparate impact in terms of the gender make up of the work force.
Unknown impacts – until applications are received and considered it cannot be predicted with any degree of accuracy whether a disproportionate number of applications will be received and/or approved from any particular group. In view of the higher benefits, it is likely that older employees may be more likely to apply.
Unfortunately 713 of our 2139 staff have not specified their ethnicity so a meaningful analysis of the ethnicity of the 55 yrs and over age group compared to those under 55 yrs. is not possible.


UPDATE Barnet Council tonight debates banning those calling for Israel boycott on grounds of ‘antisemitism’ as defined by the IHRA examples

From Palestine Solidarity Campaign

UPDATE via Barnet Momentum The motion was not taken last night. It has been referred to Barnet  Policy and Resources Committee which next meets on October 23rd.

Barnet Councillor Brian Gordon is to propose a motion effectively outlawing organisations that support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The motion [below] cites the hotly disputed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) document on antisemitism as justification for the move. The meeting is at Hendon Town Hall, 7pm tonight.

The motion calls for the London Borough of Barnet to ‘consider the legality of ensuring’ it does ‘not to provide or rent any space’ to individuals and groups supporting the BDS movement – effectively seeking a ban on events promoting sanctions against Israel for its violations of international law.
Councillor Gordon’s motion specifically quotes the contentious guidance notes to the IHRA document in order to claim that BDS is antisemitic, because other countries are not similarly targeted. 

However no other country that the UK treats as an ally has been in illegal occupation of another country for over 50 years, suppressing the human rights of its inhabitants.

The motion has national significance because the Labour Party – which has adopted the 38-word IHRA definition of antisemitism – has been criticised for not fully adopting the guidanceattached to it, including the two examples cited in the motion.

Jonathan Rosenhead, Vice Chair of Free Speech on Israel, said:

Those criticising Labour for failing to adopt the full IHRA guidance claim the document poses no threat to freedom of expression. This motion being put forward in Barnet clearly demonstrates that they are wrong and vindicates the adjustments made by Labour’s National Executive Committee.
Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said:
Palestinians have a right to describe their history and the continuing racist injustices that deny them their rights, whether as unequal citizens of the State of Israel, living under military occupation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, under siege in Gaza, or as refugees denied the right of return. Others have a right to hear this information and, in line with a commitment to fighting racism in all its forms, to respond to the Palestinian call for global action via Boycott Divestment and Sanctions.
Despite the clear warning from distinguished lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC in his legal opinion on the IHRA document, groups lobbying for Israel have continued to press public bodies both to adopt the IHRA definition and to use it to suppress both legitimate criticism of Israel, and calls for action on behalf of the Palestinian people. In March, a delegation including Joan Ryan MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Israel , Matthew Offord MP of Conservative Friends of Israel petitioned Theresa May at 10 Downing Street, calling for action to  prevent events on UK campuses that describe Israel as an apartheid state, citing the IHRA document as justification.

Campaigners for Palestinian rights including Free Speech on Israel, Jewish Voice for Labour and Palestine Solidarity Campaign are calling for the motion to be withdrawn. They have also called for the UK government to issue a clear statement that no public body should use the IHRA definition to prevent legitimate criticism of the state of Israel (which includes describing its laws and policies as “racist” and meeting the legal definition of “apartheid”). Nor should they use it to prevent calls for peaceful actions including boycott divestment and sanctions in response to Israel’s continuing violations of Palestinian human rights.

Administration motion in the name of Cllr Brian Gordon Boycott the antisemitic BDS movement 

On 31st January 2017, Barnet became the first local authority to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of antisemitism and its corresponding guidance, which recognises that antisemitism takes many forms including, in certain circumstances, targeting of the State of Israel. 

The IHRA’s guidance rightly points out that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled [sic] against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”. However, Council believes the aims, methods, and rhetoric of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and believes its go well beyond this, and are consistent with the IHRA’s guidance on the definition of antisemitism. Specifically: 

·      A completely disproportionate focus on the State of Israel to the exclusion of all other territorial disputes and ethnic conflicts in the world, e.g. the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, the Chinese occupation of Tibet, or the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus; 

·      “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour [sic]”; 

·      Frequently reported incidents of BDS activists “Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions” and “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism to characterize Israel or Israelis.” 

·      “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” 
Following similar action taken by the City of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on 25th August 2017, Council instructs the Policy & Resources Committee to produce a Use of Council Premises policy and to consider the legality of ensuring:
·      The London Borough of Barnet does not provide any space or areas for clubs, organizations or even individuals who support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement. 

·      The London Borough of Barnet instructs its companies not to provide or rent any space for affiliates, organizations or individuals who support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement. 

·      The London Borough of Barnet appeals to landlords of event venues in the borough not to provide or rent any space for clubs, organizations or even individuals who support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement. 

·      The London Borough of Barnet does not make any donations or grants to associations, organisations or other groups which support the activities of the antisemitic BDS movement. 

Council also reaffirms its commitment to fight all forms of prejudice, whether against religion, race, sex, gender, or age. 

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Monday 30 July 2018

Green Party leadership candidates on ecosocialism

On-line voting opened today in elections for the Green Party leaders and executive. Green Left asked candidates about ecosocialism. 
What do you understand by the term “Ecosocialist”? ‘Would you see yourself as being an ecosocialist and what does that mean to you?


Shahrar Ali

Green socialists, and I count myself as one, frame and explain policies in terms of their impact on social justice and environmental well-being. Climate justice would put an end to those least responsible for the climate change impacts having to most suffer their horrendous consequences. See my Ted Talk https://bit.ly/2NVbi6J.

Sian Berry (Joint candidate with Bartley)

I joined the Greens in 2001 precisely because we were the only party making the links between social justice and the need for a healthy planet, while all the other parties saw these as either/or. This link is at the core of ecosocialism, while I also admire the focus of most ecosocialists on local empowerment and action that builds resilience within communities as well as ‘traditional’ socialist principles like democratic public control of essential services and industries.
Jonathan Bartley (joint candidate with Berry)
I don’t see how the need to tackle climate change and the ravaging of the planet can be separated from the economic system that drives it and the rampant inequality that results. For me this is what being an ecosocialist is about and right now is the moment to be shouting loudly about it. People need more than a choice between Monetarism and Keynesianism. What Labour is offering is neither radical nor ecosocialist. What we offer should be clearly different and mean systemic change.

Leslie Rowe

Ecosocialism is Green socialism. Capitalism is the cause of social exclusion, poverty, war and environmental degradation through globalisation and imperialism, under repressive states and transnational structures, such as the EU. That is why I am campaigning for a sustainable de-growth economic policy and actively oppose neo-liberal economic policies.


Aimee Challenor

For me, Ecosocialist is someone who supports people and planet through challenging big business and capitalism, making sure that we can live Free and Equal whilst also having a planet to live on.

Jonathan Chilvers

My understanding: The problems of environmental degradation and poverty having the common root cause of an exploitative capitalist system. My comment: I identify more strongly with the cooperative socialism of the earliest 20thC rather than the top down models that have come to be synonymous with the word ‘socialist’. Marx still offers the most devastating critique we have of capitalism, but he’s not that helpful for the Green Party in setting out a realistic, relevant and radical programme for how we move towards an economics for a finite planet.

Andrew Cooper

Ecosocialism is a vision of a transformed society in harmony with nature, and the development of practices that can attain it. It is directed toward alternatives to all socially and ecologically destructive systems, such as patriarchy, racism, homophobia and the fossil-fuel based economy. 
I’ve never called myself an ‘Ecosocialist’ though in conversation with people who do we come to similar conclusions on many occasions

Rashid Nix

I don’t like jargon. Avoid it like the plague. I am a Green Party spokesperson who talks the language of everyday people. We must develop language that includes not excludes. Ecosocialist is more exclusive language we should avoid. Mankind is in trouble, we need Simple Solutions a 10 year old understands.

Amelia Womack

I am a proud ecosocialist, which has been evidenced by my work opposing austerity and championing green alternatives that have social justice at their core. We need to be championing eco-socialist policies not just in the UK, but on a global basis, working to dismantle capitalism and challenging globalisation from the perspective that it’s built on the backs of the working class around the works, destroying our planet, and the effects of all this feedback with climate change and ecological destruction destroying the poorest countries and communities first.

Sunday 29 July 2018

Three Lakes at Wembley Park

Many thanks to local historian Philip Grant for this guest post:
 A comment on a recent item about “ A Tour of Wembley Park’s Green and Open Spaces” LINK said: 
I would love to see where the “lake” is going to appear. Just thought, with all the building work there will only be space for a large puddle in one of the many potholes in Wembley...Lake Water Butt.’   
What better opportunity for me to share with you the story of two previous lakes at Wembley Park, and one which is promised for the near future.
In May 1894 the Metropolitan Railway Company opened Wembley Park Station, to serve the new pleasure grounds which were brainchild of its chairman, Sir Edward Watkin. The gardens were designed to entice people from crowded inner London (travelling by train, of course) to spend their leisure time in this beautiful setting. Apart from the promise of a tower, taller than Eiffel’s in Paris, the attractions included a man-made lake, fed by the Wealdstone Brook, where visitors could hire rowing boats.

Lake 1 OS map with Wealdstone Brook and lake

Wembley Park, with lake and tower, early 1900's
Wembley Park’s pleasure grounds were very popular at first, but the tower (which became known as Watkin’s Folly) never got above its first stage, and was demolished in 1906/07. Before 1914, part of the grounds were being used as a golf course, and there were plans that the site would become Wembley’s next “garden village” suburb. Then the Great War came.
In 1921, the vacant pleasure grounds (with their excellent rail access) were chosen as the site for the British Empire Exhibition. When the layout for this vast enterprise was designed, the existing lake was filled in, providing a garden which welcomed visitors entering from the station, and a new lake was constructed.

Lake 2, BEE plan with lake and rivers

The new artificial lake, across the east-west axis of the site, was not just an attractive feature for recreational use. It was designed to collect and store water running off of the exhibition’s huge concrete buildings, so that the Wealdstone Brook would not flood after heavy rain.
The BEE lake looking towards the Indian Pavilion, 1924

After the exhibition closed in 1925, most of the pavilions of Empire nations were demolished. A vast swimming pool / sports arena was constructed at the western end of the lake, in time for the British Empire Games in 1934 (the road along one side of Wembley Arena is still called Lakeside Way). The remains of the rest of the lake survived for many years, but were eventually filled in to provide car parks for the old Wembley Stadium.

Wembhey Stadium, reflected in the BEE lake, after demolition of tge Australia and Canada pavilions, c1930
There is no lake at Wembley Park now, but in the latest version of Quintain’s masterplan for the redevelopment of the ex-Wembley Stadium land they bought in 2002, there will be a new lake, as part of a seven acre (not seven hectare, as sometimes claimed by Brent Council) park. As the lake might be difficult to spot on the coloured plan below, I have marked it with a yellow arrow.
Lake 3 (arrowed) on Quintain's master plan for Wembley, 202

This plan, and the image below, were part of a talk given to Wembley History Society in January 2018 by Julian Tollast, Quintain’s Head of Masterplanning and Design. Plans can, of course, be changed as developments progress, but if Julian’s vision for the new lake (in more or less the same place as the eastern end of the 1924 BEE lake) goes ahead, this is what it would look like in around 2027:-
Quintain's vision of the new park and lake

An existing road, Engineers Way, will cut across the lake and park. The park is a much smaller feature for the number of local residents than the parks which local Councils provided for their ratepayers in the past, although the “lake” would be bigger than a ‘Water Butt’. To his credit, Mr Tollast is conscious of history, and of the part played by the landscape architect Humphry Repton in shaping this area, which was named Wembley Park because of his work here in the 1790’s. He plans to use a landscaping feature favoured by Repton to reduce the view of the road from the park; a ha-ha (don’t laugh!).



Saturday 28 July 2018

How to make Green Party communications relevant to working class voters

Green Left, the eco-socialist group within the Green Party, invited members to submit questions to candidates for the Green Party leader and  deputy leader positions. There were 15 questions in all and candidates' answer can be found HERE

The Green Party is often seen as white and middle class although, helped by the campaigning of Green Left, its anti-austerity and social justice policies should appeal to both white and black and ethnic minority working class voters. My question focused on this issue:

How can Green Party communications of their policies be made more relevant to the working class (White and Black Minority Ethnic)?

Shahrar Ali (leader candidate)

Let’s make our own-branded campaign materials more representative of society. See our current spokespersons page. There is no visible ethnic diversity – which is frankly laughable, despite the brilliant people who could fill those roles (https://bit.ly/18QFrOS). You also have the opportunity to elect the first BME leader of a UK party.

Jonathan Bartley & Sian Berry (Co-leader job-share candidates)

We think it’s real Green action on the issues that matter to these groups that will win trust, not just communicating our policies. It’s vital that we are strong allies to campaigners on issues that matter to working class and BAME voters, and we should be enthusiastically backing them when they ask for our help, and seeking out ways to help them if they aren’t asking us yet. Our record of action and campaigning shows we are serious about this.

In London, Jonathan and Lambeth Greens went from one to five councillors due to their fierce campaigns supporting estate residents against demolition and fighting for public libraries that many residents depend upon. In the London Assembly, Sian has fought hard to defend injustices that particularly affect people of colour such as getting the Mayor to use name-blind recruitment to cut down on biases, and calling out the police on tactics such as stop and search, spit hoods, tasers and draconian automated facial recognition that disproportionately target Black people.

We also need to be supporting BME candidates to get elected. Jonathan just launched in Lambeth (in Brixton at the Black Cultural Archives in Windrush Square) the Deyika Nzeribe Fund. This was named after our party’s Manchester Mayoral candidate who died tragically on New Year’s eve 2017. We welcomed at that launch the first Green Mayor of Sheffield – Magid Magid and the new Green Mayor of Bristol Cleo Lake a proud Bristolian of African-Caribbean heritage. The fund – overseen by Greens of Colour - will support, engage and develop Green candidates of global south heritage.

Aimee Challenor (deputy leader candidate)

Our communications are relevant to the working class, we see mass engagement with our working class members, this should be celebrated and the hard work continued.

Jonathan  Chilvers (deputy leader candidate)

Great question. We need to be a lot better at this. By listening to residents on the doorstep, putting our principles into practical action so people can see the impact. Give people a voice when they feel powerless and make sure it’s their voice not ours.

Andrew Cooper (deputy leader candidate)

We need people to be familiar with the Green Party as part of their everyday lives. Taking up the issues and problems of working class people instead of just talking about them. Growing our Councillor base is a good way of building strong roots in communities and making ourselves relevant to people who often have challenging lives with limited incomes. I work a lot with the Muslim community in Huddersfield and it is by close contact with communities and taking up their concerns that helps build support.

Rashid Nix (deputy leader candidate)

The fact this is the 13th question shows what a priority this is! I’m dismayed at how Greens view working class and bme’s. It’s like we (I am black) are an alien species with peculiar habits and tastes. That’s prob why we lost 25,000 members! They probably joined Labour... TALK IN PLAIN ENGLISH WITHOUT TECHNO BABBLE!

Leslie Rowe (leader candidate)

By listening. When a democratic decision is made, respect it. That migration is not the problem but businesses addicted to a never ending supply of cheap labour not willing to pay the market rate for jobs is. Minimum wage too low, not enough minimum wage inspectors and we need to vastly increase vocational training.

Amelia Womack (deputy leader candidate)

Making sure we’re delivering our message into publications that are relevant to different groups. It’s no good simply getting our message in the Guardian and on Daily Politics as we simply talk to our bubble.

In the past I’ve worked with the Mirror and even Stylist Magazine to make sure our message reaches as broad a community as possible.

Also, it’s vitally important to be on the doorsteps with working class communities with a relevant message that will make a difference to the lives of people in their community. A large part of this is overcoming the rhetoric that migrants are what’s failing the NHS, housing, jobs etc and ensure we stop our government and other parties scapegoating from the issues caused by Westminster

'Talk & Walk' urban food growing spaces with Granville Kitchen today

'Talk and Walk' event at Granville Community Kitchen Urban Food Gropwing is holding this event today as part of London National Park City Week:

28 July 2018 2pm – 3.30 pm

Meet at the Granville 140 Carlton Vale, NW6 5HE

Granville Community Kitchen invites you on a tour of three inner city growing spaces where you will be able to get involved in growing activities. Granville Community Kitchen is a community-led initiative for the South Kilburn community to access healthy, affordable and sustainable food and grow community!

Friday 27 July 2018

Mrs Plug may get Willesden Green Library re-opened 'towards the end of next week'

The latest from Brent Council on the closure of Willesden Green library because of water supply problems:

The Library at Willesden Green is still closed. New parts are currently being fitted to repair the water tank. If all goes well the engineers say we will be able to reopen towards the end of next week. We will keep you informed as we get further updates. @Brent_Council

Butt's crocodile tears on South Kilburn

The Brent and Kilburn Times has a story about the recent public meeting on South Kilburn and the impact of regeneration and HS2. LINK  One resident has said disruption was so bad that he wanted to move away. The Kilburn Times reports:

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, felt he “had to step in” on hearing residents wanted to move away.

He said: “I’m edging on the side of residents. 

“There’s a lot of regeneration taking place for the next 15 years or more and we must do all we can to safeguard the residents. “If he’s talking about moving out the area, we need to have a serious conversation.”

However, he was later challenged on why he petitioned HS2 to move the vent shaft from its original spot in a Queen’s Park car park in Salusbury Road

Cllr Butt has absoutely no excuse for not being aware of the issues as this blog has brought it to attention several times in posts from Pete Firmin, a resident and tenants represenative and a member of Kilburn Labour Party.  This is one blog that Pete wrote on May 26th 2015  LINK about the HS2 shaft that Brent Council asked HS2 to put next to Canterbury Works and a primary school on the estate, rather than the  council owened site next to Queens Park station which at the time was away from any residences. Brent Council has now given planning permission for flats on that site. Pete Firmin's post received 53 comments which are worth reading.

Guest blog by Pete Firmin, South Kilburn resident
On Friday 22nd May, pupils, parents teachers and local residents held a protest at the gates of St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School in South Kilburn against the proposal from Brent Council that the ventilation shaft’ for HS2 be sited right next to the school and close to flats.

Apparently such ventilation shafts are necessary at certain distances along the line in order to get rid of the air pushed in front of the speeding trains, otherwise they would slow the trains down. Such vent shafts are not a small thing, being usually about 25 m by 25 m and 2 storeys high – the size of a small block of flats. Such an enterprise is calculated to take up to 6 years building work, involving movement of over a hundred lorries a day to and from the affected area at peak times, with the association noise, disruption and dust...

HS2’s current proposal is that this be sited close to Queen’s Park station, but Brent Council is pressing that it be on the Canterbury Works site next to St Mary’s school instead. Some studies suggest a ventilation shaft is not essential at either site.

Brent Council’s proposal ignores the pleas from local residents and school staff and users and is putting its regeneration scheme above any concern for the health and wellbeing of students and residents. They have the support of Queens Park residents in this, who feel the vent shaft would be a “blight” on their community, despite the disruption and siting being much further from their homes and schools than is proposed for South Kilburn. As so often, South Kilburn is seen as the dumping ground for things that Brent and its middle classes regard as undesirable’.

The issue of Brent and HS2 has a background. The local Tenants and Residents Association has been asking Brent Council about HS2 and how it will affect us for years, ever since we discovered it is due to run underneath (or very close to) our flats. Unfortunately, unlike Camden, Brent Council didn’t seem to be looking at this at all, its only comments being that HS2 offered great business opportunities’ for Old Oak Common. Even when we got letters from HS2 saying they may want to Compulsorily Purchase our properties we got no support from Brent. We’ve all had at least 2 such letters now, and, despite our urging, Brent Council appears to have done nothing to get proper answers from HS2 on this. Some people have been told verbally that this is just something that HS2 has to do and they will not be wanting to CPO our properties, but we have never had such a commitment from HS2 in writing.

Then, despite us asking for years that Brent take up our concerns and nothing happening, we discovered from a third party that a report on HS2 was due to go to Brent Council  in March last year. This was the first we knew about proposals about the siting of the vent shaft, when the report argued for its siting in South Kilburn rather than next to Queens Park station. We asked that we be allowed to address the Council when it discussed the report, but this was refused. Instead we were given a commitment that our concerns would be taken on board. Given our concerns included opposition to the Council’s push for the vent shaft site to be adjacent to the school and our flats, this was clearly not the case.

Then this year we saw by chance an email from a Council officer to one of our Councillors which said “HS2,  we continue to lobby for this to be relocated from the Council owned site at Salusbury Road car park to the rear of Canterbury Works. Various professional studies have been commissioned which support this Full Council approved stance and have been recently submitted to HS2 for their consideration.”

Around the same time the headteacher of St Marys school came away from a meeting with HS2 and Council officers convinced the vent shaft was going to be put next to the school. Soon after leaflets were put through our doors campaigning against the vent shaft being sited there. This came from people associated with the school, and since then they have had a meeting for all parents, produced petitions and initiated the protest outside the school. 

Local residents support the opposition from school users to the siting of the shaft here, but there is an added complication. The leaflets put through every door and the drive behind the school campaign come from a PR company employed by the property developers building luxury flats (no social housing) at Canterbury House (also next to the school and a block of flats) and property developers hoping to build a ten-storey block of flats on the Canterbury Works site (currently a vehicle repair site, and the site where Brent wants the vent shaft site to be). 

Many of us are opposed to both the siting of the vent shaft next to the school and our flats and ANY further development of the site. We think that having been living on the middle of a regeneration building site for the last 3 years (with the myriad of complaints that has involved, about which Brent has done nothing), we should have respite from any further development and the disruption, noise and dirt involved. Added to which, the Canterbury House development is luxury flats only (advertised as in Queens Park, even though in the middle of South Kilburn), and development on the Canterbury Works would probably be similar, or at the very least the low proportion of social housing we are now seeing in SK regeneration’), this would only add to what we have called the social cleansing’ taking place with regeneration. SK is also already one of the most densely populated parts of Brent. 

We have lost some our little green space through regeneration, we would like to get some back rather than further development. So, as well as opposing the siting of the vent shaft here, we would oppose planning permission for further flats on the site too. Some of us joined the protest outside the school with placards opposing both the HS2 vent shaft and the property developers.

Just to be clear, the PR company’s employee working with the school put on the “No to HS2 at Canterbury Works” Facebook page “We do not want to see a ventilation shaft at Canterbury Works, we are protecting the interests of Canterbury House and a ventilation shaft would be detrimental to this development and to its future residents who will be part of the South Kilburn community.” 

Protecting the interests of Canterbury House means the property developers, it couldn’t be more explicit. Future residents seem to take precedence over current ones too. When they started work on Canterbury House (the building has been empty for years, even though planning permission was obtained some time ago), they knew that HS2 was going through the area and people had been served with potential CPO orders. Our belief was that they were hoping for maximum compensation (unlike us!) and that was why they pressed ahead.

We are hoping we can have one united campaign involving both school and local residents against the siting of the vent shaft here. There does seem to be an attempt to keep us at arms length from the school campaign, given our critical stance.

As so often, Brent Council has spent years ignoring the concerns of local residents and is now intent on pressing HS2 to trample on the interests of both school pupils and residents.

This letter from Pete Firmin to Scrutiny Committee provides detail on residents concerns about the South Kilburn redevelopment in general as well as the shaft: LINK