Tuesday 28 August 2018

Public Inquiry to be held after Harrow School appeal planning refusal for new sports building

Image from Harrow Hill Trust
The Planning Inspectorate today announced that following an appeal by Harrow School a three day Inquiry will be held into the school's plans for demolition of some existing buildings and the building of new sports and science buildings in the school grounds.

The plans were contested by the public and turned down by Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor using his powers under the Town and Country Planning Act to direct Harrow Council to refuse planning permission.

Mayor Khan said that the proposed footprint and location of the proposed sports building would result in unacceptable sprawl of inappropriate development on Metropolitan Open Land.

Those  contesting the appeal have until October 1st to make a submission to the Planning Inspectorate but are currently handicapped because Harrow School's grounds for appeal have not yet been published on the Harrow Council website.

Planning Inspectorate letter below. Click bottom right for full size version.

Consultation opens on new ward boundaries for Brent with 6 fewer councillors

From the Local Government Boundary Commission


Today is the start of a 10-week public consultation on proposals for new council wards and ward boundaries for Brent Council. 
Our consultation will close on 5 November 2018. 
After we have considered all representations made to us during this consultation, we intend to publish draft recommendations in January 2019. 
We will then hold a further period of consultation on our draft recommendations. Our final recommendations are expected to be published in May 2019. 
The new electoral arrangements will come into effect at the local elections in May 2022.
If you represent a local organisation or community group in Brent, please pass this message on to your members or anyone who you think might be interested in the review. You can share the message by email or through social media by using the buttons at the bottom right of the page.

What is an electoral review?

Our electoral review will recommend new electoral arrangements for Brent Council. We will propose:
  • the total number of councillors elected to the council in the future;
  • the number of wards;
  • the number of councillors representing each ward;
  • ward boundaries; and
  • the names of wards.
How to get involved

This is a public consultation and we welcome views from individuals and organisations across Brent on where they think new ward boundaries should be drawn.

We are minded to recommend that 57 councillors should be elected to Brent Council in the future. 
This is 6 fewer than the current number of councillors. 
We are now inviting proposals to help us draw up a pattern of wards to accommodate 57 councillors.
In drawing up new electoral wards, we must balance three legal criteria, namely:
  • to deliver electoral equality: where each councillor represents roughly the same number of electors as others across the borough;
  • that the pattern of wards should, as far as possible, reflect the interests and identities of local communities;
  • that the electoral arrangements should provide for effective and convenient local government.
We will treat all submissions equally, and judge each case on its merits and against the legal criteria. 
If you wish to put forward a view, we would also urge you to ensure that evidence supports your submission. 
For example, if you wish to argue that two areas should be included in the same electoral ward, make sure you tell us why they should be together, providing evidence about community facilities, ties, organisations, and amenities, rather than simply asserting that they belong together.
There is more advice on our website about how you can get involved in the consultation. 
Our website features technical guidance that explains the process and our policies, as well as guidance on how to take part in each part of the process. 
We have also set up a webpage dedicated to the review of Brent Council, where you can find all the relevant information.
You can also access interactive maps of the current ward boundaries across Brent on our specialist consultation portal. The portal also allows you to draw your own boundaries, mark areas of interest on the map and upload documents directly to the site. 

In drawing up new boundaries, the Commission aims to deliver electoral equality for voters in council elections so that each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters. The review also aims to ensure that the new council wards reflect, as far as possible, the interests and identities of communities across Brent.

Professor Colin Mellors, Chair of the Commission, said: “We are asking local people and organisations to help us draw up new wards for Brent. As we develop the recommendations, we will take into account local community identities as well as ensuring electoral equality for voters.

“If you have a view about which communities or neighbourhoods should be part of the same council ward, then we want to hear from you. And if you think a road, river or railway makes for a strong boundary between communities in your part off Brent, then this consultation is for you.

“If you’re interested in the way the borough is run, just log on to our website to explore our interactive maps and have your say.

“Your views will make a difference. 

“We will carefully consider all evidence that is provided during this phase of the review, whoever it is from and whether it applies to the whole of Brent or just a small part of the borough.

“Residents will then have a further chance to have their say after we publish our draft recommendations in January 2019.”

Local people have until 5 November 2018 to submit their views.

Monday 27 August 2018

Shaka Lish speaks on 'War and the Environment' - September 10th

Brent Stop the War
The next meeting of Brent Stop the War will take place on 

 Monday,10th September at 7.30pm
At: Brent Trades Hall (London Apollo Club) 375 High Rd, Willesden, NW10 2JR

[It’s very close to Willesden Bus Garage, buses 6,52,98,226,260,266,302,460, and just five minutes’ walk from Dollis Hill Jubilee Line station]

                       War & the Environment    

Speaker: Shaka Lish, Activist, Brent Green Party and Green Party candidate.

Sunday 26 August 2018

Headstone Village Show Fun on August Bank Holiday

Nothing says bank holiday like a magnificent village fair – especially in the beautiful historic grounds of Headstone Manor & Museum! This August Bank Holiday you are cordially invited to the great annual Headstone Village Show – guaranteed to make the holiday unforgettable for the whole family!

Headstone Village show welcomes back Harrow in LEAF to present their 14th Annual Horticultural & Craft Show along with Harrow Beekeepers. Explore the show’s diverse and remarkable entries, culminating in an exciting award ceremony to round off the day.
Wonder across the beautiful grounds of Headstone Manor and discover an array of brilliant FREE entertainment for the whole family such as a magic show, children’s circus workshop, a classic car show, a petting farm, fairground games, live music and donkey riding! There really is something for everyone!

Nurture your creativity with a variety of artisan arts and craft stalls, face painting and FREEcraft activities for children! If after all the excitement you find yourself a little peckish be sure to make the most of the delicious food and drink available including (new for 2018) a fully stocked bar of summery beers, ciders and wines.

So make this August Bank Holiday the best yet and head down to Headstone Manor & Museum for a day of unforgettable FUN!

Adults: £3.50, Children (Aged 4 – 12): £2.00, Under 4s: FREE, Family (2 adults, 2 children OR 1 adult, 3 children): £9.00. FREE PARKING

Saturday 25 August 2018

Local residents penalised on Wembley Event days

As locals know it is pretty hard getting around the borough on Wembley Event Days with over-crowded public transport, traffic jams, curtailed bus routes and parking restrictions. Many give up moving around the area to go about their normal business, shopping, visting relatives or attending local events.

Now it appears to have got harder with Brent Council refusing Barham Community Library, staffed by volunteers,  Event Day parking permits for library events and community lettings that happen to take place on event days.

Paul Lorber asked for what he thought would be routine parking permits for the library and received this reponse from Brent Council:

After consulting our 2015 parking strategy document which is available online at https://www.brent.gov.uk/media/16403337/parking-strategy-2015.pdf, I can confirm that we are unable to issue the dispensations that you have requested. I have attached a copy of this strategy for your convenience. 
I draw your attention to article 3.120, titled “Places of worship and community centres”. therein it states;
“Many places of worship are situated in residential areas. People often use their cars to travel to worship or to attend related community activities, and this can sometimes cause   congestion and/or conflict with the parking needs of local residents and businesses. With the exception of event-day place of worship permits in Wembley (only premises that are not in a CPZ are eligible), no special on-street parking provision is made for places of worship and community centres.”
I believe that this article precludes the library from any issuance of dispensations, or any other special on-street parking provision.  
I have reviewed the public transport options available around the library, I note.
·      Sudbury Town Station is 0.2 miles away (five minute walk) serving the Piccadilly line.
·      Sudbury and Harrow Road Station is 0.3 miles away (6 minute walk) serving the Chiltern Line on the National Rail.
·      Wembley Central Station is 0.7 miles away (14 minute walk) serving the London Overground (Watford DC line), the Bakerloo line and the National Rail serving the London and North-Western Railway and Southern lines.
·      A bus stop serving the 18, 92, 182, 204 & H17 routes is 300ft north-west of the library entrance.

I would encourage visitors to make use of the readily available public transport, as well as walking and cycling, our published strategy seeks to reduce trips by cars throughout the Borough.
I understand that this may not have been the response you were expecting. However, we have a published strategy to seek to achieve a balance between the needs of residents to park, access to local employment and local retail and service providers in addition to the reduction of car trips. 

John Wild
Contract Operations Manager
Lorber challenged Wild in his response:

Dear Mr Wild

Thank you for your email.

Firstly I consider it inappropriate for anyone from Brent Council to recommend cycling to anyone until such time as the local roads are repaired. As things state many roads are in such a poor state of repair that they are death traps for cyclists.

Barham Community Library has now been open for almost 2 years and up to now all our requests for permits for events at our Library have been met irrespective of the out of touch policy/document you refer to.

What has suddenly changed?

I am concerned because our Library is attended by many older and disabled people who are often brought by others. Without receiving a lift from a relative or friend who then needs to park locally that person would not be able to come.

This policy is therefore depriving elderly and disabled people for accessing our Library on Event days and preventing us to organise events for our local community for many weekends during the year. How does this approach help to meet the other Council objective to tackle loneliness?

If the intention is for Brent Council and its officers to deprive community facilities the ability to function or for disabled or elderly people to be disadvantaged then I suggest that you clearly state this intent and publicise it - rather than simply hide behind a document which no one is aware of.

Whenever the issue of the Wembley Event Zone was discussed officers and leading councillors reassured residents and organisations that they could always apply for Event Day permits. I cannot recall anyone stating that they were restricted to funerals and weddings only and recall summer BBQs, birthday parties being mentioned too.

The fact that up to now our requests for permits were always granted proves that the above approach was followed up to now. Hence my question - what has changed and who issued instructions to change the approach.

I am copying these exchanges to the Chief Executive so that she can sort out this mess and stop local people and local organisations being disadvantaged in this appalling way just to accommodate Wembley Stadium and their growing number of events.

Paul Lorber

Lorber told Wembley Matters:
We have been asking for permits regularly and until recently received them for days when the Library was open, or for the Tamil School or even for lets to other groups or individuals for a social/party. One group who regularly uses us for small social gatherings are the  Caribbean Muslim Group made up mostly of older people. They usually finish around 10:30pm and feel safer to go by car with their family. Without the ability to park for their elders or disabled people they will simply give up.

A return bus ride costs £3 - and most people are unlikely to want to spend so much to simply come to a library.

We are not talking of a vast numbers of people and lack of parking spaces or congestion is not an issue for us as Barham Park is some way from the Stadium.

Tge trouble is that the rules are being imposed and enforced by people who do not live here and do not appreciate  the damage their draconian restrictions cause for local people and voluntary groups.
Surely it is wrong that the local council that is supposed to represent the interests of its residents has decided to restrict their lives on event days?

Tribute to Mick Woods - Fighter and Friend

Mick Woods 28.12.54-17.7.18 
Guest post by Pete Firmin

My close friend and comrade Mick Woods has died at the early age of 64.
Born near Southend, Mick lived in Manchester and London, before settling in Denmark. Or, as his Facebook page says “too many places to mention”.
Mick also moved around a bit between political organisations on the left. But he preferred action to sitting in meetings. Whether in support of the 84-85 miners’ strike, fighting fascists on the streets or campaigning against the Poll Tax, Mick was always in the front line.
I well remember the time when, after a period on the dole, we both got new jobs on the same day, me on the railways, Mick with a small engineering firm. Within 2 days we were both on strike. But Mick never got his job back, whereas the NUR strike was over the same week.
Mick was elected a Labour Councillor for Carlton (now part of Kilburn) ward in Brent in 1986 as part of a fightback by the left in local government. He and other councillors refused to vote for cuts and were “disciplined” for their principles.
In 1993, Workers’ Aid was formed to support the fight to keep Bosnia multinational at a time when it was under siege from the Serbian army. Mick volunteered to drive convoys of aid to the embattled miners of Tuzla in Bosnia. In all, Mick drove to Tuzla 25 times. At his funeral in Aarhus, his courage as a convoy leader was emphasised.
During this time, Mick met Lone. He moved to Denmark and they had a daughter, Ina. Their relationship did not last but Mick was immensely proud, in his understated way, of how Ina developed into a proudly independent politically active woman. It was a sad irony he was not able to hear that she had addressed the final rally of the Fourth International youth camp in Denmark on behalf of the host delegation just 10 days after his death.
Mick kept in touch with some friends in Britain both on line and through mutual visits.
Since Mick’s death, many tributes have been paid; remembering his love of birdwatching, poetry and food as well as his militant activity and his extensive knowledge of politics and history. Many remember Mick’s generosity, which I can vouch for, having slept on the floor of his one bed Council flat when I was homeless. John McDonnell recalls fondly Mick working with him at the Greater London Council.
Always suffering health issues – with psoriasis often covering his whole body – recently Mick developed sclerotic arteries, which eventually led to both his legs being amputated. He became severely depressed and eventually died in hospital.
A memorial event for Mick will take place in London on Friday September 7th. More details can be got from me via Labour Briefing.
Mick would have echoed the words of Joe Hill, “Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.”

The wake/memorial gathering for Mick Woods will be on

Friday 7th September, 7-10 p.m.

At the Marian Community Centre, 1 Stafford Road, London NW6 5RS 

There will be (Indian finger) food and a pay bar (including soft drinks)

As well as the opportunity to socialise, meet old friends, chat about memories of Mick, the intention is to have an open mic where those who want to can share memories of Mick with everyone.

Unfortunately, some who would like to won’t be able to make this date. This would be inevitable whatever the date. If you can’t make it, but would like memories of Mick to be read out please either pass them to a friend who you know is coming, or email them to me. If you haven't already, you can also post memories of Mick in the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/225855551393330/

Please let me know if you are coming, so we can have an idea of numbers to cater for.

If you have questions, please contact me, petefirmin@btinternet.com

For those who don’t know, the Marian Centre is where Carlton branch Labour Party held its meetings during the period when Mick was a local Councillor, and is directly opposite Austen House, the tower block where Mick lived for a period.

There will be a box for voluntary donations to cover costs on the night.

Friday 24 August 2018

Help restore colourful Wembley High Road mural

Local campaigner Paul Lorber is urging local residents and business to chip in towards the £150 cost of repairing a vandalised mural in Wembley High Road.
The mural in Wembley was commissioned by Wembley Futures to improve the appearance of the High Road. The work was carried by Alessandra Grasso, an artist in residence with Friends of a Barham Library.
Unfortunately one section of one of the 5 murals has been vandalised for the second time and needs to be repaired. It would seem that someone has taken a dislike to one of the national flag.
Paul Lorber, Wembley Futures and Friends of Barham Library are keen to repair the mural and have started the £150 needed to carry out the repair.
Anyone willing to donate can send a cheque payable to Friends of Barham Library and send it to Paul Lorber c/o 17 Stapenhill Road Wembley HA0 3JF. Anyone interested in contributing can email Paul on barhamlibrary@hitmail.co.uk and he will send you a Gift Aid form and details of how to pay.
Paul said:
The Murals in Wembley High Road brightened up the local area and it would be good to get them back to their original perfect condition.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Fire making & outdoor cooking at Welsh Harp Thursday August 23rd

From Thames21
Activities for chidlren at Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre


Thursday 23rd Aug   Fire making & outdoor cooking

10am – 12pm each date
Address: Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre, Birchen Grove, NW9 8RY
Suitable for children aged 8 – 12yrs
Costs £3.50 per child

Booking essential – contact Edel on welshharpcentre@thames21.org.uk / 07734 871 728
Children and adults should wear comfortable outdoor clothing that may get dirty.

• Visits must only be cancelled in extenuating circumstances and Thames21 must be notified in advance.
• Thames21 reserves the right to cancel a visit if weather conditions are deemed unsafe or if adult to child ratio is not met.
An adult must attend & supervise participating children throughout all activities making sure that:
• Supervise children at all times and are responsible for their behaviour.
• Minimum ratio of 1 adult to 5 children
• Will need to provide any specific medication for children or have the child’s parent attend the visit.


 30th Aug   Bow & arrow firing range

Saturday 18 August 2018

Don't terminate our 223 Harrow bus at Northwick Park Hospital - residents respond to 'sham' consultation

 Thanks to Linda Green for this guest post outlining how the changes to the 223 bus route  will affect residents' and school children's public transport.
Last year TFL decided that it would change a large number of bus services throughout London, because of 'The Elizabeth Line', which will not come to Brent.  This included cutting the 223 bus that goes from Wembley to Harrow via the Preston Park area.  Instead of going to Harrow it will terminate outside Northwick Park hospital.

As I heard a rumour about it I tried searching TFL's website, but couldn't find anything until a friend sent me a link.

I asked on the bus, and the driver said 'they plan something this week then next week they change it'.  At Harrow bus station I asked for information but they didn't have any.  I wrote to TFL and asked for copies of the consultation documents to be sent to the library, as lots of the 223 users don't have the internet and don't have any information.  They did not reply.

Apparently there was a note about this in Metro.  There was no information put in buses, and nothing put in Harrow bus station and nothing put up in bus stops.  If you live in the Preston area, and your main use of public transport is the 223 or other local buses, you do not see Metro and hence have no way of knowing that the consultation was taking place.

The issues affecting local people are:

·      Many residents of Wembley, Preston and Kenton see Harrow as their main shopping area, and use the 223 to get there.  They also go to Harrow for entertainment, such as cinemas and restaurants.  They do not want to change at Northwick Park.
·      It is the only bus service at all for many residents, and for many it is too far to either walk to the tube station, or to manage the large number of steps at the stations, especially if they have heavy bags of shopping or babies in pushchairs. 
·      It would be especially stressful and difficult for elderly and disabled people and parents to have to get themselves and their shopping off the bus to wait for another one at Northwick Park, where there are no facilities, shelter from the weather or proper seats.
·      It would be unpleasant to wait at Northwick Park in the dark.  It is very creepy at night and people would feel vulnerable. All there is are two bus stops and a grassy area with trees.
·      Many children and young people use the route to go to and from school in Harrow.  They get on at Harrow bus station and get off all through from Woodcock Hill, Kenton, Preston and later stops through to Wembley and Wembley Park.  Many Brent sixth-formers get the 223 to Harrow bus station then change to other buses to go to Harrow Weald College and other Harrow high schools. In future they would need to get three buses. I doubt if the pupils and students know that their transport to school and college is about to be cut.
·      Young people go to pubs and clubs in Harrow then get the last 223 back to the Preston Park area as well as to the Avenue and Wembley Park.  They would risk missing another last bus from Northwick Park hospital and be vulnerable waiting there or having to walk back.
·      A whole range of people goes to Harrow to visit the cinema and restaurants, and will have similar problems to the young people mentioned above.
·      The 223 is hail and ride for much of the route, so that people can get off near their homes.  For this reason people who have disabilities or who feel vulnerable like to use this bus.  It means that it is easier than using the tube.
·      The bus is also the cheaper option compared with the tube.
·      Many of Preston Community Library's volunteers and members use this bus to visit the library.

Personally, I would stop going to the cinema and restaurants at Harrow if there were no bus home at night. I would not feel safe waiting in the dark, rain or snow by the hospital. Also, after I have walked around shopping etc I seldom have the strength left to climb the steps into Harrow tube station or the steps inside Preston Road station.

Residents can make a complaint via London Travel Watch: http://www.londontravelwatch.org.uk/complaints/

They could also write to Navin Shah, the London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, or to their MP or the London Mayor. Copy in your local councillors.

When complaining do emphasize that the consultation was a sham, and that users of the bus mostly knew nothing about the proposals at all. 'Tell them how it affects you personally.

 Other bus routes will be affected also, so it is worth contacting TFL to see if there are other cuts which affect you.

TfL consultation response HERE