Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Brent Council agrees to ballot 1,000 South Kilburn residents on regeneration of the Estate

Brent Council has agreed to ballot the approximately 1,000 residents of the South Kilburn Estate who live in the 17 blocks still to be demolished on whether the regeneration of the Estate should continue.

The actual question has to be approved by the Electoral Reform Society who will conduct the ballot but the Council is proposing: 'Are you in favour of the proposal to continue with the regeneration of south Kilburn? - Yes/No

The Cabinet delegated management of the process to the Chief Executive.

A resident commented to Wembley Matters:
Assuming the council win the ballot, there are no available homes to decant most of the residents living in the remaining 13/14 blocks.

70 residents from both Neville & Winstanley have signed 'an allocation's contract' to move into Gloucester & Durham in 2020 or 2021,  The remainder will either be sold privately but most of the homes bought back by the council, may go to those in temporary accommodation living in South Kilburn.

Nothing else will be completed until at least 2022 at the earliest but those homes in the Peel development have already been allocated to the former residents who used to live there.

The next homes available are due in 2023 but the Queen's Park/Cullen House are still standing and their residents have already been decanted 3 years ago into L & Q homes in Albert Road.

It would be interesting  to ask the council where the residents of the dozen or so blocks will be decanted to and what the schedule dates are  to rehouse a thousand or so people?


'Gateway to Wembley' mural to be covered by advertising

Brent Planning Committee last night agreed an application by Quintain to largely cover the murals on the Bobby Moore Bridge underpass with advertising. The underpass leads from the Wembley Park station steps to Olympic Way, the processional route taken by most people attending events at Wembley Stadium.

The mural was commissioned by Brent Council in the early 1990s as a piece of public art to celebrate the rich and varied history of events  that have taken place at the Stadium and Arena, starting with the post-war Olympics. Local historian Philip Grant and local resident Jaine Lunn argued that the mural provided a superior 'gateway' to Wembley compared with advertisements for Quintain's Tipi rental scheme or the LDO.

Lunn said, 'It's our mural, paid for by local people, and we don't want it covered up.' Grant argued that the officers' main report did not even mention 'Heritage' as a key issue and only advocated physical protection to allow possible display in the future. He said that the application should be refused in the interests of local amenity.

The application was approved by five votes to two.

Document submitted to members of the Planning Committee by Philip Grant: (Click bottom right square to enlarge)

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Furness School staff to strike after academy trust's refusal of independent investigation into bullying allegations

Furness Primary School members of the National Education Union (NEU) are to strike on Thursday July 18th after the Chair of Trustees, Jo Jhally, refused a request for an independent investigation into allegations of bullying by management at the school.

Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NEU Secretary, said:
I don't understand the Trustees' reluctance to investigate these complaints - they have a duty of care to these staff which they are just not exercising. Why should my members live in fear?
Furness is no longer directly accountable to the local authority as it formed a Multi-Academy Trust with Oakington Manor Primary School in March 2016 under an Executive Headteacher LINK.

Furness parents and staff opposed the academisation LINK and asked for a secret ballot on the proposal and Cllr Kelcher asked the then lead member for Children and Families, Ruth Moher to adopt a more interventionist approach on the issue to try and retain Furness as a local authority school LINK.

There will be a picket line at the school in Furness Road, Harlesden, from 7.30am - 9am on Thursday.

Monday, 15 July 2019

59% of primary NEU members voting in ballot supported tests boycott but turnout did not meet Government imposed threshold

From Mary Bousted & Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretaries of the National Education Union have sent this message to NEU members in primary schools
The union’s executive met on Saturday, 13 July and looked at the results of our indicative ballot of over 50,000 primary members.

Our members resoundingly told us that they want to high stakes tests replaced by better alternatives inour primary schools. 

It was the biggest survey of primary educators for decades, with 50,000 voting by 97 per cent that they want high stakes tests to end.

While the results showed members are not yet ready to engage in a national boycott, they made it absolutely clear they want the union to continue our campaign for an alternative. 

Although 39 per cent of members voted and 59 per cent of those supported calls to boycott, this wasn’t enough to reach the Government’s imposed double thresholds for industrial action in schools. 

To reach those, 50 per cent of all members would have to cast a vote and 40 per cent of all members would need to vote yes.

The union will continue our campaign to secure changes to the way we assess our youngest children,and engage with politicians of all parties in Parliament and local councils on this issue.

We will also continue to work with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens – all of whom agree with us that high-stakes testing must stop – on their assessment policy proposals. 

We’d like to thank you for taking part in the biggest-ever survey of primary practitioners on this issue and will keep you posted on the next steps in our campaign to stop these toxic tests. 

The union is backing a petition against reception baseline assessment, which is being piloted in some schools from September.

Help us to keep up the pressure by signing and sharing the More Than A Score petition against baseline and visit our website to find out more about our assessment campaign.

Thank you for your continued support for our union and everything you do for the children in your schools and colleges.


Do you have a story to share about Windrush? We would like to hear from you.

From Learning Through the Arts

We are collecting stories of Windrush Migrants and their descendants with a connection to Brent. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact us by August:  //  07510 917517.  In collaboration with Brent Museum & Archives and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Deanna Christou
Arts and Heritage Officer

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Brent Civic Centre witnesses a tide of support for threatened Strathcona School as staff, parents & pupils occupy the atrium steps

Kiri Tunks, Joint National President of the NEU, addresses the protesters
From Brent National Education Union

The fight to save Strathcona School, Wembley, intensified On Wednesday. Staff, parents and children in greater numbers than last time, joined union colleagues on the steps inside Brent Civic Centre. While they sang their song and waved their placards, leaflets were handed out to those working in the centre and to the public. They were very well received and made an impact.

Siluan Buliga, a Year 5 pupil who was there with his mother Oana, said:
 I learnt to speak English with the help of the teachers. Without the school we won't have knowledge as school is education. I am really sad.
 His mother Oana added:
The school is like a family. From the cooks to the teachers, all the staff work together. The school has been a great support and the children have done very well. I want to choose Strathcona for my next child who will be coming into Reception but Brent won't let me.

Another parent Vasantiben Kerai agreed the school has been very supportive and has made a great effort to support her two boys:
Another son is in High School and is in the top set because of the education he got at Strathcona.

Noreen Ahmed has had children at the school since it opened. She said:
My son has become more confident and opened up since going to Strathcona. They support the whole family as they did when I had health problems. They are like a family.
Brent Council intends to close the Roe Green Strathcona school site despite the fact that it is a very popular and successful school site. The Year 6 students achieved progress in the top 3% of schools in England in their SATs results this week. Cllr Muhammed Butt complimented the striking staff and parents on being very well behaved and making a colourful scene with their flags and placards. But staff say listen to our suggestions that will enable to school to stay open.

Kiri Tunks, Joint National President of NEU addressed the group praising them for their brave actions in speaking out against their school being closed. The protesters were also addressed by NEU London Executive members Stefan Simms and Hank Roberts, and representatives of Brent Trades Council.

Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NEU Secretary said
 The Strathcona staff have shown great dignity and unity in their fight to keep their fantastic unit open. Shame on Brent Council for not listening to them.

Mary Adossides, Chair Brent Trades Council said:
 Brent Trades Council send a message of sport and solidarity to the striking staff of Roe Green Strathcona. Their fight in defence of education and jobs is a remarkable test of their determination to ensure the best for the children of Brent. May they win!
Cllr Jumbo Chan who sent solidarity greeting to the strikers said:
I fully support the brave staff, parents and other members of the Roe Green Strathcona community as they continue their extraordinary strike campaign to save their school from closure.

Rather than following the agenda of closure and privatisation set by the Conservative government, our Labour Brent Council should listen to these people who have shown so much dedication to public education, and support them to seek a new alternative.

Brent Council says that there are not enough students going there now that student numbers are dropping across the borough - but of course smaller schools and smaller classes are the best environment for Brent’s children (and after all its good enough for Eton!). And the school has submitted proposals to boost numbers by providing much needed places for SEND students.

An informal consultation received a massive 463 responses with all but 3 against (99.4%) - but Brent have ignored this and moved to a Formal consultation. Parents and staff say please join us and SAY NO to this consultation too.

Email or write to Michael Rollin, Children and Young People, 5th Floor, Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 OFJ

Preston Community Library 'highly commended' in prestigious Library of the Year Award

From Preston Community Library Campaign

Preston Community Library has been “highly commended” in this year’s Bookseller's Library of the Year award.
The judges said that “For the first time, The Bookseller’s Library of the Year shortlist also includes a commendation for a volunteer-run library, Preston Community Library in Brent. Although the award supports professionally-run libraries with paid and qualified staff, this year we felt there should also be some recognition of the commitment and hard work shown by volunteers who keep a form of library provision in their community against the odds.”
Congratulations to all of our volunteers who work tirelessly to keep the library open. Above all, this award recognises the vital importance of local libraries to their communities, which is why thousands of people fought to keep Preston Library open, and continued to fight for several years to re-open it.
All of us at Preston Community Library agree that public libraries should be publicly funded, and run by paid professional staff. But, as custodians - for the time being - of Preston Library we are extremely proud of what we’ve achieved, and honoured to have been recognised in this year’s Library of the Year awards.
On its website LINK the Bookseller commented further:
In fact, Brent Library Service—hearing that the library has been attracting large audiences for its events—has asked Preston Community Library to bring two of its author events to its own libraries: one was held around Susie Boyt’s My Judy Garland Life (Virago), and the other, a Second World War memorial event with Elisa Segrave, was about her book The Girl from Station X (Ebury).
Open four days a week, the library is run by some 80 volunteers, the eldest being 97. The children’s library is “a well-stocked and animated environment”, and membership is around 1,400.
“This shortlisting couldn’t come at a more pressing time,” says literary event lead Geraldine Cook, who adds that the accolade is a “much-needed boost” for the management team (made up of the former library campaigners) who are determined to carry on running the library with all its activities, even when they may have to move the library temporarily, while the council develops the current site for flats.
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Friday, 12 July 2019

Barnhill SNT statement on last weekend's fatalities

From Barnhill Safer Neighbourhood Team

Our thoughts remain with the families of the two young men who have had their lives taken from them in the most horrific way.

We are working closely with our colleagues in the Homicide and Major Crime Command to establish what happened and to identify those responsible. I would urge anyone with information in relation to either murder to come forward and speak with us.

 As a result of the tragic shooting on Harrow Road on Friday, 5 July there was an enhanced police presence in the area throughout the night.

 A section 60 Order – enabling officers to carry out more stop and searches - was also authorised and this ran until 10:00hrs the following morning. This order was kept under constant review.
 Throughout the weekend we were working with partners and community groups to understand the impact of such violent incidents and deal with the consequences. This work will continue in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Across London, bearing down on violent crime on our streets continues to be the Met’s top priority.
 We are working tirelessly - day and night – to identify and pursue offenders, help bring perpetrators to justice, take weapons off the street, support victims, engage and reassure the public, and keep our communities safe.

Kind Regards
Barnhill Safer Neighbourhoods Team
If you need to reply regarding this message, click on this email address:
Guler Mustafa 
Senior Office Assistant 
Neighbourhood Watch

Monday, 8 July 2019

TUC calls for a cross-party 'Just Transition Commission' to pave the way for low-carbon economy

The TUC has today (Monday) published A just transition to a greener, fairer economy – a roadmap to meeting the needs of working people in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The roadmap sets out proposals for:
  1. A Just Transition Commission: a cross-party national commission including business, consumers and unions to plan a clear and funded path to a low-carbon economy.
  2. Workplace Transition Agreements: to put workers’ voices at the heart of transition plans in every workplace where change is required.
  3. Transition skills funding: so that every worker has access to training in the new skills needed for a low carbon economy, and guaranteed pathways to new work.
  4. Employment standard protections: to ensure new jobs in the low carbon economy are not of lower quality than jobs that are changed or superseded.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

Trade unions are committed to addressing the climate emergency. A greener economy can be a fairer economy too, with new work and better jobs right across Britain.

It’s vital to avoid the mistakes of the 1980s, when industrial change devastated communities because workers had no say. This time we need a plan that everyone can get behind, with workers’ voices at the heart of it.
That’s why we’re calling for a politicians, businesses, consumers and unions to make those plans together, through a Just Transition Commission.

An-Nisa urge Brent Council to reject the APPG definition of Islamophobia at tonight's Council Meeting

Statement from An-Nisa Society

An-Nisa Society urges Brent Council to reject the All-Party Parliamentary Group's ill thought out and regressive definition of Islamophobia at the full Council meeting on Monday July 8th that has been tabled by for adoption by Cllr Ahmad Shahzad (Labour - Mapesbury) LINK.

An-Nisa Society rejects this definition which states that:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” 

The definition and the arguments in the report are riddled with thinking that doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

We reject that Islamophobia is a form of racism. Rather, it is a deeply rooted historical hatred and prejudice of Islam as a faith and of its adherents, who are Muslims who are from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. This manifests in prejudice, discrimination, abuse and attacks. It is a hatred of Islam and Muslims that drives the discrimination and attacks. This is not just the case in the West but also in places like China, India and Myanmar.

To subsume Islamophobia into racism, which is about colour and ethnicity no matter how much this definition is trying to manipulate it as a form of ‘cultural’ racism, is to minimise the alarming extent of the hatred of Islam. We cannot combat Islamophobia effectively if the root cause is not properly identified.

This definition of Islamophobia, like the Prevent policy and its Public Sector Duty, will do little to improve conditions for our local Muslim communities. It not only fails to identify the root causes but fails to address the most important issues that are about implementation and resources for implementation.  This report does not offer any guidelines how it will be implemented in practice.

If racism alone was the issue then the anti-racism policies that have been implemented for decades would be enough to tackle this social exclusion of Muslims and the hate crimes perpetrated against them. But they clearly haven’t.

While there is often intersectionality with racism Islamophobia is s specifically anti-Muslim religious discrimination. Unless this is understood and taken on board then adopting any definition that says otherwise is not only not fit for purpose and unworkable. It is also detrimental as there will be a false impression that something is being done, thereby preventing a more relevant and meaningful definition to be worked at,

The definition is regressive and undermines all the work that has been done since the mid 80’s to identify Islamophobia as faith based and not race based. The campaign to tackle anti-Muslim exclusion and anti-Muslim hatred began in the mid 1980s in Brent, led and initiated by An-Nisa Society as a call for the government and the anti-racist movement to acknowledge anti-Muslim discrimination as a specific discrimination separate but sometimes intersectional with race. It is ironic that a movement that started locally by Muslim women and taken on board nationally has never been addressed in it’s place of origin. (1)

Our Director has worked for Brent Council in its Race Relations Unit and has served as a Commissioner with The Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia and as a trustee for the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism.

Getting the definition right should not be piggybacked on other existing recognised hatreds or as a defensive reaction to those who will attack the existence of Islamophobia. For example,


“In this definition of Islamophobia, the link to racism is made for both pragmatic and theoretical reasons.  Pragmatically, many large organisations already have in place mechanisms and protocols for dealing with racism; therefore, by articulating Islamophobia as a form of racism, there is no need to invent new procedures to deal with complaints and concerns that arise. Theoretically, racism is understood to be a form of regulation based on racialization by which collective identities are formed and placed in hierarchies." (2)

If these race-based structures had worked for Islamophobia we wouldn’t have had to campaign for decades for separate recognition. And why should we be pragmatic? We have to be bold and courageous and chart our own experience of prejudice and discrimination and how to it need to be addressed.

Lazy thinking

Should the definition be an almost word for word copy of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism?

“The authors of the report have taken the structure and content of IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as their starting point and, in many places, done little more than cross out ‘Jew’ and insert ‘Muslim’ in its place. Most forms of bigotry have some common characteristics but diverge significantly in their details and form. Homophobia doesn’t take the same form as anti-Black racism. Transphobia isn’t identical to misogyny. If you start out with a definition of antisemitism and try to apply it to the sort of hatred that Muslims face, you will miss the mark.” (3)

Freedom of Speech & the Right to Criticise religion

And of course the issue of freedom of speech and the right to criticise religion. Yes we agree that any criticism of Islam that is made in good faith is welcome. What is not welcome where this is used as a cover to incite hatred of Islam and Muslims, either directly or indirectly leading to discrimination and attacks on Muslims. This needs to be addressed robustly through our laws around incitement to hatred, which at the moment it isn’t.

We urge Brent Council to reject this definition.





Brent Council statement on the weekend's fatal incidents in Wembley

A message from Cllr Tom Miller, Lead Member for Community Safety at Brent Council

The fatal incidents we saw in Wembley over the weekend are truly shocking and our sympathies go to the victims and their loved ones.

While the full details are still emerging, I know that many of us will be alarmed by the violence which is sadly not unique to our borough. Despite these terrible incidents, it’s important to recognise that violent crime has been falling in Brent with 13% fewer serious violent offences compared to the previous year. The council’s community safety team is working closely with the Police and I would like to reassure residents that there will be more Police officers on our streets over the coming days to make sure that those responsible are brought to justice.

Anyone with information about what happened should contact the Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please don’t assume that somebody else has reported it.

Brent Year 6's - Remember...YOU ARE MORE THAN A SCORE!

As children, parents and primary school staff anxiously awaiting the results of the Key Stage 2 SAT tests this is a reminder that a child and their achievements are so much more than a single test result.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Willesden Green Library - Celebrating the great survivor's 125th anniversary

Guest post by Philip Grant
It’s not often that you get invited to a 125th birthday party, but that is what is happening on Thursday 18th July, a century and a quarter to the day from the opening of Willesden Green Library in 1894.

Live music; in a library!? Well, that’s just what happened on the evening of 18th July 1894. The choice of music may be different now, but this was the concert programme then:
Public libraries were something new in Victorian times, and local Councils had to get special approval from their ratepayers before they could raise an extra penny in the pound to be spent on providing them. There was quite a battle in the correspondence column of the “Willesden Chronicle” over the issue in February 1891. 

An anonymous letter, headed “Proposed Pauper Libraries for Willesden Parish”, gave some of the arguments against:

Acquiring a taste to waste time reading foolish and frivolous literature may be less bad than acquiring a taste for some habits of a more actively vicious description. Nevertheless it is very much the reverse of desirable.’  … and:
‘It should be remembered that desirable residents are apt to select a parish, and become ratepayers, because the rates are low compared with those of other parishes, and not because the parish luxuriates in a free library at the expense of the ratepayers.’

A local vicar, and Chairman of the Willesden School Board, replied:

It is easy to nickname these places “Pauper Libraries”, but they are no more pauper than our public parks, or our street gas, or the public promenades at seaside resorts.’
… and:
‘People must have recreation, and a certain degree of excitement. If they do not take it out in poetry and fiction, they will have it in drinking and gambling.’

W.B. Luke, a local councillor and leading campaigner for a “Yes” vote in the poll, wrote:
‘The time has come for a recognition of the higher duty, to humanise and elevate the thousands who throng our tenement dwellings, and to make intelligent citizens of the children who leave the elementary schools only to graduate in the university of the gutter.’

Education*, and helping the large proportion of the local community who were in the working class to better themselves, through access to reading material they could not afford to buy for themselves and their families, was a key aim of free public libraries. The ratepayers of Willesden voted by 2,257 to 1,070 in favour of paying more rates to provide one for each of the three main districts of Harlesden, Kilburn and Willesden Green.

*[It should be remembered that free elementary education for all children had only been introduced as recently as the 1870 Education Act. The “Board Schools” only provided a basic education, often described as “The Three R’s” – Reading, Riting and Rithmetic (perhaps spelling wasn’t on the curriculum, because it didn’t begin with an “R”!)]

The origin of our free public libraries is part of an illustrated local history talk (from 5pm) which forms part of the 125th anniversary programme. It then goes on to cover developments through the whole 125 years, including some more battles along the way. I have prepared the powerpoint slide show, although I will not actually be able to present it on 18th July (it will be in the capable hands of a friend from Brent Museum & Archives).

So how did I, a “Wembley” local historian, get involved with the history of Willesden Green Library? It all began when I was asked to take part in a focus group in February 2011, as a user of the Museum & Archives, about the future of the then Willesden Green Library Centre. Brent’s Regeneration Department were putting forward “options” for dealing with what they considered to be a sub-standard building, and rather than repair or refurbishment, their preferred option was to get a private developer to build a new Brent Council "hub", including a library, on the site. Everyone in our group (and, I discovered later, in a second group of library users) said that if this option was the one chosen, the remaining part of the 1894 building should be retained as part of the new library.

Many of you will remember the battle that took place in 2012 and early 2013, after our views on retaining the Victorian building were ignored. If you weren’t around at the time, you will find plenty of articles about it in the “Wembley Matters” archive for those years! I researched the history of the library as part of making the heritage case for retaining the 1894 frontage, which Brent and its development partner wanted to demolish. A great community effort achieved that in the end, and today’s “The Library at Willesden Green” includes the original library’s face on the High Road.

Luckily, I still had my research material available when plans for the 125th anniversary were being drawn up a few months ago. If you can’t get to the talk, “The Willesden Green Library Story” will soon be available to read or download from the Brent Archives website, at: LINK  Just click on the “local history articles” link from the home page to find a varied menu of illustrated local history material.

Things may have changed since Victorian times, but I believe our free public libraries are still something to be valued, used and supported. I’m confident that many “Wembley Matters” readers will agree with that.
Philip Grant.