Sunday 31 March 2019

Carlton-Granville Centre call-in to be heard by Brent Scrutiny on Wednesday as campaigners launch petition

The call-in of the proposal to build housing on the Granvill-Carlton site on the South Kilburn estate will be heard by the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday. The Cabinet's decision was called in by required 5 non-executive councillors in this case Cllrs Abdi, Chan, Hector, Pavey and Hassan.

This is the protocol for call-ins:
A decision made by the council’s Cabinet or a Cabinet committee, or a key decision by an officer, can be called in for review before it is implemented. Decisions can be called in by five non-executive members or by the Scrutiny Committee. If a Cabinet decision is called-in, that decision cannot normally be implemented until it has been considered by a scrutiny committee. An urgency procedure is in place in Standing Orders for any decision that cannot afford to be delayed.

The Scrutiny Committee is required to meet within 15 working days of the date on which a call-in is accepted as valid. The Committee may decide to refer the matter back to the Cabinet or other decision maker, along with the reasons why the Committee thinks it should be reconsidered. The Cabinet or other decision maker will then decide whether to implement the original decision or review the decision based on the views of the Scrutiny Committee. Alternatively the Committee can decide that the matter should not be referred back to the Cabinet or other decision maker in which case the original decision will be implemented.
-->Meanwhile local campaigners have set up a petition:

Please sign our petition asking Brent Council ...

To not put housing on the Granville and Carlton site
To have only  multipurpose community spaces managed by an alliance of community organisations and local residents.


Granville and Carlton are two community buildings in the heart of South Killburn, in Northwest London. Both buildings were built for the community; Granville as multi-use community spaces and Carlton as a school and later adult education.

In 2016 Granville Communtiy Kitchen and The Otherwise Club with the help of local residents and Councillors were able to change Brent Council's minds about tearing down these invaluable local heritage  buildings. Now in 2019 they have new plans we need to challenge.

Multipurpose spaces are what Granville and Carlton have been for over 100 years! They were used for supporting those in need,  dances, weddings, celebrating and mourning, free advice, youth clubs and exercise classes, learning and socialising.

Please sign our petition to keep these buildings for lots of community uses
Social housing on this site? No thank you!
We want more social housing but not on an amenity site purposely built for social use

The South Kilburn Regeneration Programme is building over 2400 homes in the area. We need more multipurpose community spaces for these new residents!

Please build more social housing but not on the site of the only public community spaces in the area! They are building 308 homes just 10m from the Granville Carlton site with only 42 (14 %) of these being social housing. Make more social housing in the Regeneration Programme but not on the community site.

Please sign our petition to keep these buildings for lots of community uses
We want:
No housing on the site
Multipurpose community spaces managed by an alliance of community organisations and local residents.

Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt joins Momentum

It was a bit of a surprise to local Momentum members when Muhammed Butt turned up at their meeting to discuss who to nominate for the Brent and Harrow Assembly Member election.

It became apparent that Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, had become a national member of Momentum. It must have been rather disconcerting to have 'The Leader' in the meeting, particularly when he is thought to support the nomination of his fellow Cabinet member Cllr Krupesh Hirani.

Cllr Butt is not well known for his red-blooded socialism, militancy over academisation or refusal to implement cuts. Hitherto, he has been more pro-Sadiq than Jeremy, so people were rather stunned by his apparent conversion to the cause.

As if to confirm his new status and silence the doubters, Butt turned up at the Momentum protest outside the Willesden Green branch of Barclays Bank on Saturday, part of a very worthwhile nationwide campaign by Momentum against the bank investing in fossil fuels and thus contributing to climate change.  His presence attracted many tweets and re-tweets.

So has he been converted to the cause by Graham Durham and co, or is there more to it? When his party commanded 57 of the 63 seats on the Council he was successful in seducing the three Tory councillors from Kenton into what amounted to an alliance against the Brondesbury Park conservatives.

Perhaps Butt's move is a sort of reverse entryism:  Uncle Mo keeping a wary eye on the combination of  Old Campaigners and Young Turks.

Saturday 30 March 2019

Ealing primary school stops academisation with support from the council and local MP

Southfield Primary School NEU members
Here's another example of a local council and MP getting behind campaigners, this time on academies. It contrasts with Brent Council's failure to really get behind anti-academisation campaigners in the case of The Village School.

This is a statement from the school's NEU members received via the Anti Academies Alliance:
 "Here’s some good news. We have managed to stop Southfield Primary School from becoming an academy!

After hearing that our governors wanted to join the Knowledge Schools Trust, through the process of academisation, unhappy NEU members decided to make a stand. We believe in education for all, not just the chosen few. So we rallied together to fight this decision. We fought back! We had a ballot, met with parents and decided we were prepared to strike to save our children’s education. We wanted to stay part of Ealing, it is a supportive borough.

We wouldn’t have achieved this if we hadn’t stuck together and would like to thank Stefan Simms and the NEU for their support.

We would also like to thanks Julian Bell Leader of Ealing Council, Cllr Yvonne Johnson and Rupa Huq MP for standing with us."


We should learn lessons from the huge victory won by Ealing and Charing Cross hospital campaigners

Hammersmith and Fulham Council's campaigning video

Amidst the distraction of the Brexit farrago a statement was slipped out in the House of Commons last Tuesday of great significance for everyone campaigning to save the NHS and against austerity cuts to public services.

The Secretary of State announced the decision with many a swipe at the local MPs (starts with Karen Buck's question):

A key factor in  the campaign was how Hammersmith and Fulham Council got behind the local community and hopsital campaigners and devoted resources to savinf their local hospital A&E. Unfortunately the Shaping the Healthier Future plans that led to the closure of the A&E  at Central Middlesex Hospital, although well fought.,were implemented and the A&E is still missed today, particuarly by residents in the Park Royal, Harlesden and Stonebridge areas.

Save our Hospitals Hammersmith and Fulham said:

The Secretary of Health Matt Hancock announced on March 26th that the closure plans for both Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals contained in the cuts & closures plan known as Shaping A Healthier Future have been withdrawn.  We’ve won. It’s not been easy taking on a well funded posse of spin doctors, management consultants and political ideologues but many thousands of people have done just that and after a 7 year fight we’ve stopped a closure plan that was downright dangerous. Everyone has done their bit whether that’s signing petitions, challenging bureaucrats in meetings, running street stalls, demonstrating, fundraising or delivering & displaying posters. We should feel really proud of ourselves and celebrate our collective achievement.

Of course there are still huge problems: The £30m primary & community cuts planned for H&F, the state of disrepair in our hospitals, on going understaffing & under resourcing coupled with the threat of privatisation by the likes of Babylon and Virgin. Some may have seen the laughable attempts of local conservative MPs and councillors to claim responsibility for a victory they have consistently done their best to sabotage  It’s also true that the government could change it’s mind and come back with new closure plans in the future.

So we’ll have to keep campaigning - we’ve proven today that campaigning works. But for now let’s just celebrate a victory won by lots of different people (including you) working together to Save Charing Cross Hospital.

Kind Regards AD(SOH chair)

Ealing Save Our NHS said:

Finally, the Government has admitted the horrible ‘Shaping a Healthier Future Plan’ (SAHF) is not workable!

Former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson had called these plans “the most significant reconfiguration project in the country”. But since they first announced SAHF plans to cut nine major hospitals in North West London down to five, Ealing Save Our NHS has been campaigning against it side by side with many others including Save Our Hospitals Charing Cross and the Councils in Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham. SAHF spent tens of millions of pounds of NHS cash on management consultants. All for nothing. 

Now Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, has announced the Department of Health no longer supports it. Ealing Save Our NHS has distributed a quarter of a million leaflets, held protests, attended carnivals, organised parties, lobbies, petitions, car convoys and much more to spell out the truth. On the other side huge amounts of NHS money was spent on public relations staff and glossy leaflets to pretend that our health would mysteriously be improved if they closed A&E’s and hundreds of beds. It didn’t work.

So what will happen now? Ealing Save Our NHS will keep on campaigning. This disastrous SAHF plan has seen the closure of two local A&Es, Central Middlesex and Hammersmith, as well as the closure of Ealing A&E to children. As a direct consequence, waiting times for Type 1 urgent A&E visits increased greatly. Ealing Hospital’s excellent maternity department was also closed, forcing Ealing mothers to travel long distances and negatively effecting continuity of care for many.

But health bosses appear to have learned nothing and continue to defend the indefensible. Mark Easton, the head of the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups, in announcing the death of SAHF has just made the mind-boggling claim that maternity care and emergency paediatric care have improved. This is certainly not the view of local parents whose local services have closed. Ealing Hospital remains seriously underfunded and in crisis. But at least there is a ray of sunshine, the horrible plan underlying all these cuts has gone and we can focus on calling for proper funding and restoration of local health services.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public added,

This is a very important victory for the people of Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham. Campaigners must be proud of themselves for standing up for the NHS and their local communities for 7 long years – with integrity, skill and huge impact. Elections unseated the council backing closure of Charing Cross and the Ealing MP backing government attacks on the local NHS and public services. Campaigners won the local councils to their side and refused to give in to the irresponsible plans of ‘Shaping A Healthier Future’ in North West London. Well done and thank you. The battles are not over. We are with you in your fight to restore the damage done and win back maternity and children’s services in Ealing Hospital.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council said:

We did it together! The government has finally been forced to retreat on closing Charing Cross Hospital.

Thanks to Save Our Hospitals campaigners, Michael Mansfield QC (who ran the independent commission that provided such unchallengable evidence against the plans) and to the many, many residents who have fought with us so hard and for so long.

Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan says: “This is a huge validation of Michael Mansfield QC’s findings and a huge victory for the Save Our Hospitals campaign. Thank you to all the residents who worked with us to save Charing Cross Hospital.”

Statement from North West London CCG (26 March 2019): “We will not be taking forward the plans as set out in SaHF for changes to Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals.”

What was planned?

We’ve won the battle to save Charing Cross Hospital from proposals to demolish most of it and replace its A&E with an urgent care clinic – leaving just 13 per cent the size of the original hospital.

·      We joined forces with local residents and with Ealing Council, who have been fighting the closure of Ealing Hospital

·      We commissioned a public inquiry led by Michael Mansfield QC that has provided a strong evidence base for why the proposals are wrong. Read the full report here.

·      We’ve refused to sign the ‘North West London STP’ – because it restates the plan to reduce acute services from nine major hospitals to five.

·      We commissioned a review of the NHS proposals and the STP – Read the review (pdf 4MB).

·      We’ve held scrutiny meetings to publicly quiz NHS managers on their plans

·      We’ve invited local people to public meetings, rallies and demonstrations

·      We’ve presented petitions and published individual residents’ own experiences and stories

·      We’ve kept local people updated on the campaign through letters, leaflets, posters and social media.

The current much-loved Charing Cross Hospital was to be replaced with an urgent care centre, diagnostics and out-patients only.

The NHS plan included:

·      Demolishing the current Charing Cross Hospital and selling off most the site

·      Replacing the current Charing Cross Hospital with a series of clinics on a site no more than 13 per cent the size of the current hospital

·      Replacing the current A&E with an urgent care clinic

·      Losing more than 300 and possibly all the acute care beds

·      The detail on the proposals is in the NHS Case for Change.


Friday 29 March 2019

Is more accountability to Brent residents and councillors needed from our OPDC representative?

Considering the enormous scale of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development we herelittle in Brent about progress from our representative on the board Cllr Muhammed Butt.  After Cargiant threw a spanner in the works over its site LINK the London Mayor announced with a fanfare that the Corporation had been given a £250m award by the government:
Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), has today welcomed the government’s decision to award £250m to kick-start development on the West London site.
The investment, from the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, will be used to assemble land, design and build vital roads and utilities infrastructure. This will allow development of homes and businesses to begin at Old Oak North, close to the new transport ‘Superhub’ where the HS2 and the Elizabeth Line will meet.
Old Oak North is the first of six new neighbourhoods planned for the 650-hectare site. When complete, it is predicted that the entire redevelopment of Old Oak and Park Royal will deliver 25,500 new homes and 65,000 new jobs.
Old Oak and Park Royal is one of London’s largest Opportunity Areas with a new High Speed 2 (HS2) and Elizabeth line (formerly Crossrail) station due to be constructed at Old Oak by 2026. Redevelopment of the area has the potential to deliver 24,000 new homes and 55,000 jobs in Old Oak, as well as 1,500 new homes and 10,000 jobs on the adjoining Park Royal industrial estate.
Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) is the body tasked by the Mayor with driving forward future development plans for the area. OPDC has full planning powers within the 650-hectare site, which includes land in the boroughs of Hammer smith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
Old Oak and Park Royal is one of the capital’s most important regeneration projects with the capacity to deliver tens of thousands of new, genuinely affordable homes and jobs.
Therefore, I’m pleased that government have shown its support for our vision through this funding grant. This money will let us enter a new stage in the development of Old Oak, delivering the essential infrastructure to make the Old Oak dream a reality.
 Anyone wanting further information on the activities of the Board discover that the Minutes of the meetings are published a long time after the meetings. The last meeting for which Minutes have been published was November 28th at which Muhammed Butt was replaced by Cllr Shama Tatler with just observer status.

The leaders of the three London Boroughs involved, Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham are all on the broad for which they receive an allowance of £15,000. LINK  Cllr Butt is also on the Appointments and Remuneration Committee along with Brent's Head of Planning Amar Dave.

It is difficult to find how Cllr Butt reports back to Brent councillors on the OPDC and how its decisions are scrutinised. There were 5 Board meetings in 2018 and 1 Appointments and Remuneration Committee meeting. This is a pretty good rate per meeting and I am sure Muhammed Butt would argue that he does far more work on the OPDC than just attend meetings - it would be good have some detail.

The Brent Council website shows just how many other outside committees he is on:

A life spent in committee rooms looks rather dreary but Cllr Butt's role does bring him some pleasure:

There are some consultation meetings on OPDC plans coming up soon - details HERE

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Full Government response to Revoke & Remain petition. (Short version: 'Up Yours!')

The Revoke Article & Remain in the EU petition, now nearing 6 million signatures, will be debated by Parliament on April 1st - an appropriate date for all those now feeling they were fooled by politicians in the Referendum leave campaign.

The Goverment issued the following tart response to the petition which will now be repeated by ministers across the media today:

The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU.”.
Government responded:
This Government will not revoke Article 50. We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum and work with Parliament to deliver a deal that ensures we leave the European Union.
It remains the Government’s firm policy not to revoke Article 50. We will honour the outcome of the 2016 referendum and work to deliver an exit which benefits everyone, whether they voted to Leave or to Remain.
Revoking Article 50, and thereby remaining in the European Union, would undermine both our democracy and the trust that millions of voters have placed in Government.
The Government acknowledges the considerable number of people who have signed this petition. However, close to three quarters of the electorate took part in the 2016 referendum, trusting that the result would be respected. This Government wrote to every household prior to the referendum, promising that the outcome of the referendum would be implemented. 17.4 million people then voted to leave the European Union, providing the biggest democratic mandate for any course of action ever directed at UK Government. 
British people cast their votes once again in the 2017 General Election where over 80% of those who voted, voted for parties, including the Opposition, who committed in their manifestos to upholding the result of the referendum. 
This Government stands by this commitment. 
Revoking Article 50 would break the promises made by Government to the British people, disrespect the clear instruction from a democratic vote, and in turn, reduce confidence in our democracy. As the Prime Minister has said, failing to deliver Brexit would cause “potentially irreparable damage to public trust”, and it is imperative that people can trust their Government to respect their votes and deliver the best outcome for them.
Department for Exiting the European Union.
Click this link to view the response online:
This petition has over 100,000 signatures. The Petitions Committee will consider it for a debate. They can also gather further evidence and press the government for action.
The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee:

Monday 25 March 2019

Warm welcome planned for Capita staff returning to Council employment on April 1st

From Barnet Alliances for Public Services (BAPS) and Kick Out Capita who have campaigned vociferously for out-sources services in the Tory Flagship London Borough of Barnet  to be brought back in-house.  This is a landmark decision and perhaps a warning to other boroughs.
Monday 1 April is officially the first day back into Council employment for former Capita Finance and Human Resources staff.
This will mean Phase One of the Capita review has been completed.
After years of campaigning, BAPS and the #KickOutCapita campaign invite you:
Join us to welcome back the workers who return in-house
There will be cake and Welcome notices, feel free to bring your own placards. All welcome!
However, we also want to send a very clear message to Barnet Council that we want to see the swift return of all the former Council services, currently provided by Capita, back in-house ASAP.
At the moment councillors are considering bringing back the services in phases over 18 months:
Phase Two: Highways & regeneration (scheduled to be discussed in Policy & Resource committee in June 2019)
Phase Three : Estates, Social Care Direct, Safety, Health and Wellbeing, Strategic planning, Procurement, Insight, Cemetery and Crematorium, Revenues and benefits
Phase Four: Customer services, Information Services (IT), Planning (development management and enforcement), Regulatory services, Transactional HR services (including Payroll and Pensions Administration), Any other remaining services.
But we think that the proposed time scale is dragging the process far too long. Other councils like Southampton, Blackburn and Darwen, Sheffield and Birmingham all in-sourced the services within a much shorter time.

SHOCKING: Brent schools' share of £4.5bn budget cuts made since 2015

The School Cuts coalition analysis LINK  of the latest Government school funding figures shows a shortfall in funding £5.4 billion over the past 3 years with 91% number of schools in England affected.

This is the most comprehensive examination of school funding figures, bringing together:
·      Schools Block allocations (which for 2018/19 also includes the new Teacher Pay Grant)
·      the Pupil Premium
·      sixth form funding

See the table below to see how Brent schools are affected.

Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NEU Secretary, said:
This is an intolerable situation. Children and young people are being short changed by a Government that believes their education can be run on a shoe string budget.

As a result of Governments absolute refusal to accept the fact that a school funding crisis exists school class sizes are increasing, teachers and support staff are being reduced, building repairs are being left undone, subjects are being dropped from the curriculum and teachers are having to pay out of their own pocket for items such as text books and glues sticks.

This situation cannot go on. There needs to be a reversal of cuts to school budgets since 2010, and for the funding of schools and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) provision to be of a level that ensures all children and young people get the education they deserve, regardless of where they live.
Click bottom right for full page. Editor's note: some schools will be carrying forward a surplus from the previous year but most, given the cuts, are likely to carry forward a deficit.


What about the Brent Cross Development? How will it affect you? April 4th Meeting

Friday 22 March 2019

Council tenants' fury as water bills soar after Thames Water take over billing from Brent Council

Reports are reaching me of massive increases in water bills as Thames Water takes billing over from Brent Council. Water bills used to be incorporated into rent paid to Brent Council and then passed on to Thames. Now Thames are billing each dwelling for direct payment and some residents are reporting substantial increases.

The information coming is is from is from CAMS, which is Comber Close, Ainsworth Close, Banting Close and Mackenzie House in Dollis Hill.

One tenant said they were now paying £47 a month to Thames having previously paid Brent Council £6 a week as part of their rent. Local activist Alison Hopkins said that a tenant of a 2 bedroomed flat was paying more than she did for her three bedroomed house and garden.

To add insult to injury another tenant hoping to install a water meter to reduce bills was told that one might not be possible to fit as the flats are old:
I’ve just spoken to [Thames Water], they claim it’s worked out on the chargeable value of my property (which I don’t understand what that is) and waste water charge. I asked why has it almost tripled they said if you have a view etc or a big garden then that’s how it’s worked out???They said they don’t know if a meter can be fitted here either so I’m waiting for someone from Thames Water to call me back, Sod’s law being these blocks are old etc I won’t be able to have one fitted! Then the only option is to continue with the large payments per month! I’m still waiting for my new rent charge letter to come out from Brent, I bet it won’t be any different even without the water charge.
It appears that the problem may be to do with a miscalulation of the chargeable value* of the council properties and tenants have been urged to contact Thames Water to complain and seek a review of their bills. LINK

This is what Thames say about chargeable value:
Bills for unmetered properties, built before 1989, are based on the chargeable value of the property (also known as the rateable value).

The chargeable value was set by the Valuation Office at the Inland Revenue and represents the potential annual rent for your property. This is not related to your council tax banding.

Rateable Values were based on the size, location, access to local facilities and desirability of your property. For example, if your property had double glazing and the identical property next door didn’t your home would have been given a higher rateable value. This charge isn’t calculated from your actual water use.

We apply this value to calculate your water charges. There is one rate for water services and another for wastewater services. The rates you pay depend on where you live. You will also pay a fixed yearly charge.

You can find out more about your rateable charge in our charges leaflet.
Please let me know if your water bill has suddenly soared.

Thursday 21 March 2019

UPDATED: Celebration as Bridge Park case referred to Attorney General

Campaigners to stop Brent Council from selling off the Bridge Park Complex won a round of the battle today when Brent Council's attempt to thwart the campaigners through a summary hearing at the High Court failed. The campaign has won the right to go to full trial over their claim that the Complex is protected by a covenant.

The judge referred the matter to the Attorney General and denied the Council the right to appeal. This does not mean the campaigners have won the battle to retain control of the site but it is a step forward. The community deserves recognition for their tenacity and resourcefulness. 

I was unable to attend the hearing as I was speaking at a meeting about climate change so please see the Kilburn Times website for full details. HERE

James Mastin's statement after the hearing on video HERE

Read the Judgment HERE  

Full report on the Guardian website HERE


Today, Friday, Dawn Butler MP for Brent Central told the Kilburn Times that she would not like to see the case go to full trial and would like to facilitate a mediation between the campaigners and Brent Council. She hopes to arrange an informal meeting next week. LINK 

There is no information on how much Brent Council has spent on the case so far but it must be considerable (see comments below). If the case can be solved through mediation it would save Brent council tax payers a lot of money that could be used for the benefit of the community.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Donoghue 'Dust and Danger' protest Friday: Time for Donoghue to move on'

Join Brent4Europe on the People's Vote March on Saturday

Brent4Europe has invited Brent residents to join them on Saturday March 23rd for the People's Vote March, demanding that the People must have the final say in the Brexit debacle.


The march will assemble on Park Lane southbound, north of the Hilton Hotel.

If travelling to the march via the Jubilee line, please change at Bond Street station and proceed to Marble Arch station before exiting and joining the assembly area. Be prepared for crowd issues which may make Bond Street easier to exit.

To take part in the accessible march / shorter march, please assemble on the marked point at Trafalgar Square.  The shorter march will filter in behind the front of the march as it passes, giving priority access to the accessible viewing area with step-free access next to the statue of Gandhi. WE  ADVISE ALL PEOPLE WITH ACCESSIBILITY NEEDS TO TAKE PART IN THE SHORTER MARCH.

Stewards will be located near Westminster Tube Station street level lift exit to provide direction or assistance to people who will be attending the rally but not the march. They will be stationed here for a limited time only – times TBC – for more information, please see the accessibility policy for the event at

NOTE – stewards will be in green hi-vis jackets, not yellow ones.

Brent4Europe teams will meet up in advance on Saturday 23rd March.

Join up with our teams at:

11 am at Wembley Park, on Southbound met/Jubilee line platform

11 am outside Kensal Green station [Bakerloo line]

11.15 am outside Willesden Green station