Friday, 21 February 2020

Brent Central Labour Party GC: Labour suspensions 'smack of totalitarian regimes'

Graham Durham speaking at a joint Brent Solidarity Campaign-Brent Trades Council meeting on Palestine - September 2018
Local Labour pro-Palestine activist and former Brent Labour councillor Graham Durham last night received support from the GC of Brent Central Constituency Labour Party followed his ‘administrative suspension’ from the Labour Party after he pointed out that the Chief Rabbi was a Conservative in the context of the Board of Deputies ’10 Commandments’ put to Labour leadership candidates.

Durham had received enough support inside the Labour Party to be on the current ballot for the NEC but has now been removed.  There had been rumours about the suspension over the weekend, which initially he denied, only to receive the notification late as it had gone astray in the post.

This is the motion:
"This GC has been concerned at the recent spate of administrative suspensions from the Labour Party.

Candidates for the forthcoming NEC elections and parliamentary selections seemed to have been targeted which has meant that CLPs and unions who nominated these candidates were de facto disenfranchised. We were however pleased that Jo Bird, for example was "reinstated" and is back on the ballot paper.

Now it seems the same method of administrative suspension has been used again, this time against Brent Central member, Graham Durham, who was also on the ballot for NEC. This means he can no longer be on the ballot.

It seems to happen to members once they have achieved enough support to be on the ballot. Labour Party elections should be as democratic as possible. Removing candidates in this way smacks of totalitarian regimes who deal with "opponents" in this way rather than letting the electorate decide.

This GC wants there to be a fair and transparent election of NEC members and parliamentary candidates. The timing of these suspensions gives us cause for concern. We ask the NEC to address these issues as quickly as possible and call for NEC elections should to be halted until all candidates under suspension have been investigated or had their suspensions lifted. "

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Love Where You Live - the Bobby Moore Bridge tile murals

From the “Brent & Kilburn Times”, 20 February 2020.

Guest post by Philip Grant

Dear Councillor Butt,

Love Where You Live - the Bobby Moore Bridge tile murals.  This is an open email.

​By chance, a letter that I wrote to the "Brent & Kilburn Times" (urging readers to go and see, by 24 February, the three tile murals which were "revealed" on 18 January) has been published today alongside your article, urging readers to Love Where You Live.

Like most of my fellow law-abiding local citizens, I abhor illegal rubbish dumping as much as you do. But there is more to having an environment that residents can love living in than just fighting against litter. 

Having beautiful surroundings, that give you a sense of pride in where you live, and encourage you to look after that place for others to enjoy as well, is another important factor. That is why, for the past couple of years, I have been working with colleagues in the Wembley History Society, and with a growing number of residents who have told me that they love the tile murals at Wembley Park, to try to get this Council-owned heritage artwork put back on public display.

I realise that most of the murals are currently covered over with advertisements, or with light panels which can be used for displaying advertisements. This is as a result of a lease of the Bobby Moore Bridge to Wembley Park Limited, which you and your Cabinet agreed to in January 2018. However, the Officer's Report on which you based that decision did not mention the murals, or disclose that the advertising rights were over walls with these tile murals on them, so that there was no consideration of the heritage value of the Council asset that you were being asked to sign away control over.

The current lease expires in August 2021, and I would ask you to give a commitment now, that when any renewal of advertising rights on the walls containing the Bobby Moore Bridge tile murals comes before Cabinet again, the Report must include a proper description of the murals involved, and a fair assessment of their heritage value, so that any decision is based on the full facts.

I believe that it would be possible for the Council to receive a worthwhile advertising income from the Bobby Moore Bridge, while still allowing the tile murals, or at least most of them, to be put back on permanent public display. So that the possible options which could deliver this outcome can be properly considered, I would ask you to notify Brent's Chief Executive, and confirm publicly, that you support the following suggestion:

My suggestion is that, within the next six months, a Senior Council Officer should meet with me, and any other representatives of Wembley History Society or local residents who wish to be involved, to discuss ways that the murals can be displayed again, while the Bobby Moore Bridge still produces advertising income for Brent Council. If those discussions produce a viable plan for a way forward, that plan should be implemented in good time before the current advertising lease expires on 30 August 2021, so that the Cabinet can choose what it considers the best option for the Bobby Moore Bridge from that date onwards.  

With the "reveal" of some of the murals for LBOC 2020, Brent has finally acknowledged that these scenes from famous sports and entertainment events at the Stadium and Arena 'are part of Brent’s rich heritage'. Now we need to build on that, to help Wembley Park residents, old and new, to Love Where They Live.

Let me end by echoing the closing words of your "View from the chamber" article, which I endorse: 'Working together, I know we can make an environment we can all be proud of.’

I look forward to receiving a positive response from you. Best wishes,

Philip Grant
(a Fryent Ward resident).

High Court challenge to Barnhill by-election result

An Election Petition has been issued in the Election Petition Office of the High Court challenging the result of the January 23rd by-election. The petitioners have applied for a court hearing and the High Court will list a time and date for the hearing which will published on Brent Council's website.

The petition from the Conservative candidates  is set out below and is available via the Council's website. As an interested party I will comment no further other than note that the election result was declared around 12.50am on January 24th rather than January 23rd.

Click bottom right for full page.

This was the result of the Barnhill by-election:

Winning hearts and minds on St Raph's

Two groups are active on social media with differing views on the current consultation taking place over the future of St Raphael's Estate.  Brent Council has put forward two possibilities - refurbishment with infill or demolition with the new blocks financed by private development on the same site.  South Kilburn has come into the equation both as a positive exemplar and a negative one.

From St Raphael's Estate Community

From St Raphael's Voice

Comments are welcome but please focus on the issues not the people involved.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

UPDATE: Cuts of £7m and Council Tax rise of 3.99% approved by Brent Council

UPDATE: Budget and Council Tax rise approved with 4 against and 2 abstentions

In the early days of austerity and government cuts to local authorities there were protests at Brent Town Hall and later at the £100m Civic Centre.  These days 'savings' (which are often direct cuts in services or reconfiguration of existing services to save money) go through with little protest.

Tonight £7m will be wiped off the budget with Community and Wellbeing facing 'savings' of £4.2m  and Children and Young People £1.6m).  The latter includes £1.5m saved by closing some Children's Centre and creating hubs instead.  Savings are to be made in Adult Social Care and Day Care commissioning although there are questions over whether this can be delivered without providers withdrawing from the market.

Council Tax will be raised by 3.99%.

The Council Tax Setting and Budget Setting meeting started at 6pm and is live-streamed

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

South Kilburn and Queens Walk planning applications approved by Brent Planning Committee

Despite articulate and reasoned objections and often hazy responses from planning officers, both the Queens Walk planning application and the huge South Kilburn scheme were passed at Brent Planning Committee tonight.

The South Kilburn decision was unanimous while only Cllr Maurice opposed the Queens Walk scheme on the grounds that the proposed building was too bulky.

Interestingly Alice Lester, Operational Director for Regeneration, (supposed to be non-political) weighed into a discussion of the decision of the Planning Committee, which is of course supposed to be free of political interference:

I'm afraid you're wrong, Councillor Denselow

In a preamble to tonight's meeting Cllr Denselow referred to complaints on social media the some reports were not available to the public. He denied that this was the case and suggested that the complainants may have been using 'dead links'.

This is not the case. I screen-grabbed evidence that the agenda had not been available at the weekend and it was only corrected after I complained on social media.

The so-called deadlinks were the Council's own webpage links that when clicked did not lead to the documents in question.  If the Council provides links then they should work.

In addition the Viability Report for the South Kilburn development, accessed on the Planning Portal rather than the Committee page, worked at one stage and then when reaccessed using the same link (copied and pasted) returned a page not found message.

I was in email contact with other members of the public who reported similar difficulties.

Cllr Denselow reported that the Legal Department had confirmed that the documents were available as required. 

I would like to see the evidence that this was based on and I will be taking the issue further as this raises important issues of accountability.

The Deloitte/Strutt and Parker reports on South Kilburn in full

The Deloitte Report on the South Kilburn development NWCC, which is a mixture of social and private housing, is available again on the Brent Planning Portal.  It is a long document on the financial viability of the scheme but also contains (from p94) the controversial marketing assumptions by Strutt and Parker. Note some of the report has been redacted by Brent Council.

As it is somewhat buried on the Brent site I have made it available below - although it may be slow to load. Click bottom right for full page version.

The planning application goes to Brent Planning Committee this evening. Civic Centre 6pm.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Is there a case to defer the South Kilburn application at Planning Committee application after reports muddle?

I have been having a frustrating time tonight trying to write about the major South Kilburn development, worth millions of pounds, that is coming up at Planning Committee tomorrow.

First of all the Council website had no agenda for tomorrow's meeting (there was one earlier in the week):

After I tweeted Cllr Denselow, Chair of the Planning Committee, it was reinstated.  Then a document on which I had been working, including details of the vital viability assessment for the scheme, became unavailable: (It should be HERE)

 I had screengrabbed a couple of pieces from  the report before it disappeared. This extract was significant because it appears to justify a 'poor doors' policy in the private block that under the revised scheme will now have some social housing. It comes from the same Strutt & Parker Report that I quoted in my piece on South Kilburn gentrification. LINK

This extract gives the values attached to the private development:

I don't now have the report to refer to but Type eg 1B2P refers to the number of bedrooms and people i.e. 1 Bedroom 2 persons etc. GDV perhaps Gross Development Value of that type of property. Then presumably the average price per property and the average sale value per square foot.

Referring back to the now published agenda I found that the Supplementary Report for this development (18/4920) was not actually on the agenda. Instead it had the Supplementary Report for 18/4919 attached:

When I eventually found the relevant Supplementary Report I noticed this:

Basically the Major Adverse [Impact on Daylight] figures had been copied from Moderate Adverse. After correction the impact was much worse in George House, Swift House and Carlton House than first stated but officers were still able to say that a major adverse impact on a quarter of the rooms was 'not so significant that it would outweigh the benefits of the proposals.'

There were other corrections and clarifications in the Supplementary Report for 18/4920 that was uploaded very late to  an agenda which is supposed to be available a week before the meeting.

I have suggested to Cllr Denselow  that these problems mean the public are not able to scrutinise the application properly (and probably councillors too) so the application should be deferred.

'Blot on suburbia' planning application comes up at tomorrow's Brent Planning Committee

Proposed building
Existing house to be demolished in the distance (from Queens Walk)
Existing house to be demolished (behind the hoardings) from Salmon Street
I wrote about plans for the demolition of an existing house in Queens Walk, Kingsbury, in October last year ands questioned whether it matched the surrounding suburban housing. Queens Walk consists of 1930a terraced and semti-detached houses of a fairly uniform design, nearly all painted in a consistent white and black mock Tudor style on the relevant side of the road.

The house to be demolished is the 'lead house' into Queens Walk, which has been empty for some time and has not been in great condition for a long while. However, neighbours are not all all happy with its replacement, which they see as a blot on the landscape. There will at least one speaker against the proposal at tomorrow's Planning Committee.

Plans have been to appeal once and planning officers are recommending acceptance of the modified plans. The officers' report is not currently available on the Planning Committee agenda page (see story below) so I have posted it for readers here:

Responding to criticism that the propsoed building is an 'eyesore'. planning officers respond:

The building does not have a 1930s appearance but does respond appropriately to the neighbouring developments in terms of scale. The corner plot presents an opportunity for a building of a differing architectural style and slightly greater prominence to sit comfortably without detracting from the character along either of the streets it adjoins.

UPDATE - NOW AVAILABLE Agenda for tomorrow's Planning Committee disappears from Brent Council website

Council Committee agendas are supposed to be available to the public  a week before the meeting. Simple democracy.

Unfortunately when I tried to check an agenda item today for the Brent Planning Committee no agenda was displayed.  I have emailed the Council and CEO to see if this meeting can go ahead, particularly as planning is a quasi-judicial process.

15.30 UPDATE Chair of Planning Commitee, Cllr James Denselow, has now advised the agenda is available HERE

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Clarity needed on Adult Day Care 'savings' and the impact on providers and users

The proposed Council Budget includes 'savings' (rather than 'cuts') in Adult Day Care which as usual are said to have no impact on users.

The reported approved by Brent Cabinet that will go to the Full Council Budget Seeting Meeting states LINK:
Proposed savings

Current externally commissioned day care in Brent is commissioned according to an old fashioned and out of date model. The majority of provision is expensive, building based and does not offer choice and control to service users. Additionally, there is an over provision of traditional day care in Brent, meaning that providers are not transforming their services, and often wish to increase their costs to the Council to make up for low take up of their services.

The commissioning service are working with providers to redesign the service into a new model, that supports more choice and control and promotes less building based provision. Public Health outcomes will be built into the recommissioned service.

How would this affect users of this service?

The proposal is not to cut services or to reduce the amount of provision that individuals receive, but rather to transform the existing provision so that it is more efficient and cost effective. Users may be impacted through having to move to a different service provider, or adapting to a different form of non-building based provision, but the overall level of service individuals receive should stay the same in most cases. Although some people may find that transition challenging, a more innovative approach to day service should deliver better outcomes.
John Healy of Brent Advocacy Concerns, thought that this would lead to some existing Day Care Centres having to close but on Friday evening was told by a Council officer that 'there are no plans to close any Day Centres.'

John had emailed Brent officers and Cllr Neal Nerva earlier to request further information and having had at the time no reply contacted Wembley Matters:
I have been emailing the officer in charge of Commissioning and Cllr. Nerva, who chairs The Disability Forum for more information about this new model but neither of them have replied..

Maybe you could ask the council Martin about the plans for this new model, as this affects hundreds of the most vulnerable Brent residents.  The council say the big risk is not to current users but to the market providers, as they may not wish to deliver services away from the current building based model, or to continue to deliver services with £1M. less than current contracts give them, while at the same time having to meet the extra costs of paying the London Living wage to their workforce in any new contract.

So what might the council do if no providers come forward, as they set out a tender last year but no one expressed interest and now this is a re-commissioning of services. The previous contract was to save £1.5M. over 2 years (£750K in 2019/20 & £750K in 2020/21).

Development Report lays bare South Kilburn gentrification assumptions

Source report from p94 (LINK) from Brent Planning Portal (not the Planning Committee Agenda.) The scheme will be considered at Brent Planning Committee on Tuesday February 18th.

Wembley Matters has carried several critical commentaries on the South Kilburn regeneration - a regeneration heralded by Brent Council as a model for others.

The inclusion of private development in the regeneration of council estates is justified on the grounds that it enables rebuild or refurbishment of council accommodation to take place and helps create a more socially diverse community/

Certainly the profiles above are far removed from those of the average South Kilburn council resident.  The 'professionals' joint income of £150,000 - £250,000, contrasts with a median household income in Brent of £27,364. The average houseprice:income ratio in London is 14.1 compared with a UK average of 7.4.

In 2018 there were 3,498 households on Brent Council's housing waiting list.  There will be others on housing association waiting lists and of course many were removed from the list a few years as not qualifying for council help.  LINK

The housing crisis is of course much wider than Brent  and Labour councillors will argue that they have done as much as they can within current constraints but they would be wise not to hail the building of 'homes' for rich parents or overseas investors as a cause for celebration.

We need good quality homes for families on median household incomes. Nothing less.

Deadline 24 February – your only chance to see the tile murals in 2020!

Guest blog by Philip Grant in a personal capacity:

I wrote last month about the “reveal” by Brent Council and Quintain of three of the Bobby Moore Bridge tile mural scenes in Olympic Way, as part of Brent’s London Borough of Culture 2020 celebrations. LINK

On 2 February, Martin added a comment he had received via email to that blog. The points which Elisabeth had made echoed what I and many other local people feel, and prompted me to write a joint email to the Cultural Director of Quintain’s Wembley Park Arts organisation and Brent’s Chief Executive (full text as a comment on the previous blog). My email finished with:

‘I hope that Quintain / Wembley Park and Brent Council will reconsider plans to put adverts over the revealed tile mural scenes again after 24 February. Please leave them uncovered for at least the remainder of 2020, or if that is not considered possible, please announce future dates during LBOC 2020 when these tile murals will be on public display again.’

I have now received a reply (from Wembley Park, but not from Brent). While it says that ‘Quintain and Brent Council have an agreement to reveal the south eastern tiles for a specific amount of time each year,’ it goes on to say:

‘… this year the tiles are being unveiled for 38 days in January and February to ensure residents and visitors have the opportunity to view the installation.’

I asked whether this meant that there would be no further display of these mural scenes during 2020, and the answer was “Yes” it did. So, 38 days out of 366 (yes, it’s a leap year) in LBOC 2020 in which to see this part of Brent’s cultural heritage. If you don’t see them by Monday 24 February, there won’t be another chance this year.

It appeared that being the London Borough of Culture had made Brent Council and Quintain finally acknowledge the cultural and heritage importance of these tile murals. I had been encouraged by statements made on behalf of both organisations when the Mayor of Brent conducted the “reveal” on 18 January, as a prelude to the LBOC 2020 “RISE” event later that day. 

All smiles from Brent Council and Quintain at the tile murals “reveal” on 18 January.
(Photo by Francis Waddington, Wembley History Society)

At the reveal event Julian Tollast, on behalf of Quintain, said:

‘The iconic cultural and sporting events at Wembley are celebrated in these heritage tiles behind us, and we are really proud to work with Brent and with Wembley History Society to make the reveal on a periodic basis of these murals possible.'

Brent Council’s press release about the reveal of ‘the heritage tiles at Wembley Park’s Bobby Moore Bridge’ said:

‘The tiles, which show scenes from famous sports and entertainment events at Wembley Stadium and the SSE Arena, Wembley, are part of Brent’s rich heritage and date back to September 1993 when they were originally dedicated to the legendary footballer.’ 

It is now clear that their enthusiasm for Brent’s rich heritage is subject to the proviso that it ‘does not restrict commercial opportunities that benefit both parties.’ 

It appears that these “commercial opportunities” may also extend to the occasional covering up of the “footballers” mural in the subway. That mural scene was put back on “permanent” public display in the autumn of 2019, following the approval of Quintain’s planning applications LINK as a gesture towards the heritage significance of the murals. Quintain’s application had promised that:

‘a 9.4m long section of the original tiled mural located on the east wall and referencing England footballers and the Wembley ‘twin towers’ will remain uncovered and visible to the general public.’

The reply I received from Wembley Park included the statement: ‘Quintain has committed to make this scene visible at all times with the exception of a small number of stadium event days.’ When I asked for clarification, the response was:

 These tiles may be covered up for events held at Wembley Stadium, such as the NFL games, UEFA events and concerts. As of today, there aren’t plans to cover them up until potentially the NFL games in late October.’

It seems that Quintain and Brent Council would be prepared to cover up this iconic England footballers mural, even during England’s Euro 2020 matches at Wembley Stadium, if “the price is right”. For the NFL games at the stadium this autumn, they would be willing to cover up the “soccer” mural, but not put back on display the American Footballers scene!

I will give the final words on this situation to a lady who emailed me this week, in response to my recent blog on the Bobby Moore Bridge tile murals. She has lived in Wembley for more than sixty years, and with her late husband had been to many events at the Stadium and Arena, including the Wembley Lions last ice hockey match in 1968:

‘As Brent is supposed to be the London Borough of Culture, I am appalled that our sporting heritage murals are to be covered by advertisements.’ 

Philip Grant

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Tory opposition leader on Brent Council to get £2,000 rise

A report to Full Council recommends that the leader of the 3 member Conservative Group on Brent Council gets a Special Responsibility Allowance rise from £6,000 to £8,000. The recommendation is based on the average provided in comparable London boroughs. The allowance is in addition to the basic councillor allowance.

Quick quiz question for readers: (answers at foot of page)

1) Who is he?

2) What has he achieved in holding the Council to account?

The biggest rise is reserved for the Chair of the Audit and Standards Committee, Cllr Aslam Choudhary,  (who also serves as Vice Chair of the Audit and Standards Advisory Committee. A rise to match similar roles in other London boroughs is recommended that will increase his allowance from £1,000 to £5,000.

All councillors' allowances will be increased by 2% in line with the Local Government Pay Inflation Settlement.

The Report reminds councillors that the  2018 Report recommended that allowance be set 'at a level that enables people to undertake the role of councillor while not acting as an incentive to do so. It is equally important, as acknowledged, that there should not be a financial disincentive.


1) Reg Colwill

'Don't tarmac our pavements' - petition to Brent Council

The battle over tarmac is not over yet! A petition has been mounted to persuade Brent Council that replacing broken paving is a better environmental option than laying tarmac. The petiton is authored by Sonia  Locke, Planning Representative, Willesden Green Residents' Association.

The petition can be found  HERE and states:

Brent Residents are calling for the immediate cessation of tarmac as a paving solution within the borough.

In 2016, the use of tarmac was agreed by Brent’s Cabinet establishing all footway resurfacing would see paving slabs replaced with asphalt. This policy not only inextricably alters the visual quality and character of the public realm, it fails to consider or acknowledge the well documented, harmful effects to the health and well being of Brent constituents and the overall environment. While Brent claims the use of tarmac is a more ecological solution, research indicates its environmental hazards make it an unsafe one. Given the indications, how does the use of tarmac fit in with Brent’s July 2019 climate declaration?

Tarmac is an oil-based product, detrimental to the environment and unlike paving slabs, stone or concrete, unable to be reused or recycled. When laid, tarmac releases toxic fumes and its ability to absorb heat adds to urban overheating. Furthermore, tarmac is impermeable contributing to flooding, an already challenging issue for Brent. Due to the flexibility of the material, ground movement easily undermines the integrity of tarmac causing substantial cracks, bulges and surface deformities that make for unsafe, if hazardous passageways. In cold weather, it is more slippery than concrete or stone pavers.

Public space is a key element to Brent’s overall plan for urban regeneration and social wellbeing. Surfaces play a vital role in its visual and tactile quality. Tarmac does not fit the requirements of Brent’s SPD1 which calls for public realm quality. Tarmac is a cheap, inappropriate solution for pavements and is often viewed as detrimental to the visual quality of the public realm. Brent must look to other neighbouring London councils’ examples of public realm quality expectations and mirror their strategy. Brent need not continue to define itself as the borough of deprivation and poor quality.

In the short term, tarmac may be a cheaper solution but what about the long-term costs? Long-term, tarmac requires more maintenance than paving slabs. Neighbouring boroughs impose minimum standards and value and Brent must follow suit and not simply look to the cheapest, short term solution available. It iswell documented that pavers are more durable than tarmac but unlike tarmac, pavers can be re-used and at the end of its life cycle, 100% of the material can be recycled.

As we see in more affluent areas of Brent, concrete pavers can and are being reused. While Brent is replacing large stretches of paving stones with tarmac in low-income areas, they are maintaining paving stones in the more prosperous areas. Council tax is the same across the borough and yet Brent continues to show preferential treatment to its wealthier neighbourhoods.

Brent has access to millions of NCIL monies much of which goes unspent every year. Why is Brent Council not encouraging the use of these monies for its proposed use on its infrastructure?

Brent residents are demanding our voices be heard. There is no place in Brent for an inferior product which degrades faster, is detrimental to the environment, reduces the quality and performance of our paths and vandalises the architectural, visual and historical character of our neighbourhoods.

Stop throwing cheap, substandard, non-solutions at us. Brent residents deserve better. We are calling for Brent to immediately cease and desist from further plans to tarmac its infrastructure.

We the undersigned residents of Brent wish to see this policy stopped and reversed with immediate effect.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

'Community versus Committee' conflict closes Wembley Central Mosque

Few passers by would have failed to notice angry scenes outside Wembley Central Mosque after Friday Prayers recently. In fact a conflict has been going on for some time with the DO NOT DONATE group asking worshippers not to make the usual donations to the mosque after prayers following conflict with the mosque committee over the sacking of an Imam, financial issues and attempts to make the mosque more inclusive of Wembley's diverse Muslim community.

The mosque was founded in the 1980s.

A full account of the conflict can be found in the 5Pillars website HERE

Kenton's Sue Ellen appointed chief legal adviser to the Tory Government

Following Boris Johnson's appointment of Suella Braverman (nee Fernandes) as attorney general (shortly after she attacked judges as unelected and unaccountable) it is interesting to hear from someone who was at school with her in the 1990s:

Sue Ellen Fernandes (who prefers to be known as Suella, so as not to be compared to a character in the 1980's TV series "Dallas") grew up in Kenton.

Her mother was a Conservative councillor on Brent Council, Uma Fernandes (who, as a candidate for Parliament, managed third place in the Brent East by-election won by Sarah Teather in 2003).

By the sixth form at school, Suella was open about her ambition to be a Conservative M.P., and to become Prime Minister, like her idol, Margaret Thatcher.

She studied law at Cambridge, and went on to become a barrister, specialising in planning law, but also spending time trying to get selected as a Conservative Parliamentary candidate.

One of the roles that helped on her Tory CV was acting as Chair of Governors for Katherine Birbalsingh's Michaela Community School LINK, although her knowledge of planning law did not seem to cover the fact that consent was needed to display a large advertisement over its building in Wembley Park LINK:

The advert had to be taken down after a few days - a waste of taxpayers money that could have been avoided!

Suella was elected for the "safe" Conservative seat of Fareham in Hampshire in 2015. Now, at the age of 39, this "aspirational" junior barrister has been appointed by Boris Johnson as the Government's top legal adviser.

Heaven help us!

General Election 2019: Did the Greens sell their souls for a few scraps from the Lib Dems?

It is just not the Labour Party that has to undertake a review  of their performance in the General Election. The forthcoming Spring Conference of the Green Party will have to seriously consider its election strategy, including the formulation process, and draw out lessons for the future.

Green Left, the eco-socialist group within the Green Party has today published the following statement on the 2019 UK general election.
The defeat for Labour in the General Election was disappointing, because it happened in spite of Labour supporting countering Climate Change,
The Green Party should welcome the many in the Labour Party and Trade Union movement who now want a green transformation of the economy.
Unfortunately, the Green Party made the mistake of linking up with the discredited Lib Dems over the Brexit issue and, even on this, serious differences emerged over the Lib Dems’ proposal to remain without a referendum. The pact was not based on other shared policies with the Lib Dems.
Many members of the Green Party were surprised that it endorsed Lib Dems in some 20 seats with sitting Labour MPs and candidates near to its policies on austerity, Brexit and the Green New Deal. Why were the Lib Dems allowed to use our good name to fight Labour?
The General Election strategy of the Green Party seemed to be fixated on gaining an extra MP by selling our soul for a few scraps from the Lib Dems; and in the event was of no benefit to Greens
Green Left has asked the Green Party what was the basis for this mistaken strategy? Were its political implications fully thought out?
Green Left believes the task of the GPEW is to encourage debate and discussion with those who share or are beginning to share our perspective on the need to fight climate change and the need for a Green New Deal to transform the economy.