Monday, 26 October 2020

Green GLA candidate condemns Priti Patel's 'inflammatory 'language' on immigration lawyers after right-wing attack on Harrow solicitors

Cavan Medlock, 28, from Harrow in north-west London, allegedly visited the offices of Duncan Lewis Solicitors in Harrow  last month armed with a large knife and threatened to kill a member of staff last month.


At his trial last week, the prosecution alleged Medlock planned to take a solicitor hostage and display flags of Nazi Germany and the US Confederacy in the firm’s office windows to inspire others to carry out similar offences. He allegedly blamed lawyers at the firm for preventing the removal of immigrants from the UK.


Days earlier the home secretary, Priti Patel, had claimed activist lawyers were frustrating the removal of refused asylum seekers from the UK.


Medlock is charged with six offences including the charge of preparation of an act of terrorism, racially or religiously aggravated attacks against two members of staff at the law firm, and threats to kill.

Emma Wallace, Green Party candidate for the Brent and Harrow GLA consituency said today:

It is incredibly concerning to hear that the UK home secretary, Priti Patel, dismissed intelligence briefings from counter-terrorism police over the alleged far-right terror attack that was attempted at a local Harrow law firm at the beginning of September.  LINK

The Home Secretary's key role is to use intelligence provided to her and the Home Office to protect local communities and ensure they are kept safe and secure from any such threats from rightwing terrorism.  Instead, the home secretary ignored intelligence reports and is recorded using inflammatory and deregoratry language to describe immigration lawyers, in effect contributing to a rise in hatred and extremism, rather than quell it.

Brent and Harrow are diverse boroughs whose residents deserve to be protected by government - not undermined and endangered by it. I call on my fellow GLA Brent and Harrow candidates to condemn the Home Secretary’s inflammatory language and her  lack of action on the threat from right-wing groups and individuals.

Harrow Law Centre Director, Pamela Fitzpatrick, who is also a Harrow councillor, told the Harrow Monitoring Group website LINK:

This is very worrying as Harrow Law Centre has three immigration solicitors and less funding for security than big firms. This is the result of the actions of the Tories calling us activist lawyers.

After the alleged attack, Duncan Lewis wrote to the Law Society asking it to contact the home secretary and the lord chancellor “to ensure that attacks on the legal profession are prevented from this point forth”. It added: “The position as it stands is untenable, dangerous and cannot be allowed to persist.”

On Sunday 800 prominent legal experts wrote an open letter to the Guardian LINK:

We are all deeply concerned at recent attacks, made by the home secretary and echoed by the prime minister, on lawyers seeking to hold the government to the law.

Such attacks endanger not only the personal safety of lawyers and others working for the justice system, as has recently been vividly seen; they undermine the rule of law, which ministers and lawyers alike are duty-bound to uphold.

We invite both the home secretary and the Prime minister to behave honourably by apologising for their display of hostility, and to refrain from such attacks in the future.

In support of the letter, former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald QC said:

The home secretary may not grasp the indecency of her language, but the prime minister should know better.

Lawyers who represent demonised people are always attacked by populist politicians, but it is demeaning to our country and its institutions that the government itself is now dipping into this disreputable playbook.

It is precisely this sort of ugly authoritarianism that the rule of law is called upon to counter. The entire legal profession is proud of those lawyers who are being so crudely and dangerously vilified.



Saturday, 24 October 2020

Uncovering Kilburn’s History – Part 5

 At the end of Part 4 (“click” if you missed it) I said that we would continue to look at some more churches, but there is much more to uncover this week!

1. St Mary's Church, in the age of horse drawn vehicles. (From the internet: )


We’ve already mentioned St. Paul’s, Kilburn Square (founded in 1829, demolished in 1934). St. Mary’s Church started in 1856, when the developer of the Abbey Farm estate, George Duncan, presented a site for it (on the Hampstead side). It holds the only known relic of the Kilburn Priory – a small brass plate of the prioress Emma de Sancto Omero (you can see a picture of this in Part 1).


Quex Road, also to the east of Kilburn High Road, boasted no less than three places of worship, a Wesleyan chapel, a Unitarian Hall and the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This was designed by Edward Welby Pugin and opened in 1878, with a school for Catholic priests nearby. It served the large Irish community, which expanded rapidly in the 20th century. 


2. St Augustine's Church, Kilburn, in 1909 and 2020. (From: and by Irina Porter)


However, the true gem of Kilburn is St. Augustine’s Church in Kilburn Park Road, known as "the Cathedral of North London". Founded in 1870, St. Augustine’s was consecrated in 1880 as an Anglo-Catholic Church of England and is listed as a Grade I building by Historic England. The spire finally crowned the magnificent Gothic Revival building in 1898. It was designed by John Loughborough Pearson, an architect who specialised in ecclesiastical architecture and worked around the world. Some internal work was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (of Battersea Power Station, Liverpool Cathedral and the red telephone box fame). The worship followed ‘high’ Anglican tradition, which was closer to Roman Catholicism.


At one point the church had four valuable paintings, a Titian among them, given to the church by Viscount Rothermere. One of them was stolen and the church decided to sell the rest because of security issues. The writer Thomas Hardy visited from time to time, when he was in London, to hear the music and admire the magnificent building. The composer Leonard Bernstein conducted an English Bach Festival concert at the church in 1977. The ornate interior of St Augustine's was used in the filming of Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).


3. Brondesbury Synagogue, c. 1930. (Image from the internet)


Although Christianity was still the main religion in England in late Victorian times, that was beginning to change. One of the first Jews to settle in Willesden was Polish-born Solomon Barnett, a builder and property developer who lived in Brondesbury Road. He invited other local Jewish residents to his home in 1900, and they agreed to build a synagogue. He sold them a site in Chevening Road, at less than cost, and the Brondesbury Synagogue opened in 1905. It had an unusual Moorish design, which was unique in the area at the time, and served the Jewish community in the whole of the Willesden for several decades. It closed after a fire in 1965, and the building was sold to the Iman Al-Khoei Foundation in 1974.


The first elementary schools in Kilburn were run by churches. St. Paul’s, Kilburn was the earliest in 1847, and was a “National School” part-funded by National Society for Promoting Religious Education. St. Augustine’s Church also had a school. In 1870 the Education Act was passed, providing for elementary schools, known as Board Schools. Local churches feared that religion would not be taught in these, and by 1882 had set up an association to establish new Church of England schools in poor districts.  Christ Church School in Willesden Lane (built by Solomon Barnett) was one of these, first opening (for infants) in 1889. 


4. The modern St Augustine's School building, seen from Cambridge Gardens. (Photo by Irina Porter)


Small fees were charged in some elementary schools until 1891, when primary education became free. Fees for secondary education were only finally abolished in 1944.

Kilburn Grammar School was founded in 1897 as a boys’ choir school by Dr. George Bonavia Hunt, vicar of St Paul's, Kilburn. This was the time when there was no state provision for secondary education. From one in Willesden Lane it moved a few times to increasingly larger premises, until it founds its permanent purpose-built home at Salusbury Road in 1900.
Dr. Hunt, who taught musical history at the University of London, remained there until 1904.


5. Kilburn Grammar School, in the 1920s and a 1900 advertisement. (Brent Archives images 3404 and 6675)


In 1907 the school was purchased by the local authority, and became the first state secondary school in Willesden. With the formation of Brent in 1965, the borough policy of closing grammar schools led to the school becoming a comprehensive in 1967, renamed Kilburn Senior High School. In 1973 it merged with the girl’s school on the opposite side of the road to form Brondesbury and Kilburn High School, and in 1989 it moved to a different place and became part of Queen's Park Community School. The Edwardian buildings in Salusbury Road are now Islamia Schools.


The original Kilburn Grammar paved the way for university and lead to successful careers in business, academia, civil service, law and arts. Amongst its alumni were Richard Baker, BBC newsreader and broadcaster, Kenneth Howard, an artist who painted for the British Army from the 1970s, the linguist Professor Simeon Potter, who also wrote a history of Willesden, and another distinguished local historian and Brent councillor, Len Snow. Brondesbury and Kilburn High School for Girls produced Lesley Hornby (better known as Twiggy, a famous 60s fashion icon) and Margery Hurst, who founded the Brook Street Bureau employment agency.


6. Brondesbury & Kilburn High School for Girls, early 20th century.


Kilburn had a large number of private schools. At the time when board schools were regarded as being for the lower classes, those who could afford it preferred to pay for education. Many were on the Hampstead side, such as the Haberdashers’ in Westbere Road.


In the 1870s Henley House School at the corner of Kilburn Priory was headed by John Vine Milne, whose son Alan Alexander, author of Winnie the Pooh stories, was born there in 1882. The first science teacher at Henley House, appointed in 1888 was H.G. Wells, the pioneer writer of science fiction.


7. A.A. Milne (left) in 1922, and H.G. Wells (photographed by Beresford). (Images from the internet)


Kilburn High Road, in the meantime, continued to bustle with trade and entertainment. Kilburn’s position on the old Watling Street ensured a good number of drinking establishments from early times. The public houses were much more than a place for a pint – they were hotels, functions rooms, auction sites, coroners’ inquests premises, even makeshift mortuaries. By 1872 there were 8 pubs in Kilburn High Road, and 13 more in the neighbourhood. There was a brewery and several beer retailers.



8. Kilburn High Road, with brewery on the left, c.1900. (Image from the internet)


The building on the left which looks like a church hall is Kilburn Brewery, built in 1832 by the Verey brothers. They were so successful that by 1853 they had their own wharf on the canal at Lower Place in Harlesden to bring in supplies. The brewery complex consisted of the main building with a fine frontage, a malt house and stabling for horses. In 1866 it was taken over by Michell and Phillips, which later became Michell and Aldous. It closed in 1920, and the building was later used by the Gas, Light and Coke Company. Today the site is occupied by several shops, with the original façade still being seen from numbers 293 to 313 High Road. 



9. The B.B. Evans store after the 1910 fire, and in a 1920s advert. ( / internet)


The High Road was also a main shopping centre for much of the surrounding area. Drapery and furnishing businesses had competing shops - Kilburn Bon Marche, dating from 1880s, the Grange Furnishing Stores at 127-9 High Road, catering for high class customers, and the most famous store in Kilburn, B.B. Evans at 142-162 High Road. It was started as a drapers’ in 1897, by Benjamin Beardmore Evans, who used to work for Willesden Urban District Council. It expanded in 1905, but in 1910 was destroyed by fire and then re-built. When it closed in 1971, it was the only department store in Kilburn. Since then the buildings went through a succession of occupants, and are now Sports Direct, T.K. Maxx and Aldi.



Speculative builders continued to provide employment opportunities around both sides of Kilburn High Road. John Allen and Sons ran a successful building company – they built many houses on the Hampstead side of Kilburn. At the end of the 19th century the firm took over The Elms, the old mansion house, converted it into offices and built a factory in the grounds called Palmerston Works. In 1901 they built new stands at Ascot Race Course.



During the First World War Kilburn suffered some bomb damage in a couple of Zeppelin raids near Belsize Road, Oxford Road and Canterbury Road. One of the area’s main contributions to the war effort was the housing of Belgian refugees, of whom 250,000 fled to England after the Germany army invaded their neutral country on its way to attack France. By September 1914, churches and local refugee committees where organising homes and support for refugee families, and Rabbi Lazarus from Brondesbury Synagogue had set up a hostel in Willesden Lane for Jewish refugees from Antwerp.



10. King Albert Belgian School, Kilburn, by Arthur Dunn, c.1917. (Brent Archives images 2322, 2343, 2345)


In 1915, Kilburn Grammar School had eight Belgian boys, who it accepted with reduced fees, but there was a much larger number of refugee children who did not speak any English. In April 1916, the King Albert Belgian School was set up in the Sunday School buildings at Brondesbury Park Congregational Church, jointly funded by Willesden Council and the Belgian Government. It had around 60 pupils, and taught lessons in English, French and Flemish. The School closed in March 1919, by which time most of the families had returned to Belgium.



In 1916 the grounds of The Elms became home to the Central Aircraft Company (179 Kilburn High Road), the subsidiary of a woodworking business. They built wooden components for aircraft manufacturers, but by the end of the war they had designed their own aeroplane. Their ‘Centaur’ aircraft first flew from a nearby field in Willesden Lane called ‘Kilburn Aerodrome’ in 1919, and was later used at a flying school at Northolt aerodrome.


11. A 1919 advert for the flying school, and a Centaur II at Northolt. (Internet: from “Aeroplane” and “Flight”)


Their Centaur II was designed to carry six passengers, and could have been one of the world’s first airliners; but only two were ever built, and they were used for pleasure flights over beauty spots in London, Kent, Wales and even the Belgian battlefields. However, the idea that people would be owning planes as they did cars did not take off, and by 1926 the company stopped making aeroplanes and concentrated on furniture. 


We will look at the homes where people lived, and the places of entertainment they enjoyed, as we move further into 20th century Kilburn next time.

Irina Porter,
Willesden Local History Society.

A special thank you to local historian Dick Weindling, co-author of 'Kilburn and West Hampstead Past' and History of
Kilburn and West Hampstead blog .

Friday, 23 October 2020

Council to provide half-term food vouchers for 10,000 Brent children

 From Brent Council website today

Parents of children eligible for Free School Meals will be able to collect a £15 food voucher from Brent Council to help children get a meal every day next week.

The council is looking to provide food for at least 10,000 children in the borough and the support is set to cost around £150,000.

Parents are being contacted through their child’s school with more information about where they can collect their voucher.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council said: 

It was deeply depressing to see the Government vote against free school meals for kids who desperately need them earlier in the week.

Brent Council fully supports the campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford MBE to end child food poverty and we hope that the Government will look to change their mind so that we support all children who need our help and support in these most challenging times.

Editor's note

The information arrived at schools just before they broke up for the half-term holiday but  office and other staff moved quickly to inform eligible parents of the arrangements for picking up the vouchers. 

The vouchers can be picked up on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday next week from either Willesden Green Library or Brent Civic Centre depending on the location of the school.  If families are suffering food hardship on Monday or Tuesday, Brent Council can assist with a Food Bank referral. Parents can contact Brent council on 0208 937 1234 for a temporary urgent food bank referral.


Don't Zap the Zip: Keep London transport free for under 18s


 Cuts in children's concessionary fares, insisted upon by the Government in the proposed TfL budget settlement were due to come into effect after the half-term holiday but are likely to be delayed.  Meanwhile a campaign against the changes, in parallel with that regarding the Freedom Pass, is well underway.

This is an edited version of the Child Poverty Action Group's press release on the issue published last month:

Londoners are uniting to oppose the suspension of free travel in the city for 11-17 year olds – as a survey from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) shows the suspension will force some families to cut back on daily living expenses – including food – while restricting children’s access to family, friends and out-of-school activities (see Notes to Editors for filming info/timings).


Children and young people in London have been able to travel around the capital for free, or at a discounted rate, using a Zip card, since 2006. But in May the Government made the suspension of free travel for 11-17 year olds (and 18 year olds who turn 18 in their last year of school/college) a condition of its emergency funding agreement for Transport for London (TfL).


Child Poverty Action Group’s Don’t Zap the Zip campaign commissioned an online YouGov survey of over 1000 11-18 year olds and their parents. Almost three quarters (74%) of youngsters surveyed who have a Zip card said they used their Zip card to get to school or college. But if free travel for 11-17 year olds goes, only those who live more than two miles from their school or are classed as vulnerable will be able to travel to school or college for free from after the October half term. Children aged 10 or under will retain free travel.*


CPAG says the suspension will hit low income and BME families the hardest – just as we go into a coronavirus recession – and calls on the Government to remove it.


The charity’s survey found:

Young people:

  • A large majority of children surveyed who own a Zip card (79%) said their Zip card is ‘very important’ for travelling around London. Fifty eight per cent surveyed would be worried that they would have trouble paying public transport fares if they were unable to travel on public transport for free in London.
  • Almost three quarters of children surveyed who have a Zip card (74%) use the Zip card for getting to school or college.
  • More than a quarter of all children surveyed (26%) and more than a third (36%) of those in low-income families would worry that scrapping free travel would limit their options for school/college places (or workplaces for apprenticeship/training placements).**
  • One third (33%) would worry about feeling safe getting to school/college. Thirty eight per cent would worry about being late.
  • If free travel ends, more than half (56%) would have to cut back on going into central London to shops, museums and other attractions; 45% would have to cut back on seeing friends and family.
  • 79% of London children surveyed disagree with the planned suspension (85% of those from low-income families).


The survey findings suggest ending free travel will have a disproportionate impact on children from BME families who make up almost 60% of London’s under-18 population:

  • 73% of children ages 11 to 18 surveyed in BME families who have a Zip card mainly used their Zip cards to travel to and from school, compared with 61% of children in white families.
  • 61% of children in BME families surveyed would be worried about having trouble paying for public transport fares if they were unable to travel on public transport for free, compared to 56% of children in white families



  • Over half (54%) of parents of children ages 11 to 18 in London surveyed said they would have to cut back on something else to pay fares if the suspension goes ahead. Of those, 71% said they would have to cut back on daily living expenses, 41% would have to cut back on food, and approaching two thirds (62%) said children’s extra-curricular activities would have to be reduced. Sixty five per cent of low-income parents surveyed said they would have to cut back on something. Fifty eight per cent of BME parents said the same.

According to an initial estimate from London Councils***, the suspension would cost parents more than £80 million per year (ie £37 million for parents of children who will have to pay for home-to-school transport, £2 million for young people who are apprentices or not in education or employment and around £45 million for the cost to parents of all children and young people aged 11 to 17 who will have to pay for bus and tram journeys).


TfL and the Mayor of London oppose the suspension which is subject to discussions on how it will be implemented.


London Councils and London boroughs are concerned about how the proposal will be implemented, the implications for young people and parents, particularly for those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. There are also real concerns about the financial, resource and legal implications for councils at this already challenging time.


Child Poverty Action Group is concerned that although the Government describes the removal of free travel as ‘temporary’, it has not clarified how long it will last nor what the fare structure will be for different age groups (11-16, 16-18).

CPAG’s London Campaign Manager Alice Woudhuysen said:


Low-income London families have been under huge financial strain because of the pandemic and, for many, things could get worse rather than better as furlough ends and unemployment rises. Now is not the time to pull the plug on vital help with children’s travel costs. This proposal is a blunt tool, the full impact of which has not been properly considered.


Many journeys are unavoidable and, as our survey shows, if the Zip card goes, many low-income parents will face additional costs and find it even harder to provide for their children in very uncertain times.


We live in a big expensive city where travel is necessary to get about, go to school and take advantage of opportunities that are not on our doorsteps. Young Londoners have already lost so much to keep everyone safe – it isn’t right to limit their lives further as the city comes back to life. Therefore, we are calling on the Government not to “Zap the Zip” because London’s children and young people deserve better.


The Government’s stated aim in removing free travel is to reduce the number of young people using public transport in order to aid social distancing during the pandemic. But there are already maximum passenger numbers on buses to enable social distancing – as well as additional ‘school services’ buses from TfL, staggered opening hours and arrival times, plans for cycling support and reduced cohorts of students in schools. And more positive methods of encouraging children to walk or cycle to school which do not involve placing a financial burden on their families could be adopted, such as walking initiatives, bikes and cycle training.


Some families with children who started secondary school or college this September will have chosen a school on the assumption that their child’s Zip card will cover the journey. If the school is within a two mile journey but beyond walking distance from their home, families will have to cover fares to school unless they are eligible for free travel because the children are vulnerable. 


Other families who have chosen a secondary school or college further than two miles from home will have to apply for free travel – although the Government has not said how the applications process will work. 


Families also have to make secondary school applications for 2021 places before the end of October, and sixth forms usually start accepting applications in September. So it’s possible that students choosing between a secondary school or sixth form that is within two miles of their home and another that is further away will be making that decision this month based on little information about long-term travel costs.

Sign the petition here:

Campaign Briefing here:

URGENT - Londoners Stand Up for the Freedom Pass: Email Secretary of State, Grant Shapps NOW!


Image from Transport For All

From AgeUK London

In a matter of days we will find out if Freedom Pass and 60+ Oyster card concessions will be further reduced or even cut entirely. You may have seen the story in the news as part of the coverage around conditions attached to the next funding deal between the government and Transport for London. 


We started the campaign to protect older Londoners' travel concessions back in June but the next few days are vital. The government need to know the impact that this will have and they need to hear from those most affected. We have until 31 October to stand up for older Londoners and keep transport affordable.


Click here to email the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP.


Affordable transform is not a luxury it's a lifeline and can transform lives. Taking travel concessions away from older Londoners who live in the city with the worst pensioner poverty rate in the country and some of the highest living costs in the world will drive up poverty and exacerbate the capital’s social isolation crisis.


Please help spread the word

Once you send your email (which you can personalise) you will see an option to share the campaign on Facebook or Twitter. You can also forward this email on to all those that may be interested. We need to get as many people emailing the Secretary of State as possible.


We are very concerned that the 60+ Oyster card may be most at risk. If you are a 60+ Oyster holder or know someone that is, it is particularly important to be heard.


Time is against us. The next funding deal will be announced by 31st October. Now more than ever, let's raise our voices!


Thank you for your support,


John, Abi and the Age UK London team


P.S. Here is a powerful case study from Deborah, a 60+ Oyster card holder who told us her story earlier this week.