Friday 30 April 2021

UPDATE: Man charged with murder after fatal stabbing of Michael Fadayomi in Willesden High Road

 From Metropolitan Police


A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of Michael Fadayomi in Willesden earlier this week.

Police were called to High Road, NW10 at 17:11hrs on Thursday, 29 April following reports that a man had been stabbed.

Officers attended with the London Ambulance Service. 40-year-old Michael was found with serious injuries.

Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, he was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.

A post-mortem examination has since found that the cause of his death was incised wounds to the neck.

Marcus Griffiths, 42 (02.04.79), of Hoveden Road, NW2 was arrested later the same day.

On Saturday, 1 May, he appeared at Willesden Magistrates’ Court charged with Michael’s murder. He is also charged with being in possession of a bladed article.

He was remanded in custody to appear at the Crown Court on a date to be determined.



A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a fatal stabbing in Willesden, Brent.

Police were called by London Ambulance Service at 17:11hrs on Thursday, 29 April to a report of a man suffering from stab wounds on High Road, NW10. Officers attended.

Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, the victim, aged 40, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly afterwards. His next of kin are aware.

Formal identification awaits. A post-mortem examination will be scheduled in due course.

A 42-year-old man was arrested following the incident at his home address in Willesden. He remains in custody. Police are not searching for anyone else in connection with this incident.

A crime scene remains in place and the public can expect to see an increased police presence in the area.

While enquiries continue, the incident is being treated as isolated and is not thought to be gang-related. The victim and suspect are not thought to have been known to each other.

Detectives from Specialist Crime are leading the investigation, led by DCI Claire Hine.

She said: 

 "Foremost in our thoughts are the victim and his family, who are coming to terms with his very sudden and violent loss. My specialist officers are providing them with support at this very sad time.

"At this early stage in our investigation we believe the incident started on a Route 260 bus. It continued out onto the High Road and into a fast food shop in front of a number of horrified onlookers in the street, and on the bus.

"I know there are videos circulating on social media that feature some incredibly distressing images and I ask that people please refrain from sharing these to avoid causing the victim's family any more trauma.

"We've spoken to a number of people who have told us what they saw, but there are others who have yet to make contact. I would ask those witnesses to call us, so that we can fully establish the chain of events that has led to a man losing his life in such a horrific way.

"I'd also like to acknowledge that this incident would no doubt have caused incredible panic and alarm to the people who saw it. There are resources available via Victim Support ( that can help you if you need to speak to someone."

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD 5109/29Apr. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

BREAKING: Cllr Abdirazak Abdi resigns from Brent Labour Group


As the above screengrab from the Brent Council website shows Cllr Abdirazak Abdi is no longer a member of the Labour Group after his resignation.  He follows in the footsteps of Kilburn councillor John Duffy, who also became independent, and more recently Cllr Kieron Gill who was suspended from the group for 6 months after he abstained on the budget.


The resignation comes just under a week before the GLA election and the Brondesbury Park by-election caused by Gill’s resignation. It is a year before the Brent Council elections which will be fought on revised ward boundaries with a smaller number of seats.


Cllr Abdi, a socialist, lost his position on Brent Planning Committee after allegedly voting the ‘wrong way’ despite that Committee being statutorily non-political and therefore not whipped LINK. LI


He clearly has not been happy with the direction that Brent Council has taken under the leadership of Cllr Muhammed Butt and previously challenged him for the leadership. Like many on the left of Brent Labour he was attracted to the party by Jeremy Corbyn and distrustful of what many call ‘managerial Labour.’


More generally I understand there is disquiet in the party over what appears to be attempts to put pressure on the two Scrutiny committees over what reaches their agendas. This follows the calling in by a group of Labour members of the 1 Morland Gardens development for scrutiny LINK , the special meeting on the  the implementation of Healthy Neighbourhoods   (LTNs) LINK  and a skirmish over the possible calling in of AT Medics over the Centene takeover of GP surgeries in Brent LINK.



As said many times on Wembley Matters, the role of scrutiny in a mainly one-party council is absolutely crucial and it will be a sad day for democratic accountability if the leader’s control is extended to the Scrutiny Committees, as well as his more subtle influence on the Planning Committee.


Thursday 29 April 2021

Swaminarayan launch India Covid Appeal 'Cycle to Save Lives' - static cycle ride equivalent to London-Dehli


The Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden is taking part in a fundraiser for Indian victims of the rapidly deteriorating pandemic.

They say:

Raising vital funds to save lives in India: Please support our 48-hour non-stop static relay challenge, covering a distance of more than 7,600 kilometres - the distance between London and New Delhi. Sat 1st May 2021 to Mon 3rd May 2021.



Wednesday 28 April 2021

Alperton residents' trenchant views on the Alperton Bus Garage planning application fail to stop approval of the development

Brent Planning Committe this afternoon passed the planning application that will see three towers, 21 storeys, 25 storeys and 28 storeys, built on the Alperton Bus Depot site. (Ealing Road/Bridgewater Road) Planning offices said that the Alperton Masterplan policy of a limit of 14 storeys had been superseded by the Emerging Local Plan policy on tall buildings.

A planning officer said that the character of the area would change as a result of the cluster of tall buildings but that as this particular site was not next door to low buildings the usual step down of height did not apply.

None the less Cllr Maurice voted against the application on grounds of over-development, height and its destruction of the area's once pleasant suburban character.

Cllr Anton Georgiou (LD Alperton) having opposed several applications with similar speeches on ground of height, unaffordability and lack of infrastructure, took a different approach this time. Taking a leaf out of the technique used by Jeremy Corbyn, when opposition leader,  Georgio quoted the views of ordinary residents.  He said he was certain that none of the Committe had actually been to, or spoke to anyone in Alperton so he would bring their voices to them. He read out their statements:

Kit and Mai of Crabtree Avenue say:

“Our local community feels abandoned and unloved with the constant addiction of this Council to approving massive tower blocks, whilst no tangible investments are made in infrastructure and facilities.”

Bob from Vicars Bridge Close says:

“Having lived in Alperton for nearly a quarter of a century now, I have seen it change massively, and not for the better. The emphasis seems to have been on changing the nature and the character of the area forever and not at the behest of the people who live and work here. Enough is enough.”

Mel from Bridgewater Road says:

“This is/ was a residential area. More developments are also planned in this small area which adds nothings to the community and residential streets that surround it. Just more congestion, more people, more high rise monstrous ugly buildings with no infrastructure to cope built in – enough!”

Hiren and Anita from the Abbey Estate say:

“The scale of this development is ridiculous. The Alperton master plan claimed that no new development would be over 17 storeys. Why should this development be any different? The height of these towers will block sunlight for existing residents nearby, as well as overlooking Alperton Community School - a safeguarding issue.”

Donnamarie from Lyon Park Avenue says:

“Loss of the skyline - we already can’t see it, and when I look out of my windows, whether the front or the back all I can see are tall cranes and high rise flats that have already been built, yet more eyesores.”

Frances from the Abbey Estate says:

“I am against any more tower blocks. They block out the light and there is no parking people who will be living in the blocks will be parking in the Abbey Estate as they are at the moment from the last two Tower blocks that went up! We have lost our front gardens because the majority of us could no longer park outside our front doors!”

Ingrid from Bridgewater Road says:

“We need to call a halt to the ever increasing number of tower blocks in what is principally a low rise residential area. They do absolutely nothing for the area in terms of infrastructure, aesthetics and wellbeing. They serve only those who want to make money. Alperton has been blighted enough with the current construction - dark and oppressive. Just for once, try thinking about those of us who live here on a permanent basis.”

Sammy from Heather Park Drive says:

“It looks like Hong Kong / New York not Alperton! The essence of Alperton is gone.

As a result, my family who live on Bridgewater Road are so fed up that they’re moving out of Wembley soon. Not everyone can do that.”

Mrs Jani from Stanley Close says:

“I have lived in Alperton for the last 35 years and the way it has developed in recent years is creating lots of problems with overcrowding and traffic congestion. The multi-storey complexes are not what we need here.”

Ravi from Longley Avenue says:

“I have been a resident in Longley Avenue since 1983, day by day our living conditions are becoming worse. We cannot get GP appointments, parking issues, since Covid, we need more health supporting services (Alperton Station lift).”

Chirag, Chair of the Wembley Central and Alperton Residents’ Association says:

“Representing residents of Alperton and neighbouring residents on Bridgewater Road, Carlyon Road, Ealing Road, Burnside Crescent and Clifford Road, the proposed development is over-bearing, out-of-scale and out of character in terms of its appearance compared with existing developments in the vicinity.

The development does not take into account the burden it will place on existing neighbouring properties and the infrastructure required to accommodate such a large scale development. The development would also adversely affect highway safety, and the convenience of existing road users as there are no plans to mitigate the increased number of cars owned by residents of this new development. WCARA objects to this development.”

Gabi from 243 Ealing Road says:

“Many of us who moved here to 243 six years ago have done our research and were aware the area was up for development. But we are in shock and disbelief about the density and the overall lack of long term structure/ planning of how are all these people supposed to coexist together without healthcare/education/travel provision. In the meantime from our complex many people are desperate to leave due to extortionate service charges that no one can really afford...”

Lucie Gutfreund, End our Cladding Scandal campaigner and Brent resident says:

“As the buildings safety crisis unfolds across the UK and with the Government still not ensuring that new build homes are built safely or guaranteeing residents’ physical financial protection from defects, I would strongly oppose the new high-rise development in Alperton. I would also particularly also like to raise concerns about Telford Homes; the developer is known to refuse to take responsibility for their existing unsafe homes or to even respond to MPs, having been named and shamed in the House of Commons on 27th April.”


Cllr Kennelly asked if Telford Homes was a fit and proper developer for Brent in the light of this but the agent addressing the Committee said she did not know about the Hansard mention and that they had no outstanding cladding issues.

Barry Gardiner asks key questions on Wembley Central Apartments as waking watch costs imposed on residents

Central Apartments, 455 High Road, Wembley

Metro Apartments, 455 High Road, Wembley

Moore Court, Station Grove, Wembley

Ramsey House, Wembley Central Shopping Centre

Wembley Central Ltd acquired the four buildings above from the developer St Modwen Sowcrest Ltd in August 2018. LINK

Now as problems have emerged in construction and safety Barry Gardiner MP (Labour Brent North) has written to Wembley Central Ltd asking key questions about the due deligience they carried out on acquisition including relevant certification and warranties to ensure the buildings were compliant with Building Regulations. He  explains that he has raised this point becase of the short time between WC Ltd's incorporation in May 2018 and the purchase from St Modwen being agreed less than 3 months later in August 2018, leaving very little time to complete the necessary in-depth studies.

Althought the buildings do not have Grenfell type ACM cladding, Gardiner points out  the May 2018 'Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety'  highlighted that many tower blocks also have unsafe material from timber cladding, high pressure laminate and combustible insulation. 

 Gardiner request details of the company that provided fire risk assessments and that would be needed to have the appropriate professional indemnity insurances to cover the risk of any possible claim for remediation work. The date on construction of the Metro Apartments was circa 2015 so the 10 year homebuilders warranty should still be in place. 

He reports a report by William Martin Compliance (March 2021)

There is evidence that the junctions betweem compartment floors were inadequately fire stopped on Central Apartments as there were gaps at mineral wool fire barriers at steel framing. There were no visible fire barriers at vents or around windows/door frames and it could not be confirmed that the window/door frames themselves formed cavity barriers.

 Gardiner concludes that at the time of construction the building regulations in force at the time were not followed.

He states that because of the type and extent of the external wall hazards identified, that the Stay Put policy has been withdrawn and replaced with a simultanous evacuation procedure and a requirement for a Waking Watch.

Gardiner  expresses shock that in a Notice to leaseholders, WC Ltd cite the need for a waking walk under Government Building Regualtions 2018) and Approved Document B2019,  when the defects were in place at the time of the build.

Given the above questions whether the company has the right to charge residents the proposed sums for the Waking Watch:

Central Apartments: £37,800 per month 

Ramsey House: £26,790 per month

Metro Apartments: £26,790 per month

Gardiner concludes:

I appreciate that since the Grenfell Tower fire there have been numerous chnages in building safety and govenment guidance. But I believe residents have the right to know why they are now being asked to pay for failures to comply with the buidling regulations during construction.

Mr Gardiner spoke about the issue in the House of Commons yesterday LINK.


Will Brent Council amend housing Allocations Scheme to allow all homeless people to bid after intervention by law firm?

 From Osbournes Law LINK

For the last 8 years Brent Council has stopped the majority of homeless applicants from bidding for rehousing, treating them as ‘no priority’. Brent have now agreed to change this policy.

The Policy

Every council must have a published policy for how it allocates tenancies to those who apply for rehousing. Brent Council published its ‘Allocations Scheme’ for this in 2013 (with some amendments in November 2014 and June 2019). Brent’s Scheme places applicants in priority bands D to A, where A is the highest priority. People in higher priority bands will out-bid people in lower priority bands who express an interest in the same property on Brent’s housing register. Band D is the lowest and it is for those who Brent says have ‘no priority’. People in band D are not allowed to bid at all.

Brent’s Scheme says homeless applicants have ‘no priority’ and will be placed in band D, so that they cannot bid. The only exception to this is if Brent has accepted a ‘main housing duty’ towards a homelessness applicant, in which case they are placed in either band C or A.

What does the ‘main housing duty’ mean?

In order to have a ‘main housing duty’ accepted under homelessness law, you have to go through the long process of making a homelessness application to Brent. You also need to fulfil certain criteria. If Brent decides you do not have a ‘priority need’ (e.g. you do not have a dependent child or a serious health condition that makes you very vulnerable), or that you have made yourself ‘intentionally homeless’, then you would not qualify for a ‘main housing duty’. It takes at least 8 weeks for Brent to make a decision about whether they owe you a ‘main housing duty’, but often takes longer.

The ‘main housing duty’ basically means that Brent has to continue to provide you with temporary accommodation until you secure suitable long-term accommodation.

Why is the Policy unlawful?

The law gives the council a lot of freedom to choose the rules in its Allocations Scheme and how to prioritise different applicants. However, the law does require the council to give ‘reasonable preference’ to certain categories of people, including people who are homeless.

“Homeless” does not just mean living on the street. The legal definition includes anyone who:

  • Does not have accommodation they have a right to live in (e.g. by permission, by a tenancy, or by home ownership);
  • Cannot access their accommodation; or
  • Does not have accommodation that would be reasonable for them to continue to live in (e.g. because of domestic violence or if the property is in such a poor state to be uninhabitable).

The law says Brent has to give ‘reasonable preference’ to homeless people even if they are not owed the ‘main housing duty’. This means that Brent has been unlawfully denying homeless applicants who are waiting for a final decision on their homelessness applications, or who do not fulfil the criteria for a ‘main housing duty’, their right to bid for rehousing. What is most concerning is that this policy appears to have been in place for 8 years and is likely to have negatively affected hundreds if not thousands of homeless applicants over this time.

Brent’s agreement to change the Policy

Sam O’Flaherty at Osbornes wrote to Brent’s legal department on 11th March 2021 requiring them to change their scheme to allow all homeless people to bid and be given ‘reasonable preference’. We also asked Brent to ensure that our homeless client would be given reasonable preference, at least in band C, whilst Brent amended their scheme.

Brent’s legal team replied on 26th March 2021 as follows:

The Council has considered the Claimant’s exceptional circumstances, as outlined in the pre-action protocol letter of 11 March 2021 and has decided that it would be appropriate for the Claimant’s case to be referred to the Operational Director for him to exercise his discretionary powers under 12.22 of the allocation scheme to ensure that she is awarded reasonable preference in accordance with s.166A of the Housing Act 1996. Her case will be referred to him with the recommendation that she be awarded Band C from the date of her initial application on 17/02/2021.

In respect the request to review and amend the Allocation Scheme, the Council is already in the process of reviewing the scheme with a view to making amendments during the course of this year. It is not possible to set out the timescales at this stage, as finalising and publishing the scheme, will depend on consultation with stakeholders, an Equality Impact Assessment and Cabinet Approval of the changes.

In other words, Brent has effectively accepted that its scheme is unlawful and that it will be changed this year. In the meantime, if you are homeless and have been placed in band D by Brent, you should ask them to make a referral to the Operational Director to place you in band C until the scheme has been amended.

End of Osbournes article

NOTE: Wembley Matters contacted Brent Council and the Lead Member for Housing on Monday ahead of publication:
I am planning to write about Osbournes claim and ask that  you confirm that the Council accepts its policy is unlawful and that it intends to change the policy.

No response has been received.

Tuesday 27 April 2021

The onward march of the high rises to continue as 12 are considered at Brent Planning Committee tomorrow


The Alperton bus garage develpment next to Alperton station (21, 25, and 28 storeys)


 The Alperton blocks from Bridgewater Road and the station


 The dotted white outline shows the block from the canal

The proposed blocks on the Access Storage site on First Way, Wembley Park

The block heights are up to 24 storeys

The blocks in the stadium context

Two planning applications are coming back to Brent Planning Committee on Wednesday  at 4pm (VIEW HERE) that together comprise 12 tower blocks with the tallest at 28 storeys at Alperton bus station and the tallest at First Way Wembley 25 storeys. For comparison the tallest of the Wembley 'Twin Towers' on the corner of Park Lane and Wembley High Road is 26 storeys.

26 storeys

 Both schemes are recommended for approval by Brent Planning officers. The proposed housing on the Alperton Bus Garage  site is distributed as follows:

The controversy continues over shared ownership and the amount is likely to feature in tomorrow's discussion as well as shortfall in amenity space.  After extensive discussion of the issues Planning Officer conclude:

Following the above discussion, officers consider that taking the development plan as a whole, the proposal is considered to accord with the development plan, and having regard to all material planning considerations, should be approved subject to conditions.

Whilst the provision of external amenity space falls short of Brent's policy standard, this is considered to be adequately compensated for by the overall quality of the amenity space provided and by the site’s close proximity to One Tree Hill Recreation Ground, to which a financial contribution would be secured.

Whilst the GLA consider the proposal would cause harm to the setting of Alperton Station, such harm is less than substantial, and the benefits of the scheme clearly outweigh the harm. The proposal is considered to respond well to the proposed Growth Area site allocation including the aimof developing an enterprise hub and co-locating new industrial floorspace with residential development in this highly accessible location in the centre of Alperton

The Access Storage First Way, Wembley development has the following residential pattern:

The total affordable at 10% is very low and Discount Market Rent is 80% of market rent so not affordable to most Brent residents. There are also issue of loss of daylight to neighbouring properties and lack of amenity space. Failure to meet

Planning officers conclude:

Following the above discussion, officers consider that taking the development plan as a whole, the proposal is considered to accord with the development plan, and having regard to all material planning considerations, should be approved subject to conditions and completion of a Section 106 Agreement.


 The development would provide a suitable and attractive built addition to the Wembley Park growth area in line with local policy allocation objectives, creating a mixed-use development with 600 BTR homes and replacement office and self-storage floorspace. At between 12 and 24 storeys, the proposed heights are appropriate in this location, and the transition to scale and massing away from the Stadium is considered to respect the aims of the WAAP and Local Plan policies. Furthermore, there would be non detrimental impact to key strategic views to Wembley Stadium arch.


There would be some limited level of harm to the daylight and sunlight enjoyed at adjoining properties, however this is considered minimal given the high-density urban context. The provision of a significant quantum of replacement employment floorspace and a high number of new homes, with significantly more of those homes being secured as affordable units than the Council would deem viable is a significant planning benefit that carries significant weight.


Whilst the scheme does fall short on external amenity space standards set out in Policy DMP19, the overall quality of accommodation is considered to be good and must be considered against the wider benefits of the scheme including affordable housing, significantly improved public realm and the ability to widen South Way to incorporate two-way working. As such, the conflict with adopted and emerging policy is limited and would be outweighed by the wider benefits of the mixed-use re-development, including there-provision of a high-quality employment floorspace, and an adequate level of affordable housing.


Following the above discussion, and weighing up all aspects of the proposal, officers consider that the proposal should be approved subject to conditions and a Section 106 agreement.


 The Alperton developers will pay £13,450,282 in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and  developers of First Way, Wembley £16,217,198


Monday 26 April 2021

Harrow Law Centre will speak on Police Bill plus update on Harrow Unemployed Workers Centre at Brent TUC April 28th 7pm


From Brent Trades Council


ONLINE TRADES COUNCIL MEETING (Open to non-delegates but you will not have voting rights)

Wednesday 28th April at 7pm.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 838 3730 5555
Passcode: 182387

BTUC has invited two speakers.

Pamela Fitzpatrick - Director of Harrow Law Centre and delegate to Harrow TUC Speaking on the Police Bill

It is quite clear the Tory government's intention is to curtail any protest, including pickets, strikes and other protests that workers take in pursuit of their interests, as well as social movements like BLM.  The ongoing brutal assault on the working class and the major unrest following months of restrictions due to lockdow is resulting in a legal crackdown of immeasurable proportion. BLM has forced a reckoning over this country's colonial and slave-owning past, as it calls into question the entire legitimacy of the ruling class.
May 1st is a national day of action over the police bill.  Lets try and mobilise as many people as possible for the demo on the day.

Anthony O'Hara (Anti-Racist Alliance and delegate to Harrow TUC)
speaking on the developing Unemployed Workers Centre

As the furlough scheme comes to an end unemployment levels will go through the roofand the further rise in poverty is a consequence of Tory failure to provide an  economywhich provides jobs to ensure working class people can provide for themselves and their families.

The meeting's Agenda includes

Reports from our delegates:
Gerry Downing on the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group;
Jonathan Fluxman on the campaign against Centene/Operose;
Sonia Morgan on the Metroline Travel and Metroline West bus dispute
protesting at employers proposal to introduce remote sign on; our online
petition has 1026 signatories

Report from our Secretary (Nick Jones)

Report and vote on our audited 2020 accounts (Padraic Finn)

Brief update on the Willesden Trades and Labour Hall

A cultural intervention from Debbie Allen who has offered to read a short poem to commemorate the Amritsar Massacre (13 April 1919) when British troops fired on a large crowd of  10 000 unarmed Indian women, men and children in an open space known as the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar.

Delegates only will be entitled to vote.

PS 1026 signatories have been added to our open letter to Sadiq Khan opposing remote sign on.
A press release has been circulated and with delegates agreement the letter will be sent to the Mayor following our trades council meeting.



Metropolitan Housing to make changes in shared ownership conditions

 From Inside Housing

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH), which owns and manages around 57,000 homes including much of the Chalkhill Estate in Wembley, has committed to offering all new shared owners 990-year leases following a policy review.

Existing shared owners, of which MTVH has around 8,700 through its SO Resi brand, will be offered the chance to extend their lease to 990 years from June 2021 for a cost based on the size of their equity share.

The changes will only apply to schemes where MTVH is the freeholder.

It will also scrap ground rents for all new sales on schemes where MTVH is the freeholder, effective immediately.

Marriage value – the property value increase following the lease extension – will no longer be considered when calculating extension costs.

From April 2022, all 6,500 MTVH leaseholders will see ground rents phased out on properties where the association is the freeholder, as well as being given the option to buy a 990-year lease extension without marriage value costs.

MTVH said the changes are intended to improve security and cut costs for its shared owner

The NEU combats fake vaccine news by backing learning materials based on solid science

 From the National Education Union - a brilliant initiative

 Today, the National Education Union formally endorses Are Vaccines Safe? and will promote the tools to its membership. As the largest education union in Europe, this is a major next step. 

The Runnymede Trust, a leading independent think tank on issues of race equality, is also supporting the materials.

  • The Stephen Hawking Foundation has launched free critical-thinking learning tools for schools to support discussion around the topic of vaccinations.
  • This school assembly and lesson plan has been developed in collaboration with schools, leading research institutions and community representatives.
  • As a critical thinking teaching aid, the tools focus on the COVID vaccine and tackle head on conspiracy theories that have led to limited uptake in some communities.
  • Today, the National Education Union adds its support to these vital materials. The NEU will be promoting them directly to its 450,000 members. Think-tank the Runnymede Trust is also supporting the teaching aid.

Available here as a PowerPoint, and over the course of 46 slides, Are Vaccines Safe? provides teachers and school leaders with accurate, up-to-date scientific information on a range of frequently asked questions about the vaccination programme. It has been structured to allow school age students to engage fully in a conversation about any uncertainties or concerns they may have. Staff who lead the assembly or class are provided with additional notes and references.

The Stephen Hawking Foundation is named after one of the most respected thinkers in modern science, who died in 2018. The Foundation has worked with staff at Morpeth School, London, who initially devised these materials for assemblies and classrooms, as a continuation of Hawking’s belief in critical thinking and public engagement with science.

The tools have now been further developed with Queen Mary University of London and the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) with the help of school-age students, teachers, scientists, science communicators and community representatives. The resources will continue to be subject to regular revision over the coming months, in order to keep pace with the science, the news agenda and the public conversation.

Are Vaccines Safe? was the brainchild of Ed Stubbs, a secondary school teacher at Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets, East London. He told us: “As a teacher previously working in inner-city Liverpool, and now in London, I have noticed students becoming increasingly fearful of vaccination. Some of my students and their families refuse their school vaccinations. I hear incorrect, and 'conspiracy' information shared in my classroom. I fear that students' real and fictional concerns increase UK vaccine hesitancy. The charged and often accusatory debate about vaccination choices can make young people feel hesitant about voicing their concerns and seeking help in debunking false information. They fear critical judgement over their doubts. I decided to create a set of unbiased resources for use in schools.”

The learning materials (PowerPoint file, Teacher's notes and PDF) can be downloaded free from the Stephen Hawking Foundation website. The public-facing link is

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“As a former science teacher myself, I know that school is absolutely the right place for this conversation to be held. Young people have many questions about COVID and the vaccine, and this is not surprising when they themselves have been so frequently at the centre of its news coverage. These brilliant tools are accessible and robust, tackling many of the myths which can build so easily online and within communities. We are sure that our members will find them a fantastic resource.”

Dr Halima Begum, chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, said:

“Young people are faced with conflicting information about vaccines at a time when we are all trying to cope with and manage a public health crisis like never before. Enabling young people to ask questions about vaccines and their efficacy, as well as build good public health and science understanding, will help with building their confidence in taking the vaccine and making an informed decision, supported by teachers.

"This will have a particularly positive effect on young people from BME groups who are often in households where their grandparents and parents rely on good advice from their children, as a result of various cultural barriers in accessing community health support.”

Lucy Hawking, chair of the Stephen Hawking Foundation's Trustees, said:

"We are delighted to have the endorsement of two organisations with such strong dedication to schools and their communities. Working on these tools has been one of the most timely and impactful projects the Stephen Hawking Foundation has ever run. This is essential educational outreach at a critical time, and we greatly appreciate the efforts of everyone involved throughout its development.

"Initial feedback shows a warm reception by educators in the UK and as we hoped, is a useful and productive resource for schools to give students a chance to explore issues around vaccination through asking questions and providing accurate, scientific answers. We hope more schools, families and students will have the chance to access this resource.” 

Professor Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, said: 

"I feel teachers are ideally placed to combat the UK’s falling vaccination rates. This programme has been carefully calibrated to include the insights of some of the leading scientists in this field but to make the information accessible to people of all ages and communities.”

The tools have also been developed with and supported by science communicator Dr Emily Grossman, who said:

“In a world full of fake news and dangerous misinformation, it’s so important that the young people of today can find out the truth about the COVID vaccine.

"This set of resources is so valuable, not only because it communicates simply and effectively the science behind how vaccines work, how effective they are and how safe they are; but also because it allows young people to ask questions and it allays concerns they might have from reading confusing, conflicting and at times frightening reports on the internet. The more widely this resource pack is distributed, the better informed this generation will be. Not only will that allow them to make better decisions based on solid science, it will also give them the tools they need in order to analyse information more critically in the future.”