Wednesday 30 June 2021

Labour's Annual Women's Conference calls for future Labour Government to re-establish community control of schools through LAs

 A welcome development given Labour's ambivalence over academisation but we can't afford to wait for implementation by a Labour Government - the campaign must begin now.

The Socialist Educational Association (SEA) won a stunning victory at Labour’s Annual Women’s Conference on 27th June when the Conference agreed that a future Labour government should end the academisation of schools in England and re-establish community control of schools through local authorities and the involvement  of parents, education staff and students.

The SEA’s motion, tabled with Thirsk and Malton Constituency Labour Party, also called for co-ordinated action and resources to challenge sexism and gender-stereotyping in schools and colleges which research from UK Feminista and Ofsted have confirmed is widespread.

Pam Tatlow, the SEA’s delegate to the Conference, said ‘A fractured, fragmented school system dominated by Multi-Academy Trusts and edicts from the Department of Education will not deliver the progressive agenda that students deserve or the collaborative framework that schools need to tackle the deep-seated and historic problem of sexism in schools.’

James Whiting, General Secretary of the SEA which is the Labour Party’s only education affiliate, said ‘We warmly welcome the support of the Women’s Conference for our “Give us back our Schools” campaign.

The long-standing issues of disadvantage and discrimination that impact on opportunities and life chances of women will not be resolved by the marketisation and privatisation of education or the unaccountable academy system which have been features of the Conservative government’s education agenda for the last decade.

Our call for the return of local authorities and an end to sexism in schools was supported by over 96% of Labour women at the Conference but also by trade unions such as Unison, Unite and GMB which represent thousands of education staff, many of them women.

We hope that Labour ‘s shadow front bench team will now commit to bring schools in England into an integrated, cooperative, transparent and non-selective education system under the aegis of accountable local authorities.’

Sunday 27 June 2021

Independent SAGE: The unequal impact of Covid-19 on women. Is 'herd immunity' the policy for school children?



The June 25th edition of the Independent SAGE  breifing was particulalrly valuable and interesting so I am sharing with Wembley Matters readers.  In addition it covers other forms of inequality and refreshingly also looks at the political background, including the impact of increasing centralisation of the NHS and its lack of internal democracy. One telling points waas that if 1% of DDP was invested in the social care sector it would produce more jobs than if the same amount was invested in construction.

Well into the session there is a discussion about the rising number of Covid-19 Delta variant in schools and in answer to a question about whether this was a policy of developing 'herd immunity' through children a scientist replies that they don't know if it is intentional, but  if that is what she wanted to do, that is how she would do it.

Another contributor mentions that there are 250,000 children missing school at present because of Covid and of those 8% are absent due to school closures. 

Disbelief in expressed that more is not being done to ensure proper ventilation in schools and a contributor mentions that in New York, a website gives parents the ventilation status of every classroom in every school which is vital given that this is an aerosol spread virus.

There is concern that the government has said secondary children do not have to wear face coverings in schools any more ,whilst advice is still that adults should wear them inside and outside.

On Tuesday because of the 5pm Euro2020 match kick-off thousands of fans will be arriving at Wembley Park by public transport just when pupils from Michaela, Ark,  Preston Manor and  Lycee Winston Churchill will be crowding on to the tube and buses to go home.

'This is not OK', as Independent SAGE might say.

Saturday 26 June 2021

Twitter reacts to reports of a possible Labour leadership bid by Brent Central MP Dawn Butler (Later denied)



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Stepping up the campaign for the NHS in Brent on its 73rd anniversary - important events next week


Next Saturday, July 3rd there will be local demonstrations across the country in support of the NHS and its workers.  The Brent demonstration will be a static demonstration outside the Willesden Centre for Health and Care.

There is also a Central London demonstration outside UCL Hospital on the Euston Road starting at 11.45am.


Ahead of the demonstration there will be a meeting on July 1st to relaunch the Brent branch of Keep our NHS Public with Cllr Janice Long, Cllr Neil Nerva  and Dr Jonathan Fluxman speaking.

Brent KONP Time: 1st Jul 2021  17:30h Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 841 7864 4772  Passcode: 923609

The Green Party at its most recent conference passed a motion in support of the NHS pay claim for a 15% restorative pay award and the Green Party Trade Union Group  held a useful  briefing on how to support the NHS15 campaign and the background to the threat to the NHS.

Bullying and Racial Discrimination Safely Incubating in Northwick Park Hospital’s Maternity Unit

Guest post by Nan Tewari resident of Brent, and former Commission for Racial Equality officer.


Northwick Park’s maternity unit is once again in the news for all the wrong reasons.  One inquiry after another, going back decades - the most recent covering 2002-2005 and 2008 - has recognised ‘poor culture’ as a particular issue.  Yet none of these reports has made direct reference to how the absence of good staff management practice (also called human resource management) has adverse impacts on patient safety, patient experience and patient outcomes.


My own experience over a number of years of advocating individual patient cases at the London North West Healthcare Trust, has been one of the same mistakes being repeated with impunity, meaning that the Trust is content to just get by with paying lip service to learning the lessons of incidents.  There is a complete lack of will to tackle the underlying systemic issues, relying instead on sticking plaster solutions to cover over the cracks just long enough for the serving senior management incumbents to move on up the NHS greasy pole or collect their pensions.


In the face of the funding and resourcing cuts facing all areas of the public sector, it is unacceptable for staff to have to labour under the added burden of being bullied and racially discriminated against.  I have personally witnessed visible minority staff at Northwick Park being spoken down to by white colleagues and having their judgement openly questioned.  This means that staff will be reluctant to speak up for patients if they believe those higher up the food chain will hold it against them. 


Poor culture arises in any organisation from poor management – at all levels from board downwards.  It suggests nothing good of the honesty and transparency of the NHS that enforcement of these tenets is required by Freedom To Speak Up Guardians.  It suggests an ingrained penchant for lying that the NHS has to be told it has a ‘duty of candour’, i.e. someone had to actually tell them they need to tell the truth.  





A bullying culture contributes to a poor nurse work environment, increased risk to patients, lower Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient satisfaction scores, and greater nurse turnover, which costs the average hospital $4 million to $7 million a year.  Addressing nurse bullying begins with acknowledging the problem, raising awareness, mitigating contributing factors, and creating and enforcing a strong antibullying policy.


 Investigation into 10 maternal deaths at, or following delivery at, Northwick Park Hospital, North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, between April 2002 and April 2005 LINK


An independent review of serious untoward incidents and clinical governance systems within maternity services at Northwick Park Hospital 2008 LINK


Friday 25 June 2021

Care Quality Commission finds 'poor culture' at Northwick Park's Maternity Department amidst multiple allegations of bullying. Emergency Dept more positive but the hospital still requires improvement

From the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has told London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust that it must make improvements at Northwick Park Hospital, following an inspection of the maternity service and the emergency department.

CQC carried out an unannounced focused inspection of the maternity service in April in response to information of concern received about the care of mothers and babies in the department. Following the inspection, the overall rating for the maternity service went down from requires improvement to inadequate. The ratings for the safe and well-led domains also went down from requires improvement to inadequate. The caring, effective and responsive domains were not rated during this inspection.

Inspectors also carried out an unannounced focused inspection of the emergency department to follow up on concerns regarding the quality and safety of the service and found that significant improvements had been made. At the time of the inspection in April, the department was under adverse pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency department was not rated during this inspection, so the previous rating of requires improvement remains in place.

The overall rating for Northwick Park Hospital remains unchanged and is requires improvement.

Nicola Wise, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said:

“We were very concerned by our findings at Northwick Park hospital’s maternity department. There was a poor culture overall and there were multiple allegations of bullying amongst the staff. This is completely unacceptable. Nobody should have to work in an environment where they feel intimidated.

“Staff told us about one consultant who refused to help a junior midwife when asked, and other consultants who went home instead of discharging patients. We were also told about staff shouting at each other, and a midwife shouting at a patient because she could not understand English. A member of staff shouted at one of our inspectors, after mistaking them for a colleague.

“Some staff said they had raised concerns about the poor attitude amongst the senior management team, but that leaders did not listen. Other staff said they were frightened to speak out, for fear of repercussions, and some claimed they had been told by management only to say good things when asked. The knock-on effect of working in such an environment, is that when things go wrong, the fear of being blamed prevents people from raising concerns and reporting incidents, so lessons are not learnt and shared amongst the wider team.

“The executive leadership team is aware of the concerns our inspectors highlighted and we are assured that the team is implementing improvements while seeking support from stakeholders in the local healthcare community. We will keep a close eye on progress and will reinspect to ensure that improvements have been made and fully embedded.

“The situation in the emergency department was more positive. In general, it was well run, with enough staff with the right skills, qualifications, training and experience to keep people safe and provide the right care and treatment. However, nursing vacancies remain a challenge, although the leadership team was in the process of recruiting staff in order to improve the situation. We also pointed out a potential risk in the department that senior leaders were not aware of and need to address.”

Inspectors found the following areas of concern in the maternity department:

  • The leadership team of the maternity service at Northwick Park Hospital had been recently established and because they had only been in post for a short time, the new team did not yet have a proper governance structure in place, and was therefore unable to provide assurance that they had the skills and abilities to run the service, or to implement meaningful changes that improved the safety of the service
  • Not all leaders were aware of challenges to the service. Some did not know what was on the risk register and there were some longstanding issues that had not been addressed. Staff reported that not all leaders were visible, and they felt leaders did not act in a timely way to address the issues in the service
  • The trust reported 13 serious incidents between March 2020 and March 2021, which included eight perinatal (baby) deaths over a five-week period, during July and August last year, which is a very high number over such a short period. The trust escalated this to the North West London Integrated Care System (ICS) for an external review and the trust had an improvement plan in place to address issues identified in the ICS report
  • Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals did not always work well together as a team or support each other to provide good care. Most staff that inspectors spoke to had concerns about staffing levels and the high use of agency staff. Staff often had to miss lunch breaks as a result of insufficient staff cover
  • The trust was unable to provide assurance that it had effective systems in place to ensure that medical and midwifery staff had the competence, skills and experience to safely care for, and meet the needs of, women and babies using the service
  • Mandatory training did not meet the trust’s target. Although staff understood how to protect women from abuse, safeguarding training compliance was not always meeting the trust target and domestic violence assessments were not always documented
  • Staff did not always complete and update risk assessments for each patient and did not always remove or minimise risks
  • The service did not always manage patient safety incidents well. Incidents were not always reported in a timely way or lessons learned shared amongst the wider service
  • During the inspection, concerns were raised regarding delays in the induction of labour for women and an allegation that some women were waiting more than 72 hours to be induced. The trust had completed an audit of patient records in April which showed that half of the women were induced within 48 hours, but the other half experienced delays.

In the emergency department, inspectors found:

  • Leaders had the skills and abilities to run the service. They understood and managed the priorities and issues the service faced. They were visible and approachable in the service for patients and staff
  • The service had enough nursing and support staff with the right qualifications, skills, training and experience to keep patients safe from avoidable harm and to provide the right care and treatment. The service had enough medical staff to ensure safe care was provided at all times
  • Staff felt respected, supported and valued and they were focused on the needs of patients receiving care. The service had an open culture where patients, their families and staff, could raise concerns without fear
  • Staff understood how to protect patients from abuse and the service worked well with other agencies to do so
  • The service generally controlled infection risk well. Staff wore the right personal protective to keep themselves and others safe from cross infection. Patients had an assessment of their infection risk on arrival at the department and staff allocated them to the correct areas
  • The service managed patient safety incidents well. Staff recognised and reported incidents and near misses. Managers investigated incidents and shared lessons learned with the whole team and the wider service
  • Patients could access the service when they needed and were able to access treatment promptly. The trust had significantly improved its patient handover and treatment time performance
  • However, senior leaders were not aware of all the risks in the department. Staff were responsible for changing the filters on masks, but the leadership team did not monitor, or have oversight of this. In addition, patient safety checklists were not consistently filled all records that were reviewed.

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Food for thought in the NEU's response to White Working Class under-achievement report

 Commenting on "The forgotten: how White working-class pupils have been let down, and how to change it", a report by the House of Commons Education Committee, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

"It is important to understand that social class is the biggest determinant of educational success or failure. Too many children and young people are disengaged from the curriculum. It is time to acknowledge the link between our current curriculum and assessment approach and the de-motivation of thousands of students. 
“We believe the experiences of working-class students in education do merit much greater focus. They suggest a case for an overhaul of the assessment system and bold thinking on issues such as extended schools and restoring the services around a school which families need. We need to extend youth clubs, boost mentoring programmes, and think about vocational pathways and getting a much better balance back into the curriculum. 
"With 4.3 million children trapped in poverty, the report should do more to acknowledge the impact of poverty and the huge challenge that poverty poses for schools. Whilst schools can make a difference, they can't make the difference on poverty. 
“The NEU believes that experiences and stereotypes around class and ethnicity are inter-related, and we must therefore support schools to think about sex, class and ethnicity. Indeed, from the report’s own evidence, it is Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children whose attainment and entry to higher education needs the most attention, and findings for Black Caribbean children on Free School Meals are insignificantly different to white children on FSM. 
"Making critical statements about teacher quality in poorer areas, as this report does, obscures the real discussion about what heads and teachers in high-poverty schools actually need in order to champion and empower learners. The school accountability system must understand the context for different schools. We certainly don't support more punitive sanctions as a route to retain teachers. 
"The report should have explored whether an average of £50 per pupil will be enough to support their recovery. This does not match the commitment our international neighbours are making to their children - the Netherlands and the United States are investing £2,500 and £1,600 per pupil respectively. 
"We are worried about the stealth cuts to Pupil Premium funding that will leave almost all schools struggling financially, with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds being the hardest hit. This will undermine the life chances of working-class students. 
"It is deeply unhelpful to try and make it harder to talk in schools about racism, which seems to be one intention of the report. Racism is endemic across society and in workplaces and nearly half of Black children are living in poverty. Racist content is being targeted at young people online in working-class areas across the country and so all schools must talk proactively about racism, including tackle racist bullying, in age-appropriate ways. We think a proper role for Government would be to share good practice about how to tackle racism using education, and how to develop teachers' skills around poverty-proofing the school day. The NEU has published guidance on this. 
"Both challenging racism and empowering all working-class students should be at the heart of this next phase of recovery education, after Covid. We should be prepared to ask big questions about how to redesign education to respond to these inequalities."

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Cllr Butt addresses St Raphael's residents on the delays in fill-in/rebuild development of the estate. Is it the full story?



On Twitter @LifeInKilburn  suggested this was not the whole story:

St Raphael's redevelopment delayed. What the Leader doesn't tell you is that the GLA have changed their funding criteria and that they will not fund housing that replaces current housing, making the full redevelopment option not financially possible.

This was a point also made by St Raph's Community group LINK 

Inside Housing LINK covered the GLAs change of policy in December 2020 and quoted Helen Evans of the G15 group of housing associations:

The new programme will mean that grant funding will only be available for additional homes in estate regeneration.

This is a big change from previous programmes, the extent to which it makes a difference will depend on how much the estate is being densified.

I believe estate regeneration, which already involves additional costs of demolition and loss of rental income, will become more expensive and unviable in some instances.

There may be some wriggle room for Brent Council and it could be that the delay is caused by protracted talks with the GLA. The GLA’s guidance states it will “consider funding these replacement homes in exceptional circumstances”, such as if homes have become “obsolete”. Does this apply to housing on St Raph's?

 Inside Housing continued:

Guy Slocombe, chief investment officer at Hyde, said he hopes the regeneration rules are “a broad generalisation” and that “some of the homes that are being regenerated are being regenerated because they are no longer fit for purpose”.

He continued: “Hyde has experience of large-scale regeneration which involves replacing homes that would not meet the decent homes standards. I believe that grant should be provided to replace these homes and I hope that... regeneration projects will be considered on their own merit.

Alternative funding may also be being explored. This is what the GLA document, Homes for London - Affordable Homes Programme 2021-2026, LINK  says:

Estate regeneration


The Affordable Homes Programme 2021-2026 provides funding for estate regeneration projects where the grant is used for additional homes. Funding will not be available for units that replace homes that have been, or will be, demolished.


Where homes have become obsolete the GLA will consider funding these replacement homes in exceptional circumstances, and only as part of a scheme that will increase the number of homes overall. 


Where councils are unable to fund replacement homes within their own resources, the GLA will look to provide alternative funding. Investment partners seeking to undertake estate regeneration are encouraged to submit bids under this programme for units that will increase overall supply and to discuss additional requirements with GLA officers where further funding is required to support the replacement of homes that have been demolished.

LATEST: Brent Council statement on Neasden Stations Consultation email data breach

A Brent Council spokesperson said: 

"As soon as we became aware of this mistake, it was immediately flagged with the council's Information Governance team who are working with the team concerned.

"We have already apologised to the recipients and made them aware it was not intentional and due to human error. We're also exploring ways of ensuring that this type of error cannot happen again in consultation exercises.

"We would encourage people to participate in the Neasden consultation and offer us their ideas on making the area around Neasden Station a nicer and better place for people in Brent. "

EURO 2020: England v Czech Republic information for tonight's game

 From Brent Council

The England v Czech Republic game at Wembley Stadium at 8pm on Tuesday, 22 June will come under the government's Events Research Programme. 

Brent Council is once again working closely with its partners to ensure this Friday's game runs as smoothly and safely as possible. Ticketholders should check the UEFA website for the latest information.

COVID-19 Testing:

We're asking residents to please avoid visiting the COVID-19 testing site at Brent Civic Centre on match day, with the area likely to be busy. Alternative testing sites can be found on our interactive map.

Ticketholders must show either a Negative Lateral Flow Test or proof of full vaccination to be allowed entry to Wembley Stadium.

Parking and traffic:

Event Day parking restrictions will be in force on match days, and residents should make sure their permit is up-to-date/displayed. An email will be sent out to permit holders in the Controlled Parking Zone reminding them of this. Please do not travel to Wembley if you don't have a ticket for Friday's game. Extensive road closures will be in place around the stadium on the day of the match.

Ticketholders are being encouraged to travel by public transport or coach and Wembley Stadium will not provide parking for private vehicles during the event, except accessible parking. Nearby street parking is reserved for local residents and businesses. See here for Brent's parking restrictions on stadium event days.

Brent Council apologises for Friday's email data breach - investigation underway

Alan Lunt, Brent Council's Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment has written to the 970 recipients of Friday's email apologising for the data breach.

He said:

Please accept my apologies for the sending of an email on Friday regarding the consultation on the Neasden Stations Growth Area SPD, which showed email addresses when they should have been hidden. This was a human error. This security incident is being investigated by the data protection team.

We are reviewing our practice and process, in addition to exploring with IT ways of ensuring that this type of error cannot happen again.

The vast majority of emails recipients are for companies, stakeholders and staff and consequently we have assessed the risks to you in terms of any data mis-use as low.

Former Liberal Democrat councillor, Alison Hopkins, who was one of the recipients of Friday's email has replied to Mr Lunt:

I note that I have had no response to my formal complaint to Brent's DPO (Data Protection Officer)

I have spoken to the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) this morning and consider your response to be wholly inadequate. They concur and I am raising a formal complaint with them.

Your statement that the risk to me is "low" is a dismissive brush off. It is presumably based on Brent's opinion, rather than any proven and sound foundation, and as such legally remains merely your opinion rather than any properly tested fact.

As someone with decades in IT and considerable experience of GDPR and safeguarding practice, the risk is considerably more than "low". Given the seriousness of the original "error", how am I to trust any assessment you have made, especially as you have given no detail of how this conclusion was reached?

I have no knowledge of the companies, stakeholders and staff you refer to, their credentials or probity. In any event, this statement is not acceptable under GDPR rules.

'Unemployment & the Gig Economy' Brent Trades Council Wednesday 23rd June 7pm


Zoom link
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 829 6048 9453
Passcode: 916765

Monday 21 June 2021

Brent's commitment to tackling the carbon risk of its pension fund welcomed but roadmap to divestment urgently needed

Thursday's Brent Pension Fund Sub-Committee will be considering the Brent Investment Strategy Statement LINK. The Investment Strategy is an opportunity for the Fund to commit to positive action over what are known as ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) aspects of its investments.  Environmental includes investments in fossil fuels such as oil and gas which contribute to the global climate crisis. Brent Labour has a manifesto commitment to phase out such investments in the light of its Declaration of a Climate Emergency and has been lobbied by the campaign Divest Brent to move more quickly on its commitment and establish a timeline.

This is the relevant extract fom the statement:

Where appropriate, the Committee considers how it wishes to approach specific ESG factors in the context of its role in asset allocation and investment strategy setting. Taking into account the ratification in October 2016 of the Paris Agreement, the Committee considers that significant exposure to fossil fuel reserves within the Fund’s portfolio could pose a material financial risk. As a result, the Committee has committed to undertaking a Carbon Risk Audit for the Fund, quantifying the Fund’s exposure through its equity portfolio to fossil fuel reserves and power generation and where the greatest risks lie.


Once this audit has taken place the Committee intends to develop a plan to reduce the Fund’s carbon exposure. The plan will be periodically reviewed to ensure that it remains consistent with the risks associated with investment in carbon assets and with the Committee’s fiduciary duties.


 A key consideration in developing this plan, including the setting of any intermediate targets, will be the London Collective Investment Vehicle’s own plans to reduce the carbon exposure of the funds it oversees. Currently, c30%of the Fund’s assets sit directly with the London CIV this percentage is expected to grow over time. Once passive investments through LGIM and BlackRock are included, c90% of the Fund’s assets can be pooled.


At this stage, the Committee has not set a target timeframe for the Fund to become carbon neutral. This will be considered in more detail as part of the plan to reduce the Fund’s carbon exposure. Some flexibility may be appropriate to allow the Fund to adjust the pace of the transition in the light of changing financial conditions or technological advances in certain sectors.


The Committee considers exposure to carbon risk in the context of its role in asset allocation and investment strategy setting. Consideration has therefore been given in setting the Fund’s Investment Strategy to how this objective can be achieved within a pooled investment structure and the Committee, having taken professional advice, will work with the London CIV to ensure that suitable strategies are made available.


Where necessary, the Fund will also engage with its Investment Managers or the London CIV to address specific areas of carbon risk. The Fund expects its investment managers to integrate financially material ESG factors into their investment analysis and decision making and may engage with managers and the London CIV to ensure that the strategies it invests in remain appropriate for its needs.


The Committee consider the Fund’s approach to responsible investment in two key areas:


·Sustainable investment / ESG factors–considering the financial impact of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors (including climate change) on its investments.

·Stewardship and governance–acting as responsible and active investors/owners, through considered voting of shares, and engaging with investee company management as part of the investment process.


In light of the latest investment strategy review and the Fund’s increased focus and importance of responsible investment, the Fund has bolstered its beliefs in this area, specifically:


 ·Ongoing engagement and collaborative investment practices will affect positive change through the powers of collective influence.


·We must act as responsible owners


·The Fund’s investment managers should embed the consideration of ESG factors into their investment process and decision-making


More detail on these beliefs can be found in the appendix.


The Committee takes ESG matters very seriously. Its investment beliefs include explicit statements relating to ESG and climate change. The ESG criteria of its existing investment investments are assessed on an ongoing basis and ESG is a key consideration when assessing the relative merits of any potential new Fund investments. The Fund also conducts an annual review of its:


·Policies in this area,


·Investment managers’ approach to responsible investing; and


·Members’ training needs and implements training to reflect these needs.


At the present time the Committee does not take into account non-financial factors when selecting, retaining, or realising its investments. The Committee understand the Fund is not able to exclude investments in order to pursue boycotts, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries.


The London CIV itself is committed to responsible investment and duly recognises the role of ESG factors in the investment decision making process, evidenced by its own ‘responsible investment policy’. The Fund is supportive of this and will monitor the policy on a regular basis as more assets transfer into the pool to ensure consistency with its own beliefs. Details of the investment managers’ governance principles can be found on their websites.

Asked for a comment on the Statement, Simon Erskine of Divest Brent said:

When Divest Brent presented its 1,400-strong petition on divesting the Brent Pension Fund (i.e. getting rid of the Fund’s fossil-fuel investments) to the Cabinet of Brent Council back in April, the Deputy Leader of the Council pledged to develop a clear roadmap towards progressing the divestment strategy. It was therefore heartening to read the Council’s updated Investment Strategy Statement which is going to the Pension Fund Sub-committee for approval at its meeting on Thursday (June 24). The Council has not made any specific commitment to divest by any specific date but as a step towards the promised “clear roadmap” it is an encouraging start. Key points include:


·         Commitment to a Carbon Risk Audit for the Pension Fund followed by

·         Development of a plan to reduce the carbon exposure of the Fund

·         The timeframe for this decarbonisation would be considered as part of the roadmap

·         The Fund will engage with its investment managers to address specific areas of carbon risk

·         Climate change and the expected transition to a low carbon economy is a long term financial risk to Fund outcomes


Unsurprisingly the updated investment strategy does not deliver all we would like to see. Notably the Council has retained its stance, shared with many other local authorities, that engagement is preferable to divestment – in other words asking oil companies nicely if they could kindly stop producing so much oil – rather than simply jettisoning their shares. They do now, however, say that if, after a considered period, there is no evidence of a company making visible progress towards carbon reduction then divestment should be actively considered.


Ironically the Pension Fund Sub-committee will also be considering a report from LAPFF, the local authority group tasked with engaging with companies, featuring a piece on their engagement with Shell. From the report it was clear that Shell were uninterested in the point made by LAPFF that their net zero commitment would require developing a new, mature forest the size of Washington State (one of the US’s biggest states). LAPFF also pointed out that their plans to decarbonise involved carbon capture and storage (CCS) centres equivalent to 10x that of the world’s largest current CCS centre, which itself is mired in problems. Shell reckons that these steps will actually enable them to increase gas production and burning! It is perhaps no surprise that the Council officers’ introduction, for the Pension Fund Sub-committee, to the LAPFF report omitted to mention the piece on Shell…


In conclusion there is much to welcome in the updated investment strategy statement – but let’s wait and see what the promised roadmap comes up with in terms of detail and time-table.


There is a section of the Statement that may well be challenged by other campaigners when it states:  

The Committee understand the Fund is not able to exclude investments in order to pursue boycotts, divestment and sanctions against foreign nations and UK defence industries. 

In April 2020 Palestine Solidarity Campaign defeated the UK government in the Supreme Court, overturning guidance that advised Local Government Pension Funds against taking ethical investment decisions that contravened UK government foreign policy, restricting the ability of funds to remove investments from companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

The Campaign's research shows that Brent has  £6,846,096 invested in companies in 'grave breach of international laws carried out by the Israeli government towards Palestinians'.

Details of the companies involved can be found HERE.