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
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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.

 

 

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Brent Council's consultation on Neasden Masterplan marred by major data breach

Brent Council yesterday emailed local residents informing them of the consultation on the Neasden Stations Development Masterplan. The consultation was agreed at the last Cabinet LINK.

Unfortunately residents' email addresses were placed in the 'To' slot rather than bcc so private email addresses were revealed to all and sundry. That was not the end of the matter as the 'Recall' message issued when the error was revealed was also sent via the 'To' slot! Some 970  residents received up to 10 open such 'Recalls'.

This appears to be a clear breach of GDPR although likely to have been an accident.

Here are details of the consultation which officially begins on Monday:

Brent Council is asking for residents’ views on how the future development of the area around Neasden Underground Station might look.

 


 

Part of this exciting vision will include 2,000 new and affordable homes, new job opportunities for local people, improved and integrated cycling routes and new and better open spaces.

We want residents to have their say on the draft Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which will help guide and influence the development of Neasden Station Growth Area (NSGA).This includes land around Neasden Underground Station that the Council has designated for development in its draft Local Plan.

The document will be used by the Council to help decide which proposals should be given planning permission in the area.

Don’t miss the opportunity to have your say on Neasden’s future!

Why we are consulting

How to get involved?

  1. Visiting Wembley and Willesden Libraries:  A copy of the SPD and feedback forms will be available for you to review and provide us with your comments. Your feedback can be shared with us via: 
  • Email: Scanning or sending a photo of the form to NSGA@brent.gov.uk
  • Post: sending your feedback to NSGA MASTERPLAN SPD consultation, Regeneration Team, Engineers Way, Wembley Park, Wembley HA9 0FJ
  1. Visiting our webpage: A digital version of the document will be available as well as the feedback form: www.brent.gov.uk/your-community/regeneration/growth-areas/neasden-stations-growth-area/. You can email your response via NSGA@brent.gov.uk.
  1. Visiting one of our drop-in events:  Council officers will be happy to talk you through the project and answer any of your questions on :  
  • Monday 5th July 2021 3-6pm, Neasden Town Centre, near Neasden Parade, 263-265 Neasden Lane
  • Friday 9th July 2021, 4-6pm, St Catherine’s Church, Church forecourt, Neasden Lane,  NW10 1QB
  • Thursday 15th July 2021,   4-6pm, The Grange, Neasden Lane, London NW10 1QB

The link to the Survey should be live from Monday HERE




Time to put pupils' needs first at JFS rather than play the blame game

 

Last Saturday LINK I reported the news that Sir Michael Wilshaw had taken over as Interim Executive Headteacher at JFS secondary school, a Jewish orthodox religious school in Brent but with a much wider catchment.  JFS’s foundation body is the United Synagogue and its religious authority is the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. The headteacher had resigned and it appeared that the safeguarding of pupils was an issue.

On Tuesday of this week in an interview with Jewish News LINK, Wilshaw claimed to have already improved the school but blamed Brent Council for not intervening earlier:

When they knew there were issues around safeguarding and mental health issues, they should have been in here monitoring the situation – well before Ofsted. The local council has failed this school, there is no question about that in my mind.

This was followed on Wednesday by publication of  unattributed responses from Brent Council published in Jewish News LINK.

But it is understood that senior figures within Brent Council have reacted with “outrage” at the interim headteacher’s claims.

Sources within the local authority point to the 2016 Ofsted report into JFS, that was published during Wilshaw’s stint as chief executive with the official education inspectors.

They pointed to the fact that the 2016 report described safeguarding at JFS as “effective” and added that pupils “knew where to seek help” if needed.

They same sources also insisted it has been Brent who had intervened “very recently” to ask Ofsted to look at the school over safeguarding concerns.

One source added: “It is laughable to read Michael Wilshaw suggesting he has managed to turn a school around in a matter of weeks.

“Senior figures at Brent are meeting to decided how to respond to his comments, but the feeling is there are far bigger issues at stake here that Mr Wilshaw.”

On Thursday  Jewish News in an 'Exclusive' LINK published extracts from the Ofsted report on JFS which deemed the school 'Inadequate'. The report has not yet been published on the Ofsted website so please treat their summary with caution:

KEY FINDINGS FROM OFSTED REPORT: 

  • School leaders “do not ensure that all pupils are safe from harm”
  • Pupils don’t observe “appropriate boundaries”
  • Student relationships damaged “by unchallenged, inappropriate behaviour…including sexual harassment.”
  • JFS “does not adequately provide for pupils’ wider personal development”, including PSHE, RSE and LGBT issues
  • School in special measures for “failing to give its pupils an acceptable standard of education
  • Persons responsible for leading the school “are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement”

A spokesperson for the United Synagogue told Jewish News: 

This is a very distressing Ofsted report and one which we know will make very troubling reading for parents, students and staff. Notwithstanding the positive findings about the school’s education and sixth form, the serious failings found by Ofsted demand urgent attention. We acknowledge the governors recognise this and have already taken steps to improve safeguarding in particular. We will be working with the school to ensure the programme of improvements continues at pace.

In my view there appears to be some singling out of Brent Council for blame in the media when responsibility should be much more widely shared. The 'blame game' should not divert the partners involved from the main priority of safeguarding pupils and putting measures in place for addressing the mental health of those pupils who have suffered from sexual harassment in the past.

 


 



1 Morland Gardens – Brent’s development delayed

 Guest post by Philip Grant in a personal capacity


There are many things wrong with Brent Council’s proposed redevelopment of 1 Morland Gardens. It is not just the planned demolition of the locally listed Victorian villa, “Altamira”, or the way in which Council Officers managed to get it approved by Planning Committee in August last year.

 

“Altamira”, the beautiful Italianate Victorian villa at 1 Morland Gardens, Stonebridge.

 

Another reason why this proposed development is bad planning is that, in order to “maximise” the number of new homes the Council plans to build, the site has been extended to include a ‘public green space’. A 9-storey block of flats will be built over the Harlesden City Challenge Community Garden, created in 1994 to help beautify this busy corner of Stonebridge.

 

The location of the Community Garden, at the corner of Hillside and Brentfield Road.

 

Extending the site was seen as a potential opportunity in the Strategic Brief which Brent’s Officers gave to the architect they appointed for the scheme in 2018, Curl la Tourelle Head (“CLTH”). Their RIBA Stage 1 Design Report in December 2018 showed the potential extra land (blue line) on its site plan. It also pointed out that ‘some of the site is designated as public footpath which may require appropriation.’ It also said that it was ‘likely to be public highway.’ This would require a “stopping-up order”, before any building could take place over it.

Site details from CLTH’s Stage 1 Report, December 2018.

 

I received a copy of the Stage 1 Report in September 2020 under a Freedom of Information Act request.  The “Risk” section at the end of the Report also mentioned the ‘Morland Gardens road stopping up process’ as a potential cause of delay for the proposed development.

 

Risk assessment from CLTH’s December 2018 Report

 

I checked to see whether there was any “stopping-up order”. These can only be made after planning permission has been approved, and as there was no indication that one had yet been made, I kept an eye on the Council’s Legal Notices in the “Brent & Kilburn Times”. But months went by, and there was no announcement. Brent Council was hoping to appoint a contractor for the project by May or June 2021, with work due to begin In September, after the Brent Start College has been decanted to temporary accommodation in August. 

 

With this in mind, I made an FoI request on 6 April, seeking details of the appropriation of the Community Garden land, and stopping-up order information for the Morland Gardens footpath / highway past the front of No.1. I copied this to Brent’s Strategic Director, Regeneration and Environment (who Cabinet had delegated to enter into the construction contract), so that he was aware of a potential “problem”. When I eventually received the response to my FoI, from Brent’s Development Management Manager on 25 May, it said:

 

Following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that Brent Council does not hold the information you have requested. The reason the information is not held is as follows:

An application to formally stop up the highway has not yet been received. This would need to be submitted and approved prior to any development taking place on the areas that are currently adopted highway. Until the stopping-up process has been completed under S247 of the Town & Country Act 1990, works will not be able to start on the development insofar as it affects highway land.’

 

 

The Morland Gardens highway / footpath between the Community Garden and “Altamira”
(Photo by Margaret Pratt)

 

The response did not answer my request for information on the appropriation of the land for planning purposes, and after an immediate reminder that this was still outstanding had not been replied to, I have asked for an Internal Review to remedy this defect, and obtain that information.

 

After sending a copy of the FoI response to Alan Lunt at Brent Council, I have received this email from him, confirming that “Altamira” will not be demolished until after all of the necessary legal processes have been followed:

 

Email from Brent’s Strategic Director, Regeneration and Environment, on 2 June 2021.

 

So why hadn’t Brent Council already made the stopping-up order required before they can go ahead with the 1 Morland Gardens development? Was it just a careless oversight by a Council Officer working on the project? Or was it deliberate, hoping that no one would notice the absence of this legal requirement, and because it was a Brent Council scheme, they could get away with ignoring the law?

 

Although it is the Council which makes stopping-up orders, it is quite a complicated process, involving several steps. They have to publish a draft order, and give public notice of it, inviting comments from utility companies and anyone else who may be affected by it. There are certainly various utilities running under the footpath alongside the existing wall of 1 Morland Gardens. Telephone and water manholes / access points can be seen in this photograph:-

 

The Morland Gardens footpath, from Hillside. (Photo by Margaret Pratt)

 

There can be objections, and if any of these are received, they have to be referred to the applicant for the stopping-up order, to see whether these can be resolved. This might be by agreeing to pay the costs of diverting services like electricity / gas / water supply etc. But if there are unresolved objections, the draft order has to go to an inquiry, a process that is likely to take many months.

 

What possible objections could there be. I can think of a very good reason for objecting to the diversion of the footpath! Although it would only add a short distance to the walk from Hillside, and its No.18 bus stop, to the existing flats and the nursery school (in the church building) in Morland Gardens, anyone having to take that walk would be subject to much greater air pollution danger. Instead of following the route alongside the present wall of “Altamira” / Brent Start College, with the trees of the Community Garden between pedestrians and Brentfield Road, walkers would have to go via the busy junction at the top of Hillside, which is one of the worst air quality locations in the borough.

 

The footpath between “Altamira” and the Community Garden, April 2021.
(Photo by Margaret Pratt)

 

Brent Council’s development of 1 Morland Gardens will be delayed, and the delay will be the fault of Council Officers. How long the delay will be remains to be seen. Hopefully, it may even be long enough for Brent Council to realise what a bad idea this scheme (and the demolition of a valuable heritage asset it involves) is, and to think again.


Philip Grant.

 


 

FOOTNOTE: Following publication WM received the following anonymous comment that I publish here as it includes photographs:

Brent Council vs. Moreland Gardens and the surrounding locale 

 

One shouldn't forget just how green and special this very busy A404 junction in Stonebridge is - where Hillside meets Brentfield. Obviously our predecessors in Brent recognised the site as being special as can be seen by the imposing architecture surrounding the junction. The entire junction vista and surrounding buildings should surely be protected, preserved and enhanced for coming Brent generations, perhaps grass and trees could be reintroduced on the various traffic islands.   

 

To demolish more and more heritage buildings (assets) and green space, thereby removing wildlife habitat along Brent's trumpeted bee corridors and its green ribbons (mentioned in the Borough Plan) is a travesty. By imposing modern high rise blocks (now known as multi level building I'm told) into this and other historic and green location in Brent is a crime, and in the case of this location disrespects the residents of Stonebridge and Brent as a whole. Shame on you Brent Council.

 

Brent's Heritage assets, be they listed or not, seem to mean nothing to our leaders in Brent, perhaps they don't represent us as they say they do, if they do they are deaf and blind.  They continue to tell us that these new homes (nay boxes) are for our residents and many are affordable.  How is it then that the number of Brent residents in temporary accommodation continues to rise, as does the number of families on the Council House Waiting list? Then there are the people who have to live in substandard and dangerous accommodation within the sector known as Houses of Multiple Occupation where standards can be appalling as will have been seen in reports by the Press and the Council itself.