Yesterday's Full Council meetin was a curious affair, not least because although the Council recommend the public view on a live stream a technical problem meant that proceedings were all but inaudible. A long-distance static camera means that it is often impossible to know who is speaking (even if you could hear them). There are no captions identifying the speakers.
An audible recording is promised which will help to clarify what exactly was said by Brent Council Labour, Muhammed Butt, to so anger Conservative councillor Suresh Kansagra.
A Liberal Democrat motion on Refugees, that sough cross-party support was amended by the Labour Group. Some of the amendments were sensible but others inserted statements of self-praise for the Labour Party. Am amendment on Morland Gardens seemed to have been inserted just to make propganda for the Council's controverial proposal for the building.
Despite the propagandist elements of the amendment the motion is very welcome.
Here is the motion, Labour amendment in red. The motion as amended was passed.
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Utterly pathetic. Who do they think this impresses?
They dont care who it impresses - its just done to make Mo Butt feel BIG!!!
The hubris of Butt
Brent Labour Group's addition of a paragraph resolving to continue the Council's commitment to its Morland Gardens project was totally inappropriate in a motion about refugees and asylum seekers.
The claims in that added paragraph were also misleading and inaccurate, and this episode suggests that those in the Cabinet pushing for the Morland Gardens project to be "delivered" are actually worried that it is in danger of unravelling.
Brent Start was doing award winning work in its facilities at Morland Gardens. Despite being moved out to temporary accommodation (at a cost of £1.5m, in a building which will be demolished at the end of its stay there), it is still providing those ESOL and English Language courses, at venues including Willesden Green Library.
Brent Council is NOT investing £43m into creating a new state of the art adult education centre at Morland Gardens.
£15m of CIL money has been allocated to pay for the new Brent Start facilities. These could have been created at 1 Morland Gardens, alongside some additional housing, and retaining the heritage Victorian villa (that was the original idea put forward in 2018).
Or the £15m could have been invested in creating a new state of the art centre as part of a development elsewhere in Stonebridge, saving the cost and disruption of moving the college out of Morland Gardens, then back again when the proposed development is finished (if it ever is).
The big mistake was for Council Officers (and the Cabinet members they discussed it with in early 2019) to get greedy, and try to add too many new homes at Morland Gardens.
They failed to think through all that this would require (even though their architect had "flagged up" the need to get a stopping-up order, if they wanted to build on the extra land in front of 1 Morland Gardens).
They failed to follow the Council's adopted policy over heritage buildings, and so created a wide local opposition to their plans to demolish the beautiful Victorian villa.
They have had two failed attempts to appoint a contractor to carry out the project, and are now trying again. But even if the Strategic Director (Regeneration and Environment) manages to appoint one during the next couple of months, they can't actually start work "on site".
That's because part of the site needs to have a stopping-up order in place, and they only gave notice of their proposed order in April 2022. They have received a number of objections to this, and those may not be dealt with before 2023!
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