Tuesday 30 May 2023

UPDATE: Sadiq Khan response today on ULEZ expansion scheme suggests coordinated Labour campaign ahead of Mayoral election - Brent Council Leader Muhammed Butt calls on London Mayor to review current criteria for Scrappage Scheme ahead of ULEZ expansion


 Today (Thursday) Sadiq Khan announced some revisions to the scrappage scheme so it appears this was a coordinated Labour campaign ahead of the GLA elections to persuade the electorate that 'we are listening' and that the letters from Brent, Ealing and other Labour councils brought about the change.



Since this post was published other London Labour boroughs have tweeted the same message - clearly a concerted effort.


Today (Thursday) Sadiq Khan announced some revisions to the scrappage scheme so it appears this was a coordinated Labour campaign ahead of the GLA elections to persuade the electorate that 'we are listening' and that the letters from Brent, Ealing and other Labour councils brought about the change.

Monday 29 May 2023

Join the call for Starmer to put Proportional Representation in the Labour Manifesto


The only way we are going to get real change is the introduction of Proportional Representation so that voting really matters to everyone. This powerful consortium led by Make Votes Matters has launched a a petition aimed at stopping Starmer's dithering.

They say:

The British public has been demanding Proportional Representation for years.

Support from voters is the highest it has ever been, including having doubled among Labour voters.

Thousands campaign for it every year. From First Ministers Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon, mayors Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan, to grassroots activists up and down the country.

Every major party in Great Britain other than Labour and the Conservatives promised it at the last election.

Now, Labour is a big step closer to joining us.

Labour Conference has now passed a motion calling for Proportional Representation. This is an historic moment.

But you said this is "not a priority".

Without your support there is no guarantee that Labour will introduce Proportional Representation after the next election.

But we are not going away. We will not allow Proportional Representation to be kicked into the long grass.

We want you to take up the torch of electoral reform.

We want a manifesto commitment for Proportional Representation.

However we vote, all of us want to cast our next vote for a party that commits to PR in its manifesto.


This is the very similar petition wording: SIGN HERE 

To: Keir Starmer
From: [Your Name]

​The British public has been demanding Proportional Representation for years.

Support from voters is the highest it has ever been, including having doubled among Labour voters.

Thousands campaign for it every year. From First Ministers Mark Drakeford and Nicola Sturgeon, mayors Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan, to grassroots activists up and down the country.

Every major party in Great Britain other than Labour and the Conservatives promised it at the last election.

Now, Labour is a big step closer to joining us.

Labour Conference has now passed a motion calling for Proportional Representation. This is an historic moment.

But you said this is "not a priority".

Without your support there is no guarantee that Labour will introduce Proportional Representation after the next election.

But we are not going away. We will not allow Proportional Representation to be kicked into the long grass.

We want you to take up the torch of electoral reform.

We want a manifesto commitment for Proportional Representation.

However we vote, all of us want to cast our next vote for a party that commits to PR in its manifesto.

We are closer than ever to achieving equal votes. Will you join us?

GREAT JUNE EVENTS AT PRESTON COMMUNITY LIBRARY THIS JUNE - Learn Spanish, avoid being scammed & a guide to making effective FoI requests


Sunday 28 May 2023

Northwick Park: Pop-up plant and bake sale Monday 29th May

From Northwick Park Community Garden

Venue: car park at Northwick Park from 10.30 am
All funds raised will go to support the work of Northwick Park Community Garden.

Please note it's cash only

Thanks to the skill and generosity of our green-fingered friend Hema, we have some beautiful plants for sale this Bank Holiday Monday.

Plants include hydrangeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, mustard greens, raspberries, and more. 

We always welcome any spare plants or even baked treats that you'd be happy to donate to help us raise funds.

Come and join us and spend a bit of cash on plants and cake. We will also be selling coffee and tea and there will definitely be chocolate brownies on offer.

While you are with us why not wander over to see how glorious the garden is looking right now. The mint, woad, valerian, and aquilegia are all looking wonderful. 

Come and support us - the fundraising we do on his way is vital to continue the work of the community garden.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Three councillors declare free Funfair tickets from proprietor and developer George Irvin

 Readers will recall coverage of the offer to councillors of free funfair tickets for friends and family  to George Irvin's funfair. Irvin is also the developer applying for planning permission for 4 3 storey houses in Barham Park.

The councillors who took advantage of the offer were Cllr Rita Begun and Cllr Rita Conneely (Kilburn ward) and Cllr Gwen Grahl (Cricklewood and Mapesbury).

Cllr Rita Begum is a Labour representative on the Planning Committee.

Leader of the Council, Muhammed Butt, declared Wembley Arena tickets to the value of £100 for 'Misfits Boxing'.

 Click bottom right for full page.

Resonate at Kingsbury: Join singalong sessions and take part in a concert


From St Andrews Together

Join us for a series of Community #Singalong Sessions with popular songs focused on themes of love, friendship, and community. You don’t been to be a singer or have any musical training, - just turn up and have fun!

Four Community Singalong Sessions and a concert with singer-songwriter Annalie Wilson.

Annalie is a singer, songwriter, musician and actress based in North West London. She has won awards for her original music and acted as musical director on theatre productions. Annalie is the founder of Resonate, which offers voice workshops influenced by folk music from the country of Georgia. She has led singing and songwriting workshops at the Refugee Council and co-led retreats and meditation programmes involving community singing. www.resonate-voice.com

Join us for uplifting popular songs of love, friendship and community.

  • Wed 28th June, 7pm to 8.30pm
  • Wed 5th July, 7pm to 8.30pm
  • Wed 12th July, 7pm to 8.30pm
  • Wed 19th July, 7pm to 8.30pm

Final performance – date to be confirmed.

No experience necessary.

To sign up, please email standrewstogether@gmail.com

Early notice: Open Day at St Andrews Church in Kingsbury on July 8th - displays, fun, nature trails, music


St. Andrews Kingsbury Open Day


Join us for a day of celebration of our local heritage at St.Andrews’ Church, Church Lane, Kingsbury.


Saturday, 8 July 2023, 11am – 4pm


Led by enthusiastic volunteers, the day of merrymaking will be engaging and entertaining for the whole family. A wide range of activities and attractions will create a festive atmosphere and give visitors an opportunity to learn, explore, and have fun.


  • Heritage displays and trails of St.Andrews Church and the grounds 
  • Arts and crafts
  • Fun and games for kids
  • Nature trails and activities
  • Music and refreshments


Make new friends * Have fun * Celebrate * Learn something new

Have your say in the development of the local community.


Book your free place here

Or just turn up on the day


Friday 26 May 2023

Wembley Stadium events every day over the upcoming long weekend. Parking restrictions in place.

From Brent Council


Wembley Stadium will be hosting the Championship, League 2
League 1 Playoff Finals over this weekend and Bank Holiday Monday.


Championship Playoff: Coventry City v Luton Town will be on Saturday 27th May. The first match will start at 16.45pm and road closures will be in place from 12.45pm.

League 2 Playoff: Carlisle United v Stockport County will be on Sunday 28th May. The first match will start at 13.30pm and road closures will be in place from 09.30am.

League 1 Playoff: Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday will be on Monday 29th May. The first match will start at 15.00pm and road closures will be in place from 11.00am.

We expect the area around Wembley Stadium to be very busy before and after these games so please avoid the area if you can, unless you have a ticket.

Event day parking

Event day parking restrictions will be in place from 8am to midnight on main roads and from 10am to midnight on residential roads over the weekend and Monday.

If you have a paper permit, please make sure you clearly display it in your vehicle. If you have an electronic permit, you do not need to display this.

Drink-free zone

We want to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

To crack down on anti-social behaviour, we will be enforcing a ban on street drinking in the streets around Wembley Stadium before these matches, as part of the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).

If we find anyone drinking on Olympic Way or in the surrounding streets, they will be asked to hand over their alcohol and enforcement action may be considered. 

Latest information

For up-to-date information about Wembley events, please visit the Wembley Stadium website.

Consultation Cricklewood Junction Proposals - Thursday June 1st


The email is gareth@jankattein.com

Doubts over 'airspace' (addition of extra storeys to existing council housing) developments

 'Airspace' developments have been mentioned in to context of Brent Council's proposals for infill on its council estates. Airspace is when additional storeys are added to current housing and recently some specialist companies have been set up to develop such schemes.

Now Inside Housing (FULL REPORT) following an FoE request has revealed that Southwark Council has dropped plans following a report from an engineering consultancy:

Southwark Council, which had been pursuing the plans since 2019, received a report from engineering consultancy Arup in October 2020 that said the majority of buildings under consideration would not meet modern requirements to prevent collapse.  

The borough continued to investigate the potential for modular housing to be added to 26 buildings in the borough for more than two years after receiving the report, commissioning further expert opinions.  

It finally dropped the plans in July last year, having spent £3.75m working on the plan, it revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) response to Inside Housing.

On May 10th Brent Council Planning Committee approved an application to add an extra storey to Fairfield Court in Harlesden.  LINK

Half-term activities at Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre - June 1st and 2nd


From Thames21

Get ready explore the Welsh Harp Education Centre and the Welsh Harp Reservoir this May Half Term Holidays for FREE activities supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Canal and Rivers Trust.


Activities include:

Junior Bird Watchers Walk

Thursday 1st June 10.30am – 12.00pm

Join us at the Education Centre for a guided walk to the Welsh Harp Reservoir on a bird spotting adventure! Feed the birds and see how many you can identify. Ages 5-12. 

Pond Dipping & Mini-beast Hunt

Thursday 1st June, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

Dip your net in the ponds at the Education Centre to see what creatures live underwater and venture out into the wild woods to see what mini-beasts live there. Ages 5-12. 

Tree ID & Plant Art

Friday 2nd June 10.30am – 12.00pm

Join us at the Education Centre for a guided walk to the Welsh Harp Reservoir to explore different types of trees! Create beautiful plant art by using flowers and other plants on watercolour paper. Ages 5-12.

Shelter Building & Nature Quiz Trail

Friday 2nd June 1.00pm – 2.30pm

Build a shelter in the Education Centre woods and see if you can make it waterproof. Go exploring around the woods to find the quiz clues and see if you can solve the word puzzle! Ages 5-12.


Booking is essential, please use this Eventbrite link:



Welsh Harp Environmental Education Centre
Birchen Grove, NW9 8RY. Follow the signs towards the Birchen Grove Garden Centre.

Further info:

  • An adult must attend & supervise children throughout activities.
  • Places are limited and booking is essential, please use the Eventbrite link if you need to cancel your booking.
  • Children and adults should wear comfortable outdoor clothing and shoes that may get dirty as we will be walking on woodland pathways. Please bring a waterproof jacket if it is forecast to rain.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Brent Tories to protest at Civic Centre tomorrow (Wednesday) against clean air measures


The anti-ULEZ protest that was to take place at the Brent Council AGM but was knocked on the head by Conservative councillors is now taking place tomorrow, Wednesday 24th May 5-7pm.

The only event taking place tomorrow in the Civic Centre, apart from the library, is a 6pm training session for members of the Planning Committee.  This will mean that Cllr Michael Maurice will be missing for the second half of the 2 hour protest. 

Some of the protesters may be late as they are likely to having difficulty in finding a place to park their cars.

I do not have any firm news of a counter-demonstration by clean air campaigners yet.

How will 2nd staircase requirement for 30metre plus buildings impact on Brent's current pipeline?

 I have asked Brent Council Press Office to provide a quote from the Council on how the requirement for a second staircase for buildings over 30m high will impact on developments currently in the pipeline in Brent. The requirement follows recommendations made after the Grenfell fire.

From Fire Protection Association LINK

As reported by Building, property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) and Connells have analysed that up to 124,000 new London homes could be greatly affected or delayed by new fire safety regulations – schemes that had been previously approved.

Following the government’s recent 12-week consultation on proposed changes to Approved Document B (ADB), in February 2023, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced, that he would be going ahead with the requirement for two stairwells in new buildings that were over 30 metres in height.

During his announcement, he stipulated that the Greater London Authority would only sign off on high-rise building applications that included two stairwells. As LSH and Connells note, this means that a current pipeline of 243 buildings (accommodating 123,632 new homes) will have to be scrapped as new designs are submitted by developers. The property consultants added that the new requirements could lead to current applications being “under threat of significant delay, or even being completely mothballed”.

The head of planning at LSH, Mary-Jane O’Neill, explained: “Given the tragic circumstances that led to the revision of fire safety regulations, there are few plausible grounds on which to oppose their implementation. But all of us involved in the process of development do need to process their implications and come up with some pragmatic solutions as a priority.”

The decision for a secondary staircase follows calls for better life safety measures for residents of high-rise buildings by giving them another means of escape in the event of a fire. It can also mean that fire crews have more access to take firefighting equipment to higher storeys when alternative routes might not be feasible. The need for a second staircase was one of the recommendations set out by Dame Judith Hackitt in her independent review and has also been backed by RIBA. The London Fire Brigade welcomed Sadiq Khan's decision, with further bodies wondering whether the height threshold should be reduced to 18 metres instead of 30. At the time, Charlie Pugsley, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said:

Having pushed developers to include at least two staircases in tall residential buildings for some time, we support the government’s plans to bring in this clear limit for new buildings over 30m to further improve safety.

This introduction of a clear threshold will give clarity to developers, local authorities and communities and prevent the continued practice of increasingly tall buildings being designed and constructed with only a single staircase.”

The new London-wide mandate, however, is expected to impact several London boroughs and their promises for more housing. Indeed, Architects’ Journal reports that construction work has stopped at 10 new residential blocks between three and 16 storeys in the east London borough of Havering. The £450 million residential scheme expected to replace 270 homes with 380 homes has now been halted over the current uncertainty around second staircase requirements. Developer Wates Residential, alongside Havering Council, has stopped construction until the government gives more clarity and reaches a “decision on new building safety legislation regarding taller buildings”.

In a statement, the developer said: “Regulations are likely to change to require two staircases in buildings over 30m, so we have taken the decision to pause the development at this early point in the construction process until we have a better understanding of what the new regulations will mean.”

Mary-Jane added that while legislative updates to fire safety measures are still ongoing, “housebuilders are unlikely to go back to the drawing board on these schemes until there is much more clarity around the required design standards”. In the meantime, developers will have put their existing plans on hold. 

There is no silver bullet on the horizon that will unlock the uncertainty surrounding tall buildings,” she said.


Lyon Park Avenue/London Road Railway Pedestrian Bridge to be inspected 'later this year' and any necessary action taken

 I have received this response from Network Rail about the poor condition of the railway pedestrian bridge  between Lyon Park Avenue and London Road:

Work Request - Bridge Improvement Required - Bridge ID: LEC1/32 - Between London Road & Lyon Park Avenue, HA0 4DX

Thank you for contacting us about the footbridge going over the mainline near Lyon Park Avenue.


I have raised this with the structures team and they have let me know that this bridge is due for inspection later in the year, and they will take necessary action following the examination.



Listening to Brent Labour thinking about tomorrow.

With the Labour Party moving to the right ahead of the next General Election I have met a great number of unhappy local members recently some of whom have left the party and are looking for a new 'home'. Others intend to stay and fight for the policies they believe in, so I was interested in last Saturday's talk by Mike Phipps of Brent Central CLP about his book 'Don't stop thinking about tomorrow - the Labour Party after Jeremy Corbyn'.  The meeting was chaired by Alex Colas, Brent CLP Political Education Officer who posed several questions to Phipps before wider contributions and questions from the small audience. Several ex-Labour councillors were in the audeince but no current councillors.


Taken together Phipp's answers produce a narrative:


After the 2017 General Election although Labour lost the result was treated by the party as a victory because of its high vote for Corbyn's policies. Instead, the party should have analysed the missing demographics in its vote. Corbyn's rejection of personal attacks on rivals meant that he failed to address Johnson's dishonesty. The left no longer controls Labour Party policy but the right, bereft of policies of their own, are dipping into the left's. 


Starmer has developed an unpleasant, imposed regime but Labour can win the next election. The scale of the crisis means that you can't have a 'steady as you go' strategy - the crisis needs something more radical. In the recent local elections, the areas where Labour was most radical were the ones where Labour did proportionally better.  The move to the right means that Labour is losing graduate voters and the core vote is in danger.


Policies on housing, green transition and the NHS are important, but the real battle will be overfinancing them. The problem is that Labour is not committing to any more money. Will Starmer hit the rich or change the commitment?


The left needs to go on the attack over the money.


Differences between Welsh and Scottish Labour and UK Labour are widening with separate approaches. I don't support an alliance with the Liberal Democrats because of past history and thinks a trick was missed with the Greens in 2019. 


The Corbyn leadership was a once in a lifetime moment. More than 20,000 came into the party and about the same number have gone out. Some have stayed and got involved in local government, others have stepped back, and some have got involved in other parties. If Starmer fails to win a majority at the General Election, it is likely that the party will become factional.


The issue of the anti-semitism label should have been killed off immediately but Corbyn was poorly advised by his Comms people. After 2017 he should have brought in top-notch staff with a Chief of Staff committed to his agenda.  Instead, the staff had too many agendas of their own.


 Contributions from the audience were varied. Phipp's responses in brackets:


The fake allegations of anti-semitism were a step too far for me and I have kind of given up on parliamentary politics. Starmer is not challenging the establishment. I am despondent beyond measure. [Starmer is to the left of Blair on many issues. Labour began to lose votes under Miliband because of pro-Palestine policies. They should have been more aware of losing those votes. Surveys showed Labour voters queasy about Starmer.]


You said that you thought Labour would win the General Election. It is not likely to be an overall majority, and this strengthens the case for PR. What is the position of the local party on PR?  [Brent Central CLP narrowly passed a motion in support of PR. Personally in favour. Labour for PR doesn't punch its full weight and trade union support for PR has been more important. Unfortunately, after the last experience I don't think a Referendum on PR would be won.]


I am opposed to Starmer because he is not a good lawyer.  His record shows (e.g., Menezes shooting) that he has no moral sense regarding the big issues.


The reason for decline is the decline of trade unions. Need to build them up through developing single union across the sectors - multiple unions as in NHS means government/employers can divide and rule. Class politics should override identity politics.   I know others won’t agree but immigration should be opposed for class reasons as was initially the case with trade unions - it lowers wages and employers are therefore in favour. [Research evidence is that immigration does not depress wage levels.]


 John McDonnell gave a well-received talk here at the Learie Constantine Centre across parties. What is his role now and could the left coalesce around his leadership, particularly on economics. [Since Corbyn and McDonnell are following their separate interest of international issues and economic policy now. McDonnell is part of the old generation and there is a new generation from the Miliband era such as Richard Burgon. Such a person is more likely to come from the centre, rather than the centre-left.]


Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow - Mike Phipps, OR Books


Saturday 20 May 2023

Not much time left to reply to TfL consultation on extension of 223 route along Harrow View and Kodak site - ends June 4th

 From TFL website LINK

The affected section of the 223 route

Route 223 extension to Eastman Village

We are proposing to extend route 223, so that it terminates at the new Eastman Village Kodak housing development on Harrow View in the London Borough of Harrow. We want to hear your views on our proposals. Our public consultation is open, and you have from 24 April to 4 June 2023 to have your say on the suggested extension.

Your views are important to us. On this page you can find out more about our proposals, how these may impact you, and how you can have your say.




London’s bus network is our most affordable, accessible and available form of public transport and offers the main sustainable alternative to cars for those journeys that can’t easily be walked or cycled. It is also London’s most flexible mode of public transport, and we continuously review and adapt the bus network to ensure that services reflect changing customer needs.

Following the Mayor’s announcement that the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will be expanded London-wide in August, we are undertaking a number of bus consultations across outer London to strengthen alternatives to private cars and maximise the benefits of expanding the ULEZ.

This includes proposing adjustments to existing bus routes to ensure services are operating in areas where our customers need them most and considering where else the network should serve, and in areas where emerging redevelopment is bringing new homes and building new communities.

These proposals relate to route 223 in the Harrow and Wealdstone Opportunity Area.

What is proposed

Route 223 currently operates between Wembley Central and Harrow Bus Station. We are proposing to extend the route, so that it no longer terminates at Harrow Bus Station, but instead continues its route along Harrow View, terminating next to the new Eastman Village development on the former Kodak factory site.

The proposed extension would serve over 3,200 new homes, as well as homes and businesses along Harrow View. The extended route would create new journey opportunities to locations such as Pinner and Hatch End and would create new interchange opportunities. We believe that the proposals will help to make the Eastman Village development, employment, health care and the wider community more accessible, as well as improving journey times. You can find our Equalities Impact Assessment (EqIA) in the Documents Library, which explains the potential impacts in more detail.

How you can find out more

We have provided more information to help you respond, and we want this consultation to be accessible for everyone. Visit the Document Library for:

We also have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section which we will keep updated throughout the consultation.

If you need to translate this page into another language, please use the ‘select language’ button in the bottom-left hand corner of this page.

Connecting with London’s deaf community on our consultations

To enhance how we engage and consult with London’s deaf community, we are trialling a British Sign Language (BSL) consultation conversation service for this consultation. This service will allow the TfL consultation lead to have a two-way BSL translated discussion on any aspect of this consultation with a BSL speaker.

To request a BSL consultation conversation, please contact us at haveyoursay@tfl.gov.uk and we will be in contact to arrange this at a convenient time. Following this trial we will evaluate the service to determine if this is something we are able to offer on other consultations in the future.

What happens next

The proposals are subject to the outcome of our consultation. Once the consultation ends on Sunday 4 June 2023, we will spend time considering all the responses we received and will prepare a consultation report.

The consultation report will help us reach a decision about whether we extend route 223 to the Eastman Village. A copy of the report will be published later this year. It will be available to everyone that takes part in the consultation and a copy will be published on our website.


Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt accused of having Scrutiny chairs 'in his pocket'

The Annual Meeting of Brent Council which had proceeded with its ceremonies as expected burst into life this week when it considered a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Council Constitution based on their interpretation of the 2017 recommendations of the  House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee on 'Effectiveness of local authority overview and scrutiny committees '(Extract above) Link to full report.
Cllr Georgiou moving the amendment said that that there needed be a real and visible indpendent role for scrutiny and proposed that Scrutiny Committe recommendations should be discussed at Full Council, rather just Cabinet. Further, the Liberal Democrats felt that just having two scrutiny committees, unlike some other councils, meant that their agenda were too packed for effective scrutiny. They proposed a further 3 scrutiny committes to spread the load and make scrutiny more effective. Given the political makeup of the council 3 should be chaired by Labour councillors and the other 2 by a Liberal Democrat and a Conservative  councillor. The leader of the Conservative group backed the call.


Responding, Brent Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt said that this was a Labour Council chosen by the people of Brent. Gesturing to his Labour colleagues he said that on his side of the chamber 'we have the people's choice', and went on:

I have two great Scrutiny Chairs who are doing a superb job...we have no need to make any changes.

The Liberal Democrats had not taken account of the expense and officer time need for 3 more committees when there were financial constraints. The Labour Group would oppose the amendment.

Exercising the Lib Dem's right of reply Cllr Paul Lorber said:
Thank you for the advert for democracy in the borough.
He then jumped on the possessive ' I ' that Butt had used and asked, 'Are they [scrutiny chairs] excellent because they are independent or because they are in your pocket? Which is it Cllr Butt?'

Addressing all the councillors he said that non-executive councillors all had a responsibility to ensure there was effective scrutiny:

If the leader of this council has 'my' chairs of scrutiny in his pocket there can be no confidence that the scrutiny process is independent and fair because of the words he used. Because of the words of the leader we now know that scrutiny is a rubber stamping of everything, a 'yes' to everything and no effective scrutiny.
Cllr Miller raised a point of order asking that the Mayor (chairing her first council meeting)  should make Cllr Lorber apologise for his 'unparliamentary' language but this was ruled out on a technicality by the council's legal advisor.
Cllr Kelcher, chair of the planning committee, raising another point of order/information said that the chairs of scrutiny were elected  within the Labour Group on a vote that excluded members of the executive. Therefore a misleading picture had been painted about their independence.
The motion was put to the meeting and lost with as far as I could see only Lib Dem and Conservative councillors voting for it.
A  futher Lib Dem amendment on  the 6 Brent Connects area suggested that Wembley being much larger that the two others should be split into 2.  In addition, reflecting the  political representation in the areas that one of the Wembley areas should be chaired by a Lib Dem councillor and the kingsbury and Kenton by a Conservative councillor.

That amendment was also lost so the 5 Brent Connect areas remain chaired by Labour councillors.
 Extracts from the House of Commons Report (LINK)

We have found that the most significant factor in determining whether or not scrutiny committees are effective is the organisational culture of a particular council. Having a positive culture where it is universally recognised that scrutiny can play a productive part in the decision-making process is vital and such an approach is common in all of the examples of effective scrutiny that we identified. Senior councillors from both the administration and the opposition, and senior council officers, have a responsibility to set the tone and create an environment that welcomes constructive challenge and democratic accountability. When this does not happen and individuals seek to marginalise scrutiny, there is a risk of damaging the council’s reputation, and missing opportunities to use scrutiny to improve service outcomes. In extreme cases, ineffective scrutiny can contribute to severe service failures.

Our inquiry has identified a number of ways that establishing a positive culture can be made easier. For example, in many authorities, there is no parity of esteem between the executive and scrutiny functions, with a common perception among both members and officers being that the former is more important than the latter. We argue that this relationship should be more balanced and that in order to do so, scrutiny should have a greater independence from the executive. One way that this can be achieved is to change the lines of accountability, with scrutiny committees reporting to Full Council meetings, rather than the executive. We also consider how scrutiny committee chairs might have greater independence in order to dispel any suggestion that they are influenced by partisan motivations. Whilst we believe that there are many effective and impartial scrutiny chairs working across the country, we are concerned that how chairs are appointed can have the potential to contribute to lessening the independence and legitimacy of the scrutiny process.


The Centre for Public Scrutiny states that:

Legally, the Chairing and membership of overview and scrutiny committees is a matter for a council’s Annual General Meeting in May. Practically, Chairing in particular is entirely at the discretion of the majority party.

Majority parties can, if they wish, reserve all committee chairships (and vicechairships) to themselves ... the practice of reserving all positions of responsibility to the majority party is something which usually happens by default, and can harm perceptions of scrutiny’s credibility and impartiality.


Chairs from a majority party that are effectively appointed by their executive are just as capable at delivering impartial and effective scrutiny as an opposition councillor, but we have concerns that sometimes chairs can be chosen so as to cause as little disruption as possible for their Leaders. It is vital that the role of scrutiny chair is respected and viewed by all as being a key part of the decision-making process, rather than as a form of political patronage.


Newcastle City Council where all scrutiny chairs are opposition party members, states that:

This has taken place under administrations of different parties and we believe that it adds to the clout, effectiveness and independence of the scrutiny process; it gives opposition parties a formally-recognised role in the decision-making process of the authority as a whole, more effective access to officers, and arguably better uses their skills and expertise for the
benefit of the council.