Wednesday 10 July 2024

Bobby Moore Bridge murals – where will the advertising money be spent?

 Guesy post by Philip Grant in a personal capacity


I thought that I’d finished writing about the Brent Cabinet meeting on 28 May, the “decision” to allow adverts to cover the heritage tile murals in the Bobby Moore Bridge subway at Wembley Park for at least another four years, and the cover-up of how the Council Leader failed to deal appropriately with the point of order which I raised. Then, this public question to Cllr. Muhammed Butt for the 8 July Full Council meeting was brought to my attention:


Extract from the 8 July agenda papers, published on the Council’s website.


I had no idea who the questioner was, but the publicity (on “Wembley Matters”?) about the award of the new Bobby Moore Bridge advertising lease had obviously attracted his attention. My efforts had been directed at trying to persuade Cabinet members that it was worth accepting a slightly lower amount of advertising revenue, in order to put the tile murals in the subway back on public display. His question asked what the money raised would be spent on.


At the meeting on 28 May, Cllr. Butt had spoken about the money received from advertising on the Bobby Moore Bridge helping to 'provide residents with the services they depend on.' This was, presumably, his justification for accepting the Officer recommendation to award the new lease under Option B, because it ‘provided greater financial benefits’ (= more money).


Extract from the Officer Report on the advertising lease to the 28 May Cabinet meeting.


Cllr. Butt’s response to the Full Council public question contains a slightly different answer. Instead of services that residents depend on, he says that the money raised will be used ‘to inform residents about a wide range of council services and deliver communications campaigns.’ There is a difference between providing much needed services and simply telling residents about them!


Cllr. Butt refers in his response to informing residents about campaigns on ‘tackling fly-tipping’, ‘health inequalities’ and ‘community safety’. Here are some examples of how the Council does that:


Fly-tipping article from the Spring 2024 “Your Brent” magazine.


Double page spread health article from the Spring 2024 “Your Brent” magazine.


Brent Council press release on a community safety subject.


You will note that these are all positive stories about Brent’s (Labour) Council, which all feature photographs of smiling Brent (Labour) Cabinet members. As well as ‘inform[ing] residents about a wide range of council services,’ they are also promoting the Council’s majority political party, and particularly its Cabinet. Every (then) member of Brent’s Cabinet is pictured at least once in the Spring 2024 edition of the “Your Brent” magazine, with the Leader appearing five times and Cllr. Krupa Sheth topping the list with eight photos!


The Council has not been allowed to feature local politicians in its publicity material during the General Election “purdah” period, but on Monday 8 July (the same day that Full Council would be considering a Lib Dem motion on fly-tipping), Brent Communications was back in action, putting out a press release about a new Council campaign, with a photograph featuring … (you’ve guessed the answer!):



So, when Cllr. Butt said on 28 May that the recommendation to award the new lease under Option B had been agreed (even though no Cabinet members raised their hands or spoke their agreement – staying silent is said to be showing unanimous support for what the Leader says!), he and (allegedly) his Cabinet were deciding to put more money into the funds used for promoting themselves and their local Party! 


Cllr Butt, at least, must have known that is where the money would go, as his top “cross-cutting” area of responsibility (as the latest Cabinet Portfolios information shows) is ‘Communications’. That might explain why he ignored my reasonable request to allow his Cabinet the chance to vote for Option A, which would have provided a slightly lower annual rental figure (but still a minimum guaranteed figure of more that £90,000 a year).


I have pointed out in earlier articles that the Officer Report to the 28 May Cabinet meeting was heavily biased in favour of Option B. Although that Report was signed-off by the Corporate Director, Partnerships, Housing & Resident Services, such reports are actually prepared by one or more of the “Contact Officers” shown under the Report heading:



In this case, the main author of the Report appears to have been Brent’s Head of Communications! If, as it appears from Cllr. Muhammed Butt’s response to the question from a member of the public, the rental income from the Bobby Moore Bridge advertising lease was going straight into the Council’s Communications budget, then the Head of Communications had a clear conflict of interests. He would find it difficult to be (and I’m pretty sure he was not) impartial in making the recommendation in that Report, because Option B would provide more funding for his own department. 


There was no mention of where the money would go to, or the conflict of interests, in the Report. Not only was the “decision” to allow the Bobby Moore Bridge tile murals to remain covered with advertising equipment for another four years a bad decision, badly made because the case for Option A was not properly considered (if at all), and badly handled by the Council Leader at the 28 May Cabinet meeting, it was another example of the “dodgy” way in which allowing Quintain to advertise on the Bobby Moore Bridge has been dealt with ever since 2013.


Philip Grant.



Anonymous said...

Wembley Matters is fast becoming Philip Grant's private campaign page.

Anonymous said...

We agree with Philip's concerns!

When did you EVER see a piece in the Brent Magazine featuring a Conservative or Liberal Democrat Councillor????? No matter how hard they work, and in our experience they work a darn sight harder than any of our Labour Councillors, they are NEVER featured as Cllr Mo Butt controls what goes into the Brent Magazine.

Anonymous said...

Any other party would do the same. Philip is clearly an intelligent and diligent man. Sometimes you’ve just got to wonder if all of these efforts are misspent.

Philip Grant said...

Dear Anonymous (10 June at 12:41),

Thank you for your comment.

I agree that I have been a regular contribuyer of guest posts to Wembley Matters for a number of years, but I don't regard it as my private campaign site.

As you will see in the right hand column, Martin invites anyone who wishes to do so to submit guest posts.

I don't presume that he will publish the ones I submit, although I am grateful that he usually will.

I think that most readers will agree that this blog site provides a valuable service in providing information and insight into what is happening in our area, with a chance to discuss matters through the comments section.

I hope that most readers will find at least some of my contributions of interest, but you don't have to read them if you find them boring.

If you read one that you don't agree with, please feel free to explain why in a comment.

Martin Francis said...

I value Philip's contributions both 'campaigning' and historical (sometimes overlapping). He is painstaking in his research and takes considerable care with his guest articles. He adds a valuable dimension to Wembley Matters.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous10 July 2024 at 18:03 says "Any other party would do the same." BUT the Brent Magazine is supposed to be about Brent it is NOT supposed to be about The Labour Party!!!

Anonymous said...

Who’s the party in power and by a considerable way

Philip Grant said...

Our "first past the post" system can give a single party a large majority, and the power that goes with that.

That power can be used for good, but it can also be abused, which I believe is what has happened in the case my article above is about.

Anonymous said...

Just because Labour are 'in power' it does mot mean that they should ignore the hard work.of other non Labour Councillors - it is basically prejudice which in other instances would NOT be tolerated

Anonymous said...

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely"

Anonymous said...

The other parties who make up essentially 1/6th of the overall are free to publish their own stuff, but Labour are in power and are free to make decisions as they see fit, including where council money is spent. If you think the LDs or tories wouldn't do the same you're completely delulu.

Anonymous said...

Why should our council tax pay for Labour to promote themselves???

Didn't Labour Leader Keir Starmer declare last week that he would work for everyone even those who did not vote for him??? It's about time Brent Labour started recognising that it's not all about them, there are Lib Dem and Tory councillors who work incredibly hard and they should be featured in the Brent Magazine too.

Anonymous said...

Very surprised that no one at Brent Council, Quintain or Wembley Stadium has deemed to put up any England flags or banners in Olympic Way, the route to Wembey Stadium which is the home of English football!!!

You’d never know they were even taking part in the Euros, let alone in the final this evening!

Anonymous said...

Doesn’t mean Keir is going to start promoting anything to do with the other parties. It’s one thing to represent all constituents, it’s another to start giving airtime to other parties.