Sunday, 6 January 2019

Planning Officers recommend approval of Spurs' extra Wembley games

Brent Planning Officers have recommended that the January 16th Planning Committee LINK approves the application for Spurs to hold eight additional matches at Wembley Stadium between January 15th and May 12th if their new stadium is not ready. Five of the games would be capped at 62,000 and three at 90,000. Neither Brent Council, nor Quintain have been willing to comment to Wembley Matters on how these extra games would impact on the plans to remove the Stadium pedway and replace  with steps before Euro2020. LINK

Submissions from residents were 30 to 1 objecting. No submissions were received from  Barry Gardiner MP, Barnhill Residents' Association or Wembley Stadium Residents Advisory Committee. I can find no record of comments from Tokyngton Ward councillors that include Council Leader Muhammed Butt.

Wembley Central and Alperton Residents' Association acknowledged the economic benefits but stipulated that should permission be granted the sporting events should not be carried over for other events if Spurs return to their new stadium.

This is the officers' conclusion after considering the issues in detail:

The objections received indicate that there is a level of impact currently experienced by events at the stadium from Spurs matches. These mostly relate to anti-social behaviour and transport. Some impacts are expected, as it is a large stadium in a location with residents and businesses nearby. 

Additional events, limited to a capacity of 51,000, can take place at the stadium irrespective of the outcome of the application. 

The original cap on events was imposed to manage the impacts until such time as specific transport improvements had been made. Whilst most of these have taken place, not all of them have been realised. Circumstances have changed since the original planning permission in 2002, which suggest that the final piece of transport infrastructure (the Stadium Access Corridor) will not be provided in the originally envisaged form, but other changes to the road network are now envisaged. A further change is the level of development within the area, which has increased the population and will continue to do so. Therefore, the Council considers that the cap remains relevant. 

Clearly, to increase the number of events to accommodate Tottenham Hotspur would imply a commensurate increase in the impact, albeit that it is proposed to be temporary and only in relation to 8 games. 

In analysing the impacts there has been some concern about the level of economic benefit which would result, and this is primarily centred on visitor expenditure. In any event it seems common sense that there would be winners and losers on event days, dependent on the type of business. This makes it all the more important that the social impacts on event days are further mitigated. A number of additional measures have been secured to deal with some of these issues. 

Transportation issues have been extensively raised, and there are ongoing efforts to reduce the number of vehicles on a match day. A number of mitigation measures are proposed to continue this work. Some of these allow for existing work to continue, and others are new or updated. The pirate parking initiative is considered particularly important. On an individual event basis, Tottenham Hotspur do have the ability to influence their supporters’ behaviour over the course of a season, which is more difficult than for visitors on a one-off basis such as the FA Cup final. Addressing transport issues will also contribute to reducing noise and air quality issues. 

In summary, it is recognised that there is a level of impact being caused by major events now, and that this would increase with an increase in the number of high capacity major events. However, the measures proposed would ensure that this is mollified as much as is reasonably achievable. All are considered necessary to mitigate the increased number of matches which this application proposes. A further consideration is that Tottenham Hotspur could use the stadium for major events up to 51,000 now without restriction, and were they to do that then no additional mitigation measures would be formally secured. 

The proposed additional mitigation would apply to Tottenham Hotspur events, and with some of these being within the existing cap would represent a theoretical improvement for these major events. 

The proposal is, on balance, recommended for approval.

New Workers' Rights Support Group set up in Brent

A welcome initiative from Brent Unite Community, Brent Community Law Centre and Brent Trades Council.  With many having to claim benefits despite being in work and the erosion of worers' rights collective action in the workplace is essential.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Park Lane, Wembley, to be closed for 2 weeks from January 14th

Few locals will have missed the giant 'Twin Towers' rising up on the former Chesterfield House site on the junction of Wembley High Road and Park Lane. Now Park Lane will be closed for two weeks from January 14th to enable several utility companies to install gas, water and sewage to the new development.

Remembering the disruption caused by partial closure of Wembley High Road for sewage works locals are asking why these works were not done over the Christmas period.

Buses (297, 79 & 204) will be diverted down Wembley High Road to Wembley Triangle and then Wembley Hill Road.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Quintain takes out crane climbing injunction at Wembley Park development

From Construction Enquirer

Wembley developer Quintain has taken out an injunction to stop people climbing its cranes.
Teenage daredevil George Henry King-Thompson is named in the injunction secured at the High Court last month.

The document bans anyone from climbing more than two metres above street level on any part of the Wembley Park construction sites.

The injunction is in force until December 2023.

Quintain said:
Quintain Limited and associated companies have obtained a High Court injunction preventing unauthorised access into buildings and building sites at our Wembley Park development.

This follows a number of incidents where individuals placed themselves and others in danger.

The injunction was sought against one named individual and other unnamed individuals who may seek to trespass in future.

We take the safety of the public and our staff extremely seriously.

Individuals who engage in persistently disruptive and dangerous behaviour put themselves and others at risk of significant harm.

We will always act to prevent them from doing so.

Northwick Park Community Garden Permaculture Workshop January 31st

From Northwick Park Community Garden

What is a food forest – come and learn about the design planned for Northwick Park Community Garden on Thursday 31st January, 6:30pm-9:00pm
Venue: Annunciation Church, 194 Windermere Avenue, Wembley HA9 8QT

This workshop will explain the permaculture forest garden design that will transform an area of Northwick Park which will be planted with a wide range of edible plants. Susannah Hall from Permablitz London will go through how the design will create a food-producing, ecological and wildlife-friendly space that will increase the range of wildlife habitats and nectar forage for bees and butterflies. The workshop will pay special attention to introducing you to a range of lesser-known edible perennial plants. From this workshop you will learn about the principles of permaculture design that you could then begin to apply to your own garden or allotment.

Nearest tube station is South Kenton on the Bakerloo Line/London Overground. Preston Road tube station on Metropolitan line is 10-15 minutes walk from the church.
Tickets: £10 • Email to book your place today.

Wembley reduced to 50% share of Neighbourhood CIL from 83% in new Cabinet proposals

Widespread complaints about the unequal distribution of Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy monies have resulted in a proposal going before the January 14th Cabinet that will reduce Wembley's share of Neighbourhood CIL from the present 83% to 50% of the total fund - that is a proposed total of £4.23m versus what would have been £7.06m using the existing distribution method.

Wembley retains the lion's share with other areas getting an equal share of the remainder but significantly more for the most part than they get now.  This is Option 4 in the table below:
 The report provides the following commentary on the options:

.        Option 1 (Retain existing distribution). This would be unpopular in light of the review. A significant number of the focus groups and interviews saw the distribution of NCIL funds and concentration of money in Wembley as unfair. Wembley stakeholders were keen to retain a significant sum of NCIL as they are impacted the most by development in the area. However, based on current and future projections, the gap in NCIL funds available to Wembley and the remaining four ClL neighbourhoods is set to increase.
.        Option 2 (No distribution). NCIL receipts could be used anywhere across the borough. Bidders could propose projects to access funds irrespective of where the funds were generated. This would be easiest method of distribution and would allow equal access to
.        Option 2 could also help mitigate any impact felt by a different community beyond the NCIL boundary. However greater monitoring would still be required to ensure that one part of the borough was not disproportionately allocated funding. The disadvantages of this option are that the areas more greatly affected by development will lose out on the total value of NCIL receipts that would have been allocated if the existing distribution model were retained.
.        Option 3 (Equal Distribution). NCIL receipts would be redistributed equally across the five CIL Neighbourhoods. This would be appealing to areas that do not currently attract significant development. However this approach may disadvantage communities that are impacted most by development.
.        Option 4 (Wembley 50% cap – other areas equal). Wembley’s NCIL fund would be capped at 50% of the total NCIL receipts generated in the borough. The remaining 50% would be divided equally between the remaining four CIL Neighbourhoods. This option would ensure that a greater proportion of NCIL Funds is allocated to the Wembley Neighbourhood where the majority of development currently takes place but also ensure that wider impacts of development are addressed elsewhere.
.        Option 5 (Wembley 50% cap – other areas proportional). Wembley’s NCIL fund would be capped at 50% of the total NCIL receipts generated. The value of NCIL available in the remaining four CIL Neighbourhoods is set proportionally based on the amount of NCIL raised in their area. Based on current NCIL receipts the proportion would be Harlesden 41.86%, Kilburn 21.05%, Kingsbury 20.63% and Willesden 16.46%. This option would ensure that a greater proportion of CIL Funds is allocated to the Wembley Neighbourhood, however in the future, areas where there is less development will receive fewer NCIL funds.

Other proposed changes are minor and subject to change when a decision is made on ward boundaries except for a proposal to enlarge the decision making group evaluating proposals to four (Option 4):

Comments welcome.

Brent Council apologises to pensioner over flooded flat repair delays

Disabled pensioner John Healy has received an apology from Brent Council over delays in repairing a leak in his South Kilburn block which flooded his kitchen in September leaving him without power and an unusable kitchen for a long period. LINK

In a response to John's complaint a Brent Council officer wrote: 
I am sorry to learn that you experienced a leak in your home and of the impact and inconvenience which this situation may have had on you.

On review of our records, we recognise that there was a delay in resolving the leak into your home as it proved difficult to trace: eventually we identified that it was found to be coming from a property which is located three floors above your home. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies on behalf of Brent Council for our failings in this regard and any additional stress and inconvenience caused as a result.
The Council offered a small token payment ' in recognition of the inconvenience caused as a result of the leak and for our service failure in terms of customer care.' John has accepted the offer.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

The Anti-Apartheid Movement and Nelson Mandela in Brent – learning from history

 I am pleased to kick off the New Year with this fascinating article from Philip Grant. Thank you very much Philip for your many valuable contributions to Wembley Matters.
The struggle against apartheid in South Africa is now history, and a talk at Wembley History Society on Friday 18th January will relate how Brent and London played a part in the movement which helped to bring about freedom, equality and democracy in that country.

But is the Anti-Apartheid story, and that of Nelson Mandela, the key figure who symbolised the struggle, still relevant today? I would say that the answer is a definite “Yes”. Many abuses of human rights remain in our world, and there are lessons to be learned about why and how they should be challenged, and how they can be overcome. 

Visitors are welcome at the history society’s talk, and I hope that many will come, and be inspired by it. By way of encouragement, I will share with you a little “local history” about Nelson Mandela.

The African National Congress, a multi-racial organisation seeking the right to vote for all South Africans, not just those who were white, was in its infancy when Nelson Mandela was born in 1918. He joined the ANC in 1943, while working as a lawyer in Johannesburg. His active involvement in the campaign against apartheid (the racial segregation imposed on his country by a hard-line white-only government) often saw him arrested for alleged sedition, and even prosecuted (unsuccessfully) for treason in 1956.

After the ANC was banned in 1960, Mandela went “underground” to organise resistance against South Africa’s repressive government. Early in 1962, he secretly left the country, visiting a number of African countries and coming to England in April. It was during that visit that he addressed a meeting of the Willesden Trades Council at Anson Hall. I have not been able to find any mention of this event in the “Willesden Chronicle” microfilm records at Brent Archives, so the only item I have to illustrate his visit to the borough that year is a photo of the hall.

Anson Hall, Cricklewood, in 1960
(from Brent Archives online photos, No.82

On his return to South Africa, Nelson Mandela was arrested in August 1962, and jailed for five years, after being convicted of leaving the country without permission. While serving that term, he was charged, along with other ANC activists, with sabotage (which he admitted) and plotting the violent overthrow of the government. Following a trial in 1964, at which Mandela’s defence speech gained world-wide attention (despite the South African government’s attempts to censor it), he was sentenced to imprisonment for life. 

That might have been the end of the story, but Suresh Kamath’s talk will show that it was not. The Anti-Apartheid Movement in this country eventually led to a “Free Nelson Mandela” concert at Wembley Stadium in July 1988, marking his 70th birthday. The growing pressure for change in South Africa, from this and other initiatives, finally saw President F.W. de Klerk lift the ban on the ANC and release Mandela from prison in February 1990.

Badge for the 1990 Wembley Stadium concert (from Brent Museum).

There is much more evidence of Nelson Mandela’s second visit to Brent, in April 1990, than the one 28 years earlier (with all but a few months of that time as a prisoner). He was invited to address a “Free South Africa” concert organised in his honour, at Wembley Stadium on Easter Monday. He came, and gave a moving speech calling for a continued effort to end apartheid, and bring democracy for all in his country. This aim was finally achieved four years later.

Front page report of Nelson Mandela
at Wembley, from the “Wembley Observer” 19 April 1990.

Unfortunately, although the front page of the “Wembley Observer” showed a smiling Nelson Mandela meeting Brent dignitaries, it was another local story that grabbed the headlines. Brent had planned to mark the occasion by making Mandela a Freeman of the Borough, but the plans went wrong at a Special Meeting of the Council the previous Thursday. Party leaders had agreed that it should be a free vote, but at the last minute Conservative councillors were instructed to vote against awarding the honour, and the resolution did not gain the necessary two-thirds majority.

Extract from the scroll which would have been presented to Nelson Mandela in April 1990, making him a Freeman of Brent. 

In an attempt to ensure that ‘it was duly resolved’ to award the honour to Nelson Mandela, a second vote was taken, and this time the resolution was passed. However, in order to stop the Mayor and Council Leader (Labour’s Dorman Long) from going ahead with the presentation of the scroll and ceremonial casket (which had already been prepared, at a cost of £1,500), the Conservatives obtained a High Court injunction, on the grounds that the second vote was void. 

If anyone who was at that Special Council meeting would like to add a comment below, I would be interested to know what the reasons were for the preventing Brent’s award of the Freedom of the Borough to Nelson Mandela in 1990. 

It was not until June 2013, a few months before his death at the age of 95, that our Council unanimously resolved to confer the honour of Freeman of the London Borough of Brent on Nelson Mandela LINK . By that time it was clear to all, from Nelson Mandela’s words, actions and example, that this was a man worthy of the honour. Even though his time in our area was only a brief one, Brent’s links with his name and the anti-apartheid struggle, and the lessons to our community from all that he stood for, are strong.

Last year, on the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, Martin posted a blog calling for some lasting recognition in Wembley for the 70th birthday concert at the Stadium, which ‘did an enormous amount to communicate the struggle against apartheid’. LINK 

With the Council gearing-up its plans to celebrate being London Borough of Culture in 2020, it is surely time to push for a permanent memorial to Nelson Mandela’s links with Wembley.

Philip Grant