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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

NHS Evasion

One of the most disingenuous answers I have read for a long time can be found courtesy of Jeremy Hunt to a parliamentary question from Seema Malhotra MP.  He implies that the shift in NHS Hospital Trusts going into deficit from 5% in 2010 to a whopping 44% now is just some kind of monitoring tool because he wants to check on staff shortages.  Of course, it has led to the staff shortages and is a direct result of his government's decision not to fund the NHS properly.

Along side his attribution of extra funding for the NHS to a non-existent Brexit dividend, it seems that bare faced lying is becoming legitimized in British politics.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Brent Council's Silence on Budgets

Brent Council continues to appear to have no long term debate about its budget despite all the looming structural difficulties.  This continues to include pressures on the adult social care budget which it was recently confirmed would put 10% of English Councils in a Northants style position where they were unable to set a budget at all. 

Despite all this, the official list of Brent Council's forthcoming decisions strikes me as extraordinarily limited

Monday, 18 June 2018

DWP Services in Brent

This Parliamentary answer to Dawn Butler MP is of interest to all who follow Brent libraries of the use of the revenue and benefit service.  It may be recalled that the increasing use of online services is diminishing traditional face to face services.  I have covered this before here.

At that time I suggested that temporary spaces might be rented in Brent buildings such as libraries and it now appears from the minister's answer that this is being considered.  As with other forms of co-location, this allows for more flexibility in terms of partners and in terms of location.  Since the main objections to reducing the branches are that f2f may still be necessary and that some people find it very difficult to move around.  Using temporary arrangements allows for a wider range of locations covering a broader range of people.  It may, incidentally, help draw in a broader audience to Brent libraries which will help broaden the membership base of Brent Library service.

At least in theory therefore, it could be a win-win. 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Willesden Library Closed Again

Willesden Library is again closed today and for the same reason, there is no water supply.  Other Brent Libraries are open. 


As of Monday 18 June, Willesden Library has apparently reopened.

National Audit Office on Universal Credit

Universal Credit gives no evidence of value for money now and is unlikely to show any value for money in the future according to the National Audit Office.  Is that not one of the most damning verdicts on government failure imaginable?  Will anyone ever be held responsible for this debacle?

Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Eerie Quiet of Brent Council

One of the things that make the current quiet of Brent Council so eerie is that there are actually many scary things on the near horizon. 

Firstly, there is whatever happens in the Brexit process, which even Boris Johnson concedes might lead to "meltdown" during which (as with Corporal Jones) his best advice is "Don't Panic".  Since one case being considered in Whitehall apparently includes the RAF airlifting emergency food supplies I really can't see what we could possibly be panicking about.

But there are also a range of things, the ultimate fate of business rate localisation, the local government settlement and the freedom of action the Council retains over its financial position which frankly no one appears to be talking about.

Even odder, I think, is that a Labour Council is putting out press releases such as this one.   This sounds as if it might have been dictated straight from Whitehall with no effort to point out that the problems of the Council are enormous, the policy described is a sticking plaster and that it is central government that has created these problems through its rigid Tory ideology.

Friday, 15 June 2018

The Brexit Mess

George Eaton has a good summary of the whole Brexit mess.  It also captures how the current government has contrived to make the UK's negotiating position as weak as possible.

Willesden Library Reopens

Willesden Library has now re-opened following the restoration of its water supply.  As far as I know, all its usual events and activities are reinstated.

Isolating Biodiversity

Chris Packham makes a good point in the increasing denuding of the British countryside's biodiversity.  I don't see the government's review of national parks as likely to do anything about this.  Creating these islands within a wider desert also diminishes the biodiversity within each "island" and may make the rarer species more vulnerable.  At the same time climate change puts huge pressure on certainly some species.