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Saturday, 23 June 2018

Grenfell Chaos

Some idea of the chaos at Grenfell can be found here.  Kensington literally had no plan at how to respond so Ealing had to impose one.  This is not accidental but the result of ideology.  Tories really do believe in a Nick Ridley Council, which essentially does almost nothing.  All this in the name of cutting pennies off Council Tax.

The result is being shown up and will continue to be as Councils around the country simply collapse.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Labour Victory in Willesden Green

As expected Labour scored a victory in Willesden Green last night.  It represents a significant growth in Labour support since the elections of 2014

Housing and Fire Safety

I thought I would give an update on my understanding of the housing and fire safety situation in Brent as I understand it.  This also follows a report back from Cllr Butt at a meeting I attended which I thought left more questions than it answered.

The Council has written to central government and asked for funding for fire safety.  As predicted, the government said no, and so Brent is going ahead with poorly defined investment of up to £10 million.  To my surprise, Cllr Butt seemed to think this would not come from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) as I suggested, but from general resources.  Thus, the burden would fall on the general taxpayers.

I find the insouciance with which Brent Council has just committed to an extra £10 million of spending remarkable.

It remains unclear whether, leaseholders will benefit from this, or whether they will be expected to pay a service charge in the way they would for (say) a new roof.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Windrush Anniversary in Willesden Library

On Saturday, Willesden Library will be hosting a special day to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Windrush.  It lasts from noon until 4pm.

At the same time, there is a reminder about the problems that the Caribbean community continues to face with the announcement of extra funding to tackle educational underachievement.    Anecdotally, I know that this has been a concern in the black community for many years, but the causes are likely to be multiple and inter-related and therefore progress will not be instant.

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.