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Friday, 25 May 2018

Willesden Green Election Candidates Announced

The list of election candidates for Willesden Green is announced.  The only new candidate is Elliot Chappell for Labour, replacing Cllr Lesley Jones MBE.  The Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Tories are therefore all fielding three candidates.  The most recent election in Willesden was in 2014

Councillor Allowances and Increasing Workloads

Casting an eye over the supplementary report into why councillors basic allowances in Brent are being increased so much I read this paragraph:

Having reviewed the basic allowance recommended as a result of the 2018 independent review (£11,045) and taken account of the increased workload and responsibilities now placed on Members, it is proposed that the level of basic allowance for Members in the 2018/19 Scheme should be increased to £12,000. It is felt this will better reflect the increasingly complex nature of the role Members are required to fulfil alongside the increased demands on their time and expectations in relation to their representational role.

I genuinely can't think of any additional workload that councillors are expected to take up that wasn't already assumed for the past several years.  Indeed, I would think that the political culture of Brent appears to be moving towards councillors doing rather less. 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Somerset Follows Northants

It looks like Somerset may be going the way of Northants, a second Tory Council to ignominiously collapse as a result of the present Tory government's all out assault on local government.  Meanwhile the man who designed this disaster, Eric Pickles, is being elevated to the House of Lords

Possibly UK government would not be so riddled with examples of executive incompetence if the people in charge of these stupid decisions actually got punished for them.

Although I have to admit that Somerset has materially added to its own woes by freezing the Council Tax for six years, and thus digging away at its tax base, eroding its long term financial viability.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Dutch Car Free Trial

This permit swap for green space experiment in the Netherlands sounds all too reminiscent of various car centred debates I have had.  I include the public reaction in that.  Nothing seems to ignite people in quite the same way. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Gradgrind Argument for the Arts

A reminder here of some of the basic economic arguments for Arts education here.   Although it focuses on drama something similar could be said about music.  In a way I regret the reductionism.  Not everything in education should be reduced to a Gradgrind test of productivity gain, but it is undoubtedly true that arts and drama contribute positively to the Economy both directly and indirectly.  

Something for people in Brent to reflect on during the 2020 Borough of Culture perhaps?

Monday, 21 May 2018

Rees Mogg Struggles to Stay Sane and Vote Tory

Yesterday's Sunday Times contained one of the most unfortunate campaign photos I have seen for a long time.  It contained Jacob Rees-Mogg and his young son looking like his mini-me.  Both are wearing outsize blue rosettes and have chosen to pose in front of a Vote Labour poster with a smaller post saying Stay Sane, Don't Vote Tory underneath. 

I imagine that must have pretty hard to find in Somerset.  Does Rees-Mogg have no one to advise him that certain photo opportunities just aren't going to improve your image?

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Grenfell and the Cladding

A building review appears to have decided not to ban the kind of cladding used at Grenfell, but seems likely to be over ruled by politicians.  I think there is a real danger here of looking at one or other factor and focusing on it as a totem whereas what is needed is a systematic approach to see what went wrong with the whole system.