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Monday, 1 September 2014

Budget Debates

I see Camden is working through new ideas to bridge its budget gap over the next three years.  I am sure that not all of them are good.  In particular the increased advertising one has been mooted numerous times in Brent over the years, including a bizarre suggestion by Brent Liberal Democrats to surround Barham Park with advertising boards.  These have all fallen foul of planning objections.  They are also highly dependent on fluctuations in the market for advertising. 

Still at least, Camden is having a public debate.  Brent does not really seem to be addressing its more than £50 million gap at all.  Balancing the budget with those sort of cuts is going to inevitably involve difficult choices about political priorities, and the public deserve a clear explanation of what elected members political priorities are.  In earlier years, that would have been well developed by now, but at present I get a strong sense of drift.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Feynman Lectures on Physics

The Richard Feynman lectures on physics are now available online here.  It is said to be the most popular physics book ever written. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Legal Aid?

Rebekah Brooks is seeking court costs from her prosecution to be paid by the taxpayer.  Leaving aside my entire lack of sympathy for her in general, trials seem to be turning into a lottery.  For the taxpayer to shell out such huge sums will surely be a disincentive to high profile prosecutions in future, meaning that the wealthy become even less subject to the law than they are already.  Surely some kind of capping system for such fees needs to be devised?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Brent Passenger Transport Services: One To Watch

The recent Tri Borough attempts to reform transport for people with special needs has been reported to be disastrous.  Brent is also looking at this area through its One Council programme.  There is no need for reform to have the kind of serious effects that are claimed in Kensington and Chelsea.  It sounds as if the Triborough experiment went too much for quick financial savings, and paid too little heed to the standards of service.  The One Council methodology was designed to avoid this mistake.  Done rightly, it could help the users become more independent and do more for themselves.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Queens Park Design District

This design project, in Lonsdale Road in Queens Park, looks interesting.  I am not sure how far they are promoting the designs or the shops, but it is an imaginative approach.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Seema Malhotra Blog on Violence

In her new role, Seema Malhotra MP has blogged on the extent of violence against women in the UK.  As she says, it is a complex situation with many factors.  Getting a prosecution through the justice system is even more difficult in this area than in others, and the victims have to be extremely brave to stick with it.  Over the past few years of cuts, Brent has been careful to protect support services for victims.  The current arrangements are due to be reviewed in September.  I hope the previous support is maintained.

Positive Roles for Scrutiny

I was unhappy at the downgrading of Scrutiny in Brent shortly after the elections in May.  This is because, if it is taken seriously, Scrutiny has the potential to do valuable work.  A recent example would be the Brent report on violence against women and girls, which was chaired by then Cllr Ann John.  The prospects of the new Scrutiny system in Brent producing results like this don't look rosy.