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Friday, 14 December 2018

Plastics Reduction in Wembley

There is an interesting example of plastics waste reduction underway in Wembley.  Waste reduction is really the next major step for waste handling in West London.  Landfill is now very limited thanks to the new power plant that takes most non-recycled waste.  Although West London Waste Authority (WLWA) has had a budget for waste reduction for several years progress in reducing food waste and textile waste has been limited.  Hopefully, this plastics scheme will help start the long shift away from waste generation

Thursday, 13 December 2018

The Spread of Racism in Britain

Those who deny the increasingly widespread and unchallenged nature of anti-Semitism might look at the response to Luciana Berger MP's position on another EU referendum.  She is posting a decision about something that has nothing to do with Israel but is a key issue for people in Liverpool and the UK.  She is in fact simply affirming the Co-operative Party's official position (She is a Labour and Co-operative MP) and she gets a mass of tweets with the standard racist tropes of dual loyalty, Israeli pay et c.

This is a disgusting way for any one to be treated, and the Labour Party should be clear that it condemns it.

National Decline of Libraries as Brent Libraries Grow.

The Guardian has noted again the sick state of public libraries in the UK.  It acknowledges that Wembley Library is the third most visited, although it fails to note the enormous growth this represents, and how it has been achieved over several years.  The contrast with the national picture of libraries now attaining 233 million visits (2017/18) compared to 276 million visits as recently as 2010 demonstrate the rapidity of decline.  A sector with a more than 18% decline in usage is in serious trouble.  The latest Guardian report also fails to not how Brent has bucked that trend as a result of the Libraries Transformation Project.

By the way, here is another reminder about the national petition against library cuts

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Pseudo-Democracy

There is a fundamentally accurate tweet thread about the undemocratic nature of the nature of tonight's confidence motion in the sitting Prime Minister.  Many of the points made are similar to the ones I made about the attempted changes to Labour Party arrangements

Harlesden Town Centre as a Centre of a Ward

Both the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party have suggested that Brent needs to change one of its wards to a new ward focused more on Harlesden as a Town Centre as part of the Borough's ongoing review of ward boundaries.  To quote from the Labour submission:

"Harlesden is an area with a strong sense of community that was formerly united but was split by the 2000 Boundary Review.  This strong identity focuses on the Town Centre and around the symbol of the recently refurbished Jubilee Clock which currently stands on the periphery of the existing Harlesden ward roughly opposite the junction between the High Street and Wendover Road.  Many of the Town Centre’s landmarks are actually in Kensal Green ward at the moment.

This includes almost all of Harlesden High Street, Harlesden Post Office, All Souls CofE Church Harlesden (the area’s only listed building), the Harlesden Salvation Army building on Manor Park Road, the Royal Oak, Willesden Junction station and the Convent of Jesus and Mary Girls School, Harlesden.  These markers would be re-united to the landmarks in the existing Harlesden ward including Harlesden Library and Harlesden Methodist Church (the longest established Church in the area)."

That list of landmarks is not exhaustive.  The area would also include Harlesden Police Station for instance.  However it makes a lot of sense in that an area with a great many problems of ASB, pollution, licensing and so would benefit from a more joined up approach.  Incidentally, I came across a report claiming Harlesden High Street is among London's least healthy here

I don't think it entirely fair in its negativity.  I think it is also worth pointing out the strengths of the area.  You can find a quite bewildering variety of foods on Harlesden High Street for example, and it is one of the few such streets left to have quite such a distinctive sense of place that I think is key to a shopping area's future success.  Yet I think uniting the area bureaucratically would help solve the problems in a way that is not really being done at present.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Income Raising at Brent Council

As well as a number of other things, the Brent Council Cabinet papers had a number related to income raising.  The most serious deficit was in raising more than £3 million in extra Council Tax, which the paper argues is not likely to happen (page 13, appendix A).  Registration and Nationality by contrast is ahead of target despite that entailing a quadrupling.  I take it that Brexit is terrifying people into getting their citizenship status sorted out. 

Monday, 10 December 2018

EU Vote Delay

The government appears to have delayed Parliament's "meaningful vote" yet again.  If the Government were deliberately trying make this process a complete mess they really would not have to change their behaviour at all. 

It also humiliates the new Brexit Secretary who only yesterday told Andrew Marr that the government would go ahead with the vote.

New Secondary School in Brent

A new secondary school is planned for the Chancel House site in Church End, which is also an area where the Council has for years identified as an area of population growth.  Indeed I remember suggesting this site in the past, only to be told it was too expensive.

It will be interesting to see if this gives rise to the kind of controversy we saw over the ARK Academy.  That led to a very odd set of people combine to try to stop the scheme going forward, a reversal of policy by the then Liberal Democrat coalition at the time and all sorts of conspiracy theories that happily did not spill out so much as social media was less developed. 

I shall also be interested to if any of Brent's ten principles for new schools survives in Council policy. 

Sunday, 9 December 2018

The Left and Leaving the European Union

Tom Kibasi has a good piece on the fallacies of "leftist" thinking that welcomes leaving the European Union on the basis that it is a "neoliberal" project.  I put "neoliberal" in inverted commas since those who use it seem to have no idea what it means.  Rather like the word "Zionist".

A word that puts together Thatcher, Cameron, Gordon Brown and Blair just doesn't really make sense.  In particular, to suggest that the last Labour government was keen on reducing the size of the state (as Cameron and Thatcher certainly were) ignores that Labour under Blair persistently increased spending.  This spectacularly applies to the NHS where Blair's 6% growth per year in budget was the highest level the NHS has ever had.  Labour's fetishization of better management, strong commitment to equalities and faith in constitutional reform also don't really sit well in right wing traditions.

Kibasi's points can be summarised as:
  • The EU is dominated by a distinctively Social Democrat/Christian Democrat ethos that tends to value social bonds and demonstrably has greater social equality than the Anglo-Saxon model.  The whole Brexit project is predicated on the idea that stripping away government is the real way to thrive.
  • The "Left's" view of a sudden transformation completely changing society in a few years is historically unrealistic.  Certainly if one takes the Attlee government which is the most plausible model I can think of (although many leftists at the time denounced it and many are hostile to its achievements even now), it was the product of literally decades of work and reform as well as years of preparation through the war years.
  • A belief that rules against "state aid" preclude "left wing solutions such as nationalisation, which flies in the face of the widespread nationalisation and use of subsidy that is easily observable across the EU.
  • A failure to understand the value of the rule of law.  
  • An apparent lingering view in parts of the Left that nationalisation without compensation is either possible or desirable.
  • The belief that the UK is inevitably sidelined in Europe whereas it is precisely the influence of London which often makes for some of the "rightwing" approaches that the "Left" decry.
  • The blaming of the EU for migrants coming in to undercut local wages which is actually a feature of our own Anglo-Saxon approach rather than the EU.  
  • The belief that the EU is a protectionist entity that keeps non-European people out, whereas by defintiion the EU is not an ethno-centralist form of government and leaving it would (and I would argue demonstrably is) leading to a particularly small minded ethno-polity that values keeping out the other and sidelining ethnic minorities.
  • A failure to understand the importance of international co-operation in the modern world.