Thursday, 31 December 2009
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
It reminds me of my earlier posting on Thomas A Becket Close. This was a proposal that we turned down against officer recommendation. The developer appealed, asking for costs. After losing the appeal, the developer has come back with a new proposal that met the previous reasons for objection (excessive scale, privacy problems over distances between balconies and windows). It seems a good case where you can see Planning as a rational evidence based process.
Incidentally, Frank Barlow, in his definitive life of the Saint remarks that “Thomas A Becket” was a name St Thomas would have never used, and he should always be referred to as simply Thomas Becket.
Monday, 28 December 2009
Sunday, 27 December 2009
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Thursday, 24 December 2009
As you can see these bollards are easily knocked over. They are also an unecessary use of electricity. Many Boroughs (e.g. Barnet) use reflective signs that are more robust and use no electricity at all. There is no reason why Brent can't do this, and it would provide better signage at lower cost. It doesn't happen because Brent Council is crippled by inertia.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
Once again Brent Liberal Democrats appear to be bidding for beacon status for sloth.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Friday, 18 December 2009
The Council has no direct powers. It can plead with Thames Water, but it can't force Thames Water to do anything. It can't even put properties that have been flooded on the Thames Water database. Because in the past people have been afraid of seeing their insurance premiums go up or the value of their property damaged if it is labelled as being at risk of flood, only the property owner can register.
The Council has minor incremental powers through Building Control (enforcing standards) and through the Planning system. Planning can obviously refuse planning permission in an area liable to flooding. It also normally enforces conditions to slow the rate at which water hits the streets (rainwater harvesting and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDs). In Kensal Green, we have had a programme of systematic gully cleaning which the rest of Brent could benefit from, but all these measures are really just ameliorating effects.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
"Brent Liberal Democrats have signed the pledge but they have also made it clear that they are not going to keep it. Instead of a 10% cut in carbon emissions in 2010, a recent Brent Council Scrutiny report admits: “If current trends continue we will also face difficulty in meeting the Local Area Agreement target of a 3% CO2 reduction by 2010 or a 6% reduction by 2010/11.”
It goes on to say the failure to meet even a 3% target is down to “lack of resources and conflicting priorities.” In other words, the Liberal Democrats will fail to meet anything like the 10% target because they did not regard it as important enough.
Incidentally, the target under Labour was for a 20% cut by 2011 compared to 1990 levels. A couple of months ago, the Liberal Democrats lowered Labour’s 20% target to 6% (compared to 2005/6 emissions) because they realised they no longer had any prospect of meeting it.
In fact the Liberal Democrat performance is even worse than it seems. The 3% figure uses 2005/6 emissions as a baseline i.e. emissions will be 3% lower than in 2005/6. The Liberal Democrats inherited a number of initiatives from the previous Labour administration in Brent. These led to a 7.3% cut in carbon emissions in 2006/7. Because the Lib Dems saw the green agenda as a low priority, they allowed emissions to start rising (by 2.8% in 2007/8). The only reason that there is any reduction at all is because Labour managed such a big drop in 2006/7.
Putting climate change first requires action, not just more of the Liberal Democrats’ broken promises."
Before the 2006 elections, the Liberal Democrats started a shameless scaremongering campaign implying that respected social landlord Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT) was a rapacious private developer who wanted to build on Barham Park.
On gaining office they, as usual, had no idea what to do so they just dithered for three years. Various Labour councillors put questions on the subject to try to chivvy them along. Now the government, which is desperate to get more house building underway as part of the fiscal stimulus, has pushed the project into actual construction.
Still it’s a shame that the tenants on the estate had to spend three years in crumbling, poorly insulated resiform flats simply because the Liberal Democrats couldn’t get their act together.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
One of the environmental areas where this effect is particularly serious is waste management. Irwin Van Colle, nominally in charge, admitted to me that the Council might not meet its next target for reducing the proportion that goes to landfill. Yet, all decisions on this crucial subject will be taken after the election.
Monday, 14 December 2009
Sunday, 13 December 2009
This shows the signagae isn't exactly prominent (It is opposite the main ticket office).
Here is the unappealing vehicular entrance (no pavement to walk on).
Here is the badly lit pedestrian entrance.
This gives you a fine view of the graffiti that lines the route.
- The environmental health problems round the Station
- The signage
- Hythe Road footpath
- Harrow Road footpath
- Station Approach
I don't know if this will succeed but you have to try.
It seems to me that there is a parallel issue with local authority planning. Controversial planning applications frequently become part of political debate, yet members of the Planning Committee can't really comment on them for fear of appearing biased. This creates a gap for their opponents to portray them as in favour of anything controversial without rebuttal. Sometimes, as in the case of the Liberal Democrats and the Copland School application, unscrupulous people can suggest a party line in favour of a controversial development.
Apparently, the Danish judicary employ a "media judge" to discuss cases with the media, which would throw the Kilmuir Rules out the window.
I can't imagine that working with our planning system, but the whole area lessens confidence in the planning system, political parties and local government in general. It is another case of political parties, here in Brent the Liberal Democrats in particular, damaging the reputation of politics in the hope of short term gain.
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Friday, 11 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Incidentally, in a recent Planning agenda I noticed that South Kilburn has a similar problem with the Borough boundary apparently running through the gardens of people in areas like Saltram Crescent.
And this one (note the smashed window)
And this one, which is full of old TVs, so is apparently being used more as a shed than a vehicle.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
I notice Brent is doing pretty badly in terms of providing new housing units, both affordable and generally. I am somewhat more surprised that we are going backwards in terms of childhood obesity, which could obviously lead to a build up of health problems in future. It doesn't go into much detail about other areas where I think the current Liberal Democrat / Tory administration is failing, like the slippage on carbon emissions, the postponement of a proper waste management strategy and the stalling of service improvement.
Reading the report beforehand, I was concerned that it seemed fairly negative, but as it turned out we got some reasonable recommendations through. I assume that these will go to the Highways Committee in January.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Brent Council, like most large organisations, maintains reserves to cope with unforeseen eventualities (e.g. the recent surge in demand for children to be taken into care). For some years there have been kept at £7.5 million. That may sound like a lot but Brent Council's total budget is £927 million so it is less than 1% of the Council's total spending. Paul Lorber, the Liberal Democrat Leader of Brent Council, is now hoping to raid this reserve. He apparently told the Budget Panel it should go down to £3.5 million.
In terms of financial prudence, that makes little sense. The Council currently has more uncertainity over its income and expenditure than at any time for years, with the possibility of a new government, the likelihood of severe cutbacks in public spending and a whole range of possible new demands on Council services. Indeed, I understand that the financial department has told Lorber precisely that, but he wants to cut the reserves anyway.
The only explanation I can think of is that he wants to delay cuts in services until after the election in order to limit Liberal Democrat losses at the 2010 election. But surely that would be a very cynical thought.
Monday, 7 December 2009
Remember this road regularly gets double decker buses passing over it. There really is no option other than to repair it.
The complaints about vending machines fall into two areas. The first is the noise. Some of our libraries are very small and a vending machine can be a distraction. Secondly, they often sell unhealthy food. That may be attractive commercially, but it does not help the Council combat obesity, which should surely be on of the Council's main priorities.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Immediately on getting back to London, I went to a meeting of the Forward Plan Scrutiny Committee in Brent Town Hall. I doubt whether anyone would consider Brent Council’s scrutiny committees as a model of how scrutiny committees should work.
Once again, Brent’s Lead Member for Adult Social Services (Cllr Reg Colwill) simply failed to turn up. That really isn’t good enough. He is supposed to be democratically accountable for adult social services. A number of members of the public attended this meeting. He chose to leave all explanations to the Director. That is a failure of democratic accountability pure and simple.
However, I must say that two of the Liberal Democrat members were little better, leaving as soon as the most controversial item on the agenda was over. At least this time they managed to ask some questions, although not very expert ones. Indeed one of the Liberal Democrat councillors misunderstood the Director when he started talking about stars. She seemed to think having a "first" (i.e. one) star was better than "third" (i.e. three) stars. That shows a truly extraordinary level of ignorance about local government.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Local secondary schools will get £80 million. Primary schools will get almost £15 million extra as well.
Cardinal Hinsley School is among the first in the list of priorities. Other Brent schools to benefit early include Alperton Community School, Queen's Park Community School in Aylestone Avenue, and Copland Community School in Cecil Avenue, Wembley.
As well as the investment in buildings, Labour have been giving Brent some of the highest budget increases for running the schools for the past several years.
The Labour investment is quite a contrast with the Liberal Democrat calls for “savage cuts” following a series of bungles that have left taxpayers money frozen in Iceland, wasted on bureaucracy and frittered away on “irrational” payments.
Friday, 4 December 2009
Thursday, 3 December 2009
The original concern was the large puddle that forms on the Harlesden side of the road. This can be about four foot wide and covers the width of the pavement, forcing people to step into the road or get their feet soaked.
However, going down Station Approach last Sunday, I glanced at the other side of the road. I had long noticed that the road surface was peeling, but there was also a virtual lake of rainwater covering half the road.
The pavement on that side of Station Approach is also badly torn up, creating a trip hazard.
There is also general disrepair as you can see from these weeds growing on the kerb. Remember Willesden Junction is supposed to be the eastern gateway of the Park Royal estate and is also a major approach to Harlesden Town Centre. Surely it doesn’t need to look this shoddy?
As I have mentioned before (e.g. over the Hythe Road public footpath), the problem is that the various boundaries make it very hard to hold the owner of the road to account. I have been told that it is Network Rail, and I am currently trying to get this confirmed.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Back in Somalia, khat is used fairly seldom, at events like weddings for example. However, over here it has become widely used. The activists there were all in favour of it being made illegal in the same way as other European countries (I think only the Netherlands and the UK allow it to be legal in EU). Cllr Paul Lorber, who was also present, voiced the standard Lib Dem line against making it illegal. I wondered what other people thought?
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
- promised to FREEZE Council Tax. Raised it by more than £100.
- promised Free Car Parking Zone permits. Kept the £50 charge.
- promised to stop Post Office closures. Four Brent Post Office branches have closed since the Lib Dems took over Brent Council.
- promised to cut Council spending on publicity. INCREASED Spending on publicity by £883,000 in 2008
- promised FREE Personal care for the Elderly. INCREASED charges for the elderly by 200%.
- promised to refurbish Dollis Hill House. Now she is sending in the Bulldozers.
- promised extra land to rebuild the Crest Academies (John Kelly Schools). Abandoned this promise in July 2009.
- promised to lead the fight against climate change. Reduced the targets for cutting carbon emissions at the Lib Dem run Brent Council.
- promised to stop tall buildings being built. Since taking power they have approved several new tall buildings around Brent.
Monday, 30 November 2009
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Yet the Liberal Democrats on Brent Council would have us believe that flytipping is actually going down since they introduced their £25 charge for collecting bulky items like these!
Saturday, 28 November 2009
First Reading debates were originally supposed to provide an opportunity for backbench (now called “frontline”) councillors to suggest items for inclusion in the Council Budget. These might be related to a ward, or of a more general nature. For example, I think it would be a good idea for a section of the Youth Services budget to be top sliced and linked to anti-social behaviour projects. This would certainly simplify efforts to tackle anti social behaviour.
The subject has been on my mind as a result of all the problems in the Hazel Road area. Incidentally, the sole Tory councillor for Kensal Green apparently quoted local residents as saying that “It was better under a Labour Council”. I agree, but I am surprised to find a Tory saying so, as it does seem an admittance of failure.
One of the issues in getting a comprehensive solution to the Hazel Road issues was funding youth work, which was eventually done through Neighbourhood Working. If there were a dedicated fund instead it would make the whole thing much more speedy and easier to organise.
However, there is not much point in raising such an issue under the current Lib Dem / Tory administration as in the almost four years I have been a councillor, they have not adopted any issue raised at First Reading by any councillor, Labour, Tory or Liberal Democrat. Perhaps that explains why, this time round, not a single non-Executive councillor spoke at the meeting.
Friday, 27 November 2009
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Monday, 23 November 2009
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Most of the people I have spoken to, both car drivers and pedestrians, have welcomed the new lights, although there has been some concern about slowing up the traffic. Unfortunately, slowing the traffic is part of the price to be paid for making it safer for pedestrians, such as the kids going to Kenmont Primary School.
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Friday, 20 November 2009
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Back in 2003, Paul Lorber, the Lib Dem "Leader" had a very clear view. Brent Liberal Democrats said they wanted "to free up money for improving services in the borough by abolishing the post of Deputy Mayor, cutting the cost of the Mayor's Office by ending the many trips outside of Brent and the "Gravy train" of Mayors attending each other's events, and deleting the new extra assistant for the Mayor."
Since the Liberal Democrats have done none of these things, I assume that they are no longer interested in "improving services in the borough."
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Sunday, 15 November 2009
The original grant for upgrading the park last year under the Neighbourhood Working scheme. However, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, the project was not progressed.
Cllr Bobby Thomas and I have now reviewed the scheme, and come up with something more ambitious (although the improvements will still be modest). The new grant will be combined with the old and implemented over the next few weeks by the Brent Parks Service. They will:
· Plant shrubs by the fence next to Di Sottos, hopefully discouraging any future graffiti on the fence.
· Plant a couple of new cherry trees
· Plant some flowers (probably daffodils)
· Remove some dead vegetation
· Create a wild area at the bottom of the slope of the park, to enhance biodiversity.
· Improve the fencing of the park.
The Community Payback workers have been convicted of petty offences and are required to do community service as part of their sentence.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Friday, 13 November 2009
So what does that mean for the route 18? Firstly, we will have even more congestion if the system converts to single deckers (and let's face it, its not exactly wonderful at the moment). Second, we can expect more delays and probably more anti-social behaviour as a result of the congestion. Third, Brent Liberal Democrats' demand that the 18 buses extend their route to Northwick Park is even less likely to be acceded. With delays on the route 18 already worsening, London Transport are hardly likely to make the route even longer as that would make the delays even worse.
Why aren't Brent Liberal Democrats pursuing this issue?
Thursday, 12 November 2009
It may still reduce heating costs, but the Executive have slipped in conditions designed to increase the number of parking spaces at the new site. Discouraging people from driving cars to work was supposed to be one of the main ways in which the Council could cut its emissions. The changes to the Civic Centre brief are effectively a confession that the Council is no longer interesting in cutting carbon emissions beyond a bare mimimum imposed by central government.
Lots of people driving to a Civic Centre next to Wembley Stadium probably won't be wonderful for traffic congestion either, especially on event days.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Because of the shenanigans on the LFEPA, she has actually ended up being paid more since she was found guilty of taking the money than she was before. Quite how rewarding someone who uses their office to enrich themselves and then seeks to cast the blame on Council officers ties in with the supposed Tory plans to clean up the reputation of politics is beyond me.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Given that Mr Brown made the original mistake of sending the badly written letter, he was surely right to phone Mrs Janes to apologise. What was the reason for recording the conversation, presumably without Mr Brown’s knowledge? The only reason that I can think of is the hope that he would say something that might be used afterward to embarrass him.
Mrs Janes, who has just lost her son, is presumably motivated by anger and grief. I think the Sun has two objectives. The first is to sell newspapers, which they are doing in this case by creating a controversy through clandestine means. The second is political: to damage the current government. This is partly because the Murdoch Empire always wants the government of the day to owe it favours (and they have decided the next government will be Mr Cameron’s), and the Tories will benefit Sky by restricting the BBC.
It strikes me that in secretly recording Mr Brown’s call, the Sun used underhand tactics for completely cynical motives.
Monday, 9 November 2009
Recently, there have been incidents involving the use of fireworks. To tackle this, a “Specialist Fireworks Order” is proposed. This would last two weeks and would allow the Police to ban individuals who do not live locally from the area for 24 hours. The order will operate from the afternoon through to midnight.
The Police have been gathering information for some time now. If you have any information, even if it seems to be trivial, please pass it to the Police. The information so far has enabled the Police and other agencies to:
· Pro-actively intervene at properties where they have been noise complaints in the past to warn the occupants of sanctions if abuse occurs in future.
· Contact Social landlords in the area to crack down on anti-social behavior, by eviction if necessary.
· Make physical changes to “design out” opportunities for crime.
As local councillors Bobby Thomas and I agreed to fund specialized youth work based at the LEAP Centre. This has been an important part of the process in other cases in Brent. The idea is to turn some of the more peripheral members of group away from destructive behavior in order to focus on the ring leaders. We should remember that most people are not bad at heart, and where they are doing things wrong they can change their behavior.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
One reason might be that no one at Brent Council was desparately keen to investigate them. For twenty years there has been a trend towards making schools more independent, and having fewer and fewer checks by the local authority. But I also get the impression that the Lib Dem / Tory Executive on Brent Council aren't interested in safeguarding money in schools.
Back in July, Labour put forward a motion at Full Council because we were worried that some of the stuff that has happened in Copland may be going on at other schools. In particular, there are rumours of nepotism elsewhere in the Borough. The Tories and Liberal Democrats combined to voted against it. I have appended the full text below. Can anyone see anything objectionable?
I suspect that the reason they voted it down is that they know that there is malpractice, and they don't want it to come out before the local elections. That would also explain the release of the news at 17.27 on Wednesday evening, well past the deadline for this week's local newspapers.
After all, the Copland scandal makes most of the MP's expenses misdoings look trivial. If similar scandals are going on across Brent during the Liberal Democrats' watch, what does that say about their competence or value for money?
The Full Text of the Labour Motion
Standards in Brent schools
This Council resolves to conduct an investigation into all primary and secondary schools and children’s centres in Brent, to discover:
1. Whether any of them use special bonus payments to reward staff and, if so, the level of remuneration and criteria for judgement;
2. Whether any school or children centre employees are related to senior staff;
3. Whether any senior school staff members have family or other close relationships linking them to companies that have contracts with the school.
We further resolve to survey all primary and secondary schools and children’s centres to detail their mechanisms for financial scrutiny by the governors, as well as mechanisms for governors and school employees involved in financial decisions to disclose any financial or related party interests.
We also resolve that the investigation should outline what arrangements the Children and Families Department has for scrutinising school and children centres expenditure to ensure that it is appropriate and value for money.
Finally, we resolve that all of the above information should be made available to the public in a report to be published by 15 September 2009.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
I bet I won't be seeing that in any Liberal Democrat press releases any time soon.
Friday, 6 November 2009
When I asked about this I was told the change was because it was felt Brent Council would not be able to meet the original target. Since the Council effectively suffers a financial penalty for such a failure it was judged best to lower the target.
Of course, a more ambitious idea would have been to improve the Council's performance to meet the old target.
A second interesting aspect of this is that, as later targets remain the same, they are loading the burden of cutting carbon emissions on to future administrations, just as they have over school places.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
"The reason for the decline is the introduction of the charge for special collections."
The immediate decline was 67% from June to July. The first three quarters of 2009 (5,358 collections show a 75% decline compared to the first three quarters of 2006 (21,537 collections). Where do all these items now go now that the Council has stopped collecting them?
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
One of the key areas she caused problems was over Neighbourhood Working, the scheme that allows local councillors in each ward a small budget for community projects. Unfortunately, this was set up with a requirement that the three councillors agree everything. Fine if they are reasonable people, but a lot harder if one of them is Bertha Joseph. Bertha constantly vetoed projects for no reason, refused to participate in meetings, tried to get decisions overturned, and essentially tried to wreck the whole process. I am delighted to know that she won't be able to do that again before she loses in May.
The second way in which Bertha's absence if going to make everything better is in shortening events. Bertha is incredibly verbose, and can, single-handed, double the time of a meeting by endlessly talking about herself. This has made the Harlesden Area Consultative Forums especially dreary, but applies to any other meeting she attends.
To paraphrase Clement Attlee, a period of silence on her part will be welcome.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Saturday, 31 October 2009
Friday, 30 October 2009
There is some mention on blogs. Brian Coleman (aka Mr Toad) reports on it here. Tory Troll has a piece here. However, the press at large don't seem to have covered it. Even the Evening Standard haven't reported the actual result of the meeting. It demonstrates how threadbare newspaper coverage of local politics is. Given Boris Johnson's monstering of Ken Livingstone over sleaze, his support for these disgraced appointees is an outstanding act of hypocrisy which I would have thought any good journalist would want to cover.
Thursday, 29 October 2009
It is certainly a popular idea. Everyone I explain it to likes it. However, I don’t see too many of the bags themselves in use. Now, we are having to decide whether or not to go ahead with a second stage, distributing them on a much bigger scale. Was the small scale of the pilot the problem, or is it just the kind of idea people like in theory but not so much in practice?
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
It appears that Brent Council is likely to get some money to consult on finding ways to moderate the traffic problems in Harlesden. The actual works would not take place until 2012, so it is going to be one of those long drawn out things. The sort of ideas that might be considered might include removing the Harlesden City Challenge Buildouts, removing railings, greater uniformity in street furniture and improvements to the pavements.
One of the more radical ideas that might be considered would be shared surfaces. This means removing the distinction between pavements and roads entirely, and relying on drivers to make eye contact with pedestrians and deferring to them. I am not sure that would work in a Harlesden context. Shared surfaces have also drawn a lot of criticism from various disabled groups who are concerned about safety.
One other minor improvement is that apparently the ATM "privacy boxes" are going to be repainted, which should reduce robbery.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Navin can be written to at Navin Shah, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2AA, called at 020 7983 4377 or emailed at email@example.com
Monday, 26 October 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Featuring the late Rocky Fernandez, who at the time appeared slated as a Liberal Democrat candidate in Queens Park, it implies that cutting back on Council publicity will lead to more money being spent on clearing up dumped rubbish. I take it that means that the Liberal Democrats' decision to increase Council publicity is leading to more flytipping and dumped rubbish in the Borough.
Friday, 23 October 2009
How on earth can he have been a councillor for three years without talking to his Safer Neighbourhood Team? I am constantly talking to the Kensal Green Safer Neighbourhood Team _ about problems in Hazel Road and Bramston Road, street drinking, needles on Avenue Road, problems around school kids on Park Parade, and so on. I see them at the ward panels, residents' meetings, the Area Consultative Forums, street surgeries and walkabouts.
What does he do as a councillor that he can contrive to avoid them?
Brian Coleman, who is possibly even more revolting than Bertha Joseph, will use this majority to push through various controversial measures in defiance of workforce opposition. This includes changing shift patterns, removing beds in fire stations, removing diversity officers, and installing a new private entrance at the LFEPA headquarters at I don't know what expense. Only yesterday, I went to a meeting with the police where they emphasised the necessity of understanding diversity issues when dealing with a community like Brent.
Bertha's payoff in all this is get appointed Deputy Chair, where she will will recieve an enhanced allowance to partly make up for what Brent is no longer paying her following her suspension.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Since the Council Tax is one of the few parts of their income that Councils actually control, there are plenty of good reasons why any sensible Council Leader would want to retain flexibility. Indeed the Tories' decision to more or less impose a freeze makes David Cameron's professed belief in localism meaningless.
Nevertheless, not so long ago Cllr Paul Lorber and other Brent Liberal Democrats embraced a different attitude to freezing the Council Tax as you can see from this piece of 2006 election literature.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Unfortunately, the answer suggests that Tubbs Road is used "mainly by local traffic" and that the width restriction is widely known about. I think both these convictions are wrong. I think a lot of the traffic is going through to get to the A40. I also have been told be residents that heavy lorries routinely get stuck at the width restriction, as they don't realise it is there. Possibly downgrading the road from an A road to a B road might get it off peoples' GPS systems (apparently it is incorrectly identified as a through route without any width restriction.
Still, it is heartening to learn that the Harlesden Town Centre traffic scheme is being put in for next year. I will be interested to see the details.
Monday, 19 October 2009
The officers decided to introduce compulsory recycling instead. The compulsory element is something of a red herring, as the most effective part of the policy is the doorknocking to educate people on what and how to recycle. The very high turnover of the population in Brent implies that this education programme will have to be regularly renewed, although the Lib Dems and Tories don’t seem to have acknowledged this yet.
A second thing that I only recently heard Cllr Irwin Van Colle (The Tory in charge of Environment policy) admit was that Brent Council might very well fail to meet its 40% target for recycling next year. He seemed quite unconcerned that this might happen, and had no plan to avoid it. All that I could get was a promise from one of the officers to come up with some options by the middle of next year (i.e. after the local elections). It looks awfully like just loading problems on to your successors, in the same way the Lib Dems are with the Crest Academies.
Also, it would be rather more courageous of the individuals (or individual?) posting to sign with a name rather than just "anonymous".
Sunday, 18 October 2009
The sign shows Charles I, who was executed after the world's first war crimes trial. The title "Royal Oak" refers to his son, Charles II. After losing the battle of Worcester in 1650, Charles junior had to go on the run. The story is that he spent some time hiding up an oak tree. Together with the other connotations of Oaks in England, especially association with the Royal Navy, this led to the name becoming a symbol of patroitism.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Prior to another meeting in December, the transport department will survey the traffic flows and come up with suggestions. Personally, I am still attracted to having a no left turn at the Station Road junction.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Thursday, 15 October 2009
It raises an interesting point about the LFEPA, where Bertha Joseph remains as a member. The LFEPA is currently on a knife edge Tory majority, following a Labour defection. Will Boris Johnson choose to keep Bertha Joseph, or will he stick to his campaign promises to clean up cronyism at City Hall by removing her?
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
UPDATE: I suppose if she is suspended as a councillor, I should probably not refer to her by the title Cllr, so just plain old "Bertha Joseph has been suspended."
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
Let's take a look at some of those radical Liberal Democrat Ideas:
- Replace prison sentences of less than 3 months with community service (Lib Dem Conference resolution March 2007). NO ACTION
- Never lock up a young person who breaches an ASBO (Lib Dem Policy Paper August 2008). NO ACTION, although Brent Liberal Democrats do dish out ASBOs.
- Non prosecution for possession, cultivation and social supply of illegal drugs (Lib Dem Policy Paper, March 2005). NO ACTION
- Ending "high visibility community punishment" as a gimmick. (Lib Dem spokesman, 6 May 2009) Lib Dem led Brent Council continues to do this.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
Restore Housing Budget
Increase in Freedom Pass funding
More School Places
Jubilee Line Refund
If the Liberal Democrats want to be treated as a serious party, they are going to have to start exercising some collective discipline.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Friday, 9 October 2009
Over here, we had a small example of a similar conspiracy theory when Dawn Butler MP met Barack Obama and grabbed his autograph in Downing Street. Several bloggers tried to make out that he had never met her, which as you can see from the photo below he did.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
I recall the Masons Arms before the beer garden. The area was a disused car park, whose main distinction was being the site of a poster for Guy Ritchie's Revolver that sparked a controversy. There is no doubt that the change in use makes the pub much better, but the site has an advantage in terms of noise in that the neighbours are all fairly far away. Behind the beer garden is the dead area of Kensal Green Cemetary, and in front Hazel Road Open Space.
Another site on Neasden Lane is more typical. It is a cafe near residential housing, where the owner is trying to have an outside area for smoking purposes. Given that his cafe has hookah smoking as a key part of his business model, he is unlikely to accept the Planning Service's attempts to stop him from using the area. On the other hand residents strongly object to the noise.
At the moment therefore, the Planning Service are making efforts to close down the outside area, but the cafe owner is likely to keep on re-opening it to serve his business. How can such a dilemma be resolved?
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
You can also see that the Liberal Democrat Lead Member Bob Wharton spoke against, saying the idea was impractical. The Tories joined the Liberal Democrats in voting the proposal down. Now only a couple of months later, he is saying he is all in favour. What has changed?
Monday, 5 October 2009
In the UK, we have a scrutiny function but no direct powers. The meeting I attended was a meeting of a scrutiny task group on the subject, formed because Brent has a very low rate of vaccination even by London standards. The fact that the NHS records are so poor means that that task group is likely to have great difficulty in coming up with recommendations.
The second function the Borough has is in emergency planning. This can mean all sorts of things from maintaining IT systems, to coping with the tornado that ripped through part of Kensal Rise, to trying to keep everything going even if there is a widespread outbreak of swineflu.
Sunday, 4 October 2009
As chance would have it I passed Cllr Daniel Brown spreading another kind of rubbish, Sarah Teather's latest propaganda leaflet. He is supposed to be the Lead Member for Streetcare issues such as dumped rubbish, but he showed no interest in reporting this eyesore. Just walked straight past it. He and his Lib Dem colleagues simply don't give a damn about anyone in Kensal Green or probably Brent as a whole.