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.