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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Bramston Road Street Surgery

Bramston Road will be getting a street surgery on Saturday 9th January from 12.30. This is where the Police give advice on how to avoid burglaries, of which there have been a spate on the roads off Wrottesley Road until recently.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Conservatives in Brent Central

I have been puzzled by the ongoing absence of Cllr Sachin Rajput, the Tory candidate for Brent Central, from Brent. Not the Barnet Times suggests that he is too taken up with his new Council Executive responsibilities in Barnet. Along with the continuing failure by the Tories to select a candidate in Brent North, it suggests that their performance in the Borough as a whole is likely to be dismal.

Boris Johnson's New Year Cheer

Boris Johnson is reported by the New Statesman here to be overseeing a bold act of redistribution from the poor to the rich, courtesy of his hikes in transport fares.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Thomas Becket

Today is the feast of St Thomas Becket, as well as being the anniversary of his martyrdom.

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

New Safer Neighbourhood Team Base on Station Road, NW10

In January, the Police will finally be opening their new Safer Neighbourhood base in Station Road (on the corner with Ranelagh Road. This will be the base for the Harlesden SNT, the Kensal Green SNT, and the Harlesden Town Centre Police Team.
This should be a big help to the Kensal Green Team, who are currently based in Harlesden Police Station. Having a base actually in the ward, will lead to them being much more visible. I suspect the drug dealers rumoured to use Ranelagh Road will be less evident as a result.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Burglary Down in Kensal Green

I understand from the Police that burglary has dropped dramtically in Kensal Green during December. Partly no doubt because the thieves find it as hard to get about in this weather as the rest of us, but also because the Safer Neighbourhood Team have specifically targeted burglary recently.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

St Stephen's Day

I dare say many people will be spending part of today stoned with alcohol, which is perhaps appropriate on the Feast of St Stephen, but I intend to be rather more abstemious.

Thursday, 24 December 2009


In August I decided that would make a least one entry per day on this blog, and I am glad that I have so far succeeded, but I intend to ignore that rule tomorrow and probably indulge in the sin of gluttony.

Street Furniture

Below is a photograph I took of a Keep Left bollard in Longstone Avenue that I took recently.

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

Stop the Tower

I have heard rumours that the Stop the Tower group is becoming active again, after three years of silence. I posted before that I thought this group was really an astroturf organisation trying to help the Liberal Democrats in an underhand way, and strange to say they are reforming shortly before the local elections. I wonder what their purpose could be?

Fantastic Mr Fox

Yesterday morning I was stunned to see a fox trotting along the pavement in Harlesden Gardens at 10am.

Street Gritting in Kensal Green

Getting loads of complaints from constituents about the lack of gritting. The main roads seem to be more or less clear, but the pavements are largely covered in ice still. I have been out doing various deliveries and almost fallen over times too numerous to mention.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Lib Dems: The Party of the Rich?

At the last Planning Committee of the year, on Wednesday, I was startled to hear one of the Liberal Democrat councillors argue that the residents of a particular road should be shown special consideration because they lived in a “nice road” where they had spent “a lot of money for their houses.” Even the Conservative Chair baulked at that, and reminded everyone that you can’t show people special consideration for being rich. Still, it shows that the Liberal Democrats are not quite the left wing alternative to Labour that some people would have us believe.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Will Boris Johnson Stand Again?

There seems to have been a sudden burst of speculation about either Lord Mandelson or Boris Johnson standing as London Mayor in 2012. The Mandelson stuff seems quite plausible to me, certainly more so than David Lammy. Johnson standing again also seems unavoidable for him unless he wants a reputation as a diletante quitter. However, I can't think of any reason why he couldn't win a second term as Mayor, and then serve consecutively as a MP for a Tory seat in London, as French politicians seem to.

Sustainable Communities Act & Brent Council

In the Summer, Brent Labour Group used the Scrutiny process to embarrass our Tory / Lib Dem administration into taking notice of the Sustainable Communities Act. As a result of our efforts, the Liberal Democrats felt forced to put forward a motion committing the Council to using the Act. That was back in July (on Bastille Day as it happens). The officer group set up to work out how the Council was to do this did not even meet until October. This means that Brent Council has missed the next round of activity.

Once again Brent Liberal Democrats appear to be bidding for beacon status for sloth.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Lib Dems Get Confused

Looking through the Full Council questions from October, I notice the rather confused response given to my Harlesden Labour colleague Cllr Lincoln Beswick. Back in July, the Liberal Democrats were pushed into a motion as a result of political pressure to adopt the Sustainable Communities Act (explained here). With his usual lack of clarity, Paul Lorber dragged in a reference to the London Local Authorities Bill. Since this Bill is too far advanced to be changed, it seems rather pointless for Paul Lorber to have raised it.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Cllr Pawan Gupta: The Phantom Councillor

One of the curiosities of Brent’s Planning Committees is the presence of Cllr Pawan Gupta, the Liberal Democrat councillor for Dudden Hill. He has taken to standing at the back of the room during each meeting, but never comments on an application. Last time this seemed especially strange, since there was a controversial application in his ward (at Dudden Hill Parade). He remained in the meeting from 7pm to 11pm (when it ended) without commenting. In fact the only time that I can recall him saying anything in any form of Council meeting was when he announced that he never spoke to his local police team.

Krupesh Hirani

Krupesh Hirani has a post on the shocking state of services for disadvantaged children in Brent here.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Harlesden High Street Service Station

The application to build 23 flats on the old service station site on Harlesden High Street was rejected on Wednesday. This application was, in my opinion, worse than the previous one of about 18 months ago with a higher building, a less interesting facade facing Rucklidge Avenue, and a poorer frontage to High Street Harlesden.

Greenhouse Application Rejected

Incidentally, the application for a new housing development at the Greenhouse site in Welsh Harp was rejected on Wednesday. It really was a pretty terrible application, trying to build a housing estate in the middle of a nature reserve. Planning officers said that they thought Barnet Council would be likely to reject the parallel proposal on the Cool Oak lane side as well.

Boris Johnson Cuts Police Numbers

Tory Troll reports that Boris Johnson is cutting Police numbers in London. Although according to the report, he does not seem to be aware that his own budget proposals say "Over the three years to 2012-13, the number of Police Officers is forecast to decrease by 455, while PCSOs remain the same and Special Constables increase by 2,690."

Street Gritting

I keep being told by people that Brent's roads were inadequately gritted today. After the fiasco of the cancelled buses last year, I would have thought that Brent Council had learnt its lesson.

Brent Council and Flooding

People have been asking me about flooding and whether Brent Council can do anything about it. Unfortunately, only a limited amount is possible.

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.

Pavement Encroachment

Harlesden Town Centre often gives rise to complaints about pavement encroachment by traders putting their goods on the pavements. This seems to have got worse since the Liberal Democrats abolished Town Centre Wardens. The decision to reduce the number of Streetcare office from 21 to 14 can't have helped either. I know this is also a problem sometimes in Harrow Road NW10 (at the Kensal Rise end of the ward), and a Conservative councillor recently complained of problems in Queensbury. It is part of the gradual erosion of standards in Council services.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Stupidity of the £25 Charge

I recently had a piece of casework illustrating the foolishness of the Liberal Democrats’ £25 charge for special collections. The constituent was a pensioner. The Liberal Democrats claim pensioners are exempt from the charge. When he tried to get the Council to take his items away, he was told he was allowed only one collection free per year. The old system gave up to three collections free each year. Now he is left with rubbish in his front garden until the turn of the year.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Cutting Carbon Emissions?

Here is an excerpt from a letter I sent to the Willesden and Brent Times, which I thought I would post here in case they don't publish it.

"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."

Barham Park

I don’t think my occasional series on Brent Liberal Democrats’ broken promises has yet touched on the Barham Park Estate in Sudbury. This is a social housing estate near Barham Park, in the Liberal Democrat Council Leader’s own ward.

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

Brent Council Inactivity

Brent Council always winds down in December, but I think this year is becoming even more torpid than usual. The reason is that the coming elections are causing anything controversial to be deferred (although that has always been a fault of the current Lib Dem / Tory administration; look at the ARK Academy fiasco).

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

Fairtrade Hypocrisy from the Liberal Democrats

It has been pointed out to me that Brent's failure to achieve Fairtrade status is yet another example of Brent Liberal Democrats saying one thing and doing another. Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East, calls for the 2012 Olympics to be Fairtrade here. As so often when the Liberal Democrats "call" for something, it is not something they have any ability to do. Where they could do something is in getting Fairtrade status for Brent. The two necessary changes are engaging more schools and getting some more cafes to offer Fairtrade products. Perfectly doable one might think. Instead progress is stalled.

Lib Dem Confusion over Schools

I see the Liberal Democrats are getting confused about the extra money for Brent schools. The Wembley Central Liberal Democrat councillors have written to the Willesden & Brent Times claiming that the extra money is the result of their lobbying. Meanwhile the Lib Dem Lead Member for Children & Families has written to the Willesden Observer claiming that the money is just an illusion, and in fact Brent probably won't get it. Readers may recall that was also his view of the money allocated for rebuilding the Crest Academies. It shows that the Liberal Democrats really had nothing very much to do with the new investment. The Wembley Liberal Democrats are simply trying to claim credit for something that had nothing to do with them. Credit is free but the facts are dispensible.

Brent's Fairtrade Failure

Brent Council has failed to achieve Fairtrade status largely because of lack of engagement by Brent Schools. The attempt to get Brent Council to sign up to Fairtrade dates back almost a decade _ to when my Kensal Green predecessor Peter Lemmon was Mayor. It is one of those policies that the Tories in particular hate but don't have the guts to get rid of explicitly. Hopefully, the new elections will enable a renewal of energy so that Brent can limp in as one of the last Boroughs to attain Fairtrade status.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

More Hythe Road Photos

For some reason, I couldn't fit this photo into the last post. It shows the littering that covers the railway bridge. Incidentally, the railway bridge also has no public lighting whatever, making it an extremely threatening place to walk in winter.

Hythe Road Footpath Again

I have blogged before about the Hythe Road public footpath. I recently went round there to take some photos that I can show to the Scrutiny task group (if one is ever created).

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.

Another Councillor Call for Action

I have put together another Councillor Call for Action; this time for the area around Willesden Junction. Essentially I am asking for Brent and Hammersmith & Fulham to set up a joint task group to improve:

  • 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.

Planning and Kilmuir Rules

An article in The Times some weeks ago discussed possible changes in the Kilmuir Rules. I first heard of these when Judge James Pickles was making a fool of himself in the early 1990s. Basically, a late 1950s Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir, issued guidance that Judges shouldn't comment on cases that they had tried as it might damage the reputation of the judicary. This understanding is under greater pressure as a result of political and media comment on the cases.

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

Tubbs Road Pocket Park

More progress on Tubbs Road Pocket Park. A sketch plan has been drafted and is now being consulted on. Among the ideas is a project to involve Furness school kids in designing signs to discourage dog fouling, which I know is a hot issue in both the Tubbs park and also Furness Pocket Park just to the north.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Liberal Democrats Offer FREE Bulky Waste Collection

Liberal Democrats Offer FREE Bulky Waste Collection, but sadly not in Brent. One of the policies that the Liberal Democrats implied they would retain in at least one of their leaflets in 2006 was Labour's policy of offering up to three collections of up to five items to each household in the Borough. They introduced a £25 charge for such collections in July 2007. Brent Council has now admitted that this led to a massive fall in collections. The Tory spokesman claimed to be speaking for both himself and the Liberal Democrats. However over in Liberal Democrat run Islington they continue to offer the Labour policy. If it is good enough for the people of Islington, why is it not good enough for people in Brent?

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Boundaries Revisited

Just to revisit my previous post on Kensal Green's inconvenient boundaries, I understand that the Electoral Commission are blowing cold over rectifying the ward boundaries despite requests from both Hammersmith & Fulham and Brent Council. The problem can only get worse as new building (like Plough Close) comes on stream.

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.

Brunel Court: More Dumping

A recent visit to Brunel Court, opposite Scrubs Lane, confirms that they are still having massive problems with dumping. In particular, I saw several dumped vehicles, such as this one.

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.

I suspect the only way to stop this is to gate the area off completely.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009 Launched

The government has launched a new local authority comparison site. So far, it strikes me as being agonisingly slow and not very easy to navigate, but perhaps it will develop.

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.

Tubbs Road at Overview & Scrutiny

My Councillor Call for Action on Tubbs Road finally got considered at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee last night. Unfortunately that meant I missed the meeting of Odessa and Palemro Road RA which occured at the same time.

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

Paul Lorber Loses His Reserve

Brent Liberal Democrats are apparently contemplating massively reducing the Council's reserves in the run up to the Local Elections in 2010.

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.

Tubbs Road Emergency Gate

This is the emergency gate of Tubbs Road swinging open. I don't wish to sound like an obsessive, but this gate really could benefit from being replaced by bollards, in a similar way to the scheme currently proposed for Leghorn Road. It could probably be designed in a way to make it less likely to have the bollards and the keep left signs bashed over as well.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Willesden Junction Station Approach Again

Further to my post on Willesden Junction's Station Approach a couple of days ago, I forgot to post another photo that shows just how badly worn down the Station Approach road surface is.

Remember this road regularly gets double decker buses passing over it. There really is no option other than to repair it.

Vending Machines in Libraries

Cllr Lesley Jones has reminded me about the problems of vending machines in libraries. These have been introduced as a revenue raising measure and to add a new attraction. I must admit that the constant atttempts to add new activities to libraries (such as Harlesden library which is supposed to be opening in February next year) does seem to me to be in danger of going too far sometimes. We should remember that they have a core function of providing access to knowledge, primarily still through books, and that a quiet area for children to do homework in can be particularly important in a Borough where so many children live in overcrowded conditions.

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.

Avenue Road, NW10

Doorknocking on Ranelagh Road recently I was told that Thames Water contractors had removed a bollard from Avenue Road during the recent utility works. I went down there with our Streetcare officer and found this is true. According to the constituent, the bollard had originally been put in because armed robbers were using the route as a getaway from after robbing banks in the High Street. Anyway, the bollard is now being replaced.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Lack of Scrutiny in Brent

I have recently come back from a two day course in Council scrutiny solutions given by the Local Government Centre at Warwick Business School in their rather impressive Scarman Conference Centre.

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

Boris Johnson's Housing Failure

Dave Hill seems to be unduly lenient on Boris Johnson's failure to hit affordable housing target HERE. Surely it was always obvious that the lack of binding targets would undermine the achievement of new affordable housing, recession or not?

More Money for Brent Schools

Labour is investing almost £100 million in our schools here in Brent, mainly as a result of Building Schools for the Future (BSF).

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.

Dumped Rubbish in Wembley

Lest anyone think that only Kensal Green suffers from the consequences of the Liberal Democrats' £25 charge for collecting bulky items, here is a photo of a flytip I took yesterday in Wembley Central (a Liberal Democrat held ward).

Friday, 4 December 2009

Tubbs Road Traffic

Yesterday, I went to a meeting of the Junction Associaition (which has been trying to improve the traffic situation on Tubbs Road). The residents were very unhappy about the report going to Overview & Scrutiny, and having now read it I can see now. The item is on the Scrutiny agenda as a result of my Councillor Call for Action, but officer recommendation seems to be to call for inaction. The meeting is on the eighth, and, unless the committee overrules the officers, I suspect the residents will be very angry.

Saunas at Willesden Sports Centre

I see that Cllr Carol Shaw, Liberal Democrat councillor for Brondesbury, has written to the Willesden & Brent Times complaining that old age pensioners can no longer get free saunas at the Willesden Sports Centre. I would like to reassure Cllr Carol Shaw and any other concerned old age pensioners that I will be writing to Brent’s Liberal Democrat led Council to ask why the concession has been withdrawn.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Willesden Junction Station Approach

As a result of this blog I got contacted about the shoddy state of Station Approach (the road leading to the main ticket office at Willesden Junction station).

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.

Leak near Park Parade and Manor Park Road

I am glad to say that the leak near the junction of Park Parade and Manor Park Road appears to be in the process of being sorted (before someone slips over and does themselves a serious injury). Well done Streetcare for getting on the case so quickly!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Somalis and khat in Brent

A few days ago I went to a meeting with Somali activists who were very concerned about khat use in Brent.

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?

Park Parade Leak

Recently, I asked Streetcare to sort out the water leaking out on to the pavement near the butcher’s at the bottom of Park Parade. Given the cold weather it could easily turn into a trip hazard and that part of High Street Harlesden is well used by pedestrians. However, you don’t have to be a councillor to do this, you can just call 020 8937 5050 or email

More Lib Dem Dumping

My colleague, Cllr Lesley Jones, has a sorry tale of the ineffectiveness of the Lib Dems' £25 charge here. As well as costing more the charged service takes much longer than the old free pick up system.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Lodge, Harlesden High Street

The Lodge, in Harlesden High Street has been attracting attention over accusatuions of anti-social behaviour. There has been a long standing noise nuisance problem there, but more recently it has been linked to anti-social behaviour as well. It is also, of course, close to the Jet Set Night Club where violent incidents have taken place.

Sarah Teather MP's Broken Promises

A quick round up of the broken promises of Brent Liberal Democrats and Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East from a recent Labour Party leaflet. As the Liberal Democrats' top representative in Brent, Sarah Teather has:
  • 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.