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Friday, 30 April 2010

Dumping Hotspot on Longstone Avenue

Here is a picture of rubbish I found dumped at the corner of Longstone Avenue and Harlesden Road a few days ago. This spot seems to have become a dumping hotspot following the water works in the area.

Dawn Butler at the Despatch Box

The latest in our series of Dawn Butler photos shows Dawn at the Despatch Box in the House of Commons, the first black woman to speak from it.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Harshi Patel's Campaign Hub

Up in Wembley looked in on Harshi Patel's campaign headquarters in Ealing Road. Not exactly bustling if you look from the outside:

And still not a hive of activity when you look on the inside:

Remember this is a photo of a campaign office seven days before polling day.

The Labour Offer on Children Issues

On the doorstep, one of the most prominent issues raised has been about children, which is also a useful contrast between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Labour want to extend free nursery places to two year olds. We have a local problem in the Kensal Green area with a shortage of places. Treetops nursery in King Edward VII park has helped a little with this following its extension, but I still meet people who can't find a place for their child so it obviously needs to be prioritised in the south and east of the Borough by a future administration. I am not aware that the Lib Dems have made any pledges on this, at least in Brent.

Labour has also given Brent £80 million to rebuild Copland, Cardinal Hinsley, Alperton and (partly) Queens Park Community School. That is on top of the ARK Academy in Wembley that the Lib Dems delayed and the Tories opposed. It is also on top of the expansion of the Crest academies which the Lib Dems have mismanaged so that the adjoining land, instead of providing much needed sports facilities, is being developed as housing. Incidentally, the problems at the Crest Academies have also led to falling pupil numbers and therefore staff redundancies. Thanks to the Lib Dems for that.

Labour have also given Brent £14.7 million for extra primary school places to be in place by the end of August 2011. The Lib dems have whinged about this but it has never been clear to me that they have done anything.

Labour also helped parents with child tax credits, which the Liberal Democrats are pledged to cut. Labour will also protect child benefit as a universal service, while the Liberal Democrats have flirted with means testing it.

Dawn Butler in India

The latest in our series of Dawn Butler photos shows Dawn Butler during her parliamentary trip to India.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Brent FoE Hustings

I came across an advert for hustings by Brent Friends of the Earth flyposted on the entrance to Willesden Junction station yesterday (I am sure that Network Rail will be grateful). Amazingly, Brent FoE have asked Cllr Alexis Rowell, a Camden councillor, to chair the hustings. Did it not occur to them that there was a problem of bias in getting a Liberal Democrat councillor to chair a General Election hustings?

Dawn Butler and Willesden Post Office

Dawn Butler, Billy Heyes and local supporters campaigning for Willesden Post Office.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

James Allie's Charm Offensive

Interesting anecdote about Cllr James Allie, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate here. Sad to say, I would not regard that kind of behaviour as being at all uncharacteristic of James Allie.


Very good to be out on the doorstep with Paul Boateng and others yesterday. Not only did we cover a lot of ground (Leghorn Road, Rucklidge Avenue, Radcliffe Road, Chomondeley Avenue, Cardinal Hinsley Close, Bramston Road, Holland Road, Buchanan Gardens, Felixstowe Road and Greyhound Road), we also picked up a lot of wavering among Liberal Democrats about Clegg's teaming up with the Tories if there is hung Parliament.

Not only does he come across as arrogant, but people round here are realising that voting for Sarah Teather will lead to a Tory government, and very few Kensal Green residents want the Tories back in charge.

Dawn Butler at Furness Road Primary School

Here Dawn Butler is shown in the Furness Road primary school at the launch of the Odessa and Palermo Road Neighbourhood Watch Association.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Warm Front and Dawn Butler

Dawn butler has held events annually to publicise the savings that pensioners can make from the government's "Warm Front" grants.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg has apparently been mapping out what he plans to do if there is a hung Parliament. Rather premature at this stage I would have thought. However it should help to concentrate the minds of those who see Sarah Teather as somehow left wing. Voting for her will put David Cameron in Downing Street with all that follows.

If you want to keep Cameron out of Downing Street the only option is to vote Labour.

Dawn Butler at Newfield Primary School in Harlesden

Another photo of Dawn visiting a primary school more recent than the John Keble posting of a few days ago.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Ancona Road Water Works

I have followed up on the delayyed water works on Ancona Road. There have been problems with the contractor that have caused several weeks of delay apparently. Brent Council has the power to fine utilities for taking too long to do works. Given that Ancona Road was supposed to be done in two weeks, and it is taking more like six, I think they should be fined.

Dawn Butler at the ACE Cafe in Stonebridge

Dawn Butler showing the flag at the ACE Cafe on the North Circular Road in Stonebridge, a mecca for bikers.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Dawn Butler at Palermo Road

Came across this appalling bit of broken paving whilst out canvassing with Dawn Butler a few days ago. It is extraordinary how often one comes across dumped rubbish, broken paving, graffiti and broken street lights whilst going round Brent.

Hampstead and Kilburn Candidates

As well as standing in local elections in Fryent, the BNP are now confirmed as putting a candidate forward in Hampstead and Kilburn for the General Election. This gives the BNP their biggest presence in a Brent election ever.

Another curiosity of the Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary candidates are the two Green candidates. As well as the official Green Bea Campbell, Tamsin Omond is standing under the "Tamsin Omond to the Commons" ticket, which sounds clear if egotistical. However it is curious that one of the ten nominating electors for Beatrix Campbell is also called Tamsin Omond. Has Tamsin Omond signed the nomination paper of one of her opponents and then fallen out with her?

Dawn Butler and the APPG on Youth

Dawn Butler is here shown chairing the all party parliamentary group (APPG) on youth somewhere in the House of Commons.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Crest Academies

There is a credible rumour that the area of land where the Crest Academies (former John Kelly Schools) were hoping to expand has now become the subject of a application to build housing. I imagine that housing will be more profitable for the owner, but it will leave the Crest Academies with inferior facilities which Ofsted have identified as holding back standards in the schools.

Labour government ministers said the funding for purchasing the land for school expansion will still be there, and the Labour councillors in Brent supported the purchase. The Liberal democrats and Tories opposed us, so there is a clear choice before election day.

Dawn Butler at the Diwali Parade

Dawn Butler at the Diwali parade in Ealing Road. Brent is officially the most diverse authority in the UK, and the Ealing Road Diwali parade the biggest Diwali parade in the country.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Teather Flummoxed at Hustings

I am told that Sarah Teather was fairly hopeless at the Brent elders' hustings today. Forced to disown Brent Liberal Democrats on the Council for increasing charges for the elderly after promising to make personal care free, and getting into a muddle over the Freedom Pass.

Liberal Democrats and Broken Promises

I see that Sarah Teather and the Liberal Democrats are making broken promises a major theme of their election campaign nationally. Here in Brent, we know all about the Liberal Democrats record on broken promises.

My favourite is their pledge to freeze the Council Tax, followed by raising it by £100. Not a prominent feature of this leaflet.

By the way, their current pledge of freezing Brent Council Tax in 2010 is totally meaningless. The budget has been passed and the bills sent out. Doing anything other than keeping it frozen would be hugely expensive. Still it is interesting that they say nothing whatever for the Council Tax after this year (unlike Brent Labour and the Brent Tories). Are they planning a big tax increase for 2011?

Brent PCSOs

I did a follow up with the police about the Liberal Democrats' idea of redeploying the PCSOs that Brent currently match funds to a so-called "rapid response force." This would mean taking PCSOs away from the Harlesden Town Centre Centre Team (Harlesden and Kensal Green wards), Kilburn, Willesden Green, Dudden Hill and Wembley Central.

Not sure that the people who live in these areas will want their PCSOs taken away.

Dawn Butler at Cardinal Hinsley School

Dawn Butler is here shown opening a new playing field at the Cardinal Hinsley School for boys in Kensal Green. Cardinal Hinsley will get completely rebuilt under the government's Building Schools for the Future programme.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Water Works in Ancona Road

Doorknocking in Ancona Road last night I was told that the water works there had been in place for five weeks, and not much actual work is being done on them. Residents have much of their street blocked off and lots of holes in the ground but no actual activity.

I have asked the Council to pressure Thameswater to get things going. If necessaruy, they should issue a fine.

Dawn Butler and Gordon Brown at the Fawood Childrens Centre

Fawood Childrens Centre in Stonebridge was Gordon Brown's very first Prime Ministerial visit. The Childrens Centre was shortlisted fior the Stirling prize when it was first built.

Tubbs Road Pocket Park Gets Investment

I have just heard that Tubbs Road Pocket Park is likely to get about 70,000 pounds worth of investment thanks to the good work of the Junction Associaition and Groundwork West London.

Well done!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Vote for Me Because I Won't

I went through the nomination papers at Brent Town Hall a little while ago. It is interesting to note that in some cases, the candidates themselves will not be voting in the Brent Council Elections. That includes one Liberal democrat in Alperton, who does not live in the Borough (although I am sure he will be described as a "local" campaigner according to the Sarah Teather election template), a number of Tories who don't live here, and a surprising number of Greens who live here but have not claimed to be registered to vote on their nomination forms.

It is surely a bit rich to ask for someone's elses vote when you don't vote yourself.

Dawn Butler in Stonebridge

I took this photo of Dawn Butler whilst out campaigning with her in Stonebridge. She simply walked into the Stonebridge Adventure Playground and all the kids gathered round her. She is the only person I know who can do that.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Rapid Response?

Brent Liberal Democrats have promised the Willesden and Brent Times that the PCSOs that Brent jointly pays for with the Police will be formed into a "rapid response force". This strikes me as rather strange.

Firstly PCSOs are not police officers. They have fewer powers and less training. What kind of situation would they rapidly respond to, and what duties would they be taken off as a result? Here in Kensal Green, one of our PCSOs is paid for through this scheme (Originally, we weren't going to get an extra PCSO, but this was changed after I raised it at a Forward Plan Committee, which may or may not have led to the change). Does that mean the Liberal Democrats will take away one of our local PCSOs for use elsewhere?

Secondly, what do the police think? PCSOs are under their operational command. Politicians, quite rightly can't order the police where to go or how to deploy their resources. Does the Borough Commander want to deploy them in this role rather than using his existing rapid response team of trained police officers? Would he prefer to use the PCSOs helping traffic enforcement in Harlesden Town Centre, say?

Have the Lib Dems bothered to ask him?

Dawn Butler Seconding the Queens Speech

Dawn Butler was asked to second the Queens Speech in November 2007, which you can see her doing here.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Pothole League Table

Those interested in the fascinating subject of potholes may be interested in this web site on the subject. Brent appears well down the league table of UK authorities for fixing potholes.

Dawn Butler Opening the Harmony Childrens Centre

Dawn Butler opening the Harmony Children Centre on Bridge Road in Stonebridge. Cildren Centres are one of the big success stories of the Labour government and an excellent reason to vote Labour.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Democracy in Brent

The final section of the Brent Labour Party manifesto is Democracy and Community Engagement. It says:

Membership of political parties and voter turnout in elections is at an all time low; the turnout in the last two general elections being the lowest since 1918.

This is a problem for local authorities as well as for central government and there are number of ways in which local authorities can enhance democratic renewal and take action both to involve local people more fully and to reduce the democratic deficit.

To further enhance local democracy, Labour will consider:

1. Televising council meetings and make the proceedings available to the public on the council’s website so that the public can see their elected representatives in action without having to visit the Town Hall;
2. Televising citizenship ceremonies;
3. Holding Scrutiny meetings in a variety of accessible venues across the borough and not just in the Town Hall in Wembley;
4. Allow the public to call in Executive decisions, as well as councillors
5. Extending Area Forums to one per ward to bring councillors closer to their constituents;
6. Giving backbenchers the right to ask questions at meetings of the Executive;
7. Consulting with other local authorities to seek further ideas on ways of enhancing democratic accountability.

Dawn Butler at John Keble School

Dawn Butler at a school assembly in the John Keble primary school. I imagine Dawn has visitied every primary and secondary school in Brent repeatedly. I chose this photo as it happens to be in Kensal Green.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Housing Pledges

On housing, the Brent Labour Party manifesto promises that:

Housing is one of the biggest issues facing Brent residents. There is a critical shortage of affordable housing and too much private rented housing is too expensive and poor quality.

A Labour Council will: -

· Work to secure more affordable rented housing.
· Ensure that a 50% affordable housing limit is retained in planning guidance, and that a high proportion of new housing consists of larger homes.
· seek funding from different sources for social housing on this basis. This will include Section 106 funding, and money from the Housing and Communities Agency
· Improve Brent’s current Private Sector Tenants’ housing services.
· Lobby the next government to retain the Mortgage Rescue scheme for home owners who get into difficulties
· Rigorously enforce planning policies to protect family housing through the prevention of unnecessary flat conversionsWork to ensure the long term future of Brent Housing Partnership, with tenants involved in its running.

Dawn Butler and Prime Minister Bruce Golding

Dawn Butler meeting Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Brent Cross and Navin Shah

I have been asked to draw attention to Navin Shah's comments on Boris Johnson's ever sensitive treatment of the public over Brent Cross.

Children and Families in Brent

Children and Families are the largest single section of the Brent Council budget , and our manifesto promises that:

A Labour Council will: -

· Increase the number of school places to meet the increasing demand and modernise our schools, using Building Schools for the Future and Primary Capital and Modernisation funds.
· Carry out an audit of schools to identify capacity and review geographical and faith schools demand. We regret the unnecessary delay by the current administration over building the new ARK School, which has caused numerous families needless anxiety.
· Build the planned new primary school in south Kilburn and a new secondary school in the south of the Borough.
· Tackle the under-performance in schools and ensure that every child regardless of socio-economic background is able to achieve his or her full potential. We will encourage homework clubs, study centres and mentoring projects.
· Ensure every child is prepared for school by providing language support and help for pupils who have fled from civil disorder
· Ensure every school has an effective anti-bullying policy countering all forms of prejudice
· Improve the quality of careers information and guidance for every Brent child and their parents to make curriculum choices for 14 – 16 year olds, making sure they have access to academic and skills programmes best suited to prepare them for further and higher education, training and jobs.
· Protect Surestart and increase family access to all 21 children’s centres for health, early learning and other services.
· Ensure that two and three year olds benefit from the free nursery education now on offer.
· Continue to follow best guidance on safeguarding children, including adequate resourcing, better community links and family intervention programmes where needed. We will promote cross party responsibility and consensus in Brent, especially for Child Protection and for corporate parenting of Looked after Children, an initiative we have started.
· Conduct an audit of facilities and projects for children and young people and we will make sure that every neighbourhood has safe places to play and adequate recreation and sports opportunities which are fully publicised. We will listen to young people and voluntary groups about the quality of activities and make improvements as appropriate
· Improve the accountability of schools for their budgets to safeguard against abuses. This is likely to include closer inspection by local authority officers and more transparent publication of the details of school budgets and the relationships of decision makers
· Ensure that schools offer a range of cultural activities, such as theatre visits, residential trips and places of worship showcasing different cultural traditions, which postcode disadvantaged children can get free, using the additional government pupil fund.
· Bid for a Free School Meal pilot, which the government is rolling out, to ensure that every child has a quality healthy daily meal, reducing obesity and helping concentration and learning.

Dawn Butler and Archbishop Nichols at the Swarminarayan Temple in Stonebridge

Here is a photo of Dawn Butler greeting England's Catholic Primate at the Swarminarayan Temple in Stonebridge.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Fairtrade in Brent

Brent Council is have a wine tasting to celebrate Fairtrade. It will also be an opportunity to ponder why Brent is still not a Fairtrade Borough despite the Liberal democrats promising to make it one.

Adult Social Services in Brent

Brent Labour promises that a Labour Council will: -

· Make a particular effort to help the blind and partially sighted. Subject to resources, this will include: working closely with Brent NHS, appointing a Deaf/Blind co-ordinator, establishing at least one sensory garden, a resource centre for the disabled, appointing Early Intervention officers, and to continue support for the Home Visiting Service, the Hospital Information Desk, clubs for the blind, children's services and information booklets.
· Introduce a fair charging policy for Adult Social Services.
· Continue to work in close partnership with the voluntary sector
· Promote the establishment of an Independent Living Centre.

Dawn Butler Opening the Unity Centre

This is Dawn Butler opening the Unity Centre in the Church End part of Harlesden. This used be an estate of terrible 1970s resiform housing that was damp, poorly insulated and falling apart. Like the Stonebridge estate, the area has now been transformed by the Labour government's investment.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Brent Council and Crime

Local authorities have limited authority over crime, but it still gets a section in the Brent Labour manifesto as follows:

A Labour Council will: -

· Provide more PCSOs and demand greater Council control over how and where they are used.
· Involve the wider public in the fight against gun crime.
· Continue to support the Not Another Drop campaign.
· Rigorously use powers to tackle anti social behaviour as part of a victim centred approach.
· Maintain Secure by Design considerations in planning policy.
· Work with local retailers to counter retail crime and anti social behaviour in shopping areas along similar lines to USDAW’s Freedom from Fear campaign.


Out dooknocking with Dawn Butler and others in Ranelagh Road at the weekend. At last the weather is less wintery. I hope it persists up to polling day.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Brent Labour: Regeneration and Culture

Here are Brent Labour Party promises on what Brent Council should do to improve regeneration and culture.

A Labour Council will: -

· Concentrate growth in five localities, where infrastructure is best able to sustain it. The Growth Areas are: Alperton, Church End, Colindale, South Kilburn and Wembley. We will continue to improve the infrastructure through section 106 funds (planning gain), or any other means, and to take advantage of regeneration grant opportunities when they become available.
· Use regeneration projects to enhance the skills base of Brent residents, supporting local employment and training wherever possible.
· Review proposals in the North Circular Road area to focus more on transport issues, such as improving the IKEA road junction to ensure residents’ wishes are respected. We will also examine improving links between the northern and southern parts of Tokyngton.
· Support Park Royal as an “Opportunity Area” by working with other partners to improve transport links. We will encourage local employers in Park Royal and elsewhere to employ and train more Brent residents. We will seek to improve the look of the estate, to make it a more attractive place to work.
· Work with Camden Council and other stakeholders to restore Kilburn High Road as a major shopping area.
· Promote sport and leisure. This includes using the Playbuilder scheme to improve facilities across the Borough, seeking resources to redevelop Bridge Park and looking into the best way to develop a swimming pool in the northern part of Brent
· Support the establishment of a Community Youth Theatre for Brent, following the successful initiative in the Harlesden area
· Establish an information interchange for voluntary and school arts groups to promote collaborative working and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort
· Support a wide range of community festivals across the Borough.
Brent is an Olympic destination and we will take advantage of this once in a life time opportunity to secure jobs, infrastructure improvements and tourism for the benefit of all the people of Brent. We will commission a study of the likely impacts and we will set up a web site specifically designed to attract international visitors to Brent’s many attractions.

Unfortunately, the announcement of the Crossrail/ High Speed rail link just south of Willesden Junction came too late to be incoporated in the manifesto drafting, but I am sure that will be of immense importance especially to Harlesden and Kensal Green.

Excessive Street Furniture

The Tory leaflet I posted on a few days ago has a reference to excessive street furniture. I wonder if they meant sights like this on Longstone Avenue:

Dawn Butler in St Mark's Church Hall, Kensal Green

Here is a picture of Dawn Butler in the Church Hall at St Mark's Church Kensal Green. The event was to commerate the abolition of the Slave Trade and was put on by the Brent Black Socialist Society.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Drab Councillors

You have heard of glum councillors, but Brent Tories want to give you a drab councillor. Specifically, Sylvia Drab, who will be standing for Dudden Hill ward.

Environment and Transport Promises

Here are the Brent Labour Party manifesto promises regarding Environment and Transport policies:

The Lib Dem / Tory charge for collecting dumped items (special collections) has never yielded the revenue hoped from it, and has led to more fly tipping and less recycling across the Borough. We will therefore abolish the Lib Dem /Tory £25 charge immediately.

We will also: -

· Increase kerbside recycling, originally introduced by Labour.
· Increase the ways in which the scope of recycling services can be extended in both materials and users.
· Introduce a voucher scheme to provide discounts at local shops for those who recycle a lot.
· Make Brent a Fairtrade Borough. We will maintain and extend the support we give to the Brent Fairtrade Network that we set up in 2001. This will include broadening the range of products that the Council buys, and being more pro-active in supporting other Fairtrade providers.
· Improve the Park Warden service that we re-introduced after the Tory cuts of the 1990s.
· Work with other local authorities and central government to change legislation to allow the Council to restrict the growth of betting shops in town centres and fast food outlets near schools.
· Conduct a systematic review of environmental issues relating to public transport areas, owned by Transport for London and railway companies and work with other stakeholders to secure improvements.
· Promote the use of re-useable bags, as a replacement for plastic ones. We will also look to take up other opportunities for waste minimisation as they arise.
· Convert the existing, and new, Controlled Parking Zones to a permit system based on the “polluter pays” principle. This means that vehicles that produce less greenhouse gases and other emissions pay less. The principle was introduced by Labour in its 1996-2006 administration but has since been neglected by the Lib Dem / Tory administration.
· Improve current parking arrangements in consultation with local residents.
· Institute a programme of pavements being reinforced to an adequate standard in order to minimise maintenance costs, where the Council allows vehicles to park on pavements. This will entail an audit of the relevant streets
· Review the Council’s own transport fleet of more than 100 vehicles, to see if they can be switched to alternative fuel use. Since much of the fleet needs to be replaced anyway, it should be possible to make such a transition relatively quickly.
· Provide new car clubs at Council sites, public sector partners and small businesses and use the Council’s publicity resources to promote them, including producing a Brent atlas showing car club sites.
· Use the planning system to encourage sustainable transport and traffic reduction.
· Seek to protect and enhance the Borough’s wildlife corridors and vacant land (such as trackside railway) for the benefit of greenery and wildlife.
· Work with neighbouring boroughs and Transport for London to provide new orbital transport links such as a tram link, light railway or extra bus links
· Address the public transport deficit in areas like Alperton, Stonebridge, Sudbury and Northwick Park.
· Work with water utilities and British Waterways to seek long term solutions to flooding and other water problems

Dawn Butler and Navin Shah in High Street Harlesden

Here is a picture of Dawn Butler and London Assembly Member Navin Shah as a street stall near Harlesden Jubilee Clock in the 2008 GLA election campaign.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Fryent and the BNP

I am sorry to see that the BNP are putting someone up in a Brent local election, for the first time in many years. Interestingly, although Richard Blackmore (the BNP candidate) lives on Leighton Gardens in Brondesbury, he has chosen to stand in Fryent ward, well away from his home.

Labour and the NHS

The Kings Fund has some useful information to counteract Sarah Teather's constant doom mongering about NHS spending. Contrary to what Ms Teather would have you believe, the NHS has had the largest spending increase in its history under the present Labour government.

More Utility Works

Yet more utility works are underway in Kensal Green. This time it is the gas people at the junction of Wrottesley Road and Harrow Road, NW10. They are supposed to finish by 19 April.

Bertha Joseph's Political Afterlife

I see the Tories are still referring to Bertha Joseph as a Conservative councillor in their literature despite her now standing against them. As you can see below:

Also interesting to see the reappearence of Jack Sayers, who has been controversial in the past.

Dawn Butler Meeting Barack Obama

This is a picture of Dawn Butler meeting Barack Obama during his visit to 10 Downing Street in the run up to the Presidential Election.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Brent Labour Spending Council Tax

I thought I would publish details of Brent Labour Party's election manifesto here, as it has not had the kind of publicity it deserves. It also contrasts with the other parties in Brent, who do not seem to have any plans of what they want to do should they control the Council. Here is the section of the Brent Labour manifesto regarding financial issues:

A Labour Council will: -

· Maintain a prudent and responsible regime of financial management.
· Keep Council Tax levels at or below the London average.
· Only deposit Council money in institutions, which are ‘Triple A’ rated by the Treasury.
· Introduce a discount on Council Tax payments in all eligible households headed by someone aged over 75.
· Rigorously enforce Council Tax collection to ensure that those expected to pay Council Tax do so.
· Keep the Benefits service in-house.
· Conduct an audit of Council contractors to examine how many people indirectly employed by the Council are earning the London Living Wage.
· Embrace the Labour government’s ‘Total Place’ initiative to ensure that public money is spent more efficiently.
· Review all council services to ensure continuous year on year improvement in front line services
· Review the four-year 'One Council Programme' and its attendant target of 'at least £50million' in efficiencies/cuts in services to ensure that front line services continue to improve

National Insurance and David Cameron

People don't seem to be remarking on David Cameron's abandonment of his early cuts position. Only a few months ago he argued, somewhat eccentricaly, that the best way to deal with a recession was to reduce government spending. As he found that position unpopular, he now appears to be going in completely the opposite direction over National Insurance. If he can abandon his beliefs that swiftly, can he reall be trusted?

Intimidation in Harlesden Town Centre

The Willesden Times reports on intimidation in Harlesden Town Centre. This is clearly wrong, and one of the things that Brent Labour is committed to if elected is to help by promoting USDAW's Freedom from Fear Campaign. I am glad to see the police taking it seriously.

Which is the Most Unpopular Liberal Democrat Policy?

As part of my clunking efforts to make this blog more interactive, I have added a poll on the most unpopular Liberal Democrat policies (on the sidebar to the right). Whish do you think is worst?

Means testing child benefit has been suggested by both Vince Cable and Nick Clegg as a means of reducing the deficit. "Savage Cuts" is what Nick Clegg promised the Guardian back in September last year. Restrictions on anti-social behaviour powers would have resulted had the Liberal Democrats actually won any of their votes in Parliament on this subject over the past decade. And once again, cutting back on tax credits is a Nick Clegg pledge.

What do you think?

Dawn Butler at the Fawood Childrens Centre

Gordon Brown's first official event as Prime Minister was to visit the Fawood Childrens Centre in Stonebridge, along with Harriet Harman and Ed Balls.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Brent Labour's Green Pledges

The Brent Labour Party manifesto has a series of specific pledges on environmental issues, which I think sets us apart from all the other parties in Brent which appear to have no manifesto at all for what they would like to do if they controlled Brent Council. Bizarrely, that includes the Green Party!

Anyway, here are the Labour pleadges for Brent:

Once elected a Labour Council will: -

· Immediately abolish the Liberal Democrat /Tory £25 charge bulky refuse, as it has led to more fly tipping and less recycling.
· Make Brent a Fairtrade Borough.
· Seek to ensure that Brent recycles 60% of its waste by 2014, as part of a move to a minimum waste strategy.
· Consider a voucher scheme to provide discounts at local shops for those who reduce their waste levels, as part of a fundamental review of waste management.
· Investigate cutting Brent Council’s carbon emissions by at least 25% by 2014, thus reversing the growth in carbon emissions seen since 2006/7.
· Extend and improve the park warden service that we re-introduced after the Tory cuts of the 1990s.
· Review the Council’s own transport fleet (more than 140 vehicles) to see if more can be switched to alternative fuel use.
· Consider a Brent based scheme for Low Emissions zones.
· Convert existing, and new, Controlled Parking Zones to a permit system based on the “polluter pays” principle. This means that vehicles that produce less greenhouse gases and other emissions pay less.
· Put pressure on public transport providers, such as Transport for London and Train Operating Companies, to improve the environment in and around areas under their control.
· Meet regularly with water utilities to enable better liaison for the public during pipe renewal work and to seek long term solutions to flooding and other water-related problems.
· Continue our long standing policy of protecting public parks and open spaces.

Rubbish in Tubbs Road

Out doorknocking in Tubbs Road yesterday, I came across another example of why the Tories and Lib Dems 25 pound charge is such a disaster. The resident I spoke to told me that it had been dumped there on Wednesday, and complained at length about how common dumping is in the Tubbs Road area.

Dawn Butler at the Mayhew Animal Home

Here is a picture of Dawn Butler at the Mayhew Animal Home (which is actually just outside Brent, in Trenmer Gardens).

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

What Will Brent Council Do Over the Next Four Years?

I thought I would use the run up to the local elections to post some thoughts on what Labour would do if we take over Brent Council after May. These are my own thoughts so they are not necessarily things that my Labour colleagues would agree with.

Obviously, the first thing to say is that the finanical situation is bound to be very tight, but we should not allow that to deter us from coming up with ideas.

Hung Parliament?

Not long before we know the General Election result, and I have no idea whether any of the election predictions are likely to be true.

If the Parliament is hung it will be bad for the economy, but also very awkward for the Queen. She may well be placed in a situation where she is making choices that are bound to be seen as political. As I understand it, the sitting Prime Minister can continue in office and attempt to form either a minority administration or a coalition. If he fails, he can then go to the Queen, resign and choose to give formal advice to the Queen to approach someone else to form an administration. This would effectively be binding for the Queen. Alternatively, he can not give her formal advice and just let her make her own decision. Most difficult of all would be if he asked for another Election and the Queen didn't want to give him one.

That would leave the constitutional lawyers trailing through precedentss not just in the UK but also the Commonwealth.

The most striking of these was in South Africa at the start of the Second World War. The existing Prime Minister did not want to declare war on Germany. Jan Christian Smuts led a faction to declare war alongside Britain, and won a vote in the South African Parliament. The Prime Minister requested a dissolution and the Governor General (who had similar powers to the Queen) said no, appointed Smuts as Prime Minister instead, and then declared war on Germany.

I find it pretty amazing that he was able to get away with that even in 1939. I am sure the Queen would have a lot of trouble refusing an election these days.

Dawn Butler and Gordon Brown

Here is a photo of Dawn Butler celebrating her selection as Labour's candidate in Brent Central with Gordon Brown.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Giraffe Heads

I had a meeting a few days ago about the giraffe heads that have gone missing from the Pentecostal Mission site at the corner of Scrubs Lane and Harrow Road. These were originally erected by Harlesden City Challenge, who commissioned them from Rebecca Nassauer. The idea was to provide a landmark feature to a gateway site into Harlesden.

They were stolen in 2009, and the church that now owns the site is not keen on replacing them. In fact they have applied for permission to remove any sculpture from that corner, although I think they might be willing to replace them with something else if pressed, possibly at another site.

Incidentally, is scrap metal really so valuable that it is worth stealing like this. The metal head on Harlesden Plaza was also removed, which must have taken a huge effort on the part of the thieves. I find it hard tto imagine how these thefts can be made to pay.

Dawn Butler at Wembley Stadium

Here Dawn Butler is visiting Wembley Stadium during its construction. Wembley Stadium is in Tokyngton ward not far from Dawn's home in Monks Park.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

More Tory Poster Parodies

More Tory poster parodies can be found here if you haven't seen them already. Surely the Conservatives could have thought of a better use for Lord Ashcroft's money than giving people such an obvious way to ridicule them?

Dawn Butler at the College of North West London (CNWL)

Here Dawn Butler is visiting the College of North West London (I think the one near Wembley Park Tube).

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Closing Parks

Barnet Council is apparently closing its parks this weekend. The reason is that Iranians might want to use them to celebrate an Iranian festival. What a strange reason for closing parks: that people might use them.

Given Cllr Mike Freer's ambition to be the Ryanair of local authorities, I would of thought he would merely be charging people more. Presumably, the good residents of Barnet who have been convinced by the Conservative ideology will now expect a Council Tax discount for the period when they would not allowed to use their local parks.

Harshadbhai Patel and the North Circular Road

Harshi Patel has finally managed to produce a leaflet in Brent North. I think it is his first despite still only being weeks away from polling day.

One pledge that puzzled me is his promise to "speed up traffic on the North Circular Road." Firstly, it is not obvious what changes could be made to the road to speed up traffic. It doesn't have any traffic calming measures in the Brent stretch that I can see. Whatever problems there are are caused by the sheer volume of vehicles. Secondly, does he not think safety should be a consideration? Only a short while ago, a boy was killed at the junction close to IKEA. Would Harshi's plans make such accidents more or less likely?

Sarah Teather's Legal Threat

Sarah Teather issued another legal threat some days ago. Legal threats seem to be becoming increasingly common in Brent politics. For several years, we got none that I recall. More recently, Bertha Joseph tried to persuade Boris Johnson that the Labour Party had put out something defamatory about her. As far as I know, She hasn't actually made any communication with the Labour Party about it, so I take it that it is just bluster on her part. Convicted fraudster, "Countess" Mariaska Romanov made all kinds of threats before her current residence in Brixton, but nothing came of them. Another convicted fraudster, and once associate of Bertha Joseph, also liked to dish out legal threats. Tory Troll gives an example here. Even this blog got a legal threat, from Atiq Malik, although that too seems to have faded away.

The danger of all this legal stuff is partly intimidatory. Legitimate freedom of speech could be restricted by self censorship. But it is also a distraction from the real political issues.

The stuff that Sarah Teather does that really worries me is in the public domain. I mean the effect of Liberal Democrat policies. Some of the Brent specific ones are summarised here. There are also lots of national ones: the hostility to tackling anti-social behaviour, the soft approach to drug crime, the soft approach on gun and knife crime, the promotion of pornography, means testing child benefit, cutting tax credits, whatever other "savage cuts" the Liberal Democrats support. All these matter far more than Nick Clegg exploiting the expenses system for the maximum or near maximum allowable amount, unedifying as that may be.

(In fairness, I should point out that Mr Clegg has now repaid some of his expenses claims, for example for international phone calls.)

Dawn Butler and Stonebridge Housing

This picture of Dawn Butler with Cllr Ann John in Stonebridge shows you how the area has been transformed during the term of the Labour government.

The old style blocks behind Ann show you how the Stonebridge Estate used to look. The blocks effectively designed in crime, had lots of stacking problems and were poorly insulated. The newer build which you can see behind Dawn has none of these problems. The photo itse3lf is taken from the top of the Stonebridge Precinct, which has since been demolished, along with almost all of the old Stonebridge.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Lib Dems: Natural Tory Allies

Although many think of the Liberal Democrats as leftwing, it occurs to me that they are actually natural Tory allies, as indeed are a number of the extreme left parties. The reason is that they compete with Labour for votes so we are their main rivals. The Tories don't threaten them in the same way. Hence, you can always rely on them to attack Labour and usually to put the Tories in power, a thought that anyone thinking about a hung Parliament might do well to ponder.

Dawn Butler and Jesse Jackson

Here is a picture of Dawn Butler and friends meeting Jesse Jackson during his visit to Stonebridge.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Dawn Butler and Ken Livingstone

For those disappointed not to get their daily Dawn Butler photo, here is what I think is a very nice portrait of Dawn Butler with Ken Livingstone.

Bertha Joseph Disowned

Tory Troll reports that Bertha Joseph will not be standing as a Conservative candidate in May, along with a rather rich comment from would be leader John Detre that she had been "hounded out" by the Labour Party. I think it would be fairer to say that she has been destroyed by her own reckless greed and John Detre and his Tory colleagues have been shamed into withdrawing their support by public pressure.