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Friday, 30 November 2012

The Hardy Ash Tree

A little while ago I was in St Pancras churchyard, where there is something called the Hardy ash tree. When Thomas Hardy, the novelist, was a young man he was employed to clear part of the churchyard to make way for the new railway.  The gravestones were taken together and placed around the eponymous ash tree.  The Internet has lot of photos such as these.

The effect is a poignant memorial to death, rather more affecting than most modern art I have seen.  Of course, if the tree suffers from ash dieback, it will add another layer to the story.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Centralised Education

Simon Jenkins has a well directed tilt at over centralisation in education here.  I understand that the department of Education, having almost abolished local eduction authorities, is now considering constructing a middle tier between themselves and schools.  Apparently, they have realised that there are too many schools in England to be run centrally.  Perhaps the middle tier might be known as local education authorities?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Tough Times for Councils

The Audit Commission has published a report showing just how bad the financial situation is for local Councils.

I suppose the first point to note is the unfairness.  The government has concentrated the cuts on the poorest areas, in London and the north of England.  The most deprived areas of England saw a cut of just over 14%, compared to a bit over 4% in the richest areas.  The poorer areas tend to be more dependent on central government grant, making the impact even worse as it accounts for a greater share of the spending.  I don't believe it is coincidental that the worst hit areas tend to be Labour.

Administratively, the Councils have been fairly successful in holding together, but over time it will get worse and worse.  As time goes on, future savings will become more and more dependent on shared services and partnerships that are inherently harder to deliver.  The Audit Commission regard more than a tenth of Councils not to be "well placed" to cope with next year, let alone the longer term.

I wonder what Eric Pickles will do when some start to just collapse?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Library Musings

One of the things that distresses many municipal librarians is that the general image of their role is so outdated.  It is a little like education in that many people seem to feel that the way they remember things working in their childhood is the only "real" way in which they can work.  In fact, like anything else, libraries evolve all the time.  It is quite possible that modern technological developments are making them change faster now than they have for decades, but some kind of change is inherent in any living service.

An idea of how extensive these changes can be can be found on this website.  Some of it is about good architectural practice; some the impact of radio frequency identification technology (RFID), 3D printing, ereaders of various kinds and so on.

The frustrating thing is that the political debate really just hasn't caught up with any of this at all.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Krugman Compares

I greatly admire Paul Krugman and his works.  The Nobel Prize is a bit of a distraction. The important thing is the intellectual rigour and honesty. Both of these are important, and probably linked.  In two recent posts he compares the USA and the UK (here) and rigour.  What worries me is how few people listen to these messages.

Building More Housing

A summary of the case for building more housing can be found here.  The failure to supply adequate housing in this country is one of the great political tragedies of the past thirty years.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Sarah Teather No Longer Credible

I see that Sarah Teather is denying rumours that she plans to defect.  She refers to the people suggesting this as "twits", but is it so odd people believe this?  After all she hardly has a rock solid record of principle does she?  She has back tracked on lots of things,; I suppose tuition fees would be the biggest example, although one might choose economic policy.  I suppose in personal terms her biggest betrayal would be sticking the knife into Charles Kennedy.

She always seems to be motivated by whatever pleases people at that moment. Hence she always demanded more spending.

She has recently lost her ministerial job, no doubt as a result of some back room deal.  Since then she has suddenly decided the government is immoral, after defending it thoroughly before.  Is it any wonder no one trusts her?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Acton Lane Cleaning

At the recent KG residents meeting, an issue was raised around blocked gullies in Acton Lane.  Cllr Lincoln Beswick and I have both raised this with Brent Council's Transport department, and I understand the blocked gullies have now been cleared.

London Ambulance Services

My Labour colleague makes the excellent point that, in the publicity surrounding hospital services, the vital ambulance service is being overlooked.  The speed at which paramedics can reach you is often a vital part of ensuring your survival.  Yet the ambulance service in London is facing cuts despite David Cameron's promises to protect health spending.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Croydon North by election

I spent today In Croydon North, where Steve Reed is standing.  Steve is well known in London local government as a former Council Leader. He should make a really good MP.

Eric Pickles Blusters

Eric Pickles is once again blustering about weekly bin collections.  I am surprised that the Guardian fails to point out that hardly anyone is trying to use his vaunted £250 million fund to restore bin collections because it is well known that they are ineffective in increasing recycling.  The five year timescale also means that that scheme isn't really long enough to merit a new contract.  However, Mr Pickles continues to repeat his obsession.  I don't think he believes it himself any more.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Ash Tree Dieback in Brent

People have been asking me about Ash tree dieback.  This has yet to reach Brent, although as the spores are airborne, I imagine it will only be a matter of time.

Brent has about 7 or 8 hundred street trees that are Ash, and an unclear number of ash trees in our parks.  Unfortunately, there is currently no known treatment for the dieback disease, which has wiped out most of the Ash trees in the countries where it has struck.

It is therefore fair to say that the outlook is gloomy.

Your Square Mile

What amounts to an obituary for David Cameron's Big Society can be read here.  What is more interesting are the suggestions in the piece about enriching communities. Despite the discrediting of volunteering by the inadequacies of the Big Society, this kind of thing is still needed. Perhaps it is needed all the more as a result of the policies of the present government.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Kensal Green Residents Meeting

I felt the ward working meeting of Kensal Green residents last night went very well.  We had a much better turnout than we expected at the back of Casa Nossa on Park Parade, and the atmosphere struck me as very positive so let's hope we can move things forward.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Council Last Night

Brent Council managed a very low quality debate on the budget last night.  Perhaps the most interesting feature of a dreary night was a complete absence of Sarah Teather's "immoral" attack line on the present government's course.  Indeed none of the liberal Democrats mentioned the forthcoming burdens in housing benefit, universial benefit or council tax support that Ms Teather's argued would lead to a "Jarrow March in reverse" only on Sunday.  Does this show a waning of influence even in her own party, or a deliberate distancing.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Barham Park Trust Committee

Full Council meets this evening.  One of the items is the changes to the Council's constitution necessary to follow up the proposals on the Barham Park Trust outlined at the last Executive.   To recap, Barham Park was bequeathed to the Council in the 1930s as a charitable trust.  The Executive are given decision making powers as Trustee. This means that their decisions about the Park are made solely with regard to the objectives of the Trust, rather than as part of the Council's overall strategy.  The position is analogous to my position on West London Waste, where I am required to follow the interests of West London Waste rather than those of Brent Council.  In both cases, however, the interests of the different bodies (WLWA and Brent Council or the Barham Park Trust and Brent Council) are likely to be reasonably closely aligned.  However, it certainly is administratively neat to have a specific sub-committee for the Barham Park Trust to further emphasise that the requirements of the Trust are not necessarily those of Brent Council.

Brent Libraries and Emagazines

One of the most striking findings of the Libraries Transformation Project was that more than 50% of respondents used the library to access periodicals.  I was very surprised that the proportion was so high.

Brent Libraries is now integrating this element into its electronic offering by allowing people access to 41 titles electronically.  As with ebooks, we have constraints as to which titles can be made available. The format is compatible with iPhones, iPads, Windows and various tablets.

You can learn more about Brent Council's online library resources here.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sarah Teather Discovers Morality

Sarah Teather is interviewed by The Observer and claims to have discovered an interest in the immorality of the government's welfare reforms.  How curious that this interest should only emerge after her sacking as a government minister.  She is presumably hoping that words of sympathy for the victims of the government she continues to support will help her to save her seat at the next election.

Somerset Shows the Way of the Future

A Council in Somerset has questioned its own long term viability.  We are likely to see more and more of this as the "graph of doom" moves forward.  At some point even the government will have to notice.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Housing and Hypocrisy

Red Brick relates the sad tale of government hypocrisy with regard to homelessness.  Government cynically set standards that they know their own policies make it impossible to meet.  It is now inevitable that large numbers of people will face upheaval as they are forced out of London.

What happens next? The way I imagine it, large numbers of people get dumped in the poorer parts of the UK.  As these parts have fewer jobs available, they are more likely to get trapped in a cycle of poverty and benefit dependency, the opposite of what the government says it intends.  Poverty also tends to encourage greater use of many public services, putting those services under greater strain. This is likely to lead to resentment among the indigenous population, and social conflict including violence which no doubt the ministers will condemn.

Meanwhile, London will see parts of its population unable to afford decent housing, but unwilling to move out to part of the country where it will be impossible to earn a living. This will encourage a black economy of overcrowded housing with probably extremely poor standards in terms of building controls, fire safety and so on.  The problems of overcrowding will also encourage wider effects such as declining educational standards, poorer health and so on.  This will create more problems within London's public services.

These possibilities must have occurred to government ministers. One assumes they simply don't care.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Liberal Democrats Against Libraries

I see that, over in Islington, a Liberal Democrat councillor is complaining bitterly at the refurbishment of a library by Islington's Labour administration.

The situation is not unique. In Brent none other than the Liberal Democrat leader on Brent Council, Cllr Paul Lorber, has objected to investment in Kilburn Library.  Specifically, at the Forward Plan Committee in May 2011, he suggested that we should have closed Kilburn Library in Salusbury Road and left Local residents to rely on Camden's facilities instead.

Martin Francis on Brent Civic Centre Again

I assume picking up on this post, Martin Francis of the Brent Green Party seems upset that I suggested that Brent Greens were reactionary and not very interested in climate change issues.

Commenting on the Civic Centre, he goes on to suggest that, for him,  "how green it may be is not the main issue".  That was what I was pointing out as counterintuitive.  Most people would expect that anyone describing themselves as green would consider the environmental effect of the Civic Centre as the main issue.

I have pointed out before that the new Civic Centre building will be one of the greenest in the UK. Indeed it is the main hitter Brent Council has in reducing its own carbon emissions, and improving its property estate in other beneficial ways, such as water conservation.  In doing so, it also enables Brent Council to credibly go to other partners and argue for them to improve their environmental performance as well.

Martin's response appears to be to argue that a new building must have greater effect on carbon emissions than retrofitting a series of old ones.  There is no evidence for this , and plenty against.  The Civic Centre, as I have observed before, has specific measures to limit the carbon emissions of building by local sourcing and innovative building techniques, which are a key part of the BREEAM accreditation.

A fuller record of the environmental benefits of the Civic Centre can be found here, for those who do consider it the main issue.

For those who think environmental issues a bit passé, there are a wide range of other benefits. Again I have described these before.

The one that engages Martin is the direct financial cost, seeing that in its narrowest sense.  The net reduction in costs to the Council is of the order of £3 or £4 million every year.  That is the savings minus the cost.

One could also look at the wider outlook of course.  Ed Balls has argued plausibly that the present government cut too far and too fast.  I have long held this view, that in a recession the UK and other economies needed to boost demand through fiscal expansion rather than George Osborne's programme of fiscal contraction.

There is a legitimate argument about how best to do that, with many people critical of simply increasing consumption.  However, most people agree that investing in public infrastructure is exactly what we should be doing, most noticeably in housing. Borrowing costs are low, so the direct cost to the taxpayer (not counting the benefits of keeping people and firms employed rather than idle) would be maximised. Construction costs are currently relatively low, although if a macroeconomic policy of boosting the construction sector worked, that might reverse.

Cancelling infrastructure spending is in fact what the government has been doing, which brings us back to Martin, who feels that the Civic Centre might not be "necessary" or "desirable" in an "era of austerity".  We therefore have the bizarre spectacle of Martin, who I am sure considers himself a man of the Left, supporting cuts in infrastructure spending on the same lines as George Osborne!

That makes Martin reactionary not just in a general sense, but also in the quite specific one of supporting George Osborne's austerity policy, even as Osborne himself sidles away in view of the mounting evidence of failure.


Martin has replied below whilst apparently missing my main points. Firstly, environmental benefits are not a useful add on for good times; they are essential, as one might expect a Green Party candidate to know.  Second, the Civic Centre actually saves us money to the tune of £3 or £4 million a year.  Not going ahead with the Civic Centre would have meant £3 or £4 million cuts in public services on top of what the government has imposed on us. Finally, the Civic Centre is a good example of how we can use procurement by public bodies to re-orientate towards a less carbon intensive economy, and that is a long term route to better living standards.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Barnet Losing its Marbles

Barnet has a continuing series of complaints all around misgovernance of various kinds.  Given this record, I am not surprised at the disquiet around large scale outsourcing. Major outsourcing needs central services in procurement, clienting, legal advice and maybe even communications to dramatically up their game rather than reduce it. Barnet seem to just have a vague assumption that outsourcing costs less so it must be the way to go.

Public library User Survey

People can access the Public Library User Survey forms from Brent Library service at the moment.  This is a national survey designed to find out more about user attitudes and needs.  It's predecessors helped inform our own Libraries Transformation Project.

Climate Change Gloom

Looking beyond Brent, the Economist has some gloomy thoughts on climate change.  It suggests that the world is unlikely to adopt measures to stop global warming at a two degree rise, which itself would be fairly disastrous.  It also suggests the USA's commitment to limiting climate change is likely to diminish.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Happy Diwali

The Economist wishes us Happy Diwali with a quick reminder of the links between European and Indian languages here.

Willesden Junction Station Approach Details

Harlesden town website provides more detail on the Station Approach proposals at Willesden Junction.

Automatic Library Membership

Good to see today the announcement by the Arts Council has up that Brent has one of a number of projects promoting library usage among school children.  The constant budget hits are deterring many authorities from new initiatives, but I am proud that Brent is still going forward with innovations.

What Interests People Politically?

UKpollingreport has an interesting post on what people pay attention to in politics.  Much of the time the answer appears to be not much.  Many people simply aren't interested most of the time. There also appears to be a bias towards paying attention to the picturesque, such as "pleb gate", rather than the more important but less easy to grasp, such as the utter failure of the government's economic policy.

I would add that small local issues can be very important but the effect if often extremely localised.  Out door knocking in recent weeks, I found a lot of different interests in different parts of Kensal Green. Napier Road residents were interested in their seven day parking zone, which was of no interest to people living on Springwell Avenue.  Springwell Avenue residents were more excited by the local littering and environmental problems around Park Parade. Similarly residents in High Street Harlesden have lots of concerns about the noise nuisance from the nearby bars.  In other words, the residents are concerned by things that impact upon them directly; much less by important issues that seem more abstract.

Cuts for Labour Councils rather than Tory Councils

The Guardian tells us what most of us already knew today.  The Tory and Liberal Democrat cuts have been deliberately skewed to hit Labour, and poorer, areas harder than Tory (and richer) areas.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Costs of Legal Action

The recent Birmingham experience underlines the importance of local authorities getting the legal things right.  Birmingham now have a bill of hundreds of millions that it will take twenty years to repay.  The repayments will have to come from money that would otherwise have funded public services.

Of course, before, we sympathise to much with the Council and the taxpayers, we should remember that the women who claimed were entitled to equal pay, and whoever (probably long ago) failed to pay them properly did them a serious injustice.

Brent Council Executive Disrupted

Last night the Brent Council Executive was disrupted and had to decamp to another part of the building.  This is becoming routine.  What is appalling is that the two police officers present simply stood there and made no effort to intervene.

Once we reassembled downstairs we went through the business on the agenda.  I had three reports.  The first was a brief update on the public realm contract". This is to replace our current contract with Veolia, which will also include grounds maintenance.  We had been hoping for joint working with two other Boroughs.  Unfortunately, Barnet and Hounslow have now dropped out.

We also had a short report on the possible resale of the dry recyclable that people put in their blue top bins, and to declare Masons Field (an area at the northern end of Fryent Country Park) as a nature reserve.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Changes at Furness Pocket Park

On Saturday, I gathered with Cllr Bobby Thomas, some officers and a couple of residents to consider what could be done to brighten up Furness Pocket Park.  It doesn't look likely that much will be possible this financial year, although some bulb and hedgerow planting is possible. Longer term, it would be good to improve the boundary treatment on to Furness Road.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Buildings and Carbon Emissions

Comments on the brief post I did on Willesden Green Library Centre argue that retrofitting an old building must be more carbon efficient than building a new one.  I have never seen any evidence for that assertion.

Given the sheer number of older buildings in the UK, effective retrofitting is clearly going to be an important set of techniques to develop.  However, raising an old building to the kind of performance one sees in a completely new one may well be impossible.  If we look at the refurbishment of Kilburn Library as an example, we find inherent obstacles.  Kilburn Library is a Victorian building and the Victorians did not build walls with cavity insulation.  The revitalised building now has more efficient lighting and heating, which both can be put in an old shell, but I find it harder to imagine how one could use some modern techniques, such as an extensive system of grey water harvesting for instance.  With a new building, the entire edifice can be designed to minimise the use of mechanical heating and ventilation.  There is also the question of expense, which in the case of Kilburn Library made installing double glazing prohibitive.  Finally, an old building in a conservation area, such as the Kilburn Library, is subject to various planning restrictions which can inhibit certain techniques.  I remember back in 2010, there were a number of issues with the use of passivhaus techniques in a property in Mapesbury.

The "you can't have new buildings" argument is one most associated with Brent Green Party in their struggle to denigrate Brent's new civic centre.  To me, it seems that the Brent Greens are taking an ultra conservative approach, and that they don't seem to care about the carbon emissions performance at all.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Yesterday at the Amber Grill

Yesterday, I was down at Station Road, where TfL had asked for a short event to celebrate the makeover of Station Road as part of the Harlesden Town Centre development.  Afterward, we repaired to the Amber Grill (any carnivores who haven't been there will find it a treat, although it is not so great for vegetarians).  I had a number of concerns expressed about the proposed Harlesden waste plant to the south and the effect of traffic movements and so on.  Let us hope that Ealing Planning follow our concerns. Brent Planning, myself and many others have written to object.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Missed Library Opportunity

Having now read the House of Commons Select Committee Report on libraries, I must say I find it disappointing.  Given that the ebook lending review is underway, perhaps it would be too much to expect the MPs to try to pre-empt it, but some greater awareness of the ebook issue would be welcome.  Inparticular, the 1964 definition of comprehensive and efficient is crying out for updating to include electronic media.  Many of the witnesses to the committee appear to have emphasised the importance of internet use at libraries, yet it doesn't come across in the report.  A missed chance to modernise libraries. 

The views of a number of library campaigners are summarised on public libraries news.   I think Alan Gibbons is right in saying that many of them probably had unreasonable expections of what the Committee was likely to produce, but I think it could and should have produced an attempt to update the definition of what a comprehensive and efficient library service is, and especially that it covers electronic information as well as printed materials.  Without the definition being widened for the modern age, the library service will slowly slide away.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

South Kilburn Developments

A rather hurried photo I took of the flats demolition now underway in South Kilburn, that I took from the Watford to Euston line.  These buildings are close to Kilburn High Road.  It is a great relief that the redevelopment of South Kilburn is finally underway despite the economic crisis.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Review of Past Six Months

It is time to do another of my reviews of the past six months, starting with waste and recycling.  The new recycling system appears to have confounded its critics, and led to a substantial improvement in recycling.  This saves the Council money, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and appeals to most people as a more rational use of resources.  Of course, there is still ongoing work in terms of getting landlords to educate their their tenants better, cracking down on trade waste and dealing with house of multiple occupation in particular.  One of the big projects for the next six months is to start designing a new contract for waste, street cleaning and grounds maintenance.  This will replace the current contract held by Veolia, which runs out on 31 March 2014.  That may sound a long way away, but the procurement timetable is actually quite tight.

Ancillary to this Is a whole saga around the doings of the West London Waste Authority.  However, as with the giant rat of Sumatra, this is a tale for which the world is not yet prepared.

We also had the Olympics, which passed off without any major hitches.  This is easy to take for granted, but the complexities of maintaining the Borough's day to day operations were really quite complicated.  Things like cleaning, rubbish disposal, keeping transport flowing needed a lot of planning.  There will also have to be a lot of follow up work in services like Trading Standards, and of course the sports service.

The third controversial issue of the past six months was the final implementation of the Libraries Transformation Project.  Although the old buildings were closed in October 2011, we only got full access to the bookstock in late May, and the various strands of the project have only really started to come into their own during the past six months.  These include:  the Summer Reading Challenge, the Kilburn Library refurbishmenthome delivery improvements, the school library card scheme, free legal advice, homework clubs, our first artist in residence scheme, online courses and so on.  It will be interesting to see how the success of our service compares to authorities that have gone down different avenues.

We have also seen lots of progress on less high profile issues.  Falling carbon emissions is perhaps the most obvious, especially given the recent experience with Hurricane Sandy.  Gearing up for the move to the Civic Centre is probably helping us achieve this.  We have also seen the Dollis Hill House saga finally end, a new food growing strategy, a minor variation in leaflet regulation that led to accusations that I was Stalinist, progress on animal welfare in Brent, the start of work on a new park in Chalkhill and the approval of outdoor gym equipment in some Brent parks. 

In the ward, there have been a number of issues.  These include the installation of artwork in Hazel Road Open Space, improvements to Station Approach (at last), the successful resolution of another longstanding issue at the former Willesden Social Club, progress on The Green Man, further work on the redevelopment of Harlesden Town Centre (especially dealing with the waste and street cleaning issues), and road safety improvements at Princess Frederica School.  Best of all, we have the opening of the Roundwood Youth Centre, that almost didn't happen as a result of the Tory/Liberal Democrat government. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Fireworks at Roundwood Park

Congratulations to Brent officers for the fireworks last night. I understand something like 15 or 16 thousand people attended. Despite the austerity visited on us by George Osborne, it is important to celebrate places like Roundwood Park.

Green Man Revisited

Some time ago the Green Man in Harlesden High Street was given permission for a redevelopment.  In fact this was to rectify illegal alterations that had already taken place.  So far, nothing appears to have been done to implement the planning permission, so I have checked with the Planning Department who are writing to the owner to chase him up.  Obviously, if he doesn't implement the changes he has agreed to, he will be subject to enforcement action.

Commons Select Committee Report on Libraries

The House of Commons DCMS Select Committee has now published on its report on libraries.  I haven't had a chance to read it, still less digest it yet, but I shall be interested on the MPs take on the issues.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Outreach and Colocation

Co-location is something of a buzzword in public libraries.  This is generally taken as keeping a traditional library in a building alongside other services, such as Council advice.  The theme has actually been around a long time, with the Willesden Library Centre being Brent's best known (if poorly executed) example.

However, I think this idea needs to change from bringing other services into a library building to bringing library services out to other buildings.  This is more or less what has been happening with Brent's outreach service (which now lends more books than Harlesden Library).  Over the past two quarters, the outreach service has gone to 77 locations away from Brent's traditional library buildings.  These have sometimes been aimed at attracting different audiences and sometimes giving better geographical coverage.  Thus we had library stalls at the Olympic celebrations as one-offs, but also had a book collection in one of the Salusbury Road coffee shops during the Kilburn Library refurbishment.  Customers who might not normally interact with the library service might come across it as they went for a coffee, which is a reversal of the usual model of adding a coffee shop on to a library.  Geographically we have used outreach to get to parts of the Borough that have never had their own services.  For instance, library outreach has occurred in a children's centre on the St Raphael's estate, which has never previously had a library, and is fairly hard for people to travel from.

Another aspect of this mixing is the use of library buildings on a temporary basis, as happened during Brent Dance month, when Brent libraries were used for hosting dance events that possibly draw people into Brent libraries who may never have used them before.

Co-location in this sense is a much more fluid and changeable concept than is generally recognised.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Carbon Emissions at Willesden Green Library Centre

I have recently seen a study of carbon emissions at the existing Willesden Green Library Centre (by this I mean the 1980s building).  They are dire. They meet a pass mark under BREEAM, but that is it.  A new building reaching BREEAM Excellent status is bound to be a massive improvement in climate change terms.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Cllr Mike Pavey Website

Cllr Michael Pavey is the latest Brent Labour Councillor to add a website, which you can see here.  Cllr Pavey was elected in May for Barnhill ward, following the resignation of Cllr Judy Beckman.  I have a list of Labour councillors from Brent on the sidebar. Oddly, I don't know of any Tory or Liberal Democrat councillors with a site. Is that not odd in this day and age?

Roundwood Youth Centre

Here is Roundwood Youth Centre in all its modernist glory.  More pictures are available on the architect web site

Friday, 2 November 2012

Objecting to the Harlesden Waste Plant

Having gone into more detail on the proposed waste plant to the south of Harlesden, I have now written to Ealing Planners objecting to the plans.  The objections that I consider valid on planning grounds are:

I) the proposal ignores zoning of waste activities outlined in the West London Waste Plan
2) the proposal claims reduced vehicle movements, but this is very implausible, and Harlesden Town Centre suffers from this to an extreme in any case
3) there are significant odour pollution issues that are not clearly deat with
4) there are also noise pollution issues yet to be addressed
5) air quality is likely to suffer.

I encourage all other  Kensal Green and Harlesden residents to object.  The Ealing officer responsible is Peter Lee at

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Brian Coleman Condemns Outsourcing at Barnet Council

The colourful nature of Barnet's local politics amazes me.  Here we see recently suspended Tory politician and controversialist condemning his own Council's outsourcing policy. It takes quite some chutzpah to condemn the driving impetus of your own administration, and simultaneously to pretend that the Tory Party has never supported outsourcing.  I doubt whether even Mitt Romney could manage that kind of amnesia.

Roundwood Youth Centre Opens

Roundwood Youth Centre finally opens today, after a £5 million rebuild.  The rebuild almost never happened as the Tory government froze the spending grant as soon as it took office.  This was in line with many of the unwise austerity measures put in by George Osborne, who has concentrated the cuts on infrastructure spending that everyone but him knows is economically beneficial.  Happily the project was restarted, and is finally complete.