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Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Water Leak on Wrottesley Road

I have just reported a major water leak on Wrottesley Road outside the Law Medical Group practice.  I had hoped these things were now in the past.

Willesden Library Rebuild Under Way

I am glad to see that the demolition of Willesden Library Centre is now well under way.  The new centre is timetabled to open in early 2015 with performance spaces that actually have sufficent sound proofing to be useable, an enlarged library with a cafe and the return of the Brent Museum.

Once the library is finished, we will have achieved the six excellent libraries that were the centrepiece of the Libraries Transformation project we embarked on in 2011.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

More Thoughts on Border Agency Goons

Thinking more about the appearance of border agency goons at Kensal Green Tube today, I think it must be part of a concerted campaign by Lynton Crosby (an immigrant himself of course).  I also note that the goons were apparently operating within the confines of Kensal Green Station in which case it must be with TfL's permission.  Was Boris Johnson involved I wonder?

Border Agency Goons at Kensal Green

Not content with sending lorries around Brent promoting racism, I gather that David Cameron's government sent some Border Agency goons down to Kensal Green station this morning to stop people as they tried to get in.  Apparently they ignored white people and stopped non-white people.  Clearly, Lynton Crosby has decided that promoting hostility to immigrants and non white people in general is the way to get votes.

Censorship in a Library

I was interested to read, via Public Libraries News, this short tale on modern censorship.  It is striking that lots of people got angry about the "censorship" but only expressed the anger through social media comments rather than attempting to directly engage the politics of the institution.  It sounds as if the commenting was just letting off steam, rather than an instrumental act to change the problem.

More on Transport Policy and Air Quality

Following yesterday's post around the civic centre and Wembley transport arrangements, I looked up the air quality report from May last year.  It shows the decline in pollution levels in Brent under section 3.1.9; the lighter the area on the map, the less pollution there is.  While the map refers to NOx, these should also be a good proxy for reducing CO2 and PM10s as well.  It also specifically says:
  1. "Implementation of emissions based car parking charges and car free housing development in areas with high Public Transport Accessibility Levels like Wembley and Harlesden have contributed to the reduction of NO2 levels." 

Monday, 29 July 2013

A Return to Snagging at the Civic Centre

My recent post on Civic Centre snagging drew an impassioned anonymous comment.  I agree that the Melting Pot should sell tap water, and I am sorry that the ladies lavatories have been breaking down, but both of those sound quite sortable issues.  The other point is that very few people are going to drive to the Civic Centre, and that is not going to change.

When the rebuilt Wembley Stadium was being designed fifteen years ago, the planners correctly pointed out that it would have to be a public transport venue.  In other words, traffic would have to be managed so that the vast majority of people came to a match by means other than the car.  If you try to imagine what traffic in Wembley would be like if 80,000 all travelled by car to a kick off, I think it is obvious that the Stadium would simply not be able to function.

This is also true of the area as a whole. Urban areas simply have to shift their transport provision from cars to other forms of transport on grounds of traffic congestion alone. There simply is no space for everyone to come by car.  That is recognised in national, regional and Borough transport planning.

It is recognised in the design of the Civic Centre, which of course had to obey the above planning restrictions.  The Centre has about 150 spaces, and will have about 2,000 employees in it when full.  Therefore only a vast majority of those coming to the Civic Centre will have to come to the Civic Centre via the Tube or other means.

There are other good reasons why this has to be so.   Transport emissions are one of the main sources of pollution in urban areas.  When I asked why air quality had improved over the past few years! I was told that it was largely down to transport improvements.  Better air quality results in fewer people dying of various diseases.  There is also the argument around climate change, where cars contribute to carbon emissions.  The urgency of these problems mean that our whole society has to shift away from car dependency and fast.

Shifting from a way of life that is so deeply entrenched is not easy, but it is possible and we have to do it.


A second impassioned comment appears below. The author obviously feels strongly, although the anonymity makes it difficult to see where she is coming from.  I return to the issue I addressed: urban centres have increasing traffic (journeys). Continuing the same proportion of such journeys by car is literally impossible. Therefore, public authorities have to get people to accept travelling by other means.

The author suggests that pedestrian movement is currently unacceptable to her. Her description suggests it would be unacceptable to anyone else, although many people do actually travel by such means every day all over London.  The solution to such problems is not to provide a more isolated form of transport for a select few, but to deal with the problems highlighted.  For instance if non car users are subject to fear of crime or road safety issues, we need to tackle those issues.  Putting everyone into cars simply can't be done.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Decay of the Big Society

The Guardian confirms that the charity sector is in trouble.  Many of the problems are reminiscent of local government, and indeed tied to the decking budgets of Councils.  Aside from there simply being less money, procurement is being tightened across the sector, and many organisations don't have the skills to beat bigger rivals in bidding for contracts.  I doubt whether Mr Cameron gave the slightest thought to this when he embarked on the austerity agenda.

The second feature I recognise is the Tory prejudice that anyone other than the private sector must be a mediocrity, and private companies are always better and cheaper.  This prejudice is maintained even after numerous private sector failures.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Local Welfare Assistence Schemes

A recent comment by the LGiU into local assistence schemes suggests that most authorities are not making loans in their schemes but merely crisis payments.  This is certainly the approach in Brent. When the DWP had a national scheme, they could recover loans by docking future benefit payments. Local authorities would have to send bailiffs round, and frankly you spend much more trying to get the repayment than the actual sum involved.

The result is that the amount of money available will be far smaller even as the need increases.  Sadly, I don't think government minister care about that.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Ebook Lending in Scotland

Edinburgh appears to have an interesting approach to lending of ebooks here.  I particularly like the idea of an app that allows you to compare the books in a store to the library catalogue, although I doubt it will appeal to retailers.

Willesden Social Club Building Begins

I am glad that work finally appears to be starting on the old Willesden Social Club site.  I have been pushing for this for years, so it is good to see the site cleared.  This will be for the application I mentioned before.  Building on the site should finally deal with the complaints around prostitution and drug dealing around it, as well as limiting other anti-social behaviour.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

More Willesden Green Mural Pictures

I am posting a few more pictures of the Willesden Green mural to give a better idea of the extent of the mural than in my previous post, but the best way to appreciate it is to look at it in situ.

The view from the Brondesbury Park end:

A tribute to the Archives:

Nearer to the middle:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Brent Council Civic Centre Snagging

I just thought I would add a short post on some of the minor snagging that is still coming up in the Civic Centre.  I don't think any of these are particularly dramatic.  They are just the kind of things you have to expect with a new building.

The one I hear most complaints about is the car parking, which seem to exert a dreary fascination over some people's imaginations.  The camera that opens the way into the car park apparently could not read some of the number plates because of the position the cars drew up in.  The solution to this is to paint markings in the road to encourage drivers to park in the right place.

More concerning, in my view, is that the ventilation does not seem to work as well as it should.  I am told that this is largely down to people not being clear on how to operate it.  Hopefully it will clear up as people get more used to the system.

The biggest problem is that the signage is currently inadequate, which is particularly unfortunate in an unfamiliar building where nobody knows where anything is.  I am told that this is deliberate.  A budget has been held back until the building is functioning, so that signage can be optimally designed.  I can understand this argument, although I think it has been taken too far.  I noticed at the Planning Committee last week that pieces of paper had been stuck to various doors to give people a clue where they were going.  The sooner proper signage goes up the better.

The final niggle I have is that there are no water dispensers on the boardroom level, which strikes me as a design mistake, although one I should think can be solved fairly easily.

Altogether for a major new building, these all seem quite minor niggles.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Willesden Green Mural

I hadn't realised how extensive the Willesden Green mural around the site of the old Willesden Library Centre actually is until I passed it on Monday.  Above is the view as you look from Willesden High Road towards the Library Centre.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Long Term Waste Strategy in Brent

Having pointed out the success of the alternative weekly collections in Brent, I thought it might be worth looking at the longer term.

More Recycling
Recycling has gone from less than 30% to 43% now following the introduction of the blue top bins.  This year, we aim to bring the recycling per centage to 50%.  This will through smaller schemes, including improving trade waste enforcement, recycling more cardboard, working with landlords to improve waste treatment at rented properties and continuing mechanical recovery where possible.

Less to Landfill
However, increasing recycling becomes harder as the percentages rise.  The main area of future progress is likely to be diverting waste from landfill.  This is largely the province of the West London Waste Authority, which deals with "back end" waste treatment.  In April, the WLWA agreed to a contract with SITA to dispose of waste via a new power plant in the West Country.  This plant is due to come onstream in Summer 2016.  Once it is operating, less than 5% of WLWA waste should go to landfill.

Climate Change Emissions
There are some green campaigners who regard this as a bad thing, although it is common in many countries.  The main component of the landfill is food waste, so burning it counts as renewable electricity generation.  The effect is actually better for climate change emissions than burying it, because allowing the food to rot in the ground generates huge amounts of methane.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Scottish Wild Cats

I mentioned rewilding in a recent post, which seems a visionary project in many ways. However, there is one UK species in great danger that would benefit from a major conservation effort _ the Scottish wildcat.  This is reported as down to double figures in its core area of the Scottish Highlands.  If Alex Salmond wants to protect Scottish heritage, this would be a good place to start.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Brent Library Strategy Achievements

Today is the second anniversary of the Brent Library court case hearing, so I thought it would be a good time to review how far we have come.  Those who have somehow managed to miss all the publicity can catch up with the terms of the judgement here.

Physical Refurbishments
We now have five of our libraries recently refurbished and the sixth (Willesden) with rebuilding underway.  The schedule is:

2008: Kingsbury moved to a new High Street location and fitted out
2010: Harlesden opened in March 2010 after a major £2.5 million refurbishment.  This included moving BACES into the upper floors, giving the whole building proper disabled access, introducing a mezzanine floor and completely altering the look of the whole library both internally and externally.
2012 March:  Ealing Road gets refurbished with interior decoration, new shelving and furniture and more computers.
2012 September: Kilburn Library opens after a major refurbishment.  This includes repairing the leaking roof and windows, repairing masonry and guttering, putting in new heating and lighting, rewriting to allow more computers, a total interior refit and more books.
2013 June: Wembley Library opens as Brent's first new library in a quarter of a century. More space, books, iPads, computers.

Distance Services
We have seen an expansion in both the home delivery service for housebound people, and the outreach service.  Outreach is going to many more locations and a much wider variety of sites.  The web pages have been redesigned.  Online reference is improved, and periodicals are now available online.  Ebook lending has been expanded.

A wide variety of events have taken place, including music, dance, book readings, artist workshops, poetry performances and talks on a huge range of subjects.

Courses on all sorts of subjects have taken place.  These have included CV writing, money management etc.  They also include the Summer Reading Challenge, the Six Book Challenge for adults and regular homework clubs for children.

The book stock budget has been maintained, and about 69,000 new books have been added.  The expansion of the London Lending Consortium means that even more books are order-able.

All this has been done at the same time as the overall library budget has been reduced.


Just had a comment claiming two refurbishments had nothing to do with Labour.  I assume this refers to the major works to Kingsbury and Harlesden Libraries.

Naturally, I supported these in opposition, but they were only possible because we had a Labour government at the time, which gave a much more generous financial settlement to Brent Council and local government in general than is the case now.

Now the question is how much will we be cut by; then, it was how much more will we get?

At the time Tory and Lib Dem councillors criticised the government for not giving enough. Now that their parties are in control of central government, they are strangely silent.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Car Ownership Down

Something I forgot to mention in my blog yesterday is that car ownership appears to be sliding down.  At least in central London.

This is another thing I took away from the London Councils event recently.  Car owning households are now a minority in some boroughs, although in Brent they still account for more than 50%.  However, the sheer inconvenience of car use in central London appears to be driving a long term decline. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Pedestrian Road Deaths

Last week I went to an interesting London Councils event about walking and cycling where I was startled by one of the statistics quoted.  The number of pedestrian deaths on the roads is three per day in London.  If we had a rail accident where 21 people died that would be seen as a major disaster, but that is just the weekly average for road deaths, and goes unremarked.  What is worse is that the death rate has been going up for the past couple of years.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Queens Parade Application Withdrawn

The proposal for a large residential development at Queens Parade has been withdrawn by the developer.  Any possible proposal for Electric House would be separate.

Positive Coverage for Positive Arts

I am glad to see that the Kilburn Times appears to be a bit more positive in their coverage of the Willesden Library murals than in their previous reports.  Their earlier report struck me as unduly negative for the reasons I explained.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Public Debate and the Facts

A reminder of the sheer ignorance of public debate in this country has been published by the Royal Statistical Society here.  I find the scale of the mismatch between reality and perception really quite depressing.  How are we going to have a sensible debate when "common sense" is so out of kilter with reality?  How can we bring perception in line with fact when there is a constant stream of deception from the tabloid press?  Of course, ministers like Iain Duncan Smith, with their faith based policies, don't help.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Iain Duncan Smith in Denial

Iain Duncan Smith's recent comments on benefits seem even more crazy than usual.  Saying "you cannot disprove... " seems especially desperate.

Library Colocation

Co-locating libraries is an idea that is doing the rounds, and has been for some time.  However, I am not sure that forms of co-location are fully appreciated.

A lot of Councils are seeing it as a way of saving money, an understandable approach in current circumstances.  Sharing the costs of a building with different agencies can reduce costs, but if the space given over to each service is smaller that can lead to a worse service.  It should be possible to avoid that through good design, but it remains a danger.

A second possibility is that it can be seen as a way of closing a library without making that quite so clear.  When I heard of Barnet's former plan to "merge" libraries, I could not help but think that this was intended as a cynical PR manoeuvre.  The trouble with such attempts is that people are unlikely to be fooled for long.

The real value of co-location, in my view, come from the very juxtaposition of services helping each attract higher footfall. Brent's new civic centre should be a prime example of this.  People who would not normally go to the library serendipitously turn up, because they are in the building to attend one of the other services.

Unconventional Co-location
All this is pretty conventional, but it strikes me that there are effective forms of co-location that are not thought of as such.  Temporary events held in libraries, such as the various Brent Dance Month events, have a similar effect.  They draw in people who might normally attend libraries, but find the library more familiar once they have been there, and may come back.  Of course, many may not, but it is effectively a form of marketing for the library.

A similar logic applies the library going outside.  Brent libraries do this when they have stalls at outside events, but also through the outreach service.  Although the refurbishment of Kilburn Library gave us a temporary hit in numbers, I think the outreach that went on there was an effective way to advertise the service to audiences that are not normally library users.

Both of these seem to me to be effectively forms of co-location, although they are not normally regarded as such.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Co-operating with Privatisation

There is growing concern that the use of "co-operatives" is just a cover for privatisation.  I think this all too likely.  David Cameron, who has always struck me as shallow, neither knows nor cares about co-operative principles.

Taking Planning Powers

The government's commitment to local democracy is thrown further into doubt by its threat to take planning powers away from Councils that don't process cases swiftly enough.  In practise, I suspect this will be difficult, as central government probably hasn't got capacity to deal with lots of planning cases itself.  Burdening the Planning Inspectorate in this way will presumably slow the rate of appeals.  A cynic might conclude that the government is more concerned with bending over for rich property developers than protecting local areas.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Runaway Hearse

Yesterday I saw a runaway hearse (really).

I was going down to the traffic lights at the bottom of Furness Road when I heard the sound of horses' hooves. A hearse drawn by two black horses sans occupant or driver then trotted past.   I assume something scared the horses.

I crossed over to wait at the bus stop, and then observed two undertakers in hot pursuit.  One stopped a passing car, and asked to be driven in pursuit of the now disappeared hearse.  The driver obliged.  I assume that the hearse belonged to James Crook and was intended for Kensal Green Cemetary.

Not something you see every day.

Planning Site Visit

This morning I am going on a planning site visit.  This includes a proposed new block of flats in Stonebridge, on the site of the old Stonebridge precinct and opposite the Fawood Children's Centre.  I won't make any comments on the actual application until after the meeting, other than to observe the length of time that major regeneration takes. Stonebridge has been in redevelopment for twenty years.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Sarah Teather and Immigration

Sarah Teather MP has suddenly discovered a conscience on immigration after ten years as a MP.  How odd that after serving as a minister in the present government up to the point of being sacked, this should suddenly occur.

Food and Shopping

An interesting piece on the value of food and street food businesses in the vibrancy of an area here.  I have long thought that food retail is a key part of the attraction of both Ealing Road and Harlesden Town Centre, helping both of them maintain their status as shopping destinations.

Creationism and Free Schools

One aspect of the free schools debate that has achieved surprisingly little attention is their ability to vary the curriculum.  The Guardian has a short piece on how this relates to creationism.  For once, Michael Gove appears to be on the side of the angels on this.  However, the increasingly chaotic organisation of education in this country is likely to lead to plenty of situations where neither he nor anyone else knows what is going on.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Precautionary Principles and Politics

The Guardian blogs on the shortcomings of the precautionary principle and some rather disparaging remarks about the nature of its appeal.

The author is right in that the precautionary principle can easily become a way of simply blocking change, which can be bad if the potential change has positive consequences.  Since big changes usually have both positive and negative consequences, this suggests a rational approach is to weigh up the evidence in a dispassionate manner.

Unfortunately, politics (and many of these decisions are inherently political even when taken by non-politicians) generally doesn't work like that. I thought it would be interesting to think about why not, and here is what I came up with:

1) Simplicity is great for campaigns.  If you are organising a campaign, you need a simple message that people can easily get.  Stop this, is such a message.  Slightly more difficult is: GM foods could be dangerous, so stop them, but that still works pretty well.  The message: here is all the evidence, and a careful examination shows a net disbenefit does not work at all.

2) Elite groups are these days distrusted.  I suppose in the 1950s many people were more inclined to trust various expert or authoritarian groups such as governments, scientists etc. numerous scandals revealing lying, arrogance, incompetence and manipulation in their own self interest have greatly damaged the reputations of such groups.  The whole NSA spying scandal is just the most recent prominent example.  There also seems to have been a change in popular culture to value an image of an heroic outsider taking on authority, although I suspect this is more valued as fiction than in reality.

3) Problems are getting more complex.  Or at least we seem to have more and more information about problems which makes decision making more complex.  It is natural to seek a way to simplify such problems with a crude principle such as the precautionary principle, although I believe it is one example among many.  Another commonly used simplification is ad hominum.  I like and trust  so-and-so, who is on this side of the argument so I will back his argument is another example.  It was noticeable that Dr Wakefield was discredited over MMR not by the scientific arguments, but by allegations of self interest.

4) The Pristine Myth.  This applies to particularly to the field of ecology, that there is a natural or original state that everything should conform to.  In fact we know that everything is always changing in all sorts of ways.  The entire English landscape has been fundamentally shaped by human interaction.  Indeed human beings themselves and various organisms they interact with have shaped each other; just look at the domestic dog.  The argument that the current state of things is natural ignores the way in which things have been changed by mega fauna that no longer exists  _ a central argument for rewilding for example.

5) There is only one right decision.  Finally, there is the idea that the public good unequivocally demands one decision, often the one that coincides with the advocate's own good.  more generally, political decisions are made to distribute resources between different groups with different views and interests, and the decision maker has to balance these different groups rather than just caving in to one.  A rigid application of the "precautionary principle" would presumably benefit those who benefit from the status quo rather than those who would benefit from change.

6) Groups have disproportionate stakes.  A group that loses out particularly may shout much louder than a larger number of people who benefit from change only a small amount.  There is also a paradoxical effect where a small interest group can convince themselves and others that they represent the true public interest, when in fact they represent only a sectional interest (Classically seen with NIMBY groups in planning applications).

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Technology and Litter Bins

Boscombe in Devon has an interesting example of new technology in bins, according to the BBC.  Litter is not an area that most people would consider technology sensitive, but even here advances in technology are changing the nature of how things are done.  The advantage in terms of cost would be that emptying the bins less often will mean fewer staff and vehicles, and hence less cost for the Council. In future, such technology might also help Councils to differentiate their collection rates according to the amount of litter.  This would be most useful where rates of rubbish accumulation differ according to circumstances.  For instance near Wembley Stadium.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Willesden Green Murals

My colleague Cllr Lesley Jones has pointed out the two new murals being put up as part of the Willesden Green Library redevelopment.  The Kilburn Times seems unable to hear the word "library" without trying to turn it into some sort of attack on Brent Council.

I think the murals are an imaginative approach, which should be regarded as best practice.  They give local children the opportunity to work with an artist in an educational way.  They help advertise the interim library service to the public.  They also do something to brighten up Willesden High Road, and they also help support artists in Brent at a time when budgets are ever tightening.  Hopefully, the children who work on the project will also get a sense of pride from seeing their work on public display.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Payday Loans, Betting and Libraries

Haringey Council becomes the latest Council to block payday lenders from its library computers.  It has also been done in Cheshire, Dundee and Edinburgh.  Dundee was responding to a specific local problem.

Payday loans are also seen as a widespread problem in Brent, and I suspect that blocking them from library PCs would be a good idea, although I suspect we need other measures as well. My colleague Cllr Janice Long has long been an advocate of supporting credit unions as a way of giving people a better alternative.  It would also be good if we could use planning and licensing to limit them more effectively, although as with betting shops there are legal limits to this.

In principle, Brent libraries would not give access to certain kinds of materials _ racist materials for example.  However, it seems to me that there is food for a much wider debate here.  I can imagine that some people might want to limit all sorts of things.  I think that the line has to be drawn at things that do active harm, rather than simply what one disapproves of, but still leaves plenty of grey areas.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Library Figures for the First Quarter in Brent

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at the library figures for the first quarter (April to June) this year, which I have now been sent.  This is likely to be the trickiest time of this year, as Willesden closed for rebuild on 25 April and the new Wembley Library only opened on 17 June.  It is therefore a transition quarter before what I remain confident will be a big take-off in numbers during the rest of the year.

The first bit of good news is that overall visits are up by 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year.  Issues are up by 1.7%.  That is an impressive performance given that our best used library, Willesden,   Is currently operating an interim service from the Lewinson Centre.  Both visits and issues have roughly halved at Willesden as a result.  The slack has been taken up by enormous growth at Kilburn, and more modest increases in Ealing Road, Harlesden and the Town Hall (now Wembley).  Kingsbury has a slight fall in visits although a rise in issues.

The other noticeable thing is that more than a quarter of issues are not made at a physical library at all.  Online and phone renewals account for most of these, although there has been growth in both outreach and home delivery issues. ebooks still account for less than 1% of Brent's total issues.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Tony Blair on Egypt

I have just been reading Tony Blair's comments on the events in Egypt.  It is so stomach churning I cannot trust myself to comment.  To think this man is a "peace envoy" to the Middle East.

Qat and the Ban

Theresa May is banning Qat.  I am not sure what the effects of this will be.  Brent has significant rates of usage, especially among Somalis.  I have spoken to Somalis who regard it as a very serious problem within their community.  The more traditional UK approach is to regard it as a more manageable issue, like alcohol.  Does anyone have experience/evidence to help?

Friday, 5 July 2013

Brent Camden and BREEAM

There is a report that Camden Council has been motivated to ensure that it's new Civic Centre has an outstanding environmental performance to match that of the Brent Civic Centre in Wembley.  If so, I am glad that Brent's ambition has spurred on Camden.

The other interesting aspect of the piece is the complaint around the limitations of the measurements. This is I guess inevitable with any system of standards.   It has to be constantly updated as more innovation comes on stream.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Dollis Hill House RIP

Going to Gladstone Park on Sunday, I dropped in to see the "folly" that has replaced Dollis Hill House.  It looks much the same as when I took pictures before, although on Sunday a family was picnicking there.

Looking at this rather pleasant, sunny scene, it struck me what a huge amount of sound and fury had been pointlessly expended on the site.  There were still efforts to block the demolition when I spoke at the Planning Committee back in 2010.  I have previously given a timeline of the travails of Dollis Hill House here.  All the money that was paid out by the insurance after the arson had by that time been used up paying for the scaffolding around the House.  Vast quantities of officer time had been spent trying to find a renewal solution long after it was clear that that was not possible, and in the interval the wrecked House had blighted that part of the park for almost twenty years.

It seems a great pity that we did not reach the current solution a decade ago.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

New Plays at the Tricycle Theatre

The Tricycle Theatre is including a revival of Red Velvet in its latest programme.  If you didn't see it the first time, it is well worth going, although I imagine the tickets will be sold out pretty quick.


Details of booking tickets are here.

Willesden Junction Redevelopment

Some people may already have had leaflets asking about the redevelopment of the Willesden Junction area.  The potential for redevelopment is signalled by High Speed 2 and Crossrail both potentially having connections near Willesden Junction.

Brent Council has currently drafted an official response to this without choosing to consult local councillors.  This is disappointing as some of us have been engaged with these issues for many years.

My own view is that this scheme has good potential to massively improve the interconnectivity of Harlesden and Kensal Green, but we need to ensure that a station at Old Oak Lane has effective linkage to Willesden Junction.  Otherwise our area may simply be bypassed.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Willesden Green Library Centre Rebuild Begins

I see the hoardings have now been put up around Willesden Green Library Centre.  It will be good for the building work to finally get going.  I hope people will agree with me that the interim library service at the Lewinson Centre is very good.  I know that the library staff put a great deal of thought into how to do it.  Crucially, it is very close to the existing Library Centre, which should make it much better used than the interim service during the rebuild of Harlesden Library.

I am not sure that the significance of the Willesden Green Library Centre is fully appreciated in terms of Willesden Green and it's potential for regeneration.  Willesden High Road has seen some improvements over the past few years, but at the moment it doesn't really have a unique selling point in the way Ealing Road has its various Asian offerings, Harlesden High Streets it's food shops and Kilburn High Road the Tricycle.  The new cultural centre, if it works as it should, could be that kind of draw to reinvigorate the High Road.

Eric Pickles Opaque Transparency

Local Government Lawyer analyses Eric Pickles latest pseudo-diktat.  Since the purpose of the pronouncement is supposedly to encourage transparency, it has naturally been concocted in secret without consultation.  This contributes to its poor quality.  Taken literally, it appears extremely burdensome to implement, and the legal underpinning seems shaky.  Eric Pickles sets an extraordinary example of executive incompetence to government both centrally and locally.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Weekend Events

After door knocking yesterday, I went to the Gladstonebury festival in Gladstone Park, and then on to the residents party in Furness Primary School.  It is a pity that now that we finally have some Summer weather, all these events clash.

Brent Civic Centre as Democratic Centre

Brent Civic Centre today becomes the official centre of the Council's democratic structures.  Personally, I am not at all sorry to leave the Town Hall, which was inferior in a number of ways.  The new Civic Centre already appears to be a much livelier place.