Search This Blog

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Feynman Lectures on Physics

The Richard Feynman lectures on physics are now available online here.  It is said to be the most popular physics book ever written. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Legal Aid?

Rebekah Brooks is seeking court costs from her prosecution to be paid by the taxpayer.  Leaving aside my entire lack of sympathy for her in general, trials seem to be turning into a lottery.  For the taxpayer to shell out such huge sums will surely be a disincentive to high profile prosecutions in future, meaning that the wealthy become even less subject to the law than they are already.  Surely some kind of capping system for such fees needs to be devised?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Brent Passenger Transport Services: One To Watch

The recent Tri Borough attempts to reform transport for people with special needs has been reported to be disastrous.  Brent is also looking at this area through its One Council programme.  There is no need for reform to have the kind of serious effects that are claimed in Kensington and Chelsea.  It sounds as if the Triborough experiment went too much for quick financial savings, and paid too little heed to the standards of service.  The One Council methodology was designed to avoid this mistake.  Done rightly, it could help the users become more independent and do more for themselves.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Queens Park Design District

This design project, in Lonsdale Road in Queens Park, looks interesting.  I am not sure how far they are promoting the designs or the shops, but it is an imaginative approach.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Seema Malhotra Blog on Violence

In her new role, Seema Malhotra MP has blogged on the extent of violence against women in the UK.  As she says, it is a complex situation with many factors.  Getting a prosecution through the justice system is even more difficult in this area than in others, and the victims have to be extremely brave to stick with it.  Over the past few years of cuts, Brent has been careful to protect support services for victims.  The current arrangements are due to be reviewed in September.  I hope the previous support is maintained.

Positive Roles for Scrutiny

I was unhappy at the downgrading of Scrutiny in Brent shortly after the elections in May.  This is because, if it is taken seriously, Scrutiny has the potential to do valuable work.  A recent example would be the Brent report on violence against women and girls, which was chaired by then Cllr Ann John.  The prospects of the new Scrutiny system in Brent producing results like this don't look rosy.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Economic Depression

Anyone feeling depressed about the dismal state of the UK economy might reflect on Italy.  Much of the blame for Italy's plight lies with its dysfunctional political leadership.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Alex Salmond's Currency Evasion

Yesterday's Observer was spot on about Alex Salmond's currency evasion.  I find it hard to understand how this, and indeed his non existent legal advice on membership of the EU, haven't simply blasted him out of contention. 

Demanding the Impossible

I see that Martin Francis is once again avoiding the issue with regard to Brent Council.  He suggests that Brent Council "fund" a more generous Council Tax Support scheme, without suggesting what public spending he would cut to pay for it.  That is just a refusal to make a political choice.  It is fair enough to say that protecting people on low incomes from further demands is a priority, but the cost of keeping the previous Council Tax Support system would have been more than £5 million a year.  Identifying that level of funding in the current budget is the only credible way that the older system could be supported.

Incidentally, it looks entirely possible that (as predicted) Eric Pickles is about to cut funding for local welfare assistance which would further undermine people in extreme poverty.  Perhaps attacking that cut would be a better use of time than demanding Brent Council do things it simply has not got the power to do.  There again, I have argued before that Martin actually simply wants to attack Brent Council and the Labour Party.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Seema Malhotra Preventing Violence Against Women

Well done to Seema Malhotra MP on her appointment as the first shadow minister for preventing violence against women.  Violence against women and girls is a widespread problem in Brent, and across the rest of the country.  It is good to see the Labour Party focusing on it. 

Britain's Management Problem

Flip Chart Fairy Tales has an interesting take on Britain's management problem.  His suggestion that our flexible labour market may actually be holding productivity back.  I also wonder whether our over centralised political structure undermines effective management in the public sector.

Brent Council of course has been getting rid of permanent staff in huge numbers in recent years, whilst also getting loads of interims to replace them.  The Council also appears to have become embroiled in a series of employment tribunal cases, with people alleging poor management.  That certainly suggests to me that there is something seriously wrong with the management of the Council's human resources.  One of the main points of  the One Oracle project was supposed to be to improve the quality of human resources management in the Council.  Perhaps it would be sensible to see how the new computer systems can be used to improve Brent's sub-standard human resources?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The Eventual Triumph of the Facts

Paul Krugman argues that the effective success of Obamacare is making it harder and harder for the Republicans to use as a campaign issue against the Democrats.  People are simply starting to notice that the facts don't adhere to Republican propaganda.

However, I think this is true of political issues in general.  When you have a difficult decision, you get a phase where opponents can whip all kinds of fears about how it won't work.  Once it is in place, people can see whether it is working or not.  For instance, w3hen Brent introduced blue top bins we were assailed with a whole series of accusations of rats, flytipping, fire hazards, ridiculous numbers of bins per household and so on.  Once the system was in place, these suggestions had much less traction as people could see the scare stories didn't work.  In particular, the opposition was dampened by the immediate rise in the recycling figures as soon as the bins started being collected.

Eric Pickles is still trying to overcome this, by simply repeating the same old stories even though he knows they are untrue.  Unfortunately, the likes of the Daily Mail and so on willingly lap it up and regurgitate his lines. 

I suspect the same is now true of libraries.  The improved satisfaction of library users is established.  The visits and loan figures are higher than before, and Brent outperforms comparable authorities.  The only way to deny the success of the Brent Libraries Transformation is simply to deny the facts altogether, which unfortunately a few of the campaigners continue to do, aided by journalists who have little interest in publishing the truth.  

Friday, 22 August 2014

Browsing in Public Libraries

I was interested in this Dutch experiment in making libraries user friendly.  Things like soft furnishings, coffee and so on are widely used in libraries now, not least in Wembley Library.  However this is the first time I have seen a public library abandoning the Dewey Decimal system, which I think many users find hard to understand.  As bookshops become less common, perhaps libraries could find a role as areas for physically browsing books. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Edinburgh Fairtrade Floral Clock

On a recent visit to Edinburgh I admired the Edinburgh Fairtrade floral display, which marks the City's decade long Fairtrade status.  You can get an impression of how impressive it is from the photos here.  Over that time Edinburgh has been successful in really embedding Fairtrade in the City.  I have to admit that their Fairtrade art does rather outshine Brent's Fairtrade sign in Hazel Road, although I am still glad that I persisted with establishing that. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Tricycle Theatre Expansion

I was surprised to find in a recent twitter exchange that some people were unaware of the Tricycle Theatre's expansion plans.  Planning permission has now been formally requested.  The project has been in the works for some time.  July was the date for most of the funding to be secured, so I am glad that appears to have been successful. 

As I understand it the auditorium will be expanded and refitted so that the whole audience has a better view of the stage, which I think has been one of Indhu Rubasingham's objectives since she became Artistic Director.  The refurbished theatre will also have much better disabled access than the current cumbersome arrangements.  Improvements to the Tricycle's street frontage should also help it as an attraction boosting the regeneration of Kilburn High Road as a whole.  I am not sure what arrangements will be in place during the building period. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

An Eruv for Brent?

Brent Council has been asked to consider an Eruv here.  An Eruv is an area of ground theoretically enclosed by a fence line, where Orthodox Jewish people can be less restricted in their movements on the Sabbath than normal.  As I understand it, the theology behind the idea is that it is in some sense domestic space, and that is why the usual Sabbath restrictions do not apply.  Of course, one group notionally taking over an area and declaring it to be theirs gives rise to theoretical problems in a multi-cultural area like Brent, but I think they are compensated by the practical convenience. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Brent Council's Financial Challenges

I have mentioned before that I don't see a clear direction for Brent's financial challenges over the next four years.  These are essentially the fault of the utterly counterproductive austerity policies of George Osborne, but there is also appears to be a certain leadership drift in Brent Council.

Of course, many experienced staff have been got rid of over the past couple of years.  The high number of interims appointed suggests to me that the restructuring of staff has not been as effective as the 2010 exercise.  This was pointed out by Scrutiny some time ago, but has not been addressed.   This is serious, as the tightening budgets make squeezing out efficiency ever more important , not less. 

Of course, some of the challenges facing the Council make for what may seem like impossible decisions.  Indeed I remember a Finance Director remarking to me that he thought the budget challenges were impossible and he did not envy elected members their role.  More than a year ago, Brent Council officers showed members a set of grim options to deal with the budget reductions that are in place for the next three years.

My view is that most of the potential cuts in the Environment department have been achieved, and that future reductions would be fairly minor in comparison.  The main burden is likely to fall in education and social services.  Some of the difficulties of the Social Care budget are examined here.  Rising demand and expectations and lower budgets are not a good combination.  Similarly Brent has done well in providing school places despite the huge rise in demand, but there are real concerns about the quality of education and how it might deteriorate. 

It concerns me that the political debate doesn't seem to address these issues, and too often concentrates on relatively minor issues.  There are massive challenges ahead and they should be dealt with with by elected, accountable members in an open and honest debate.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Cricket and Local Government

A slightly different take on local government and its comparison to cricket here.  I particularly like the explanation about the roles of senior managers and councillors, which certainly in the local Brent context (and elsewhere) is not well understood.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

End of Tricycle Theatre Boycott

I am glad to see that the Tricycle Theatre and the Jewish Film Festival appear to have patched up their differences.  I always thought that the whole thing was down to muddled thinking.  Hopefully, both organisations can now get on with their main tasks, and the various campaign groups trying to jump on this bandwagon will go away.  The Tricycle is central not just to Brent's arts policy, but also to the regeneration of Kilburn High Road

Friday, 15 August 2014

Former Preston Library

Shortly before the last local elections, the Save Preston Library campaign held a public meeting.  At this, they were apparently made an offer, which illustrates some of the problems of community managed libraries. 

Of course, Preston Library doesn't actually exist.  The former Library is now part of a school which uses the site for a "bulge" class.  Unless there is an intervention, the class will be gone in 2015, and the building may then become available.  The first question is: will the Council need this building any more for primary school places? The answer, at the moment, is no one knows.  If there is such a need in 2015, I suspect the Council would be well advised to continue using that building, as it it is already fitted out, has planning permission and people are used to it.  In which case, it may simply not be available.

However, let us suppose that there is no such need.  What happens then?

The Council's standard policy on property is to review whether it is needed for any Council purpose.  If it is not, it should be sold.  The campaign group would of course argue it is needed for their local library, but the Council, thanks to the previous legal challenge, has conducted an exhaustive examination into library needs.  This concluded that they were adequately supplied by the Council's six libraries.  Indeed raw numbers and user satisfaction ratings indicate that Brent libraries are now better than they were in 2011.  It is hard to see how the Council could defend the rationality of throwing money at a set of needs that it is already catering for perfectly adequately.

A second interesting question comes from the phrase "without competitive tender".  A lot of voluntary groups seem to think of the Council as just a big pot of money that they can access, but in fact Councillors are subject to various rules before they can give people taxpayers' money or resources.  Councillors are trustees of public money rather than just people spending their own.  There are a number of overlapping concerns.

The first is the notion of a "peppercorn rent" for the group concerned.  About twenty years ago, you could come across examples of peppercorn rents, but the London property market was much slacker in the wake of the Lawson boom.  It is now notoriously overheated, and whereas a peppercorn rent might have been a viable market option in the early 1990s, it would not be in today's climate.  This matters because Councillors have a fidicuary duty to secure value for money for the taxpayer.  I last looked at this in the context of Dollis Hill House some years ago, so the details will have changed but the principle is the same.  Back then, the 1972 Local Government Act decreed that a Council could not give a concession of more than 10% of the market rate without the Secretary of State's express permission, which he would be unlikely to grant.  Rules like this also occasioned the delay in handing over the former Kensal Rise Library to All Souls College in 2012.  You can see why Parliament wants such rules in force.  Imagine a situation where a group could use political pressure or a close relationship with a Council Leader to just obtain taxpayers's assets when it wanted?  Think of how open to abuse that would be.

The second arises from the principles of procurement.  The EU requires public procurements to be competitive.  Again this is to stop local authorities having a "magic circle" that they just hand public assets to, or who are subject to special favours.  At the time we rejected the Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) bid in 2011, we were specifically advised of this difficulty.  I think it is overwhelmingly likely that similar rules would apply to the former Preston Library building.

Thirdly, there is the principle of dealing with voluntary groups fairly.  Brent has done a lot of work on treating different groups equally, ensuring their aims align with the Council's strategy and ensuring that they deliver on what they say they will do.  Treating groups equally is especially important in such a diverse Borough where different groups are so often convinced that some one else gets better treatment.  Having public money spent on public objectives becomes more and more important as government cuts cause the amount of public money to dwindle.  Finally, there is no point in giving people public money if they just walk off with it, so having a monitored service level agreement (effectively a contract), or in the case of the kind of smaller sums spent by ward working follow up reporting is vitally important.

In a climate where Eric Pickles and the Tory press are constantly trying to denigrate local government and the Labour Party as wasteful, demonstrating value for money is more important than ever.


Thanks for the anonymous comment below.  It is wrong to state that the Council could have sold the former Kensal Rise Library building.  As even the Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) have effectively now accepted, the Council did not own the building.  It automatically transferred to All Souls College in February 2012, along with the former Cricklewood Library.  The legal advice was unequivocal on that point.

I would also make two points about trying to give public assets away.

1) There are long established rules about disposing of public assets at less than full value.  It is not impossible, or necessarily undesirable, but Local Authorities are not utterly free agents to give money to people who simply ask for it.  If you think about how open to corruption it would be if councillors could simply give away properties to people and groups who ask for them, you can see why Parliament put these rules in place.

2)  Of course, I accept that public bodies operate charges, issue grants and arrange contracts with non-commercial considerations in mind, but it is not a free for all.  When (say) a Council does this, there should be a clear, defined purpose which is of public benefit in some way.  There should be a mechanism to ensure that that purpose is delivered, and there should be a clawback mechanism if that purpose is no longer being achieved. 


Since this post was published, an attempt has been made to list the old building as an "asset of Community Value" which further complicates the situation.  

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Library Misconceptions and Floating Stock

One of the common misconceptions about Brent Library services is that books are kept in a specific building, and just left there.  I suspect this was the idea behind Sarah Teather's suggestion that users should borrow all the books in a library building, and also the idea floated by one prominent building should be "mothballed" i.e. just left as it was until there was an improvement in the budget turned up.  In fact, as Public Libraries News explains, library stock is taken from building to building in quite a complicated way.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Jumping on the Bandwagon at the Tricycle Theatre

Brent Tories (or at least one of their factions) are demonstrating how to jump on a political bandwagon.  To be fair that is no different from the many other pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups who are doing much the same thing with a decision that appears to have been a cack handed attempt by the Tricycle Theatre to keep out of politics.  I find the quote from Muhammed Butt rather odd since, as a member of the Board, he presumably supports the Board's decision.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Alex Salmond: English Nationalist

Alex Salmond is proposing to use the pound sterling regardless of whether Scots vote for independence or not.  I am bemused by the sheer weirdness of this.

If Scots want to keep the pound they can vote for the Better Together side, and have the same arrangements as at present, with the interest rates set for the UK as a whole.  If they vote no, Alex Salmond wants Scots to have an essentially colonial relationship with the rest of the UK (rUK), where interest rates are set for the UK economy, and the Scots simply agree to do whatever London decides. 

How can this man call himself a Scottish nationalist?  He seems to want to give the English more power over the Scots than they have at the moment.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Brent Civic Centre Update

Against the misguided opposition of some, notably in the Green Party, Brent Council pursued a lengthy project for a new Civic Centre to deliver numerous financial, environmental, organisational and regeneration benefits to Brent.  The Civic Centre went ahead despite the opposition and 12 August is the first anniversary of the first day of full occupancy by the Council, so it seems like a good time for a further update on progress.

The especially deep level of cuts, which is even greater than anticipated when the Civic Centre contract was awarded in 2010, has led to reduced need for office space by Brent Council.  The top two floors of the Civic Centre are therefore to be occupied by a tenant, which I understand is likely to be Air France. 

The retail space at the back is likely to be leased to Sainsburys, and the area facing on to Wembley Market Square as a showroom for Quintain for the housing they are building.  Both of these will, I hope animate the area around the Centre.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Scrutiny into Garden Waste Charging in Brent

It seems that the Scrutiny Committee didn't really elicit any information into either the garden waste or the health issues in its discussions on Wednesday.  Indeed I am told that even some of the councillors who called the item in were not allowed to ask any questions.  If so, it makes the process of call in, and indeed scrutiny in general, meaningless.  Why should any councillor call anything in, if they cannot then ask any questions about it?

Added to the lack if information in the original report, this means that the entire recycling strategy is being pushed through without any outside input at all.  Much as I respect the expertise of Brent's recycling team, that is just not sensible.  Properly used, scrutiny could add to the process.  However, it appears that the Scrutiny Committee itself has simply decided not to use its powers, and what can you do about that?

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Water Freight and Old Oak Common

Just caught up with Murad Qureshi's post on the possible use of water freight at the Old Oak Common site of HS2.  This would be particularly welcome for Harlesden residents who are likely to be disproportionately affected by any lorry movements through Harlesden Town Centre.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Changing Planning Policy

Some of the Tweets around the campaign for Brent to have a Pub Protection policy in its planning rules say that some councillors promised this to The Queensbury campaigners some time ago.  If so, I think the campaigners should ask those councillors why they didn't follow up.  The matter was discussed by the Planning Committee back in February, and I have been talking to officers about different aspects of Planning policies for some time before that.  I don't have strong feelings on the Pub issue, preferring to concentrate my attention on betting shops, payday loans, shisha bars and takeaways.  These were reflected by officers in the documents now drafted for consultation.  I am sure that had the councillors The Queensbury campaigners spoke to made similar representations, there would have been more detail on the possibilitities of a pub protection policy.  I can find no evidence that any councillors raised this.

I would add a caveat, however.  I don't think it would have affected The Queensbury decision.  I think people ought also be realistic about how far planning can prevent pub closures.  Pubs are independent businesses and a lot of what determines their success or failure is to do with their own decisions or those of their customers.


Thank you to The Queensbury campaign for their comment on a pub protection policy.  The relevant planning policies were discussed by the Executive in March.  The minutes show no mention of a pub protection policy.  They do confirm that Cllr Butt was present, but evidently he chose not to raise the issue.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

More Muddle at the Tricycle Theatre

Seldom can a supposed apolitical stance have turned so political.  The Tricycle Theatre is now widely supposed to be in favour of a cultural boycott, specifically against Israel.  In fact the Tricycle's statement says they want to host the festival and that they refuse any funding from any "any government agency involved in the conflict".  They specifically say they aim at "political neutrality", which is precisely what the pro-boycott campaigners object to.

What a mess.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Tricycle Theatre Boycott

The Tricycle Theatre appears to have run into a row over its decision to pressure the Jewish Film Festival not to accept money from the Israeli government.  The Tricycle's reasoning is explained here.  It strikes me as less than sound.

The Israeli operations in Gaza have left the area in ruins and killed or injured thousands of civilians who posed no credible threat to Israel.  It has also left the essential political problem unresolved, and I can see no reason not to believe that there will not be another such conflict in a few years, since the Netanyahu government seems firmly in control and firmly opposed to any kind of political settlement other than continually seeking to crush the Palestinians by brute force. 

Outside governments and bodies seem to have no ability to influence the situation.  The Israeli government seems willing to treat even the American government with disdain.  The Israel/Palestine conflict also seems to arouse emotions in a way that, say, the brutal conflict in Syria does not. 

All this seems to lead people into what Yes Prime Minister called the politician's syllogism:  "We must do something.  This is something.  Therefore we must do it."

A similar reaction can be seen in the arguments over the Public Realm contract last year.  I argued before that when Brent Council signed the Public Realm Contract, the campaigners arguing for a boycott of Veolia as part of an Israeli boycott would achieve the opposite of what they intended

The Tricycle seem to have got themselves into a position that, pursued consistently, will be utterly unworkable.  The Jewish Film Festival is a celebration of Jewish culture and does not therefore in itself have any pro or anti Israeli stance.  The Tricycle is objecting because part of the Festival's funding comes from a "party to the conflict".  As far as I read it,  the Tricycle is not actually condemning the actions of the Israeli government, merely claiming that accepting funding from a "party" in the conflict is inherently political, and therefore unacceptable.  It does not claim that the Israelis have made any political demands e.g. only showing pro-Israeli films.  The logic of this is that the Tricycle will not accept any funding from any "party".  I would have thought this could easily be extended to say the Egyptian government, which is arguably acting as an Israeli ally in blockading Gaza.

I also don't see why a similar policy would not apply to any other conflict e.g. the war in the Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Kashmir and so on.  Where the British government becomes a "party" to a conflict, it would be logical for the Tricycle to extend its policy to money from the UK government. 

If the logic is that it is political to accept funding from any agent that acts politically, even if (as appears to be the case here) there appear to be no political conditions, then presumably the Tricycle would not accept money from those "parties" either.

I don't think this is really what the Tricycle intends, it is merely the victim of muddled thinking by its board, or whoever made this decision. 

Brent Council appoints Board members to the Tricycle, and it would be good to hear what position they took on his decision.

In the meantime, I hope that those who have been tweeting that they will boycott the Tricycle will think again.  I don't see that that would be productive in any way.  And I hope that the Tricycle Board will think the whole thing through, and come up with a position that they can apply consistently.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Common Cause

I recently went to an exhibition on the Scottish diaspora and the Great War.  As the Independence referendum (finally) draws near, it is striking to reflect that the men who joined at that time had a clear sense of themselves as both Scots and as Canadians, Australians, South Africans and so on.  Perhaps Mr Salmond and his supporters might reflect that identities do not have to be as one dimensional as old fashioned nationalism might suggest. Also of course a message that could be drawn from the similar exhibition at the SOAS about Sikhs in the First World War.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Poor Doors and Planning

The Kilburn Times had a front page recently on a "poor doors" development in Kilburn.  Pretty much everyone agrees that mixed communities with different sorts of tenure together are best for social well being.  Nye Bevan put it well in the famous words:

"It is entirely undesirable that on modern housing estates only one type of citizen should live. If we are to enable citizens to lead a full life, if they are each to be aware of the problems of their neighbours, then they should all be drawn from different sections of the community. We should try to introduce what was always the lovely feature of English and Welsh villages, where the doctor, the grocer, the butcher and the farm labourer all lived in the same street … the living tapestry of a mixed community."

This is why Brent's planning policies encourage on site provision of social housing.  A strict poor door arrangement such as the one cited in this Guardian article works against this.  Dave Hill explains some of the reasons why poor doors can nonetheless happen.  He doesn't mention that some housing associaitions actually prefer their properties to be lumped together for easier management.  However, I recall in the past, the Planning Committee has chosen to ask that social housing be pepper potted around the estate, as it did in the Barham Park development for example. 

As with so many planning discussions, there has to be compromise between different objectives, but there are plenty of examples in Brent where social and commercial housing co-exists without being noticably segregated.  For instance, Dairy Close in Kensal Green is mostly social housing with individual doors, but the block at the front is commercial housing.  Just up Harlesden Road, the social housing facing the Roundwood Park side is not noticably different from the commercial housing along Crossway.  Segregation can be avoided through good design.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Closure of Central Middlesex Accident & Emergency

Another item on the Scrutiny Committee agenda for August is the closure of the A&E department in Central Middlesex Hospital.  However, this is simply an information item as the closure has been announced as coming into effect from 10 September.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Recycling Call In

The recycling report I commented on yesterday has been called in by nine councillors, all Labour.  They are to be congratulated on demanding answers that really weren't in the July report.  Still, it is a pity that there has to be a delay in this process, which could have been dealt with by a Scrutiny meeting before the Executive, or possibly a better written Executive report.  It is quite a contrast to the thoroughness of the last major change in Brent's recycling arrangements four years ago.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Half Century of Statutory Libraries in the UK

The Guardian has a short quiz to mark the half century anniversery of the Public Libraries Act here.  I see some online comment, for instance on the Voices for the Library web site, seems unaware that the Judges are already redefining the statutory definition of libraries. 

Statutory Definition in Waste Collection

I commented before on the proposed changes to waste collection in Brent, and how there a number of questions I thought should be put in the public domain, particularly on climate change and the effect on the West London Waste Authority (WLWA).  One suggestion in the blogosphere is about the proposed charge for green waste

Someone has suggested charging for landfill, but not for green waste.  In fact, this is not possible as landfill collections really are covered by your Council Tax.  They are a statutory duty of Brent Council, and cannot be subject to a separate charge.  Garden waste, on the other hand, can, or indeed not collected at all.  In other words, this is an example of the "graph of doom" coming into play.  Councils are being forced to strip back "free services" to the statutory minimum, and charge for the rest by Eric Pickles systematically destroying local government funding.