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Sunday, 31 May 2020

Jenrick in Tower Hamlets

Jenrick's extraordinary planning decision on a planning application in Tower Hamlets is a far more serious problem than his previous breach of lockdown guidance.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Well Stocked Public Libraries

There is a short quote at the back of Alasdair Gray's Lanark: "I regard a well stocked public library as the pinnacle of democratic socialism." Worth remembering in these days when Brent Libraries are closed.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

When will Brent Libraries Reopen?

Brent been without a physical library service since 20 March 2020.

Surprisingly this does not appear to bother all the Campaigners who used to assure me that they regarded libraries as a lifeline. It does however mean that Brent Council may be breaching its legal duty to provide a library service.  This also has consequences.

People who public computers to access universal credit or other service and have no home access are currently simply cut off from any online service, which may have financial and other services.  Other Boroughs appear to be making PCs available.

No books are available despite many pupils needing to home school.  It would be useful to know if a limited reserve service could be restarted, or even (depending on safety) a full lending service.

Likewise, many people shut in overcrowded housing might welcome the public space.

At the very least Brent should be discussing these issues.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Lanark and Alasdair Gray

I have recently been reading Lanark by Alasdair Gray, which is quite the most impressive British novel I have read for a long time. Sometimes tough going, it is nonetheless worth it.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Bristol Ahead of Brent in Pedestrianisation

Bristol appears to be considering a much more ambitious level of pedestrianisation than Brent.  Given concerns over air quality, climate emissions and transport pressures, finding a car lite option is really the only way London can go.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Yvette Cooper's Visa Concession

Yvette Cooper MP appears to have won cross party support for a concession for foreign workers in the NHS to be allowed to stay without going through the UK' s horrendous visa system.

This clears up something that was puzzling me.

Why did she vote for a second reading against the Labour whip with all the potential political dangers she might face as a result. I take it she had had some sort of indication that this was a quid pro quo.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Still Charging

Boris Johnson has performed a u-turn on making some NHS workers pay extra on top of their taxes for NHS services that they work to provide. However, he has yet to back track on others such as administrators and non-clinical staff. Why not? Are there any other areas where foreigners are subject to a special charge on top of their taxes?

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Boris Johnson Misleads at PMQs

Boris Johnson misled the Commons at PMQs.  Under questioning from Keir Steamer, he claimed abolishing the charge that foreign NHS workers need to pay if they need NHS treatment would cost about £900 million.  In fact data obtained from the House of Commons library by Seema Malhotra MP suggest it would be between £1.3 million and £35 million, depending on how many employees are involved.

Johnson should back to the Chamber to correct himself.


I gather that as of the evening  of the 21st of May, the Tories have now u-turned on the anti-migrant charge.  That does not in my view obviate from the need to publicly acknowledge the facts.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Congestion Charge Myth

The Tories have trying to peddle a falsehood that Sadiq Khan has voluntarily reimposed the congestion charge and that the Tory government played no part in this.
This is flatly untrue.  In fact the reimposition of the charge is a condition of the bailout agreement. Not signing the bailout would leave TfL unable to trade I.e. not running any tubes or buses, leaving many Londoners without any way to get to work or in cases to access food shops.

The original thinking behind this was to encourage the use of public transport as an alternative to the car, but public transport is now highly restricted because of the social distancing rules.  Grant Shapps has urged everyone to use cars instead, which I am sure he knows is a complete non-answer in London where many don't have access to a car.  In any case replacing the journeys normally made on bus and tube with car journeys would lead to horrific traffic congestion.

I cannot help but suspect that the real Tory agenda is to infuriate Londoners and for Sadiq Khan to get the blame prior to the Mayoral election next year.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Sexual Equality in Parliament

The Labour Party has for the first time in its history a (bare) majority of female MPs.  The first party to achieve this was the ill fated TIG break away group. Reading the Liberal democrat survey of the reasons for their election drubbing I note that they seven female MPs out of eleven (64%), and they comment that they want to maintain that proportion.

That seems odd, as it is above the population average.  Bringing the MPs in line with with the general population has been the most common reason for promoting specific groups, since this makes the best use of talent and a variety of different views is held to make for better decision making.

Although the Tory Party still seem to fall short in female representation, might this be a time when Labour and the Lib Dems need to rethink their selection processes?

Monday, 18 May 2020

Roundwood Cafe open as a Takeaway

Taking advantage of the reduced lockdown conditions and sunshine yesterday, i found that Roundwood cafe is now open as a cafe.  As one in eight households have no gardens nationally, and a lot more round Harlesden I suspect, parks are valuable than ever.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Labour Party Membership Hits Record High

According to NEC representative Alice Perry, Labour Party Membership is now 570,000.  I believe this would be the highest level since Harold Wilson.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Sadiq Khan and Grant Shapps

Sadiq Khan shows a much better understanding of the problems of an urban transport network than Grant Shapps (aka Michael Green.

Everyone driving cars is simply not viable in London because there is not enough road space or parking and a very high proportion of residents do not have access to a car.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Rough Sleepers Back on the Streets

Rough Sleepers will be forced back on the streets according to the Manchester evening News. They were taken off at short notice at the start of the lockdown with central government saying that they paying the bill. In Brent' s case I have been housed in an hotel in Earl' s Court.  The funding is being withdrawn with no notice by the government.

In some cases, the sleepers had been able to make progress with the problems that led to the rough sleeping in the first place. This risks being thrown away if they are just put back on the streets, but councils such as Brent are otherwise being forced to meet the costs from budgets that already overstretched by the effects of the virus and more than a decade of cuts.

Are Tory ministers too cynical to even care?

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Brent Library Loans Extended

Brent libraries have been extended until 30 June.  Informally, I have been informed that any opening is likely to be piecemeal.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Dudden Hill Councillor Suspended

I understand that Cllr Aslam Choudhary (Dudden Hill ward) has now been suspended from Brent Council Labour Group after posting a video containing comments on Jewish control of America.  This happened on Friday and is the fifth removal from the Labour group in  six month period, a very short time.

It will not result in an immediate election because of the virus legislation and the distinction between being a Group member and a councillor.

UPDATE 5.5.20

I now have learnt that Cllr Choudhary is suspended as a Labour member, and is likely to be removed from his committee posts, but he is still allowed to attend Labour Group meetings.  This all seems rather strange.