Campaigning for environmental and social justice in the London Borough of Brent and beyond. Against cuts and privatisation and for real democracy. Managed by Martin Francis of Brent Green Party but open to all who share these aims.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

R.I.P COPLAND COMMUNITY SCHOOL 1952- 2014

Professionals and Mercenaries
 
Guest blog by ‘All in this together’.
Richard Marshall, the interim Copland Head hired by the Gove/ Pavey/IEB coalition to do their dirty work for them, this week  gave a new meaning to the much-abused word ‘professional’ when, in his last-day-of-term address to staff (and his first official recognition that any member of staff had left the school all year) he used it to describe the manner in which staff at Copland had responded to the one hundred and thirty three redundancies he had diligently imposed on the school since last July. By ‘professional’, Mr Marshall presumably meant that his sackings had been achieved without loss of life and, ultimately, with a kind of cowed resignation from the staff. In George Osborne’s  would-be-macho world of balding male willy-wagglers, where’ tough’ decisions have to be made with a fearless lack of concern for the comfort or security of any individuals (except themselves), this version of ‘professionalism’  can be framed as some kind of brave and realistic acceptance of the unavoidable new realities. 
                                                   
The inconvenient truth, however, is that Copland staff did not behave at all in the manner which management clones mean when they employ the weasel word ‘professional’  to mean ‘that of which I approve’.  In reality, Copland teachers  used their collegiate solidarity to resist at every stage what Richard Marshall and his sidekick  Nick John had been hired to do. When the pair arrived last July and demanded of Copland Heads of Department that they nominate people they wanted sacked, apart from the odd shameful exception they refused to do so. When the Heads of Department were then threatened that they themselves would go unless they provided names, they still refused. That resistance, an expression of the self-confident autonomous decision-making which is the mark of real professionalism, set the tone which continued throughout the year. Teachers at all levels (except senior management, inevitably) have been united in their action against the surrendering of the school to Ark Inc and its removal from local democratic accountability.   In the end, the fight was lost, as any fight by a few hundred teachers, parents and pupils  against Cameron plus Gove plus their friends on Brent Council plus a hand-picked and craven IEB plus a couple of hired ‘tough’ guys was always going to be lost. 
However, there are defeats and there are defeats.  Ark and the spivs who own it have grabbed Copland. They will give it a new name and claim the credit for the new  building (which, in fact, was planned to go ahead whoever ran the school).  But Gove has gone from the DfE and, as a result of his perceived ‘toxicity’ in the eyes of the electorate (in large part a result of the loud and active resistance of teachers like those at Copland) his hopes of leading the Tory party, and God help us, the country, have gone too.  
Copland staff can feel  proud of the fight they put up in defence of the jobs of their colleagues (including dinner ladies, classroom assistants, mentors, support staff, sports coaches, caretakers, cleaners as well as classroom teachers).  Their professionalism was manifested in action not in apathetic quiescence and  this kind of professional engagement and concern  is a crucially important part of the checks and balances in any democratic society’s resistance to a bullying centralised state. 
So ‘professional’ is certainly what the great majority of Copland staff have been, particularly in face of the despondency and disillusionment which they inevitably felt as they watched their various ‘Leaders’ abandon them. But to use the word ‘professional’ in the way Mr Marshall used it on Wednesday was an insult.  However, there is another variant of ‘professional’’s  many shades of meaning  and it relates to an any activity performed primarily for financial gain. At this point the word almost takes on the meaning of ‘mercenary’, where any moral qualms on the part of the people hired to carry out the activity can be silenced by, to misquote a great British politician of the past, ‘stuffing their mouths with ten pound notes’. There were  people in the hall at Copland on Wednesday who maybe were worthy of such an appellation; but it was certainly not those teachers and ex-teachers who were having to listen to that ill-judged  speech.

Congratulations to all the staff, parents and pupils who fought so hard and persistently to prevent forced academisation. Although you didn't succeed it was a battle worth fighting and an example and inspiration to others.

Martin Francis 

Help Barham Park Estate's Temporary Residents extend their tenancies

We the undersigned petition the council to intervene in the premature issue of 42 "Notice to Quit" orders issued by Brent Community Housing to its tenants and subletting organisations who are resident in the Phase 3 development area of the Barham Park regeneration plan. These NTQs require all the affected residents in these 42 properties to leave by 18th August 2014, when the Council's website clearly indicates there are no plans to proceed with the Phase 3 demolition until early 2015. We therefore request the Council uses its influence with its contractor to extend the above tenancies until January 2015.

We believe that the premature issue of these 42 NTQs is liable to be financially detrimental to the Council in terms of lost rental income and the security of tenure and duty of care for existing Council tenants.

It is our understanding from viewing the Council’s regeneration plans, and from discussion with the contractors and others involved in the proposed scheme that Phase 3 is unlikely to start for at least six months. The Council’s website states that the current building under construction, Phase 2C, is not due to become occupied until “Early in 2015” (http://brent.gov.uk/regeneration/barham-park-estate-regeneration/the-barham-park-estate-project/). To date it has been usual to start to move tenants into the new builds prior to initiating the next demolition schedule.

In addition to forcing a large number of young single people to seek alternative accommodation, which will impact on the council’s Housing Options Team, and the substantial loss of income to the Local Authority, we are also concerned about our neighbours who have council tenancies and are awaiting rehousing. They have already expressed their worries that leaving these 42 properties empty will encourage anti-social behaviour from outside elements.

 Sign ePetition

New anti-racist group launched in Brent to take up 'Justice for Daniel' campaign

A new broad-based group was set up last night to challenge racism in Brent. The group, Brent Anti-Racist Campaign (BARC) will take up issues in policing, housing, immigration, employment, education and any other areas where racism becomes an issue. BARC will also get involved in running 'Know your Rights' workshops for young people.

The crowded meeting heard the story of Daniel Davies from Wembley who was arrested last March over a watch that police suspected of being stolen but which he had purchased from his paper round savings LINK

This was not the end of Daniel's  problems because he was stopped by police again in June when he was on the way to an interview in a smart suit. This time ended up hospitalised after allegedly being restrained by the neck at Wembley Police station in Harrow Road. LINK Police had accused him of being in breach of a dispersal zone.

BARC will demonstrate in support of Daniel and his parents when he appears at Willesden Magistrates Court on August 4th.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Barnet Council gives go ahead for Brent Cross redevelopment

Regular readers will know that the Brent Cross development has been subject to much debate, not least because of the increase in car traffic involved in the expansion of retail and the associated loss of green space. See Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross Development  LINK

This is a Press Release from Barnet Council: 

Barnet Council has today confirmed planning permission for a revamped Brent Cross Cricklewood shopping centre as part of the wider Brent Cross Cricklewood redevelopment. 



The confirmation comes today following the signing of final commercial agreements between Barnet Council, developers Hammerson and Standard Life.


The overall development of both north and south sides of the A406 will create more than 27,000 jobs and 7,500 homes and double the size of the shopping centre.

The Section 106 planning agreement is one of the largest in British history and will see a £250m investment in roads, public transport and pedestrian and cycle links as well as three new parks.

It will also see investment in three new schools and other community facilities as well as a £5.6m major improvements to Clitterhouse Playing Fields.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius said:

It is very difficult to overstate the importance of this redevelopment to Barnet. The council is committed to playing an active role in the development of the south side of the site to get the best financial deal for the taxpayer and to play our part in creating a thriving London neighbourhood.

We are particularly excited by the opportunities presented by Brent Cross overground station which will give a 12 minute fast link into Kings Cross. We are working very closely with the Treasury and the Mayor’s Office to make this happen.