Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Fair Funding for All Schools - Get Your Voice Heard

The changing Wembley skyline as highrise blocks reach higher and higher

View from Chalkhill Park
This view drew my attention yesterday as I walked past Chalkhill Park, Wembley. It shows the central lift shaft of one of the tallest blocks so far approved in the Quintain regeneration area. As each block goes higher it sets a precedent for future planning applications: what's a couple of extra storeys between friends?

This Independent article from 2015 discusses some of the issues surrounding new highrise developments. LINK 

See also the Skyline Campaign HERE

March 30th: Haringey Against the HDV: The Social. No Permission for Demolition

Haringey Against the Haringey Development Vehicle: 
The Social. No Permission for Demolition

Thu 30 March 2017 19:00 – 23:00 TChances Arts & Music Centre, 399 High Road, N17 6QN

Haringey (Tottenham/Wood Green/Hornsey) is facing the largest attack on Council Housing and public commercial land of anywhere in the UK. This onslaught is opposed by the Labour Party in Haringey,opposed by Unite and GMB, and both MPs have called for a halt. Multiple estates are due to be demolished as the council signs a deal with Australian multinational Lendlease, a known blacklister. We know what happened in Southwark where Lendlease took the stock of council homes from 1,194 to 79.

Under The Cranes. A film by Emma-Louise Williams.

"Using the script of poet Michael Rosen’s documentary play, the film is intercut with rarely seen archive footage, much of which shows the locality’s commitment to social housing. As we hear from the famous – Shakespeare in Shoreditch, Anna Sewell, Anna Barbauld – alongside a Jamaican builder, a Bangladeshi restaurant owner or the Jewish 43 Group taking on Oswald Mosley in Dalston, we see past and present streets, parks, cemeteries and markets."

Q and A with Director Emma-Louise Williams.

Michael Rosen: Comment, questions and poetry from the award winning author Michael Rosen (ps his new book on Emile Zola is excellent).

MC: Ava Vidal: Famed Comedian and star of Mock the Week, Newsnight,Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, Comedy Central's The World Stands Up, Edinburgh and Beyond and C4 reality show Kings of Comedy.

LIVE MUSIC With the superb Franco/Roma singer FLORENCE JOELLE and Band. A Truly excellent performer and a friend of Tottenham, who else could write an ode to the 29 Bus.

Campaign Update: Find out what is going on with the largest assault on Council owned properties in the UK and how we address it. Featuring Veteran Tottenham Activist Stafford Scott and other local activists and what you can do to help.

If you haven't booked you can still pay at the door.

Put the Mayor right on Estate Regeneration March 30th Stonebridge Hub

The invitation below has been issued to Brent residents by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, but his 'Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration' has been criticised LINK LINK, not least by the Green Party AM Sian Berry.

On behalf of the Mayor of London we would like to invite Brent residents to a meeting to discuss the future of estate regeneration in London.

30 March - 6.30pm-7.45pm - Stonebridge Hub, 6 Hillside, NW10 8BN

The Mayor is currently consulting on a draft 'Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration' which sets out how estate regeneration projects in London should be run.

The meeting will be an opportunity to hear more about the draft Good Practice Guide and share your views on it. More information about the guide is available on the Greater London Authority's website

All residents in Brent with an interest in estate regeneration are very welcome to attend. If you know of anyone who may be interested in attending the meeting please share this invitation with them.

Please reserve your place and let us know if you plan to attend by:

·  Online - via eventbrite

·  Phone: 0800 612 2182.

·  Email:

For further information and inquiries please call Amy or Pancho on 0800 612 2182 or email

Sian Berry, Green Party Assembly Member for London has criticised the Mayor's guidance on estate regeneration:
The draft guidance gives no reassurance that the Mayor’s pledge to estate residents will be fulfilled. The document is very unclear how, in practical terms, councils and landlords need to act in order to qualify for Greater London Authority (GLA) funding, or to win the Mayor’s support for planning applications. 

Worse, it is almost useless as a resource for residents who want to hold their councils and landlords to account, take part in developing and putting forward positive new ideas to improve their areas or have a meaningful say in whether their homes are demolished. 

It doesn’t define transparency or include any measureable goals – not even one that says it aims to reduce the number of homes demolished as the Mayor has promised.

These failings are so severe that this draft guidance document needs rewriting from scratch. The Mayor’s team should work with estate residents to ensure their homes are protected from demolition, their views are respected and their ideas enabled by the final guidance.
Berry's full response can be found HERE

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Local News Matters - meeting tonight in Parliament on local media crisis

Tonight, Tuesday 28 March 2017, NUJ members and politicians will come together to discuss the local news crisis in the UK as part of the union's week of action. The event takes place in committee room 12 in parliament at 18.00.

At the event, the NUJ will be launching new research and analysis of the local media crisis. The research was carried out by Dr Gordon Neil Ramsay, deputy director for the centre for the study of media, communication and power at King's College London. Gordon will present the key findings of his research tonight. The other speakers confirmed include Aasma Day, the investigative reporter and lifestyle editor at the Lancashire Post, professor Robert McChesney, Justin Schlosberg from the Media Reform Coalition and NUJ president Tim Dawson.

The report entitled Mapping changes in local news 2015-2017: more bad news for democracy? includes the following key findings:

·         There was a net loss of 9 UK regional newspapers between November 2015 and March 2017, with 22 titles closing and 13 launching.

·         The number of UK local authority districts with no daily local newspaper coverage rose to 273 (of 406 in total).

·         Five UK local authority districts were reduced to single-publisher monopolies, increasing the number of local monopolies to 170 out of 380 in England, Wales and Scotland. Combining the new research with previous data reveals there are 1,103 local newspaper titles in the UK in March 2017.

·         The five largest publishers – Trinity Mirror (226 titles); Johnston Press (213 titles); Newsquest (211); Tindle (126) and Archant (75) account for 77.1 per cent of all local newspapers in the UK. There has been a net reduction of 2.2 per cent from November 2015 to March 2017.

·         There were 30 instances of job cuts announced over a 17-month period involving the loss of 418 jobs. Newsquest, with 12 announcements affecting 139 jobs, led the way, followed by Trinity Mirror (at least 102 jobs) and Johnston Press (100 jobs). In addition to the job cuts, reorganisations affected a further 83 jobs, and there were six newspaper office closures, with journalists often being moved long distances away from the communities they serve.

·         The BBC deal for 150 new local democracy reporters fails to offset the loss of more than 400 journalists from the largest publishers during the same period. The £8m to be spent annually on this scheme will be taken out of the publicly-funded licence and represents a fraction of the combined operating profits of the largest local publisher.

On Thursday 30 March at 13.30 in parliament, MPs will debate the state of the UK’s local media and an early day motion has been tabled calling for sustainable investment in professional local and regional news provision online, in newspapers and on radio and television.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ acting general secretary, said: “Journalism is a pillar of democracy and this survey should be of major concern to anyone who cares about local, regional or national government. The stark decline in journalism is a direct result of disinvestment in editorial resources. This survey points to a deep crisis in local and regional news provision. There is an urgent need for government and media organisations to halt that decline, to examine ways of developing sustainable media business models operating in the interests of democracy and the public interest. The price of a continuous decline is too high for citizens to pay.”

LATEST: Labour selections for Brent Council elections 2018

Former councillor James Powney failed in his 'come back' selection bid for Harlesden ward last night. Joshua Mitchell Murry, claiming he'd 'put residents first' was selected along with Lloyd McLeish and Mili Patel. Fryent selected Shama Tatler, George Crane and Vincent Lo.

On Tuesday Kensal Green and Barn Hill will select. In Barn Hill it is a formality with Shafique Choudhary, Sarah Marquis and Michael Pavey re-selected without  opposition. Wednesday Update: Matt Kelcher and Jumbo Chan were re-selected in Kensal Green and Claudia Hector won the third position.

Welsh Harp (Amer Agha, Harbi Farah and Roxanne Mashari), Queens Park (James Denselow, Neil Nerva, Ella Southwood) and Tokyngton (Muhammed Butt, Orleen Hylton and Ketan Shah) will all confirm the re-selection of current councillors.

Thursday's meeting in Alperton will confirm the re-selection of James Allie and Bhagwani Chohan with a contest for third place between Nushan Nazemi and Trupti Sangani.

Meanwhile more is emerging about the de-selection of John Duffy in Kilburn which was a surprise to many of the public given his record of robustly challenging the Cabinet and officers.

In an email to Kilburn ward members, following up on an email he sent listing his achievements as a councillor, Duffy said:
Normally I would ignore stupidity like this, but I have had to sit in meetings where the tone has been unacceptable some member calling Hillary Benn “a Fascist”.

At the meetings members often wearing pictures of Jeremy Corbyn these members are normally in their 50’s and 60’s its very odd. If you dare raise the fact working people are turning their backs on the Labour Party they say its not important that the Labour Party win elections. Some times I feel I am at a Moonies convention, without the humour or big wedding at the end.

Like most Labour party members, I am dismayed at our electoral position. So I ignore them and push on trying to deliver socialist answers to problem facing the residents of Kilburn because of the unbalanced Tory austerity attack on hard working families and people who are need support.

These members have apparently decided at Wednesday night selection meeting that local issues and local residents will more or less be ignored and the main issue at the meeting will be about how much you support Jeremy Corbyn.
In an earlier email he accused Momentum members of using the 'pernicious Tory tactic of blacklisting' (regarding Brent Momentum's Facebook listing councillors who supported Owen Smith's leadership bid) and said that his wife would not attend the selection meeting for fear of intimidation.

 A Kilburn Labour Party member reacted with this statement:
This is John Duffy's version of alternative facts. Not a different interpretation of facts, but a "different truth". The idea that members are all in their 50s or 60s, sit around in Corbyn T-shirts and ignore local issues is about as far from the truth as you can get. That and the idea that the main issue at the selection meeting was Corbyn.
The member went on to say that despite Duffy not being at the selection meeting his candidature had been tabled and he did receive some votes. Duffy did not have an automatic right to be short-listed and this had also been the case with Cllr Rita Conneely. He rejected claims that local issues were not discussed citing a recent special meeting on South Kilburn Regeneration and said no one else had noticed an atmosphere of intimidation.

There was a recognition that Duffy had made life difficult for the Council leadership and forced them to retreat on a number of issues but it was also felt that he was not a team player able to work co-operatively with other councillors and campaigners.

Listing councillors who had supported Owen Smith's leadership bid was an attempt to provide political information for Labour Party members to consider when making their selections. In fact most of the councillors named had been re-selected.  It was not comparable to blacklisting by employers to stop militant trade unionists from gaining employment.

The Kilburn member denied that the de-selection of Duffy could be interpreted as a victory for Muhammed Butt and the Labour leadership but instead was about the above issues and a reaction to Duffy's email claims.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Grunwick 40 Exhibition just closed but keep the struggle going and perhaps display it yourselves

From Grunwick 40

The doors to the #wearethelions #Grunwick strike exhibition closed at 5pm today. As the record-breaking run ends, the Grunwick 40 team would like to thank everyone who made this exhibition possible: curator Poulomi Desai, designer Neelu Bhuman, artist Anna Ferrie, the staff at Brent Museum & Archives, Graham Taylor and Dr Sundari Anitha who gave generously of their time to assist with text and research, and the committee of volunteers who have put in over 18 months of unpaid and unseen work behind the scenes to make this entire project happen. All this couldn't have been possible without the financial support of the many individuals and trade union branches who donated to our crowdfunding appeal, very generously topped up by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Near Neighbours. Final thanks, of course, go to the actual strikers themselves, the lions who continue to inspire us with their courage and commitment.

For now, the exhibition will go into storage but we would love to see it travel around the country. If you have a space that may be suitable for displaying it please message us to discuss. The Grunwick story may be 40 years old but we hope its lessons and legacy will continue to resonate for generations to come.

'Remind me, please, who is our local Council meant to serve?' - Brent Council propaganda on Wembley Stadium condemned

Brent Council's celebratory announcement of the approval of the Wembley Stadium - Tottenham Hotsput planning application to increase the number of full capacity events at Wembley Stadium has drawn stinging criticism.

Cllr John Warren has written to fellow councillors:
Am I the only member appalled at the "celebratory " tone of the Your Brent piece on the Wembley Stadium / Spurs planning approval on the Brent website?

The piece mentions the "extensive consultation process, "but is completely silent on the results of that consultation! Our intelligence is then insulted by a quote from a Brent Council spokesman, who speaks about a " balance being struck." What balance?

It is complete propaganda...and why are we celebrating a decision which offends a very large number of our residents? The phrase "rubbing salt in the wound " springs to mind.

Cllr John Warren
On Friday Philip Grant on a comment on this  blog wrote:

It is sickening that, this morning, Brent Council's website has a banner headline celebrating Spurs being given full capacity use of Wembley Stadium, linked to a Council press release about the Planning Committee decision which does not mention the objections made by local residents and businesses:
Remind me, please, who is our local Council meant to serve?

... and then, to add insult to injury, at 1pm today the Council emailed me "Spurs are on their way to Wembley!", a copy of the latest "Your Brent" digital news-sheet, with the same banner headline celebrating the Planning Committee decision.

But this is a very distorted news report, because it makes no mention of the very valid objections put forward to the committee, by local people and some councillors on behalf of their residents.

It is as if the Council's press release reporting the decision was prepared before the Planning Committee meeting took place, which it probably was!

Philip Grant
This is the Council's statement. complete with an image of celebratory fountains, posted on its website on the evening of March 23rd - the day of the Planning Committee:
Temporary increase to full capacity events at Wembley Stadium approved
23 March 2017

An application from the FA/Wembley National Stadium Ltd to temporarily increase the number of full capacity events at Wembley Stadium has been agreed by Brent Council's Planning Committee this evening (March 23).

The decision, which follows an extensive consultation process, paves the way for 22 additional full capacity events for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club matches, of up to 90,000 fans to take place at the stadium between August 2017 and July 2018.

Under current rules there is no limit on the number of events that can be held at a maximum capacity of 51,000.

It is understood that Tottenham Hotspur are set to make the national stadium their temporary home while their new ground at White Hart Lane is developed.

Wembley had originally requested permission for an additional 31 full capacity events but this was reduced to 22 prior to the application coming to committee. The application has now been approved subject to a number of additional measures being put in place, including ones designed to deal with the impacts of increased numbers of people in the area. These include controlling parking and traffic, signage, street cleaning, event management and control of public safety including aspects such as alcohol sale and street trading. The Committee heard from objectors and the applicant before making their decision.

A Brent Council spokesperson said: "Wembley Stadium is a highly valued part of our borough bringing visitors from around the world. We are pleased that a balance has been struck between recognising the impact on local residents and businesses whilst enabling the Stadium to make good use of its facilities and support a London club to operate in the capital while their ground is being redeveloped."

"We look forward to working closely with the Stadium, the Football Association and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in the forthcoming year both on the management of events and their work in the local community that they outlined in their application."