Saturday, 16 December 2017

Wembley High Road sewer works until the end of January

Cabinet approves Wembley Park-Harrow Weald Cycling Quietway

Click bottom right square to enlarge

The Brent Cabinet has approved the Wembley Park to Harrow Weald Quietway (purple on map) for cyclists to go forward for detailed design and consultation.
The plans also contains possible spurs to Wembley Central and along Churchill  Road to Kenton Road. The Council claims that the route will contain improvements for pedestrians as well as cyclists.

A spokesperson for Brent Cyclists said:
This could be a good thing for cycling, depending very much on the detailed design, which we expect to be given input into. 

Cycle routes on narrow, heavily parked, residential roads, as proposed here, can only attract new cyclists if they are really low-traffic, and this can only be achieved with 'mode filtering', whereby only cyclists, pedestrians and emergency vehicles can use the road from end to end (while still allowing motor vehicle access to all properties). 

In the case of the route suggested here, certainly Brook Avenue and Draycott Avenue, which are quite busy roads, and possibly others, would need mode filtering for a satisfactory Quietway route to be achieved.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Cllr Chan opposes The Village School move towards academisation

From this week's Kilburn Times LINK

Click on image to enlarge

Cllr Duffy encounters Kafka in Brent

Councillor John Duffy (Kilburn) recounts his experience of trying to represent workers and relatives over the Paddington Cemetery asbestos dump. Background HERE

A strange thing happened to me last week (Tuesday 5th December). I was made aware of a Internal Audit meeting concerning the discovery of asbestos in Paddington Cemetery. I had raised the issue sometime ago after the council stopped new burials in the cemetery and would only reopen graves to intern the  “next of kin”. The reopening takes place using a special contractor. The contractors are in breathing masks and white overalls. They remove the old soil and replace it with new uncontaminated soil for the burial.
I requested a copy of the report as the person who raised concerns in June. Originally I had asked for an independent report as I feared that the report would not be transparent and there could be seen as a cover-up, unless it was open to local residents and the relatives (bereaved) of the people who are buried in the area of concern. An independent investigation would allow the public to witness the impartiality of the report and the seriousness of the situation.
However this requested was turned down by the CEO Instead the CEO decided to have an internal audit report which would exclude the press and the public .The reasons given for the secrecy of the report was because there was information relating to financial affairs of a particular person or companies.” 
The Head of Legal informed me via officers that I would not be allowed to have a copy of the report. I challenged this and finally received an email from legal services stating  “All members are entitled to ‘inspect’ reports with certain categories of exempt information, rather than receive a copy. If you would like to come to the Civic Centre prior the meeting to inspect the report physically in this instance.”  Why do senior officer think its necessary to act in this bizarre way to stop me getting information. This was done even though in the terms of reference for the report, it states the reason for the internal audit report is “ following concerns raised by Cllr John Duffy in an email dated 10th November” so the decision to exclude me from having a copy is strange to say the least.
Anyway I went to the Civic centre at 4pm,2hrs before the meeting was due to take place to read the report .I was met by 2 (male ) members of legal services with the report. I was informed.  I was allowed to read the report only under their supervision, but could not remove it or photograph it. I am bound by the secrecy imposed on me by the Head of legal , which means if I am approached by any member of the public , who has a relative buried on the Hill ,I have to tell them they are not allowed to know what happen or how the asbestos got there….. Now that is what you call transparency Brent Style.
At the meeting I ask the Chair of the Audit committee to overturn the Head of Legal decision  not to allow me a copy of the report.  He did this and his decision was supported by the other members of the  committee which included  Councillors Choudry, Nerva, Davidson and Perrin. However, even though I was then given a copy , I am still not allow to share the information contained within it.
I informed the chair of the meeting I will not make public anything I have read in the report after he released the report to me. I intent to honour that , with one exception .Officers were wrong  and misleading to say the reasons given for the secrecy of the report was because there was information relating to financial affairs of a particular person or companies.” There is no such information in the report and all names have redacted and the names of the companies involved have been disguised, therefore there is no information, which should be kept from the public.
Whereas I am committed not to discuss the contents of the report I will reiterate things I raised in my previous emails. The act of placing the contaminated waste in Paddington Cemetery was deliberate (any ordinary member  of the public could spot the difference between  a delivery of soil and a delivery of builders rubble) it was not an accident. The cost to the council will be well over a million pounds in lost revenue and I have further concerns about the way the public have been treated since the asbestos was discovered in May this year.
The whole thing is  a farce and is right out of a  Kafka  novel .Why senior officers think that it  is necessary  to stop the local residents and the relatives of those buried knowing the truth  so they can make plans for their  future family  burial arrangements is disgraceful..
As I said before this an attempt by senior officers to rely on the Cabinet, who will nod it through without question and ensure that the facts are kept from the public .
I will continue to seek an independent investigation for the sake of the relatives.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Brent councillors urged to attend fossil fuel divestment event January 27th

This is a welcome initiative taking place on Saturday 27th January 2018 10.30am to 1pm at Brent Civic Centre.

Please urge your councillors to attend. BOOKING
Brent Council & Labour Energy Forum invite Labour Councillors and members to come and discuss how divesting from fossils fuel can shape Labour's role in leading on safer pensions and climate action.

With May 2018 local council elections approaching Labour councils should consider their position on continued investment in the fossil fuel industry.

Over £14 billion of LG Pension Funds holdings are invested in oil, gas and coal - but these investments are no longer financially sustainable. Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has warned that investments into fossil fuels will become stranded assets and contribute to financial instability.

As Labour Groups write their manifestos for the 2018 elections, we invite Labour councillors to come and consider how your local council should move forward in light of the growing consensus of fossil fuels holdings becoming stranded assets. We will interrogate the best approaches to achieving a world unpolluted by the fossil fuel industry, and how to reduce risk while maximising strategic influence over individual companies and the oil/gas/coal extraction sectors.

In September last year, Waltham Forest Council became the UK’s first Local Government Pension Scheme to announce that they will divest their Pension Funds away from fossil fuel companies over the coming 5 years, followed by Southwark Council in December. The place of fossil fuels in the world economy is changing. The Paris Agreement set the UK’s economy on a pathway to taking serious action on climate change that will require significant changes to our economies - changes that are incompatible with the business models of fossil fuel extraction companies. Come and discuss how Labour councils can maximise influence in shaping the transition while minimising the exposure to stranded assets.

The Labour Party can lead in building this new future and laying out how we make this transition just, fast and affordable. Divesting the £14 billion of LG Pension Funds away from fossil fuels would enable reinvestment into local housing and transport, strengthening local economies and supporting job creation.

Pickets at dawn as The Village School strikes against academisation

Pickets at dawn outside The Village School

National Education Union members were out in force this morning from dawn forming a picket as members went on strike against plans by The Village School governors to convert to academy status. In line with the motion recently passed by the CLP the Brent Central Labour Party banner was in attendance.

An NEU spokesperson said:
Around 70 people joined the rally this morning over the two hours. The school was closed to pupils. There was a very determined mood among the crowd to prevent this privatisation of our brilliant Brent school. We were addressed by Stefan Simms, NEU NUT section Executive member, Hank Roberts, NEU ATL section Executive member, Lesley Gouldbourne, Brent NEU joint secretary, Brent Trades Council and the two NEU Reps from the school. There was singing to keep us warm and lots of passing cars and buses tooted to show support. There was a winner of the best placard and then the NEU hosted breakfast at a nearby cafe. 
Further strikes are planned for the New Year, as well as other actions, as the campaign to prevent academisation builds among staff but also in the community.

Wembley High Road works to continue until mid-Janaury

Brent Council has confirmed that Thames Water has been given a second extension to complete their main sewer works in Wembley High Road. The new completion date is mind-January 2018.

Responding to a query about the replacement of the mature trees removed as a result of the works, the Council said that they would be replaced in Wembley Central ward but not in the High Road as there was no suitable site there.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Double Whammy Wembley Works

With road works now taking place outside Wembley Central station as well as on Wembley High Road outside the Brent House building site, residents are getting increasingly frustrated as tailbacks develop. Things were not looking great for this evening with wet roads, two sets of works and Spurs playing Brighton!

Brent Council has responded to a resident by setting out the latest position regarding the works:
The works near Wembley Central Station are been undertaken by UK Power Networks (UKPN), these works are urgent because there has been an intermittent power failure which has affected up to seventy five shops along the High Road.

Originally, the footway opposite Wembley Central Station was closed and two new temporary pedestrian crossings were placed either side of the excavation so that pedestrians could safely navigate their way around the closed footway. Unfortunately, pedestrians were not using this facility, instead, pedestrians were walking in live traffic lanes which is clearly unacceptable. The only safe option was provide a safe pedestrian walkway in the carriageway and control traffic with two way temporary signals, the carriageway at this location was not considered wide enough to accommodate two way traffic and a pedestrian walkway.

I have been to site this morning and we have instructed UKPN to back fill and open the footway and open the carriageway to normal two way traffic, this should be in place for the evening rush hour.

There is still a fault on the cable and UKPN will need to undertake more works at this location, where possible these works will be planned to occur in non-traffic sensitive times only.

I can assure you that all planned works have been postponed until after the sewer works are complete but emergency works cannot be postponed.