Sunday, 19 November 2017

Ditch the Dump! Dollis Hill protests at being made a 'rubbish sandwich' by Barnet Council

148 residents have objected to the locating of a waste transfer facility on the Edgware Road near residential properties and a school. The 'dump' is just within the Barnet boundary but will affect Brent residents. There are no comments support the proposal on the Barnet Council planning portal. LINK

Alison Hopkins has submitted the following comment:

I object in the strongest possible terms to this damaging and wholly unnecessary planning application. This is on the grounds of proximity to housing and schools, vastly increased traffic and congestion, air pollution and noise and environmental damage. 

Over the decades, we in Dollis Hill and Brent have been ignore and side-lined by Barnet Council. Our objections to the disastrous changes to road layouts, the massive increase in traffic, both cars and lorries on our roads, and to the destruction of our community by Barnet Council have been ignored.
There is no benefit to anyone living in Brent of ANY of your plans. Using the word regeneration to describe them is laughable if it were not so tragic. 

Barnet and its Brent Cross development partners have carried out a few so-called consultation exercise here. These have not only been meaningless, but have also resulted in the production of documentation which has gone from misleading to outright lies. 

The dump – and let’s not call it a waste transfer facility, that’s camouflage – is not needed. The only reason that the current WTF is being moved from the eastern side of the railway line is so that Barnet and the Brent Cross partners can build expensive housing with a high return to overseas and other investors. The current WTF is in a non-residential area and waste is moved out to landfill by train. Barnet claim that it’s not as bad as the original plans, as it’s “smaller”. Well, it’s far worse than the current dump, which at least makes some pretence to environmental care by using rail. However, the current dump also emits pollution and is a source of considerable stink to residents. 

These plans call for a WTF – dump, let’s use the word again! – on the doorstep s of thousands of homes in Brent, and across from an infant’s school. These are less than fifty metres away. And of course, the dump is also directly next door to the Fellows Place development, a major housing development recently given consent by Barnet. 

There will be thousands of heavy refuse trucks entering, and thousands leaving. The processing and compaction will cause noise and dust and dirt. Nano particulate pollution has been proven to cause the most damage to small children - those small children who will be forced be neighbours of the dump. 

The Edgware Road is already at the highest pollution levels in London. The refuse trucks and lorries will add to this.

Barnet propose to site this dump as far as possible from their residents as they can and as close to Brent as they can. It will not be their voters who suffer, it will be us. 

And, given that this waste goes to landfill and recycling plants well outside London, why on earth does it need to be so close in? The answer is that it doesn’t. it is sited to suit the Brent Cross development – that regeneration that means we get messed up roads and ruined neighbourhoods. 

The current WTF already causes a stink in warm weather which can be smelled from some distance away – moving it to close proximity to homes and schools is utterly unacceptable. 

What is also horrifying is the fire risk: I quote from the Chief Fire Officers Association: “Waste fires are a consistent issue for the waste and recycling industry, with the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) estimating that there have been around 250 incidents of waste fires per year for the last decade, with an estimated cost to fire and rescue services of around £16 million a year.” The proposed dump is directly opposite two petrol stations. 

The North London Waste Authority themselves originally opposed this site on the grounds of proximity of schools and houses. Those houses and schools haven’t moved, so why the sudden withdrawal of those objections? 

Between this dump and the massive aggregate crushing plant proposed for a few hundred yards further south, we in Brent are a rubbish sandwich. Barnet need to LISTEN to us, not ignore us!
 Another resident comments:

Yet another senseless proposal by Barnet Council for the creation of a rubbish dump, coincidentally located at the very edge of the council limits. The location of the planned waste dump is also just outside the Low Emission Bus Zones announced by the Mayor of London LINK. Just in time, improvements in air quality introduced by this low emission zone will be immediately counteracted by a step increase in the number of HGV coming in and out of the proposed dump. Good job Barnet Council, you are continuing to actively work against the best interest of your tax payers and those from neighbouring councils.

For these reasons, I object to this application. Hopefully the committee will have some common sense and will put the health of tax payers ahead of other interests.

To comment go to LINK

Thursday, 16 November 2017

25 metre tall lattice phone tower proposed for Welsh Harp

Click on image to enlarge
An application has been submitted to Brent Council for the erection of a 25 metre lattice tower phone mast at the Welsh Harp (Brent Reservoir).

The tower, which will rise above the nearby trees, will have six antenna and 2 dishes as well as associated furniture at ground level and a concrete compound at the base.

The applicants have told Brent planners that it is not possible to comply with their suggestion of a reduction to 20 metres as this wold weaken the enhanced 3G and new 4G signal carried by the equipment. They also reject landscaping at the base which planning officers had suggested to reduce the visual impact of the tower from Neasden Recreation Ground.

Comments are open until November 27th. Application Number 17/4597 LINK

Cemetery asbestos exposure being dealt with 'seriously and properly' by Brent Council

Carolyn Downs, Brent Council Chief Executive, has responded to Clrr Duffy's call for an independent investigation into the asbestos waste exposure at Paddington Cemetery. LINK

Ms Downs wrote:
The letter to you from Chris Whyte intended to make clear that we will ask internal audit to undertake an initial investigation and that dependent upon their findings we will consider whether to pass the matter to an independent investigator, the police or any other relevant body or whether there is no evidence to support a claim of wrong doing. Pre-judging the outcome of this initial investigation, or any speculation at this stage about who is to blame, is not appropriate or helpful in my view. Internal audit will be able to pull together the relevant documentation, take a view on the matter and make recommendations. If we do proceed to an external review or some other action then this work will be very helpful to the third party involved at that point.

It is unfortunate that you believe residents will take the view that our colleagues in internal audit, who bring to bear their experience and specialist skills to investigate serious internal and external allegations all the time, which in appropriate cases have resulted in many successful prosecutions, would engage themselves in a “cover up”. I disagree. I am very clear that they will investigate this matter properly and thoroughly and this is entirely the right way for the Council to proceed. Even though any proposed follow [up] action which is an executive function will need to be formally reported to Cabinet, reports from internal audit are within the remit of the Audit Advisory Committee which reports to the Council and not the Cabinet. I do hope that you will feel reassured and able to make clear to any residents that the matter is being dealt with seriously and properly by the Council.

Please also note that the attached report is in the public domain already which covers the health risks related to this serious matter. LINK

Rest assured that the council already has been and will continue to be open and transparent about this matter and is mindful of the need to ensure appropriate scrutiny and accountability.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Progress report on Wembley High Road sewer works

A Thames Water spokesperson responding to my  request regarding progress on the Wembley
High Road sewer works and their investigation into the source of the concrete blockage,  today told me:
We are now halfway through clearing the blockage, and have replaced five metres of pipe which has been damaged. We expect that the rest of the blockage will take two more weeks to clear.
We are still investigating the source of the blockage and have not identified who it might be,  and will let you know when we have any details.

Veolia workers warned of potential asbestos exposure at Paddington Cemetery. Duffy calls for independent inquiry.

In a hand-delivered letter Veolia has written to employees advising them of their possible exposure to asbestos contamination at 'the mound' at Paddington Cemetery. Burials on the mound were suspended in May this year and a survery commisioned.

The survey LINK confirmed contamination and Veolia advise employees who worked on the mound over the last year to register potential exposure with their GP. They point out that doctors will not be able to do tests at this stage as it takes many years for asbestos related symptoms to manifest themselves.

Veolia have told Brent Council that they will not be carriyng out any further burials at the mound and the only works will be 'topping out' of sunken graves as this does not require the breaking of ground. Veolia says that Brent Council has committed to having the mound capped with a special membrane installed over the current surface.

Reacting to the news Cllr John Duffy (Labour, Kilburn) has written to Carolyn Downs, Brent Council CEO to call for an independent investigation into the contamination rather than referral to the Internal Audit Team.

He says the contamination puts the former Brent Council workforce, as well as Veolia's after out-sourcing, at risk. He claims that relatives of those buried on the mound have complained that they are not being kept informed by the council.

Duffy points out that waste contianing over 0.01% asbestos should be treated in a proper facility and that any dumping in the cemetery should be tracable via a waste transport consignment note.

He estimates that treatment of the mound will run into tens of thousands and the total loss to the council including reopening existing graves to inter relatives could total one million.

He calls for ther council to be open and transparent by engaging an independent investigator rather than an internal investigation.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Alleged political interference in Brent's planning decision making process brought to attention of Monitoring Officer

 From Philip Grant (first published as a comment on Andrew Linnie's psot)

Further to Andrew Linnie's post LINK, this is the text of an email I have sent to Debra Norman, Brent's Chief Legal Officer:-

Dear Ms Norman,

I am writing to you in your role as Brent Council's Monitoring Officer, to bring to your attention allegations of interference in decision making over planning applications, which, if true, are in clear breach of Brent's Planning Code of Conduct and Members' Code of Conduct.

You will remember that, on 3 October, you replied on behalf of the Council to a Freedom of Information Act request I had made, about hospitality received on 10 May 2017 by two Cabinet members and two Senior Officers from Terrapin Communications Ltd, on behalf of some of their developer clients. I shared the information provided, and my views on it, in a blog on the "Wembley Matters" site on 5 October, which I believe I drew your attention to.

As a result of my involvement in that matter, I received private email correspondence in early October from several Brent councillors, who shared information with me "in confidence". I responded to them, saying that I felt their allegations and supporting evidence should be passed on to you, as Monitoring Offier. I do not know whether any of them have done so, as they may be concerned about the personal consequences to their political careers if they were to "blow the whistle" on the Council Leader.

I was not intending to get involved further, but information from another FoI request has been shared today on the "Wembley Matters" site, in a blog headed "No records kept of Cllr. Butt's closed-door meetings with Alperton tower developers", which I would suggest that you read at:

In view of the concerns raised in that article, I felt it only right to ensure that you were made aware of the nature of the information I was given by councillors early last month, so that you can consider what action should be taken to stop the potentially illegal manipulation of Brent's planning process, and help to restore trust in that process, which many Brent residents feel has been brought into disrepute. Even though I cannot give the names of my sources, I believe that the information they gave me was in good faith, and is probably true.

1) It is "common knowledge" among Brent councillors that there is "political interference" with the planning process at Brent Council.

2) A former planning officer and a former legal officer at Brent Council have confirmed that there was direct interference by Cllr. Butt in planning decisions made.

3) At least three current or former councillors on Brent's Planning Committee have admitted that Cllr. Butt has told them how to vote on planning applications - but none of them are willing to speak out publicly.

I will copy the text of this email as a comment on today's blog article (see link above), so that it is in the public domain that this information has been given to you. Best wishes,

Philip Grant.

Give a coat - warm a heart. Coats for the homeless Preston Library & Windermere pub

From Preston Community Library
Do you have a good condition old coat to spare? We are collecting them for #WrapUpLondon, who redistribute them in community centres for homeless people. Drop them into Preston Community Library on days we are open [coats only, please, no other clothes], or take them to our friendly local, The Windermere, any afternoon after 2pm.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

If it wasn't Henley, who is responsible for High Road main sewer blockage?

I am awaiting a response from Thames Water on whether their investigations to find the culprit responsible for the concrete blockage in Wembley High Road have made any progress. Henley, who are developing the Brent House site, last week denied responsibility. LINK

I understand that contractors have now dug down 6.5 metres with another metre to go before they hit the sewer. Work is expected to be completed within the month.

A resident reports that Brent Council can expect an increase in revenue with its Smart CCTV car catching motorists going the wrong way through Ecclestone Place's one way system.

Meanwhile a shopkeeper opposite the works told me that his takings were down 50% as a result of the road closure and works.