Published and promoted by Martin Francis on behalf of Brent Green Party and its local council candidates c/o 23 Saltcroft Close, Wembley, HA9 9JJ

20 May 2012

Out with the Old, In with the ... (ahem) Old?

Spot the Difference: New Brent Council Executive, taken 18 May 2012.

Earlier in the week
My colleague Martin Francis has been doing a sterling job of breaking news and reporting developments concerning the ousting of Ann John as Leader of Brent Council by Cllr Muhammed Butt over the last ten days (with the exception of reposting a badly sourced BNCTV article, for which he subsequently apologised).

Visualing the change in Brent Executive with the assistance of the Town Hall notice board above, one could be forgiven for thinking no change in direction looks imminent. Ruth Moher has been moved to the Finance role and Cllr Hirani fills her vacancy. So what can we expect of Leader Butt?

Well, we have an early indication of the promises he is likely to have made to boost his chances of internal selection in this fascinating open letter from Graham Durham (credible source) saying Butt wanted to consider "partnership with community groups" to forestall library closures and wants to reduce senior management in the Council.

If Butt is honest in his assessment that part of the problem lies in senior management - and given his acquired knowledge of the Council purse strings from his previous role - should we not expect to get an early indication that Butt does as he says (and assuming Durham's report is accurate)? When the Greens took control of Oxford City Council over a decade ago, they did indeed make some tough decisions, implementing key changes to the senior management.

An equally pressing test of Butt's leadership will be the Library closures. In the case of Kensal Rise, the Council's legal department has been maintaining that the "reverter" has been triggered in an attempt to deny themselves the very opportunity that All Souls has counselled on behalf of the community, to explore the community running the library. Is Butt going to face down his critics in the Council, and indeed some in the Labour Group, to try and reverse the fortunes of Kensal Rise Library? Or are we going to see a continuation of the washing-hands-of-ultimate-responsibility that has typified this administration? I have previously described Ann John as "a formidable politician" - certainly not because I have been anything but vociferously opposed to her implementation of the cuts locally. However, she has been pretty consistent, both in her public statements and then her follow-through. One knew where one stood with her.

What we don't need, I would suggest, is a Leader who says one thing to the community, yet another, quite inconsistent thing, to his officers and administrators in the Council. No Leader has full autonomy to do what they like, as in a wishful wish-list, but the stated opportunities as described in Durham's letter are achievable. With the political will.

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