15 Dec 2010

Free Green Party Membership for Under 30s

In a completely unprecedented offer, the Green Party is offering free membership for all people under the age of 30 or in full-time education. The offer is available until 31st December 2010. No subscription will need to be paid for the coming year, thereby foregoing the normal rate of £5 for joining students.

In the aftermath of the tuition fees vote, the Green Party are the only parliamentary party who believe in a policy of universal free education.

Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, said on the matter:

“I want students and young people to know there is a political party that still cares about their future, and that will keep fighting for a fairer future and will not give up on doing the right thing.”

29 Nov 2010

'Big Society' will hit back at Cameron and Clegg

David Cameron will get his "big society" quicker than he thinks, judging by the huge attendance at a conference called last Saturday 27 November by the Coalition of Resistance to Cuts and Privatisation.
Over 1200 delegates packed the conference, which brought together MPs, trade unions, campaigning organisations from across the country, student activists, representatives from pensioner groups -- all corners of societyfacing government plans to cut public services to the bone.
Speakers at the conference -- from MP John McDonnell to Len McCluskey, the newly elected leader of Britain's largest trade union UNITE -- all had the same message, the spirit of which was captured by 15-year-old school Barnaby Raine, who joined last week's protests against education cuts:
"If the police think that 'kettling' students will stop us coming on demonstrations ever again, they are sorely mistaken. Students have only two choices: either they lay down and accept what the government throws at them,or they fight back."
The student protests and occupations are inspiring new levels of militancy and audacious action, which will be taken up across all the campaigns to stop the government cuts.
As MP John McDonnell told the conference, we will build a fast gathering, united movement of opposition, which will see strikes, demonstrations, occupations, direct action and campaigns of civil disobedience, on a scale not seen for a generation.
Tony Benn, who was elected president of the Coalition of Resistance, said David Cameron is going to see what a "big society" really looks like.
He spelled out the task we are facing: a government which aims to roll back 60 years of progress, and return to the dark days before the creation of the welfare state, must be stopped in its tracks.
The Coalition of Resistance will support all anti cuts campaigns and is calling for the widest solidarity with the national day of student protests on Tuesday 30 November. A national week of action against the cuts is planned for February 2011 and the Coalition of Resistance is committed to help make the TUC demonstration against the cuts on 26 March one of the biggest protests ever seen in Britain.

28 Nov 2010


Introduction from Steffi Gray (Brent FoE) and Derek Wall (GPEW)

Nick Grant, National Executive, National Union of Teachers (pc)

Ann Hunter, Brent Lib-Dem Councillor

Love Food Hate Waste

Questions & discussion part 1

Questions & discussion part 2

Teather lobbied on home insulation

Brian Orr, Chair of Brent Green Party,took part in this lobby of Sarah Teather,  MP for Brent Central
Willesden and Brent Times, November 25th 2010

Brent Greens: Libraries are essential

From Willesden and Wembley Observer November 25th 2010

A consultation on the closures (officially 'Libraries Transformation Project ') will run for the next three months. LINK and there will be public meetings about it as follows:



Venue and Time

Harlesden Area

11 January 2011

All Souls Church next to Lloyds TSB

at 7pm

Kilburn and Kensal Area

12 January 2011

Queens Park Community School

at 7pm

Wembley Area

18 January 2011

Patidar House, Wembley

at 7pm

Willesden Area

19 January 2011

College of North West London

at 7pm

Kingsbury and Kenton

9 February 2011

Kingsbury High School at 7pm



Venue and Time

Willesden Green Library

1 December 2010

Willesden Green Library
at 6:30pm

Brent Town Hall

6 January 2011

Brent Town Hall

at 6:30pm

Open Day


Venue and Time

Willesden Green Library

12 January 2011

Willesden Green Library

10:30am-1pm and


9 Nov 2010


Cllr Roxanne Marshari spoke briefly about the specific impacts of cuts on young people:
·        4,500 young people in Brent will lose their Educational Maintenance Allowance.
·        NUS research finds that 8/10 young people will be deterred  from Higher Education by the trebling of fees.
·        The cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future scheme means that many will continue to be taught in crumbling buildings. Copland is one example.
·        Connexions service which helps young people into work is under threat.

Brent has a higher than average population under 25. The Council is making efforts to involve young people in their work and decisions through Brent Youth Parliament and a mentoring scheme where individual councillors mentor a series of young people for six months at a time.
Sharly Boukhari is campaigning to defend the EMA  

Phil O’Reilly reported that Brent Council is seeking to move all employees onto Outer London allowance which would mean a cut in pay for some of up to £1500 a year. All employees had received a letter saying that there will be £37m of cuts next year. Phil and Hank Roberts repeated their concern that Ann John was not responding to communications from the Unions representing Brent’s employees.

Martin Francis commented that already schools are aware of a deterioration in LEA services provided by Brent as staff and resources are cut. This could lead to a downward spiral with more schools turning to the private sector, the Authority earning less, services deteriorating further...

Ann O’Neill queried why, if the cuts are 26% over four years, they are being front loaded for bodies providing services for the Council. They are being asked to make 25% cuts now. It doesn’t feel as if the Council is protecting the most vulnerable and some officers are going about cutting quite gleefully.

Roxanne Marshari commented that cuts to local government grants are designed to shift blame for the cuts from the government onto councils.   There was no disagreement with that statement, but there was general agreement that we would welcome a clear statement from the Labour Group on the Council about which side they are on and an acceptance of the necessity for working with all the unions representing the Council workforce. Pete Firmin will draft a letter to the Labour Group from Brent Fightback and circulate it to committee members.

Hank Roberts suggested a protest or series of protests outside Sarah Teather’s surgeries.

Emma Tait suggested that a number of marches each formed from a threatened group, could converge on a single point.

Jean Roberts emphasised the importance of writing letters to the local papers.

Plans for debate with Sarah Teather still not finalised. She is still available on 8th and 15th December, problem is finding an opponent who is available on one of those dates. Both Space1 and Space2 at the Library Centre are free on 15th. Pete will continue trying to find someone to debate.

The governors of Kenmont Primary School, just in Hammersmith, but withmany children from Brent, have approached ARK about the possibility of becoming a primary academy or being linked to Burlington Danes an existing secondary academy. This was done without consulting parents and there is a strong opposition among them. Brent Fightback expressed support for their campaign.

Disputes, protests and forthcoming meetings:
FBU strike planned for 5th – 6th Nov called off. Dispute is going to arbitration and the threat of mass sackings has been temporarily lifted.
NUJ at the BBC Strike going ahead on 5th -6th Nov with a call for a solidarity meeting outside White City at 12 noon on 5th.
RMT & TSSA next strike 28th – 29th Nov
Tues Nov 9th Defend Council Housing Protest outside Parliament 5.30 pm as Housing Benefit Cuts are debated
Wednesday Nov 10th Joint UCU & NUS demonstration FUND OUR FUTURE: STOP EDUCATION CUTS Assemble 11.30 pm Horse Guards Ave 11.30 am  
Tuesday November 23rd 7.30 pm Brent Campaign Against Climate Change Public meeting: Willesden Green Library Centre.  Leaflet attached  
Thursday November 25th Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group Public Meeting with Glenda Jackson MP Tricycle 

8 Nov 2010

Burning not the answer to zero waste future

Lia Colacicco, Professor Paul Connett, Viv Stein and Phil Fletcher at House of Commons

Environmental groups opposing the Brent Cross incinerator took their fight to the House of Commons on Tuesday of last week.  Together with invited MPs, they heard leading waste experts spell out the dangers of incinerators, like at Brent Cross, and the arguments for a “zero waste” alternative.  However, Mike Freer, local MP for Finchley and Golders Green failed to attend.

Brent Cross Cricklewood Coalition members from local Friends of the Earth (FoE) groups in Brent, Barnet and Enfield were invited to the seminar “Zero Waste – the Cost Effective and Sustainable Alternative to Incineration”.  The meeting, organised by Gloucestershire against Incinerators [3], part of the “UK Without Incineration Network” (UKWin), was attended by anti-incinerator groups from across the UK, as well as members of Parliament.  Keynote speaker Paul Connett, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Chemistry from St Lawrence University, New York State, had previously visited the Brent Cross site, and also recently addressed the United Nations.

Professor Connett said, ““The Brent Cross Cricklewood developers need to radically rethink their "energy from domestic waste" plans.  Putting a gasifying-incinerator, emitting unregulated and toxic nano-particles, into a built-up area, near schools and homes is madness.  Gasification is an unproven technology for domestic waste.  This has caused at least one evacuation of local homes in Germany, after which trials were stopped.

"It beggars belief that the developers continue to claim they are not planning an "incinerator".

"Instead of burning our domestic waste, we need to move towards a "zero waste system", where rubbish is considered a resource to recycle.

“Incineration and gasification detract from recycling, since they don’t work without burning good recyclable materials.  They also emit more greenhouse gases than when the organic component is treated by digestion."

Viv Stein, Brent Friends of the Earth Spokesperson, said, “Incinerators are a dead technology, sold on spin.  No new plants have been approved in the United States since 1995.  The UK is now being targeted by companies keen to make a profit here – at the expense of the public purse, local communities and the environment.

“Incinerators bind local Councils to costly and inflexible long term contracts which are bad news anytime, but madness when Councils are so strapped for cash.  Councils sometimes even have to pay penalties because they are not providing enough material to burn.

“Brent Cross Developer Jonathan Joseph and former Barnet leader, now MP, Mike Freer, strongly defended incineration at Barnet planning committee, promising  information was readily available that these plants are safe.  Yet one year on we have yet to see any independent evidence this is the case.  We challenge Mike Freer and Hammerson to tell us why.  If Freer wants to stick an incinerator amongst his constituents, he should have joined us to listen to experts’ concerns.”

Phil Fletcher, Barnet and Enfield Friends of the Earth Co-ordinator said, “Far from producing “energy from waste”, incinerators are a “waste of energy”.  Electricity from burning waste is extremely inefficient.  It is actually better for the climate to landfill plastic - and not incinerate it - if it cannot be recycled.

“There is no safe level of toxic nano-particles from the incineration processes.  They are small enough to get into our bloodstream, and can do long-term damage to our health.  The ash created from incineration still has to be sent to landfill [8].  We learnt how monitoring of these toxic particles at hazardous waste landfill sites can be flawed – it depends where detection points are actually positioned.  It was quite shocking to see these are operating as open sites - here in the UK - with clouds of dust visibly affecting the local area.”

Julian Kirby, Waste Campaigner, Friends of the Earth  who also addressed the meeting said, “The UK buries or burns over £650 million of recyclable materials every year.  That’s not just bad for the environment, it’s a massive waste of resources and a huge cost to our cash-strapped economy.

“Over seventy thousand new jobs would be created if the UK recycled 70% of its business and Council-collected waste.  Given the Belgian region of Flanders exceeds that already, and Wales and Scotland have both set 70% as a 2025 target, why must England be left behind?

“As the latest statistics show, we are producing less waste every year, and recycling more of it.  That is the direction we need to be heading – there is no need or place for incineration in a genuinely zero waste future.”

Other speakers at the meeting were Barbara Farmer from Sward, a Gloucestershire group opposing incinerators, and Jonathan Essex from Bioregional who promote reuse of waste, which creates jobs and puts disused land into use.

This meeting follows recent news that North London Waste Authority – including Barnet - has lost its Government agreement to borrow around £700 million for its seven-borough PFI waste plan.

7 Nov 2010

Get real about climate change!

GET REAL ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE! Brent CCC public meeting: Willesden Library 23/11/10

Time to tell the politicians...GET REAL ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE!

Faced with cuts to jobs and services it’s easy to forget that if we don’t act now climate change will be a far worse threat to our future than the economic crisis. If the banks are too big to fail, then so is the planet. We need carbon cuts, not job cuts!

Come to the Local Public Meeting
Tuesday 23 November 7.30pm
Willesden Green Library Centre 95 High Road NW10 2SF (nearest tube, Willesden Green)

Derek Wall, Green Party, author No Nonsense Guide to Green Politics
Jonathan Neale, Campaign against Climate Change, author One Million Climate Jobs Now!
Nick Grant, National Executive, National Union of Teachers (pc)
Ann Hunter, Brent Lib-Dem Councillor

Join the National Climate March
March on Parliament for a Zero Carbon Britain
Saturday 4 December 12.00 noon Hyde Park

Brent Campaign against Climate Change

Shahrar Ali on Press TV Agenda Panel: 16 October 2010

Topic: America: Should the Geneva Convention be Rewritten or More Rigorously Enforced? [click image to play]

Yvonne Ridley interviews: Shahrar Ali (Green Party), Andy Worthington (Caged Prisoners) and Rupert Nichol (secruity analyst)

Shahrar calls on Obama to shut down Guantanamo and other interrogation camps. He says that advocates of torture and architects of illegal wars must be brought before war crimes tribunals.

SA's line: 0330: Obama mountain to climb to restore US moral credibility. 1645: Legal remedy not just apologetic words. Need for war crimes tribunal. 2150: Abu Ghraib atrocities. Blair implicating himself in his own words. 2915: NO circumstance in which torture of children permitted. Queens Lancashire Regiment also implicated at the time. 3910: Drones and war technology lead to further dehumanisation in war. 4600: All states, including US, must be subject to the lessons of history through international law.

6 Nov 2010

Brent Cross: Flawed Plans and Wasted Opportunity will Destroy Local Communities

Front page of Willesden and Wembley Observers 4 November 2010: scanned. On-line version. Week's newsprint coverage posted to Coalition for a sustainable Brent Cross & Brent Greens quotes.

1 Nov 2010

Brent Fightback meeting on Thursday 4/11/10 7.30 pm at Brent Trades Hall,

Councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala contacted Brent Fightback to give his apologies for Thursday evening's meeting, but sent the attached briefing prepared by him and Cllr Muhammed Butt, deputy leader of the Council outlining the probable effects on the people of Brent from the Comprehensive Spending Review. Many of you will already have seen the article in Tthursday's Kilburn/Willesden & Brent Times which was clearly based on the same briefing.

Hoping to see as many of you as possible at the Brent Fightback meeting on Thursday 7.30 pm at Brent Trades Hall,

Yours in solidarity,

Cllr. Muhammed Butt
Cllr. Zaffar Van Kalwala


• Brent Council will have 28% cut from its central government grant resulting in a total loss of £65m over the next 4 years
• Some of Brent’s low-income households face being worse off by upto £10,000 per year (based on increase in rents and loss of benefits)
• 41,000 residents will see cuts to their Housing and Council Tax benefit payments
• Freezing of the Sure-Start grant will result in a total funding cut of £1m
• 4.250 Brent 16-19 year olds will lose their Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
• Brent is in the top 20 most income deprived local authorities in the country. It also has the 4th lowest average income levels in London with 16,901 households (16%) having an average annual income of £15,000 or less.

The Chancellor, George Osborne insists there is no alternative to his huge and unnecessary cuts, detailed on Wednesday 20th October to the House of Commons. That is simply not true. The Lib-Con Government’s reckless gamble with growth and jobs runs the risk of stifling the fragile recovery. Labour is committed to halving the deficit over the lifetime of this parliament but this Government is going much faster and much deeper than is necessary.
The CSR was meant to be fair with the Lib-Con Government saying ‘those with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden.’ However, the £81bn worth of cuts released including significant spending reductions on welfare, housing and education will see some of Brent’s most vulnerable residents impacted on disproportionately.
The full extent of the cuts on Brent will not be properly known until early December when the Local Government Grant is finalised and a more detailed analysis of the CSR has been undertaken.

• New social housing tenants face increase in rent with charges of up to 80% of market rates. The average rent for a three-bedroom social home is around £85 a week. National Housing Federation warns that this could triple to a "staggering" £250 a week, an extra £8,500 per year.
• Council houses for life could also end for new tenants, who might be handed fixed term contracts, under the proposals.
• Brent’s Council Tax benefit budget will be reduced by 10% from April 2013
• Cut of 50% to the social housing budget will severely reduce the supply of affordable housing in Brent. As mentioned, the Government wants to charge rents of up to 80% of the market rate and use the extra funds to make-up the housing shortfall. Brent has 23,000 people on the waiting list. These proposals are likely to add further stress to the borough’s housing situation.

• Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) which provides young people from households with incomes of less than £30,000 an incentive to continue in education will be cut. 4,250 Brent youngsters will loose upto £1,100 per academic year.
• Funding for Sure-Start Centres will be reduced by £1m in real terms as the amount received by Brent is frozen for the next 4 years. For 2010/2011 a grant of £10m was given for the programme.
• Schools will only see a 0.1% increase in funding. However, if increased demand is factored in and taking out the previously announced Pupil premium this amounts to an actual cut to the schools budget. Brent has 185 4&5-year olds that do not have a school place for this academic year. This will rise drastically to a cumulative total of 500 by 2015. A government spending cut will only exacerbate one of the borough’s most pressing issues.
• 12% cut to the Education's non-schools budget. This may involve cuts to areas such as Early Years, support for disabled children as well as grants for free school meals.
• Educational capital spending will be reduced by 60% putting spending on schools maintenance and development at risk.
• Adult-Learning funding to be cut by 25%. BACES (Stonebridge) will lose the ‘Train to Gain’ programme and will have to charge adults the full rate for GCSE/A-Level courses.

• The settlement for local government is a cut of 7.1% for four years. Brent’s budget will be reduced by a total of £65m. This will see every council service area being cut by a minimum 7%. Some areas may have to make further cuts to support priority areas or to continue delivering other key services.
• Capital programme to be cut by 45% (£66m). This will mean less money for building schools, housing and adult social care.
• Majority of cuts in benefits and services will be ‘front-loaded’ and made in the first 2 years (2011/12 & 2012/13).
• Grants from the Department of Transport reduced by 28% which will see less funds available for Streetcare, pavement repairs and gritting.
• Funding for ‘Concessionary Travel’ which pays for 43,000 Brent Pensioners to have the Freedom Pass will be cut by 10%. Brent has already put in an extra £1.5m towards the scheme this year.
• Additional income for Adult Social Care will not respond to the increase in demand for the borough’s services.
• The rate of interest the council can borrow at from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) has been increased by 1% across the board. This will make raising finance for local building and development projects substantially more expensive.

Cllr. Muhammad Butt
(Brent Deputy Leader & Lead Member for Finance and Corporate Services) said:
“The Lib-Con Government promised the people of Brent fairness but these reckless cuts take money away from the elderly, funding from our schools and people away from their homes.
These cuts will hurt and this could mean fewer libraries, more potholes going unrepaired parks shutting earlier and youth clubs closing.
Tough decisions need to be taken and I know people are very worried what the cuts will mean for them.
This Labour Council will be fighting for all our residents and making sure we continue to deliver our key services. This Lib-Con Government is hitting hard some our most vulnerable residents and that is not fair.”
Cllr. Muhammed Butt
Deputy Leader of Brent Council & Lead Member for Finance and Corporate Services
Cllr. Zaffar Van Kalwala
Budget & Finance Panel
October 2010

17 Oct 2010

Asda At It Again: Endangering Pedestrians

These pictures were taken in the last month:
15 October:

27 September:

20 September:

Brent Greens took on Asda in a high-profile two year campaign to put a stop to their lorries endangering pedestrians outside their Wembley Store. This culminated in a victory in April 2009 (Harrow Times). Asda redesigned their loading bay at some cost, erected notices for waiting drivers not to block the drop kerb pedestrian crossing and made a public apology.

However, we have witnessed the return of lorries blocking pedestrian footways and bus stops, in clear violation of traffic regulations.

Shahrar Ali, Brent Green Party spokesperson for environment and planning said: "Brent Greens were determined to put a stop to Asda endangering pedestrians in recent years. We are not prepared to have them return to their bad old ways!"

Dr Ali continued: "We have witnessed increased lorry violations in recent weeks and I have now written to Asda again. We succeeded then. We must succeed again. For the good of all law-abiding pedestrians, bus users and motorists."

You can complain to Asda using the feedback form on the following page (click on "I shop in store" even if you don't).

6 Sept 2010

The cost of motorists

Brent Council recently announced consultation on introducing parking charges in Controlled Parking Zones based on engine emissions. Brent Lib Dems have criticised the move.  Brian Orr, Chair of Brent Green Party, wrote to the Willesden and  Brent Times, criticising the Lib Dem stance:

Cllr Daniel Brown's assertion that Labour administered Brent Council's "attack" on Brent motorists is an absolute disgrace" is pure politicking. He continues in this vein with his judgement that to double the overall charge is "very unfair in these difficult times".

With the Government cuts aimed at the public sector, who does Cllr Brown feel will suffer most, people at the top end of society or the poorest?

Taxes are still going to need to be collected as even David Cameron hasn't walked away from Government completely, and these will have to largely come from people who are not at the bottom of the ladder. It is one hallmark of a civilised society that taxes are used in part to redistribute the wealth the country earns. The Council needs to get its income from somewhere to make up any short-fall in its expenditure obligations after the Government's rate support grant is taken into account.

The Lib Dems have, without doubt, signed up to the principle that the polluter pays: and that leads inevitably to the logic of those who pollute the most, pay the most. Would Lib Dem Cllr.Brown like to draw up a 'profit and loss' account between Brent motorists and those whodo not have a car or regular access to one? Would he like to begin by putting on one side of the accounts, the deaths, injuries, accidents, traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, contributions to climate change, police supervision and the eating-up of urban space and the character of our town centres?

I'll leave Cllr. Brown to list the benefits that Brent motorists bring to the rest of us after allowing for the various tax contributions they make to society's finances and having deducted the national monetary costs of providing the services which allow motorists to enjoy the benefits of their cars.

1 Sept 2010

No Entry. No Exit. Brent Voter Registration Renewals.

Unfortunately, Brent Council's voter registration renewal process has problems. I received my annual renewal notice a few weeks ago. You have the option to confirm or amend your registration details by freephone, text, internet or post, "quick and easy, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week". Or so advertised.

The freephone (0808 146 0115) was not ringing at the times I tried. After speaking to the always responsive electoral services, to check whether there was a typo on the form, I was advised that the number was correct as printed but "currently down".

Upon resorting to the on-line method I discovered a major flaw, which I have since reported. If you are confirming that all details are correct and there are no changes to make, you will then be prompted with the question whether any electors require a postal vote. If answering Yes to this question, you will next be asked which electors require it with a view to sending them a postal vote registration form. But for those electors who already have a postal vote and have confirmed their original details as correct, how should they answer the postal vote question?

If they answer No, then they run the risk of overwriting their original details - contrary to intention! However, if they answer Yes, simply answering the question literally, they will then generate a registration form "in November" that they'd already completed once before! It doesn't help to be presented with the option to change the line number and only the line number of the elector/s wishing to vote by post before finally confirming on-line - since there is no option to change the original answer to the postal vote question itself, with the benefit of hindsight (and assuming one has a direct line to electoral services while one is doing this).

Brent electoral services have told me registration forms generated in due course in such cases should be ignored as redundant (a bit like the misleading No Entry road signage pictured :).

The on-line instructions are clearly misleading and unsatisfactory. At best, they will result in wasted postal vote registration forms and postage. It's a mystery to me how the wording could have been drafted and approved as is, as a matter of semantics and logic. The follow-up question simply needed to say only answer Yes, if this is not already correct on the form. But probably all the steps, and their sequencing, need to be properly looked at again.

Apparently, four more local authorities are also using this site! Barrow in Furness Borough Council, London Borough of Haringey, Northampton Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council.

30 Aug 2010

Notting Hill Carnival Sunday 29 August

Like a scene from Northern Rock days, Santander and independent retailers in meltdown? No. Queuing for cash and protection for Portabello Road frontages.

A good day for polystyrene. A bad day for landfill.

Police protecting a fallen man from crowds.

Swedes showing us how it's done (dancing). Sounds of vuvuzela, heavy bass and anything loud.

Crowds dispersing from Kensal Road into Ladbroke Grove.

Forty Lane Pedestrian Crossing Risk

Is this Pelcian crossing dangerous? I recently questioned a Brent transport official about this badly designed bank of crossings at the start of Forty Lane near the junction with Blackbird Hill, close to bus stops on either side. See also the Google maps image of the same spot.
So far so good ... pedestrian faced with push button unit to activate signals facing pedestrian and, at right angles, the motorist.
But five metres down from the first drop kerb (immediately to the right of the first picture) is yet another drop kerb crossing, without a push button unit on the near side. Yet this crossing carries two of three lights warning drivers to stop when prompted by the pedestrian five metres up.

This set up is mirrored from the opposite side, so that pedestrians from either side are faced with only one push button unit for two potential crossings on to a central island. The increased danger comes from the fact that the stop lines for traffic (on either side) are at the crossings not directly adjacent to the ones carrying the units (unless you are at the island).

Such a set-up is confusing for both the pedestrian and the motorist, neither of whom can make eye-contact. The pedestrian needs to be able to tell that the motorist has stopped for him. The motorist needs to be able to tell that nobody is still crossing during the amber flashing phase (yet for sure, there will likely be nobody at the crossing nearest to his stop line).

I have observed both pedestrians and motorists confused by this layout. Unfortunately, there has been a road death here, which is still marked.

22 Aug 2010

Brent Greens Picnic On Sunday 29th August

Check your email inbox for your invitation. Bring friends, family and food and get to know your fellow Brent Green Party members.

20 Aug 2010

A genuinely sustainable approach to waste management

Brent Council are to consult on a new waste strategy that includes fortnightly collections of residual waste and 'dry' recyclables replacing the current fortnightly collections. Food waste will continue to be collected weekly and cardboard will now be included in the dry recyclables.
Brent Green Party will respond in more detail later but this is our initial response:
A genuinely sustainable approach to waste management would be to minimise the amount of waste by reducing packaging, encouraging the re-use of containers and increasing the amount of domestic composting. This could both reduce the number of collections and produce environmental benefits.
We welcome the strengthening of recycling through extending the scheme to flats but are very concerned that waste produced by businesses and commercial properties remains outside the scheme.We are pleased that cardboard is at last to be included in the 'dry' recycling box.
 We are aware that the organic collection will continue to be  weekly but are realistic in assuming that some organic matter will cling to material in recycling bins and that residual collection bins will still contain some organic material.  These will be left outside for two weeks so it is essential that the council carry out a health and environmental assessment of the consequences of fortnightly collections.

13 Aug 2010

London's entire firefighting force have been told they'll be sacked

Thursday 12 August 2010
Printable page

London's entire firefighting force have been told they'll be sacked if they refuse to go along with cuts to night cover.

The capital's 5,000 firefighters were given 90 days' notice on Wednesday night by the London Fire Authority. 
It wants to impose drastically altered shifts with longer days and shorter nights which unions warn will leave fewer fire engines and staff protecting the capital.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson wrote to the government and Fire Brigades Union (FBU) leader Matt Wrack to tell them the authority was opening consultation on "terminating the contracts of these staff and offering to re-engage them on new contracts of employment."

But the FBU accused the authority of behaving like "Victorian mill owners" and Mr Wrack insisted his union would "fight the disgraceful attack every step of the way."

The union also raised fears that bosses would retaliate against any industrial action with a strike-breaking "dad's army." 

Executive council member Ian Leahair said members will be balloted for action short of strike immediately, with the possibility of a city-wide strike at the end of October if the authority does not rescind its threat.
During the last major firefighters' dispute in 2002-3, the strikers were covered by soldiers using the ageing Green Goddess appliances, which have since been retired.

But this time, Mr Leahair said, the authority planned to call on privateer Assetco - which leases fire engines to the London Fire Brigade - to "roll out the red fire engines" crewed by a "dad's army of retained firefighters and security contractors" given only three weeks' training.

Mr Dobson delivered the ultimatum amid negotiations with the FBU on the fire authority's plan to change the shift pattern from two nine-hour days and two 15-hour nights to a flat 12-hour shift.

Mr Wrack was bemused by the decision to provoke firefighters while talks were still going on.
"We and the principal management of the London Fire Brigade do have a real disagreement about the way forward in difficult economic times, but until yesterday we were talking about it constructively, and I hoped to reach an agreement both sides could live with," said the FBU leader."The chances of that agreement have diminished dramatically this morning."

The negotiations had already been put under immense strain in the last few months.

In March a leaked document put the lie to bosses' claims that the shift changes were not about cutting night cover.

It said the scheme would offer "a capability to withdraw personnel from night shift" and "the removal of 10 appliances."

And last month Mr Dobson let slip on his blog that he would seek "termination of employment" for all London firefighters if there was not a "negotiated settlement."

Mr Leahair said: "This coalition government is totally hell bent on breaking the public sector to benefit the private sector.

"The FBU urge the fire authority to think again and withdraw the threats of mass sackings and get back round the table to avert any unnecessary industrial action."

11 Aug 2010

RMT tube strike ballot & CATP (Campaign Against Tube Privatisation) support

Publication Date: August 11 2010 (RMT website)

TUBE UNION RMT confirmed this morning that members across London Underground have delivered a rock solid mandate for strike action and action short of a strike in a fight over planned cuts to safety-critical jobs that the union have warned would turn the network into a death trap.

RMT members have voted by 76% for strike action and by 88% for action short of a strike. RMT will now begin an extensive consultation with members, and with sister tube union TSSA who will announce their ballot result next week, over the tactical use of industrial action, alongside a political and public campaign, to stop the attack on jobs and safety.
RMT revealed within the past week that it was only the vigilance and experience of station-based staff spotting smoke from an escalator at Euston and an air-conditioning unit at Oxford Circus that ensured safe evacuation of both stations and averted potential disasters. It is exactly those staff grades that are under threat in the cull of 800 jobs, and the decimation of ticket offices, that TfL are attempting to bulldoze through.
RMT also revealed this week that safety-critical inspection frequencies to train brakes and other equipment are to be doubled from fortnightly to monthly as the pressure for cuts reaches crisis point on London Underground and as existing safety standards are ripped to shreds.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“Less than two weeks after the Potters Bar inquest delivered the damning verdict that cuts to maintenance works, staffing and inspection frequencies create the lethal conditions that lead to avoidable loss of life, LU management have clearly learnt nothing and are burning up safety agreements almost by the day in the dash for cuts.
“RMT members have sent a clear message in this ballot that they will not sit by while the tracks are turned into a death trap and our tube stations and platforms are left unstaffed and at the mercy of muggers, vandals and other criminal elements.
“Boris Johnson cannot wash his hands of the crisis that is unfolding on London Underground on his watch. While his managers are ripping up the safety regulations the Mayor himself is ripping up his promises to Londoners on safe staffing levels and no amount of bluster can get him off that hook. We will now use this mandate for action to build up a campaign of industrial, political and public pressure to block the all out assault on tube jobs and safety.”
The Campaign Against Tube Privatisation was established in the 1990s, with the support of London RMT Regional Council and is still campaigning today. We are passengers who demand a safe, well-run and environmentally-friendly Tube system in London.
At present London Underground is threatening up to 800 Tube jobs in ticket-offices as well as platform staff. Meanwhile, Tube safety is also under threat after recent fires on Euston escalators and at Oxford Circus.

Join CATP supporters in leafleting Tube stations near you. Phone Dave 0207-837-0845 to find out where leafleting is already organised for April, or contact

8 Aug 2010

The Big Society? Welcome to Big Business.

I was struck by this signage on the Barnet side of Cricklewood Broadway. "Welcome to the London Borough of Barnet. Putting the Community First. The home of JVC."

The home of JVC? What an extraordinary piece of product placement masquerading as legitimate twinning. What do Barnet residents get from such an association - cut-price DVD recorders from up the road?

Perhaps this is just one reason for the dissatisfaction of some Cricklewood residents with their council representation. This is the Council which recently awarded its cabinet record pay rises, "Barnet Tories force through new pay scheme after heated council meeting".

Fortunately, the welcoming signage for the Brent side is not quite so crass, boasting identification with Wembley Stadium.

Greens recognise that ill-considered signage and the illicit privatisation of public space has a negative impact on the social fabric. "The aggregate and cumulative effect of advertising taken altogether is to increase overall demand and foster a materialist and consumption driven culture which is not sustainable." (quote from advertising section, Policies for a sustainable society)

Coalition of Resistance Statement

It is time to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government's budget intentions. They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s, which will wreck the lives of millions by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services. The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers' profligacy.

The £11bn welfare cuts, rise in VAT to 20%, and 25% reductions across government departments target the most vulnerable – disabled people, single parents, those on housing benefit, black and other ethnic minority communities, students, migrant workers, LGBT people and pensioners. Women are expected to bear 75% of the burden. The poorest will be hit six times harder than the richest. Internal Treasury documents estimate 1.3 million job losses in public and private sectors.

We reject this malicious vandalism and resolve to campaign for a radical alternative, with the level of determination shown by trade unionists and social movements in Greece and other European countries.

This government of millionaires says "we're all in it together" and "there is no alternative". But, for the wealthy, corporation tax is being cut, the bank levy is a pittance, and top salaries and bonuses have already been restored to pre-crash levels.

An alternative budget would place the banks under democratic control, and raise revenue by increasing tax for the rich, plugging tax loopholes, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, abolishing the nuclear "deterrent" by cancelling the Trident replacement.

An alternative strategy could use these resources to: support welfare; develop homes, schools, and hospitals; and foster a green approach to public spending – investing in renewable energy and public transport, thereby creating a million jobs.

We commit ourselves to:
• Oppose cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services.
• Fight rising unemployment and support organisations of unemployed people.
• Develop and support an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.
• Oppose all proposals to "solve" the crisis through racism and other forms of scapegoating.
• Liaise closely with similar opposition movements in other countries.
• Organise information, meetings, conferences, marches and demonstrations.
• Support the development of a national co-ordinating coalition of resistance.

We urge those who support this statement to attend the Organising Conference on 27 November 2010 (10am-5pm), at Camden Centre, Town Hall, London, WC1H 9JE.

Can't Pay! Won't Pay!
Tony Benn,
Caroline Lucas MP
John McDonnell MP
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Mark Serwotka, general secretary PCS
Bob Crow, general secretary RMT
Jeremy Dear, general secretary NUJ
Michelle Stanistreet, deputy general secretary, NUJ
Frank Cooper, president of the National Pensioners Convention
Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention
Ken Loach
John Pilger
John Hendy QC
Mark Steel
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary NUT
Cllr Salma Yaqoob
Lee Jasper, joint co-ordinator of Black Activists Rise Against Cuts (Barac)
Zita Holbourne, joint co-ordinator of Barac campaign and PCS national executive
Ashok Kumar, VP education and welfare, LSE student union
Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper
Francis Beckett, author
David Weaver, chair, 1990 Trust
Viv Ahmun, director Equanomics UK
Paul Mackney, former general secretary NATFHE/UCU
Clare Solomon, president ULU student union
Lindsey German, convenor, Stop the War Coalition (personal capacity)
Andrew Burgin, archivist
John Rees, Counterfire
Romayne Phoenix, Green party
Joseph Healy, secretary Green Left
Fred Leplat, Islington Unison
Jane Shallice
Neil Faulkner, archaeologist and historian
Alf Filer, Socialist Resistance
Chris Nineham
James Meadway, economist
Cherry Sewell, UCU
Alan Thornett, Socialist Resistance
Peter Hallward, professor of modern European philosophy
Matteo Mandarini, Historical Materialism editorial board
John Nicholson, secretary Convention of the Left
Michael Chessum, UCL union education and campaigns officer
Mark Curtis, writer
Nick Broomfield
Sean Rillo Raczka, chair, Birkbeck College student union, and mature students' representative, NUS national executive
Robyn Minogue, UoArts NUS officer
Prince Johnson, NUS president Institute of Education
Roy Bailey, Fuse Records
Doug Nicholls
Granville Williams
Gary Herman (CPBF national council member, in personal capacity)
Louis Hartnoll, president UoArts student union
Sarah Ruiz, former Respect councillor and community activist in Newham
Michael Gavan
Mary Pearson, National Union of Teachers, vice president Birmingham Trades Union Council
Joe Glenholmes, Unison, life member Birmingham Trades Union Council
Baljeet Ghale, NUT past president
Jane Holgate, chair of Hackney Unite and secretary of Hackney TUC
Marshajane Thompson, Labour Representation Committee NC
Richard Kuper
Chris Baugh, PCS assistant general secretary
Trevor Phillips, campaigner
Stathis Kouvelakis, UCU, King's College London
Carole Regan
Bernard Regan
Roger Kline
Hugh Kerr, former MEP
Nina Power, senior lecturer in philosophy Roehampton University
Norman Jemmison, NATFHE past president, NPC
Kitty Fitzgerald, poet and novelist
Iain Banks, author
Arthur Smith, comedian
David Landau
Anne Orwin, actor

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