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

To sign up please send an email to and include your name.

3 Aug 2010

Greens Cross about Risk to Pedestrian Crossings

Picture: Jenny Jones AM, Shahrar Ali, Martin Francis and Tim Storer holding placards "You had Better Not be Very Young, Elderly or Disabled" and "Boris Wants to Remove this Crossing".

On 3 August, Brent Greens were joined by Jenny Jones, Green London Assembly member, to protest against the potential removal of vital crossings in the borough of Brent.

Brent Greens are investigating a list of seven pedestrian crossings in Brent listed by Transport for London as under threat of removal. The list, entitled “Signals Identified for Potential Removal” has been produced by TfL in conjunction with the Mayor of London as part of a review of traffic lights and crossings.

Shahrar Ali, Brent Green Party spokesperson for planning and environment, said: “We have just come out of another weekend of tube lines in Brent grinding to a halt. To add to the misery of public transport users, the Mayor of London is now considering removing vital pedestrian crossings. We will campaign vigorously against any such attempt to endanger the rights of pedestrians. We have contacted Brent council to establish their position on these necessary signals.”

Jenny Jones, Green London Assembly Member, said: “Crossings like this one are important for the business and social life of a community and removing it will reduce safety and convenience for local residents. People need to cross roads and not being able to stop the traffic briefly to cross safely, means less quality of life. The Mayor of London has got this wrong and needs to rethink.”


1. Brent Greens contacted Transport for London on 2 August 2010 to confirm that the list of threatened pedestrian crossings is still under consideration. The crossing at Neasden Lane at the junction with Braemar Avenue (shown above and here) is controlled by TfL signal reference 28/000190 and also affects the crossing at the Quainton Street junction. We have written to the Council transportation unit to establish their position.

2. The Mayor’s own website boasts “fewer traffic lights” as one of its visions. See “A vision for improving London’s transport”.

3. The full list of 145 threatened signals across London has been uploaded to our website (source TfL).

4. The following written answer was solicited from the Mayor by Jenny Jones at a meeting of the Assembly on 14 July 2010: Traffic signal removal (2); Question number 2185/2010 ; Meeting date 14/07/2010:

Jenny Jones: Are you open minded on keeping any, or all, of the traffic lights at the 145 sites which you have identified if local people so desire?

Boris Johnson: Yes. There may well be local circumstances of which TfL is not aware that may justify the continued presence of the traffic signals, although alternatives to signals will still be examined wherever possible. Boroughs will also be invited to nominate alternative and/or additional signals sites that they would like considered for removal.

5. In a press release issued by TfL on 1 July 2010, the Mayor’s transport adviser confirms that the project is led by a desire to smooth traffic flow.

6. Section 3.11 of GLA report “Subject: Appointment of a Rapporteur to Make it Easier and Safer to Walk in London”, 20 July 2010, also identifies 145 crossings for potential removal.