20 Nov 2012

Passport not sufficient ID to get into Brent Council meeting

Passport not sufficient ID to get into Brent Council meeting

(first posted by Martin Francis on

There was increased security at last night's meeting of Brent Council and a ticket system for getting into the building. When I arrived there was a small group of lobbyists outside from the Counihan Family Campaign and Brent Fightback. Brent Fightback had been giving out a leaflet making the case for the Council to set a needs based budget. Railings had been erected at the foot of the Town Hall steps and two police cars were in attendance.

When I asked if they were going to observe the meeting one of the lobbyists told me that the council meetings were so tedious and mind-numbing that she did not wish to go in.  Others however said that they had been denied entry by an officer from Democratic Services who stood at the door with a security guard. He told them that they were going to keep out the people who had caused trouble at the previous meetings. or who might cause trouble because previous meetings had been interrupted and they wanted the business of the Council meeting to be completed that evening.

The officer's action seemed particularly targeted at the Counihan Family Campaign but was applied in a blanket way to everyone who had been lobbying.. Three women who tried to get in were asked for ID in order to gain admittance. Carol, a retired TfL worker went all the way home to collect her passport and library card but the officer refused to look at it saying, 'We know you are part of the campaign' without saying which campaign.

I was granted admittance and a woman was also allowed in but only after she had to ask that the officer to ring  Carol Shaw, her local councillor,  to check her credentials.

When we eventually arrived in the public gallery we were the only two people in attendance with 50 empty seats and more on the floor of the council chamber.  After half an hour or so two young women joined us but soon got bored and went home. Ex- Democratic Conservative Councillor Robert Dunwell, who has his moments in the Town Hall, was happily trotting around the Council Chamber.

Clearly this raises issues about democratic accountability if the public are not allowed to attend full meetings of the council.  The 'Summons to attend council meeting' clearly states 'The press and public are welcome to attend this meeting'. How can democracy be seen to be done if the electorate are not allowed to see it in action? Is it legal or moral for the council to decide which members of the public are acceptable?

A further troubling aspects is the question of how the council has identified previous and potential trouble makers?  I have never been a conspiracy theorist but is there a list or photographic record? Does the council believe in guilt by association? If you are opposed to council policy does that make you a 'trouble maker'. Would library campaigners have been asked for their ID?

Interesting Lib Dem Cllr Jack Beck who tweets as @digitalliberal tweeted during the meeting:
Brent Fightback at the Town Hall tonight, very unimaginative literature, looks like a member of the Brent Labour Party wrote it. 
So a Labour Council bars entry to a group of people, some of whom are Labour supporters, who are advocating a policy supported by many on the left of the Labour Party as well as other socialist groups including Green Left,  as well as those supporting a Brent family suffering as a result of the housing crisis.  Brent Fightback is the same campaigning group that Brent Council Muhammed Butt  leader went to speak to earlier this year LINK and stressed that he wanted to have a dialogue with them and return to 'what Labour stands for and why we are here'. Asked how he would organise a fightback against Coalition cuts he said:
Me being here is just a start. I am willing to go anywhere, whether to a warm reception or a hostile one, to have a dialogue.
In the same meeting he said that he had not ruled out a needs based budget.We are entitled to ask, what has happened to that dialogue, but more importantly, what has happened to democracy?

Recently I attended an Extraordinary Meeting of Barnet Council where the Labour group had tabled a motion of 'no confidence' in the Conservative Leader of the council calling for him to be replaced. Feelings were running high but not only was the public gallery full but the council had provided seats in an overflow room with a television link. Officers from the council politely greeted us and showed us to the viewing room. There was some spirited heckling but the Mayor was able to keep things under control and a proper debate took place.

19 Nov 2012

Natalie Bennett addresses Brent Greens

Brent Greens welcomed Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett to Wembley on 18 November 2012. Natalie was in her element talking about the Green solution to transport - ranging from how to return the railways, currently heavily subsidised by the tax payer, to public ownership to how to bring about a modal shift away from the motor car to walking and cycling. She then broadened out the theme to identify how transport affected every part of our lives and was one of the keys to building a sustainable society, such as breaking the dominance of the supermarket supply chain by a return to local, seasonal food production. We were honoured also to have Waiting for the Banjo, a local band, perform a Celtic folk set.
Natalie Bennett addresses Brent Greens, 18 Nov 2012

Waiting for the Banjo, Mark, Mary and Mike.
Musical Joy

16 Nov 2012

Brent Green Party Submission to Ealing Council

TO: Ealing Planning Dept, 13 November 2012

Further to the consultation letter from Ealing Council regarding the Planning Application Ref. PP/2012/3267 at Channel Gate Road, Park Royal, Brent Green Party submits this OBJECTION:


Brent Green Party is concerned about the negative environmental impact of the major part of the planning application, relating to the pyrolysis plant. We do not have equal objection to the anaerobic digestion part of the plant, since we recognise the potential benefit of utilizing CH4 released by biomass for energy rather than putting it in landfill, where it would be released anyway, contributing to climate change.

However, we cannot support the application taken as a whole and state our OBJECTIONS here:


-         Insufficient modelling of potential air quality impacts and their assessment and foreclosure of the need for additional health impact assessments in line with Environmental Agency stipulations.

-         Insufficient assessment of the need for appropriate mitigation measures in light of potential air quality impacts at the planning application stage in line with EA stipulations.


-         Pyrolysis produces bio-oil and syngas which when combusted for energy, produce vast amounts of CO2, wholly inconsistent with the achievement of EU emission targets.


-         Contamination of London canals from run off pollutants during construction, not sufficiently mitigated by drainage measures.

-         Region is water stressed in terms of supply of mains water and site water demand will exacerbate this, in excess to the rainwater-harvesting techniques designed to reduce onsite mains water demand.

-         During construction, adverse effects on users of playground in Harley road, residential properties and pedestrians in Old Oak Lane Conservation Area, users of the Grand Union Canal and pedestrians walking through Metro Multi Trading Estate.


-         Adverse noise pollution during construction.

-         Medium to low risk impact of dust generated during construction.

-         Potential for ground contamination during construction period.

-         Potential for ground contamination from storage/handling of oils, chemicals & waste materials from the new plant, not met by proposal to place in storage facilities.

For these reasons we strongly object to the proposal in its current form.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Shahrar Ali, Spokesperson for Planning and Environment
Brent Green Party, PO Box 54786, London NW9 1FL

14 Nov 2012

"austerity kills":LETTER TO THE GUARDIAN 13/11/12

The government's response to increased coverage of cyclist fatalities has been to set aside £30m for improving safety at road junctions across the UK (If Wiggins can get hit … Safety campaigners fear effect of Tour de France winner's crash, 9 November). This is far too little – it's even less than the amount the mayor of London has already cut from the capital's annual road safety budget.

We can't stop death and injury on our roads unless local authorities and the government understand the social and economic value of road safety budgets. They not only prevent avoidable tragedies for many families but also reduce NHS and emergency service costs.
London used to have an exceptional record of reducing road casualties. By 2010 there were 685 fewer children a year killed or seriously injured on London's roads than in the late 1990s. As the previous mayor's road safety ambassador for seven years, I'm sure that if we hadn't spent the money we did and made the changes we did, many of those 685 would not be walking around today.
Last year we had a 23% increase in cycling casualties and a significant jump in the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured. This trend has quickened as the road safety budget has been squeezed down to less than a quarter of what it was. Put simply, austerity kills.
Jenny Jones AM
Green party group leader, London Assembly

10 Nov 2012

Brent Civic Centre Tours: By Appointment Only

Martin Francis and Shahrar Ali: A "Green" White Elephant is Still a White Elephant, outside Brent Civic Centre
Brent Civic Centre opened its doors this weekend to public tours, by appointment only. Brent Greens joined a demonstration outside the Civic Centre, in protest at the gross implausibility of the Council claim that money would be saved through building this new behemoth - that nobody wanted or needed - in a time of fiscal crisis. We have exposed the financial unsustainability of the project before now (history) - the financing of a £100m debt over 25 years, plus interest, at a time when essential public services are being cut, with local ratepayers losing their libraries and families facing eviction in the weeks to come.
Brent Civic Centre £102m over 25 years plus intersest
Despite the requirement to pre-book, I and others were surprised not to be allowed onto a tour, given that there were plenty of no shows. I was asked whether I had "tried to register" or whether "I was with them" (the staff pointing to the demonstration). This obstructive attitude compares rather unfavourably to the more reasonable treatment one would expect of public visits to buildings. I and others were recently admitted on to a tour of the Paddocks war bunker, featuring in the Brent Open House London season, due to no-shows on the day.

6 Nov 2012

Brent CCC community briefing: Depletion of the Arctic ice cap

We are writing to ask you to be one of our “invited listeners” for an important community briefing meeting on 21 November.

The purpose of the meeting is to brief councillors, policy-makers, trade unionists, and community leaders on the seriousness of the situation with the depletion of the Arctic ice cap and its possible consequences for people in Brent. The speakers will be:

·         Phil Thornhill from Campaign against Climate Change, who will review the latest scientific evidence of the depletion of Arctic ice and its possible effect on the world’s weather systems
·         Kirtana Chandrasekaran of Friends of the Earth, who will talk about the vulnerability of the world’s food supply

They will also answer any of your questions and open a discussion on what further action we should be taking in Brent.

As you may know, recent reports show that the mass of Arctic ice is 30% of what it was in 1980 and that there will be no Arctic sea ice in the summer months by 2016. This is likely to have a serious impact on world weather patterns, affecting the price of food internationally and increasing the vulnerability of regions of the world already prone to droughts and floods. Some of these regions will be those in which members of the Brent community have family and friends.

We believe that the seriousness of the situation means that we have to assist Brent Council to develop a community response both in terms of measures we can take locally and by way of raising our concerns with our representatives in Parliament.

The meeting will start at 7.30pm on 21 November at the Pakistan Community Centre, Marley Walk, Station Parade, Willesden Green, NW2 4PU (just behind Willesden Green tube station). We do hope you will find time to come along.

Yours sincerely

Lia Colacicco, Co-ordinator, BrentF riends of the Earth, and member of Brent Climate Change Steering Group
Ken Montague, Secretary, Brent Campaign against Climate Change
Tariq Dar, Chairman, Pakistan Community Centre, Willesden

1 Nov 2012

"Restore Kensal Rise Library," UPDATE

This message is from Jodi Gramigni who started the petition "Restore Kensal Rise Library," Dear Supporters, I felt it was essential to provide an update on the developing situation with All Souls College, Oxford, due to inaccurate information being circulated by Thomas Seaman, Estates Bursar and Fellow of All Souls ( He has said that the College is giving the library campaign the space that was requested in our bid. This is incorrect. In addition, their offer of support is a fraction of the over £1m in proceeds that they expect to receive for the sale of the building, and is short term, leaving the library to secure resources to pay for commercial rents in perpetuity. An unsustainable proposition due to the very limited size of the space we are being offered. Laura Collignon elaborates: “Just so you all know what this "support" means, All Souls College are selling the building to property developers who will turn it all into flats, except for the old children's section which will be demolished and turned into our new library. That is all we are getting. Oh, and it is suggested that we should pay a market rent for the space we get. And if we don't want to run a library on that basis, apparently they will find someone who will, because we have persuaded them of the importance of a library remaining there!!” All Souls are requiring the Friends of Kensal Rise Library to negotiate directly with the developer Andrew Gillick of Platinum Revolver Ltd, whose proposal includes partial demolition of the existing building which would require a change of use from Brent Planning ( If this is the College's idea of support, god help us if they turn against us… More details to follow soon. Kind regards, Jodi twitter: @jodigramigni P.S. on a lighter note, please have a look at to see portraits of the community users of Kensal Rise Library - supporters of the campaign and our historic community building.

Harlesden Town Team call for informed debate on Willesden Junction waste plant

The Harlesden Town Team issued this statement today: A Statement on the Proposed Energy Recovery Centre at Willesden Junction Harlesden Town Team were disappointed to learn about the proposed Energy Recovery Centre at Willesden Junction only after formal consultation by LB Ealing had ended. Although the site is closer to many more Harlesden residents than Ealing ones, Harlesden Town Team were not formally consulted. Brent Council planning officers were notified. At this stage Harlesden Town Team has no view for or against the energy recovery centre. What we seek is an informed debate so that all Harlesden residents who could possibly be affected by the development are informed and their views sought. We expect that this number of households is considerably more than the 1,000 leafleted in the consultation, as the majority of Harlesden (Town)'s 10,000 households are directly down-wind. We recognise the danger of much ill-informed comment that is starting to circulate and we therefore believe that wider explanation and consultation is urgently required. To this end we shall discuss the development proposals at the next Harlesden Town Team meeting on Monday 12th November (Salvation Army Hall, 6.30pm). We expect representative of the developers, Ealing and Brent Council planners and local councillors from East Acton, Kensal Green and Harlesden to attend as well as those Harlesden residents that actually live in Ealing. If, at the end of the meeting, a majority of our members consider it appropriate for the Town Team to take a position, then we shall do so. It is worth noting that, earlier this year, Harlesden Town Team helped facilitate a consultation on changes to Harlesden High Street which covered over 10,000 households and achieved a 10% response rate. Posted by Martin Francis on Wembley Matters