25 Aug 2019

Brent Council's Climate Emergency - Was it a PR stunt?

PB: The opinions expressed within this article may not reflect the views of the Brent Green Party, and reflect the view and opinions of the author (Rishi S)

In recent weeks we have seen a number of environmental emergencies emerging from the raging fires in the Brazilian Rain forest to the extreme heat in the UK, where we experienced the hottest day  recorded.
Each of these items have extreme effects, during the same time period Brent Council have declared a Climate Emergency, since doing so the council outlined some particular points found here, each of which are completely valid.

However the council has completely waived its own responsibility to admit a pollution problem in their own borough, whereby Brent is listed 3 times in the top 10 of the most polluted areas/ towns in the UK, provided in a great article written by Nathalie Raffray found here.

This revelation comes as no shock to me, I predicted this back in 2011 when I wrote an email to the all the Councillors warning them of the impending issues.

I was able to forecast this, because of my career, I have previously worked as a data analyst, and was able to use complex modelling techniques (namely neural nets and artificial intelligence) to predict the future and various outcomes.

The short of it, the council moved to a council wide HMO application approval, in addition to approving almost ALL new builds in the borough. This flawed view of the 'future' of Brent only serves one purpose, and that is to gather as much council tax as possible, while completely missing solving the problems created by increasing population density.

An example for this, many HMO properties can have multiple individuals meaning each of them do not share cars like a family might, and therefore adding pressure to the ongoing parking problems throughout the borough.

In addition to this the number of giant hideous concrete blocks being built continue to lack parking spaces, the council has the thinking it is a deterrent to people driving. However the reality is these residents will just park their cars anywhere they can find space.
Some great examples below:

This is Honeypot Lane (A4140) near the Morrisons, as you see this giant development of flats clearly does not contain enough parking spaces, the residents then spill their cars onto a main road.
Although this seems quite harmful, the knock on effects are grave:

  1. Cars now drive over hatched lines, if a couple drivers want to turn (Where the turn arrow is) they will cause congestion because the two lanes is effectively one.
  2. During peak hours the congestion causes a backup of traffic
    1. The domino effect takes places, where now idling cars sit waiting for someone to allow cars to turn
    2. A queue forms behind it (Again exacerbates congestion, idling engines and increases air pollution)
  3. A safety issue arises, whereby drivers now cross to a space where they should not drive unless they also want to turn. See this link
  4. This in turn rewards bad driving etiquette
  5. It also creates a safety issue (one the council has completely ignored)
This is only one example of this type of parking issue, another is a newly completed development near by Wembley Park station, named Mathew Close. Residents were not ALL offered parking, the owners of these flats only had the chance to buy a space if they had a 2 bed flat or a above when its value exceed a certain value.

So what do residents do when they do not have parking?

They park on the surrounding residential streets.

This alone has disenfranchised ALL residential homes on these types of streets, between the HMO applications and subsequent filling them to the brim with individuals, and the number of developments both cause a parking issue.

On top of this, Brent council is the ONLY London Borough Council to NOT make effective use of Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) near by the TFL train stations, is there a negative effect of this?

In short a massive Yes, commuters from all areas can casually drive down to these areas, park for Free then walk to the various train stations (In this example I refer to Wembley Park, Preston Road, Northwick Park), as someone who lives local to these stations it causes chaos for residents.

Not only does it cause a parking problem, it adds to the local congestion during peak hours which in turn increases pollution massively.

If the council had the foresight to consider this issue to ALL its plans, I do not think we would have these problems, but they have continued to choose to ignore it, then claimed there is a climate emergency without acknowledging the problems in their own constituencies.

When the eventual future comes for electric cars, how will the council resolve parking issues? They clearly are not equipped to acknowledge this kind of problem, hence why someone that was a Tory has joined the Green Party.

This particular Labour lead council has seen the following (All facts):

  1. The highest air pollution in its history (Proof)
  2. The worst congestion experienced in its history
  3. The highest population in its history
  4. The most pot hole numbers in its history (Proof [for 1 road])
  5. Parking issues for residents in the borough
  6. Disenfranchisement of the residents who oppose new builds (proof)
As a representative of the Brent Green Party, how would I resolve these issues?

It is very simple, make the entire borough a CPZ (Controlled Parking Zone), where ONLY residents can park during certain times of the day.
Allow visitors pay and display parking for up to 3 hours with no return in 4 hours.

In addition to this, I would put a halt to ALL the developments currently in the application process, ensure they ALL have enough parking spaces for ALL residents, including making sure the buildings are ALL green.

Since 2012 the BBC has reported making sure buildings are 'living' will massively reduce road side pollution, link.

This begs the question, why the council has not made sure all these new developments have adhered to this type of thinking in an attempt to reduce pollution?

I cannot answer this unfortunately, I can speculate - the council is too embroiled with these development companies and gets caught up with making a 'quick buck'. The council has had the chance to implement such things and has chosen not to.

To me it is clear, locally Labour does not have the interest of local residents in mind, they clearly are siding with development companies because they have millions to spend.

Having these measures (like CPZs) not only reduces the knock on effects of pollution, but it costs our NHS less, something I thought Labour was for, but locally they just are not :(

To answer the headline, was Brent Council's Climate Emergency a PR Stunt?

- Yes

-Rishi S