Sunday, 31 July 2011

Brent North is Home to Qualification

Brent North constituency in the borough of Brent has the highest number of residents with qualifications in the country. A study carried out by the University and College Union shows that only 1.9 per cent of people living in Brent North do not have a qualification.

The average number in Britain without a qualification is 11.1 and Glasgow North east has the largest number with 35.3.

Kenton, Kingsbury, Sudbury, Alperton and parts of Wembley make up Brent North.

Barry Gardiner who was a school teacher in his early life, has been the constituency’s Labour MP since 1997.
Councillor Mary Arnold (Labour), Brent Council’s lead member for children and families, said: “Brent has good schools and that, combined with hardworking and ambitious young people, means we get some of the best GCSE, A-Level and vocational results in the country and far more students going onto further and higher education than the national average. This achievement also reflects the numbers of residents carrying on with education and training to get qualifications throughout their adulthood.”

courtesy of Willesden Time

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Brent Council - Lollipop plans on ice

Brent Council had planned to make a decision on whether to cut the number of lollipop men and women from 47 to 17 this month.

But parents  fear more children could be killed on Brent’s busy roads. .

The lollipop cuts would save the council about £200,000 a year.
The 30 sites which could be affected are in areas deemed safer for children to cross because of zebra and pelican crossings or 20mph zones.

The road considered the most dangerous is Dudden Hill Lane near Northview Primary School, in Neasden.
Schools having sufficient funds  would be able to buy lollipop people themselves at a cost  of around £6,000 per year.

Speaking at the Kilburn and Kensal Consultative Forum , Councillor Jim Moher (Labour), lead member for highways and transportation, said: “This year Brent is losing £43 million.

Majority of schools holds good amount of funds why not take a council offer to buy Lollipop at cost of around £5000 to 6000 per year.

courtesy of 24rs

Former Tory councillor quits the party because he is ashamed of the government

A former Tory councillor who defected from Labour has left the Conservative party citing he is ashamed of the Government’s behaviour.

Francis Eniola of Mead Platt, Neasden, left his party colleagues seeing red by crossing the floor in October 2009.

The 70-year-old, who lost his Welsh Harp seat last year, claimed he had joined the Conservative Party because the borough’s Labour group were ignoring black and Asian members.

However, today (Friday) he announced he had left the Tories and hoped to rejoin the Labour Party because he was embarrassed over the actions of the coalition government.

He said: “I feel ashamed and disappointed by the government.

“They promised to look after old people and to ensure they would care for them in their homes and now they are doing the opposite.

“This government does not look after the most vulnerable people especially those who are poor.”

With courtesy of 24hrs


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Civic Centre - Brent Moving Ahead


Anybody who has walked or driven along Engineers Way (adjacent to Wembley Arena) recently will have seen the foundations of our new Civic Centre being successfully laid. The building site itself is now a hive of activity with more visible signs of progress becoming apparent with each week that passes.  The project is bang on target to be completed in December 2012 with staff from all departments starting to occupy the building in March 2013, ie less than two years from now.

We have now set up Departmental Move Action Teams to help plan the move and we will soon be appointing a dedicated project manager to oversee the transition process in conjunction with Aktar Choudhury and his hard-working programme team.  We have already looked at detailed issues around furniture types, internal and external signage and colour and how we can best animate the building to ensure it is a lively and inviting venue for a wide variety of community and cultural activities.  This exciting building will certainly not be just another boring office block - we intend it to be the throbbing heart of multi-cultural Brent.

Later this year, we will be inviting staff to try out various 'model office' formats to help us decide what will work best. Our watchword will be 'flexibility' - this building will need to serve many different uses and audiences so it will need to be adaptable in every sense of the word.  Working conditions for staff and councillors will be better than anything currently on offer with a modern open plan environment, informal break-out areas and much improved customer reception space. There will be loads of meeting rooms of all sizes and a fantastic range of community facilities for local groups and commercial hirers.

Our new Civic Centre is entirely self-funding and will not cost the Council Tax payer a single additional penny.  By vacating at least 14 separate sites and buildings, we expect to save between £2 - 4 million a year in revenue costs and we are increasingly confident that we will be able to generate substantial amounts of new income by letting out the facilities for part of the time for commercial events such as corporate hospitality and product launches for example.

The new building is physically taking shape very quickly but this means we must also accelerate our thinking and planning about how we use the building.  Work is under way on the future customer service offer, on maximising the use of IT and flexible working arrangements and on the engagement of a range of partner organisations.  There is a lot to think about but also much to anticipate as we think about occupying a fantastic new building that embodies everything that the One Council programme stands for.

courtesy of Brent Chief Executive Blog

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Eric Pickles warns David Cameron of rise in homeless families risk

Eric Pickles, London, Britain - 18 Sep 2009

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has told David Cameron of the dangers created by benefit reform.
Photograph: Rex Features

David Cameron has been warned by one of his most trusted cabinet ministers that his welfare policies risk making 40,000 families homeless.

The extraordinary claim, in a letter to the prime minister from the office of Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, exposes deep splits at the heart of government over plans to cap benefit at £500 a week per family.

The letter, leaked to the Observer, reveals Pickles's belief that the cap – announced with great fanfare at last year's Tory conference – will increase the burden on taxpayers, because thousands of families will be unable to pay their rent and will have to seek local government help. It blows apart the government's public insistence that a limit on benefit payments will have little impact on homelessness and child poverty.

Written by Nico Heslop, Pickles's private secretary, at the clear instigation of the minister, the letter lays bare fears of mass homelessness "disproportionately impacting on families". It says:
  • 40,000 families will be made homeless by the welfare reforms, putting further strain on services already "seeing increased pressures".
  • An estimated £270m saving from the benefits cap will be wiped out by the need to divert resources to help the newly homeless and is likely to "generate a net cost".
  • Half of the 56,000 affordable homes the government expects to be constructed by 2015 will not be built because developers will realise they will not be able to recoup even 80% of market rates from tenants.
The leak is the first time that disagreements over welfare cuts have surfaced within the Tory high command.

Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said the letter suggested ministers had not come clean over the effects of their policy.
"We were assured by ministers that costs wouldn't rise. Now top-level leaks reveal the truth. Iain Duncan Smith has promised the House of Commons he will not U-turn on the benefits cap. Perhaps now David Cameron will order him to think again."
Jenny Willott, the Liberal Democrat welfare spokeswoman who has already warned that a rigid cap would increase child poverty, said she remained "very worried" about the proposals, which are due to come into effect in 2013.
Last month, employment minister Chris Grayling rebuffed an attempt by Labour to protect those facing homelessness from the benefit cap. Dismissing a Labour amendment to the welfare reform bill, he said:
"It is not yet clear to what extent they would be affected by the overall benefit cap."
The bill has since passed to the Lords, although the revelations will only fuel existing concerns among Liberal Democrat and Labour peers.

Labour MP Karen Buck, who sits on the Commons committee, said Pickles's letter proved there was confusion and division at the centre of government. She said:
"The housing department and the benefits department are pursuing policies which don't just cut across, but actively undermine, each other."
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, the charity for the homeless, said:
"With 21% of people struggling to meet housing costs, it's naive to think you can cut support without putting some people at risk of losing their home. The coalition government should stop bulldozing through badly thought-through policies while ignoring independent evidence, its own expert panel and the views of those who will deal with the very real impact on people."
Enver Solomon, policy director at the Children's Society, said:
"The social costs of the cap are huge and would have disastrous consequences for many children."
The leaking of the letter will be a source of considerable embarrassment to the government. It was sent by Heslop to Cameron's private secretary, Matthew Style – the normal channel of communication used by cabinet ministers for formal matters of policy.

Over two pages, the fears of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) are spelled out over "some very serious practical issues for DCLG priorities".

The letter says: "Our modelling indicates that we could see an additional 20,000 homelessness acceptances as a result of the total benefit cap. This on top of the 20,000 additional acceptances already anticipated as a result of other changes to the housing benefit. We are already seeing increased pressures on the homelessness services."

It adds: "We are concerned that the savings from this measure, currently estimated at £270m [per year] from 2014-2015, does not take account of the additional costs to local authorities (through homelessness and temporary accommodation). In fact we think it is likely that the policy as it stands will generate a net cost."

The letter then claims that with the reduction in the benefit families can claim, developers will not be able to recoup anything close to a market rent and so will not have an incentive to build homes. "Initial analysis suggests that of the 56,000 new affordable rent units up to 23,000 could be lost," the letter says. "And reductions would disproprortionately affect family homes rather than small flats."

Of a proposed policy that families would be required to divert part of the general benefits, such as child benefit, to cover housing costs, it adds: "It is important not to underestimate the level of controversy that this would generate."

A spokesman for Pickles said:
"We are fully supportive of all the government's policies on benefits. Clearly action is needed to tackle the housing benefit bill which has spiralled to £21bn a year under Labour."
courtesy of Observer

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Beware - Brent


"The application proposals involve the creation of a new rail-linked Waste Handling Facility [essentially the proposed Pinkham Way building, with railway sidings] on a site adjacent to the A5 [Edgware Road; originally the Roman Road, Watling Street]. The existing facility will not be closed, until a new facility has been constructed.

Evening Standard image
(the incinerator is south-west of the shopping centre)

"The waste facility is likely to be operated through a new contract, yet to be awarded by the North London Waste Authority (NLWA). The Development Partners [in 2010, Multiplex gave up, just leaving Hammerson south of the North Circular Road; typical for the shambles that is Brent Cross, their web site still says Multiplex] are in advanced discussions with the Authority, regarding the design, specification and programme of this facility. [It's moved to Pinkham Way. Ask the NLWA to explain. And please tell us!]

"Key elements of the specification proposed by the Development Partners are that the Waste Handling Facility:
  • will be connected directly to the Combined Heat and Power plant [incinerator]
  • should be designed to manufacture a 'Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF)' [no known difference from 'Solid Recovered Fuel' - you can call it what you like! There is more here.] from residual municipal waste, suitable for use in the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant [incinerator], to be constructed as part of the development [further east, near Brent Cross shopping centre];
  • will produce sufficient fuel to meet the requirements of the CHP, when it is fully operational [serving the 150 hectares, made up of 14-million-square-feet of development over 20 years].

Click to enlarge
(the 'Pinkham Way waste plant' at Brent Cross)

 "Negotiations are continuing with the NLWA, concerning these and other aspects of an agreed specification and programme for developing the Waste Handling Facility (WHF).

"... The [incinerator] stack will be a maximum height of 140-metres above finished ground level, ... with a [CHP] building size of 65 by 45 metres, and 45 metres high.

"... If RDF from the WHF [for the CHP!] is not available, an alternative fuel source would be used, which is likely to be natural gas. ... The development partners [would then] consider the use of free-standing wind turbines."

Link to pre-approval 'Estates Gazette'
video at Hendon Town Hall