Sunday, 15 March 2015

Local voter registration week

A local week long drive to register Brent residents in time for the General Election on May 7 will take place next week (w/c 16/03) as figures show the number of unregistered voters in London could be as high as 150,000.
To mark one month until the registration deadline (April 20) to be able to vote at the General Election, Brent Council staff, working in partnership with local voluntary and community groups, will be visiting busy high streets and supermarkets as well as attending a number of community events across the borough to ensure local people can exercise their democratic right to vote.
The outreach work supports a high-profile national campaign by the Electoral Commission and was recommended by Brent Council's Scrutiny Committee who looked at the problem of unregistered voters that has arisen from the introduction of national Individual Electoral Registration, which requires people to register themselves ending the old scheme of household registration.
Sean O'Sullivan, electoral services manager at Brent Council, said: "The good news is that more than 90% of people in Brent are already registered but that leaves too many people who won't be able to have their say in the General Election in May.
"Changes to the registration process mean we have to verify people against their National Insurance number or other government issued identification so it takes longer to add people to the register. I would urge people not to wait until its too late, register today."
People can register online by visiting www.gov.uk/register-to-vote or by calling the electoral services office on 0208 937 1372.
Outreach activities:
Monday 16th March: Kilburn High Road (Brent side, retail cluster), Brent Eleven Streets
Wednesday 18th March: Harlesden: Addaction, Job Centre Plus, Roundwood Youth Centre, Trussell Trust food bank, Unity Centre, Family Support Centre, TESCO Local Harlesden Town Centre
Stonebridge: Outside TESCO Brent Park, Neasden, Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre, Hillside Hub, Stonebridge Somali Cultural Centre, SUFRA Food Bank
Thursday 19th March: Dollis Hill: The Grange. Mapesbury: resident association groups: NW2 & MAPRA, Cricklewood Broadway, Local Mosques, Pakistan Community Centre
Friday 20th March: Kensal Green: Newman Catholic College, Furness Primary School, Islamic Cultural Centre, LEAP, Tavistock Community Centre, City Mission Community Centre, St. Marks Weekly luncheon club. Kilburn: Kilburn High Road (Brent side, retail cluster), Brent Eleven Streets
Sunday 22nd March: Harlesden, Kensal Green, Stonebridge: Church groups

Old Oak and Park Royal Opportunity Area Planning Framework (2015)


The Mayor of London is consulting on the Draft Old Oak and Park Royal Opportunity Area Planning Framework which will be Supplementary Planning Guidance to the London Plan. The draft framework has been produced by the Greater London Authority with contributions from Transport for London and the London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham.


It sets out an ambitious vision and planning guidance to capitalise on future transport improvements to deliver transformative change at Old Oak, regeneration of Park Royal and continue the protection of Wormwood Scrubs.
The draft Opportunity Area Planning Framework and its supporting documents are available on the below hyperlinks:
The document has also been split into individual contents sections:
Supporting document: OOPR OAPF draft IIA Report.pdf
Supporting Document: OOPR OAPF HRA Screening Report.pdf
Supporting Document: OOPR OAPF SEA Screening Report.pdf
Supporting Document: Park Royal Atlas
Supporting Document: OOC Transport Study.pdf
Public drop-in sessions will be taking place on the below days to enable local people to discuss proposals and provide their views.
  • Tuesday 10 March, 3:30pm to 8pm – All Souls Church, Harlesden, NW10 4UJ
  • Wednesday 11 March, 8:30am to 10:30am – Holiday Inn Express, North Acton, W3 6UP
  • Saturday 14 March, 10am to 3pm – Linford Christie Outdoor Sports Centre, Artillery Way, W12 0DF
  • Tuesday 17 March, 5pm to 8pm - Holiday Inn Express, North Acton, W3 6UP
The display boards for the consultation drop in sessions can be found below:
You can provide your comments either via email tooldoakparkroyal@london.gov.uk, or in writing to:
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London,
(Draft Old Oak & Park Royal OAPF),
Greater London Authority,
Post Point 18, City Hall,
Queens Walk,
London SE1 2AA.
Paper copies also available upon request by contacting either of the addresses above. Paper copies of the OAPF are also available to view during normal office hours at the following locations:
  • Harlesden Library, NW10 8SE
  • Old Oak Community Centre, Braybook Street, W12 0AP
  • City Hall, Queens Walk, London, SE1 2AA
The consultation will close at 5pm on 14 April 2015.

Vision for Old Oak (2013)

In 2013, the Mayor, Transport for London (TfL), plus the London Boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Brent and Ealing consulted on the Vision for Old Oak - which sought views on a 30 year vision for development around the planned Old Oak Common station.  The document and consultation responses have been used to inform the Old Oak and Park Royal Opportunity Area Planning Framework (2015). You can view the Vision and consultation responses here:

Park Royal Opportunity Area Planning Framework (2011)

The Park Royal Opportunity Area Planning Framework was adopted by the Mayor in 2011. The document will eventually be superseded by the Old Oak and Park Royal Opportunity Area Planning Framework (2015), upon its adoption later this year. It is available here:

Friday, 13 March 2015

Waste Enforcement Operation/Brent

Waste Enforcement Officers have undertaken a 5 week operation aimed at detecting and reducing waste crime and non compliance with timed waste collection arrangements in Brent – particularly during evenings and weekends.  As part of the operation, officers were deployed to established timed waste collection areas, including Kilburn, Queens Park, Cricklewood Broadway and Willesden, twice a week in the evenings and on Saturdays and Sundays.  Extensive visits were also made to Harlesden town centre – part of which became included in the timed waste collection zone on 23rd February.

While out on patrol, officers made good use of the service’s Fly-tip Monitoring CCTV cars, parking them at litter or fly-tipping hotspots to act as deterrents as well as using them to conduct live monitoring of the high streets.  This approach created a visible reduction in the amount of waste being put out on the street. Officers also found that the cars served as a good catalyst for on street conversations whereby officers were able to further educate residents and traders about proper waste controls. While the CCTV cars were being put to good use as a deterrent, other officers used the sophisticated on-board equipment to monitor and record video of fly-tipping hotspots on high streets and a number of fly-tippers were successfully caught on camera.

(Simon Finney)

Changes to Veolia Management/Brent

Further to the integration of parks and cemeteries into the wider Public Realm contract operation, Veolia has reorganised to strengthen their local management arrangements. For cleansing and grounds maintenance, this means new Operational Managers at an area level and changes at the more local village level. Members should be aware that your individual contacts may have changed.

The revised arrangements are available here for your information. The contact details for your ward are made clear and you are now very welcome to start making use of them. You will want to delete any previous contacts.

The new managers will write to you to make your acquaintance and to offer an initial meeting. In addition, changes to our own monitoring arrangements will see parks' officers transfer to an integrated Public Realm Service from April.

(by Chris Whyte)


Brent wins LGC Award for Innovation

The London Borough of Brent picked up the Innovation award at the recent Local Government Chronicle Awards. Over 900 of the most senior figures in British local government gathered to celebrate achievements and best practice across the sector.  After review by a panel of judges, made up of senior and influential figures from the private and public sectors, the London Borough of Brent was presented with the Innovation award. The judges said that our submission impressed with the level of enthusiasm that has been dedicated to this simple, yet innovative solution to a real problem. The panel could see that the project has a sincere desire to improve people’s lives.

The Early Years Flexible Childminding Pool project involves the council working with Job Centre Plus and local childminders to enable families to access affordable, quality-assured childminding services.  All local families can use the pool but it is of particular benefit to parents with atypical working patterns or who need access to care unexpectedly.  The project is a zero-extra cost, direct response to local need and is making a real difference to the lives of local people.

The judges commented: “The flexible childminder pool provides a very simple and innovative solution to a real problem that a lot of people can relate to. The judges could see the project’s trigger being a sincere desire to improve people’s lives, rather than focusing on the financial aspect only. Additionally, the financial costs to set it up are minimal in comparison with the benefits.”

A record number of organisations entered this year’s awards and the competition was stiffer than ever as councils use their innovation to strive to improve services at a time they must cut costs.


(by Gail Tolley)

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Police forces prepare for cuts


A survey by the BBC has found that every police force in England and Wales is preparing for further budget cuts after the general election. Cuts forecast by police and crime commissioners up to 2020 include drops of £61m in Kent, £49m in South Yorkshire and £47.5m in Merseyside. It is noted that 34 of the 43 forces are seeking extra funding through local councils.

Poverty forces record numbers of women into low-paid jobs


The TUC will warn this week that although record numbers of women are in work, many are pensioners forced to work and self-employed people in low paid jobs. A report from the TUC will say that the number of women working beyond retirement age has almost doubled since 2007, with about 445,000 women aged 65 or over now in work. Meanwhile, women’s average wages are down 6%, meaning they are £20 a week worse off in real terms than in 2008. Those working part-­time earn 38% less per hour than their male colleagues.
The Independent on Sunday, 

Parking meters on the way out?


The Observer’s Tracey McVeigh reflects on Brighton and Hove Council’s decision to replace the parking meter in favour of phone payments. The council estimates it will save £250,000 and transport councillor Ian Davey states: “It’s actually a lot easier than messing about getting the right change. You can also top up your parking time remotely if you need to stay longer, which is a lot easier than walking back to the car.”
The Observer,

Lib Dems look at 10mph speed limit


Transport laws being considered by the Liberal Democrats could see speed limits on some public roads cut to 10mph. The move would allow councils in England to put the speed limits in place on roads outside schools. The proposal is amongst the party’s plans for a Green Transport Act, which would also see high-emission vehicles banned from the UK’s roads by 2040.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Borough plan 2015-19 agreed at meeting of full council


The vision for 'building a better Brent together' has been agreed at a meeting of full council after residents outlined their priorities in the borough plan.

The borough plan was developed by public sector organisations - the council, health, police, colleges and other partners on the Partners for Brent Board. It sets out how partners will work together and with the community to deliver improvements for residents.  There is an emphasis on more partnership working including delivering more services with the voluntary sector, community groups and local residents.

This plan was developed based on what residents identified as priorities for their services, as part of the biggest consultation exercise the borough has ever undertaken. The consultation took place as local public services face significant cuts to their funding and rising demand from a growing population with more complex needs.

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said: "The plan is based on your priorities for your services: the things that you said matter most. It is a plan for working together, in genuine partnership, to build a better Brent; a plan for making Brent a better safer, more attractive place, a plan to create good quality housing and more arts and leisure facilities; a plan for inclusion, for making sure that all who live and work here have better opportunities to improve their lives, to achieve, to work and to prosper, to live healthily and to be supported and cared for when they need it most.
 
"In our residents survey, 41% of people said they would be willing to help run a service rather than see it reduced or cut.  That shows that local people care about their area and as a council.  The council will work hard to support this, and together we can build a better Brent."
Some of the key priorities in the borough plan include:


1. Better lives

This means:
  • making sure that local people have the best possible life chances, regardless of their starting position
  • supporting local enterprise, generating jobs for local people, helping people into work and promoting fair pay
  • making sure that our schools are amongst the best and that our children and young people achieve to their potential
  • enabling people to live healthier lives and reducing health inequalities
  • supporting vulnerable people and families when they need it.
2. Better place

This means:
  • making sure that Brent is an attractive place to live, with a pleasant environment, clean streets, well-cared for parks and green spaces
  • continuing to reduce crime, especially violent crime, and making people feel safer
  • increasing the supply of affordable, good quality housing
  • supporting good quality, accessible arts and leisure facilities.

3. Better locally

This means:
  • building resilience and promoting citizenship, fairness and responsibility amongst local people and strengthening the sense of community amongst the people who live and work here
  • promoting cohesion and integration amongst our communities
  • making sure that everyone has a fair say in the way that services are delivered, that they are listened to and taken seriously
  • making sure that inequalities in the quality of life in different parts of the borough are tackled by a stronger focus on local needs
  • building partnership - between local service providers and between local services and residents - to find new ways of providing services that are more finely tailored to individual, community and local needs.
Councillor Butt added: "These priorities will be delivered by doing things differently, working in partnership and ensuring equality and fairness.

To read the whole Borough Plan, you can visit www.brent.gov.uk/boroughplan or pick up a copy from any Brent Council library

Changes to Northwick Park Car Park (Northwick Park Sports Pavilion, The Fairway, Wembley, HA0 3TQ)

Members will be aware that currently Northwick Park Car park is entirely free to use. From Monday 16 March, there will be changes. It will be free to use for the first 3 hours, but must be booked via our cashless partner, RingGo (www.myringgo.co.uk or call 020 3046 0010). Anything longer than 3 hours will be £7.50. Weekends remain unchanged and free parking is available without the need to book.
Recent occupancy surveys have highlighted that demand for parking spaces at Northwick Park car park is very high, and that sometimes, those wishing to make use of the Council’s sporting facilities have been unable to find a space. The changes are designed to manage demand, and help ensure that car parking space is available for those wishing to make use of the Council’s sporting facilities.
 

source weekly Brent newsletter for councillors

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Councillors agree Brent Council budget for 2015/16


  • Children's centres, connexions service, CCTV service, and the Millennium day care centre all saved
  • Sixth Brent Council tax freeze in budget plans recommended by Cabinet to full council
  • Cuts in funding to Brent Play Association and school crossing patrols also agreed

Council services for Brent's young and vulnerable people have been saved after Brent councillors approved a budget for the coming year.
Brent Council needs to find savings of £54million over two years due to significant cuts in central Government funding and Councillors pored over the details of where savings will be found and new income streams created at the annual budget meeting yesterday (March 2).
Despite the challenging financial position, local Children's Centres, Youth Services and the New Millennium Day Centre have all been saved as are rough sleeping services, CCTV services and the Brent Connexions careers advice service for young people.
Brent councillors also backed proposals for a sixth successive council tax freeze and outlined the council's commitment to creating new streams of revenue for the authority.
The freeze will mean that the average council tax bill in Brent will now be fifteen per cent lower in real terms compared to 2010.
The voting-through of the budget also means that a proposed 20 per cent reduction in social care staff will now be halved to only a ten per cent cut, home care visits will not be cut to fifteen minutes, and there will be no cuts in funding for respite care services, day care, or in the free swimming programme for young children and pensioners.
However, with cuts of £54m needed over the next two years, on top of cuts of £89m since 2010, not every service could be saved.
Among the more high profile cuts approved last night was the decision to end the funding to the Brent Play Association for the running of the Stonebridge Adventure Playground. Councillors also agreed to cease its funding of school crossing patrols, with schools now being asked to find the money from their considerable reserves.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Michael Pavey, Deputy Leader of Brent Council and Cabinet Member for Finance, said: 
"In December, we started a conversation. We needed to, because our funding from the Government  is being significantly reduced.
"We sincerely wanted to listen, so we put real choices on the table. We put forward £60m worth of proposals, when only £54m need to be implemented.
"We made genuine changes to our draft plans as a result of the views we heard.
"We have done everything possible to protect the frontline. We have cut senior management by £1.4m and we have squeezed bureaucracy ferociously. But the pace and scale of the cuts to our funding means, unfortunately, we cannot protect every valued service.
"We do not want to cut School Crossing Patrols and it was clear from the consultation that they are a popular community service. However, when we have to cut £54m and at the same time our schools have a total surplus in their protected budgets of £17m, it should be schools not the council, which funds crossing patrols."
Cllr Pavey also outlined how the 2015/16 budget is creating new streams of revenue for the authority. For example, new homes and jobs mean many more people are paying council tax and business rates which brings in millions in extra income.
He said: "Months of work have gone into this budget and months more will go into taking these proposals forward in partnership with the community.
"Disagree with our proposals by all means. But have the creativity to come up with something better than 'no cuts', because 'no cuts' today means 'barbaric cuts' tomorrow.
"This budget protects vital services. It contains a huge squeeze on bureaucracy and a series of charges - though not an increase in Council Tax, because the burden for this would have fallen on those least able to pay.
"This budget does cut some services we would have much preferred to preserve. And we acknowledge that this will cause pain. In response, we started a conversation with the community. We listened. And where possible we changed our minds.
"As a result we have a budget which fulfils all our statutory obligations and safeguards the services the most vulnerable members of our community depend upon - including all our Children's Centres, respite for carers and 30 minute care visits. And we have saved the Millennium Day Centre."


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Living wage initiatives


The Observer looks at how initiatives introduced by Brent Council and Islington Council have allowed employers to give low-paid staff a pay increase. In 2012 Islington put all of its direct employees on the living wage and encouraged all of its contractors to follow suit. Using several methods, including knocking on their doors, Islington has encouraged other employers in the borough to pay the living wage. It has also taken advantage of its large pension fund stakes in a number of FTSE 100 companies to raise the low-pay issue at their annual meetings. Elsewhere, Brent Council offers employers a discount on their rates bills in return for paying employees the living wage, it also promises participating companies positive publicity.
The Observer, Business, 

Hunt calls for primary years career coaching-Labour Party


Labour's shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt told the London Festival of Education conference yesterday that more employers should be going into primary schools to talk about careers. "I want them to go into primary schools to talk to pupils - particularly girls in primary schools - so that they broaden their horizons," he said. “Giving them careers education at that age can do a lot to broaden their horizons. We have a challenge here in making sure we are raising ambitions." Mr Hunt also said Labour would reverse the Government’s decision to remove the requirement on young people to do work experience while they were at school. On the teaching of British values, Mr Hunt told the conference that schools need to do more than put a picture of the Queen on the wall. He called for a “a whole school approach” to the development and discussion of British values. Education minister Sam Gyimah described it as "an incredibly serious issue", but added: "Schools aren't responsible for children's political views. Schools can teach children to be critical and to show respect for other people's views and religion, and teach tolerance and about the democratic process."
The Independent on Sunday, 

Most £2m homes located outside prime central London


Knight Frank research has found that eight out of 10 homes worth over £2m are in the Home Counties and London Suburbs, meaning just a minority are located in prime central London. Areas with the highest proportion of homes hit by a proposed mansion tax include Windsor, Sevenoaks, Islington, Wandsworth and Guildford. The findings have prompted some Labour and Conservative MPs to raise concerns that the tax will weigh on cash-poor homeowners, rather than rich overseas investors.