Cllr Hirani submits Disabled Facilities Grant policy proposal to Brent Council

I’ve submitted a policy proposal to the Housing department at Brent Council to investigate, in terms of feasibility, a change in the way that the Council administrates the Disabled Facilities Grant for people who have their own home, but cannot move back into it due to accessibility issues.

See the proposal here - Brent DFG – Cllr Hirani

A Disabled Facilities Grant is a local council grant. It helps towards the cost of adapting your home to enable you to continue to live there. A grant is paid when the council considers that changes are necessary to meet your needs, and that the work is reasonable and practical.

Source: Direct.Gov

The Disabled Facilities Grant makes a world of difference to people in Brent. An elderly resident on Marley Walk was full of praise for Brent Council after she received a grant last year to install electronic controls to open and close her windows. She lives on her own and her arthritis and limited finger dexterity meant that she was experiencing great difficulty in reaching for and opening and closing her windows. Her new electronic controls through the Disabled Facilities Grant means that these troubles are no more!

Working hard for you all year round

A common criticism cited on the doorstep is “You only come around when you want our votes”.

In fact I still get it now. I remember speaking to a resident on Denzil Road during the Summer who was taken back when I told her “but I was only elected last year and there’s three years to go until the next Council elections!”

Your Councillors and the Dudden Hill Labour Party is working hard for you all year around and in the last year we’ve spent evenings and weekends knocking on doors on Ilex Road, Waterford Way, Burnley Road, Geary Road, Helena Road, Park Avenue North, Avondale Avenue, North Circular Road, Jeymer Avenue, Kenneth Crescent, Denzil Road, Lancaster Road, Aberdeen Road, Chantry Crescent, Chapel Close, Griffin Close, Gay Close, Clifford Way, Sherrick Green Road, Selbie Avenue, Severn Way in addition to attending meetings with the Cairnfield Residents’ Association, Neasden Neighbourhood Watch, Ashcombe Park Neighbourhood Watch, and Dudden Hill Ward Panel meetings.

I am opening up an exclusive offer for Dudden Hill residents to talk with their neighbours on their street. Anyone that wishes to take me up on this offer will be guaranteed a pre-arranged Saturday to spend knocking on doors with you on your road and asking residents if they have any problems or issues that they would like to raise. Email cllr.krupesh.hirani@brent.gov.uk to take up this offer!

Following the riots, we led with the local Police teams to speak to businesses in the Neasden Shopping Centre and Church Road to give them reassurance when they were feeling vulnerable.

Aslam and I provided reassurance to residents on Sonia Gardens after the tragic fire incident on Sonia Gardens and arranged for additional traffic management on behalf of the Crest Academy given the additional interest around the school during this period.

Labour win in Wembley Central by-election! Krupa Sheth becomes Brent’s youngest ever Councillor

Brent Labour has claimed a sensational by-election victory in Wembley Central Ward in which Krupa Sheth has become the London Borough of Brent’s youngest ever Councillor.

The results are as follows:

1st  – Krupa Sheth (Labour) 1402 votes

2nd – Afifa Perez (Lib Dem) 1022 votes

3rd – Madhuri Davda (Conservative) 349 votes

4th – Martin Francis (Green) 130 votes

The Liberal Democrats chose to attack the candidate. On their leaflets, the Liberals labelled Krupa on the forefront of their leaflets as the ‘Brent Labour Council Boss candidate’ (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!)

Credit where it is due to the Tories and their candidate Madhuri Davda who ran a much cleaner and respectable campaign and did not resort to the same electoral tactics.

People don’t need us to spell out the hypocrisy of the Brent Liberal Democrats, fighting for local services on one hand but supporting the decimation of them in Government with the other. They can see it for themselves.

We ran a positive campaign promoting our candidate at the forefront rather than starting our campaign position of inciting hatred towards others. I’ve known Krupa for over two years now and am personally delighted to have her as a colleague at Brent Council.

Wembley Central By-Election Polling Day:

VOTE KRUPA SHETH (Labour Party) – 4th name on the Ballot Paper.

Polls are open from 7am to 10pm today (Thursday 22nd December 2011)

A Brent girl through and through, Krupa grew up in Wembley and attended the Swaminarayan school. A member of the Borough’s Jain community, Krupa speaks fluent Gujurati and Hindi, and volunteers at Jain temple helping to raise money for various charities across the world.

Krupa is deeply committed to social justice, and is training as a barrister to devote her career to fighting for vulnerable people in society. As well as her involvement in the local community, Krupa has devoted her free time and holidays to volunteering for charities, a local hospice, and the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux.

“Residents are worried about the effect of government cuts on Copland school and on police numbers. Women like me feel that government politicians are just not listening. I will visit every home in Wembley Central. I will ensure there is at least one politician who does.”

Krupa Sheth Labour Party Candidate for Wembley Central

GUEST BLOGPOST FROM ABi ASSOCIATES: [Re]Introducing The Grange

The Grange is a Grade 11 listed building located in Neasden. Brent’s former Grange Museum of Community History (better known as “the museumon the roundabout”) was based here until early 2005. It now houses the offices of ABi Associates Limited,one ofLondon’s leading business support companies, providing enterprise support and training to local businesses. The Grange also provides local organisations with an ideal venue to showcase their projects and programmes.

ABI (www.abi.co.uk) is a reputable business support and training consulting company dedicated to empowering the entrepreneurial success of London’s small businesses and communities. Over the past five years it has helped over 200 individuals to start their own businesses and provided business support to retailers both on Willesden High St and Wembley High Rd.

The Grange has also established a gardening club in partnership with Brent’s Elders Voice. The club brings together local elderly people who have an interest in gardening and meeting other like minded people.

Over the past eighteen months the Grange has hosted international visitors from EU and other countries who are keen to learn more about community and enterprise developments inLondon. These visits has also given local people and business owners an opportunity to make new contacts internationally as well as learn about new ways to address youth unemployment, women entrepreneurship and regeneration of our town centres.

Finally, in January 2012 the Grange is establishing the Grange Business Hub which will provide affordable offices and training rooms space to rent for new and growing businesses in Brent.

For more information on what’s happening at the Grange please contact us on  0208 348 4550 or email info@grangebusinesshub.co.uk

The Grange

Last summer I had the pleasure of been shown around what people in Neasden and around Brent know as The Grange Museum, Grange Roundabout and generally all things Grange! There is a lot of confusion on what currently happens at this historic site. I will shortly be publishing a guest blog post from ABi Associates about what happens at The Grange.

Brent libraries appeal result in

Lord Justice Pill said it was not suggested that there was an error of law in Brent reducing its expenditure on public services. “Given the scale of the spending reductions the council was required to make and the information available following earlier studies, a decision that the library service should bear a share of the reduction was not, in my judgment, unlawful.”

He said there was no doubt that the council was aware of its statutory duties. The decision as to which libraries to close was carefully considered by the council, and a “full consultation was conducted and fully reported to the decision-makers”.

He ruled that there was “no breach of duty in this case”.

(Source: The Guardian)

The full appeal judgement can be found here – LINK

No left-wing Councillor relishes making the decisions that Brent is having to make to comply with the Tory-Liberal deficit reduction plan.

Even if you believe that the cuts are necessary and that the debt should be tackled within one Parliament (The Coalition Government’s original plan A on the economy), is it fair that Brent Council has to make cuts in the region of 27-28% of our controllable budget whilst other Councils are getting more money? Brent is making a staggering £104 million cuts over the next few years. This is from a controllable budget of around £280 million. Therefore the public will expect Brent to run £280 million worth of services with around £170 million. Every cut has a cost.

Core services include streetcare, waste collection, care for the elderly and disabled, libraries, administering and facilitating a school place for every child in Brent. It is impossible for all of these to not be affected when making a £104 million worth of cuts from a £280 million budget. All of this when at the same time, demand for services is higher. As the country is struggling to overcome the economic troubles due to the banking crisis, more people are out of jobs, more people are living longer leading to an increase in demand for care services. As unemployment rises, so does crime, therefore putting more pressure on anti-social behaviour teams at Local Authorities.

How can the Brent Tory Liberals defend Brent losing out on resources while other areas are having Budget increases? I have blogged about this before LINK.

Why should Brent have to cut more than others? If Brent Tory Liberal Councillors do blame Labour for creating the deficit as they have done at Council meetings and the Coalition Government are holier than thou, are they still defending the level of cuts to Brent compared to others and supporting the damage made to Brent while other Councils are being given more money?

GUEST BLOG POST FROM RICHARD LYNCH ON EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS

More messing with employment rights

The coalition is proposing to charge workers up to £1,250 to take claims to employment tribunals and to prevent workers with less than two years’ service from making claims for unfair dismissal. In addition, a leaked report, commissioned by David Cameron, is proposing to make it easier for employers to dismiss workers without having to worry about tribunals at all.

In this report, venture capitalist Adrian Beechcroft makes the ridiculous claim that unfair dismissal rules are making it too difficult for employers to dismiss under-performing workers and that making it easier would encourage economic growth and “increase employment”.

His proposal is to introduce a new system where dismissal would “not be unfair if no particular reason is specified” provided the dismissed employee was given notice pay and compensation equivalent to statutory redundancy (one week’s pay per year’s service for most people). He calls this ‘quick fire’ system “compensated no fault dismissal” and any worker dispatched in this way would have no right to take a claim for unfair dismissal to tribunal.

He admits that the downside of this proposal is that “some people would be dismissed simply because their employer doesn’t like them” but he believes this would be “a price worth paying”.  He also points out that, as there is no EU legislation behind UK unfair dismissal law, it would be comparatively easy to make the necessary legislative changes.

It is not known whether the coalition will pick up this daft proposal but it is known that a large number of other proposals to weaken workers’ rights are also under consideration at the moment. These include proposals to reduce health and safety regulations (the Lofstedt Review), to reduce rights of workers in sickness absence situations, to reduce the redundancy consultation period and to ‘simplify’ the National Minimum Wage.

Another measure, which is not a proposal but established coalition policy and written into law, is a system for allowing employers to get out of giving equal pay to temporary/agency workers under the new Agency Workers Regulations. This system is called the Swedish Derogation Model and it is now being adopted by a range of major employers, including Tesco, Carlsberg and DHL. This little-known rule allows employers to reach agreement with employment agencies which result in the agency workers being taken on as employees by the agencies, thus making them ineligible for equal pay after 12 weeks in the company where they are working.

Employees and agencies have to comply with certain conditions before they can adopt this model but these conditions are hardly onerous:

  • the contract of employment with the agency must be in place before the agency worker’s first assignment with the company where they will be working,
  • the agency must agree to pay the workers with these employment contracts a ‘minimum amount’ when they are between assignments and
  • the agency must take reasonable steps to seek suitable further employment for the agency worker when their assignment ends and make sure it is offered to them.

However, the minimum amount that has to be paid is 50% of the worker’s average basic pay for the previous 12 weeks on assignment, provided that figure is at least of National Minimum Wage level. This differential is worse than the differential which currently exists between agency workers’ pay and pay in the companies where they are working (generally considered as around 30%). In addition, the agency can decide how many hours the agency worker is contracted for, provided it is greater than one hour a week! The ‘wage between assignments’ which is offered is therefore virtually meaningless.

Although agency workers who complete 12 weeks in  a particular role cannot be denied certain rights under the regulations (equal holidays with permanent employees etc), this model must be one of the most blatant mechanisms for undermining a piece of legislation improving workers’ rights that have ever been seen.

A Unite motion to this year’s TUC called for the model to be challenged in law but it must also be challenged in the workplace and union reps are encouraged to ensure that it is. Don’t let agency workers be done over in this way in your workplace.

Richard Lynch is a Dudden Hill resident. He is a retired Unite the Union official and currently conducts voluntary work on employment rights for the Brent Community Law Centre. He also acts as an accompanying representative for the GMB union.

The November figures are now in and recycling rates are above predicted target levels

Brent residents recycled or composted 42% of the waste collected in November. The target for Brent Council for the first full year is 40%.

The data for the first 2 months of the new service is set out below. We are seeing a healthy drop in landfill tonnage and good performance from the new blue bin system. The combined recycling rate for October and November is 43% compared to 32% last year. This means that less taxpayer money is being used to dump rubbish than if the old waste collection system was still in place.

Landfill

Recycling

Compost

Rate %

Oct/Nov 2010 / tonnes

11983

2786

2764

32%

Oct/Nov 2011 / tonnes

8236

3514

2750

43%

Diff+/-

-31%

26%

-1%

The estates roll-out is well underway and due to be completed by the end of January. Most blocks of flats are now done.

The majority of residents have adjusted their patterns to conform efficiently to the waste collection system. However, it is true that some residents have not adjusted to the new system and there are properties with overflowing bins in the ward. Education blitzes have now started in problem streets.

I have been reporting problem households personally and the Recycling team have been speaking directly to many residents and the response has been helpful.

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