Fire safety in housing blocks in Brent

Following the tragedy in Grenfell, residents are rightfully concerned about fire safety, particularly in blocks of flats.

Brent has been in regular contact with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) to offer assistance.

So far Brent has provided staff to assist RBKC at their Borough Emergency Control Centre at Kensington Town Hall. Our local authority liaison officers and rest centre managers are also on standby and are ready to respond should they be required. We have also offered our employee assistance programme to London Fire Brigade staff to help support them through personal mental health issues they will inevitably be experiencing following the tragedy.

As part of the recovery operation we have asked whether housing in Brent with be required by Grenfell Tower residents. We understand that RBKC’s strong preference is to rehouse Grenfell Tower residents within their borough wherever possible but have said they will be in touch with us next week to discuss this further.

The support from people across London in donating clothes and essentials has been fantastic and RBKC have now advised us that the best way to support those affected is through financial donations rather than goods. The details for the website which has been set up have been promoted by us locally and further details are here LINK

The Leader has also made a statement about fire safety which is available here LINK

A ‘Talkback’ event was held with tenants and leaseholders on Wednesday evening (June 14) where officers from BHP and the council were also able to directly answer questions from tenants and leaseholders about fire safety.

Understandably, some Brent residents living in high rise blocks have been contacting BHP and the Council for information and reassurance regarding their homes. BHP has been responding to these queries and information is available on the BHP website. Any members who have specific questions from themselves or from residents should email them tobhp.compliance@bhphousing.co.uk who will respond as soon as possible.

The facts in Brent are:

– We have 37 high-rise (5 storeys or more) blocks in Brent, all of which are 100% fire risk assessment compliant.

– We have never directly used Rydon Limited or Harley Facades Limited, the contractors who worked on Grenfell Tower. We do not yet know about other registered providers and we are seeking this information from them.

– Since the incident began the Compliance and Risk team at Brent Housing Partnership have been responding to questions about fire management policies and processes and the steps that have been taken over recent years to reduce the risk of fires in council run blocks.

– More than £10million has been spent over the past 4 years on measures to reduce the risk of fires in council run properties.

Estate inspectors and compliance experts have been mobilised to provide additional re-checks of communal areas and exit routes to remove any remaining rubbish, bicycles and other hazards which could hinder access and exit in an emergency. They are also doing extra checks of the blocks with cladding to ensure all remedial works, which form part of business as usual, are actioned as a priority, ahead of the prescribed schedule.

Finally, it was announced yesterday (June 15) that there will be a full public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire to get a full understanding of went so wrong and how similar tragedies can be prevented in the future.

The Government has also announced an emergency review into fire safety in tower blocks. Once the findings are known we will of-course review and, if needed, amend our fire management processes and strategy accordingly.

Great Gladstone Get-Together at Gladstone Park this Sunday

There are events all around the Country this weekend in celebration of Jo Cox’s belief that we have more in common in society. We have a local event at Gladstone Park this Sunday packed with activities for all to enjoy. Do come along between 12.30pm and 4.30pm Great Gladstone Get-Together

Brent results for the General Election

Residents have voted emphatically for Labour in Brent. We are represented by three MPs covering the Hampstead and Kilburn, Brent Central and Brent North constituencies.

Tulip Siddiq has increased her majority in Hampstead and Kilburn from 1,138 to 15,560. In Brent Central where my Council ward Dudden Hill is, Dawn Butler increased her vote share from 19,649 to 27,997 and in Brent North, Barry Gardiner increased his majority from 10,834 to 17,061.

The Conservatives had heavily targeted Brent North and Hampstead and Kilburn in particular but London in general saw Labour support rapidly increase across the capital. Personally I mostly campaigned in my own ward in Dudden Hill within Brent Central but did go to campaign sessions in Hampstead and Kilburn and Harrow West where Gareth Thomas not only retained his seat but increased his majority.

Sadly, we are still facing a Tory Government led by a weak leader but we will now have a strengthened and united opposition which will be incredibly important as we go through Brexit negotiations.

We were already knocking on doors before the snap election was called as we don’t just go on the doorstep during election time. Our returns in Dudden Hill when canvassing in the snap election period where showing that Dawn would increase her majority and in a worst case scenario would be no worse than the 2015 result under Ed Miliband’s leadership. A few conversations I had with voters during the campaign stick to my head.

In Dudden Hill, I met a firefighter who was so angry with the Government following the terror attacks. He lived in Kilburn but happened to be visiting his mother in my ward when I knocked on the door. He was furious at how much the emergency services were praised for their work in response to the attacks but when it comes to day to day activity they were treated like crap. They couldn’t even exercise or show their frustrations by being able to strike. He hadn’t had a pay rise in years and all his living costs had gone up. They felt undervalued day in day out and used as a political tool when they are needed.

Corbyn was mentioned as a reason people were not voting Labour but when we checked our returns, this was generally mentioned by people who had never voted for Labour and were anti-Labour in all elections.

Labour voters who mentioned dislike for Corbyn still said they would vote for Labour because of Party values. Corbyn was even mentioned as a reason for people voting for Labour, switching to Labour from Greens or Lib Dems and he gave a reason for people who had never voted before to vote for Labour for the first time in their lives.

Results in Brent Central and Brent North show the Conservative vote was fairly static in Brent and in terms of vote share there were slight decreases but a huge drop in their support in Hampstead and Kilburn.

It was truly remarkable to see people coming forward to vote at polling stations who had never been motivated to come out and exercise their democratic right before. As we showed in the London elections with Sadiq Khan’s victory, positive campaigning and the politics of hope definitely helped to deliver the unexpected general election result we are waking up to today.

 

Brent family set to have their support for their disabled child removed by the Government

A Brent family are set to lose support for their disabled child after receiving a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions stating that their daughter no longer meets the criteria for Disability Living Allowance.

rnoh statement

A letter from their Specialist NHS Consultant confirms that the child has a neuromuscular problem which leaves her unable to open her hands from a closed position. Her condition has not improved and will not get better in the future. To be told that she is no longer disabled enough for support is an absolute insult to the family who strive day in day out to support their daughter on top of their full time jobs.

The family, of Gujarat origin, have come to me for support and given me full permission to highlight their case and show how cold the Government’s policies are and how people who should be getting support are being crushed. They personally wanted it highlighted how this Government was treating disabled people and in particular with this circumstance, cutting support for their disabled child.

I am supporting them through tribunal now with Citizens Advice but if unsuccessful, their entitlement will be completely stopped at the end of this year. The way that we treat disabled people as a society needs to change completely. The policies of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats between 2010 and now has caused and is causing real hardship to families that deserve better treatment.

Last chance to register to vote on Monday

Residents in Brent have one last chance to get themselves onto the electoral register in time for the general election, as the registration deadline of 11:59pm on Monday 22 May fast approaches.

Anyone not yet registered to vote is being urged by the council to do so this weekend and consider whether they will have their say by post, proxy or in person at the polls.

You can have your say by post, proxy or in person on polling day but of course, in order to vote you must first be registered. You can register to vote online vie the following LINK

Labour candidates in Brent are Tulip Siddiq for Hampstead and Kilburn, Dawn Butler for Brent Central and Barry Gardiner for Brent North. All three are local MPs and live in the constituencies they represent. They have been fighting hard for us in Parliament whilst the Tories as well as Lib Dems have been disproportionately cutting the funding available to Brent’s health, social care, police and fire brigade services.

Tory Social Care proposals could have devastating consequences for families in Brent

The Conservative Party’s “reckless” manifesto pledge could have devastating consequences for families in Brent. Sir Andrew Dilnot, a leading national expert who provided an independent report to the Government on social care has described the Tory proposals as the biggest stealth tax in history. Despite government previously saying they would consult with the public on the best way forward, this high-cost policy has come out of the blue. While many families from many backgrounds will be affected, South Asian communities, who often live together across generations, could be hit particularly hard, with Tory proposals leaving them at risk of becoming homeless.

At present, social care is means tested and the value of the property that people are living in is not taken into account as part of that calculation. The proposal announced in Theresa May’s Conservative manifesto will include the value of a person’s home. If this damaging policy goes ahead, equity in the family home will be eaten into and after the cared for individual passes away, the home will have to be sold. As too many families know, the costs of caring for someone with dementia can be catastrophic and with people living longer and dementia prevalence rising, more people will need social care for longer.

These proposals have not been properly thought through. They raise more questions, cause more problems and quite simply fail to deliver much needed solutions for the social care crisis. What happens if there is a partner still living in the property when the person receiving social care passes away? Will they have to be thrown out of their own home so the remaining social care bill can be paid? Even if the issue of property and living partners is resolved by delaying the debt payment until they have passed away too, the policies outlined in the manifesto will cause devastation to large sections of the Brent population and South Asian communities in particular.

In Brent and other areas, South Asian communities choose to live in the same family home and it is not uncommon for up to four generations of a family to be living in the same property. The housing crisis has also meant that families are even choosing to build and expand their home and live together rather than enter the housing market. It is ironic that the section of the manifesto that this proposal appears in is under the heading ‘a restored contract between the generations’ as their approach completely ignores the intergenerational dependencies of families who strive to care for each other.

When elderly relatives pass away after receiving social care, their children could find themselves homeless. The Tories say that families will be able to keep £100,000 of equity in the family home. The average price of a property in Brent is £535,803 meaning that their children will have to try and find on average £435,000 to try and keep their family home.

On top of bringing the social care system to the brink of collapse over the last seven years, the current Tory thinking looks to create even more problems rather than solutions to the crisis.

Mental Health awareness week – event 13th May 11am to 1pm Brent Civic Centre

This year Brent Council will mark the Mental Health Awareness Week (8 – 14 May) in collaboration with The Nous Organisation. The 2017 theme is ‘Surviving or Thriving’ and we will explore effective strategies and coping techniques that can help us to enjoy a good mental health.

There will be an event that will take place in Brent Civic Centre on 13th May 2017 from 11am to 1pm, Board rooms 3, 4 & 5.

If you would like to book your place to this even please contact equality@brent.gov.uk

NHS seeks views from new mums in North West London

babyNew mums are asked to share their experiences of maternity care in the North West London area.

The NHS wants to hear from new mothers and mums-to-be about what is important in receiving good maternity care, to shape how this national funding will improve future care.

A new website has been launched (https://maternitynwlondon.commonplace.is) so women can join the conversation and share their experiences of maternity care.

Celebrating Ganesha at Willesden Library

Brent Museum and Archives is hosting an ancient statue of the Lord Ganesha. The idol is on loan from the British Museum. The beautiful sculpture is over 800 years old and originates from India.

Come and see the statue and our wider exhibition celebrating many aspects of Indian culture at Willesden Library. The exhibition has been created in partnership with Shree Swaminarayan Temple Willesden, Mahogany Arts and the artists Kirsty Harris. There will also be a celebration event on 17th May.

Neasden benefits from Public Space Protection Order

A Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) is now live in Neasden. The Government’s street drinking laws were time limited and have now expired so the Council has implemented it’s own PSPO in partnership with the Police to clamp down on street drinking.

The purpose of the PSPO is to help tackle and address the issues of street drinking which is taking place within the Neasden Shopping Centre area.

The area outlined in blue is covered by the PSPO.

Neasden PSPO