Our number one promise to the electorate for the 2010 Local Elections was the scrapping of the unpopular £25 charge for bulky item collection for residents which the Lib Dems have attempted to delay the implementation of. Despite this, we are still hoping to have the service available for Brent residents from 1st October 2010.
But we’ve decided to go further than our pledge to scrap the £25 charge. Part of our vision in the build up to the Local Election was to make Brent a greener Borough.
We are now paving the stones to fulfill that vision, as Brent under Labour is setting an example that we hope that other Local Authorities will be adopting. Our overhaul of rubbish and recycling collection is part of the wider Waste Strategy, which at the heart of it aims to more than double the recycling rate of the Borough from what is is now at 28% to 60%. Under our proposals, landfill waste will be collected every two weeks and recycle and compostable waste every week. The weekly green bin waste collection service will be extended to 28,000 properties who currently have no such provision.
According to a report Undertaken as part of the Council’s Improvement and Efficiency Programme, the change in policy will result in efficiency savings in excess of £1 million due to less money going towards landfill tax. Basically as it stands at the moment, we are paying to put our rubbish into a big hole in the ground. WE NEED TO END OUR RELIANCE ON LANDFILL.
In addition, we have a statutory obligation to achieve a recycling rate of 40% by 2011. Under the current system, this target will not be met.
Yes, there are concerns that if people do not adjust their behavior and change their habits to recycle more that the recycling rates that we are aiming to achieve may not be realised. But the same concerns existed when Brent first introduced kerbside recycling and after an initial lag in changing behavior as people transit to become used to a new scheme, it is now relatively successful. If we keep faith that everyone will cooperate to make this revolutionary scheme work, we can make a difference and set an example for Local Authorities around the country to follow.
The moves that we have made show our commitment to making Brent a greener Borough. Our revolutionary Waste Strategy sets a vision will lay a platform that aims to increase our recycling rates and this recent proposal reported in the Telegraph reaffirms our commitment to contributing as a local authority in combating the negative impact of climate change.
Last night, on the agenda at the Forward Plan Select Committee were call ins of Executive decisions on the land use at Coniston Gardens, Waste Strategy and CPZ vehicle emission based pricing adjustment.
Kudos to Councillors Beck and Ashraf who did attend the meeting to convey their concerns to the committee and demonstrated their reasons for signing the call in by actively engaging and asking questions. The same cannot be said about the other Councillors Hayley Matthews, Simon Green, Ann Hunter who signed for the Call In as mentioned by my colleague Cllr James Powney here – LINK.
Councillors signing for call ins and then not turning up are causing embarrassment to proceedings on the committee and the system in general. At the previous Forward Plan meeting, items were on the agenda as called in and then embarrassingly skipped or skimmed over as there was confusion as to what the reason for the call in was.
Surely Councillors that sign to call in a decision should turn up to the meeting they asked for the item to be discussed at, if they are remotely interested in receiving a response.
Are the Brent Lib Dems interested in the detail of policies and providing scrutiny to make policy better or are they just opposing decisions for opposition’s sake?
Let me give you one example of a recent occurrence which has led me ask this question. The 11th August meeting included a call in on the ‘Criteria for Transport Services’ and a reason cited was ‘to review the findings of the Equality Impact Assessment’ (LINK – see item 5b), which at the time had not been completed. To call in decision based on concerns regarding a document which does not exist is beyond me.
It’s in virtually all the papers this morning and being reported all over the news. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a well reputed organisation that provides independent scrutiny of Government policies has vanished all claims from Sarah Teather’s Coalition Government that the Emergency Budget was ‘progressive’ announced by Chancellor George Osborne was progressive.
What the IFS say:
“The tax and benefit changes announced in the emergency Budget are clearly regressive as, on average, they hit the poorest households more than those in the upper-middle of the income distribution in cash, let alone percentage, terms. The distributional effect of all tax and benefit reforms due to be implemented by 2014–15 is clearly regressive within the bottom nine decile groups of the income distribution when losses are expressed as a percentage of net income.
The report also considers the impact of tax and benefit reforms on different sorts of households. Low-income households of working age lose the most as a proportion of income from the tax and benefit reforms announced in the emergency Budget. Those who lose the least are households of working age without children in the upper half of the income distribution. They do not lose out from cuts in welfare spending, and they are the biggest beneficiaries from the increase in the income tax personal allowance.”
Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)
The findings present a pretty damning view of the Coalition Government. The in-depth IFS analysis of the Government’s measures confirms that the poorest in society, and particularly those with children are the targets of the Coalition Government’s cuts. The Government’s rhetoric that they would protect those on low income and the reality of their proposals couldn’t be any further apart.
Labour plans to abolish the Dumpers’ Charter on 1st October 2010 despite the fact that the Lib Dems are attempting to pettily call-in the decision.
The Labour executive will ignore Lib Dem delaying tactics and we will keep our promise to abolish the £25 charge for bulky refuse collection. The abolition of the charge was our number one pledge in our local Brent Labour manifesto and the Council’s ruling Executive voted to implement the abolition from 1st October 2010.
However, the Liberal Democrat Opposition has now pettily ‘called in’ the Executive’s decision in an attempt to delay implementation.
The Labour Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Ann John, has lambasted the Lib Dems’ delaying tactics and she is determined to abolish the charge. Cllr John said:
“Unlike the Lib Dems who have betrayed every principle they ever had in return for ministerial limousines, we believe in keeping our promises and we will not be deflected by childish delaying tactics.
This was our number one pledge and we have a clear mandate to implement it. The people of Brent have spoken and if the Lib Dems had any respect for the democratic process at all they would accept the electorate’s decision. The fact that they are still trying to overturn the policy shows that they are neither liberal nor democratic”.
The £25 charge was introduced by the previous Liberal Democrat administration. It quickly led to an epidemic of illegal dumping and became widely known as the ‘Dumpers’ Charter’.
In Dudden Hill, the infamous Bermans and Leeland Way dump developed which infuriated residents for over a year. Within a week of being elected, the site was cleared after Lib Dem Councillors neglected and ignored residents LINK
The scrapping of the charge will help make scenes like this a thing of the past and shows commitment from the Brent Labour administration to improve services for our residents despite the wave of cuts that are being dished out by Sarah Teather’s Lib Dem / Tory Coalition Government.
Did Britain really become a nation of benefit scroungers under Labour? This is the type of rhetoric that has pointed many to mark their vote in the Tory box on polling day. The reality couldn’t be any more different.
With the Department for Work and Pensions proposing to reassess every individual recipient on incapacity benefits, they have issued a call for evidence. Within the document is a graph displaying the caseload over time from 1978 to 2009.
What the data shows is that the caseload stayed pretty much at the same levels that Labour inherited in 1997. The sharp rises occurred under Tory years from 1986 to 1995.
These rises are not necessarily a bad thing as prior to the increased caseloads, it could have meant that those that should have had extra support to meet their additional needs.
Now, the Tories are proposing a reversal in the changes that occurred under their watch to take the caseload numbers down. My concern is that vulnerable people who need extra support to help them carry out their daily routines will have support withdrawn from them and find themselves struggling to cope with the financial pressures on them and not being able to live their lives with dignity as many didn’t in the early 1980s.
The latest Guardian ICM poll shows that Labour are now neck and neck with the Tories in the polls despite the fact that Labour don’t even have a permanent leader at the moment. Meanwhile, Lib Dem support has plummeted to a lowly 18%.
The news serves a bitter blow to the Liberal Democrats as voters are realising in droves that what you vote for with the Lib Dems is not what you get. The Lib Dem administration in Brent proved this with endless broken promises.
At Brent Council’s Forward Plan committee meeting last week, Councillor Lorber spoke out against Labour’s proposal to scrap the £25 charge for bulky item collection, encouraging Labour to go against our manifesto commitment, to which I spoke against. I told the committee that to go against the number one pledge in our manifesto, a few months after an election would be criminal.
The removal is something that residents want and this is reflected by the popularity of the Labour vote in the 2010 local elections where there are now 40 Labour Councillors.
Battling Labour Councillors, led by Cllr Lesley Jones member for Willesden Green ward have been fighting to keep a local GP practice and avoid patients being dispersed. Lesley has been working with my co-Dudden Hill fellow Labour councillor Aslam Choudry and myself and a cross party alliance with Liberal Democrat councillors has been formed on this particular issue.
The surgery, originally in Burnley Road near Dollis Hill tube station closed without warning in 2001. Patients were transferred to a Pound Lane practice with the promise of a return to a surgery in the Burnley Road area. The practice was eventually relocated again to the Willesden Centre for Health and Care, but the inferred intention has always been to find more local premises. Having settled into the facilities at the Willesden Centre, patients now find their surgery is at risk yet again, in spite of PCT assurances over the years to resolve concerns.
This is a community rather than a party political issue, so the Councillors for Willesden Green and Dudden Hill Wards have sent a letter of objection to the PCT Director. We supported a meeting last week with PCT staff and patients. This was a good meeting where patients could express their concerns and could feel they were listened to. As a result, a further look at options for the Burnley Practice and further meetings are expected.
Cllr Lesley Jones said:
“It is really important for councillors to take up issues like this and I am grateful to Labour councillors, Aslam Choudry and Krupesh Hirani (Dudden Hill) and Lib Dem councillors for Willesden and Dudden Hill. for their involvement. This could be a good example of a council working with residents and health services to resolve problems in an area where there are fewer GP’s per 100,000 population than other areas of the borough.”
There’s been a great deal of hoo haa over former Labour Party Minister Alan Milburn’s appointment this weekend as the Coalitions Government’s mobility Tsar. John Prescott has branded him a collaborator and Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham has gone on record to say that Milburn should reconsider his position. Whilst I am disappointed with Frank Field’s and John Hutton’s appointments, I’ve come to a different conclusion with Milburn’s appointment.
The appointment represents an acknowledgement of the lack of talent in the Conservative and Lib Dem benches. David Cameron and Nick Clegg clearly do not have anyone within their own party ranks capable or possessing the right qualities to advise on social mobility.
It also signals a bitter blow to the think tank, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), founded by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, as the CSJ have been looking into the field of social mobility for years. A Labour politician being given the role disregards the work of the CSJ.
With all the cuts coming from this Government and the lack of investment in young people, his expertise can at least bring some progressive element into this Coalition Government who have done nothing but damage the prospects of young people so far.
The reason I have time for Alan Milburn is his approach to internships. Many MPs exploit the system and give young people internships to avoid paying them a wage, when in fact, they are carrying out roles with job descriptions to which there is a competitive recruitment process. For young people, there is no other route to break into Westminster and no alternative but to take the intern route into politics.
When in Parliament, Alan Milburn was one of the few that paid a national minimum wage to ‘interns’ and all MPs should follow suit.