No Advice Surgery on Saturday 1st January 2011

Please note that I will not be holding my Councillor advice surgery at the Gladstone Park Primary School on Saturday 1st January 2011. (Feels weird writing 2011 – actually did write 2010 and had to amend it!). My next Advice Surgery will take place on Saturday 8th January 2011 at the Neasden Library Plus from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

Hope you have a great New Years’ Eve! 🙂


Brent Council is on the road to safety

Brent Council has written to 83 head teachers to ask for their help in promoting road safety outside schools.

The Lead Member for Highways and Transportation, Cllr Jim Moher, is sending out the letters to let schools know that Brent will be taking tougher enforcement action on school keep clear markings in the New Year.

It’s part of Brent’s plan to enforce moving traffic offences to improve road safety and reduce congestion. There are 20 offences in total and drivers could be fined £120 if caught breaking the rules.

Dave Cooper, Governor of Oliver Goldsmith School, Conniston Gardens, Kingsbury, said: “Having worked with junior road safety officers for four years we have seen firsthand the problems caused by selfish and dangerous parking.

“We have problems outside both our entrances at Oliver Goldsmith and I’m pleased the council is taking steps to improve road safety. There have been many near misses as parents drive on pathways to access parking and often can’t see children in their mirrors.”

Over the coming weeks, council engineers will review the markings and signage outside schools to make sure they are clear. Where work is necessary, this will be carried out with minimum disruption to the school.

Once enforcement starts, mobile CCTV cars will patrol the borough, travelling to congestion or accident hotspots to deter motorists from breaking the rules. Warning letters rather than fines will be sent for the first two weeks.

Drivers caught on camera committing a traffic contravention will be sent a bill in the post which will include an image of the offence.

Cllr Moher said: “I hope it won’t come to this.  Our goal is to improve road safety and we hope that by warning drivers about the fines they will choose to follow the rules instead. It’s really important that every parent, carer and visitor to schools in Brent knows about this change in power.  That way they can make an informed decision in January about whether to follow the rules or risk a fine.”

Brent is asking schools to send out letters to parents and carers about the new scheme, put information on their websites and newsletters and display a poster in their reception areas.

Schools that have a problem with vehicles parking on school keep clear markings, or who would like further information, should contact Michael Lambert, Parking Manager, on 0208 937 5091 or by email at He can arrange for parking enforcement officers or CCTV equipped vehicles to visit.

Cllr Moher said: “Before enforcement takes place, we will ask for confirmation that parents and carers have been informed about this initiative.”

For more information visit

An extraordinary woman: Jayaben Desai

Jayaben Desai, aged 77 has passed away. Sadly, I am too young to have experienced her leadership during the 1977 dispute with the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories but her story is one of true inspiration. The Guardian has published an article conveying her incredible determination and hard work in championing the rights of Asian female workers – LINK.

Wembley parking restrictions on Boxing Day (tomorrow) for Rugby Union match

Saracens face London rivals Wasps in the Aviva Premiership at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 26 December and event day parking restrictions will apply.

About the parking scheme
Wembley Stadium Protective Parking Scheme Restrictions will apply throughout the Wembley Stadium Event Day Zone from 8am until midnight on main routes, and 10am until midnight in residential areas within the 1.5 mile radius of Wembley Stadium on 26 December 2010.

Anyone who is parked illegally within the event day zone will be issued with a parking ticket and may have their vehicle towed away.

Residents, their visitors and businesses within this zone that have special event day permits will be able to park in these roads and are advised to display their permits on 26 December 2010.

The ‘event today’ signs throughout the zone will be flipped this afternoon to ensure all signs are flipped in time for the event.

Source: Brent Council

Apply now for a Brent primary school places

I’d like to remind parents of children who are due to start at primary or junior school in September 2011 are being reminded that they are running out of time to get their applications in.

The deadline for applications for the thousands of children expected to start at a Brent primary next year is 15 January 2011.

Parents who are unsure about the process can put the dates of two public meetings in their diaries.

Council admissions officers will be able to answer questions and help families fill in application forms on:

  • 6 January 2011, between 5 and 7pm, at Willesden Green Library Centre, 95 High Road, London, NW10 2SF
  • 7 January 2011, between 5 and 7pm.  Brent Town Hall, Forty Lane, Wembley, Middlesex, HA9 9HD.

All Brent families have to apply to Brent Council regardless of whether the school is in Brent or outside. Parents can apply quickly and easily online at

Councillor Mary Arnold, Brent Council’s lead member for Children and Families, said: “If you are parent of a child who is due to go to start at one of Brent’s excellent primary schools next year, I strongly advise you to complete an application within the next month, before the deadline.

“If you miss the deadline, your application will be considered after all the others so you will be at a disadvantage and are less likely to get the school you want.

“Families with children due to go to a primary school really need to act fast if they haven’t applied as there is only a month left. Our schools are very successful and very popular and you don’t want your child to miss out.”

Sentences handed to ChurchEnd dealers

The Willesden and Brent Times is reporting that seven drug dealers, who plied their trade on a notorious street have been sentenced in court. The dealers were arrested as part of Operation Soto which involved an 18-month long undercover operation that targeted drug dealing in Church Road, which is in Dudden Hill Ward. I first raised the issue on my blog in 2009 LINK.

Brent housing benefit campaign update

Brent Council’s head of housing commented on the Government plans last week (30 November) to delay the capping of housing benefit for existing claimants until 2012 saying – “delaying change is not addressing the problem.”

Martin Cheeseman, Director of Housing and Community Care, has been at the forefront of a campaign by Brent and London Councils to encourage the government to introduce changes to the benefits system that fairly reflects living costs in London.

In a recent interview for The Guardian website’s housing blog, Martin outlines the risk of homelessness facing thousands and the vast costs to councils and taxpayers if the proposed changes go through as planned. He also points to the social problems that will follow including the creation of ghettos or ‘dumping grounds’ and the demise of sustainable communities that local authorities have worked hard to forge.

Speaking about the recent announcement Martin said: “Brent has lobbied hard to get government to rethink their proposals which threaten thousands of people, with many families facing the possibility of leaving their homes and the lives they have built in the borough.

“Postponing the caps does indicate that the government are hearing councils calls to rethink the proposals but delaying change is not addressing the concerns or the problems we will face from this type of benefit reform.

“Brent and many other London councils feel these changes hit the poorest hardest making the most vulnerable – such as pensioners, carers, vulnerable adults and families – pay a huge price for the countries debt without offering sustainable results.

“Whilst we recognise the benefits system is in need of reform the issue cannot be addressed without taking into account the lack of affordable housing in London which leaves councils dependent on the private rented sector. Neither of these issues can be looked at independently of each other if we want a system that works.”

The delay means that from April 2011 existing Local Housing Allowance claimants will have their benefit entitlement reviewed on the anniversary of their last claim and will then have up to nine further months before the new caps are imposed.

Anyone making a new claim from April 2011 will be affected by the caps immediately.

Brent’s got Christmas all wrapped up

With not long to go until ‘The Big Day’, Brent’s Christmas festivities are in full swing.  All across the borough there are events, fairs, activities, concerts and gatherings that are guaranteed to get everyone in the festive mood.

Full details of what’s on are available at or by telephoning 020 8937 1106.  But here’s a taste of some of the highlights:

La Noche Latina, Mexican Christmas celebrations

Enjoy delicious Mexican food, listen to the sounds of Argentinean singer Corina Piatti and learn about the traditions of the Pinata at this Latin-American themed celebration.

Thursday 16 December, 6 to 10pm, The Gallery at Willesden Green Library

Mr Wonderful Christmas Ball

Whirl around the dance floor with ballroom and Latin American dance moves and get festive enjoying a sparkling dance cabaret.

Monday 20 December, 7.30 to 11.30pm, Paul Daisley Hall, Brent Town Hall

Club Ceroc Wembley Christmas Party

Be merry and learn modern jive and salsa-partner dancing in this social and friendly party.

Tuesday 21 December, 8 to 11pm, Paul Daisley Hall, Brent Town Hall

Create your own Christmas Tree decorations

Sunday 11 to Wednesday 22 December (various times and libraries, details can be found at )

Carol singing

Sunday 12 to Saturday 25 December (various time and locations around the borough, details can be found at )

Lead Member for Environment, Planning and Culture, Cllr. James Powney says;

“The variety and amount of Christmas events happening across Brent this year is truly amazing.  I think there’s something for everyone and I hope people get out there and enjoy as many as possible over the festive period.”

Aside from the celebrations, it is business as usual for many of the council’s services including Meals on Wheels, emergency planning and the emergency social work team, although Brent’s waste and recycling schedule will alter slightly over the festive period.

Check the December issue of The Brent Magazine or visit for more details of council services over the Christmas and New Year period.