Brent adoption service in the news

I woke up this morning to hear the London Borough of Brent mentioned on Radio 4 this morning on the Today programme. New data has revealed that Brent has poor adoption rates – LINK

I am disappointed with our slow adoption rates in Brent compared to other Councils; although there could be a valid explanation for this, which I am seeking.

It is generally an area that is ignored by local media. One of the most alarming things about the Council Budget papers passed in 2011 was the level of projected and actual overspend for children in care and yet coverage to my knowledge was zilch (the second area of overspend was Adult Social Care).

I have written to the Children and Families Department at Brent Council for an explanation as to whether there are valid reasons why our adoption rates are comparatively slow and if we can have a look at better performing Boroughs.


University applications down

An article on the BBC website has revealed that initial figures show that “University applications for 2012 are running at 9% below last year’s level.”

Even more concerning, is that “when overseas applications are taken out, the figures show a 12% drop in applications from UK students.”

I sincerely hope that it is being monitored what our young people are doing instead of going to University, given the huge intake drop. If people are not going to University because of choice, we cannot fail the next generation by not providing quality further education and training opportunities and support to make sure they are well equipped and have the skills necessary to enter the labour market.

Meanwhile, the One Show on BBC1, broadcasted on Monday 24th October (video only available for a limited time) revealed that when interest payments are taken into account, people who take out the maximum loan amount could find themselves paying £75,000 in debt.

Another survey has revealed that 10% will be put off going to University because of the new fees system that will start from next year onwards.

Wishing you a Happy Diwali and a prosperous Hindu New Year

I’d like to wish all my blog visitors a Happy Diwali and a prosperous new Hindu year.

I have accepted official invitations for Hindu New Year Annakut celebrations on Thursday 27th October from the Willesden Shree Swaminarayan Temple and the BAPS Neasden Swaminarayan Temple and am looking forward to supporting these community-led celebrations in Brent and meeting others celebrating as well.

I will also be visiting temples in the London Borough of Harrow in a personal capacity.

Tories should be fighting for Britain’s interests. Not fighting with each other about Europe

Ed Miliband has got it spot on on this news piece on his website – LINK

Last night we saw what we thought were remnants of an old age problem with the Tories re-emerge as a mainstream split in the Party.

But why Europe? Ex-London Young Labour Chair Christine Quigley  tweeted:


picture from

And she is right. Looking at the list of rebels, I noted the name of a former leader of Brent Council who is now the MP for Harrow East.


Pictured here holding a pledge signed by himself to vote against tuition fee increases, tuition fees were clearly not as strong an issue to rebel against as Europe.


Coalition in denial about child poverty

Brent Labour is concerned about the impact of the Lib Dem and Conservative policies that are putting more people into poverty. The renowned Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has produced a report which says that the UK is seeing a big rise in poverty and that 600,000 more children will be pushed into poverty.

With one in three children living in poverty in Brent, Labour is concerned that the Coalition Government is making things worse for our future generations.

Lead member for Children and Families Cllr Mary Arnold said,

“Changes to tax credits for working families, reduction in childcare grants, increasing VAT, scrapping of Building Schools for the Future, fewer opportunities for apprenticeships than Labour proposed, slashing the Education Maintenance Allowance and the trebling of tuition fees is making it more difficult for the next generation to reach their aspirations.”

Leader of Brent Council, Cllr Ann John OBE said,

“It is not fair that that people are being affected in this way, when at the same time, the Government has refused to continue the Bankers Bonus Tax that was in place last year and could be used right now to help pay off the deficit. There is a fairer way to address this deficit; a Plan B, which the Government are not looking into.”


International Recycle Symbol

The new recycling scheme introduced by Brent Council’s Labour administration is exceeding all expectations, with a whopping 50% increase in recycling within the first days of the new waste collection system.

Brent Labour ambitiously promised to bring in plans to more than double the borough’s recycling rate from 28% to 60% in their manifesto leading to the overwhelming Labour victory at the May 2010 Council elections.

Early figures show that blue bin recycling is up from 41 tonnes per day in October last year, to 61 tonnes this year. The figures are bound to improve even further when flats join the new scheme later this year. Hopefully as initial glitches are also ironed out and more people get used to the new system, this will have an even more positive impact on recycling rates in Brent.

Brent Labour has prioritised recycling for environmental reasons, and to save money and protect other council services. Sending recyclable materials to landfill causes huge environmental damage, contaminating land and contributing to greenhouse emissions.

As well as the environmental damage, Tory Liberal landfill taxes mean the Council will save millions of pounds by increasing recycling.

Cllr James Powney, Lead Member for Environment and Neighbourhoods, said:

“I’d like to thank residents for so enthusiastically embracing the new recycling scheme, and making it such a success so early on.

Labour is the only party in Brent committed to increasing recycling, and I’m very proud that we’ve gone ahead with this improved system which will make us one of the greenest borough’s in the country.”

What to do with old green recycling boxes?

Quite a few people have asked me about this. The answer is you can do as you wish. They make for good planter boxes, which is probably what the one at my house will now be used for.

This website explains the change to get Brent recycling more in better detail and answers many commonly asked questions – LINK

Labour’s five point plan for jobs

The Labour Party has developed a five point plan for jobs to get the economy moving again. Lessons of history should have taught us by now that unemployment is not a price worth paying. The unemployment figure is not a statistic but it is the life of an individual and their family affected. That is why it is right that attention is drawn to the lack of activity from this Government in growing the economy and creating jobs for people.

Instead the slash and burn Osbornomics approach is hurting the prospects of economic growth.
Click on image to see the plan on the Labour Party website.

Judicial Review on Brent Libraries

I’m sure you would have all seen coverage of the Judicial Review decision on Libraries in Brent today. Anyone wishing to see the Judgement of the case can view it here: LINK

Leader of Brent Council Councillor Ann John has said the following:

“With the coalition government making £104 million of cuts to this Council’s budget, we have had to look at every service the Council delivers.

Despite the cuts, we want Brent residents to have the best services possible.

In the libraries service, that means having libraries open seven days a week, and in the evenings, when our busy residents need to use them; it also means having state of the art computer facilities and high speed internet, which are essential for libraries to be a place of study and learning; it means investing in books, not buildings; and it means having a programme of educational and cultural events for the benefit of all local residents.

We firmly believe we can only do all that by delivering services from the six well located, popular libraries which have good transport links and high street locations. In the past, when more funds were available, we were happy to subsidise the poorly used branch libraries in residential locations, but it just not possible under this government’s cuts.

I am confident that we will achieve our goal of having more local people use our libraries, and getting more from them, as a result of our plans.

I also have to pay tribute to the staff in our libraries service who have showed exemplary professionalism while waiting for the outcome of this case.”

What is puzzling is that every single point made of allegation made towards the Council was ruled in favour of Brent Council. The Judge has even refused permission for the decision to be appealed. Surely a reputable law firm making the case with loads of experience in public law would have known or had some indication of the chances of success. Despite this, the case was taken forward. I wonder how much they stand to profit from all of this.

When will my bins be collected?

09 February 2010 Marsh Mills Plymouth
Image via Wikipedia

The Council has developed a web tool that will help you find out which bins will be collected and on what days.

I have tried and tested it by entering my details so it does seem to work!

Simply enter your details on the website here LINK and follow your way through to the pdf calendar, which will give you specific dates for your individual waste collection service.