It is with great sadness that after more than 10 years as a Liberal Democrat Councillor, this week I have resigned my membership of the party. I joined the Liberal Democrats because I wanted to help make Britain a fairer, greener and more equal country. I no longer believe that the Liberal Democrat Party can make this happen. They have betrayed the values that I once shared with them.
However, I do believe that the Labour Party, under their new Leader of Brent Council Muhammed Butt along with Ed Miliband in Westminster, shares my values and that I can as part of a Labour administration continue to work for the people of Brent.
I find that I am unable to lend my support to the devastating policies the Coalition is inflicting on Britain. In particular I have been sickened by the hypocritical things the Liberal Democrats do and say here in Brent.While my feelings about this have built up over the past two years, there are three issues that have finally pushed me to take this decision:
The people I represent in Alperton are struggling more than ever under this government, but the Liberal Democrat Leadership in Westminster is prioritising reform of the House of Lords instead of a plan for economic growth.
The closure of the A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital under this government is an astonishing betrayal. Sarah Teather campaigned to keep the A&E when it was not under threat of closure. Now she is in government closing it. I am only sorry that I trusted her back then and I am sure that a number of her constituents feel the same way.
Paul Lorber also knows very well that had the Lib Dems won the Local Election in 2010 they would have faced the same pressure to close the six libraries in Brent. It is the Coalition cuts to local government that are causing this problem and Cllr. Lorber’s posturing on the issue is just an insult to the library campaigners and the people of Brent.
I recognise that some of my constituents in Alperton will feel let down by my decision. I apologise to them if they feel I ought to have nailed my colours to the mast more firmly before the election. Equally I trust that many of them voted for me because they knew of the hard work that I have done as a councillor over the years. I pledge to them that I will work harder than ever to improve the lives of everyone who lives in Alperton. I know that there are many people who voted Lib Dem at the last election and indeed many Lib Dem members who feel as betrayed as I do by the party’s record in the coalition. I urge them to join me and to join the Labour Party.
At a Council meeting last November the Coalition parties made much of the Mayor of London’s Outer London Regeneration Fund so it comes as some surprise to see that both of Brent Council’s bids have been denied. Brent’s Lead Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, Cllr George Crane has expressed his disbelief that the Mayor has chosen to ignore the needs of Outer London’s most diverse borough.
Brent put in a bid for 1.65 million to continue the successful work started in Willesden High Road in an earlier bid agreed last year. The bid would have helped transform Willesden Green High Road by renting some empty shop units on a long-term basis. These would be used by emerging businesses to help employment and skills of local people. The other part of the bid was to improve the area around the Willesden Green Library centre and make it a focal point to showcase local creative talent. (For more info on Willesden project see http://willesdenwindows.com )
The second bid was for 1.8 million for Ealing Road between Wembley Central and Alperton. The programme was designed to promote Ealing Road to deliver physical, economic social and cultural benefits to Ealing Road, Wembley and Brent.
Ealing Road is already attracting high visitor numbers from around London and beyond with its unique style of Indian shopping experience.
Cllr Crane said
”All our neighbouring Boroughs have received money and it is difficult to understand why Brent has been singled out to have both projects rejected..
I will be asking Navin Shah, Brent’s London Assembly Member to raise this with Mayor Johnson and ask him to reconsider both Brent’s bids.”
Earlier today, I blogged on an unfortunate incident that occurred on Dollis Hill Lane yesterday – LINK.
I have just been in contact with the Police who have communicated the following to me:
On Thursday 7 October 2010 at about 12:20hrs a collision occurred in Dollis Hill Lane at the junction with Dudden Hill Lane. A male pedestrian in his seventies was struck by a large tipper lorry. Despite treatment from the London Ambulance Service and Air Ambulance, the pedestrian was declared dead at the scene.
We believe we know the identity of the victim and his next of kin have been informed. We await formal identification.
A post mortem will be carried out at Northwick Park Hospital in due course and an inquest will be opened at Barnet Coroner’s Court.
The driver of the lorry was arrested and taken to Wembley Police Station. He has been interviewed and bailed to return in January.
Detective Sergeant Chris Osborne of the Met’s Road Death Investigation Unit at Alperton said “This collision occurred close to a really busy interchange and there must have been a lot of people around at the time. I would urge anybody who saw what happened to contact us so that we can find out exactly what happened.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Investigating Unit on 020 8998 5319 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Following extensive lobbying by Brent Labour councillors and local Labour MPs Dawn Butler and Barry Gardiner, the Labour government has agreed to provide an additional £80 million under its ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme. This means that secondary schools in the borough will be rebuilt or expanded as part of the government’s programme to modernise all secondary schools. Those programmed in the first phase are Alperton, Cardinal Hinsley in Harlesden, Queen’s Park Community School (which is to be expanded) and Copland School in Wembley.
Labour’s Education Spokesperson, Councillor Mary Arnold, said:
“Once again our Labour government has put its money where its mouth is and invested in education. In recent years, the Labour government has given Brent the second highest increase school budgets in the entire country and now they are giving us this huge additional capital investment to improve the fabric of our schools. Before Labour came to power, Brent school students were taught in overcrowded classrooms sometimes with leaking roofs and in some cases in corridors. That situation has massively improved under Labour and this new money gives us the chance to ensure that every Brent child receives a first class education in modern schools with state of the art facilities”.
The ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme allows for expansion as well as modernisation and Labour fears that the Lib Dem/Tory council may use the money merely to expand schools rather than modernise them. They have so far failed to rebuild primary schools despite receiving the money from the government to do so and their failure to take urgent action when they came to power four years ago has resulted in a critical shortage of school places.