Brent to be targeted again by Coalition Government

The BBC is reporting that Councils in England face a 10% cut in funding from central government as part of the coalition’s spending plans for 2015/16 – LINK

The article quotes a Local Government Association (LGA) estimate that a 10% cut in spending would mean an average council having to find another £30m of savings on top of existing cuts. As we know, Brent is usually disproportionately impacted from Coalition Government cuts – LINK

10% savings on top of the 30% cuts to Council Budgets will simply mean that in Brent, we will have to simply stop doing some things and make some unpalatable decisions.   Council Leaders including Cllr Muhammed Butt of Brent signed a statement agreeing that the cuts to local councils “simply cannot go on” – LINK

Furthermore, US President Barack Obama has rejected Osbornomics, saying that “we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity” LINK

Globally, the opposition against the Tory and Liberal Democrat approach is growing. But the approach from Nick Clegg and George Osborne and company is not changing.

I hope that the Brent’s three MPs Barry Gardiner, Sarah Teather and Glenda Jackson vote against this unfair budget on Wednesday.

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Sarah Teather a no show at Parliamentary debate on local hospitals

Maybe there was a rational reason why the Tory Liberal Minister could not attend the debate and vote on the NHS and local hospitals.

However, it is good that attention was paid to Central Middlesex Hospital in the debate.

Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North said,

Barry Gardiner: Thank you, Sir. I shall try to respect your advice.

In November 2011, the following announcement appeared on the Central Middlesex hospital website:

“A and E at Central Middx Hospital is temporarily closing overnight between 7 pm and 8 am starting from Monday 14 November 2011.

The urgent care centre next to A and E will remain open 24 hrs a day 7 days a week to treat patients with minor injuries and illness.

We are making this temporary change to ensure we continue to provide a safe service to patients during the winter months.”

In those three paragraphs, we hear twice over that that overnight closure is temporary, which gave minimal comfort to my constituents in Brent who used the facility. The overnight closure is indeed temporary. On 2 July, a consultation entitled “Shaping a healthier future” was launched in north-west London, and residents can submit their views until 8 October this year. The consultation, promoted by a transitional body called NHS North West London, aims to centralise and rationalise hospital services in the area. Each proposal outlined in the consultation includes the closure of the A and E at Central Middlesex—not overnight provision, but the 24-hour facility—for good.

The motion speaks of

“the growing gap between Ministers’ statements and what is happening in the NHS”.

I may have trouble agreeing with that, because it depends on which Minister and which statements. The Minister of State, Department for Education, the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), received an e-mail from me today advising her that, if called to speak, I would quote her in this evening’s debate. I wanted to do so, because she made the following three statements. First:

“The Tories would be a disaster for the NHS, they plan a part privatised service”.

The second quotation:

“These cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest”.

The third quotation:

“The government must take urgent steps to safeguard our local NHS”.

Those three quotes date respectively from 2003, 2007 and 2007, when the hon. Lady was campaigning to keep open the accident and emergency centre at Central Middlesex hospital—campaigning for something which she, in her government, is now closing. No wonder her latest comment is:

“This flawed consultation, which does not allow residents to say that they want to save the A and E, is a kick in the teeth for all local people.”

I do not speak Parseltongue—I do not understand it—but I deplore the pretence of opposing a policy that you are pushing through in government. That is really disgraceful.

Even Tory MP for Ealing, Angie Bray MP spoke out against what is happening. She said,

Angie Bray: As my right hon. Friend is aware, the proposal is to downgrade four accident and emergency departments across London that are all right beside my constituency. Does he agree with my constituents that losing four accident and emergency departments is disproportionate and will mean a significant loss of service for them locally?

Labour hits the ground running at the Town Hall

The new Labour majority, which will take charge of Brent Council following the Council’s Annual General Meeting, has already taken a number of steps to improve the lives of local people.

In addition to the scrapping of the unpopular £25.00 charge for bulky refuse collection, Labour will:

  • Cancel the sale of the Scout Hut at Oliver Goldsmith School in Fryent ward;
  • Seek to cancel the sale of land at Barham Park, on which the previous administration had sought to build a block of flats;
  • Bring forward plans for new youth facilities in Chalkhill;
  • Bring forward an urgent report on the health and safety issues relating to the dining facility at Byron Court Primary School;
  • Investigate sharing services with neighbouring councils in order to achieve the savings needed to avoid cuts in front line services;
  • Ensure that low paid staff are protected during the difficult financial times which lie ahead.

The Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Ann John, said:

“It is important that we deliver on the promises we made during the election campaign and we will continue to make progress as quickly as we can. We will work closely with our local Labour MPs, Barry Gardiner who represents Brent North and Glenda Jackson, whose Hampstead & Kilburn constituency covers part of the borough, to secure real improvements in the quality of service to local people”.

Barry Gardiner, Member of Parliament for Brent North, said:

“Ann John has lost no time in getting the Council back to work for the people of Brent. These dramatic initiatives are precisely what people voted for last week. Voters will be delighted that she is moving to deliver real change so quickly”.

What a last few days it has been

It was a horrible morning as we learnt the result of the Brent Central Parliamentary vote. We were absolutely distraught at losing such an inspiring MP in Dawn. Barry Gardiner and Glenda Jackson’s result did soften the blow as Hampstead and Kilburn elected Glenda, and Brent North elected Barry.

Yesterday at 4PM the Council results for Dudden Hill Ward was announced. It was the second result announced after the Willesden Green Ward announcement where there was no change from 2006. At the Dudden Hill Count table, the Labour pile looked marginally bigger than the Lib Dem stack.

Before they’re announced, the Candidates and our Agents already know the results. We were called behind the count table to look at the ballot papers that were sorted into the pile where the ballots were disputable.

I looked at the results sheets… I was ahead of two of my Lib Dem opponents! After we had all agreed where the disputed papers should go, the result was finalised. I had got in by 50 votes.

But the day wasn’t over. As the results were announced Ward by Ward, we were making gains all across Brent. The final result was astonishing. Brent Labour now have 40 Councillors in Brent to 17 Lib Dems and 6 Conservatives.

Commiserations to all my fellow Dudden Hill candidates of all parties who were unsuccessful on this occasion and congratulations to Aslam Choudry and David Clues for also being elected as Dudden Hill Councillors.  This has been a hard fought campaign and many had no sleep for two days. The actual campaign was exhausting. I’m sure all candidates are sporting a ‘campaign calf’ from being on their feet constantly, knocking on doors, talking to people, canvassing for support.

Lastly, thank you for all your support, to every voter, to every leaflet deliverer, to every donater, to my fellow candidates, to the A-Team, to Dawn & her team, to volunteers, everyone else that helped and to you.

I look forward to the challenges that the next four years will bring – and I look forward to serving Dudden Hill and Brent.

Brent Council accused of intimidating Brent Youth Parliament members

I recenty spoke along with Transport Minister Sadiq Khan MP,  Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry and my fellow young Brent Council Candidates Roxanne Mashari (Welsh Harp Ward) and Nadhim Ahmed (Dollis Hill Ward) at a Young People’s reception organised by Youth Opportunities and Youth Engagement Minister Dawn Butler MP.

It was amazing to meet so many young people involved positively in our communities. A few members of the Brent Youth Parliament were among the guests which has since caused local controversy. The Liberal Democrat and Conservative controlled Brent Council has since sent the Brent Youth Parliament members an intimidating letter saying:

“You will obviously need to give careful consideration as to whether you wish to align yourself with a particular person or group and what impact this may have on others’ perception of you as a Brent Youth Parliament member.

“If you do decide to participate in local politics, you will need to give consideration as to which person or group you are willing to be connected with and, any implications of this.”

Barry Gardiner MP, who represents Brent North in Parliament raised the issue in Parliament and was advised by Sir Alan Haselhurst to take the matter to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Harrow Times have reported in the story LINK.

I think it’s an absolute disgrace that young people are being discouraged from being involved in politics by being threatened and intimidated in this manner.

Brent Labour has led the way in youth representation and in this years’ local elections will be putting forward 5 candidates in their 20s.

Happy New Year

2009 has been an amazing year… With your help lets make 2010 an even better one!

A special thank you to the Dudden Hill Labour Party and the Labour Action Team, the Brent Labour Party and Council Labour Group and staff along with Councillor Navin Shah AM, Dawn Butler MP and Barry Gardiner MP and their staff for all their hard work and support.

Happy New Year
Happy New Year

Labour invests another £80million to modernise schools in Brent

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.

LABOUR’S TEAM FOR BRENT – A MULTI-RACIAL TEAM FOR A MULTI-RACIAL BOROUGH

Only 15.9% of councillors in London are Black or Asian. In parliament only 15 MPs are black or Asian – 13 of those are Labour MPs and 2 are Conservatives. Despite winning a post war record of 63 seats, the Liberal Democrats have no black or Asian MPs.

Labour’s team for the local elections spent a day at the Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre in Stonebridge to discuss policies and campaigning for 2010. Whilst a detailed manifesto has yet to be finalised, there was unanimous agreement that the next Labour administration will scrap the £25.00 charge for bulky refuse collection, which has led to an epidemic of dumping and introduce fairer care charges for elderly and disabled residents.

Labour has now selected candidates for all of the wards in Brent Central, two of the three Brent wards in Hampstead & Kilburn and several of the wards in Brent North. Most of the candidates attended the Bridge Park ‘Awayday’ where they were joined by local MPs Dawn Butler and Barry Gardiner.

Labour Leader, Councillor Ann John, said:

“Our team for 2010 is younger, more representative and more talented than at any time since I first came on the council nearly 20 years ago. 59% of Brent’s population are of Asian, African or African-Caribbean origin and so are 59% of our candidates. We will be the first party in the history of Brent to put forward an ethnic majority team of candidates for an ethnic majority borough. That team of candidates is committed to improve the environment, give a fair deal to elderly and disabled residents and the best possible start for our young people with additional school places and new sports facilities”.

A photograph of some of Labour’s candidates is below.