25 Years On

Cllr Hirani with Shadow Minister for Public Health Diane Abbott MPI was delighted to attend the 25 years on event celebrating the 1987 historic election when four ethnic minority MPs, Bernie Grant, Keith Vaz and Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng were elected to Parliament. The event was held at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham. Paul was of course a MP in Brent and now sits in the House of Lords.

Indeed that weekend, I had been watching the Election 1987 programme on BBC Parliament and it was evident that it was an exciting election all around. In terms of social progress in society, it was great for ethnic minorities in this country. It paved the way towards seeing more ethnic minorities in public life in prominent positions. There are 27 ethnic minority MPs in the current Parliament, serving as either Labour or Conservative MPs.

I am proud of the progress that our Brent Labour Group is making and our ethnic composition that reflects the diversity of Brent. Around 60% of the Brent come from ethnic minority backgrounds and 60% of the Labour Group are ethnic minorities.

It’s great progress that Brent Council Leader Muhammed Butt is one of three ethnic minority Leaders of a London Borough Council. Despite London’s diversity, it is surprising that there are not more.

A week in the life of Cllr Hirani

Being a Councillor takes a lot of commitment. Here is what I did last week to give you a flavour.

Monday

I spent Sunday evening going through the Council’s budget for 2012/2013 Budget. On Monday evening, the Labour Group were meeting at Brent Town Hall to discuss the Budget so I wanted to be ready with questions and raise any issues arising.

I do also work and have a full time job working for a national disability charity and with the changes that are happening in this sector it is a demanding role. Before I start work I go to the Swaminarayan Temple in Stanmore where my father is a trustee. My Labour Group meeting was at 7.30pm so I worked from 9am to 7pm. I managed to squeeze in a lunch time gym session as I do like to keep fit and the building I work in has a gym. After work, it was straight to the Town Hall and the meeting finished around 10pm.

Tuesday

Another day at work in the office. Squeezed in another gym session. I had no Council meetings in the evening so I took the opportunity to sit down in front of my computer and work until the late hours of the evening on casework. Most of the casework I pick up is from the doorstep. A constituent who lives nearby also came over to my house because she was flying out to India and wanted assistance in buying travel insurance. I was happy to help and hope her trip goes well!

Wednesday

I worked in the office until late afternoon. I had already worked more hours than I was required to by my employer so I took the opportunity to leave the office and meet with Council transport officers in the Neasden area of my ward. I wanted to point out a location where I believe there should be double yellow lines as the sharp bend coupled with cars parking in the spot makes visibility very poor and it is an accident waiting to happen.

In the evening, I went to the American Embassy. I was invited by the Ambassador to an event celebrating the 15 year anniversary of Operation Black Vote. I participated in the organisation’s Parliamentary Shadowing Scheme and shadowed David Lammy MP. He was also at the reception so it was great to have the chance to catch up and have a chat. I also met and spoke to Rushanara Ali MP, Diane Abbott MP (who I was to come to Brent the next day), Lee Jasper, Garth Crooks and Paul Elliott.  I had to rush back from the embassy to get back to Brent. My mates had booked a 930pm pitch at Alperton goals so I finished the evening with a night of 5-a-side football.

Thursday

I worked from home. As I had a work related meeting in central London to get to. I broke away for an hour as part of my break before my meeting to join Brent Labour’s campaign in the Willesden Green area to Save the NHS. We were joined by Diane Abbott MP who is the Shadow Public Health Minister, who handed in a letter calling on Sarah Teather to use her influence to Drop the Bill.

Friday

Again another day in the office. There are usually no Council meeting or Party meetings on Friday evenings so I got the opportunity to have a night out. That Tinseltown milkshake was well earned!

Saturday

After a work free Friday evening, the battery was charged for a weekend of campaign activity. I had time for breakfast with the family in the morning. I went on the doorstep in my Ward and knocked on doors from around 1pm as I do every Saturday. This week we went to the Willesden part of my ward and knocked on doors on Riffell Road and the Marley Walk estate. I had a member of the Party who lives in my ward and extra help is always welcome!

After I finished, I went to Dollis Hill Ward where there is a Council by-election to help with the campaign there. Parvez Ahmed is Labour’s candidate there and he will make a great colleague on the Council.

Sunday

I actioned the casework I collected on the doorstep on Saturday. I drew up an action plan and mapped out roads that I have not been out to since I was elected. I worked out that in 12 weeks time, the whole of Dudden Hill will have been canvassed since I was elected and some roads at least twice!

I then spent the afternoon, a good three hours, out with Parvez in Dollis Hill Ward knocking on doors. Afterwards, I paid home visits to two residents in the Neasden part of my ward regarding some casework. Sunday evening was again spent playing football at Alperton Goals. My mates were short one player for a 5-a-side game so I stepped in!

And so it was ready for another week. Bring on Monday!

 

Brent Labour promoting equality with action

My colleague Cllr James Powney points out on his blog that Brent Council now boasts a cabinet with 50% of its members being female. Furthermore, since Brent Labour took control of the Local Authority, we have also seen a higher percentage of women and ethnic minorities as directors.

60% of Brent’s population are ethnic minorities and 60% of the Brent Labour group are also ethnic minorities showing that Brent Labour is truly open to all communities and proud to represent all corners of society.

Cutting too far too fast threatens economic recovery: SPEED KILLS!!!

IMMIDIATE BRENT COUNCIL LABOUR GROUP RESPONSE:

The Labour Deputy Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Muhammed Butt has warned that the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review will lead to acute hardship for local people and will threaten economic recovery.

Economic growth is at best anaemic, mortgage lending is at a ten low year and long term unemployment is rising. In the Brent Central constituency alone, male unemployment is already at 8.2%. School building and play builder programmes have been slashed, which will hit the construction industry – the engine of economic recovery – as well as a generation of school students; welfare benefits have been cut.

Local authority spending is to be cut by more than 25%, which will impact on poorer and more vulnerable sections of the community who most depend on public services. Tuition fees are set to more than double making it impossible for young people from working class and middle income families to get a degree. Meanwhile, the bankers who caused the crisis will continue to receive obscene bonuses.

Deputy Leader of Brent Council, Muhammed Butt said:

“Everyone agrees that the deficit needs to be reduced but it is a question of how quickly that is done. Before the election the Liberal Democrats agreed with us that cutting too fast too soon would damage the recovery – that speed kills. They changed their mind as soon as they were offered ministerial limousines. The government makes the analogy with credit card debt but a more appropriate analogy is with mortgages. What rational person would go without food in order to pay off their mortgage within five years? The truth is that these cuts are driven by the Tories’ secret agenda to destroy the welfare state, something they have always wanted to do and the Liberal Democrats are their partners in crime”.

Labour Landslide Produces a Council that Reflects Brent’s Diversity

An ethnic majority team for an ethnic majority borough

+++ Dumpers’ Charter to be scrapped

Labour has taken power in Brent following a landslide victory in the local elections. Labour made a staggering nineteen gains winning seats in wards like Barnhill, Northwick Park, Preston and Sudbury for the first time ever. Casualties of the Labour tide included Lib Dem Education Chief, Bob Wharton, veteran Tory councillor Irwin Van Colle and the Mayor of the borough, Jim O’Sullivan.

The new Labour group of councillors is the most representative in the history of the borough, 57.5% are of African, African-Caribbean and Asian heritage and 7.5% were born in Ireland. Councillors from the Somali and Tamil communities have been elected for the first time. Labour’s councillors include representatives of all major faith groups including Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish. 40% of Labour’s councillors are women including, of course, the Leader of Council, Councillor Ann M John, OBE.

Councillor Ann John, said:

“Last November I predicted that we would win the local elections and become the first multi racial borough in the country in which the controlling group truly reflects the diversity of the community it serves. The face of the Labour Group is now the face of Brent.

We have worked hard for our victory and now we will need to work just as hard to protect local services during the difficult times which lie ahead. We intend to keep the key pledges we made during the election campaign starting with the abolition of the £25.00 charge for bulky refuse collection (the Dumpers’ Charter).

Brent Labour Manifesto for 2010 Local Elections

Key Pledges

After the Local Elections a Labour Council will: –

  • Repeal the £25 charge for bulky refuse collection.
  • Keep Council Tax levels at or below the London average and introduce a discount for those over 75 who are eligible
  • Introduce free parking for the first hour in council car parks to encourage local shopping for local people.
  • Rebuild our secondary schools and ensure that school facilities are fully available to the wider community, especially young people
  • Crack down on crime and anti social behavior
  • Introduce a Green Charter in consultation with local residents and other stakeholders.

Other high priorities for an incoming Labour Council will be: –

  • Introducing 20 mph speed restrictions in areas where residents’ want them.
  • Introducing fairer care charges for elderly and disabled people.
  • Making Brent a Fairtrade borough.
  • Provide a multi use games area in every suitable open space.
  • Provide a safer environment for our young people.
  • Work with other local authorities and central government to change legislation to allow the Council to restrict the growth of betting shops in town centres and fast food outlets near schools.

BAME Labour Bus in Wembley Park

I was out with the BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) Labour Bus in Asda Wembley Park today which champions the progression of Ethnic Minorities in Politics through the Labour Party. There was a bit of a slow start due to the dirty tactics that had been played by an objection raised by us being there, but we firmly stood our ground.

Brent Labour are doing our bit for the advancement and the drive to improve representation of Ethnic Minorities in politics. 60% of our Brent population  are from an ethnic ‘minority’ background and 60% of our Brent Labour candidates are also ethnic ‘minorities’.

In Dawn Butler, we have the first (and only) Black female Government Minister and one of only two black female MPs in total in Parliament. Voters in the new Brent Central constituency also have the opportunity to have the new Parliamentary seat send a Black candidate in Dawn Butler to Parliament. The alternate choice is Sarah Teather of the Liberal Democrats, who was educated in a Grammar school in Leicester and is one of many Cambridge University graduates in Parliament – of which there are a disproportionate amount in Parliament already.

Denzil Road residents demand better

Another day, another Liberal let down. Once again, local Dudden Hill residents have vented their anger at the Council at dealing with fly-tipping, dumping and road surfaces. This is what I came across today on the corner of Selbie Avenue where it meets Denzil Road.

Also left on Denzil Road was a dumped sofa set.

The Brent Labour Group has pledged to remove the £25 bulky items charge introduced by the Lib Dems if we regain control of the Council in May. Undoubtedly, we believe that this will lead to a significant reduction of dumping on our roads. This problem was not so widescale in Brent until the Liberal Democrats introduced a charge for the service.

Another point stressed by a local resident who works for Brent Council was the lack of care shown to the road. “Other parts of Brent are immaculately clean” she said. “These Lib Dems don’t give a **** about us on Denzil Road” and plenty more that if you want to find out, drop me an email on krupesh@bclabour.org.uk

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