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!

 

By-election officially called for Dollis Hill Ward in Brent on March 22nd – Vote Parvez Ahmed

A by-election has officially been called for Dollis Hill Ward in the London Borough of Brent following the death of Liberal Democrat Councillor Alec Castle. It will take place on Thursday March 22nd 2012.

Labour’s candidate for the Dollis Hill Ward by-election is Parvez Ahmed. Parvez lives in Dollis Hill Ward, has years of experience as a community activist and would make an excellent Council colleague at Brent Council.

In May 2010, the Liberal Democrats took all three Council seats in this Ward. Using the 2010 results, Labour needs a swing of 1.4% from the Liberal Democrats to Labour to win the seat.

 

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.”

EXCLUSIVE: RECYCLING RATES IN BRENT SOAR FOLLOWING INTRODUCTION OF NEW BIN SYSTEM

International Recycle Symbol
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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.”

Brent Labour protects Sure Start Children Centres from Liberal Tory Cuts

Sarah Teather has wrongly claimed with the headline on her website that ‘Labour Council chooses to close Sure Start centres’.

Firstly ALL OF BRENT’S SEVENTEEN SURE START CENTRES have been protected in this years budget contrary to Lib Dem promotional material. This is in the backdrop of 20% cuts to Sure Start funding from £10 million to £8 million from… wait for it… the Minister for Children and Brent Central MP Sarah Teather.

The Brent Lib Dems continue to claim that they are giving more money for Sure Start.

However, the coalition has not protected the Sure Start budget as David Cameron has said. It has amalgamated funding for the centres into a new “early intervention grant” (EIG), which also includes funding for programmes related to teenage pregnancy, mental health and youth crime. So Brent has to use the money we spend in this area and put it all into one pot of spending to include Sure Start. A bit underhand from Sarah Teather and the Brent Lib Dems but we expect it.

Cllr Mary Arnold, Brent’s Lead Member for Children and Families, said:

“Sure Start is one of the greatest achievements of the last Labour Government. Labour investment in Sure Start recognised that investing in children yields returns for all of us in society.

The coalition’s cuts to Sure Start funding are a tragic mistake. This decision follows cuts to BSF, trebling of tuition fees, and the abolition of EMA. As usual young people are the victims of right-wing slash and burn attitudes to the welfare state.

I’m proud that my Council colleagues have found a way to protect all our centres. Let’s hope there’s a new Government soon which recognises that Brent’s children all deserve a sure start in life.”

Kenton by-election result

Unfortunately Labour was unable to gain a seat from the Conservatives in Kenton ward yesterday following the death of Councillor Arthur Steel which triggered the by-election. Conservative candidate Suresh Kansagra won by 156 votes.

The final results were as follows:

  1. Suresh Kansagra (Conservative) – 1,063 votes
  2. Ellie May Southwood (Labour) – 907 votes
  3. Robert Dunwell (Independent) – 185 votes
  4. Alan Mathison (Green Party) – 75 votes

(turnout – 25.96%)

The seat would have been a real coup for Brent Labour as it has been Conservative since its existence. It remains the only ward in Brent which has three Conservative Councillors. It was a fair fought election and Ellie was a splendid candidate and managed to increase the Labour vote in Kenton Ward by 2.8%. Meanwhile the Lib Dem vote collapsed from 14.4% in May to 7.4% yesterday and were even shamefully beaten by the Independent candidate Robert Dunwell.

Change from May 2010 elections

Party May 2010 Result Feb 2011 by-election Result Change from May election (%)
Conservative 46.3 % 43.9 % – 2.4 %
Labour 34.7 % 37.5 % + 2.8 %
Lib Dem 14.4 % 7.4 % – 7 %
Green 4.6 % 3.1 % – 1.5 %
Independent 0 % 7.6 % + 7.6 %

I’d like to congratulate Suresh on his victory and I look forward to working with him at the Council.

Dispelling Lib Dem myths on libraries

The Lib Dems have falsely accused the Brent Labour Party of wanting to get rid of libraries for a long time. The issue arose at the Willesden Area Forum, which I chair, when a resident showed a paper which suggests that the Council is going to close libraries.

Brent Council leader Ann John said that it was presented as an option to the then Labour administration who rejected the idea claiming that officers do often present reports that are rejected by decision makers and when this was presented to the Labour executive, Labour answered with an emphatic no. Cllr Lesley Jones has more on this here – LINK.

Stinks of typical local Lib Dem tactics to ‘pick an unpopular cut and champion it’ as reported here (LINK) as ‘we are not running the Council, it’s not our problem’.

North West London light railway receives overwhelming local Labour support

The Brent Labour Party showed overwhelming support to the North West London light railway system. The scheme can be built on networks that already exist. Sadly, the Brent cross development put forward in Barnet would build over this potential network.

Read Cllr Shafique Choudhary’s take on it here – LINK –  with more information on something that would be brilliant to have for Brent residents.

Ellie May Southwood: Brent Labour’s candidate for Kenton by-election

I am delighted that Ellie May Southwood has been selected as the Labour Party candidate for the Kenton Ward by-election to the London Borough of Brent. The election was called following the death of Councillor Arthur Steel and the date for the by-election vote to replace Mr Steel will be on February 17th.

Ellie was born blind but that has by no means deterred her from being successful in life. She is a management consultant as well as a trustee for the RNIB in addition to being a trustee of a governor at a school for children with complex needs.

Ellie’s key pledges are to protect Kenton’s open spaces, work to put an end to local flooding problems in Kenton, fight to keep the Safer Neighbourhood Team, protect Kenton residents from Coalition cuts and to campaign for opportuniites for young people.

Ellie at a protest outside a Lib Dem MP's office over tuition fee rises

Ellie would make an excellent choice for the people of Kenton to represent them at Brent Council and I hope that she will be successful in her quest to join me as a colleague following the vote on February 17th. I will be actively campaigning to help Labour and Ellie win in Kenton.

Brent Labour’s petition against the increase in Tuition fees and the scrapping of the EMA

A march and rally organised by the UEA student...
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Brent Labour has a petition running against the increase in Tuition fees and the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). EMA currently helps around 4,000 young people in Brent.

The petition calls on Brent Central MP Sarah Teather to honour her personal pledge to voters, and vote against any increase in tuition fees. It also calls on Sarah Teather to oppose the scrapping of the Educational Maintanance Allowance, which will affect over 4,000 young people in Brent.

The petition has also been published on the internet for people to sign. Sign Brent Labour’s petition on tuition fees online here LINK.