Brent results for the General Election

Residents have voted emphatically for Labour in Brent. We are represented by three MPs covering the Hampstead and Kilburn, Brent Central and Brent North constituencies.

Tulip Siddiq has increased her majority in Hampstead and Kilburn from 1,138 to 15,560. In Brent Central where my Council ward Dudden Hill is, Dawn Butler increased her vote share from 19,649 to 27,997 and in Brent North, Barry Gardiner increased his majority from 10,834 to 17,061.

The Conservatives had heavily targeted Brent North and Hampstead and Kilburn in particular but London in general saw Labour support rapidly increase across the capital. Personally I mostly campaigned in my own ward in Dudden Hill within Brent Central but did go to campaign sessions in Hampstead and Kilburn and Harrow West where Gareth Thomas not only retained his seat but increased his majority.

Sadly, we are still facing a Tory Government led by a weak leader but we will now have a strengthened and united opposition which will be incredibly important as we go through Brexit negotiations.

We were already knocking on doors before the snap election was called as we don’t just go on the doorstep during election time. Our returns in Dudden Hill when canvassing in the snap election period where showing that Dawn would increase her majority and in a worst case scenario would be no worse than the 2015 result under Ed Miliband’s leadership. A few conversations I had with voters during the campaign stick to my head.

In Dudden Hill, I met a firefighter who was so angry with the Government following the terror attacks. He lived in Kilburn but happened to be visiting his mother in my ward when I knocked on the door. He was furious at how much the emergency services were praised for their work in response to the attacks but when it comes to day to day activity they were treated like crap. They couldn’t even exercise or show their frustrations by being able to strike. He hadn’t had a pay rise in years and all his living costs had gone up. They felt undervalued day in day out and used as a political tool when they are needed.

Corbyn was mentioned as a reason people were not voting Labour but when we checked our returns, this was generally mentioned by people who had never voted for Labour and were anti-Labour in all elections.

Labour voters who mentioned dislike for Corbyn still said they would vote for Labour because of Party values. Corbyn was even mentioned as a reason for people voting for Labour, switching to Labour from Greens or Lib Dems and he gave a reason for people who had never voted before to vote for Labour for the first time in their lives.

Results in Brent Central and Brent North show the Conservative vote was fairly static in Brent and in terms of vote share there were slight decreases but a huge drop in their support in Hampstead and Kilburn.

It was truly remarkable to see people coming forward to vote at polling stations who had never been motivated to come out and exercise their democratic right before. As we showed in the London elections with Sadiq Khan’s victory, positive campaigning and the politics of hope definitely helped to deliver the unexpected general election result we are waking up to today.

 

Tory Social Care proposals could have devastating consequences for families in Brent

The Conservative Party’s “reckless” manifesto pledge could have devastating consequences for families in Brent. Sir Andrew Dilnot, a leading national expert who provided an independent report to the Government on social care has described the Tory proposals as the biggest stealth tax in history. Despite government previously saying they would consult with the public on the best way forward, this high-cost policy has come out of the blue. While many families from many backgrounds will be affected, South Asian communities, who often live together across generations, could be hit particularly hard, with Tory proposals leaving them at risk of becoming homeless.

At present, social care is means tested and the value of the property that people are living in is not taken into account as part of that calculation. The proposal announced in Theresa May’s Conservative manifesto will include the value of a person’s home. If this damaging policy goes ahead, equity in the family home will be eaten into and after the cared for individual passes away, the home will have to be sold. As too many families know, the costs of caring for someone with dementia can be catastrophic and with people living longer and dementia prevalence rising, more people will need social care for longer.

These proposals have not been properly thought through. They raise more questions, cause more problems and quite simply fail to deliver much needed solutions for the social care crisis. What happens if there is a partner still living in the property when the person receiving social care passes away? Will they have to be thrown out of their own home so the remaining social care bill can be paid? Even if the issue of property and living partners is resolved by delaying the debt payment until they have passed away too, the policies outlined in the manifesto will cause devastation to large sections of the Brent population and South Asian communities in particular.

In Brent and other areas, South Asian communities choose to live in the same family home and it is not uncommon for up to four generations of a family to be living in the same property. The housing crisis has also meant that families are even choosing to build and expand their home and live together rather than enter the housing market. It is ironic that the section of the manifesto that this proposal appears in is under the heading ‘a restored contract between the generations’ as their approach completely ignores the intergenerational dependencies of families who strive to care for each other.

When elderly relatives pass away after receiving social care, their children could find themselves homeless. The Tories say that families will be able to keep £100,000 of equity in the family home. The average price of a property in Brent is £535,803 meaning that their children will have to try and find on average £435,000 to try and keep their family home.

On top of bringing the social care system to the brink of collapse over the last seven years, the current Tory thinking looks to create even more problems rather than solutions to the crisis.

Brent Leadership Team confirmed for 2014/2015

Brent Cabinet 2014-2015

At the Council AGM on Wednesday, the Brent Council Leadership team was confirmed.

The cabinet has been cut down by 20% to just 8 now. With the Council faced with number reductions at Director and staff level, it was only right that this was reviewed too.

The full cabinet

Leader of the Council – Cllr Muhammed Butt

Deputy Leader – Cllr Michael Pavey

Adults, Health and Wellbeing – Cllr Krupesh Hirani

Children and Young People – Cllr Ruth Moher

Employment and Skills – Cllr Roxanne Mashari

Environment – Cllr Keith Perrin

Regeneration and Housing – Cllr Margaret McLennan

Stronger Communities – Cllr James Denselow

Cllr Kana Neeharathan will be the Mayor of Brent and Cllr Lesley Jones will serve as Deputy Mayor. Chair of Scrutiny is Cllr Aslam Choudry and Cllr Sarah Marquis will now Chair the Planning Committee.

The Tories probably stole the show on the night as it emerged that they would split into two political parties – the Brondesbury Park Conservative Group and the Conservative Party.

It seems bizarre as it was only a couple of weeks ago that residents in Brondesbury Park voted in three Conservative Councillors.

Dispersal Zone in Neasden

After intense pressure from the Dudden Hill Labour team, Brent Police and Brent Council are introducing a Dispersal Zone in Neasden. This is after a number of complaints received from residents and local businesses regarding the persistent anti-social / nuisance behaviour being caused by groups of males whom are gathering in and around Neasden Parade (Shopping Centre) and its surrounding roads.

zone map
Affected zone

A number of reports have been received from residents and local businesses which have highlighted the following issues / problems:

•           Groups of males causing ASB during the day.

•           Drug dealing and using.

•           Loitering in entrances to local shops / businesses & residential properties.

•           Littering.

•           Intimidation / harassment of local business.

•           Using threatening language /verbal abuse.

•           Fighting / Threats / Acts of violence.

The dispersal order will be enforced from 12:00hrs on 7th May 2014 and will be in operation until 6th November 2014. This will be for six (6) months. It will cover the roads / streets that are within the red boundary as highlighted in the map. Which are as follows : Neasden Lane bordering the A406 on the West side running between A4088 on the South and Chartley Ave on the North including both sides of Chartley Ave. Stopping at Neasden Circle roundabout on the East side including the roundabout. Along Tanfield Ave on the South East side, including both sides of Tanfield Ave. This also includes Birse Crescent and Cairnfield Ave, all other roads, streets, open areas, communal spaces and car parks within the mapped area outlined in red.

Groups of individuals causing Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) or acting in a manner that is causing or is likely cause alarm, harassment or distress can now be dispersed by Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). Individuals that have been instructed to leave the area will not be allowed to return to the area for a period of 24hrs. If they return and continue to cause problems, they can / will be arrested.

Anyone found guilty of contravening a direction under a dispersal order can face up to three (3) months imprisonment or a fine of up to £2,500.

The Dudden Hill SNT will regularly police the dispersal zone throughout the period of the dispersal notice.

Maps of the dispersal zone will be displayed throughout the designated zone during the allocated time period, this is  to encourage victims and witnesses to report Anti-Social Behaviour as and when it may occur.

Our contract to Brent residents: 150 ways Labour will make Brent better

We’ve developed a fully costed plan to bring down your energy billshelp 1,000 local people get jobscreate 3,500 new school places for our children, Introduce whole person care for elderly and disabled people and clean up our streets.

LINK

It’s a plan to renew our borough’s sense of community. Because Brent Labour believe that together we’re better, and that by working together we can turn the challenges we face into opportunities and emerge from these tough times as a stronger and fairer borough.

You can read about this plan here- in our manifesto contract above or in the second part of our manifesto, which spells out our commitments to you in a bit more detail: 150 ways Labour will make life better for the 312,000 people who call Brent home.

Delivering positive change at Gladstone Park: New outdoor Gyms an instant success

The new outdoor gym at Gladstone Park has been built and is already proving to be an instant success. Here is a picture taken on Saturday morning with the machines being heavily used by local people.

outdoor gyms being used

It got me thinking that over the last four years, we have successfully pushed for greater use of the park for local people and slowly but surely, we are improving the offer of our local park. Below are just ten ways in which having Labour Councillors at the heart of decision making have helped improve facilities and increase activity at Gladstone Park.

  1. New Multi Use Games Areas
  2. Pavillion Café now open on weekends
  3. Karmarama restaurant to open
  4. Solution to Dollis Hill House
  5. Supporting Gladstone Park Run
  6. Park Walks for all
  7. New Outdoor gym equipment
  8. Ensuring Gladstonbury sustainability and success
  9. New Tennis court surfacing
  10. New landscaping

Brent Council executive approve fresh approach to Church End regeneration

ChurchEnd Market SaveTheNHS petition
At Church End Market

Last week at the Council’s Executive meeting, the Labour run administration agreed to get officers to develop and publicly consult on a new mixed use development on the Council owned section of land in this area, which will also include the provision of a new market square. The council’s intention is to secure planning permission and seek a developer partner to develop the site.

Over the last 10 years ago, there have been quite a few plans coming forward from the main landowner in this area, Catalyst, but due to unforeseen circumstances, issues such as the way housing partners need to fund schemes, etc, it has been difficult to get these plans going.

Church End is identified as one of the five borough Growth Areas and as a Priority Neighbourhood in the Council’s Regeneration Strategy.

This decision means we are looking at options to kick start the regeneration of the Church End local centre by developing proposals to bring forward a more rationalised development on the Council owned land within the car-park.

Although the proposals would deliver fewer homes than a comprehensive redevelopment of the area the scheme would still involve the provision of a new public square which would provide a permanent home for the Church End market. The new market square will be designed to be publicly accessible to all.

No doubt there will be scepticism as many plans have emerged over the last ten years, but I am personally committed to do what I can to drive this forward.

To see the decision document, click on the LINK

No to Harlesden Incinerator

The Brent Labour Party is running a campaign to stop the Harlesden incinerator. For information on this, see the following LINK

No_Harlesden_Incinerator

With the Brent Cross incinerator and the Harlesden one, Brent Central stands to be sandwiched by two incinerators.

Brent Labour marches with campaigners for the A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital which is threatened with permanent closure

Brent Labour Councillors along with London Assembley Member Navin Shah joined campaigners in a march from the Jubilee clock tower in Harlesden to Central Middlesex Hospital.

If you would like be more involved in the campaign, this link has a few materials that you can use and practically do today! LINK

When words can be twisted and manipulated to infer something that isn’t the case

I have noticed that an attack piece has been put out by the Willesden and Brent Times about Brent Council not campaigning against the proposal to close A&E permanently at Central Middlesex Hospital. This is the quote that was supplied to the local paper when they contacted the Group on the issue:

“Brent Labour has given its full support to the campaign against the Coalition’s plans. Labour Councillors condemned the plans in the Council Chamber and have been working with the community to raise awareness of the issue, including writing to Andrew Lansley, raising the issue with residents on the doorstep and we agreed to meet campaigners weeks ago. Both Cllr Butt and myself will address the march against the closures on 15th September. However, it is difficult to use Brent Council resources to back campaign is because unlike in Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham, there is no cross party support for the campaign. Both the Lib Dems and Conservatives in Brent have refused to criticise the plans put forward by their own Government. We will continue to campaign on this issue as a wider Brent Labour Party.”

This was what the Willesden and Brent Times printed;

Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Brent Council’s lead member for adults and health, claimed it was “difficult” to back the campaign as there is no cross-party support.

He added: “Both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in Brent have refused to criticise the plans put forward by their own Government.

“We will continue to campaign on this issue as Brent Labour Party.

The changing of one sentence  (highlighted in bold) and manipulating the term “difficult” used in my sentence by the paper means that it could be read that Labour Councillors are not supporting campaigners. The issue is not whether Brent Labour supports the campaign or not, we do.

The issue is whether we use taxpayer resources, or Labour Party resources. So far, we have opted to use Labour Party resources. This is because it is difficult to justify using Council resources to campaign in cases where there is not cross party agreement.

Otherwise, the Labour Party could just abuse its position as the leading party in Brent and use taxpayer money to campaign on other issues that we believe are damaging the prospects of people in Brent, like for example, the trebling of tuition fees and the Government’s deficit reduction plan.