In 2013, Brent Council is due to move from 14 buildings located all over the Borough to a newly built energy efficient Civic Centre as part of a project which will deliver year on year revenue savings to the Council budget.
The Council does not own most of these 14 buildings and for most, these leases are due to expire in the next year or so. Given this circumstance, it actually became cheaper and more efficient to have the Council located in one efficient and bigger building than renew leases for multiple buildings.
As part of the moving process, Brent Town Hall has been sold to the French Education Property Trust who will set up an Independent French School at the site.
The official press release can be found here – LINK
The new Civic Centre is due to open this summer.
The following link answers some frequently asked questions about the New Civic Centre – LINK
Dr Mark Spencer, Lead Medical Director for Shaping a Healthier Future which proposes to make Central Middlesex Hospital into an Elective Hospital rather a Major Hospital was at the Health Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny meeting last night at Brent Town Hall. He said that no decision had been finalised. However, he admitted that there would only be change to the proposals and preferred option A if something has been left out or if there was a gap identified somewhere that needed to be filled.
Sadly, it appears that there is little room for manoeuvre on these proposals.
It was great to have the opportunity to ask questions to Brent’s Borough Commander Matt Gardner last night at Brent Town Hall.
I took the opportunity firstly to thank him for the community reassurance role he played after the tragic fire on Sonia Gardens in my ward last year.
Some of the challenges that the Police are facing in Brent are profound but they are determined as are the Council in delivering the best for our residents despite the challenges we have with resources. Our job is to get on with what we have.
Last night it was revealed that Brent has the largest ‘success rate’ in London when it comes to stop and search. The police are adopting an intelligence based approach to stop and search targeting hotspot crime areas.
They are doing a lot more cross border work which is crucial in areas that neighbour other Boroughs.
We are already 6 sergeants down. Numbers should be ok for PCs. After next week there will be 35 PCSOs in Brent. Based on a formula which recommends that amount that a Borough should have in order to effectively police the streets, Brent should have 75 PCSOs. There is no recruitment drive for PCSOs. When asked what the Borough Commander would do about the recruitment of PCSOs, he honestly said there’s nothing he can do and that he’ll continue to do his job and manage to effectively police Brent with the resources he has.
He admitted that there will have to be a review into what the Police do and that some things they may just have to stop doing. He addressed the perception that we will be short of police in Brent over the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We will actually get more resources in terms of police officer numbers because we are an Olympic Borough with the Wembley National Stadium and Wembley Arena hosting sporting events.
The Borough Commander said that 84% of his budget is spent on wages and given that there is a 20% to the Brent police budget, it’s not rocket science to see that there are challenges. He drew comparisons to the cuts that Brent Council is making to libraries and said that the Police may have to look into the future of Willesden Police station and whether they can afford to have it. There’s only so much that can be saved from cutting back from buying paper clips.
When I asked whether frontline staff were spending time doing back office functions such as administrative tasks, the Borough Commander replied “not yet”, but that he could see it possibly happening in the future, which is why the Police had to look at what they do.
The challenges that the Police and the Council are facing means that there will be greater partnership and pooling of resources between the two.
At the previous Partnership and Place Committee meeting at Brent Town Hall, I probed and uncovered a worrying trend for London. The Government’s Housing policy has made it unfavourable for developers to build 3 bedroom and above newbuild properties.
The Coalition Government is proposing to cut the number of Parliamentary constituencies from 650 to 600. In London, it is proposed to cut the number of Parliamentary Constituencies by 5, from 73 to 68. Brent is going to be affected by these boundary changes.
At the moment, the London Borough of Brent lies in three Parliamentary constituency boundaries: Brent Central, Brent North and Hampstead and Kilburn. Boundary changes will see wards in the London Borough of Brent in five different Parliamentary constituencies; Harrow, Stanmore, Wembley and Perivale, Willesden and Hampstead and Kilburn.
At the moment, Brondesbury Park Ward lies in Hampstead and Kilburn Parliamentary constituency. It is proposed that this Ward comes over to Brent Central. Kilburn Ward and Queens Park Ward are to remain in Hampstead and Kilburn.
College Park and Old Oak Ward, which is in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is to come over to Brent Central Parliamentary constituency.
Tokyngton Ward is to move over from Brent Central to the Brent North Parliamentary seat.
Brent Central is to be renamed Willesden.
Perivale Ward is to move from the Ealing North Parliamentary seat to Brent North
Brent North is to be renamed Wembley and Perivale.
Fryent Ward and Queensbury Ward are to move over to what is now known as Harrow East in a new Parliamentary constituency that will be named Stanmore.
Kenton Ward in Brent is to move from Brent North to what is now Harrow West in a Parliamentary Constituency called Harrow.
Below are web links to the new proposed constituencies:
It is worth noting that the Government are consulting on these proposals for a 12-week period, from 13 September 2011 to 5 December 2011 so these are not finalised proposals. You can contribute your comments here: LINK
The Commission will be holding public hearings across all the English regions. There will be one hosted at Brent Town Hall on Thursday 20th October from 11am to 8pm and Friday 21st October from 9am to 5pm. For more details and to register, click here: LINK
NHS Brent were present at a Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting which I attended at Brent Town Hall last week. Many may have read in the local press about a recent process that NHS Brent undertook to validate the names which they deemed to be ‘inactive’ and take out names that did not respond to letters from them.
Brent has a fluid population and it may well be that the NHS is spending money on patients that no longer live in Brent. This is something the NHS cannot afford given the cuts that it is being forced to make by the Coalition Government.
I asked a question to NHS Brent on the practicals… ie. if I felt ill tomorrow and wanted to see my GP and found out my name had been struck off their list, what would happen. I was reassured that it will be extremely simple for me to simply get treated and re-register with my GP.
At the beginning of this meeting, the context of these changes was introduced where it was mentioned that the NHS in Brent has to carry out its duties with fewer resources. So secondly, I asked whether this context had changed given the Prime Minister’s announcement last week following the Government’s ‘listening excercise’, to which the answer was simply NO.
I’d like to remind parents of children who are due to start at primary or junior school in September 2011 are being reminded that they are running out of time to get their applications in.
The deadline for applications for the thousands of children expected to start at a Brent primary next year is 15 January 2011.
Parents who are unsure about the process can put the dates of two public meetings in their diaries.
Council admissions officers will be able to answer questions and help families fill in application forms on:
6 January 2011, between 5 and 7pm, at Willesden Green Library Centre, 95 High Road, London, NW10 2SF
7 January 2011, between 5 and 7pm. Brent Town Hall, Forty Lane, Wembley, Middlesex, HA9 9HD.
All Brent families have to apply to Brent Council regardless of whether the school is in Brent or outside. Parents can apply quickly and easily online at www.brent.gov.uk/admissions
Councillor Mary Arnold, Brent Council’s lead member for Children and Families, said: “If you are parent of a child who is due to go to start at one of Brent’s excellent primary schools next year, I strongly advise you to complete an application within the next month, before the deadline.
“If you miss the deadline, your application will be considered after all the others so you will be at a disadvantage and are less likely to get the school you want.
“Families with children due to go to a primary school really need to act fast if they haven’t applied as there is only a month left. Our schools are very successful and very popular and you don’t want your child to miss out.”
I have highlighted the problem of Lib Dem neglect in Brent and issue of graffiti in the past.
Now The Liberal Dem led Brent Council is failing to tackle the rising tide of graffiti vandalism even at it’s own Town Hall as the attached photographs taken by Labour Councillor James Powney, illustrate. See pictured Labour Leader, Cllr Ann John next to the offending graffiti outside Committee Room on the second floor at Brent Town Hall.
Councillor James Powney who is also Labour’s Environment Spokesperson, said:
“The Lib Dems cannot even clean up the Town Hall let alone the Borough”.