Fire safety in housing blocks in Brent

Following the tragedy in Grenfell, residents are rightfully concerned about fire safety, particularly in blocks of flats.

Brent has been in regular contact with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) to offer assistance.

So far Brent has provided staff to assist RBKC at their Borough Emergency Control Centre at Kensington Town Hall. Our local authority liaison officers and rest centre managers are also on standby and are ready to respond should they be required. We have also offered our employee assistance programme to London Fire Brigade staff to help support them through personal mental health issues they will inevitably be experiencing following the tragedy.

As part of the recovery operation we have asked whether housing in Brent with be required by Grenfell Tower residents. We understand that RBKC’s strong preference is to rehouse Grenfell Tower residents within their borough wherever possible but have said they will be in touch with us next week to discuss this further.

The support from people across London in donating clothes and essentials has been fantastic and RBKC have now advised us that the best way to support those affected is through financial donations rather than goods. The details for the website which has been set up have been promoted by us locally and further details are here LINK

The Leader has also made a statement about fire safety which is available here LINK

A ‘Talkback’ event was held with tenants and leaseholders on Wednesday evening (June 14) where officers from BHP and the council were also able to directly answer questions from tenants and leaseholders about fire safety.

Understandably, some Brent residents living in high rise blocks have been contacting BHP and the Council for information and reassurance regarding their homes. BHP has been responding to these queries and information is available on the BHP website. Any members who have specific questions from themselves or from residents should email them tobhp.compliance@bhphousing.co.uk who will respond as soon as possible.

The facts in Brent are:

– We have 37 high-rise (5 storeys or more) blocks in Brent, all of which are 100% fire risk assessment compliant.

– We have never directly used Rydon Limited or Harley Facades Limited, the contractors who worked on Grenfell Tower. We do not yet know about other registered providers and we are seeking this information from them.

– Since the incident began the Compliance and Risk team at Brent Housing Partnership have been responding to questions about fire management policies and processes and the steps that have been taken over recent years to reduce the risk of fires in council run blocks.

– More than £10million has been spent over the past 4 years on measures to reduce the risk of fires in council run properties.

Estate inspectors and compliance experts have been mobilised to provide additional re-checks of communal areas and exit routes to remove any remaining rubbish, bicycles and other hazards which could hinder access and exit in an emergency. They are also doing extra checks of the blocks with cladding to ensure all remedial works, which form part of business as usual, are actioned as a priority, ahead of the prescribed schedule.

Finally, it was announced yesterday (June 15) that there will be a full public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire to get a full understanding of went so wrong and how similar tragedies can be prevented in the future.

The Government has also announced an emergency review into fire safety in tower blocks. Once the findings are known we will of-course review and, if needed, amend our fire management processes and strategy accordingly.

Brent family set to have their support for their disabled child removed by the Government

A Brent family are set to lose support for their disabled child after receiving a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions stating that their daughter no longer meets the criteria for Disability Living Allowance.

rnoh statement

A letter from their Specialist NHS Consultant confirms that the child has a neuromuscular problem which leaves her unable to open her hands from a closed position. Her condition has not improved and will not get better in the future. To be told that she is no longer disabled enough for support is an absolute insult to the family who strive day in day out to support their daughter on top of their full time jobs.

The family, of Gujarat origin, have come to me for support and given me full permission to highlight their case and show how cold the Government’s policies are and how people who should be getting support are being crushed. They personally wanted it highlighted how this Government was treating disabled people and in particular with this circumstance, cutting support for their disabled child.

I am supporting them through tribunal now with Citizens Advice but if unsuccessful, their entitlement will be completely stopped at the end of this year. The way that we treat disabled people as a society needs to change completely. The policies of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats between 2010 and now has caused and is causing real hardship to families that deserve better treatment.

Brent issues call for sites

Are there any sites in your local area which are vacant, rundown or underused? Through redevelopment could they make a more positive contribution to your area?

To assist the development of local plans, the Council is carrying out a ‘call for sites’ exercise to identify sites within Brent that may have potential for development. The ‘call for sites’ is an early opportunity for individuals and organisations to suggest sites within the borough for development. This could be development for uses such as:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Retail
  • Leisure/Sport/Recreation/Open Space
  • Community uses including education/potential schools
  • Art/cultural uses
  • Mixed use development
  • Strategic Infrastructure

You can submit sites online.

The deadline for submitting sites is 6th April 2017.

Consultation on how you’d like money to be spent in your local area

When developers receive planning permission for some larger, new developments, they’re required to make a payment to the council. This helps fund local infrastructure improvements. This payment is called Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Of this, between 15-25% of the funds has to be allocated by the Council as Neighbourhood CIL.

On the basis of feedback received from this consultation, the council will decide how to prioritise spending on particular Neighbourhood CIL funded projects. Too feed in, click on this LINK

International Day for Disabled People – 1st December 2016

Brent is celebrating the International Day for Disabled People on 1st December 2016. Marked across the globe, this day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992.
The day aims to increase understanding of the barriers facing people with disabilities and promote participation and inclusion. The event will incorporate a Job Fair and a Health and Well-being Zone  The theme for 2016 is “Achieving the Goals for the future we want”

The event on  1st  December 2016   will be held at the Brent Civic Centre from 10am to 3pm and is an opportunity to engage with residents, carers and colleagues.

Please contact
equality@brent.gov.uk if you wish to register early for this event.

Brent parents can benefit from free childcare

Did you know that some 2 year olds and all 3 and 4 years olds in Brent can access 15 hours of free childcare?

Also known as ‘free early years education’ or the ’15 free hours scheme’, this government grant entitles all 3 and 4 year olds to 15 hours of free early education each week for 38 weeks of the year (equivalent to school term time).

The entitlement starts from the beginning of the school term immediately following the child’s 3rd birthday and continues until the end of the school term, before they are eligible to start primary school. For example, if a child turns 3 in February, their entitlement would start from the beginning of the summer term in April.

You can use this funding at most private day nurseries, pre-schools, children’s centres or with some childminders – make sure that they offer funded places before you enrol.

Eligible 2 year olds can also access 15 hours of free childcare education and the eligibility criteria can be found at www.brent.gov.uk/41526.

For more information on free early education for 3 & 4 year olds and to see if your 2 year old is eligible, contact us on 020 8937 2462 and neg2@brent.gvo.uk. Also see www.brent.gov.uk/neg.

Public meeting on Health and Social Care services in Brent

You are invited to a public meeting and workshop to discuss plans for the health and care system. The five year plan is a collaboration between Brent CCG, Brent council and NHS providers in the borough.

The event will take place on Monday 26 September from 6.30pm at Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ

Last year the government outlined a new approach to help ensure that health and care services were built around the needs of local populations. To do this, every health and care system in England was asked to produce a multi-year plan.

We want to turn that process around and engage with people to see what they want locally in Brent.

To develop and deliver plans locally, 44 ‘footprint’ areas throughout the country were established by NHS England. Brent sits within the North West London (NWL) footprint which is being coordinated by the NWL group of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). The plans are being developed in partnership with the eight Local Authorities and NHS providers in the area.

Residents’ opinions’ are absolutely key to the successful development and delivery of Brent’s plan, especially in delivering the long-term outcomes we want to achieve for our patients and the wider public. The development of future services that will better enable this vision to become a reality will rely on strong and consistent patient and public engagement throughout the process.

In order to hear your views, I encourage all to come along to the event on Monday 26 September.

Have your say on changes to Parliamentary boundaries

A twelve week consultation has been launched by the Boundary Commission for England for residents to have their say on proposed parliamentary boundary changes.

The proposals see a reduction in the number of constituencies in London. The reduction will see the 73 MPs who serve in London reduced to 68. The plans are part of reforms which would see a loss of 50 constituencies across the country and therefore a reduction of 50 MPs serving in the House of Commons.

Four of the proposed constituencies include parts of Brent:

  • Kenton – the Brent wards of Barnhill, Fryent, Kenton and Queensbury plus five Harrow wards
  • Queen’s Park and Regent’s Park – the Brent wards of Kilburn and Queen’s Park plus nine wards in the City of Westminster
  • Wembley and Harrow on the Hill – the Brent wards of Alperton, Northwick Park, Preston, Sudbury, Tokyngton and Wembley Central plus three Harrow wards
  • Willesden – the Brent wards of Brondesbury Park, Dollis Hill, Dudden Hill, Harlesden, Kensal Green, Mapesbury, Stonebridge, Welsh Harp and Willesden Green plus one Hammersmith and Fulham ward

The proposals do not affect council wards or councillors. The proposals do not make much sense at all and will just make MP and Council interactions even more complicated. The mish mash of wards split between different Council seats and MP constituencies are mind boggling!

If you would like more information or to respond to the consultation, please visit www.bce2018.org.uk.

It’s Time to Talk About Hate Crime, Thursday 21 July

Hate crime is the initial focus of a new series of public meetings which aim to tackle difficult issues in our community.

Taking place on 21 July, the hate crime event is part of the Council’s wider ‘It’s Time to Talk’ campaign which aims to empower residents and community leaders to talk about difficult issues and work together with the authorities to tackle them. Important challenges such as hate crime, child sexual exploitation, extremism, gang culture, domestic abuse and harmful practices are all expected to be discussed at separate events throughout the year.

The event on 21 July has a number of high-profile speakers attending, including Dr Stevie-Jade Hardy – Centre for Hate Studies, Stephen Brooks MBE – Coordinator of the Disabled Hate Crime Network and special guest keynote speaker – creative pioneer Samuell Benta. Topics such as what exactly a hate crime is, how big the problem is in Brent and the role of social media in the context of hate crime, will be discussed.

Please do come along. To book a free ticket, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/its-time-to-talk-hate-crime-tickets-25991098074.