Brent Council is on the road to safety

Brent Council has written to 83 head teachers to ask for their help in promoting road safety outside schools.

The Lead Member for Highways and Transportation, Cllr Jim Moher, is sending out the letters to let schools know that Brent will be taking tougher enforcement action on school keep clear markings in the New Year.

It’s part of Brent’s plan to enforce moving traffic offences to improve road safety and reduce congestion. There are 20 offences in total and drivers could be fined £120 if caught breaking the rules.

Dave Cooper, Governor of Oliver Goldsmith School, Conniston Gardens, Kingsbury, said: “Having worked with junior road safety officers for four years we have seen firsthand the problems caused by selfish and dangerous parking.

“We have problems outside both our entrances at Oliver Goldsmith and I’m pleased the council is taking steps to improve road safety. There have been many near misses as parents drive on pathways to access parking and often can’t see children in their mirrors.”

Over the coming weeks, council engineers will review the markings and signage outside schools to make sure they are clear. Where work is necessary, this will be carried out with minimum disruption to the school.

Once enforcement starts, mobile CCTV cars will patrol the borough, travelling to congestion or accident hotspots to deter motorists from breaking the rules. Warning letters rather than fines will be sent for the first two weeks.

Drivers caught on camera committing a traffic contravention will be sent a bill in the post which will include an image of the offence.

Cllr Moher said: “I hope it won’t come to this.  Our goal is to improve road safety and we hope that by warning drivers about the fines they will choose to follow the rules instead. It’s really important that every parent, carer and visitor to schools in Brent knows about this change in power.  That way they can make an informed decision in January about whether to follow the rules or risk a fine.”

Brent is asking schools to send out letters to parents and carers about the new scheme, put information on their websites and newsletters and display a poster in their reception areas.

Schools that have a problem with vehicles parking on school keep clear markings, or who would like further information, should contact Michael Lambert, Parking Manager, on 0208 937 5091 or by email at Michael.lambert@brent.gov.uk. He can arrange for parking enforcement officers or CCTV equipped vehicles to visit.

Cllr Moher said: “Before enforcement takes place, we will ask for confirmation that parents and carers have been informed about this initiative.”

For more information visit www.brent.gov.uk/bsr

EXCLUSIVE: Brent Lib Dems sign to Call In Executive decisions and fail to turn up to Council meeting

Last night, on the agenda at the Forward Plan Select Committee were call ins of Executive decisions on the land use at Coniston Gardens, Waste Strategy and CPZ vehicle emission based pricing adjustment.

Kudos to Councillors Beck and Ashraf who did attend the meeting to convey their concerns to the committee and demonstrated their reasons for signing the call in by actively engaging and asking questions. The same cannot be said about the other Councillors Hayley Matthews, Simon Green, Ann Hunter who signed for the Call In as mentioned by my colleague Cllr James Powney here – LINK.

Councillors signing for call ins and then not turning up are causing embarrassment to proceedings on the committee and the system in general. At the previous Forward Plan meeting, items were on the agenda as called in and then embarrassingly skipped or skimmed over as there was confusion as to what the reason for the call in was.

Surely Councillors that sign to call in a decision should turn up to the meeting they asked for the item to be discussed at, if they are remotely interested in receiving a response.

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Are the Brent Lib Dems interested in the detail of policies and providing scrutiny to make policy better or are they just opposing decisions for opposition’s sake?

Let me give you one example of a recent occurrence which has led me ask this question. The 11th August meeting included a call in on the ‘Criteria for Transport Services’ and a reason cited was ‘to review the findings of the Equality Impact Assessment’ (LINK – see item 5b), which at the time had not been completed. To call in decision based on concerns regarding a document which does not exist is beyond me.

Labour hits the ground running at the Town Hall

The new Labour majority, which will take charge of Brent Council following the Council’s Annual General Meeting, has already taken a number of steps to improve the lives of local people.

In addition to the scrapping of the unpopular £25.00 charge for bulky refuse collection, Labour will:

  • Cancel the sale of the Scout Hut at Oliver Goldsmith School in Fryent ward;
  • Seek to cancel the sale of land at Barham Park, on which the previous administration had sought to build a block of flats;
  • Bring forward plans for new youth facilities in Chalkhill;
  • Bring forward an urgent report on the health and safety issues relating to the dining facility at Byron Court Primary School;
  • Investigate sharing services with neighbouring councils in order to achieve the savings needed to avoid cuts in front line services;
  • Ensure that low paid staff are protected during the difficult financial times which lie ahead.

The Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Ann John, said:

“It is important that we deliver on the promises we made during the election campaign and we will continue to make progress as quickly as we can. We will work closely with our local Labour MPs, Barry Gardiner who represents Brent North and Glenda Jackson, whose Hampstead & Kilburn constituency covers part of the borough, to secure real improvements in the quality of service to local people”.

Barry Gardiner, Member of Parliament for Brent North, said:

“Ann John has lost no time in getting the Council back to work for the people of Brent. These dramatic initiatives are precisely what people voted for last week. Voters will be delighted that she is moving to deliver real change so quickly”.

Brent Labour’s Budget Proposals

On Monday 1st March Brent Council met to determine its budget for 2010-11. Labour opposed the package of cuts and redundancies proposed by the Lib Dem/Tory administration. Labour also re-affirmed its promise to scrap the £25 charge for bulky refuse collection, which has led to an epidemic of dumping across the Borough Other proposals included:

FREE PARKING TO ENCOURAGE LOCAL SHOPPING FOR LOCAL PEOPLE

Labour will be proposing free parking for the first hour in council car parks (all of which are close to local shopping centres) in order to discourage local people from driving to ‘out of town’ shopping centres like Brent Cross, where parking is free, to encourage people to shop locally. This would have the effect of reducing carbon emissions and also have the effect of boosting local businesses with local people using local shops.

Labour’s Transport Spokesperson, Cllr Lena Ahmed, said:

“We believe that parking restrictions and charges in local shopping centres are bad for business and we want to encourage local shopping for local people so that local people use local shops. The cost in lost revenue is a mere £96,840, which is a small price to pay for a significant boost to the local economy during the world economic downturn”.

Labour is also calling for residents’ parking charges to be linked to carbon emissions with higher charges for vehicles which cause the most pollution.

These measures will form part of a ‘Green Charter’, which Labour will present to the electorate as part of its manifesto.

AN END TO THE LIB DEMS’ CARE CHARGE RIP-OFF

Having promised free personal care for the elderly before the last election, The Brent Lib Dems have increase some home care charges by nearly 300%. Labour voted against these increases and is pledged to review the charges. However, the government has now introduced the Personal Care at Home Bill, which will eliminate many of these charges.

Labour’s Spokesperson for Adults, Health & social Care, Cllr Ruth Moher, said:

“Those who receive home care are amongst the most vulnerable people in our borough and we will protect them”.

NO TO HOUSING ON PUBLIC OPEN SPACE

Labour’s budget proposals contain a specific pledge to reverse the Lib Dems’ plans for housing development in Barham Park and to protect all public open space from rapacious developers. In December, the Lib Dem controlled Executive agreed the sale of 776-778 Harrow Road, Wembley, which is in Barham Park, for housing development and Labour fears that a tower block may be built there.

Labour’s Environment and Planning Spokesperson, Cllr James Powney, said:

“The Lib Dems sneaked this report through the Executive just before Christmas and entitled it ‘Disposal of 776-778 Harrow Road’ in the hope that nobody would notice that the site is in fact IN Barham Park. The report allows for housing development on the site. Labour is opposed to any housing being built on public open space and we will fight this proposal all the way”.

Labour’s budget proposals also sought to reverse the sale of the scout hut at Oliver Goldsmith School.

ACTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

With Brent South Labour MP, Dawn Butler, being Minister for Young People, it is no surprise that Labour’s budget proposals seek to improve services for teenagers and young people. The party proposes a multi use games area in every suitable open space and regrets the Lib Dems’ decision to remove years 2 & 3 funding from the budget for improvements to Kingsbury’s Roe Green Park. Labour is also committed to restoring the cut in funding for the ‘Positive Activities for Young People’ programme, which is a Youth Service project working with young people at risk of social exclusion engaging them in constructive activity programmes in order to assist their progress into education or employment.

Labour’s spokesperson for Children and Families, Cllr Mary Arnold, said:

“It’s a false economy to cut youth spending because with nothing better to do, young people can sometimes drift into trouble, become a nuisance to everybody else and miss out on educational and employment opportunities, which will affect their life chances. Given the opportunity for positive activities, young people generally develop their talents and skills and they will thrive”.

SUPPORT FOR ADVICE AGENCIES

Labour will maintain the £22,000 one off increase in funding for advice agencies and seek to develop innovative ways to link advice, debt management and job seeking support services.

Kilburn ward Councillor Mary Arnold, who has campaigned against the closure of Brent In2 Work and cuts to advice services, said:

“Brent is slowly emerging from the world wide recession but the recovery is fragile and will be put at risk if the Tories or Liberals are in power. It is therefore important to retain the extra funding for advice agencies and to link advice, debt management and job seeking support services.

REPAIR POT HOLES BEFORE PAYING CONSULTANTS

Labour Councillors will slash spending on consultants by £1.5 million and use the money saved to repair pot holes and broken pavements. The Council’s own budget report shows that the cost of claims for injuries sustained on broken pavements has risen by over 30%. The Lib Dem and Tory council is also proposing to cut spending on street cleaning.

Labour’s Environment Spokesperson, Cllr James Powney, said:

“There are more pot holes in Brent’s roads than there are in the Yorkshire Dales and they are a danger to motorists in general and especially to cyclists. Meanwhile, broken pavements are an ever present danger to disabled residents and others with impaired mobility. Instead of wasting money on consultants who tell us nothing new we should repair our roads and pavements”.

Labour will also be seeking to reduce the grossly excessive spending of £16 million a year on temporary and agency staff.

Labour’s Deputy Leader and Finance Spokesperson, Cllr Muhammed Butt, said:

“How can the Lib Dems and Tories justify employing nearly 600 temporary and agency staff at a cost in excess of £16 million a year when we are sacking 250 permanent staff?”