Last year, ward working funds from Dudden Hill were invested in the Shaping Futures project. We allocated a quarter of our spend on this because we realise the importance of it.
The project involved a series of workshops to help young people develop key skills and find future employment.
Given that our youth unemployment rate is 9.4% in Brent, it is important that we invest in this area. The project was run by Cricklewood Homeless Concern.
Daniel’s Den run several sessions each week in a variety of venues. These two-hour programmes are designed to give both children and parent a range of learning opportunities.
We made a small contribution of £275 in 2011/2012 for the purchase of multimedia equipment so that the group could be empowered to promote themselves to the wider community.
In the financial year 2011/2012, Ward Councillors were given a £20,000 pot of money to spend on local projects.
Typically these project funds allocated are one off payments.
The next few blogposts will promote some of the projects that Cllr Aslam Choudry and I decided to spend money on.
We have had our initial meeting outlining our ideas for the 2012 / 2013 spend where we will have £40,000 to spend on local projects. Surprise surprise, Lib Dem Councillor David Clues who has been living in Brighton since 8th December 2012 did not attend and no notice of apologies were sent either.
Labour’s budget for 2012/13 has two main themes, social mobility and local democracy. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has cited the UK as one of the worst countries for levels of social mobility and this is in the number one priority in Brent. Council Tax is also yet again frozen this year.
Most Brent residents have incomes lower than the £26,000 benefit cap, 12,000 (9.3%) of them are unemployed and youth unemployment is a particular problem. One third of Brent children are living in poverty (that is living in households where the household income is below £15,000 a year) and the changes in the welfare reform bill and localisation of housing benefit will make the situation even worse. Children born into poverty are most likely to become poor adults.
In Labour’s budget proposals is a pledge to establish a Commission on Social Mobility to be chaired by an academic to ensure that council policy is geared towards enabling local people to achieve their full potential. Meanwhile, the Council is providing £350,000 as starter funding to develop a new employment service to work in partnership with other agencies to help local residents back into work.
Meanwhile, in order to address the democratic deficit caused by the Coalition government’s removal of powers from local government, Labour Brent is to double the budget for ward working whereby local people working with their local councillors determine activities and projects within their own communities. From now on every ward will receive £40,000 to spend on local initiatives that matter to them.
Brent Council’s Labour Leader, Cllr Ann M John, OBE, said:
“The gap between rich and poor is growing all the time with the top ten per cent of earners now earning twelve times as much as the bottom ten per cent. In Brent average earnings are only just at the national average whilst house prices are twice the national average. Social mobility and getting people back to work has to be our number one priority. But we are also giving local people a say in projects in their area by doubling the ward working budget. The government may talk about localism but we practice it”.
Imagine if you had to live near this………
Well this is what residents who lived off the North Circular Road near Neasden and on Avondale Avenue had to put up with since 2007! Letters had even been sent to the Prime Minister Tony Blair and a written response had been received from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on this issue. Yet nothing had been done by the Lib Dem led Council. Through Ward Working, an alleyway clear up project was undertaken and this dump I am glad to say is no more.
Safer Neighbourhood Teams provide an essential role in following up and reassuring victims of crime at what could be a traumatic time for people. Unfortunately, they are not always well resourced, especially under this Tory Mayor of London. Through Ward Working, I have provided £1,224 worth of funding to the Dudden Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team to purchase crime prevention and reassurance equipment so that they have the tools to carry out doing the splendid job they do effectively.
In all our Council indicators, crime is the most important issue to people in Brent and it is right that the Council works with the Police to make Brent a safer place for all.
Dudden Hill Ward has two schools. Northview Primary School and Gladstone Park Primary School. Through Ward Working, I have funded for the Brent FA to work with pupils in these two schools to develop footballing skills.
Many may be aware that the Church End part of Dudden Hill Ward is statistically one of the most deprived areas not only in Brent, but also perhaps in London and the wider Country.
NEETs is the term applied to people who are Not in Education Employment or Training. In a joint venture with Labour Councillors in Harlesden Ward, we decided to provide funds to AFC Wembley to work with young people in the area to provide guidance and involve them in whatever aspect attracted their tastes with the club. If they were interested in developing a career in marketing, or music, or IT, or whatever, AFC Wembley would find a role and accommodate and provide life mentoring and guidance and support also.
It seems as though these two alley-gating schemes will be the last for the forseeable future as good Council staff who worked in this area are no longer working for Brent Council. The two schemes funded were behind the Subway fast food store and behind the Santander Bank (was tempted to write Abbey National!) by Birse Crescent.
Both of these had been requested by the local residents living in flats above these shops and by local businesses but had limited success. One scheme had gone as far as forming a committee to manage the upkeep of the gates, only to be denied at the final hurdle.
Street drinking has gotten worse in behind these alleyways. This can be really intimidating,especially for people who live in the flats above these shops.
I regularly walk the alleyways with the Dudden Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team who recommended that gates in these alleyways would be ideal. They had witnessed dumped rubbish, and even human excrement. One member had tripped on a greasy liquid and seen a rat of enormous size. Something had to be done.
I was pleased that I was able to take advantage of the final alleygating schemes for Dudden Hill ward and it was a real struggle to achieve this. I was able to successfully argue that proceedings had gone so far that it would be barmy to refuse installation of these gates now.
The gates have already been installed and the anti-social behaviour that occured in these alley areas are no more.
Every year, Councillors have an opportunity to fund one off projects in their ward under a scheme called Ward Working. I have not yet taken the opportunity to blog about what I have funded for the financial year 2011 / 2012, in what is my first opportunity to use the Ward Working fund to improve the local area.
I will use this opportunity over the next couple of weeks to blog about the ward working projects that I have funded.