Published and promoted by S. Bartle on behalf of Brent Green Party and Shaka Lish and Michaela Lichten c/o 23 Saltcroft Close, Wembley, HA9 9JJ and promoted by Aidan Cottrell-Boyce on behalf of John Mansook c/o National Green Party office, The Biscuit Factory, Unit 201 A Block, 100 Clements Road, London, SE16 4DG.
23 Jul 2010
22 Jul 2010
Notwithstanding the prolonged difficulties faced by residents at this meeting to have material points accurately reported in the past, administrators of the forums have now decided that minutes will be called "notes" instead! Under insistence by local resident Robert Dunwell that the meeting be advised of the concealed reason for the change in nomenclature, Owen Thomson of the consultation team replied that "due to government cut-backs, and efficiency savings", it would be less expensive to take "notes" rather than "minutes".
But which came first, the presumed expense and inconvenience of correcting minutes that should have been accurate in the first place? Or the desire to find a pretext to avoid such embarrassment from occuring in future?
Six meetings, and twenty months after a fateful admission by the Civic Centre Project director in November 2008 that the Council hadn't consulted on the civic centre - and the mistaken follow-up notion that they didn't need to - the closest we have got to drawing a line under accuracy of minutes, sorry notes, is as follows:
"A concern regarding the accuracy of the recording of the discussion on the new civic centre, which had taken place at the Forum meeting held on 5th November 2008, was again raised and another request to amend the notes was made. In response to this request, Christine Collins explained the constitutional arrangements of the Area Forums. Following this, she stated that whilst the notes of the meeting, which were being disputed, would not be amended, the concerns of those present regarding this issue had been noted." [Minutes/Notes of 2 Feb 2010]
Translation of this Note into accurate Minute: whilst the notes [sic. minutes] of the meeting, which were being disputed [sic. challenged both inside and outside the meeting], would not be amended [sic. corrected], the concerns of those present regarding this issue had been noted [sic. ignored].
The consequences of pursuing an ill-conceived civic centre are warned against in my letter in the Wembley Observer. (15 July 2010)
The consequences of pursuing a strategy of systematically falsifying minutes, and lowering the expectation that accuracy is required in the first place, is to sabotage local democracy by concealing truth.
Accurate minutes cannot be "too expensive". They are indispensible in exposing the true cost of bad decision-making, when it occurs, and in allowing us to scrutinise politicians.
The "good" news is that none of this will be possible at the weekend – for the simple reason that Brentonians will have to endure yet another weekend of no Met or Jube line trains at all, in either direction.
Repeat after me: Planned Engineering works.
Our own Susanna Rustin (far right of picture), of West Central Green Party, gave a neat overview of how to make tangible energy savings through simple steps.
Whilst the majority of trees on the protected area have not been felled as such, at least one tree has been damaged, if not destroyed, and a significant exapnse of undergrowth covered over with new soil. This new substrate has compromised the vegetation and flora that once existed as an essential part of the natural habitat of the woody area.
Protection of this space formed an integral part of Brent Greens' planning objection and is recognised in the planning consent itself.
Martin Francis, Children, Schools & Families Spokesperson, lead author of our planning objection, confirms: "Some of the trees are the remains of Repton's landscaping of Wembley Park, it was thought important as a site for breeding birds and a possible bat habitat. We were assured that it would be preserved and not disrupted."
I have already reported on the intrusion of temporary hoardings onto the pavement. Some of this hoarding has been taken away in order to facilitate rendering of the paving fronting the building itself. However, again, there should be no encroachment onto the pedestrian right of way when this work is completed.
5 Jul 2010
Brent Campaign against Climate Change made up of environmental, trade union, political and community groups across the Borough are infuriated that Brent Council have cut two posts in Environment and Culture, including a new Climate Change Officer post. The campaigners believe the post, which would have would oversee and deliver the Borough’s Climate Change strategy, should be exempt from the cuts which will otherwise seriously impede the Council’s work to deliver a sustainable agenda.
Brent’s Climate Change strategy  was launched at an event in Wembley in December last year. A strategy steering group was due to be set up comprising public services, businesses, voluntary sector and community group representatives, but this new post was the only paid one on the committee. The other places are entirely voluntary, non-expert and do not carry any authority. The steering group is yet to be set up and the officer post, due to be recruited last year, was put on hold due to a recruitment freeze across the Council this Spring, and has now been axed. This work is instead being designated to existing staff, which campaigners believe will compromise what can be achieved.
Ken Montague, Chair of Brent Campaign against Climate Change says, “Brent Council really need to get their heads round the seriousness and urgency of the problem facing us. Climate change is happening now and it won't wait till they've balanced their budgets. This is a short sighted decision which shows that Brent is not planning for the future."
"We should save the planet not the bankers. Brent Council must lead the way and not give way to Con Dem budget cuts. Brent Councillors don't have to answer to us. They will have to answer to their grandchildren."
Steffi Gray, of Brent Friends of the Earth (FoE), who is hoping to address the Council meeting says, “This is outrageous. Brent have spent forty thousand pounds of our council tax hiring consultants to come up with this strategy, but have now pulled the plug on any further money to actually deliver the scheme. What’s more they have made a big deal of signing up to the 10:10 campaign  to reduce emissions by 10% in 2010, but this target is actually LESS than the amount they agreed to previously."
“We want Brent Council to get serious about climate change, but we fear these cuts will put a sustainable agenda at risk. Given the urgency of climate change, this post should be a priority and be made exempt from the cuts.”
Shahrar Ali, Brent Green party spokesperson for planning and environment said, “We need to take urgent action on climate change mitigation locally. The Brent climate change strategy called for a full-time officer to work with other agencies and the public - today, not the day after tomorrow. Failure to recruit the post is environmentally irresponsible. We are calling for all newly elected councillors to see sense, for the sake of current and future generations."
Brent Council faces two hundred staff cuts in September, whilst Council tax has been frozen for the coming year. The decision to cut the posts was made without consultation with community groups who had previously been involved in shaping the Borough’s climate change strategy .
Members of Brent FoE, Brent Green Party, Brent Red-Green Forum, Brent and Harrow Socialist Workers Party, Brent Socialist Resistance, and Kensal to Kilburn Transition Town will be outside Brent Town Hall in Wembley at 7pm on Monday 12th July. The Council executive meeting starts at 7.15pm.
1. Brent Campaign against Climate Change is a non-profit making network and information exchange for participating environmental groups, trade union organisations, tenants’ and residents’ associations, and individual climate activists within the London Borough of Brent. It is the local group of the national Campaign against Climate Change. For more information see http://www.brentcacc.com/
2. Brent’s Climate Change strategy can be seen at http://www.brent.gov.uk/directorate.nsf/Climate%20change/LBB-12
4. In 2007 Brent agreed a cut in greenhouse gas emissions of 20% by 2011.
5. A Council staffing and structure review was agreed in March 2010, but internal consultation to review this ended on July 2nd. Groups including Brent FoE and Brent Green party were consulted in the strategy development.