29 Nov 2010

'Big Society' will hit back at Cameron and Clegg

David Cameron will get his "big society" quicker than he thinks, judging by the huge attendance at a conference called last Saturday 27 November by the Coalition of Resistance to Cuts and Privatisation.
 
Over 1200 delegates packed the conference, which brought together MPs, trade unions, campaigning organisations from across the country, student activists, representatives from pensioner groups -- all corners of societyfacing government plans to cut public services to the bone.
 
Speakers at the conference -- from MP John McDonnell to Len McCluskey, the newly elected leader of Britain's largest trade union UNITE -- all had the same message, the spirit of which was captured by 15-year-old school Barnaby Raine, who joined last week's protests against education cuts:
 
"If the police think that 'kettling' students will stop us coming on demonstrations ever again, they are sorely mistaken. Students have only two choices: either they lay down and accept what the government throws at them,or they fight back."
 
The student protests and occupations are inspiring new levels of militancy and audacious action, which will be taken up across all the campaigns to stop the government cuts.
 
As MP John McDonnell told the conference, we will build a fast gathering, united movement of opposition, which will see strikes, demonstrations, occupations, direct action and campaigns of civil disobedience, on a scale not seen for a generation.
 
Tony Benn, who was elected president of the Coalition of Resistance, said David Cameron is going to see what a "big society" really looks like.
 
He spelled out the task we are facing: a government which aims to roll back 60 years of progress, and return to the dark days before the creation of the welfare state, must be stopped in its tracks.
 
The Coalition of Resistance will support all anti cuts campaigns and is calling for the widest solidarity with the national day of student protests on Tuesday 30 November. A national week of action against the cuts is planned for February 2011 and the Coalition of Resistance is committed to help make the TUC demonstration against the cuts on 26 March one of the biggest protests ever seen in Britain.

28 Nov 2010

BRENT CAMPAIGN AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE Meeting 23/11/2010



Introduction from Steffi Gray (Brent FoE) and Derek Wall (GPEW)



Nick Grant, National Executive, National Union of Teachers (pc)


Ann Hunter, Brent Lib-Dem Councillor


Love Food Hate Waste


Questions & discussion part 1


Questions & discussion part 2

Teather lobbied on home insulation


Brian Orr, Chair of Brent Green Party,took part in this lobby of Sarah Teather,  MP for Brent Central
Willesden and Brent Times, November 25th 2010

Brent Greens: Libraries are essential




From Willesden and Wembley Observer November 25th 2010



A consultation on the closures (officially 'Libraries Transformation Project ') will run for the next three months. LINK and there will be public meetings about it as follows:

















































Forum


Date


Venue and Time



Harlesden Area



11 January 2011


All Souls Church next to Lloyds TSB

at 7pm


Kilburn and Kensal Area


12 January 2011


Queens Park Community School

at 7pm


Wembley Area



18 January 2011



Patidar House, Wembley

at 7pm


Willesden Area



19 January 2011


College of North West London

at 7pm



Kingsbury and Kenton


9 February 2011


Kingsbury High School at 7pm

Forum


Date


Venue and Time



Willesden Green Library


1 December 2010



Willesden Green Library
at 6:30pm


Brent Town Hall


6 January 2011

Brent Town Hall

at 6:30pm


Open Day


Date


Venue and Time



Willesden Green Library


12 January 2011


Willesden Green Library

10:30am-1pm and

2:30pm-5:00pm



9 Nov 2010

BRIEF REPORT OF BRENT FIGHTBACK MEETING THURSDAY NOVEMBER 4TH

BRIEF REPORT OF BRENT FIGHTBACK MEETING THURSDAY NOVEMBER 4TH  (from a post by 
Cllr Roxanne Marshari spoke briefly about the specific impacts of cuts on young people:
·        4,500 young people in Brent will lose their Educational Maintenance Allowance.
·        NUS research finds that 8/10 young people will be deterred  from Higher Education by the trebling of fees.
·        The cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future scheme means that many will continue to be taught in crumbling buildings. Copland is one example.
·        Connexions service which helps young people into work is under threat.

Brent has a higher than average population under 25. The Council is making efforts to involve young people in their work and decisions through Brent Youth Parliament and a mentoring scheme where individual councillors mentor a series of young people for six months at a time.
Sharly Boukhari kibbat7@hotmail.com is campaigning to defend the EMA  

Phil O’Reilly reported that Brent Council is seeking to move all employees onto Outer London allowance which would mean a cut in pay for some of up to £1500 a year. All employees had received a letter saying that there will be £37m of cuts next year. Phil and Hank Roberts repeated their concern that Ann John was not responding to communications from the Unions representing Brent’s employees.

Martin Francis commented that already schools are aware of a deterioration in LEA services provided by Brent as staff and resources are cut. This could lead to a downward spiral with more schools turning to the private sector, the Authority earning less, services deteriorating further...

Ann O’Neill queried why, if the cuts are 26% over four years, they are being front loaded for bodies providing services for the Council. They are being asked to make 25% cuts now. It doesn’t feel as if the Council is protecting the most vulnerable and some officers are going about cutting quite gleefully.

Roxanne Marshari commented that cuts to local government grants are designed to shift blame for the cuts from the government onto councils.   There was no disagreement with that statement, but there was general agreement that we would welcome a clear statement from the Labour Group on the Council about which side they are on and an acceptance of the necessity for working with all the unions representing the Council workforce. Pete Firmin will draft a letter to the Labour Group from Brent Fightback and circulate it to committee members.

Hank Roberts suggested a protest or series of protests outside Sarah Teather’s surgeries.

Emma Tait suggested that a number of marches each formed from a threatened group, could converge on a single point.

Jean Roberts emphasised the importance of writing letters to the local papers.

Plans for debate with Sarah Teather still not finalised. She is still available on 8th and 15th December, problem is finding an opponent who is available on one of those dates. Both Space1 and Space2 at the Library Centre are free on 15th. Pete will continue trying to find someone to debate.

The governors of Kenmont Primary School, just in Hammersmith, but withmany children from Brent, have approached ARK about the possibility of becoming a primary academy or being linked to Burlington Danes an existing secondary academy. This was done without consulting parents and there is a strong opposition among them. Brent Fightback expressed support for their campaign.

Disputes, protests and forthcoming meetings:
FBU strike planned for 5th – 6th Nov called off. Dispute is going to arbitration and the threat of mass sackings has been temporarily lifted.
NUJ at the BBC Strike going ahead on 5th -6th Nov with a call for a solidarity meeting outside White City at 12 noon on 5th.
RMT & TSSA next strike 28th – 29th Nov
Tues Nov 9th Defend Council Housing Protest outside Parliament 5.30 pm as Housing Benefit Cuts are debated
Wednesday Nov 10th Joint UCU & NUS demonstration FUND OUR FUTURE: STOP EDUCATION CUTS Assemble 11.30 pm Horse Guards Ave 11.30 am  
Tuesday November 23rd 7.30 pm Brent Campaign Against Climate Change Public meeting: Willesden Green Library Centre.  Leaflet attached  
Thursday November 25th Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group Public Meeting with Glenda Jackson MP Tricycle 

8 Nov 2010

Burning not the answer to zero waste future

Lia Colacicco, Professor Paul Connett, Viv Stein and Phil Fletcher at House of Commons

Environmental groups opposing the Brent Cross incinerator took their fight to the House of Commons on Tuesday of last week.  Together with invited MPs, they heard leading waste experts spell out the dangers of incinerators, like at Brent Cross, and the arguments for a “zero waste” alternative.  However, Mike Freer, local MP for Finchley and Golders Green failed to attend.

Brent Cross Cricklewood Coalition members from local Friends of the Earth (FoE) groups in Brent, Barnet and Enfield were invited to the seminar “Zero Waste – the Cost Effective and Sustainable Alternative to Incineration”.  The meeting, organised by Gloucestershire against Incinerators [3], part of the “UK Without Incineration Network” (UKWin), was attended by anti-incinerator groups from across the UK, as well as members of Parliament.  Keynote speaker Paul Connett, Emeritus Professor of Environmental Chemistry from St Lawrence University, New York State, had previously visited the Brent Cross site, and also recently addressed the United Nations.

Professor Connett said, ““The Brent Cross Cricklewood developers need to radically rethink their "energy from domestic waste" plans.  Putting a gasifying-incinerator, emitting unregulated and toxic nano-particles, into a built-up area, near schools and homes is madness.  Gasification is an unproven technology for domestic waste.  This has caused at least one evacuation of local homes in Germany, after which trials were stopped.

"It beggars belief that the developers continue to claim they are not planning an "incinerator".

"Instead of burning our domestic waste, we need to move towards a "zero waste system", where rubbish is considered a resource to recycle.

“Incineration and gasification detract from recycling, since they don’t work without burning good recyclable materials.  They also emit more greenhouse gases than when the organic component is treated by digestion."

Viv Stein, Brent Friends of the Earth Spokesperson, said, “Incinerators are a dead technology, sold on spin.  No new plants have been approved in the United States since 1995.  The UK is now being targeted by companies keen to make a profit here – at the expense of the public purse, local communities and the environment.

“Incinerators bind local Councils to costly and inflexible long term contracts which are bad news anytime, but madness when Councils are so strapped for cash.  Councils sometimes even have to pay penalties because they are not providing enough material to burn.

“Brent Cross Developer Jonathan Joseph and former Barnet leader, now MP, Mike Freer, strongly defended incineration at Barnet planning committee, promising  information was readily available that these plants are safe.  Yet one year on we have yet to see any independent evidence this is the case.  We challenge Mike Freer and Hammerson to tell us why.  If Freer wants to stick an incinerator amongst his constituents, he should have joined us to listen to experts’ concerns.”

Phil Fletcher, Barnet and Enfield Friends of the Earth Co-ordinator said, “Far from producing “energy from waste”, incinerators are a “waste of energy”.  Electricity from burning waste is extremely inefficient.  It is actually better for the climate to landfill plastic - and not incinerate it - if it cannot be recycled.

“There is no safe level of toxic nano-particles from the incineration processes.  They are small enough to get into our bloodstream, and can do long-term damage to our health.  The ash created from incineration still has to be sent to landfill [8].  We learnt how monitoring of these toxic particles at hazardous waste landfill sites can be flawed – it depends where detection points are actually positioned.  It was quite shocking to see these are operating as open sites - here in the UK - with clouds of dust visibly affecting the local area.”

Julian Kirby, Waste Campaigner, Friends of the Earth  who also addressed the meeting said, “The UK buries or burns over £650 million of recyclable materials every year.  That’s not just bad for the environment, it’s a massive waste of resources and a huge cost to our cash-strapped economy.

“Over seventy thousand new jobs would be created if the UK recycled 70% of its business and Council-collected waste.  Given the Belgian region of Flanders exceeds that already, and Wales and Scotland have both set 70% as a 2025 target, why must England be left behind?

“As the latest statistics show, we are producing less waste every year, and recycling more of it.  That is the direction we need to be heading – there is no need or place for incineration in a genuinely zero waste future.”

Other speakers at the meeting were Barbara Farmer from Sward, a Gloucestershire group opposing incinerators, and Jonathan Essex from Bioregional who promote reuse of waste, which creates jobs and puts disused land into use.

This meeting follows recent news that North London Waste Authority – including Barnet - has lost its Government agreement to borrow around £700 million for its seven-borough PFI waste plan.

7 Nov 2010

Get real about climate change!

GET REAL ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE! Brent CCC public meeting: Willesden Library 23/11/10

Time to tell the politicians...GET REAL ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE!

Faced with cuts to jobs and services it’s easy to forget that if we don’t act now climate change will be a far worse threat to our future than the economic crisis. If the banks are too big to fail, then so is the planet. We need carbon cuts, not job cuts!

Come to the Local Public Meeting
Tuesday 23 November 7.30pm
Willesden Green Library Centre 95 High Road NW10 2SF (nearest tube, Willesden Green)

Speakers:
Derek Wall, Green Party, author No Nonsense Guide to Green Politics
Jonathan Neale, Campaign against Climate Change, author One Million Climate Jobs Now!
Nick Grant, National Executive, National Union of Teachers (pc)
Ann Hunter, Brent Lib-Dem Councillor

Remember
Join the National Climate March
March on Parliament for a Zero Carbon Britain
Saturday 4 December 12.00 noon Hyde Park

Brent Campaign against Climate Change
www.brentcacc.com
www.campaigncc.org

Shahrar Ali on Press TV Agenda Panel: 16 October 2010

Topic: America: Should the Geneva Convention be Rewritten or More Rigorously Enforced? [click image to play]

Yvonne Ridley interviews: Shahrar Ali (Green Party), Andy Worthington (Caged Prisoners) and Rupert Nichol (secruity analyst)

Shahrar calls on Obama to shut down Guantanamo and other interrogation camps. He says that advocates of torture and architects of illegal wars must be brought before war crimes tribunals.

SA's line: 0330: Obama mountain to climb to restore US moral credibility. 1645: Legal remedy not just apologetic words. Need for war crimes tribunal. 2150: Abu Ghraib atrocities. Blair implicating himself in his own words. 2915: NO circumstance in which torture of children permitted. Queens Lancashire Regiment also implicated at the time. 3910: Drones and war technology lead to further dehumanisation in war. 4600: All states, including US, must be subject to the lessons of history through international law.

6 Nov 2010

1 Nov 2010

Brent Fightback meeting on Thursday 4/11/10 7.30 pm at Brent Trades Hall,

Councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala contacted Brent Fightback to give his apologies for Thursday evening's meeting, but sent the attached briefing prepared by him and Cllr Muhammed Butt, deputy leader of the Council outlining the probable effects on the people of Brent from the Comprehensive Spending Review. Many of you will already have seen the article in Tthursday's Kilburn/Willesden & Brent Times which was clearly based on the same briefing.

Hoping to see as many of you as possible at the Brent Fightback meeting on Thursday 7.30 pm at Brent Trades Hall,

Yours in solidarity,
Sarah

Cllr. Muhammed Butt
Cllr. Zaffar Van Kalwala

BRENT: COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW (CSR)

KEY POINTS:
• Brent Council will have 28% cut from its central government grant resulting in a total loss of £65m over the next 4 years
• Some of Brent’s low-income households face being worse off by upto £10,000 per year (based on increase in rents and loss of benefits)
• 41,000 residents will see cuts to their Housing and Council Tax benefit payments
• Freezing of the Sure-Start grant will result in a total funding cut of £1m
• 4.250 Brent 16-19 year olds will lose their Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
• Brent is in the top 20 most income deprived local authorities in the country. It also has the 4th lowest average income levels in London with 16,901 households (16%) having an average annual income of £15,000 or less.

BACKGROUND:
The Chancellor, George Osborne insists there is no alternative to his huge and unnecessary cuts, detailed on Wednesday 20th October to the House of Commons. That is simply not true. The Lib-Con Government’s reckless gamble with growth and jobs runs the risk of stifling the fragile recovery. Labour is committed to halving the deficit over the lifetime of this parliament but this Government is going much faster and much deeper than is necessary.
The CSR was meant to be fair with the Lib-Con Government saying ‘those with the broadest shoulders should bear the greatest burden.’ However, the £81bn worth of cuts released including significant spending reductions on welfare, housing and education will see some of Brent’s most vulnerable residents impacted on disproportionately.
The full extent of the cuts on Brent will not be properly known until early December when the Local Government Grant is finalised and a more detailed analysis of the CSR has been undertaken.

HOUSING:
• New social housing tenants face increase in rent with charges of up to 80% of market rates. The average rent for a three-bedroom social home is around £85 a week. National Housing Federation warns that this could triple to a "staggering" £250 a week, an extra £8,500 per year.
• Council houses for life could also end for new tenants, who might be handed fixed term contracts, under the proposals.
• Brent’s Council Tax benefit budget will be reduced by 10% from April 2013
• Cut of 50% to the social housing budget will severely reduce the supply of affordable housing in Brent. As mentioned, the Government wants to charge rents of up to 80% of the market rate and use the extra funds to make-up the housing shortfall. Brent has 23,000 people on the waiting list. These proposals are likely to add further stress to the borough’s housing situation.

EDUCATION:
• Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) which provides young people from households with incomes of less than £30,000 an incentive to continue in education will be cut. 4,250 Brent youngsters will loose upto £1,100 per academic year.
• Funding for Sure-Start Centres will be reduced by £1m in real terms as the amount received by Brent is frozen for the next 4 years. For 2010/2011 a grant of £10m was given for the programme.
• Schools will only see a 0.1% increase in funding. However, if increased demand is factored in and taking out the previously announced Pupil premium this amounts to an actual cut to the schools budget. Brent has 185 4&5-year olds that do not have a school place for this academic year. This will rise drastically to a cumulative total of 500 by 2015. A government spending cut will only exacerbate one of the borough’s most pressing issues.
• 12% cut to the Education's non-schools budget. This may involve cuts to areas such as Early Years, support for disabled children as well as grants for free school meals.
• Educational capital spending will be reduced by 60% putting spending on schools maintenance and development at risk.
• Adult-Learning funding to be cut by 25%. BACES (Stonebridge) will lose the ‘Train to Gain’ programme and will have to charge adults the full rate for GCSE/A-Level courses.

COUNCIL BUDGET:
• The settlement for local government is a cut of 7.1% for four years. Brent’s budget will be reduced by a total of £65m. This will see every council service area being cut by a minimum 7%. Some areas may have to make further cuts to support priority areas or to continue delivering other key services.
• Capital programme to be cut by 45% (£66m). This will mean less money for building schools, housing and adult social care.
• Majority of cuts in benefits and services will be ‘front-loaded’ and made in the first 2 years (2011/12 & 2012/13).
• Grants from the Department of Transport reduced by 28% which will see less funds available for Streetcare, pavement repairs and gritting.
• Funding for ‘Concessionary Travel’ which pays for 43,000 Brent Pensioners to have the Freedom Pass will be cut by 10%. Brent has already put in an extra £1.5m towards the scheme this year.
• Additional income for Adult Social Care will not respond to the increase in demand for the borough’s services.
• The rate of interest the council can borrow at from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) has been increased by 1% across the board. This will make raising finance for local building and development projects substantially more expensive.

Cllr. Muhammad Butt
(Brent Deputy Leader & Lead Member for Finance and Corporate Services) said:
“The Lib-Con Government promised the people of Brent fairness but these reckless cuts take money away from the elderly, funding from our schools and people away from their homes.
These cuts will hurt and this could mean fewer libraries, more potholes going unrepaired parks shutting earlier and youth clubs closing.
Tough decisions need to be taken and I know people are very worried what the cuts will mean for them.
This Labour Council will be fighting for all our residents and making sure we continue to deliver our key services. This Lib-Con Government is hitting hard some our most vulnerable residents and that is not fair.”
Cllr. Muhammed Butt
Deputy Leader of Brent Council & Lead Member for Finance and Corporate Services
Cllr. Zaffar Van Kalwala
Budget & Finance Panel
October 2010