Thirty-five gullies in Draycott Avenue, Kenton were cleaned after Lib Dem Leader Councillor Paul Lorber reported blocked gullies causing the road to run with water following recent heavy rainfall.
Brent’s 23,000 gullies are inspected just once a year, meaning that blockages can persist for months if not reported by members of the public.
Councillor Lorber is concerned that Labour councillors’ recent decision to cut back on street cleaning and stop special collections of Autumn leaves will increase the amount of litter and rubbish that the drains will need to cope with. This makes it even more important that blockages and problems are reported by members of the public.
Labour’s message to the people of Brent is: ‘we are going to do less so you will have to do more’
said Councillor Lorber.
Blocked gullies can be reported by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by text message to 07781 482 469 and by phone to 020 8937 5050.
Brent Liberal Democrat councillors have called on the Labour administration to investigate whether a new school on the Town Hall site could help solve the borough’s school places crisis.
The Brent Town Hall site could help meet the demand for more school places in Brent (picture Steve Cadman)
A report discussed by the council’s Labour Executive last week (Wednesday 17 August) revealed that 388 children in Brent did not have school places at the end of the school year in July – the equivalent of twelve classes. The number of infant school-aged children without places exceeded the number of spaces physically available in Brent’s schools.
The number is expected to rise this September because of what the council report describes as a “surge in demand for school places”. By 2014-15 the report forecasts that spaces for 105 extra classes will be required
Councillors agreed to consider radical steps to increase the number of school places over the next few years including potentially making use of vacant libraries (if Labour’s plan to close six of Brent libraries goes ahead) and encouraging home tuition.
Liberal Democrat leader Paul Lorber has asked council officers to investigate the feasibility of creating a new school on the Town Hall site in Wembley once council staff vacate the Town Hall for the new Civic Centre in 2013.
Cllr Lorber said:
Using the Town Hall site – which is already owned by Brent Council and therefore will not cost anything to buy – would be better than building on precious playing fields and other green space. It would also be better than cramming ever more pupils into already cramped existing school sites.
Council staff are already scheduled to leave the site in 2013. Conceivably a new Town Hall school could start taking pupils in Autumn 2013, providing extra capacity when this year’s Yr 1 and Yr 2 pupils move into the Junior age-group. I think it is important that the council evaluates the idea seriously.
It will be particularly important to find new sites if the council loses the libraries court case and does not close the six libraries under threat, as these premises will then no longer be available.
Neasden residents have flocked to sign letters and petitions calling on Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to order an investigation into Labour-run Brent Council’s decision to close half of Brent’s Libraries. Over 160 signatures were collected in a very short time last Saturday morning outside Neasden Library.
Library campaigners Bob Wharton, Alison Hopkins and Councillor Javaid Ashraf collect petition signatures with young library users
According to the 1964 Libraries Act every council has a duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service. The Secretary of State is responsible for ensuring that this duty is carried out. In 2009 the then Secretary of State ordered an investigation into Wirral Council because of concerns about the council’s library closure programme. The investigation concluded that the council’s hugely unpopular plan to close 11 of the 24 libraries in the Borough would have broken the law.
Now Brent library campaigners say that Jeremy Hunt should use his powers to investigate Brent Council’s drastic programme of library cuts.
Dollis Hill Liberal Democrat Councillor Javaid Ashraf, who helped to organise the petition and letters said:
“Despite the wet weather on Saturday, scores of people took the time to express their concern about Labour’s determination to close Neasden, Cricklewood, Barham Park, Kensal Rise, Preston and Tokyngton libraries. Many people said how much they and their children value the services that the libraries provide. For their sake I hope Jeremy Hunt listens and orders an inquiry.
Over half of the active users of Brent Libraries are under 19. It is bizarre that Labour councillors want to close six local libraries in Brent and destroy a service so important to Brent’s young people.
Library campaigners raise funds for legal challenge
Local people campaigning to save Preston Library and the other five Libraries under threat of closure from Labour-run Brent Council spent all day last Friday (19 August) collecting money outside Sainsbury’s in Kenton for the community court challenge to Brent Council.
With the generous support of Sainsbury’s customers over £300 was raised for the Brent Save our Six Libraries campaign.
Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Paul Lorber who helped with the collection said:
Over 400 children from Preston Park Primary school wrote to the Labour Councillors urging them to keep Preston Library open.
Councillor Ann John and the Labour leadership in Brent should be ashamed of ignoring the views of our young people who have shown how important local libraries are to their education and development.
The High Court took three days in July to hear the case brought by local library campaigners against Brent Council to stop the closures. The judgement is expected in October but Brent SOS Libraries continue to raise funds to support their action.
On 18 September Cllr Lorber will take part in the Fryent Country Park 5km run in support of the campaign. Anyone wishing to sponsor Paul and help the Library campaign can download a sponsorship form from www.BrentSOSLibraries.org.uk which also provides details of other events.
Willesden Green’s Liberal Democrat councillors have welcomed the award of £500,000 from the Outer London Fund to help improve Willesden Green town centre before the Olympics.
However they have warned the money must be invested in projects that will have a lasting impact and not just spent to give a temporary boost to the area.
Cllr Gavin Sneddon said:
Willesden Green already has some good shops, especially restaurants and cafes, but there is a lot of potential for improvement. The High Street is let down by the number of vacant and dilapidated premises. Brent Council must make the most of this extra funding.
Investing local trainees and students to make premises more attractive will benefit residents and businesses as well as giving the students valuable experience.
Cllr Ann Hunter added:
We need to make sure the benefits are spread right along the High Street and Walm Lane and not just on the library centre site.
I am keen to see progress with the project to improve the entrance and forecourt to Sainsbury’s in the High Street, which is going to involve several local groups like Transition Town Willesden and St. Mungo’s and to improve the environment around the tube station.
We want to make Willesden Green a really attractive place to visit!
The largest portion of the £500,000 grant is set to be spent on physical improvements to premises including new shop fronts, internal repairs and decoration (£200,000). In return for the improvements landlords will need to agree to provide the shops rent-free to local organisations and start-up businesses which will employ trainees.
£100,000 is set to be spent on “animation of the high street with temporary, experiential and permanent public art installations” and £50,000 on Christmas lights and decorations.
Cllr Ann Hunter and Cllr Gavin Sneddon are working to improve Willesden Town Centre
Liberal Democrat Councillor Paul Lorber with Renu Kaul, one of the founders of the Residents Association, and another resident ready for action.
I want to thank the members of the Sudbury Town Residents Association whom I joined during their recent action day to clean up the streets around Sudbury Town.
Together we collected well over a dozen large bags of rubbish from streets which supposedly are being cleaned regularly by Brent Council. It’s a tribute to the enthusiasm and determination of the volunteers that so much got done.
Sadly our streets are set to get even dirtier in October. Labour councillors recently confirmed that they will implement their poorly-publicised plan to reduce street cleaning. Under Labour residential roads will be swept just once a week compared to the three times a week that has been normal up to now. Shopping parades will be swept less frequently and not at all between 2pm on Saturday and Monday morning. And this is on top of the plan to abandon the weekly collection of household rubbish.
It was sad to see backbench Labour councillors putting up their hands to endorse dirtier streets in Brent when the Liberal Democrats sought to challenge the plan. It’s not too late for Labour to think again before Brent becomes the dirtiest borough in London.
Cllr Paul Lorber
Liberal Democrat councillor for Sudbury and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group
It was announced last Tuesday (9 August) that the judge hearing the Brent Libraries Judicial Review will not hand down his judgement until October.
Following the announcement, libraries campaigner and Liberal Democrat Group Leader Paul Lorber has written to Brent Council warning it not to close the six libraries affected by stealth. He has demanded that Barham Park, Tokynton, Neasden, Kensal Rise, Cricklewood and Preston libraries should remain open with current opening hours and a full programme of activities while the judgement is pending. He said:
Over half of library users are young people and it is vital they are able to use their local libraries during the school holidays and at the start of the new school term. I am concerned that Labour may try to pre-empt the judge’s decision by reducing opening hours and failing to re-stock or fully staff the threatened libraries. This is not acceptable.
It is still not too late for Labour councillors to abandon their half-baked plan to shut half of Brent’s libraries.
Councillor Paul Lorber joined libraries campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice while the judicial review was heard
The text of the letter to Sue Harper (Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services) reads:
As you are aware the outcome of the Brent libraries judicial review case will now not be known until October. While the judgement is pending it is essential that the six libraries affected continue to offer a full service to local residents.
- I am therefore writing formally to ask for your assurance that:
- A full range of stock will be maintained in each library, including new and replacement stock in line with normal policy
- All six libraries will continue to be staffed at normal establishment levels
- The number of computers with internet access will be maintained
- There will be no reduction in opening hours between now and October
In all other respects the six libraries under threat will continue to be run as a full part of the library service and to the same service standards
Given the high numbers of young people who use the libraries it is particularly important that they are able to benefit fully from the service during the remainder of the summer holidays and into the start of the new school year. I look forward to your response.
Cllr Paul Lorber