Shivering Brent residents could be missing out on £120 rebates towards the winter’s electricity bill – according to Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Daniel Brown.
The Alperton councillor was alerted to the fact that dozens of residents could be missing out on help by a local resident who missed out on a payment from British Gas who are no longer accepting claims for this year.
The government’s Warm Homes discount scheme is designed to help pensioners on low income and some other vulnerable households by providing a £120 rebate off the winter’s electricity bill. Most pensioners who receive pension credits should receive the rebate automatically but some other people need to apply. The eligibility criteria vary according to the electricity supplier.
Councillor Brown said:
I am grateful to the resident who drew this to my attention. It isn’t too late for local people who qualify to apply for a rebate. I urge people who are eligible to apply as soon as possible, before this year’s funding ends at the end of March.
Poor pensioners and families have been hit particularly hard by high energy prices. Many are living in cold homes, which could put their health at risk. I don’t want local people in this situation to miss out on the chance of free help. It is disappointing however that time seems to have run out for people who are with British Gas or Scottish Power, given the amount of money these firms make.
People who think they might be eligible and want more information can call the Warm Home Discount Scheme Helpline on 0845 603 9439 (lines are open from 8am – 6pm, Monday to Friday). They can also contact their electricity supplier or find out more at www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/funding/whds/whd_broader/whd_broader.aspx.
Ann Hunter, Liberal Democrat councillor for Willesden Green, was among 30 people who attended the first meeting of ‘Transition Willesden’, a new eco-minded community group in the Willesden area, on Tuesday 7th June.
Viv Stein (Transition Willesden), Chris Wells (Transition Kensal to Kilburn) and Cllr Ann Hunter at the Willesden Transition group meeting
The group came up with exciting ideas to help make local life more sustainable and community-minded. Suggestions ranged from the imaginative to the social and practical (food-growing, green book clubs, gardening and craft workshops).
Working with local schools and involving them in food-growing projects was high on the new group’s agenda, as was ‘greening’ the forecourt of the local Sainsbury’s in Willesden, involving community members.
Viv Stein, Dollis Hill resident who set up the Transition Willesden group says,
“I was inspired and overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and ideas generated by local residents in the Willesden area who are ready, willing and able to get involved with some really exciting green projects. We had people from all over Willesden, Dollis Hill, Cricklewood and even Kingsbury come along. Transition is all about local communities coming together to find their own solutions to the very real problems of rising food and fuel prices, and preparing us for the end of the oil age.”
Ann Hunter said:
“This was such an exciting meeting, to see so many new faces and hear so many innovative ideas, from fruit tree planting and picking to gardening projects, from food projects to cycle maintenance. I couldn’t believe I was still in the pub at 11 o’clock, but the energy was fantastic. A really joyful beginning to the whole project! Watch this space. Willesden will be greener!”
A second meeting of Transition Willesden is set for 14th July.
Liberal Democrat councillors today welcomed the removal of much ring fencing of local government funding, but proposed local protection for funding for the important services that the “Supporting People funding” provides.
The Supporting People funding is used to provide housing related support to help vulnerable people to live as independently as possible in the community. This can be in their own homes or in hostels, sheltered housing or other specialised supported housing.
Many providers of Supporting People services are saying they are concerned at the prospect of reduced funding.
The Liberal Democrats put the motion to this week’s January Full Council – however, Labour councillors blocked it stating they couldn’t guarentee the funding.
Talking after the meeting Cllr James Allie said,
“The funding which comes under the ‘supporting people’ heading pays for really important services to the most vulnerable in society, such as things like sheltered housing. Labour claim they are the guardians of the sick, disabled and excluded, it’s a real shame then that Labour refused to agree to protect the funding to the some of the most vulnerable in Brent. In difficult economic times the importance of making sensible local decisions is key. By dismissing our proposals Labour have proved they can’t do that.”
The Liberal Democrat motion read:
1. Welcomes the removal of much ring-fencing associated with Local Government funding, enabling Councils to manage their finances to better meet local needs.
2. Notes the important services that the Supporting People funding provides.
3. Calls on Brent Council’s Executive to ensure that the funding received for Supporting People schemes is protected locally to ensure that services to some of the most vulnerable in our community remain secured.
A Liberal Democrat Councillor for Sudbury has expressed disappointment at the decision to sell a piece of old allotment land in Elms Garden / Court, Sudbury – despite a vigorous campaign by local residents to keep the area for local use.
Labour run Brent Council will receive a report to its Executive Committee on Monday 15th November which proposes to sell the land to a housing trust to build 27 housing units on the site.
Liberal Democrats are claiming that 27 housing units is too much and would be an overdevelopment of the site. They also slammed the inconsistency in policy regarding residents wishing to keep land for local use.
Only a few months ago a planned sale of a similar piece of land a housing association in a ward represented by 3 Labour Councillors, all 3 of whom just happen to also sit on the Labour Executive, was stopped after pressure from local residents. Liberal Democrats are arguing that it is reasonable to expect that this approach will be applied consistently to other pieces of land in other parts of Brent where local residents make a similar claim.
The residents of Elms Gardens, Elms Court and Elms Park Avenue Wembley would like the old allotment land in their area reinstated to allotments/open space and have submitted a petition to Councillor Jim Moher and his Executive. The old Labour Government changed the rules to allow building houses on allotments some time ago but as Brent Council owns the land clearly it is now up to the Executive made up of Labour Councillors whether they will sell it off to a Housing Association (exactly the same proposal as applied to the land in Councillor Moher’s ward) to build homes on or not.
Speaking about the proposals, Cllr Chandubhai Patel said,
“Selling this land and using some of the money on developing alternative land in Gladstone Park is really no way to solve the need for open space in Sudbury. It’s far too far to be of use to local residents.
Our real concern is the apparent disparity in the treatment of residents in Labour wards and other wards. If you’re in a Labour ward and you want council land to remain public – like the old scout hut in Coniston Gardens – well then that’s fine, if Labour Councillors say so, all you have to do is ask. I think it’s a real shame that Barry Gardiner has been so silent on this issue, he needs to put pressure on the Labour Executive on behalf of his residents. Why should Sudbury residents be denied the opportunities other residents get?”
Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesman in Brent, Cllr James Allie, today welcomed the announced that Liberal Democrats in Government will deliver the biggest net increase in social housing for 30 years.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday 28th October, Andrew Stunell (Liberal Democrat Minister for Housing) outlined Coalition plans to provide 150,000 affordable homes over the next four years.
Since 1979, both Labour and Conservative Governments presided over a reduction in the number of affordable homes, with each selling off more homes than they built. There were 400,000 fewer homes after the Tories’ 18 years in power and a further 45,530 fewer after 13 years of Labour.
Commenting, Cllr James Allie said:
“I’m really pleased that because of Liberal Democrat influence in Government, the Coalition will be able to increase the supply of affordable housing in this country. This will mean more social homes will be built this year than in any year under the last Labour Government.
Everyone knows times are tough and we need to learn how to do more with less in every aspect of public spending, including social housing. That’s why it’s great to see that despite the difficult economic times, and unlike Thatcher and Blair, Liberal Democrats in Government will deliver an increase in affordable housing. Which will allow boroughs like Brent to continue to develop mixed tenure communities with a long term future.”
Liberal Democrat Councillors have expressed amazement at the immediate ditching by Brent’s Labour Executive of an Election pledge made just months ago by Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner.
Pre-election leaflets were plastered with banners such as “Barham Park – Not for Sale”, “We say NO to selling our parks”, and asked “Why do the Lib Dems pretend they need to sell off part of Barham Park?” and “Why are Lib Dems always trying to sell off our parks?”
In more recent leaflets, along with Sudbury Labour Councillor Mary Daly, Mr Gardiner continued to pretend that huge blocks of flats would be built, denounced the sale of the small plot of land on the edge of Barham Park containing 2 park keepers homes, and said: “I am working to get the Council to stop the sale of the land and put an end to this outrageous Lib Dem plan.”
Now, a report going to Brent’s Labour Executive next Tuesday proposes that the area should be sold off via public advertisement, for the best capital receipt obtainable.
Paul Lorber, a Sudbury Councillor and the Liberal Democrat Group Leader, says:
“ What a surprise! Labour have done yet another U-turn immediately on taking office. After months of circulating leaflets containing lies and scaremongering about the plans for these houses on the edge of the Park, and despite repeatedly promising to stop the sale of land, they now want to sell the land for the best price they can get, even though the small-scale housing scheme has fallen through.”
“ There was of course never any plan for a tower block. But given his clear statements on the sale of land, I look forward to Barry Gardiner protesting loudly at the Executive meeting. Or is this just another trumped-up campaign that Labour want to quickly forget?”