Monday, 20 November 2017

Support legal challenge to keep border controls out of school

 From Against Borders for Children. Please support their crowdfunder to pay for a legal challenge to government policy. LINK 

This is particularly relevant in Brent where we have children in our schools of many different nationalities and where substantial numbers are undocumented.

--> Against Borders for Children is a coalition of parents, teachers, and campaigners.

Our aim is to reverse the Department of Education’s (DfE) policy of collecting country of birth and nationality information on 8 million children in England to help bring border controls into classrooms which was introduced in September 2016.

We've been campaigning since last year to get this policy scrapped. Now, with the support of Liberty, we’re hoping to win this in court – but we need your support to cover legal costs.
Collection of nationality and country of birth data is a toxic policy that has led to highly divisive and discriminatory collection practices such as asking only children assumed to be migrants to bring in passports and birth certificates.

The information is not being collected for educational purposes, but as part of a compromise with the Home Office on harsh measures that would have seen the children of undocumented migrants ‘deprioritised’ for school places. Nationality and country of birth information was going to be handed over to the Home Office as part of a broader data-sharing scheme to track down undocumented children and families through school records. Only public outcry has prevented this, and it could still be shared in the future. 

Some parents now fear sending their children to school could lead to deportation.

We believe schools should be safe for ALL children. Help us to fight this racist policy, and keep border controls out of schools!

NWLA's 'totally inadequate' response on why they changed their mind on the Cricklewood dump

Further to the question posted in my last post regarding the Cricklewood dump and the North London Waste Authority’s original opposition to the resiting: ‘Has anything changed?’
Here is Alison Hopkins’ request to the NWLA asking why they had changed their position and the (‘totally inadequate’ according to Alison) response:
I am writing to you as a resident of Brent – Dollis Hill, to be specific – and the former ward councillor here.  I have also submitted evidence to the Public Inquiry held this week into CPO3.
The NLWA submitted a most comprehensive objection to the CPO orders. Your statement included many of the issues which we living here have with the proposed Geron Way site, including those related to traffic, environmental issues and very close proximity to an infants school and houses. 

I am told by the Clerk to the Inquiry that the NLWA has withdrawn its objection. If this is the case, then this is deeply disappointing and extremely worrying. Residents here have opposed the resiting since it was first proposed back in the early 2000s. 

Could you please inform us why the NLWA has withdrawn its objection? The problems with the proposed Geron Way/Selco site have not gone away, and as a public body, we believe the NLWA has a duty of care to Brent residents. Moving the current WTF to the proposed site directly conflicts with that duty and is not in the public interest. 
From NLWA:
NWLA and LondonEnergy Ltd have agreed terms with the London Borough of Barnet for the provision by the London Borough of Barnet of a new waste transfer station at Geron Way, NW2. Given that the Authority has now been offered an acceptable replacement, we have withdrawn our objection to the London Borough of Barnet’s application for a compulsory purchase order that included the current Hendon transfer station. It is currently expected that the new waste transfer station will be ready early in 2020.

Why NLWA originally opposed the resiting of the Cricklewood dump - has anything changed?

In her submission to Barnet Council on the proposed waste transfer facility on the Edgware Road LINK, Alison Hopkins mentioned the North London Waste Authority's orginal opposition to the resiting.

For information here is their original objection:

Intriguing item for Tuesday's Brent General Purposes Committee

In the light of the out-standing electors' objections to Brent Council's accounts over the Cara Davani payout these are intriguing items on Tuesday's General Purposes Committee agenda. The Committee is chaired by Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt and consists of 6 other members of the Cabinet plus John Warren, leader of the Conservative Group:


7. Exclusion of Press and Public
The following items are not for publication as they relate to the following category of exempt information as specified under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, namely:
1. Information relating to any individual.
2. Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.
3. Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
4. Information relating to any consultations or negotiations, or contemplated consultations or negotiations, in connection with any labour relations matter arising between the authority or a Minister of the Crown and employees of, or office holders under, the authority.
5. Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.
6. Information which reveals that the authority proposes –
(a) to give under any enactment a notice under or by virtue of which requirements
are imposed on a person; or
(b) to make an order or direction under any enactment
7. Information relating to any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime.
Severance Arrangements
The paper informs the Committee of the contractual costs of redundancy and early retirement of the Director of HR and OD.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Ditch the Dump! Dollis Hill protests at being made a 'rubbish sandwich' by Barnet Council

148 residents have objected to the locating of a waste transfer facility on the Edgware Road near residential properties and a school. The 'dump' is just within the Barnet boundary but will affect Brent residents. There are no comments support the proposal on the Barnet Council planning portal. LINK

Alison Hopkins has submitted the following comment:

I object in the strongest possible terms to this damaging and wholly unnecessary planning application. This is on the grounds of proximity to housing and schools, vastly increased traffic and congestion, air pollution and noise and environmental damage. 

Over the decades, we in Dollis Hill and Brent have been ignore and side-lined by Barnet Council. Our objections to the disastrous changes to road layouts, the massive increase in traffic, both cars and lorries on our roads, and to the destruction of our community by Barnet Council have been ignored.
There is no benefit to anyone living in Brent of ANY of your plans. Using the word regeneration to describe them is laughable if it were not so tragic. 

Barnet and its Brent Cross development partners have carried out a few so-called consultation exercise here. These have not only been meaningless, but have also resulted in the production of documentation which has gone from misleading to outright lies. 

The dump – and let’s not call it a waste transfer facility, that’s camouflage – is not needed. The only reason that the current WTF is being moved from the eastern side of the railway line is so that Barnet and the Brent Cross partners can build expensive housing with a high return to overseas and other investors. The current WTF is in a non-residential area and waste is moved out to landfill by train. Barnet claim that it’s not as bad as the original plans, as it’s “smaller”. Well, it’s far worse than the current dump, which at least makes some pretence to environmental care by using rail. However, the current dump also emits pollution and is a source of considerable stink to residents. 

These plans call for a WTF – dump, let’s use the word again! – on the doorstep s of thousands of homes in Brent, and across from an infant’s school. These are less than fifty metres away. And of course, the dump is also directly next door to the Fellows Place development, a major housing development recently given consent by Barnet. 

There will be thousands of heavy refuse trucks entering, and thousands leaving. The processing and compaction will cause noise and dust and dirt. Nano particulate pollution has been proven to cause the most damage to small children - those small children who will be forced be neighbours of the dump. 

The Edgware Road is already at the highest pollution levels in London. The refuse trucks and lorries will add to this.

Barnet propose to site this dump as far as possible from their residents as they can and as close to Brent as they can. It will not be their voters who suffer, it will be us. 

And, given that this waste goes to landfill and recycling plants well outside London, why on earth does it need to be so close in? The answer is that it doesn’t. it is sited to suit the Brent Cross development – that regeneration that means we get messed up roads and ruined neighbourhoods. 

The current WTF already causes a stink in warm weather which can be smelled from some distance away – moving it to close proximity to homes and schools is utterly unacceptable. 

What is also horrifying is the fire risk: I quote from the Chief Fire Officers Association: “Waste fires are a consistent issue for the waste and recycling industry, with the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) estimating that there have been around 250 incidents of waste fires per year for the last decade, with an estimated cost to fire and rescue services of around £16 million a year.” The proposed dump is directly opposite two petrol stations. 

The North London Waste Authority themselves originally opposed this site on the grounds of proximity of schools and houses. Those houses and schools haven’t moved, so why the sudden withdrawal of those objections? 

Between this dump and the massive aggregate crushing plant proposed for a few hundred yards further south, we in Brent are a rubbish sandwich. Barnet need to LISTEN to us, not ignore us!
 Another resident comments:

Yet another senseless proposal by Barnet Council for the creation of a rubbish dump, coincidentally located at the very edge of the council limits. The location of the planned waste dump is also just outside the Low Emission Bus Zones announced by the Mayor of London LINK. Just in time, improvements in air quality introduced by this low emission zone will be immediately counteracted by a step increase in the number of HGV coming in and out of the proposed dump. Good job Barnet Council, you are continuing to actively work against the best interest of your tax payers and those from neighbouring councils.

For these reasons, I object to this application. Hopefully the committee will have some common sense and will put the health of tax payers ahead of other interests.

To comment go to LINK

Thursday, 16 November 2017

25 metre tall lattice phone tower proposed for Welsh Harp

Click on image to enlarge
An application has been submitted to Brent Council for the erection of a 25 metre lattice tower phone mast at the Welsh Harp (Brent Reservoir).

The tower, which will rise above the nearby trees, will have six antenna and 2 dishes as well as associated furniture at ground level and a concrete compound at the base.

The applicants have told Brent planners that it is not possible to comply with their suggestion of a reduction to 20 metres as this wold weaken the enhanced 3G and new 4G signal carried by the equipment. They also reject landscaping at the base which planning officers had suggested to reduce the visual impact of the tower from Neasden Recreation Ground.

Comments are open until November 27th. Application Number 17/4597 LINK

The impact of such masts on animals and particularly birds has been widely reported. This is a useful summary: LINK

Cemetery asbestos exposure being dealt with 'seriously and properly' by Brent Council

Carolyn Downs, Brent Council Chief Executive, has responded to Clrr Duffy's call for an independent investigation into the asbestos waste exposure at Paddington Cemetery. LINK

Ms Downs wrote:
The letter to you from Chris Whyte intended to make clear that we will ask internal audit to undertake an initial investigation and that dependent upon their findings we will consider whether to pass the matter to an independent investigator, the police or any other relevant body or whether there is no evidence to support a claim of wrong doing. Pre-judging the outcome of this initial investigation, or any speculation at this stage about who is to blame, is not appropriate or helpful in my view. Internal audit will be able to pull together the relevant documentation, take a view on the matter and make recommendations. If we do proceed to an external review or some other action then this work will be very helpful to the third party involved at that point.

It is unfortunate that you believe residents will take the view that our colleagues in internal audit, who bring to bear their experience and specialist skills to investigate serious internal and external allegations all the time, which in appropriate cases have resulted in many successful prosecutions, would engage themselves in a “cover up”. I disagree. I am very clear that they will investigate this matter properly and thoroughly and this is entirely the right way for the Council to proceed. Even though any proposed follow [up] action which is an executive function will need to be formally reported to Cabinet, reports from internal audit are within the remit of the Audit Advisory Committee which reports to the Council and not the Cabinet. I do hope that you will feel reassured and able to make clear to any residents that the matter is being dealt with seriously and properly by the Council.

Please also note that the attached report is in the public domain already which covers the health risks related to this serious matter. LINK

Rest assured that the council already has been and will continue to be open and transparent about this matter and is mindful of the need to ensure appropriate scrutiny and accountability.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Progress report on Wembley High Road sewer works

A Thames Water spokesperson responding to my  request regarding progress on the Wembley
High Road sewer works and their investigation into the source of the concrete blockage,  today told me:
We are now halfway through clearing the blockage, and have replaced five metres of pipe which has been damaged. We expect that the rest of the blockage will take two more weeks to clear.
We are still investigating the source of the blockage and have not identified who it might be,  and will let you know when we have any details.