Saturday, 18 February 2012

Budget Setting Council Meeting February 27th - doing the Coalition's dirty work

The Agenda and documentation for the full Brent Council Meeting on February 27th has now been published. It is available HERE

Brent Fightback will be lobbying the meeting from 6.30pm at Brent Town Hall under the slogan "Don't do the Coalition's dirty work"

Friday, 17 February 2012

Poverty pay in supermarkets

Brent Fightback discussed reports that younng people on Workfare were being used on the late shift at Tesco Brent Park. This report exposes the low pay which feeds supermarket profits.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

NW London NHS - Constrained Cost Envelope !Hospital Closures confirmed

150 people attended the NW London NHS consultation titled 'Shaping a Healthier Future' at Lord's Cricket Ground on Wednesday 15 February .Unfortunately only a handful of attendees were patients as the inefficient and management friendly LINK groups had been charged with inviting them - so GPs and NHS bureaucrats dominated the meeting.Brent NHS Patients Campaign Group did attend however and discovered that :

- the £1 billion cut in NW London NHS to 2015 is not,according to Anne Rainsberry ,Chief Executive of NW NHS London a cut at all but merely a 'constrained cost envelope'.As London Health Emergency has issued a 'Learn to Speak Lansley' guide this bon mot is a worthy addition.

- fronting the new strategy is a Coalition friendly Acton GP called Mark Spencer,Medical
Director for NW London, who claimed that the fact that demand for NHS services requires another £1billion in NW London by 2015 which is not available (why not ?) does not represent a cut but merely 'unfunded growth'

Either way - £1billion is to be cut from our local NHS.

The initial consultation made clear that this cut will be made from the closure of NW London hospitals and the reduction of other local hospital services .The new proposed strategy suggests that GPs will have extended hours and will be available to see patients within four hours.

It was pointed out by patients that in many NW London GP practices the waiting time to see a GP is 12 working days.We ask - where will the money come from for the new services ?

No budget figures were provided - but it was made clear,in response to patient questions,that Ealing Hospital is already earmarked for closure.

The next 'consultation' is event is on Friday 23 March also at Lord's Cricket Ground.Register your interest in attending at;

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Brent Executive approves cuts budget

Nobody on the Brent Council Executive wanted to ask questions about the budget at last night's meeting. All 28 recommendations, along with the cuts tucked away in Appendix D, were approved unanimously after a brief introduction from Cllr Muhammed Butt.

The budget now goes to the full Council Meeting on February 27th where Labour councillors are expected to follow the party line and vote it through.

Cllr Ann John remarked last night, regarding Coalition cuts,  that soon the poor people of Brent will be a whole lot poorer. After Council cuts to adult social care and children's services and increased charges and rents, they will be also be poorer and less supported.

Brent Fightback is organising a demonstration outside the Town Hall on February 27th from 6.30pm. Bring placards, banners and whistles.

Why black people must fight the cuts

This is from an article by Zita Holbourne published on Voice-on-line

BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against The Cuts) is a national campaign group, created in July 2010 to challenge the disproportionate impact that the Con Dem government’s cuts in public spending will have on black and minority ethnic (bme) communities and individuals.

The campaign is an important  one for a number of reasons. Among them is the fact that one of the biggest employers of bme workers in the UK is the public sector, the very place where the brunt of cuts are happening.

Despite the fact that many were attracted to work there because of the sector’s proclaimed emphasis on equality and diversity,  bme workers are highly concentrated in the lowest  pay grades in  jobs that are most vulnerable to cuts.

Public sector pay freezes have a worse impact on bme workers. They are already poorly paid, leading to a widening gap between them and their white counterparts (one that the previous government pledged to close). This especially affects women, many of whom are in fields such as nursing and social care.

Another worrying development is that the Government’s proposed plans to reform public sector pensions, which will see public sector employees work longer and receive less money in retirement, is very likely to result in deepening pensioner poverty for a whole generation of black people.

This because black workers are more likely to work in temporary and part time jobs because of the discrimination they face in the labour market. This in turn has a knock on effect on how much they can pay into their pensions in the first place.

The fact that more of us will have to work longer before retiring will also have an effect on young black people because they are likely to find themselves crowded out of the labour market and will find it harder to get entry level jobs.

All of these cuts come at a time when race relations has fallen off the political agenda – there has been a weakening of equality laws, huge cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission with little or no focus in their work on eliminating racism, the rise of the far right who are blaming migrant and black workers for the cuts made by the government and discrimination in policing and the criminal justice system.

We want people to join BARAC and work with us to fight the cuts. Unity and solidarity is essential and where there is strength in numbers, we can make a difference.

We have a political arm and a legal arm to the campaign and provide workshops and advice on how to organise a local campaign against public sector  cuts.  We have a national steering group with open meetings and we organise workshops and events across the UK in towns and cities such as Manchester, ,Birmingham, Bristol and Huddersfield. There is also a BARAC team in Scotland.

If anyone wants to organise a meeting in their area we can work with them and  build a campaign around the cuts in that area. Several trade unions are affiliated to BARAC and we work with community organisations, anti racist organisations and other groups also opposed to the cuts.

BARAC is collecting evidence of how the cuts have impacted on black communities. We are calling on people to provide us with reports about the effect  of the cuts on them, their families, their communities and the services they use.

We will then examine this evidence in the context of United Nations and domestic (UK) policy commitments on race discrimination. We are also organising a national conference on economic and social injustice.

 For further details, please call  07711 861660 or 07984 181797; e- mail or visit

Friday, 10 February 2012


Whilst Lansley/Cameron try to privatise the NHS through Parliament ,here in NW London the plans to slash hospital services across 8 London boroughs were outlined on the BBC by Mark Spencer ,Medical Director of the NWL NHS Trust.

Spencer told the BBC that with £1billion cuts to make by 2015 hospital closures were'almost a certainty'.

Spencer and other leading NHS bureaucrats are speaking at Lord's Cricket Ground on Wednesday 15 February from 9am at a consultation event.Very few patients have been invited but it is still possible to attend this event .

Just E mail your intention to attend to or telephone Emma on 0203 350 4186 to confirm your attendance

I hope to see you there

Graham Durham - Acting Secretary ,Brent NHS Patients Campaign

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Meeting on Willesden Green development Feb 16th

A great edition of the Brent and Kilburn Times

It's wonderful to see our local newspaper standing up for the young of Brent. Get a copy to read all about he impact of cuts.

Lobby against this budget which hits children and the vulnerable

You can download a copy of this leaflet to run off and distribute yourself HERE

Brent Council's budget setting meeting to decide expenditure and cuts for 2012 - 2013 is at 7.00 pm on Monday February 27th. Brent Fightback is calling a lobby outside the Town Hall from 6.30 pm.The above leaflet can be used to alert people to some of the drastic and damaging cuts that are being proposed. It can be used to encourage people to join the lobby
Please download the leaflet and e-mail to anyone you think may be interested in joining us.

As well as the cuts detailed in the leaflet, there will  be deep cuts to the budgets of every single Council department and increases in charges. For example, there will be cuts in the Council's services to schools (organising admissions, support for children with special needs,training etc) but schools will be charged more for using these services. The £500 cut for services to children at risk includes a review of children's centres coverage which will see a reduction to the range of children offered support.

The demolition of Willesden Green Library Centre and its replacement in 2014 with a Cultural Centre will be discussed by the Council's Executive on Monday 13th February. Many people are concerned that the original 1894 Library building (which now houses the Brent Irish Advisory Service) will be demolished and that the Cultural Centre will definitely not include space for the Willesden Bookshop. these decisions appear to have been made on the basis of a "consultation" that consisted of two meetings, one attended by seven people, the other by five! Brent Council obviously cherishes its reputation for full, democratic consultation. supporters of the Old Library and the magnificent Willesden Bookshop will be at the lobby. There are online petitions for both the Old Library and the bookshop. Please sign them if you haven't already and pass on the details to others:

For the Old Library:  HERE

For the Willesden Bookshop:  HERE
There are people suggesting that Ann John should stripped of her OBE for disservices to literacy. The leader who brought us the Transformation of our libraries by triumphantly closing half of them - because apparently we can now buy books at ASDA  - now appears happy to see the demise of a bookshop that provides an invaluable service to schools, stocks a variety of books you won't ever find in ASDA and nurtures the talent of local authors.  

Who runs Brent Council? There was a strong feeling at the last Fightback meeting that our Councillors are far to ready to follow the lead of the officers without question. This was equally true of the previous LibDem/Tory administration. We elect our councillors to represent us and to act in the best interests of the people of Brent, to provide and defend services that meet their needs. Council officers should be there to advise, to provide the information on which decisions are made, but democratically elected councillors, not unelected officers should run the council and they should be accountable to the people through genuine consultations.   

Brent Fightback blog and Facebook page: Brent Fightback now has a blog  to give more details of matters raised in these emails and keep up to date with cuts and the campaigns against them. We also have a Facebook page fightback and as always you can contact us by email at

Academies will damage vital school support services

From Brent & Kilburn Times 9.2.12 (click image to enlarge)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Fightback meet 7/2/12- action points

NHS TUC demo - 7 March - details to follow

Libraries - Willesden Green group to consider asking for meet with Ann John re plans for demolition of old library,reduced study space and bookshop removal

-Executive call in - on Willesden Green library 7pm Monday 13 Feb - Town Hall

Anti-Academies - David Kaye to be asked to pursue meeting with Colin Adams,NUT and others to plan meeting in Brent against academies

Barnet UNISON - Pete to send message of supportfor Day of Action 8 Feb

Graham to draft leaflet for Council budget making protest

Next meeting - oriinally agreed for 27 Feb but likely to change due to Council budget making
Maria Miller, minister for disabled people in the Department for Work and Pensions said on Sunday that she believed the unemployment problem was due to a "lack of appetite" for the jobs on offer. 

The latest official figures show that 2.68 million people are unemployed while the number of jobs offered by employers in the last quarter of 2011 was 463,000. New figures for unemployment will be released  on Wednesday February 15th. Join the protest:
Austerity isn't Working 9.00 am DWP Office, Caxton House, Westminster SW1H
Called by Right to Work

For one example of  someone refused benefit on behalf of Maria Miller go to:
The story of a man deemed fit to work while he was on dialysis waiting for a kidney donated by his nineteen-year-old brother, then undergoing the transplant  and when he had complications following it. His house and car have been repossessed and he's had to move back in with his parents.  No wonder he had a "lack of appetite" for work!
Perhaps Maria Miller's title should be changed to Minister responsible for refusing help to Disabled People.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Nurseries: closed, sold off or privatised

Extract from Report going to Brent Executive on February 13th 2012:

That members agree
2.1 That Willow nursery be restructured to enable further provision for children with a wide range of disabilities, while retaining its character as a mainstream nursery
2.2 That Council- run day care services at Harmony Children’s Centre be closed from 30 March 2012
2.3 That Council-run day care services at Treetops Children’s Centre be closed from 20 July 2012
2.4 That the building used for nursery services at Harmony Children’s Centre be used to facilitate expansion of Mitchell Brook School in the event that a decision is made to expand the school.
2.5 That officers invite proposals from private, voluntary and independent providers for use of the space at Treetops Children’s Centre as a nursery, expected to be independent of and at no cost to the council, any
such proposals to be considered on their merit.
2.6 That the decision on whether to proceed with any such proposal in 2.5 above to use the space at Treetops Children’s Centre, be delegated to the Directors of Children & Families and Regeneration & Major Projects, in consultation with the Lead Member for Children & Families
That members note
2.7 That if the space at Harmony Children’s Centre is not used for the purpose identified in 2.4 above that it will be used or disposed of in accordance with the relevant funding requirements and council policies, and
2.8 That, if a decision is taken not to proceed with proposals received under paragraph 2.5 above, the space inside Treetops Children’s Centre no longer used for nursery services, be used to expand the core functions of the Centre.

Cheers for Mark Steel as he tells it how it is

Officers' report rejects reopening closed libraries during Willesden Green rebuild

The Officers' Report on the Motion passed at Call in and Scrutiny Committee has been put on the Agenda for the February 13th Executive Meeting.  The Report rejects the request to re-open closed libraries during the closure of Willesden Green Library Centre for rebuilding.


e-petition - to save Willesden Green old Library building, 1894

As you may know Brent council are proposing to replace the exiting Willesden
Green Library centre with a new Cultural centre. As part of this redevelopment
they also intend to demolish one of the most historic buildings in Willesden
Green.This is not only a beautiful iconic building but is also locally
listed - it would be a great shame if it were lost.Please sign this
e-petition and forward this email and web link to as many people as possible
- we only have one month to gather as many signatures as possible to try and
stop the developers.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Cuts pile up in new Brent budget

Having summarised the savings (a mixture of cuts, 'efficiencies' and increased charging) in Children and Families Services which amounted to £3,216,000 I now turn to other service areas. Note some relatively minor items are not included but totals are for ALL savings within a department.

Brent Council's favourite word 'Transformation' comes up here in changes to commissioning and procurement through redesign of services giving a saving of £1,223k, by far the largest amount. Changes in transport eligibility 'encouraging independent travel to day care provision' will save £43k, stooping paying Inner London weighting £108k. Closure of day services for learning disabilities and consolidation into John Billam Resource Centre and redesign of the service model will save £433k and commissioning via Phase 1 of the One Council programme a further £402k. Alongside other savings these amount to £2,613,000 with a further £2,200,000 expected in 2013-14 through integration with NHS services although the report notes 'any 'costs resulting are currently not known).

These headings are not very specific and we can expect the details of what they mean on the ground to only emerge on implementation. A key issue will be consultation and whether it will have any effect if the budget has already been agreed.

Total Savings 2012-13: £2,613,000

The largest item here is £1,357k for Waste and Recycling through a number of factors including renegotiation with Veolia, increased use of the Seneca (Careys) Materials Recycling Facility and reduction in waste disposal costs with increased diversion from landfill. In addition further savings are anticipated in 2014-15 following retendering of the waste management and street cleansing contract currently held by Veolia.
Reductions in highways maintenance will save £100k, maintenance of Vale Farm £25k (but the Council may have to pay money to bring it up to standard for a new contractor).

'The full effects of  2011/12 saving' on libraries is put at £408k.

The possibility of parks service privatisation appears under the heading of Grounds Maintenance with a reduction in the level of grounds maintenance in parks and open spaces and a promise to 'review options fort delivering grounds maintenance int he future'. This gives a saving of £200k in 2012-13 and £100k in 2013-14. A re-organisation of Transport Services will net £100m and not filling school crossing patrol vacancies £30k this year and £40k for the next two years. Retendering process produced a saving of £75k on street trees with 'no loss of service' and cost saving on the parking contract is put at £200k this year and £300k next. Reductions in management and staff restructuring produces savings of £183k and even the dead don't escape with increased fees for cemeteries alongside sports facilities and parks £40k. (Listed in Appendix D(vi) )

Total Savings 2012-13: £3,259,000 

'Transformation' rears its head again under 'One Council Housing Needs Transformation Project. There is no detail but it gives savings of £1,670k in 2012-13 and another £1,310k in 2013-14. Similarly changes in 'Supporting People' budget produces savings of £900k 2012-13 and another £900k in 2013-14. There is a claim that prices for contracts can be reduced with 'significant impact on users' and that tjhis will be achieved through 'closing under utilised and unpopular shared houses or reducing the number supported through floating support'. Savings of £530m are suggested for a property review: 'getting out of buildings early' which I presume is linked to the Civic Centre.

There are many other items under this heading but the main ones are included above:

Total Savings 2012-13: £1,781,000 (2013-14 £2,440,000)

Full year effect of 2011-12 savings through staffing and structure review £269k
Full year effect of ending Inner London Weighting £54k
Savings in human resources through London project Athena £100k 2013-14 £260k
Reorganisation of Customer Services (Finance and Corporate) £300k
Reorganisation of Customer Services (Community and Customer Engagement) £66k
Reduced running costs of Chief Executive's Office £25k

Total Savings 2012-12: £855,000

In addition savings of £1,000k are indicated in 2013-14 and 2014-15 for review of business costs in moving to the Civic Centre

Employee Benefits Project  (savings allocated to service areas) £255k
Future Customer Services £150k 2013-14 £149k
Rents and Services Charges (savings allocated to service areas) £229k
Fundamental Review of Youth Service £100

Total Savings 2012-13: £734,000

In addition savings are indicated for future years:
Civic Centre 2013-14 £2,000k, 2014-15 £1,000K, 2014-15 £500k
Reduced contract prices 2013-14 £750k, 2014-15 £750k, 2015-16 £500k
Increased contract compliance  - ditto-

If any readers can shed light on the impact of any of the above I would be happy to publish your comments.

Health Bill Demo on Wednesday


WEDS 8TH FEB 2.30 PM - 8.30PM

Hackney Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) have received permission to hold a rally outside Parliament on the day that the  Health and Social Care Bill is to reach report stage - Wednesday 8th February.
We ask that you let all your members know about this demo. We ask that all those who might be in the area support this demo - either in person or by promoting it as widely as possible.

Please bring your placards and banners etc.

Where: Old Palace Yard,  Westminster, Opposite the Lords
When: 2.30 - 8.30 pm. on the 8th of February.

New round of cuts and increased charges will impact on children and schools

Brent Schools Forum and Brent Council are in a tussle over funding ahead of the Executive's discussion of the budget on February 13th.

The Schools Forum had made a recommendation of a 15% cut in central services. This is in the context of  many schools considering Cooperative Trust or Academy Status and an ongoing debate about the value of the services the Council provides. At the same time the Council eyes school surpluses.


The Schools Forum adopted the following recommendation:
The Schools Forum recommends that the 2012/13 Schools Budget should be set with a reduction in central items within the Schools Budget of 15% with the resulting saving being passed onto schools.
The Budget Document states:
The Forum has no decision making powers in regard to this recommendation and can only make recommendations which the Executive can consider and then decide to accept or not accept. Officers would not recommend that the Forum’s recommendation is approved for the following reasons:
• The Schools Budget is already £7.2m in deficit and subject to special recovery measures.
• A rolling programme of budget reviews over 2012/13 has been agreed with the Forum that will allow the Forum to gain greater insight into the complexities of the main central item areas and make more informed recommendations rather than a blunt flat rate reduction.
• By far the largest central item spending areas consist of support for pupils with Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN), for which the Council has a statutory responsibility. It would not be viable to make blanket reductions without impacting on the Councils ability to meet its statutory responsibilities.
• A long-term strategic plan to reduce expenditure on SEN is already in place as a One Council Project. This will deliver significant ongoing savings in central items beginning in 2012/13, so effectively savings in line with The Forum’s wishes are already being made.
• The latest DfE analysis regarding the level of Schools Surpluses shows Brent Schools as holding the sixth highest level of surpluses out of all London Boroughs. Care has to be exercised in reaching conclusions regarding this as in many cases surpluses are held by schools for long term capital schemes. Nevertheless this does not support views that more funding should be passed directly to schools at the expense of being able to adequately fund statutory responsibilities.
Appendix Dii of the document lists a series of 'Savings' (cuts and increased charges) in the Children and Families Budget for 2012-13. These include:

Children with disabilities and SEN: Reduction of £21k in SEN and early years support and increased charging of non statutory services of £57k
Increased charges for Brent Music Service £40k
Closure of Crawford Avenue Respite Centre £137k
Management restructuring £134k
Ending of Inner London Weighting for officers and manual grades £68k
Charge Target Mental Health in Schools to schools (previously LA contribution) £150k
Increased buy back/charging of Traded Services £150k
Cessation of information, advice and guidance (Connexions) to schools(responsibility passed to schools) £550k
Reduction in SEN Transport expenditure through revised criteria and application process and expansion of in-borough provision £200k (plus another £100k annually in 2013-14, 14-15)
Savings in Social Care Placements (West London Alliance project)  £150k (£200k, £234k)
Savings on administration  of Social Care management and Business Support across Children  and Families £50k
Reduced staffing for Duke of Edinburgh Award and charging for Summer University £100k
Amalgamate Youth Offending Service and Youth Service - cutting one head of service £100k
Reduce Children with Disabilities Teams from 3 to 2 and 'tighter monitoring of direct payments' ££60k
Reduction in Core Services to Schools which will be offered on buy-back terms with increased charges £700k (£150, £150)
Early Years and Localities - explanation is fairly impenetrable but involves 'end-to-end service review' and 'managing demand for children's social care', and 'reviewing scope and coverage of existing children's centres to move towards delivering of targeted offer'. £500k (£500k, £500k)
One Council initiative to review employee benefits £70k

Total: 2012-13 £3,216,000 2013-4 £1,000,000 2014-15 £834,000

While we are told time and time again that the Schools Budget is 'protected' it is clear that these changes, through shifting responsibilities and increased charges will eat into school budgets.  The Council has said it is confident that more schools will buy into services this year and is meanwhile considering a social enterprise model for non-statutory services next year.

The proposals for  SEN, Mental Health, Children with Disabilities, Children's Social Care and Children's Centres will concern many parents and schools.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Officers recommend Executive close Treeops and Harmony nurseries

The Brent Executive will consider the following officer recommendations at its meeting on February 13th:

That members agree
2.1 That Willow nursery be restructured to enable further provision for
children with a wide range of disabilities, while retaining its character as a
mainstream nursery
2.2 That Council- run day care services at Harmony Children’s Centre be closed
from 30 March 2012
2.3 That Council-run day care services at Treetops Children’s Centre be closed
from 20 July 2012
2.4 That the building used for nursery services at Harmony Children’s Centre
be used to facilitate expansion of Mitchell Brook School in the event that a
decision is made to expand the school.
2.5 That officers invite proposals from private, voluntary and independent
providers for use of the space at Treetops Children’s Centre as a
nursery, expected to be independent of and at no cost to the council, any
such proposals to be considered on their merit.
2.6 That the decision on whether to proceed with any such proposal in 2.5
above to use the space at Treetops Children’s Centre, be delegated to the
Directors of Children & Families and Regeneration & Major Projects, in
consultation with the Lead Member for Children & Families