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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Willesden Library Cafe

Judging from the half year figures I published on Monday, the new cafe in Willesden Library doesn't seem to have been as effective as I hoped in boosting numbers in the Library centre.  Perhaps, it will become more effective in drawing people in as it develops.  It is now open six days a week. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Latest Update on Brent Library Figures 2017

The first half figures for Brent Libraries in 2017 are now published, and they show little change from the previous half year.  Loans are down slightly, and visits are up a little.  The run of dramatic increases as a result of the Libraries Transformation Project has therefore come to an end as I predicted

The full figures are:

First Half (1 Apr-30 Sept)               2016                       2017                       % Growth

Loans                                                532,749              528,729                            -0.8%
Visits                                              1,204,502          1,238,246                             2.8%

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Wrong Report in the Kilburn Times Regarding Bertha Joseph

I have just seen this report in the Kilburn Times about former councillor Bertha Joseph.  At the time of writing, the Kilburn Times states that the allegations against Bertha Joseph were "false".  I imagine the piece is based on a conversation with Bertha herself.  Whilst that may be her memory; the reality is quite different.  

The allegations against were that she diverted donations made to charity to her own use, and failed to report them.  This led the Brent Standards Committee to suspend her for six months, the maximum penalty then available for misconduct by councillors.  This suspension occurred in late 2009, although the breaches occurred in her Mayoral Year some time before.  Bertha Joseph then exercised her right to appeal, which had the effect of the punishment being suspended whilst the legal process ran its course.  As I recall the appeal was not so much against the facts of the case as the harshness of the punishment.  That appeal was dismissed in early 2010 in a judgement that I remarked at the time was extremely strongly worded

Boris Johnson somewhat cynically kept her on the London Fire Authority (LFEPA) so that she could vote through a series of controversial cuts to the London Fire Service.  He widely criticised for this, but he does not appear to have challenged the result of the appeal process.  Indeed, according to the Guardian at the time, his spokesman said that ""Councillor Joseph still disputes the complaint made against her, but the mayor believes the first-tier tribunal made a compelling case against her continuing to serve on the authority. The mayor had allowed Ms Joseph two weeks to make her case to him, in the interests of natural justice and due process."  He then got rid of her, after the crucial budget meeting.

The complaint to the police was made subsequently, and does not relate to the original judgement or the outcome of the appeal.

Bertha Joseph is apparently selected to stand as a Conservative candidate in Brondesbury Park

Friday, 13 October 2017

A seachange over Brexit?

A new poll suggests a majority now think leaving the EU is a mistake.  One shouldn't get too excited by one poll, but the implications of a majority of the public thinking it a bad idea to leave could change political debate significantly.

I suspect it has a lot to do with the way the government is trying to suppress knowledge of the likely impact of Brexit

Most MPs still think that staying in the EU is best for Britain.  A faction of the Tory Party has successfully used the referendum result to railroad Parliament into voting the UK out by arguing that "the will of the people is sacred." If the will of the people changes, as in any democracy it can, that argument falls away.  A persistent poll lead in favour of remain, based on a better understanding of the likely consequence of having the worst of both worlds might make a pause or even a reversal of the exit process far more likely. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Return to Manor Park Works Site

As I pointed out before one of the Kensal Green councillors is seeking to organise protests against the Manor Park Works redevelopment on the grounds that it is too big whilst ignoring the much larger proposed development of 2 Scrubs Lane.

This is odd, as Brent has specifically said it wants the Manor Park Works site redeveloped as housing.  According to Brent Council's documents, the site would have 45 units which is somewhat above what Brent planners had as an indicative figure, but not drastically so.  An email in circulation makes what appears to be a false claim that there will be "a hundred bedrooms" which is higher than the figures in the planning documents and states that 150 people would live there (a figure which seems to have been plucked from the air).  I really don't think that public debate is helped by inserting random and/or untrue figures.  The same document objects to the lack of green space, as if it were remotely possible to develop that site with green space.

Councillors really do not to think about development in a much more coherent and consistent manor than they appear to be currently doing.

UPDATE 10.10.17

Actually a 20 storey building on 2 Scrubs Lane would be visible from pretty much everywhere in southern Brent, including anywhere near Harlesden Town Centre.  The application is to be decided tomorrow.  I also find it odd that the councillor in question is objecting to a seven storey building as too tall but has expressed no objection to a twenty storey building in the same ward.

Saturday, 7 October 2017