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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Furness Pocket Park Tidy Up

Some one has had similar thoughts to me about tidying up the area by Furness Pocket Park.  The paving just by the edge of the park has been filled in.  Even though this all looks a bit makeshift, it should make the park easier to clean.


Saturday, 22 April 2017

South Kilburn and Falcon Public House

Monday's Cabinet meeting will see a paper on the Falcon House development which at last finds the Council actually trying to explain the benefits of redevelopment to people in Kilburn.  This is long overdue, and presumably is an adjustment to the Granville controversy. However, I am still far from clear as to what the process was by which these objectives were set

Friday, 21 April 2017

Tricycle Theatre Capital Grant

The Tricycle Theatre seems to have hit the jackpot with Brent Council, being offered a grant of up to £1 million in the next Brent Council Cabinet papers towards its renovation project.  As a long term supporter of the Tricycle, I am pleased for it, but I do wonder what the logic of Brent Council's behaviour is.

Back in 2011, there was a cut in the Tricycle Theatre's Council grant (although I think that was more to do with a personal vendetta of one of the councillors against the then Council Leader), and in 2014 a proposal was published to abolish it entirely.  I saw this as a retrograde step since, the Tricycle seems to me to be a key asset in the wider regeneration of Kilburn High Road. Happily, it was subsequently reversed.  Brent Council also stayed silent when the Theatre was under attack over the Jewish Film Festival. 

Suddenly, Brent Council has gone from this kind of gradual distancing to handing out a sizeable capital grant.  Why?

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Community Libraries Come Back to the Brent Council Cabinet

Coming up at the next Brent Cabinet is a paper on Brent's policy on Community Libraries, which strikes me as being very similar to the one passed in the Libraries Transformation Project back in April 2011.  Given the obvious success of Brent Libraries that is probably unsurprising. 

The new document tells us that:



"The Council has reviewed its working relationship with the four independent community library groups in the borough in order to agree and implement partnership arrangements. These libraries are constitutionally and operationally independent of the Council and do not form part of its statutory provision of library services. They are run by local voluntary and community sector organisations who have a strong sense of independence and individual visions for their community libraries." (3.1)

In other words they are in no sense part of Brent Council, and the Council has no financial liability for them, and no committment to manage them in any way.  That is thoroughly sensible.

Two of the groups faced up to this long ago, with both the Cricklewood (FOCL) and the Kensal Rise (FKRL) organisations raising their own funding and making their own decisions without any reference to the Council.  FOCL have not released any figures on their funding but they have largely completed their building, which (unlike the old Cricklewood Library) is DDA compliant.  FKRL have reportedly raised £160k in capital, an impressive sum which has come almost entirely from sources other than the Council and therefore directly adds to the social capital of the Borough.  The altered Kensal Rise building should also be DDA compliant.  Again this will be an improvement on the old building. 

However there are still worries about the other two buildings.  It is no coincidence that the Council remains entangled as the landlord in both cases.  In Barham, Paul Lorber appears to be trying to play the Council for either financial gain or as part of his political manoeuvrings prior to the 2018 elections.  In Preston, the existing group appears to be given an undue influence that does not sit easily with either the Council's financial obligations or the building's ACV status.  Such arrangements can lead to ugly rumours about the integrity of Council decision making even where there is no legally proven case against them. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

General Election 2017

Assuming that the General Election goes ahead, Brent is likely to see its three incumbent MPs stand again.  More interesting will be the position of the parties without incumbent MPs.  Will the former candidates restand?

Incidentally, those to whom this General Election comes as a surprise should try rereading Yvette Cooper's labourlist column in 2016.

Can Tokyngton Keep Moving?

Brent's Planning Committee is considering a formidable range of building projects near the Stadium next Wednesday.  This is on top of quite a range of projects that have already been approved.  If they all go ahead at once there will be an impressive amount of construction going on in northern Tokyngton, just as the area tries to cope with the effects of the extended use of the Stadium

I think residents are right to fear the consequences in terms of the impact on their lives, and I shall be very surprised if it does not become a major issue in the 2018 elections.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Assets of Community Value

I have been wary of assets of community value (ACV) as they appear to add a whole new layer of complexity to the fate of a particular property without really really having much in the way of benefits.  Local Government Lawyer goes through some of these here

The limitations of the approach are indicated by the inclusion of the Stonebridge Adventure Playground on Brent's ACV list despite its demolition.