Less than two thirds of the Liberal Democrat Group attended the Brent Council meeting today. By the end of the meeting only five Liberal Democrat councillors were still in attendance.
Historically the Liberal Democrats have always had a liberal approach to attending meetings with the worst attendance of any of the three parties represented in the Council Chamber, especially when they are in opposition.
However, on this occasion their absence follows their crushing defeat in the Wembley Central ward by-election.
The Labour Leader of the Council, Councillor Ann M John, OBE lambasted the Liberal Democrats for their absence.
Councillor Ann John said; “Every councillor receives a basic allowance of £7,974 per annum and as a basic minimum they are expected to attend full council meetings. How can they expect to represent their constituents if they are not here?”
Brent Labour councillors Janice Long and Lincoln Beswick MBE, have tabled a motion for debate at the Council meeting on 23 January condemning the decision by Boris Johnson and his colleagues on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) to privatise the 999 Control Room Function.
Labour says that the decision puts residents lives at risk due to lack of any risk assessment being carried out and having the service carried out by a private company whose overriding motivation is making profits for its shareholders.
Councillor Janice Long, said: “Public safety should not be sacrificed on the altar of private profit”.
The Council will also vote on motions from Councillor Tayo Oladapo (Kilburn), Councillor Roxanne Mashari (Welsh Harp), Councillor Krupesh Hirani (Dudden Hill) and Councillor James Powney (Kensal Green).
Councillor Oladapo’s motion condemns cuts in benefits to disabled people, which even the right wing Daily Mail has condemned as “singularly the most reprehensible attack on our vulnerable – our disabled – that this country has witnessed in many years”.
Voters have always been cynical about politicians who make extravagant promises only to renege on them a few months later but never in recorded history has a party betrayed every principle it ever stood for as the Liberal Democrats have done since May 6th.
Before the election, the Lib Dems supported Labour in not wishing to cut too fast too soon for fear of a double dip recession. Now they have supported the largest cuts package in the western world. Before the election they described Tory plans to increase VAT as a ’secret VAT bombshell’ but they have since voted to increase VAT to 20%. Before the election, they gave a commitment to universal child benefit but they have since supported scrapping child benefit for some middle income families but not others. For years, they promised to abolish tuition fees; indeed it was the subject of Sarah Teather’s maiden speech. Now they are in favour of doubling tuition fees. In March this year, Sarah Teather berated the Tories for planning to abolish subsidised rents for Council and housing association homes; now they support new council tenancies at 80% of market rents and the abolition of security of tenure for those tenants. During the election, the Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg described the alternative vote system (AV) as “a miserable little compromise”. By September he was saying that “AV is infinitely fairer than what we have at the moment”.
Brent Labour has compiled this list of Liberal Democrat broken promises, branding them the “Fib Dems”:
Cleaning up politics
“Don’t settle for low politics and broken promises”.
(Nick Clegg in his introduction to the Lib Dem manifesto 2010)
On deficit reduction
“The speed and the extent of deficit reduction should be decided on how the economy was performing not political sound bites and dogma. The time to start cutting the budget deficit and its speed must be decided by a series of objective tests which include the rate of recovery, the level of unemployment, the availability of credit to businesses and the government’s ability to borrow in international markets on good terms”
(Vince Cable, January 2010)
“We will not have to raise VAT to deliver our promises. The Conservatives will. Let me repeat that: Our plans do not require a rise in VAT. The Tory plans do, they come with a secret VAT bombshell”.
(Nick Clegg, April 2010)
Conservative Education Minister, Michael Gove, supported by his junior minister, Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central, has withdrawn £80 million worth of funding for Brent schools under the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ (BSF) programme. The decision forms part of the Liberal Democrats ’savage cuts’ agenda announced by Nick Clegg at last year’s Lib Dem conference and being implemented by the Con Dem coalition government.
Brent has a rising school population and a shortage of school places at both primary and secondary stages. Seven of the borough’s secondary schools are in very poor condition, not fit for purpose and require urgent replacement. The first phase of the BSF Funding was to cover the rebuilding and expansion of Copland Community School, Cardinal Hinsley Catholic College, Queen’s Park Community School and Alperton Community School.
The government’s decision means that Brent will not be able to meet the demand for new school places.
The new Labour majority, which will take charge of Brent Council following the Council’s Annual General Meeting, has already taken a number of steps to improve the lives of local people.
In addition to the scrapping of the unpopular £25 charge for bulky refuse collection, Labour will:
* Cancel the sale of the Scout Hut at Oliver Goldsmith School in Fryent ward;
* Seek to cancel the sale of land at Barham Park, on which the previous administration had sought to build a block of flats;
* Bring forward plans for new youth facilities in Chalkhill;
* Bring forward an urgent report on the health and safety issues relating to the dining facility at Byron Court Primary School;
* Investigate sharing services with neighbouring councils in order to achieve the savings needed to avoid cuts in front line services;
* Ensure that low paid staff are protected during the difficult financial times which lie ahead.
The Leader of Brent Council, Councillor Ann John, said: “It is important that we deliver on the promises we made during the election campaign and we will continue to make progress as quickly as we can.
Our friend and comrade, Dai, a stalwart of his union and the Brent Labour Party over many decades, has just died. It is fitting that we remember his contribution to Brent education, society and politics.
Son of a Welsh miner, Dai began his teaching and political career soon after coming to London in the 1950s, where he joined the Communist Party. He met his Australian wife, Monica, who became his lifelong partner in the struggle for teachers’ rights and socialism. Fortunately for us, the Australian government refused him entry because of his CP membership. In those ‘Cold War’ days, card-carrying members of the CP, were also banned from promotion to headships of schools, which energised Dai into the campaign to remove the ban.
Dai was a leading figure in the Brent Teachers Association for many years, in which role he helped to negotiate some of the best teacher/pupil ratios in the country, as well as premium terms and conditions for all teachers.
Dumpers’ Charter to be scrapped promises Labour.
Labour has taken power in Brent following a landslide victory in the local elections. Labour made a staggering nineteen gains winning seats in wards like Barnhill, Northwick Park, Preston and Sudbury for the first time ever. Casualties of the Labour tide included Lib Dem Education Chief, Bob Wharton, veteran Tory councillor Irwin Van Colle and the Mayor of the borough, Jim O’Sullivan.
The new Labour group of councillors is the most representative in the history of the borough, 57.5% are of African, African-Caribbean and Asian heritage and 7.5% were born in Ireland. Councillors from the Somali and Tamil communities have been elected for the first time. Labour’s councillors include representatives of all major faith groups including Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish. 40% of Labour’s councillors are women including, of course, the Leader of Council, Councillor Ann M John, OBE.
Local resident Mary Daly who lives in Northwick Avenue Kenton was one of the latest victims of Brent Council’s rapacious parking enforcement officers when her car was clamped in a council owned car park in Wembley on Saturday 10th April. Mrs Daly arrived in the car park at 12:55, clamped at 13:03 and was forced to pay a £90.00 fine to release her car.
Mrs Daly said: “This is nothing to do with the environment but the Liberal Democrats simply want to commit highway robbery wherever they can. Motorists are the victims of a punitive and unreasonable tax”.
Labour is committed to free parking for the first hour in all council owned car parks to encourage ‘local shopping for local people’.
Poor lighting can lead to more street crime.
The Leader of Brent Council’s Labour Opposition, Cllr Ann M John, OBE, who represents Stonebridge Ward has written to the Chief Executive and Director of Environment about the poor quality of street lighting in Stonebridge in general and Sapphire Road in particular. Cllr John has been lobbied by Hillside Housing Association, which has repeatedly contacted the Council about the poor quality of street lighting only to be told that, whilst the Council accepts that the lighting is inadequate there is no money in the budget to upgrade it.
Meanwhile, Cllr John had first-hand experience of the effects of poor street lighting when she tripped on a poorly lit and uneven pavement outside the Hillside Hub on Monday 8 March and broke her wrist. She is now unable to drive and will have her arm in a sling for at least six weeks.