Brent and Harrow
5 May 2016 Vote for
Sadiq Khan Mayor of London
Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
Labour Party Londonwide

Labour Party

I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1977 and an elected representative continually since 1994. If you would like to find out more or join the party, please visit http://www.labour.org.uk/.

You may also want to visit the London Assembly Labour Group's website at http://cityhalllabour.org/.

Labour is the largest party on the London Assembly, with a total of twelve members.  This includes eight members elected from single-member constituencies and four members elected from the London-wide list.

My Labour colleagues on London Assembly website links are below:

There are also a number of local Labour affiliated websites, including blogs from our MPs and local Councillors on issues in their areas:

 

Labour Party News

Proposal for Transport for London to take immediate control of Southern Rail

Immediate release
20.07.2016 

 

Responding to the Mayor of London’s call for Transport for London to take immediate control of Southern Rail, Local London Assembly Member, Navin Shah AM, said:

 

“Of course this is the right step to take. When passengers are paying out a lot of money in fares, it’s anger-inducing that they are receiving such a poor service.

 

“Government’s weak approach to tackling Southern over their staffing issues and sub-standard performance has left passengers in purgatory. A TfL takeover is a sensible step towards addressing the problems plaguing Southern, which the government have so far been content to kick into the long grass.”

My thoughts on the firefighters’ pension dispute

I was shocked to see that the Fire Minister had failed to provide a new deal, despite the FBU calling off strikes and negotiating in good faith. Most people following the dispute, believed that the change Fire Minister and her new approach meant that a new deal was likely. Indeed, Penny Mordaunt, the Fire Minister had indicated this in her open letters during these negotiations over the last two months.

It is clear now, that the Union and their members feel that the only way in which they can make their voice heard is through taking strike action. The proposal at the heart of the dispute, that firefighters should work until they are sixty, or face a reduced pension if they are forced to retire early, is a cruel assault on those who put their lives at risk to protect the public.

 

We all want to see an end to this dispute and my colleague, Fiona Twycross AM has written to the Mayor to use his influence to persuade the Government to sit down with the FBU and reach an agreed settlement.

Permanent link to this article
30th October 2014

Boris needs to get behind National Walking Month

The charity Living Streets marks National Walking Month in May, which is designed to encourage people to increase the amount of walking they do.

There will be special weeks to encourage people to walk instead of using other modes of transport:

  • 13-17 May is Walk to Work Week
  • 20-24 May is Walk to School Week

I am very supportive of any scheme that encourages people to walk or cycle more. We need our Mayor to lead the way on this. There are a number of things that the Mayor can do to encourage more people to walk to work or school, such as implement road safety schemes, introduce and enforce 20mph zones and improve pedestrian facilities.

The Mayor has recently published his vision for cycling in London, but what we need is a plan for increasing the number of people who walk.  Walking is free, keeps you fit and healthy, and is a sustainable alternative to taking the bus. It helps keep our air clean and our streets quieter and safer. According to the British Medical Association people who are physically active reduce their risk of premature death and of developing major chronic diseases, like coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50%, and the risk of premature death by up to 30%.

We currently spend £2.5 billion a year on treating obesity, it’s time we had a plan to get as many people as possible walking more. I call on the Mayor to produce a vision for walking, so we can ensure that the future of Londoners is fit, healthy and sustainable.”

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. Further details on National Walking Month can be found here.
  2. The BMA report can be found here: http://bma.org.uk/transport (for health benefits see p27, for obesity costs see p46)

Boris ignores call to “drop frontline fire cuts” - Brent

Yesterday (Monday) I voted against the Mayor of London’s draft budget which proposes to close Willesden Green and Harlesden police station in Brent. This was the final chance to debate and vote on the Mayor’s overall draft budget for London.

The London Assembly required a two-thirds majority to amend the Mayor’s budget. At the first meeting the three opposition groups passed a ‘Technical Amendment’ which forced Boris to review freezing the council tax precept, rather than cutting it by one penny a day for an average household. This would raise £9.6 million, which could be used to keep all of London’s fire stations open and maintain police front counter provision across London.

In Brent this would have:

  • Helped 255 Londoners under 24 out of work for more than a year into work through Labour’s Jobs Guarantee. This scheme would give 21 hours per week of work experience, paid at the London Living Wage for six months.
  • Saved residents £165 by cutting transport fares by 1% so they are in line with inflation

 Yesterday I joined residents at my local train station to spread the message about the Mayor of London’s cuts being too far and too fast. Boris had a clear choice between cutting council tax by one pence a day, or freezing it and using the money to keep fire stations open. But Boris chose to carry on with his foolish plan to axe 12 fire stations and 18 fire engines. 

Boris is needlessly jeopardising the safety and security of Londoners. We presented the Mayor with a fully costed plan which keeps much needed front line services but he wants to continue with his ill-thought out proposals. 

Boris has cut his share of the council tax by one pence a day per household, but at the same time has whacked up fares above inflation for the fifth year running. If he had taken on our budget proposal to cut transport fares by one per cent he could have saved residents in Zone Four and travelling to Zone One £282.74 over the course of a year. It’s time for Boris to get serious and stand up for Londoners instead of campaigning for tax cuts for millionaires.

 

Ends

Notes

  1. The Cross-party amendment can be found here: http://cityhalllabour.org/cross-party-budget-change-forces-boris-to-ditch-frontline-999-cuts/
  2. The Budget meeting took place at City Hall on Monday 25th February 2013. You can watch the meeting here: www.london.gov.uk/who-runs-london/the-london-assembly/webcasts
Permanent link to this article
26th February 2013

Boris ignores call to “drop frontline fire cuts” - Harrow

Yesterday (Monday) I voted against the Mayor of London’s draft budget which proposes to close Pinner and Harrow Civic Centre counter police station in Harrow. This was the final chance to debate and vote on the Mayor’s overall draft budget for London.

The London Assembly required a two-thirds majority to amend the Mayor’s budget. At the first meeting the three opposition groups passed a ‘Technical Amendment’ which forced Boris to review freezing the council tax precept, rather than cutting it by one penny a day for an average household. This would raise £9.6 million, which could be used to keep all of London’s fire stations open and maintain police front counter provision across London.

In Harrow this would have:

  • Helped 85 Londoners under 24 out of work for more than a year into work through Labour’s Jobs Guarantee. This scheme would give 21 hours per week of work experience, paid at the London Living Wage for six months.
  • Saved residents £360.54 by cutting transport fares by 1% so they are in line with inflation

Yesterday I joined residents at Harrow on the Hill station and Harrow & Wealdstone station to spread the message about the Mayor of London’s cuts being too far and too fast. Boris had a clear choice between cutting council tax by one pence a day, or freezing it and using the money to keep fire stations open. But Boris chose to carry on with his foolish plan to axe 12 fire stations and 18 fire engines. 

Boris is needlessly jeopardising the safety and security of Londoners. We presented the Mayor with a fully costed plan which keeps much needed front line services but he wants to continue with his ill-thought out proposals.

Boris has cut his share of the council tax by one pence a day per household, but at the same time has whacked up fares above inflation for the fifth year running. If he had taken on our budget proposal to cut transport fares by one per cent he could have saved residents in Zone Six and travelling to Zone One £360.54 over the course of a year. It’s time for Boris to get serious and stand up for Londoners instead of campaigning for tax cuts for millionaires.

Ends

Notes

  1. The Cross-party amendment can be found here: http://cityhalllabour.org/cross-party-budget-change-forces-boris-to-ditch-frontline-999-cuts/
  2. The Budget meeting took place at City Hall on Monday 25th February 2013. You can watch the meeting here: www.london.gov.uk/who-runs-london/the-london-assembly/webcasts
Permanent link to this article
26th February 2013

Bully boy Boris needs to listen on fire cuts

On Friday the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Groups on the London Assembly agreed to alter the Mayor of London’s draft budget. The alteration, known formally as a ‘Technical Amendment’, forces the Mayor to review his budget. This is the first time for a decade this power has been used.

The changes made will force the Mayor to review freezing the council tax precept, rather than cutting it by 7pence per week for an average household. He has to report back to the London Assembly on 25th February. This would raise £9.4 million which will be used to keep all of the 12 fire stations open and 18 fire engines that are due to be cut. Monday’s vote at LFEPA relates specifically to the Mayoral Direction that Boris Johnson issued to impose his cuts on the London Fire Brigade. 

We are seeing yet more bully boy tactics from Boris Johnson over his planned fire cuts. The London Fire Authority has voted down the Mayor’s plans, reflecting the views of Londoners. We have presented him with a fully costed plan to keep all of London’s fire stations and fire engines. Only Boris could believe that closing 12 fire stations and axing 18 fire engines will improve the safety and security of Londoners.

Instead of threatening to sue us in court, the Mayor should come and speak to us and hear our plans to protect frontline emergency services. At the end of the day he is the Mayor of London and the buck stops with him. He has the power to keep these fire stations open and fire engines on the road. Rather than cutting council tax by 1p a day per household, he can freeze it and use the money to protect frontline emergency services. It’s up to him whether they are axed or not.”

Ends

Notes

1. The Mayor's threat to sue was reported late yesterday by the Evening Standard http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/boris-takes-legal-action-against-fire-authority-over-defiance-on-station-cuts-8491817.html

 

Permanent link to this article
13th February 2013

Boris repeats “sham” consultation for fire cuts

Boris Johnson was today criticised for over-ruling the London Fire Authority’s call for a full London-wide consultation on his proposed fire cuts. Yesterday the Mayor directed the London Fire Authority to make deep cuts and to consult on these changes. However, the consultation ordered by Boris will not include public meetings in each London borough, and will repeat many of the mistakes of the “sham” consultations being held for police cuts.

Boris knows Londoners are against his planned fire cuts, now he is trying to make it harder for them to have their say. At yesterday’s Mayor’s Question Time he was repeatedly asked, but he failed to commit to attend a single public meeting to explain his plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. He hasn’t attended any public meetings about his police cuts either. He is hiding behind his senior officers and deputies. He is the Mayor of London and the buck stops with him.

Permanent link to this article
31st January 2013

Boris quizzed over police cuts

Boris Johnson was challenged today over cuts to the Metropolitan Police in Brent and Harrow. Mr Johnson and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner faced questions at City Hall from local Labour Assembly Member Navin Shah. Boris was questioned about cuts to frontline policing cover including cuts to police stations, police officers and the recent "sham" consultations that his deputy Stephen Greenhalgh has been attending across London.

 The closures across the capital include: the loss of nine out of 32 A&E; cutting 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 560 fire-fighters; and the closure of 65 police front counters and stations.

The closures across Harrow include the closure of Civic Centre counter and Pinner police station.

The closures across Brent include: the loss of Central Middlesex A&E and the closure of Harlesden and Willesden Green police station.

999 Cuts Map.jpg

The question and answer session comes at a time when the full extent of cuts to London’s emergency services has become clearer. In the past week the Mayor has confirmed which police and fire stations will be closed. A map outlining the extent of the cuts to emergency services across London has been compiled by Labour Group Leader Len Duvall AM.  

Today I challenged Boris on his planned cuts to the policing and questioned him on how many wards will have a sergeant. He is cutting too far, too fast and is hitting the frontline. On top of this he is stripping back our local Safer Neighbourhood Police Teams this will mean fewer locally based police officers and PCSOs across London. This looks like a return to ‘sector’ policing which was abandoned as it was ineffective.

We already know that Brent has lost 78 police officers from May 2010 to Novemeber 2012, but the Mayor’s plan confirms that the majority of London’s boroughs will have fewer police officers by 2015 than they did in 2010. All this is happening at a time when the London Fire Brigade and our Hospital Accident & Emergency Departments are also being cut back. This is further evidence that the Mayor and government are cutting too far, too fast and are hitting the frontline.

Permanent link to this article
16th January 2013

12 Fire Stations, 18 Fire Engines and 400 Fire-Fighters to be cut in London

The London Fire Brigade's budget has been cut by the Mayor and government by £45 million over the next two years. Even after the 12 stations, 18 fire appliances and 400 fire-fighters have been cut the Mayor and LFEPA will still have to find over £5 million of cuts. On average it costs £1.4 million to run a one fire engine station.

The fire stations listed for closure are:

Belsize in Camden

Bow in Tower Hamlets

Clapham in Lambeth

Clerkenwell in Islington

Downham in Lewisham

Kingsland in Hackney

Knightsbridge in Kensington & Chelsea

New Cross in Lewisham

Silvertown in Newham

Southwark

Westminster

Woolwich in Greenwich 

In addition the following stations will lose one of their two fire engines: Chelsea, Chingford, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone, Peckham and Whitechapel.

London’s fire brigade is facing a crisis, today we found out we will lose 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 400 fire-fighters. This will reduce fire cover in London, these cuts will put the safety and security of Londoners at risk.

How can cutting 12 of our fire stations, 18 fire engines and 400 fire-fighters be in the best interest of Londoners? The London Fire Brigade and their dedicated staff do a fantastic job keeping us safe and helping us when we need it most. The government are cutting too far and too fast, hitting the frontline and fundamentally undermining the ability of the fire brigade to do their job. It’s time that the Mayor stood up for Londoners and got a better deal from central government.

We understand that savings have to be made, but the level of cuts forced on the London Fire Brigade by the Mayor and government are truly reckless. Boris’s cuts are hitting front-line services and putting public safety at risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article
11th January 2013

Brent’s Policing Consultation- Make Believe Plans of MOPAC

I attended the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) Public Consultation at the ‘Sattavis  Patidar Centre’ in Brent on Thursday 10th January 2013.


Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh hosted the meeting, accompanied by Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne to consult on the new policing model for London and its implications on Brent. The meeting was chaired by Cllr Muhammed Butt – Leader of Brent Council and the panel included Brent’s Borough Commander Matthew Gardner.

brent.jpg


There was a packed audience of well over 100 residents and lobby groups that attended the consultation to hear how the changes to policing would affect Brent. Many of those that attended appeared far from impressed with the new model on the table involving a new structure for mainly smaller Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT), closure of Willesden and Harlesden Police Stations and loss of front counters. The wide ranging questions and comments focused on MOPAC’s claim about the police numbers going up, when MOPAC’s own evidence suggest that the numbers had fallen dramatically from 2010. The new SNT model was condemned as ‘reactive’ (with 1 PC, 1 PCO per ward and a Sergeant shared between unknown numbers of Wards) rather the current ‘proactive’ SNTs (comprising dedicated Ward team of six including a Sergeant). The residents could not see any logic in dismantling the current model which was described as successful in tackling anti social behaviour, reducing fear of crime and better relations almost on ‘first name basis with local communities. There was no enthusiasm from members of the audience for the closure of front counters and closing of police stations in Harlesden and Willesden.


The consultation was described by one resident as a complete waste of time and accused the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh and the Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne Deputy Mayor of not listening to the public.


I challenged the notion of more police when the MOPAC’s own figures showed drastic reduction in police numbers in Brent, asked whether there would be alternative new and equitable front counters provided before the police stations were closed and asked about the future of the Mayor’s ‘Safer neighbourhood Boards.


I’m totally opposed to these make believe plans of MOPAC. Residents of Brent don’t appear to like these new proposals for the new policing model proposed for Brent and many individuals stated to Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh that he was not listening to the community and stated that the meeting was a complete waste of time. The proposed policing model presents nothing more than a make believe scenario and the MOPAC’s figures do not add up.


The MOPAC figures from May 2010 –November 2012 show that Brent is now short of 78 Police Officers and 65 PCSOs. I heard the outcry from residents that live in areas like Northwick Park and Harlesden that SNTs are seriously depleted. The rhetoric from the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh and is that he wants to see more officers rooted in the community and reconnect with public but he is replacing the current much larger and successful teams with smaller SNTs with the loss of dedicated Sergeants in Wards. I’m firmly against the closure of police stations as I see police stations as a community hubs providing vital access to local police.


Closing a police station in a hugely deprived area like Harlesden is senseless. These closures are nothing but asset stripping and an act of vandalism which will hurt local and deprive communities even further. The Mayor has stated that new alternative front counter in the immediate locality with better facilities will be provided before closing police stations but I did not get any such assurance for Brent from the Deputy Mayor and the Police.


These proposals are short-sighted and will fundamentally undermine the ability of local police service to keep us safe. I’m seriously concerned about the increase in crime in Brent as a result of the draft proposals. Enough is enough and I urge local residents to oppose the plans and respond by 6th March.
 

Permanent link to this article
11th January 2013

Mayor's plan confirms closure of police stations and fewer local police in Harrow

Today the Mayor of London published his draft Police and Crime Plan for London. In it the Mayor claims that he will increase the number of police officers based in each borough (p10-11 of attached report). However, new analysis shows that the plans will lead to fewer police officers based in two thirds of London's boroughs, including Harrow.

The new analysis shows that compared to 2010 many boroughs will lose significant numbers of police officers and police stations.

Harrow is losing 17 police officers

Brent is losing 35 police officers

In Harrow, the Police Stations that are proposed for closure are Pinner and Civic Centre

In Brent, the Police Stations that are proposed for closure are Willesden Green and Harlesden.

The Mayor’s Draft Policing Plan also details how the current locally based Safer Neighbourhood Teams will have less dedicated resources. Each SNT currently has three PCSOs, two PCs and one sergeant. The new model will see each SNT having only one dedicated PC and a "named sergeant". This is a move back to Sector-based policing, a model that was abandoned in the late 1990s as it was deemed to be ineffective and led to the police having poor relations on a local level.

This plan confirms our worst fears. We already know that London has lost over 2,000 police officers in the last two years, but this plan confirms that the majority of London’s boroughs will have fewer police officers than in 2010. Combined with the closure of 65 police front counters and the loss of nearly half of London’s PCSOs, this will lead to a smaller police presence in our streets.

I totally condemn the proposed closure of Pinner Police Station and Civic Centre facility. It is an act of vandalism to close police stations in local areas. It is vital that residents have access to local police stations, so I’m not surprised that local community members strongly oppose the closure of their police stations. There is no reference to the closure of Wealdstone Police station, but the station has already been closed removing public counter facility in this area with serious concerns about local crime which seems to be increasing. The Mayor’s Draft Policing Plan is only proposing to maintain one front counter in Harrow Town Centre and there is no reference to other counters being retained or providing replacement to the police stations recommended for closures.

Wealdstone Police Stn Closure.jpg

Harrow will be losing 17 police officers and to make matters worse, the Mayor’s proposed plan details how the Mayor will strip out our local Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) which are vital in fighting crime in London. SNTs build local knowledge and get to know their patch, the proposals today look very much like a return to the old model of sector policing which does not have this strong local link. The Mayor’s plans will also see a loss of many experienced senior officers, which raises obvious concerns about the supervision of police constables. Instead of dedicated Safer Neighbour Hood Team of 6 officers in each Ward there will be now only one dedicated Police Constable per ward and a "named Sergeant" (shared between Wards). As far as local policing goes this will be disastrous in driving down crime, visibility of uniformed police in local areas and maintaining confidence. The government and mayor are cutting too far and too fast, they are hitting the frontline service and putting at risk the safety and security of Harrow’s residents from increased level of crime and anti social behaviour. I urge Harrow’s residents and businesses to strongly oppose Mayor’s plans of dramatic reduction in police service that will only make matters worse for Harrow.

I doubt the Mayor can keep his election promises, as HMIC reported last week police visibility is down and this trend will continue. Contrary to what they say, this is further evidence that the Mayor and Government are cutting too far too fast.

The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh will be attending the consultation in Harrow tomorrow (Thursday 10 January), following the publication of the Police and Crime Consultation.

I will be going to find out what is happening to policing in Harrow. It’s a public consultation and I am urging all residents to attend to express their views on how you want policing in London to look in the future, especially as the Met Police is facing cuts of about 20% in London.

Please click on the link below for further information. The website also asks you to register to attend.

Harrow
Thursday, 10 January, 2013 - 18:00 to 19:00
http://www.london.gov.uk/events/harrow
Harrow Civic Centre
Station Road
Harrow
Middlesex
HA1 2XY

The link to the Mayor's office for Policing and Crime new 'Policing plan' regarding details of the proposed cuts to London police service can be found in this link:

 http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-and-crime/community-engagement

The Mayor’s Draft Police and Crime Plan which contains the list of police stations across London that have been proposed for closure can be found on page 38-42 of this link:

http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Draft%20MOPAC%20MPS%20Estate%20Strategy%202013-2016.pdf

 

Mayor's plan confirms closure of police stations and fewer local police in Brent

Today the Mayor of London published his draft Police and Crime Plan for London. In it the Mayor claims that he will increase the number of police officers based in each borough (p10-11 of attached report). However, new analysis shows that the plans will lead to fewer police officers based in two thirds of London's boroughs, including Brent.

The new analysis shows that compared to 2010 many boroughs will lose significant numbers of police officers and police stations.

Brent is losing 35 police officers

Harrow is losing 17 police officers

In Brent, the Police Stations that are proposed for closure are Willesden Green and Harlesden.

In Harrow, the Police Stations that are proposed for closure are Pinner and Civic Centre (Counter)

The Mayor’s Draft Policing Plan also details how the current locally based Safer Neighbourhood Teams will have drastically reduced dedicated resources. Each SNT currently has three PCSOs, two PCs and one sergeant. The new model will see each SNT having only one dedicated PC and a "named sergeant". This is a move back to Sector-based policing, a model that was abandoned in the late 1990s as it was deemed to be ineffective and led to the police having poor relations on a local level.

This plan confirms our worst fears. We already know that London has lost over 2,000 police officers in the last two years, but this plan confirms that the majority of London’s boroughs will have fewer police officers than in 2010. Combined with the closure of 65 police front counters and the loss of nearly half of London’s PCSOs, this will lead to a smaller police presence on our streets.

I totally condemn the proposed closure of Willesden and Harlesden Police Stations. It is an act of vandalism to close police stations in deprived areas like Harlesden. It is vital that residents have access to local police stations, so I’m not surprised that local community members strongly oppose the closure of their police stations. Whilst the Mayor’s Draft Policing Plan doesn’t mention Kilburn Police Station, I’m very worried about the future of this police station which was at one stage being considered for closure.

Brent will be losing 35 police officers and to make matters worse, the Mayor’s proposed plan details how the Mayor will strip out our local Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) which are vital in fighting crime in London. SNTs build local knowledge and get to know their patch, the proposals today look very much like a return to the old model of sector policing which does not have this strong local link. The Mayor’s plans will also see a loss of many experienced senior officers, which raises obvious concerns about the supervision of police constables. Instead of dedicated Safer Neighbour Hood Team of 6 officers in each Ward there will be now only one dedicated Police Constable per ward and a "named Sergeant" (shared between Wards). As far as local policing goes this will be disastrous in driving down crime, visibility of uniformed police in local areas and maintaining confidence. The government and mayor are cutting too far and too fast, they are hitting the frontline service and putting at risk the safety and security of Brent’s residents from increased level of crime and anti social behaviour. I urge Brent’s residents and businesses to strongly oppose Mayor’s plans of dramatic reduction in police service that will only make matters worse for Brent.

I doubt the Mayor can keep his election promises, as HMIC reported last week police visibility is down and this trend will continue. Contrary to what they say, this is further evidence that the Mayor and Government are cutting too far too fast.

The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh will be attending the consultation in Brent tomorrow (Thursday 10 January), following the publication of the Police and Crime Consultation.

I will be going to find out what is happening to policing in Brent. It’s a public consultation and I am urging all residents to attend to express their views on how you want policing in London to look in the future, especially as the Met Police is facing cuts of about 20% in London.

Please click on the link below for further information. The website also asks you to register to attend.

Brent
Thursday, 10 January, 2013 - 20:00 to 21:00
http://www.london.gov.uk/events/brent
Sattavis Patidar Centre
Forty Avenue
Wembley Park
Middlesex
HA9 9PE

The link to the Mayor's office for Policing and Crime new 'Policing plan' regarding details of the proposed cuts to London police service can be found in this link:

 http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-and-crime/community-engagement

The Mayor’s Draft Police and Crime Plan which contains the list of police stations across London that have been proposed for closure can be found on page 38-42 of this link:

http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Draft%20MOPAC%20MPS%20Estate%20Strategy%202013-2016.pdf

 

The Mayor of London has revealed the names of the 28 stations that would be made step-free and no stations in Harrow have been added to the list

In Harrow, the two key stations that are least accessible for people with mobility difficulties are Harrow-on-the-Hill and Stanmore. I have been campaigning since I was first elected in 2008 to get the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson to improve the accessibility of these two key stations in Harrow.

Whilst there is no investment for step free access to at these two stations, Harrow’s misery will be compounded in January with the cost of buying an annual travel card from Harrow-on-the-Hill station or Stanmore station to London increasing by £80 from £1,992 to £2,072, squeezing family budgets even more.

IMG_3432.jpg

I have lobbied the Mayor of London for step free access to Harrow on the Hill Station and Stanmore Station continually over the last four years. I’ve also challenged the Mayor about his withdrawal of £25 million of investment for regeneration and step-free access to Harrow-on-the-Hill Station. There have been numerous petitions submitted to the Mayor so far including the one earlier this year signed by over 500 residents and visitors to Harrow asking him to restore funding of £25 Million, previously agreed with the former Mayor and TfL, to make Harrow-on-the-Hill fully accessible and to have public transport hub for regeneration of Harrow Town Centre.

The Mayor of London has announced that 28 Underground and Overground stations will be made step-free by 2021 and I am deeply disappointed that no stations from Harrow will be made more accessible. One in ten Londoners are excluded from large parts of the transport network because of mobility issues and in Harrow only 4 tube and rail stations out of 14 have step-free access. This is not good enough.

I don't understand why Watford Hospital & Ascot Road are on TfL's list to be made more accessible. They are Croxley Rail link stations which would be funded by the Department for Transport and Hertfordshire County Council and not TfL. I have also been campaigning for a lift to be installed at Stanmore Station to give disabled and elderly passengers better access to the tube. The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) is right next to the station and a lot of people that go to that hospital need lift access. I don't understand why the Mayor is refusing to do this. This station is very dangerous for disabled people because they have to share a clutter of badly designed ramps with cars accessing the car park.

The people of Harrow will be struggling with the above inflation fare hikes and yet no new investment has been made to improve accessibility to Harrow’s key stations. My fight for accessibility will continue until the Mayor listens to Harrow’s community.

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28th December 2012

Merger of Harrow and Barnet Borough Commands Saved!

My colleague Andrew Dismore AM and I were informed by our respective Borough Commanders, independently about the Metropolitan Police / Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime’s (MOPAC) plan to change the present arrangements, in which there will be one Borough Commander covering the two Boroughs of Harrow and Barnet.

When quizzed at the Mayor’s Question Time on 17 October, the Mayor in the first instance did not seem to know that there were any merger plans for Borough Command Units. But, when he was shown MOPAC’s own map for the merger he was ruffled. When further confronted about Harrow and Barnet, the Mayor seemed to be unsure. As a follow up Assembly Members Navin Shah and Andrew Dismore wrote jointly to the Mayor expressing their strong concerns about the merger of their Borough Commands. The letter to save the London Mayor’s proposal to merge the Borough Commands of Harrow and Barnet has drawn a surprising response from the Mayor of London amounting to backtracking of the merger proposals not just for Harrow and Barnet but also other Boroughs across London. However, the letter is guarded in that it leaves possibility for changes to the current arrangements.

It would appear that we’ve managed to save Harrow from losing its own Borough Commander but the Mayor’s reply to my letter is heavily guarded. The question is, if the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were so opposed to any merger plans, why didn’t MOPAC know about this and why did MOPAC continued consulting across London causing anxiety? I was told personally about the plans to merge by our own Borough Commander Dal Babu. Why didn’t senior police officers like the Borough Commanders in Harrow and Barnet didn’t know about this? Now the Mayor seems to be dismissing any plans for merger but I’m worried by his reference to any ‘compelling evidence’ emerging which could change his skepticism. Until the Mayor and his team give a decisive direction that there will be no mergers of Borough Commands concerns across London will remain. The London Mayor and MOPAC’s plans for the ‘new policing model’ are in a state of chaos and confusion. Merger of Borough Commands is a prime example of it.

Permanent link to this article
11th November 2012

Calls for English Defence League to be branded “extremist”

On 5 November, I sent a joint letter to the head of the Metropolitan Police with my colleagues Murad Qureshi, Jennette Arnold OBE and Dr Onkar Sahota to urge him to revise the Met’s view about the English Defence League (EDL) not being viewed as an extremist group. The Government banned the EDL from marching in Waltham Forest, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets for 30 days in late October.

The Met applied to the Secretary of State Theresa May amid fears of public disorder as the EDL prepared to march in Walthamstow for the second time in one month. Members of the EDL have targeted London boroughs where there are a number of different faiths.

I called on Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to brand the EDL as an extremist group. Members of the EDL are disrupting our communities and promoting violence and racist ideology. They are obviously a far-right group, bent on causing as much trouble in our diverse communities as possible.

I think it is disgraceful that people such as the EDL who don’t even live in London and have to travel from outside the city are allowed to come to our neighbourhood to promote their evil racist ideology. We must stand together and recognise the EDL for what they are, an extremist far-right group.

The Met applied to the Secretary of State Theresa May amid fears of public disorder as the EDL prepared to march in Walthamstow for the second time in one month. Members of the EDL have targeted London boroughs where there are a number of different faiths.

I called on Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to brand the EDL as an extremist group. Members of the EDL are disrupting our communities and promoting violence and racist ideology. They are obviously a far-right group, bent on causing as much trouble in our diverse communities as possible.

I think it is disgraceful that people such as the EDL who don’t even live in London and have to travel from outside the city are allowed to come to our neighbourhood to promote their evil racist ideology. We must stand together and recognise the EDL for what they are, an extremist far-right group.

Permanent link to this article
5th November 2012

The fight goes on to keep Fire Stations open

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I led a group of London Labour MPs and Assembly Member colleagues to hand-deliver a letter to Mayor Boris Johnson at City Hall on 1 November. The letter, signed by 33 London MPs, calls on the Mayor to re-think his proposed drastic cuts to the London Fire Brigade which could see 17 fire stations, 17 fire appliances and over 600 firefighters lost across London, including Willesden Green Fire Station in Brent.

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Conservative Chair of the Fire Authority, James Cleverly, has publicly stated that only 28 out of London’s 112 stations “will definitely not close”. There has been no public consultation on this issue which threatens to put Londoners’ safety at risk.

The London Fire Brigade is facing severe cuts due to the government slashing the fire budget by 25%. This represents the biggest shake-up to the London Fire Brigade since it was created 146 years ago.

The budget was cut by £29.5million this year and will be slashed by a further £35.3million next year, a total of £65million. These losses are even deeper than the 20% cut to the police budget.

We called on the Mayor to re-think these dangerous cuts which will put the safety of Londoners at risk. It is about time he listened to residents across the city and abandoned these plans. Londoners including people in my constituency of Brent and Harrow are deeply concerned and worried about losing their local fire station.

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I understand that savings have to be made, but the level of cuts forced on the London Fire Brigade by the Mayor and government are truly reckless. They are cutting too far, too fast. They are hitting front-line services and putting public safety at risk. The Mayor needs to listen to the concerns of Londoners and change course.

Permanent link to this article
2nd November 2012

Emergency services in Brent and Harrow are being “devastated”

Emergency services are being “devastated” in Brent and Harrow with Londoners’ lives being put at risk. The proposed closures in Brent are Willesden Fire Station, Willesden Green Police Station and Central Middlesex Hospital. Harrow has lost 18.7% number of officers since 2010. Other emergency services affected in Harrow would in theory be Stanmore Fire Station. I supported a motion at last Wednesday’s London Assembly meeting calling on Boris “to reconsider and abandon his own draconian cuts to the emergency services” to keep Londoners safe.

Across London, blue-light services are being threatened:

  • The London Fire Brigade is facing steep cuts due to the government cutting the fire budget by 25% - £65million in total
  • London Ambulance Service will lose £53million (19%) of it’s budget by 2015/16, resulting in 890 job cuts, of which 560 will be frontline staff
  • The Metropolitan Police is being cut by 12% and has already lost 1,777 police officers and 1,800 PCSOs in the past two years
  • A&Es will be forced to cater for an extra 120,000 residents on average each. In 2010 there were 32 A&E departments in London, but only 24 would remain under these plans.

I am concerned about what’s happening to our frontline services. When we do complain about what’s happening to the NHS, our fire and police services, it’s because we care what happens to these frontline services, which have an impact on people’s lives.

We’re seeing the unacceptable and dangerous face of deep cuts. The Mayor has tried to duck and dive when questioned directly about cuts to the NHS but he has direct responsibility for the fire and police services so has to take responsibility for the closure of fire and police stations and the loss of police officers on his watch. The cuts are going too far and too fast and will inevitably endanger families and communities across the capital.

I am calling on the Mayor to consider the effects of these devastating cuts on Londoners’ safety. The closures of police front desks, fire stations and A & E departments will mean various pockets of London could see the safety of residents threatened by longer response times.

Ends

Notes

1. The 32 A&E’s served a population of 8.17million Londoners, an average of 255,000 people each. Reducing to 24 A&Es will mean they have to cover 340,000 each, with London’s population due to rise to 9million by 2020. This will increase the number of people each A&E is due to cover to 375,000 residents - an increase of 120,000 for each A&E. This assumes that no further closures take place.

2.    The motion passed on Wednesday 24 October read:

“This Assembly believes that the safety and security of Londoners is being put at risk as a result of cuts to emergency services being pushed through by the Mayor and the Coalition Government to the key emergency services – the Metropolitan Police Service, the London Fire Brigade alongside the London Ambulance Service and the city’s Accident & Emergency Departments.

The Assembly believes that the cuts are going too far and too fast and that the many millions of pounds being taken from the budgets of the NHS, the Metropolitan Police Service and the London Fire Brigade will inevitably endanger families and communities across the capital.

This Assembly believes that the cuts, from these various budget streams, are being carried out without strategic consideration of their aggregate effects on Londoners’ safety or the geography of blue light coverage. The closures of police front desks, fire stations and A & E departments will mean various pockets of London could see the safety of residents threatened by longer response times.

This Assembly recognises the strategic, metropolitan perspective of the Mayor of London and Greater London Authority and challenges his acceptance of these cuts as an economic necessity, with little information or regard for the safety consequences. This Assembly calls on the Mayor to commission strategic research into the formation of blue light black holes, to stand up for Londoners against the cuts being imposed by the Coalition Government and to reconsider and abandon his own draconian cuts to the emergency services on which we rely to keep Londoners safe.”

The webcast for the London Assembly meeting where the motion was passed on Wednesday 24 October 2012 can be watched here: http://www.london.gov.uk/who-runs-london/the-london-assembly/webcasts

Permanent link to this article
30th October 2012

Mayor’s promise on police numbers in doubt

Boris Johnson admitted at Mayor’s Question Time (19 September 2012) that it would be ‘difficult’ to keep his promise to maintain police numbers at 32,000 in light of government cuts to the Metropolitan Police. The Mayor also faced questions over his plans to change the structure of the Metropolitan Police whereby some borough’s police services would be merged, and plans to close police stations and front counters.

The Mayor admitted getting the numbers back up will not be easy, adding "even though it is important for us as a city to keep the police, to keep the public focussed on that high number - because if it goes down then ultimately there will be a difficulty in getting enough police out there."

The plans, which will be publicly consulted on in October, will also see some boroughs sharing services but it is not yet clear what services will be shared or which boroughs will be affected.

The changes also downgrade the Mayor’s promise to replace any police stations and front counters that he closed down. His new commitment is to maintain a minimum of one 24/7 front counter per borough.

"These cuts are deeply worrying. The withdrawal of MPA/MOPAC funding to ‘Harrow Community Consultative Group’ (HPCCG) early this year, has already left Harrow with huge difficulty and Willesden Green Police Station in Brent is under threat of closure''.

'' The Mayor is telling us that he has to break his promise as he won’t be able to maintain police numbers at the level they need to be. Boris has already cut 1,444 police officers and 1,842 PCSOs in the last two years. These plans will see us being left with one front counter open 24/7 per borough''

Permanent link to this article
20th September 2012

Brent and Harrow AM Navin Shah calls for rethink on Dow Chemical Olympic deal

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By David Hardiman

A Harrow politician has led calls for Olympic officials to review their sponsorship contract with a chemical company with links to the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah, led a move by the Assembly to call for a rethink on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) deal with Dow Chemical, which is one of 11 global Olympic sponsors.

He said that organisers should pay more attention to environmental, social and ethical records of companies when awarding high-profile contracts.

He said: “Almost thirty years after the horrific Bhopal chemical disaster, the factory site has still not been cleared up and the survivors and their families continue to fight for compensation.

“It is time for LOCOG and the IOC to take their ethical and sustainability code seriously and exclude Dow Chemical from future sponsorship deals.

“It’s not too late to clean up their act. We owe it to the victims and their families to demand actions and implement changes to keep out the likes of Dow Chemical from future Games.”

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Up to 25,000 people in Bhopal, India, died in the aftermath of a gas leak at a pesticide factory that was owned by a subsidiary of Union Carbide in the 1984 disaster.

Dow, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, has repeatedly denied any responsibility for Bhopal and has refused demands, including from the Indian government, to increase a $470million compensation package that Union Carbide paid to victims in 1989.

Mr Shah has been a long supporter of the campaign to increase compensation and support for the victims affected by the leak.

In a statement, LOCOG said: “Dow was appointed as the supplier of the Olympic stadium wrap in August 2011 following a thorough and competitive procurement process.

“We assessed all bids on the ability to deliver a sustainable solution and Dow met this criteria by some distance.”

Northwick Park Hospital parking charges campaigner hands in petition in Harrow

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By David Hardiman

A campaigner who spent six months collecting nearly 1,500 signatures calling for cheaper parking at a Harrow hospital handed her petition to health bosses last night.

Pamela Gershon, of Charlton Road, Kenton, presented her petition at the annual general meeting of North West London Hospitals NHS Trust last night, calling for increases in charges introduced last year at Northwick Park Hospital in Watford Road to be reversed.

The 88-year-old grandmother started her campaign in January as she feared patients may not be able to afford to go to appointments, and put copies of her petition in her local GP surgery, chemist and with friends.

Backed by London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah, she gave the petition to the chairman of the trust, who promised to look at the issue, discuss it, and reply to her in due course.

She told the meeting: “We understand that the hospital needs funds, but the car parks are owned by a private company which is making a fortune as I have exposed.”

She also questioned why an entrance to the outpatients department from the car park had been closed, forcing patients to make a long walk to the main entrance.

Last year charges went up from £2 to £2.20 for one hour and from £5 to £5.50 for five hours or longer.

Ms Gershon told the Harrow Times: “I don’t know if it will be successful. But the chairman did say they would look at it and discuss it.

“I got most of the signatures through putting copies at the doctor, chemist and with friends, and I haven’t been anywhere without it for the last four to five months.

“Someone said that even if it doesn’t do any good then it might stop them putting it up again, which is a good point.”

Ms Gershon, who said she wanted to thank everyone who had backed her campaign, has regular blood tests and check-ups for cataracts at the hospital, and says the charges penalise patients who have to park often for appointments.

Navin Shah puts forward Dow motion

I presented a motion to the London Assembly's Plenary meeting against Dow's partnership with the International Olympic Committee. I expressed my concerns about the Dow Chemicals connection with the Bhopal gas disaster and ongoing groundwater contamination. The London Assembly called on the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to recommend that the IOC introduces criteria for the selection of Worldwide partners and high profile sponsors for future Games that address the principles defined in their Olympic Charter, and that the IOC review their current partnership with Dow in light of those criteria.

You can watch me presenting the motion here and my summary of the motion and debate is here.

 

Harrow's Asian Deaf Club invited to special reception at City Hall

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By Katie Dolamore

Members of Harrow Asian Deaf Club (HADC) were invited to a special reception at City Hall yesterday.

The club, which supports people who are hard of hearing, received the invitation to congratulate them on staging a range of community events.

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The 35 committee members and volunteers, including three hearing-impaired pupils from Hatch End High School, in Headstone Lane, also met Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, at the event.

The group, which held a celebration for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last month, was also treated to a guided tour of City Hall and watched the Mayor’s Question Time.

Mr Johnson congratulated the HADC members on their excellent achievements.

The group had been invited by the London Assembly Mayor, Cllr Navin Shah, who recently enjoyed the “wonderful” hospitality of the HADC at a party to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Bentley Day Centre, in Uxbridge Road, in June.

Cllr Shah said: “I was extremely impressed with the scale and quality of the event and am pleased the day was a success.

“In recognition of its hard work, the Harrow Asian Deaf Club was presented with a Certificate of Special Thanks for volunteering and making the event a great success.”

Asif Iqbal, president of the HADC, said: “The day was a fantastic way to celebrate the achievement of everyone involved. It was also a well-deserved treat for the HADC members.

“It was with their support that we succeeded in organising events and bringing people together.”

The club will be holding more community events later in the year, including an Eid/Diwali celebration in November and a Christmas party in December.

Respect For All Faiths And Communities

By Navin Shah AM

RESPECT FOR ALL FAITHS

AND COMMUNITIES

During the GLA election campaign and since I’ve read with concern, dismay and hurt, the comments on the issue of Islam attributed to Ken Livingstone. Let me put the record straight.

Ken did not at any point say "I will make London a beacon of Islam". His comments were taken out of context and were completely misrepresented in the Daily Torygraph. I firmly believe that comments condemning Islamaphobia should not and must not be taken as ‘giving one community preference over another’. Ken Livingstone has always stood for the principle that all faiths and cultures contribute to the prosperity and attraction of London.  

Ken made a commitment to Londoners during the election campaign stating: “If I am elected my policy will not be to promote one faith or community over another, as has been suggested, but to promote interfaith and inter-community dialogue. I want my mayoralty to be at the forefront of encouraging dialogue.”

Any suggestion which propaganda from one politically-motivated smear campaign sought to promote was that somehow the Labour Party and Ken Livingstone are not interested in Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. This is total rubbish. The facts, if one is prepared to consider them objectively, are as follows:

The Labour Party is a true champion of justice, fairness and equality for ALL. The same is true for Ken Livingstone. I’m proud of Labour’s record which is second to none.

It was Ken, during his eight years of Mayoralty, that established the celebration of London’s diversity and pioneered the principles of inter-faith work and community cohesion. It was Ken who commenced religious celebrations in Trafalgar Square including promoting the values of the Hindu religion through Diwali and Vaisakhi celebrations. If he was anti-Hindu, which the detractors are portraying him to be, he would not have bothered promoting the values of the Hindu faith.

To an audience in excess of 1000 people, on 7th April 2012 in Harrow Ken gave a commitment that he would celebrate the Jain values in Trafalgar Square and organise an annual celebration in City Hall to recognise the Jain religion as a worldwide religion. This was mentioned in Asian Voice but opponents failed to recognise this, as did the media because it was not a sensational, controversial story to attack Ken and the Labour Party.

 

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If anyone cared to analyse Labour/Ken’s manifesto, they would find that it strongly promotes recognition and celebration of the contribution of all communities and guarantees promotion and support for London wide celebration of our diverse culture.

For my friends, analysts and well-wishers who’ve expressed concerns on this issue in Asian Voice I humbly plead with them to mull over the matters again. If they think that there is need for further clarification I’d be happy to have a further dialogue with them. No amount of adverse comments, politically-motivated campaign will detract or deflect the Labour Party and I from continuing our journey towards equality, community cohesion, fairness and justice for all.

Glad To Be Back! Thank You!

By Navin Shah AM

After the ‘enforced’ absence of two months due to the Mayoral and the GLA elections, I’m glad to be back with you to continue our dialogue on the topical issues reflecting my work in the London Assembly, my work in Brent and Harrow and present to you issues of interest. Four years ago, when I started on this journey, I promised my contribution would be informative, interesting, challenging and controversial! And the formula seems to have worked but, I’m always happy to listen, renew, take a new direction and make this dialogue more productive - so if you have any please email me at navin.shah@london.gov.uk.

With minds still fresh from the Londonwide elections – I have taken this opportunity to reflect on the campaign and the results. I am deeply disappointed that Ken Livingstone didn’t win the Mayoral contest. In paying tribute I simply wish to reiterate my comments in my first Asian voice column of August 2008: “The tragic outcome of the Mayoral election was the loss of Ken Livingstone –a true Londoner, a peoples’ person of the highest integrity and above all vision and dedication. It is due to that vision and single-minded drive of Red Ken that the London has been transformed into world’s leading capital which takes pride in its rich diversity and its historic and contemporary heritage”.

My congratulations to Mr. Boris Johnson on his re-election with a wafer thin majority and hope that in his second term he’ll show leadership, vision and ideas for London missing in his first term. Labour made some major gains across the country in council elections and gave the Tory and LibDem coalition, who’ve plunged the country in double-dip recession, a real drubbing. In London too Labour made significant gains on the London Assembly increasing its seats from 8 to 12 including unseating Mayor Johnson’s key lieutenants and came close to removing two more.

Labour ran a positive, progressive campaign, addressing the concerns of ordinary working Londoners who are struggling to make ends meet, and are hardest hit by the government’s cuts which are too far and too fast. We campaigned on pledges to deal with the cost of living in London including bringing down fares, increasing police numbers, cutting fuel bills and helping families with childcare. These were popular policies on the doorstep, Londoners voted for us to deliver them and we expect the Mayor to work with us to help Londoners.

Complimenting Labour’s Londonwide campaign, I fought my Brent and Harrow campaign on specific issues vital issues to our local community such as tackling the increased level of crime as a result of Tory police cuts, hiked up transport fares, the housing crisis due to the lack of affordable housing being built, soaring private rents and the plight of young Londoners.

 

 

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I am proud, honoured and humbled to be re-elected. I will continue to stand up for the people of Brent and Harrow. I’ll work hard in the London Assembly to hold the Mayor to account and also work locally with our diverse community, voluntary organisations, residents’ associations, community groups and other stakeholders.

Navin Shah AM backs call for tax on bank bonuses to fund jobs as youth unemployment spirals in Brent and Harrow

By Navin Shah AM

Today I called for a tax on bank bonuses to fund work placements for unemployed 16-24 year olds to prevent another ‘lost generation’. My call follows a 6.9 per cent rise in Brent in the last year and 5.17 per cent in Harrow in number of young people out of work for over six months.

It is clear to see that this Mayor and his Conservative government’s policies are failing as we're back in recession and youth and long-term unemployment are continuing to rise.

Large increases in youth and long-term unemployment are deeply worrying and indistinctive of a lost generation, as we saw in the 80s and 90s under the last Conservative Government. We must do all we can to stop that happening again.

To tackle this crisis, I am calling for a tax on bank bonuses to create jobs for 18-24 year olds and get them into work, as well as build much-needed affordable housing in London.

The figures published today reveal that in Brent:

  • There are now 725 young unemployed people looking for work
  • There are now 2695 people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and can’t find work.
  • There are a total of 9981 unemployed people looking for work
  • There are only 1618 job vacancies

The figures published today reveal that in Harrow:

  • There are now 290 young unemployed people looking for work
  • There are now 820 people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and can’t find work.
  • There are a total of 4212 unemployed people looking for work
  • There are only 724 job vacancies

 

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Labour's Navin Shah vows to make Harrow and Brent a better place

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By Anna Slater

Victorious GLA candidate Navin Shah says he has a number of campaigns up his sleeve to “make Harrow and Brent a better place”.

The Labour politician, who has held the Brent and Harrow seat for the last four years, won 70,400 votes in Friday’s election.

He said the wait to find out the winner was “tense and frustrating” because an error with the counting system meant the results were not published until after 11.30pm.

 

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He added: “It was worth the wait, and an incredible feeling when I found out I’ve won it again.

“I feel very humble with the level of confidence I’ve had from the local community and am grateful to them for supporting me.

“I was also very touched, because when I got home a neighbour had left congratulatory banners and a bottle of nice champagne outside my front door.”

He says that his first campaign will involve him working closely with MP Gareth Thomas to help save Harrow’s custody suites, following the Metropolitan Police Authority's announcement last month that they propose to merge the facility with Brent's.

He said: “It’s one of the key issues facing the borough of Harrow at the moment, because if we close custody suites here, there will be less police on the streets of Harrow.

“I am very committed to tackling crime and will also be addressing the issue of police cuts in the area.”

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He added that he would continue lobbying the Mayor for step-free access at Stanmore Station, and would try to ensure that weekend closures on the Jubilee and Metropolitan Lines are kept to a minimum.

He said: “I’ll be watching the Mayor like a hawk. The amount of support I’ve received does put greater pressure on me to work even harder, and I won’t let my people down.”

Eddie Izzard campaigns at Harrow on the Hill station

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By Hannah Bewley

COMEDIAN and high profile Labour supporter Eddie Izzardjoined volunteers and Navin Shah in Harrow recently tocampaign. The well-known funny man spoke in support of Ken Livingstone’s campaign to be elected as Mayor of London in May.

Mr Izzard is visiting a number of places across London to raise awareness about Mr Livingstone’s transport pledges, such as cutting fares and pegging subsequent rises with inflation. The comedian spoke to people on the streets and was given a tour of the bus and train station at Harrow on the Hill by Labour Assembly candidate Navin Shah

Harrow-on-the-Hill petition submitted to the Mayor

I submitted a petition to Mayor of London, Boris Johnson regarding the lack of accessibility at Harrow-on-the-Hill station at last week's Plenary.

The petition states that residents and visitors to Harrow want the Mayor of London to restore funding, previously agreed with the former Mayor and TfL, to make Harrow-on-the-Hill fully accessible and integrated with Harrow Bus Station.

Over 500 residents signed the petition.

I have lobbied the Mayor on this issue continually over the last four years, since he cut £25 million of investment for regeneration and step-free access to Harrow-on-the-Hill Station. 

One in ten Londoners are excluded from large parts of the transport network because of mobility issues and in Harrow only 4 tube and rail stations out of 14 have step-free access. This is not good enough.

Local Councillor and lead petitioner, Sue Anderson joined me at City Hall to submit the petition. She said: “Step-free access is well overdue at this major station, I have been really impressed by the amount of support the petition has received from people across the borough and beyond.”

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Navin Shah AM calls for tax on bankers’ bonuses to tackle spiralling youth unemployment in Brent and Harrow

Figures released yesterday shows youth unemployment continuing to increase. I call for a tax on bankers’ bonuses to fund work placements for unemployed 16-24 year olds to prevent another ‘lost generation’. This call follows a 126.9 per cent rise in the number of young people out of work for over six months in Brent and 192.9 per cent increase in Harrow.  

According to January’s unemployment figures, released on Wednesday, there are now 235,177 people looking for work in London and 9,762 in Brent and 4,257 in Harrow. This is an increase of 9.5 per cent across London in the last year alone, an 8 per cent rise in Brent and an 8.2 per cent rise in Harrow.  

It is essential the government and Mayor Boris Johnson do all they can to get Londoners back to work instead of continuing to cut, with what we can see, has dire consequences. I am calling for a tax on bankers’ bonuses to fund work placements for young people, desperately in need of employment.  

It was the bankers’ who got us into this mess and it is about time they paid their fair share to help our young people who are bearing the brunt of a recession they did nothing to cause. Why are ordinary people being forced to pay for others' mistakes?  

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The figures published today reveal that in Brent:  

  • There are now 9,762 unemployed people looking for work
  • 2,050 of them are under 24
  • 590 have been out of work for more than six months
  • There are only 1,279 job vacancies in Brent

  The figures published today reveal that in Harrow:  

  • There are now 4,257 unemployed people looking for work
  • 985 of them are under 24
  • 205 have been out of work for more than six months
  • There are only 635 job vacancies in Harrow

  Across London:  

  • There are 235,177 people out of work
  • 55,410 are under 24
  • 16,655 have been out of work for more then six months
  • There are 32,580 job vacancies in the capital - seven jobseekers for every vacancy

Navin Shah AM

Permanent link to this article
16th February 2012

GLA Budget

GLA BUDGET

Last week the London Assembly debated and voted on the Mayor’s budget for London. I, along with my Labour colleagues, proposed a fully costed plan to cut transport fares by 7%, this will save travellers around £1,000 over four years. We want to use TfL’s surplus to put money back in Londoner’s pockets to help them through these difficult times. However, all of the Conservative members of the Assembly voted against this proposal and Mayor Boris Johnson also blocked it.

 

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Mayor Johnson’s proposal of a 1% cut to council tax means a £3.10 per year reduction in council tax, equivalent of saving the average Londoner 26p a month - enough to buy one onion. This measly sum is meaningless compared to the £110 extra a monthly zone 1-4 travelcard will cost you this year, or the £46 extra you are forking out for a monthly bus pass since last year. The Tory Mayor's fare rises are costing Londoners a lot more, and he could make a real difference to Londoners if he supported Labour's plan to cut transport fares but all he is interested is in gesture politics.

In these difficult times when costs are rising we should be doing all we can to help people, rather than the paltry cut offered by the Mayor. It is a shame that the Tory Mayor has chosen to increase fares and burden our communities with this additional hefty tax.  

Navin Shah AM 

Permanent link to this article
14th February 2012

Navin Shah AM calls on Mayor to reverse police cuts in face of rising crime

Recent figures show the affect police cuts are having on crime in Brent and Harrow. I, along with my Labour Group colleagues, have called on the Mayor to reverse his police cuts as it was revealed that Brent has lost 38 officers in the last two years and Harrow has lost 40.

The vacancy level in Brent's Police is 64 per cent and and 46.15 per cent in Harrow. In March 2010 there were 703 officers based in Brent. By December last year the number had fallen to 665 officers in Brent. The Harrow figures show a drop from 403 officers in March 2010 to 363 in December last last year.

Across London the Mayor has cut 1,700 police officers in the last two years.

The most recent Metropolitan Police crime figures, released two weeks ago, revealed that total crime rose by 6.3% in Brent in the last year.

These figures reveal the full extent of Boris Johnson’s police cuts. Rather than embracing the government’s cuts to the police we need a Mayor who will make sure we have enough police on our streets.  

The loss of officers is completely unacceptable. As personal robbery, burglary and drug-related crimes are rising in our borough we need more police on our streets, not less. That’s why I’m calling on the Mayor to protect the police to help keep our streets safe for all of us.

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While overall crime in London is down 1 per cent in the last year, certain types of violent crime including burglary, robbery and muggings have risen significantly:

BRENT

Wounding/GBH up 7%

Total sexual up 20.6%

Robbery personal up 14.7%

Burglary dwelling up 10.9%

Total drugs up 33.8%

Total Crime 6.2%

HARROW

Robbery personal up 40.8%

Burglary dwelling up 14.1%

Theft of pedal cycles up 23.8%

Navin Shah AM

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30th January 2012

Access for Harrow-on-the-Hill

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By Suruchi Sharma

 

THE deadline for a petition to get lifts for a tube station in Harrow has been extended to gather more support.

Shoppers last month backed a campaign to install lifts at Harrow-on-the-Hill tube station to help the elderly and disabled in the area.

Tube-users supported the campaign after Councillor Sue Anderson (Greenhill, Labour) started collecting signatures in November.

The petition was to be handed in tomorrow to London mayor, Boris Johnson, but campaigners have extended the time to March to gather more support.

Cllr Anderson said: “The campaign is going really well and we have around 500 signatures now. We were supposed to hand them over through London Assembly member for Harrow, Navin Shah, but we decided to extend the time to gather more support.

“It has been very interesting talking to people over the last few months as a lot of elderly people have said they find it really difficult to climb the stairs because of heart problems or bad knees.

“It has also been surprising how many young people with small children find it difficult as they can’t take their pushchairs up there without difficulty.

“We are planning to do some more petitioning and I urge people in the area to back this so that we can go there with a solid campaign.”

Last month the campaign was backed by Pushpa Hargovan, manager of Harrow Shopmobility, based at St George’s Shopping Centre, in St Ann’s Road.

Speaking to the Harrow Times about installing the lifts last month, London mayor Boris Johnson said it was on his “list of things to do” but it was not possible yet due to cost.

 

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Sign the petition here for access to Harrow-on-the-Hill.

See my campaigns page for more information.

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10th January 2012

New Year's Message

Dear All,

My New Year's resolution is to fight a successful election in 2012 and be part of the team that brings down fares for Londoners. Fares have become unaffordable and TfL’s £206 million surplus should be used to ease the financial pressure for the people who need it.

It’s important that we save Londoners money where we can. I want to see a safer, fairer and equal London and continue my work with our richly diverse communities in Brent and Harrow.

I wish you all a happy, prosperous and safe New Year.

Navin Shah

Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow

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29th December 2011

Christmas Message

Dear All,  

This time of year gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the new year. London has faced some massive challenges this year and wide-scale riots in August proved how people of Brent and Londoners can overcome adversity.   

Next year will showcase London in the best light, with the Olympics and Paralympics bringing visitors here from around the world. In May, the elections for the London Mayor and Assembly take place which will determine London’s future for the next four years.

2012 is set to be a fantastic and exciting year in this great city of London and Brent. I assure my best endeavours to our community in Brent.  

Enjoy the festive period, spending time with family and friends and stay safe. I wish all our community members Merry Christmas and very best for a peaceful and happy New Year.   

Navin Shah

Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow

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23rd December 2011

Privatisation of the London Control Centre

By Navin Shah AM

The rushed privatisation of the London Fire Brigade’s Control Centre is appalling. Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Brian Coleman is dismantling the service and functions of the London Fire Brigade, bit by bit at a terrifyingly quick pace.

The Fire Control Centre for London is operated by highly trained and efficient staff, who believe in what they do and have been horrified by this drive towards privatisation for privatisation’s sake. They have great knowledge and expertise and are faultless in their dedication to their extremely difficult job.

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The reason they, and I, are deeply unhappy about the privatisation of their place of work is that it is a purely political move. The proposals put forward by the Conservative Chair offer no real economic savings, efficiencies or effectiveness. They are motivated purely by an ideological Tory agenda. Indeed, the control centre is regularly exceeding its performance targets.

And how will these changes affect Londoners? I have concerns whether this is in the public interest and how this might affect public safety. During the London Riots in August this year, staff at the 999 Control Centre dealt with over 4,000 calls and dedicated staff volunteered to continue working. Will that still be the case when staff have been sold off to a private company? The sense of public service felt by these staff members will be shattered if Coleman’s plans are bulldozed through.

London's fire control centre is responsible for organising the response to major disasters. Since it opened in 2003, the mainly female staff members have talked callers through life threatening situations and should be applauded for their cool-headedness and bravery. But they are not.

Instead, they are being demoralised by the changes to their jobs and workplace, which are happening at break-neck speed.

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14th December 2011

NRG councillor from UK ups ante against Dow

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By Priya J. Adhyaru-Majithia

Navin Shah Intensifies Campaign In London And Bhopal To Seek Justice

An Ahmedabad native and the first Indian in the London Assembly — which holds the mayor of England capital to account —has launched a robust campaign against Dow Chemicals, a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics. Navin Shah, the NRG seeking justice for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, is a councillor representing the northwest London boroughs of Brent and Harrow. The areas accommodate the highest Indian population in the UK (50,000). But Shah has spoken up for Indians in Bhopal as well.

He led a protest march in the Madhya Pradesh capital this week. He feels it would be embarrassing for Indians if they don’t stand up to a company that is getting space on the Olympics platform despite the disaster. The gas leak killed 25,000 people and about 1,00,000 still suffer its after-effects.

Shah recently urged Lord Sebastian Coe — a former Olympic champion and chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG ) — to withdraw Dow Chemicals’ sponsorship of a decorative wrap around the Olympics stadium.

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“London games are governed by a code of environmental, cultural and ethical values,” Shah said. “Dow Chemicals’ record in Bhopal is in total contrast to those important values established by the LOCOG.” Shah said that since he represented the voice of 50,000 Indians and because he is a British-Indian, the matter of sponsorship had a special significance for him. Shah was born and brought up in Sarkhej till he finished his primary schooling.

“I stood outside the compound wall of the Union Carbide factory, stunned with mixed emotions of sadness, shame and anger,” he said. “Sadness, because 25,000 people were killed; shame because the tragedy occurred at the factory owned by Union Carbide which was bought by Dow Chemicals in 2001; and anger because Union Carbide/Dow Chemicals to date are refusing to fully admit their liabilities and have treated victims like dirt.”

Shah said he felt deeply ashamed that LOCOG had decided to award the wrap contract to “the very company at the centre of the ongoing and inhumane conduct leading to the ongoing injustice to the victims of Bhopal.” The International Olympic Committee has reportedly rejected India’s protest and has backed Dow Chemicals’ sponsorship. But Shah is undeterred.

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“The protest is getting stronger day by day,” said Shah. A few weeks ago, he joined a campaign in London launched by Barry Gardiner, an MP, for the immediate withdrawal of the Dow Chemicals’ sponsorship. That was followed by the creation of a petition in the Sattavis Gam Centre in Brent. “We are hopeful of getting justice and are grateful for the the Brent Indian Association’s support,” Shah said.

His campaign was an apolitical initiative, Shah said. He has called for more support and has uploaded the petition at his website, www.navinshah.com. The public has been invited to sign the petition. During his visit to Bhopal, Shah launched a local petition. Indian organizations like Sambhavna Trust and Chingari Trust from Bhopal have backed his campaign.

Amdavadi forever

“I was born in Sarkhej. I have an ancestral home in Sarkhej and a residence near Adalaj,” Shah said. “My extended family including siblings and relatives, and large number of friends reside in Ahmedabad — a city where I completed my primary schooling. I reside in London but my heart is in Ahmedabad.” He said major humanitarian issues were close to his heart. “As an Indian, I could not stand by and see the massive injustice meted out to the poor in Bhopal.” TNN

Shah’s demand

Navin Shah says the decision to award the sponsorship to Dow Chemicals was inconsistent with ethical standards. The victims deserved justice and fairness, he said. “It is also important to protect London’s reputation and the Olympics legacy,” he said. TNN

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8th December 2011

Save Our Sergeants

Hundreds of sergeants are being forced to reapply for their jobs due to cuts by the Mayor of London. Up to 600 sergeants who run Safer Neighbourhood Teams across London are being forced out of the Metropolitan Police over the next two years.

In February 2011, Boris Johnson announced he was cutting 300 sergeants from London’s 630 safer neighbourhood teams and in June 2011 Metropolitan Police Authority figures revealed that the number of police officers in London is being cut by 1,800 between 2011 to 2013/4. Harrow will lose five sergeants this year, with the same number going next year.

Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow said: “This is the thin end of the wedge.

“At the recent Harrow Police and Community Consultative Group meeting the presentation from the police made it clear that this is the tip of the iceberg. There will be a 50 per cent cut to the number of sergeants in London and whichever way you look at it, this will have a dramatic effect on the level of crime. I’m not fundamentally opposed to a flexible approach to policing but I am concerned that wards like Kenton currently considered to be quiet and safer could become crime hotspots in the future if flexible policing with reduced number of Sergeants fails. ”

Ken Livingstone said:

“Police officers should be spending their time on the streets catching criminals and making our streets safer, not filling in application forms for their own jobs. These are some of the most experienced officers and rather than backing them, they are being threatened with the sack.

“This is the latest example of how out of touch the Conservative party is.

“We are launching a campaign to save our sergeants. Over the next ten months I’ll be working with every one of Labour’s London Assembly candidates to protect frontline police officers from Tory Boris Johnson’s cuts.”

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Supporting the Tube strikes protest at King's Cross

Watch Navin being interviewed about the tube strike at Kings Cross on 29 October 2010 here.

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29th October 2010

Asian Voice Column - October 2010

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By Navin Shah AM

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT BETRAYAL

Before lecturing Labour Party on its commitment to change and fairness LibDems ought to look at their own record of betrayal of voters. In the coalition government it hasn’t taken much long for LibDems to ditch their flagship pledges and policies.  Ed Miliband has been absolutely right in calling Nick Clegg a “crypto Tory” for selling out to Tories.

Since the election we have seen U-turns after U-turns from Liberal Democrats. A select list of their brain-melting volte-face include : Supporting deep and fast cuts in public services when they claimed they supported Labour’s commitment to spending in the first year after the election to boost economic growth rather than axing public services; Scrapping longstanding commitment to tuition fees – a pledge which they claimed had been ‘fully costed’; increase in VAT to 20% which they claimed  they had no plans for;; Supporting non-workable controversial Tory plan to cap non-EU immigration when they claimed they opposed this and supported Labour’s Australian style points based system and Dropping their opposition to Trident Nuclear missiles.

In the post-election period I expressed my fear that the core values held by the LibDems would be ‘watered down or even totally lost’ to enable them to hang on to power. LibDems should be concerned about how they’ve totally wrecked public trust rather than lecturing Ed Miliband and the Labour Party. 

FIRE BRIGADE STRIKE

LACK OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP

Nearly 6000 fire-fighters of the London Fire Brigade were balloted by the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) for a strike action. On Thursday 14th October 76% firefighters returned the ballot papers and of these 76% fire-fighters have voted for a strike. At the time of dispatching this column FBU have not announced date of the strike but it can commence towards the end of this week.  

The impending strike action has resulted from the controversy about shift patterns changes of fire-fighters.  I have consistently argued that the London Fire Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) must look at a range of options for shift changes in conjunction with the FBU and both make genuine attempts to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement. However, the biggest obstacle and the cause for rapidly deteriorating industrial relations since the start of the consultation has been the attitude and approach of the LFEPA’s Chairman and his group on the Authority. To date the Chairman has dismissed my appeal to engage with FBU. The Mayor of London too has failed to show leadership on this by failing to intervene to avert the strike. I lay blame for strike ballot on a lack of political leadership at the top. Strike action by fire-fighters is extremely bad news for Londoners and could have been averted with better leadership. No one wants this strike, least of all Londoners. It is because of the aggressive, confrontational way the Conservatives have gone about trying to force through these changes that we find ourselves in a situation that could have been avoided. Mayor Johnson and his Chairman of the Fire Authority have been spoiling for a fight with the union, rather than showing the leadership and fostering the good relations that would have best served Londoners.   

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22nd October 2010

Asian Voice Column - 1 October 2010

 

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By Navin Shah AM 

 

A BIG BLOW TO THE NATIONAL HEALTH SRVICE

The coalition government’s white paper Equity and excellence - Liberating the NHS’

published in July on alleged ‘health reform’ proposes the biggest shake up of the NHS London with its proposal to abolish the strategic health authority and London’s 32 primary care trusts.

Like many of the coalition government proposals this is yet another half baked initiative. The radical shake up was not in the Tory manifesto and the flagship concept of GP Consortia replacing PCT is a crude attempt to privatise NHS through the backdoor. At a recent consultation meeting in Brent one of the panel members suggested that eventually GP consortia may look like PCT in years to come! How true. Surely the proposals are about replacing public quangos (PCT) by privatised quangos (GP consortia). If I had to choose between the two I’d opt for PCTs with a good level of accountability than the privatised commercial GP Consortia, controlling public funds worth billions,   driven by commercial interests rather than patient care and accountability. The Financial Times commenting on the proposal said ‘The HHS faces its most radical shift of power and accountability and the largest structural upheaval in its 60 year history.’

Health and Public Services Committee of the London Assembly conducted a discussion with Ruth Carnell Chief Exec NHS London on the white paper with a focus on its impact on London.  Key aims of the meeting were how NHS London will be affected by changes  - with a particular attention on

  • Reconfiguration of community and acute services
  • Changes to commissioning and management structures (GP Consorita)
  • Achieving efficiency savings
  • Londonwide working and potential role of the GLA / Mayor.

In summary the discussion highlighted

  • The changes would affect every part of the system.
  • Given the changes how do we hang on to a significant level of improvements / achievements made in London when 54% reduction in management cost is sought through financial controls. Is this practically possible without affecting patient care?
  • With the abolition of NHS London where will the current functions go?
  • Ms Carnell expressed strong views about impact / issues related to London.

-          The strategic importance of London, the leadership it provides and significant role London plays that needs protection.

-          Research and development including training. 

-          Wide range of special services and expertise London provides which require protecting.

-          Unique diversity related health issues in London.

Mayor’s Role:

-          Extended scrutiny role.

-          Issues related to public health and Councils responsibilities. How will this fit in with Mayor’s strategic role.

-          How will local Councils work with GP Consortia?

-          Should the current status of London Ambulance Service remain unaltered?

GP Consortia:

-          Current PCTs to provide active support.

-          Accountability: Proposals for National Commissioning Board but no mention of regional monitoring regime.

-          What are the risks and how big Consortia should be? If small: they’ll require support services from elsewhere. If big inherent problems of bureaucracy.

-          How the transition will from PCT to GP commissioning will work and how much will it cost to implement the change.

NHS Finances:

-   Concerns expressed by London Assembly Members as to how PCTs and NHS         would produce major management cost savings and at the same time oversee the structural changes proposed in the white paper.

I remain wholly unconvinced about the white paper proposals and I support the legal action by Unison against the Secretary of State for Health, challenging his refusal to consult the public on proposals in his White Paper.  The union has argued that no steps should be taken to implement the changes in any way, until the public have had the opportunity to consider and comment on them.

 

 

Asian Voice Column - 17 September 2010

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By Navin Shah AM

The Right 'Choice' of meals for pupils

The issue itself about halal meat served in schools and the lack of choice (in some schools) of other non vegetarian meals is an important one and deserves consideration by schools and local authorities. I entirely agree that there is full choice of meals available so that NO community feels discriminated.  But, I strongly condemn unhelpful, strong, insensitive and even disgusting headlines and propaganda seen in the media. Request for information (under ‘Freedom of Information Act 2000) has been received by Brent and Harrow Councils seeking information about ‘how many schools ……. . serve Halal prepared meat. This would be the cases of institutions where all meat is Halal (meaning children eating meat do not have a choice)”. 

I’ve been actively lobbied on this issue by a range of people / organisations including leaders of the Sikh and Hindu religions with their complaints. Consideration of the issue deserves objective and honest approach – firstly to assess the facts and then see how the situation could be remedied provided that the choice of meals offered to pupils is inappropriate. I’m happy to share my initial findings based on my meetings with the senior politicians and officers in the two Local Authority areas, namely Brent and Harrow, I represent on the London Assembly.

As a starting point the fact I’d like everyone to recognise is that the schools, regardless of which borough they are in, are autonomous institutions and it is the governing bodies of schools who decide catering policies and award contracts for school meals. The Council’s role at the best is to advice and guide schools but the Councils cannot impose or dictate school meal policies on Schools. Schools have their own budgets and final decision on this issue rests with schools.

Brent:  I can confirm that Brent Council itself has not been involved in catering contracts for school meals in Brent Schools. The current situation being that it is up to the individual school to determine the range of meals it serves to its pupils. However, Brent Council is totally committed to promoting a full choice of meals in schools to its diverse school community and to this end the I would ask Brent Council to consider issuing a clear and firm advice to all its schools that meals served in schools are healthy, nutritional and give a full choice to cater for religious needs and practices.

Harrow: The funding for school meals in Harrow is delegated to schools and they are free to set their policies for school meals and choose their own provider for meals. This is neither a new policy nor one that Harrow Council can make let alone impose. The contract in Harrow’s high schools, in place for two years, and the decision to provide halal meat was based on a wide range of advice and in the interests of serving the diversity of dietary requirements within the Borough. Harrow Council’s only direct involvement in school meals has been linked to the development of the hub kitchens and the development of the serveries in primary schools. Recently issues have been raised in relation to the provision of hot meals to primary schools and Council has been consulting with primary schools to ascertain if they wish to provide hot schools meals and if so, whether they want these provided from one of Council’s hub kitchens. This consultation has raised a number of issues and further discussions are planned in the Autumn to see how Council should proceed. I urge Harrow Council to take into account the current concerns and put in place choice of meals available to the pupils from Sikh and all other communities of diverse religious beliefs.    

I will be undertaking further examination of school meal provision in both Brent and Harrow Councils. In the meantime I urge all sections of our diverse communities to ensure that any criticism they have on this issue is balanced and take into account very clear roles and responsibilities the Councils and Schools have with regard to school meals.

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17th September 2010

Asian Voice Column - 3 September 2010

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By Navin Shah AM

9/11 MEMORIAL

REDEVELOPMENT OF GROUND ZERO SITE

There seems to be no end to the debate about the proposals for an Islamic Centre about two blocks away from the Ground Zero Site. With President Obama somewhat back-tracking on his original support for the proposals and the Senate elections in November the controversy will become ugly and politically motivated than a rational and logical considerations about “American Values” as President Obama puts it and the core issues of religious equality and fairness.  

Since my last contribution on this hot topic I’ve visited the Ground Zero site and a nearby ‘Preview Site’ which houses an exhibition of the proposals called the ‘National September 11 Memorial and Museum’ for the Ground Zero Site itself. The following two paragraphs are quoted from display panels of the exhibition which sum up the concept of the project.

Panel 1: ‘The Memorial will remember and honour the people killed in the attacks of September 11 2001, in New York at the Pentagon in Arlington Virginia and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania and February 26 1993, WTC bombing. The Memorial design was selected through an international design competition that included more than 5200 entries from 63 Countries’.

Panel 2: Together with Memorial the Museum will complete the twin missions of commemoration and education, and will be an authorative source of both the history of 9/11 and understanding its meaning and implications in the context of world history. The Museum’s core exhibition will be located at the base of WTC site, incorporating the archaeological remnants of the original WTC and the Twins Towers.’  

As the photograph below shows the former World Trade Centre site still remains heavily guarded and fenced up but the construction work is rapidly progressing for the project which will in the main comprise a Memorial Space and a Memorial Museum. 

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The Memorial space will be dominated by massive pools, featuring 30 foot waterfalls cascading down their sides, situated within the footprints of the original Twin Towers. Around the edges of the waterfalls the names of the nearly 3000 innocent victims of September 11 attack on this site and also February 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. The area will be landscaped with groves of trees creating a special place of remembrance.  A new World Trade Centre planned to be the tallest building in the United States is also proposed on this site.

The Museum will offer visitors the opportunity to deepen their experience at the site. It will house monumental artefacts from September 11 events and tell the story of loss, compassion reckoning and recovery. And, as the literature for the proposal states the Museum will demonstrate  “the consequences of terrorism….. and affirm a commitment to the fundamental values of human life.  

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3rd September 2010