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

The London Assembly

The London Assembly was created in 2000 as the political part of the GLA, designed to scrutinise the Mayor's policies and hold him to account.

There are 25 seats on the Assembly, split between five parties. Assembly Members are elected to the Assembly through the Additional Member System (AMS) 16 members, including myself, are elected in constituencies of 2-3 London Boroughs using a First Past The Post system, where the person with the most votes wins the constituency seat. 9 members are ‘Londonwide’ proportional members, elected from ‘top-up’ party lists. The electorate vote for a party on a separate ballot and these votes are distributed proportionally among the parties, according to the share of the vote. Londonwide members therefore do not have a ‘constituency’ but represent the city as a whole.

You can find out more about my constituency, Brent and Harrow here.

The Assembly is not a parliament in that we do not 'vote' on the Mayor's policies, and so the Mayor does not need the approval of the Assembly to put his powers into action. However, the Assembly has a number of mechanisms with which to scrutinise the Mayor.

To mark ten years of the London Assembly, the GLA has produced a special report highlighting the work of the Assembly since 2000. You can download it here PDF.

Passing the Budget

The Assembly has the power to stop and amend the Mayor's annual budget for the GLA. The budget provides funds for all GLA services and includes the Council Tax precept and central government grant. The opposition groups criticise the Mayor's proposals and propose their own budgets. To defeat a Mayoral budget, two-thirds of the Assembly must vote against it. In reality, with the proportionally representative electoral system in use for GLA elections, this proves a high threshold. No Mayoral budget has been defeated since the establishment of the GLA in 2000.

Mayor's Question Time

Ten times a year, the Assembly formally tables oral and written questions to the Mayor on his policies and areas of London life, which he then answers and debates with Assembly Members during Mayor's Question Time. Mayor's Question Time allows Assembly Members to highlight, criticise and argue with an element of Mayoral policy, or inform the Mayor how this policy is working, or sn't, in their area. You can find the answers to my Mayoral Questions here or you may prefer to search the questions and answers for a particular issue on the GLA website.

If you would like to suggest a question for the Mayor, why not contact me?

Committees

The Assembly has established committees where Assembly Members scrutinise policy areas in greater detail, similar to Select Committees in the House of Commons. The Committees have also worked to examine and bring greater attention to issues in London, for example the Health and Public Services Committee was the first to call for the introduction of a partial smoking ban in 2002.

I currently sit on the Planning Committee and Environment Committee. You can find out more on the work of these Committees in my News section.

You can find out more about the Committee structure of the Assembly, find copies of past investigations and contribute to current ones through the Committee section of the GLA website.

The Assembly has the following Committees:

London Assembly News

I urge Brent and Harrow residents to have their say on Brexit as negotiations continue

 

A year on from Brexit, now that people have had some time to process the result, we want to hear what people’s thoughts and concerns are as we start to move through the negotiations.

 

I’m keen that the voices of Brent and Harrow residents, businesses and stakeholders are heard – so it is important that you spare some time to complete the survey. I’ll be asking the Mayor to ensure local priorities are fed through to Ministers and are truly taken on board.

 

I look forward to receiving your responses.

 

The survey is available here: https://www.surveygizmo.eu/s3/90041208/Brexit

“Heartless” Government targets most vulnerable with benefit changes

The changes to tax and welfare introduced by the Government this week will penalise some of the most vulnerable people in London, including children. The changes will also affect people with disabilities, young people, and bereaved families. I have urged the Government to “think again”, and said those who need advice about how they are impacted by the changes should contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. 

One area seeing major changes is Child Tax Credits, which provide up to £2,780 a year per child for families with children on low-incomes. Future payments will be now by cut by £545, and a two child limit has been introduced meaning families will not receive any further support if they have more than two children, unless at least one of their children was born before 6th April of this year. Latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs show that 158,700 children in London are in families who are in receipt of Child Tax Credits, with 8,200 of those living in Brent and 4,800 of those living in Harrow. 32% of children in Brent already live in poverty and the figure in Harrow is 26.6% after housing costs are taken into account. This is a figure that Mr Shah believes could rise as a result of the Government’s changes.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is paid to people whose disabilities mean that they either cannot work at all, or need more support to stay in their jobs, will also be subject to cuts. People with disabilities who are deemed fit for ‘work related activity’ under ESA will lose almost £30 a week. There will be a complete withdrawal of housing benefit for those aged 18-21 who are out of work, and bereaved families will also be hit. Previously, families with children in which one parent died would receive just under £500 per month until the youngest child leaves full-time education. These payments have now been cut to £350 per month and will stop 18 months after the parent’s death, regardless of the age of their children.

Research from the Resolution Foundation has found that richer households will be unaffected whilst poorer households will lose out. London has the biggest gap between the richest and poorest residents in the country, and 27% of Londoners live in poverty after housing costs are taken into account.

These punitive cuts will leave many Londoners financially worse off, including the most vulnerable.

London’s high cost of living means that many people are dependent on child tax credits, housing benefit and Employment Support Allowance to get by. Amongst those penalised most severely by these cuts are families, people with disabilities, young people and the bereaved.

This is a heartless move from the Government who should be making life easier for those who are struggling, not making things harder. The 30 pence increase in the National Minimum Wage from £7.20 to £7.50 will do very little to bring Londoners out of poverty, especially in the context of these other changes.

Unsurprisingly, these changes will see the richest protected whilst the poorest lose. The Prime Minister needs to think again if this is what she considers an economy that works for everyone. I would urge anyone that needs advice about the changes to visit their local Citizens Advice Bureau.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-    Changes include:

  • Two-child limit on child tax credit, from 6th April;
  • Scrapping the “family element” of child tax credit for all families except those with a child born before 6th April;
  • Employment and Support Allowance claimants in the Work-Related Activity group (WRAG) will get £29.05 less per week;
  • Housing benefit scrapped for jobseekers aged 18-21, from 1st April;
  • New Bereavement Support Payment. Lump sum given to grieving families will increase from £2,000 to £3,500, but weekly taxable benefit of £112 (up until the youngest child leaves education) will be cut to £350 a month (with a time limit of 18 months), from 6th April. £500 per month figure is calculated by multiplying £112 by 52 and dividing by 12;
  • A report from End Child Poverty shows the number of children in poverty;
  • A report from the Resolution Foundation found that incoming tax and benefit changes will leave poorer households worse off, whilst richer households unaffected by benefit changes will be better off;

Mayor taking knife crime in Brent and Harrow “extremely seriously”

The Mayor of London has given assurances that he is taking serious youth violence and knife crime in Brent “extremely seriously”. I wrote to the Mayor to raise my concerns about rising knife crime in my constituency. 

The Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan, published on Monday (20th March), allows the Met to prioritise work based on local need. In his letter, Sadiq Khan said his Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, had met with local police and council chiefs to discuss priorities for the borough. He said serious youth violence in Brent had been specifically discussed.

The Mayor’s Knife Crime Strategy is due to be published in June. The Mayor has told me that he will focus his resources on tackling London’s gangs, cracking down on shops selling knives, and delivering more robust community payback for those found to be carrying knives. Schools and communities will also have a role in knife crime prevention and early intervention.

The Mayor agreed with me that serious youth violence and knife crime has become a “growing threat”. He labelled the increase in incidents as “absolutely unacceptable to me as Mayor, as a Londoner and as a father of two teenage daughters growing up in our city.”

At Mayor’s Question Time on 29 March at City Hall, I raised concerns that policing cuts and the possibility that London could miss out as part of the government’s funding formula review could put pressure on local police services. In his response, the Mayor warned if London misses out on the funding it requires “then that’ll affect the service that areas like Harrow and Brent will receive, I’m afraid.”

It is reassuring to receive this strong response from the Mayor. We know that lives have been tragically lost, families are suffering and our community has been blighted, all as a result of knife crime. We need to do everything possible to rid our local area of these awful crimes.

We’ll have more information once the knife crime strategy is published this summer, but the Mayor has given a clear indication that he is prepared to take tough action to reverse the rise in knife crime and serious youth violence. I’m particularly pleased that schools and communities will have a role to play in addressing knife crime.

Mayor's Air Quality Plans

There has been much misinformation over the past week following the announcement of the Mayor’s ‘T’ charge, not least from other Assembly Members in City Hall.

First, let me lay out the situation we find ourselves in. The air quality in London is nothing less than a public health emergency. After years of inaction from the previous Mayor, we have some of the most polluted air in Europe. We can attribute nearly 10,000 premature deaths a year and a wide range of other serious health problems to the poor air quality in our capital. The lungs of our children are not developing properly. This is tragic and it is shameful.

The new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, makes no apologies for wanting to tackle this crisis. He is extending the ultra-low emission zone beyond the congestion zone up to the North and South Circular roads. This will benefit 3.8 million Londoners, as opposed to the 136,000 that live in the current congestion zone. I want this zone to extend even further, to cover all of London. He is introducing a T-charge to discourage the dirtiest and most polluting vehicles from travelling into Central London. He is lobbying the government for a diesel scrappage scheme. In short, he is taking much needed radical action to stop this silent killer.

If we take no action, we display a willingness to overlook the need to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our city - including our children. Action is required, and it is required now.

Permanent link to this article
24th February 2017

I support Mayor’s call to introduce a ‘dirty’ diesel scrappage scheme

This week, hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals wrote to the Prime Minister urging the government to remove diesel vehicles as soon as possible as they are causing a “health emergency.”  

Department for Transport figures show that of the 101103 total number of cars in Harrow, 30166 are run on diesel. This is lower than the Londonwide average of 31%. Wheares in Brent the figures are higher than the Londonwide average with 92925 total number of cars in Brent, 30166 are run on diesel.

In 2012, the World Health Organisation classified diesel exhaust as a ‘definite carcinogen’. This was followed by a 2014 report from Transport for London (TfL) which cited that the growing popularity of diesel was a contributing factor in London’s failure to comply with EU air pollution limits. Warnings also came that year from Dr Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London, that some diesel emissions, such as black carbon, can have a “much bigger health impact” than other pollutants.


Earlier this week, the campaign group ‘Doctors against Diesel’ said the vehicles could cause “irreversible lung damage” to children, and pointed out that the government’s own chief medical officer has said diesel vehicles should be phased out. The letter, which was sent to the Prime Minister, was signed by professors of paediatrics and public health from universities including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary, and the Faculty of Public Health.

This week the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced he has put proposals to the government for a national ‘dirty’ diesel scrappage fund to financially compensate low income motorists changing their car to a cleaner model. It is hoped such a scheme will help tackle the capital’s toxic air.

Having almost 30000 diesel cars on Harrow roads and also 30000 diesel cars on Brent roads undoubtedly poses a significant risk to the health of residents.

Many car owners will have bought diesel cars in good faith, when the evidence suggested diesel cars were better for the environment. With more recent evidence showing diesel to have numerous public health risks it’s only right that we do everything possible to reduce the number of these cars on our roads.  

I welcome the Mayor’s call to introduce a scrappage scheme, and I urge the government to act quickly. This is a serious health risk which demands a serious – and timely – response.

ENDS

Notes

  • The Department for Transport figures show that as of September 2016 there are 29817 diesel cars and 67542 petrol cars in Harrow; The figures in Brent for this period are 30166 diesel cars and 57915 petrol cars;

  • Across the 32 London Boroughs there are 817,151 diesel cars and 1,775,919 petrol cars;

  • Diesel was classified as a “definite carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation, in 2012.

  • Transport for London’s Transport Emissions Roadmap report in September 2014 stated that London’s failure to comply with EU air pollution legal limits was “partly a result of the increasing popularity of diesel engines”. See page 3.

  • Dr Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London told the London Assembly’s Environment Committee on 6th November 2014 that some diesel emissions, such as black carbon, can have a “bigger health impact” than other pollutants. His comments can be found on page 5.

  • The Mayor’s proposals include a credit scheme valued at £2,000 to help low-income households in cities (those with incomes lower than £231.60 per week after housing costs) scrap up to 130,000 polluting cars, with incentives for car clubs (costing approximately £260 million in London);

  • The Doctors Against Diesel campaign group sent a copy of their letter to The Times. You can see the full details here;

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16th February 2017

You are welcome here

This week the London Assembly praised the Mayor for his “immediate and unequivocal condemnation” of President Trump’s travel ban. The ban, which restricts travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim countries, was described as “cruel and discriminatory”

The controversial ban applies to seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. President Trump’s Executive Order, which has been temporarily halted subject to further legal proceedings, stops any individual who was born in – and is travelling from - one of these countries from entering the United States.

I welcome the Mayor of London’s “immediate and unequivocal condemnation” of the travel ban. It called on Mayor Khan to make representations to the UK Government to ensure that any future trade agreement with the US will be a fair deal for London and the UK. It was passed by a vote of 13 to 1, with the Conservative Assembly Members abstaining.

It is vital that we, in the most diverse city in the world, make it absolutely clear that we condemn the recent travel restrictions implemented by Donald Trump. I am proud to have voted for this motion.


The travel ban is cruel and discriminatory. It panders to people's fear and prejudice, and can make people born in those countries feel targeted and discriminated against. I want to send a clear message to those living in Brent and Harrow who were born in one of the so-called ‘banned’ countries: you are welcome here.

The Government's response to it has been feeble, perhaps for fear of offending Donald Trump. We need them to unequivocally condemn the travel ban, and take real action to ensure our capital is not going to be adversely affected.

 

ENDS

Notes

  • The full text of the motion from Fiona Twycross AM is as follows:

    “This Assembly welcomes the Mayor’s immediate and unequivocal condemnation of the US President’s decision to ban travel to the US for people of several, predominantly Muslim, nationalities.  We welcome the Mayor’s comments that any travel ban based on nationality or religion, including bans on Israeli citizens, “is shameful and cruel”. London should always be a city that espouses the global values of tolerance, diversity and freedom. London is one of the most diverse cities in the world and many of its residents could be affected by the restrictions – be it for personal reasons, or business.

    This Assembly fears that that this decision establishes the direction of travel for Donald Trump’s presidency and we are concerned about future agreements between the US and UK and their impact on London; not only in regard to travel, but future trade agreements as well.

    We therefore call on the Mayor to make representations to the UK Government to ensure that any future trade agreement with the US will be a fair deal for London and the UK. This includes a careful examination of the potential impact of the deal to vital services, such as the NHS, and assurances that standards for imported goods and services will be maintained, not reduced to meet levels used in the US. The Government should not let the urgent need to establish new trade deals weaken its hand in these negotiations.”

  • All Labour AMs present voted for the motion, as did the two Green AMs and the Liberal Democrat AM. The one UKIP AM present voted against, and all Conservative AMs present abstained;

  • The figures are taken from the 2011 census and the specific figures for banned countries in [BOROUGH] are as follows: Iraq [XXX], Iran [XXX], Libya [XXX], Somalia [XXX], Sudan [XXX], Syria [XXX], and Yemen [XXX];

  • The US Government has confirmed that any individual who holds a British passport can still travel to America from one of the banned countries as long as they use their British passport;

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9th February 2017

Londoners urged to hand in firearms as gun crime soars in Harrow

The Metropolitan Police has launched a #giveupyourgun campaign as part of weeklong firearm surrender. The campaign will give people in Harrow the opportunity to safely dispose of firearms, imitation weapons or ammunition without having to give their details to police. The most recent figures show gun crime in Harrow is up by 60%.

Figures obtained from the Metropolitan Police show there were 56 gun crimes committed in Harrow in 2016, up from 35 in 2015. Across London, there were 420 more gun crimes in the last year – an increase of 22%.

The campaign, which is part of the Met’s ongoing work to reduce gun crime and remove illegal weapons from the streets of London, began on Monday, 6 February and runs until 2300hrs on Sunday, 12 February. Firearms and ammunition can be taken to Harrow Police Station, which is open 24 hours a day.

It is extremely worrying to see gun crime going up in Harrow and across the capital. Every single incident brings misery to the individuals involved, and to their friends and families.

I would urge anyone reading this who is in possession of a firearm – or knows someone who is – to hand it in at Harrow Police Station. You won’t have to leave your details, and you’ll help to make our community safer.

Gun crime is a serious problem in our city, and schemes like this are vital to tackling it.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-       Rolling 12 month gun crime figures by borough can be found here;

-       Metropolitan Police data show there were 56 gun crimes committed in Harrow in 2016, up from 35 in 2015;

-       A map showing the 24 hour stations in each borough is here;

-       Gun Crime is crime (Violence Against the Person, Robbery, Burglary and Sexual Offences) in which guns are used. A gun is taken to be involved in an offence if it is fired, used as a blunt instrument to cause injury to a person, or used as a threat. Where the victim is convinced of the presence of a firearm, even if it is concealed, and there is evidence to of the suspect's intention to create this impression, then the incident counts. Both real, and fake firearms, and air weapons are counted within this category. (Metropolitan Police).

-       Any antique or decommissioned weapons which have the potential to be reactivated, and any loose ammunition, can also be handed in to police.

-       If anyone has any information about someone who they believe is in possession of an illegal gun, they can ring police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

-  

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7th February 2017

My comments on the knife attacks in Brent

The knife attacks that blighted our borough since Christmas, including the tragic death of a 15 year old school boy, bring home the need to urgently curb this trend of increasing violence.

The lack of explanation for rising knife crime is deeply frustrating. Knife crime is a complex issue, without straight forward resolution.

Mayor Khan has made tackling these atrocities a key priority and has promised a knife crime strategy. This must be broad ranging and must deliver on his pledge to focus on prevention.

We need a conversation with young people about the dangers of carrying knives, about how we relieve peer pressure, and about the need to report violent acts. We need to consider how to use stop and search both appropriately and effectively, and the roll out of body cameras should help to achieve this.

All of this depends on trust, on a continuous dialogue with communities, and it’s why the Mayor’s decision to bolster neighbourhood policing is so important.

It’s a minority that carries out knife crime, but as we’ve seen, they do so with devastating effect. We must act now.

Yours,

Navin

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27th January 2017

Mayor promises to tackle gender pay gap at London Legacy Development Corporation

The Mayor of London’s recent gender audit revealed that while women make up two thirds of the LLDC’s workforce, the pay gap between men and women 35% - significantly higher than the 9.4% gap which exists nationally.

 

Urgent work needs to be done to address the gender pay gap in the LLDC, which is much greater than other London bodies including the Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police. Mayor Khan said it was 'unacceptable', and that appointments to the LLDC board in 2017 will be gender balanced. Other measures planned include reviewing titles of roles and name blind recruitment. Further initiatives will be published in the Greater London Authority (GLA) Action Plan next year.

 

I welcome the Mayor’s announcement that he will work towards ensuring there is a gender balance on the LLDC, and support his actions to recruit and promote more women. I look forward to seeing more initiatives in the upcoming GLA action plan which I will monitor closely.

 

I secured a commitment from Sadiq Khan at Mayor’s Question Time that action would be taken to address the gender pay gap at the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

ENDS 

Notes

  • I questioned the Mayor of London on the gender pay gap at the LLDC today (Wednesday) at Mayor’s Question Time of the London Assembly. A webcast can be found here. His Question to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, comes at about 2:56:08;
Permanent link to this article
19th December 2016

Christmas comes early as Harrow-on-the-Hill station is finally granted step-free access

Harrow-on-the-Hill station will be made step-free, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced today. 

The Mayor of London has announced a £200m investment in step-free access on London Underground over the next five years, with Harrow-on-the-Hill station the first in line for step-free alongside Newbury Park Station in Redbridge. The draft Transport for London (TfL) Business Plan is committed to making over 30 additional Tube stations step-free by 2021/22.    

I welcome Mayor Khan’s early Christmas present to the people of Harrow. Local residents and community groups such as Harrow Association of Disabled People, Harrow Mencap and Age UK-Harrow have been campaigning to improve accessibility at this station for at least 10 years. This win is going to make life easier for many residents, including parents with prams and those with disabilities.

The previous Mayor, Boris Johnson halted plans to make this station accessible and failed to listen to growing concerns about poor accessibility of this station. In stark contrast, Mayor Khan and the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross have acted swiftly and recognised the importance of making Harrow-on-the-Hill station step-free since arriving at City Hall only 7 months ago and I would like to thank them.

I would also like to thank everyone that was involved in this campaign, including councillors and the local MP. Step-free access will play a major part in Harrow’s plans for regeneration.

ENDS

Notes

 

-       Further details of the Mayor’s £200m investment in step-free access is available here.

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6th December 2016

International Zero Emissions Bus Conference

I attended the Mayor of London's International Zero Emissions Bus Conference in partnership with the C40 Climate Leadership Group today (30 November) in City Hall.

The Mayor unveiled today London's world’s first double-decker hydrogen bus and has committed to phasing out purchasing new pure ‘dirty’ diesel buses from the capital.

At the Conference he mentioned that he would be looking to work with his counterparts around the world to start a race to the top in zero emission bus technology.

30 Nov 2016 image 3.jpg

 

30 Nov 2016.jpg

 

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30th November 2016

Transport Concerns meeting with the Mayor of London

I met with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross today to talk to them about my Transport concerns in Brent and Harrow.

I followed up issues that I raised with the Deputy Mayor of Transport when she came to meet with me and key stakeholders at my request in October.

In the meeting today I raised the following:

* the importance of making Harrow-on-the-Hill Station and Stanmore Station step free access.
* cleaner bus routes in Brent. 
* better transport for Outer London

The meeting was very productive and I will continue to lobby the Mayor of London for better transport infrastructure in Brent and Harrow.

 

Navin and Sadiq.jpg

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29th November 2016

Navin Shah calls for an urgent meeting with the Mayor of London

I have written to the Mayor of Londpn, Sadiq Khan asking for a meeting to make a strong case for step-free access at Harrow-on-the-Hill station.

There has been lots of active support from local resident groups and stakeholder bodies like Harrow Association of Disabled People and ‘Harrow Mencap and I have campaigned on this issue for at least 10 years. Step-free access for this area is vital for disabled & older people and families with children. Unfortunately our lobbying of the previous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson proved to be an utter waste of time.

A lot of infrastructure improvements are required to provide a fit for purpose public transport hub and is a priority for Harrow’s community is step-free access.

I’m grateful for the positive support I’ve received to date from Deputy Mayor Val Shawcross on this issue and I hope the Mayor of London will meet with me to discuss how we can deliver step free access to Harrow.’

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19th November 2016

Cable Street

I attended the 80th anniversary of the 1936 battle of Cable Street on 9 October.

IMG_0909.JPG

There were many Trade unionists, Jewish and Muslim figures and members of leftwing groups there and I also signed a pledge to combat racism and antisentism.

Tens of thousands of anti-fascist protesters clashed with police in Cable Street on 4 October 1936. They were demonstrating against a march by members of the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Mosley.

 

Night tube services on the Jubilee Line launched in Brent and Harrow on 6 October

The launch of the Night Tube on the Jubilee Line is great news for residents in Harrow and Brent. TfL’s commitment to staffing all stations throughout the night is hugely welcome, particularly as it will mean vulnerable passengers are able to access the support they need.

I understand that there are some concerns amongst local people about the possibility of crime and anti-social behaviour on the Night Tube. This is something I will be monitoring closely.

Tube services will now run on Friday and Saturday nights on the full length of the Jubilee line from Stanmore to Stratford.

TfL has confirmed that all the stations will remain staffed throughout the night and that services will run approximately every 10 minutes.

TfL say that they will be working closely with the British Transport Police and Metropolitan Police Service to deter crime and anti-social behaviour on the Night Tube. They have advised that local residents concerned about Tube noise levels or any other issues should contact their 24/7 Customer Services centre on 0343 222 1234.

I would like to thank the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for making this happen.

 

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.”

Mayor of London urged to back Deaf Londoners

Mayor of London urged to back Deaf Londoners

 

The Mayor of London has been asked to sign up to a Charter which could improve the lives of Deaf Londoners. Local London Assembly Member, Navin Shah, put forward a motion at a meeting of the London Assembly last week which called on the Mayor to sign up to the British Sign Language (BSL) Charter, aimed at improving access to services for BSL users and raising awareness of the disability. Mr Shah said raising awareness was the first step to ensuring Deaf people “can truly enjoy everything London has to offer”.

 

Last Wednesday (1st March) Navin Shah AM proposed a motion at a London Assembly meeting urging the Mayor of London to sign up to the BSL Charter. The Charter, launched by the British Deaf Association, is aimed at raising awareness of Deaf issues, empowering Deaf people, and improving access to services. The motion, which was backed unanimously by Assembly Members called on Boris Johnson to promote the Charter and embody its principles in his London-wide equalities strategies.

Harrow has recently become the second London Borough Council to sign up the BSL Charter with Harrow United Deaf Club.

Local London Assembly Member, Navin Shah AM, said:

“London is a welcoming, friendly city, but there is still more that we can do to make it accessible for everyone who lives here.

 

“It’s hugely important that we take every step possible to raise awareness of this disability so that Deaf people can truly enjoy everything London has to offer. That means addressing discrimination, intentional or not, and it means improving access to services and support.

 

“I proudly support Harrow Council’s endorsement of the BSL Charter and I will be continuing to actively work with Harrow United Deaf Club to encourage others to sign up. We’ve taken the first step with getting the London Assembly’s backing, now it’s time for Boris to show his support too.”

Boris Johnson’s Special Constable pledge in tatters as numbers plummet 57% in Brent & 47% in Harrow

Boris Johnson’s Special Constable pledge in tatters as numbers plummet 57% in Brent & 47% in Harrow

 

The Mayor of London’s promise to “double the number of Special Officers to 10,000” looks to be in tatters after the Met’s latest figures showed that there are now only 3,253 Specials in the capital, 43% fewer than in May 2012 when he made the pledge. In Brent the number fell 57% from 175 in May 2012 to only 76 in December 2015. In Harrow the number fell 47% from 138 in May 2012 to only 73 in December 2015.

 

Special constables are volunteer police officers with all the powers of police officers. The falling number of special constables comes on top of significant cuts to the number of police community support officers (PCSOs) over the past few years. Met statistics show that in Brent since 2010 135 PCSOs and 703 Police officers have been cut from the streets, 29% of the original number. Labour London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow Navin Shah, warned that the cumulative impact of the drop in Specials, PCSOs and police officers risks leaving a “much reduced police force for his successor.”

 

When the Mayor was re-elected in May 2012 there were 5,677 Specials in London, according to the latest figures there are now only 3,253. The figures represent an embarrassing failure for the Mayor who previously said that Specials represented a ‘vital link’ between the police and the public.

  

Labour London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah AM said:

 

“In 2012 Boris recognised the significant role Special Constables play in providing an important link between the police and public and bolstering our police service. Despite his promise to double their ranks what we’ve actually seen is a dramatic and continuing fall in the number of Special Constables, including in Brent which has seen a 29% decline. At this rate he may well have less than half of what he started with by the time he leaves office.

 

“With PCSO and police officer numbers also in decline, the falling number of Specials should be of real concern. Boris should be asking why the Met is failing to attract enough people, is it because the opportunities are not well enough advertised or is the increasing pressure facing the police putting people off?

 

“Between the drop in Special and PCSO numbers, Boris looks set to leave a much reduced police force for his successor.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes

-       Figures on Police Officer and PCSO numbers can be found here.

-       A breakdown of the decline in Special Constables between 2012 and 2015 can be found below:

 

Month-Year

Brent

Special Constables

MPS Total

 
 

May-12

175

5,677

 

Dec-15

76

3,253

 

Decrease in Special Constables since May 2012

99

2,424

 

% loss

57%

43%

 


Source: Met datastore, accessed 02 March 2016

-       A breakdown of the decline in Police Officers and PCSOs between 2010 and 2015 can be found below:

 

 

Brent

MPS Total

 

Officers May 2010

703

33,147

PCSOs May 2010

135

4489

Uniformed Officers May 2010

838

37,636

Officers Dec 15

579

31,612

PCSOs Dec 15

16

1,663

Total Uniformed Officers Dec 2015

595

33,275

 

 

 

 

 

Police Officer Number decline since May 10

124

1,535

Police Officer % decline since May 10

18%

5%

 

 

 

 

 

PCSO Decline since May 10

119

2,826

PCSO % Decline since May 10

88%

63%

 

 

 

 

Uniformed Officer Decline May 10

243

4,361

% Uniformed Officer Decline

29%

13%

Source: Met datastore, accessed 02 March 2016

-       In his 2012 Crime Manifesto, available here, Boris Johnson wrote “I will aim to double the current number of Special Constables further to 10,000. Their remit will be to work in the evenings, on the transport network and with Safer Neighbourhood Teams.” (page 13)

-       In the same document the Mayor said Specials were a “vital link between the police and the public, strengthening the consent and support on which the police rely.” (page 13)

 
 

Boris overruling the Fire Authority and axing 13 London fire engines is “irresponsible and dangerous”

LONDON ASSEMBLY LABOUR

Boris overruling the Fire Authority and axing 13 London fire engines is “irresponsible and dangerous”


Labour London Assembly Member Navin Shah has hit out at the Mayor of London after he said he would overrule the London Fire Authority after they voted not to scrap thirteen London fire engines, including one in Brent. The decision not to cut the fire engines was taken on Wednesday (17th) by members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) after a public consultation found 82% of respondents were opposed to the Mayor’s plan to axe thirteen London fire engines.

 

In a letter to LFEPA members on Thursday (18th) Boris Johnson’s Chief of Staff confirmed the Mayor would to use his powers to overrule the democratic Fire Authority’s decision, backed by the public consultation, not to scrap the thirteen fire engines.

 

The consultation results published last week revealed that 70% of the 1,478 respondents supported fully funded alternative proposals (Option A) put forward by Andrew Dismore AM, which would retain the 13 fire engines and make the required savings by changing the way some engines are crewed, allowing one crew to run different types of fire appliance to ensure all of the Fire Brigade’s current engines are able to stay in service. Only 18% of respondents supported Option B which would see the 13 fire engines scrapped.

 

In January 2014 the Mayor’s last round of cuts to the Fire Brigade saw him order the closure of 10 fire stations with the loss of 14 fire engines. Following the closures London saw a significant increase in response times with rises in 401 of London’s 654 wards when compared with the year before the cuts were forced through.

 

Labour London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah AM, said:

 

“The Fire Authority has made it clear that we, like the majority of the public, don’t support axing London fire engines, when safer alternatives exist. It’s outrageous that the Mayor now intends to trample over both the democratic decision of the Fire Authority and the very clear message sent by the public against scrapping these vital fire engines."

 

“Axing these thirteen fire engines will lead to a less safe London with fewer resources available to respond to serious incidents. We’ve already seen response times go up since Boris’ last round of cuts. When there is a viable and fully funded alternative on the table, trampling over public opinion and scrapping these fire engines is irresponsible and dangerous.”

 

ENDS

Permanent link to this article
20th February 2016

I will take this Cleaner Air petition to the Mayor of London

I met with the Resident Association (KTRA) and Aylestone Park Residents and Tenants on Monday 16 November to collect a petition with up to 1,400-signatures.

The petition which urges the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson to roll-out environmentally-friendly vehicles in Chamberlayne Road by March 2016. I will give this petition to the Mayor on 2 December.

Cleaner air petition.jpg

Local residents are calling for action after figures show the area has illegally high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is claimed to pose a health threat.

I am concerned about the serious levels of pollution, especcially around Chamberlayne Road. I believe that by introducing clean buses we can create a clean corridor along the whole route.

This is a very important initiative and I will do my best to lobby the Mayor of London to do something about it and introduce clean buses to help local residents to have a more acceptable environment.

Permanent link to this article
17th November 2015

Revealed: More fire engines face Boris’ axe

Proposals from the Fire Brigade Commissioner to scrap 13 London Fire Engines faced fierce opposition this week when they were debated at a Resources Committee meeting of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA). 

At the meeting LFEPA members received proposals from the Commissioner which included scrapping 13 more fire engines from London’s fleet. The proposals are part of the Fire Brigade’s plans to deal with the £13.2 million Mayor Boris Johnson cut from its budget.

In preparation for any decision to axe the 13 fire engines the Fire Brigade has prepared two lists of stations from which the 13 fire engines could be taken. 13 engines have already been temporarily withdrawn from service but the Fire Brigade has yet to confirm whether these would be the same 13 which will eventually be axed if the cuts go ahead and have also created a list identifying the optimum stations from which to axe the engines. The final decision on the cuts will be taken in December with the Mayor having the final say.

Alternative proposals put forward by Labour Chair of the Fire Authority’s Resources Committee Andrew Dismore AM would see the 13 fire engines returned to their base stations along with a range of back office efficiencies and further re-prioritisations to meet the budget gap. The proposals also include extending alternate crewing arrangements for some of the special appliances which are called out far less frequently than regular fire engines.

In January 2014 the Mayor forced through the closure of 10 London fire stations and axed 14 fire engines. Subsequently response times across the capital rose.

There is little doubt that the Mayor’s plan to axe another 13 fire engines could have dire consequences for Londoners and would put lives at risk.

Londoners need to know that there are clear and costed alternatives available that would protect the frontline and which the Mayor must seriously consider if he wants to protect the safety of the capital.

With Boris’ pledge to protect the frontline already in tatters, the fear is that he will have no problem breaking it further to axe yet more vital resources.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-       The two lists of options prepared by the LFB for Boris Johnson on removing 13 fire engines from London stations are available here:

13 fire stations with pumps currently withdrawn

 

Optimum 13 fire stations from which to remove pumps

Erith

 LB Bexley

West Hampstead

 LB Camden

Willesden

 LB Brent

Norbury

 LB Croydon

Ealing

 LB Ealing

Ealing

 LB Ealing

Shoreditch

 LB Hackney

East Greenwich

 LB Greenwich

Romford

 LB Havering

Shoreditch

 LB Hackney

Holloway

 LB Islington

Hammersmith

 LB Hammersmith

Chelsea

 LB Kensington and Chelsea

Romford

 LB Havering

Forest Hill

 LB Lewisham

Forest Hill

 LB Lewisham

Plaistow

 LB Newham

Stratford

 LB Newham

Stratford

 LB Newham

Old Kent Road

 LB Southwark

Old Kent Road

 LB Southwark

Wandsworth

 LB Wansdworth

Poplar

 LB Tower Hamlets

Sidcup

LB Bexley

Wandsworth

 LB Wandsworth

Hornsey

LB Haringey

 

-       In January 2014 the Mayor closed 10 fire stations and axed 14 fire engines.

-       Details of Andrew Dismore AM’s alternative amendment to the Fire Brigade Budget are available here.

-       The LFEPA Resources Committee meeting was held at 10.30am on Thursday 12th November at City Hall.

-       Boris Johnson is making £13.2m of cuts to the London Fire Brigade for the 2016/17 financial year.

Permanent link to this article
12th November 2015

Happy Diwali

I am delighted to send my best wishes to all my constituents in Brent and Harrow who are celebrating Diwali.

The Festival of Lights is the celebration of good over evil. It celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama and in the symbolic lighting of the lamps, reminds us that we must all join together to build a stronger society that is founded on the values of peace, community and prosperity for all.

 I wish you a joyous and peaceful day and the very best wishes for the year ahead.

Happy Diwali!

 

Diwali .jpg

Permanent link to this article
12th November 2015

Boris condemns commuters to another 1% rise in fares next year

The Mayor of London has today (Thursday) announced another 1% rise in fares from January 2016. The latest fares hike means that since he was elected in 2008 fares will have gone up by 42%, which is 13% above inflation, by the time he stands down next year.

Alongside the fares hike the Mayor also announced the extension of free travel for under 11s to include rail services in the capital, currently travel is only free on TfL run buses, tubes and overground lines. The policy comes after Val Shawcross AM called for its introduction earlier this year.

As a result of the Mayor’s announcement fares from next year will rise as follows:

-          Bus and Tram Pay as You Go – up 67% to £1.50 – a £0.60 rise since 2008

-          PAYG TfL Rail Services Zone 1 – up 60% to £2.40 – a £0.90 rise since 2008

-          Zone 1-2 monthly travel card – up 34% to £124.50 – a £31.50 rise since 2008

-          Zone 1-3 monthly travel card – up 34% to £146 – a £36.90 rise since 2008

-          Zone 1-4 annual travel card – up 34% to £178.60 – a £45.70 rise since 2008

-          Zone 1-6 monthly travel card – up 33% to £227 – a £55.70 rise since 2008

By increasing adult fares yet again Boris Johnson has dealt a parting blow to Londoners who have already had to contend with astronomical fare rises during his mayoralty. We’ve witnessed astonishing levels of hypocrisy from a Mayor who once said he’d lower fares in the long term, but has bumped them up by over 40% during his time in office.

Commuters in the capital will be left bewildered as to why they have seen their fares rise year after year whilst there has been so little investment in the transport projects that London actually needs. Prices may have gone up but our buses remain overcrowded and the Tube upgrade is lagging significantly behind schedule.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly brushed off calls to freeze fares, and by doing so has subjected hard pressed commuters to years of rising travel costs with absolutely no respite. Whilst the extension of free travel for under 11s is welcome it will do little to help hard pressed commuters in Brent and Harrow.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-          Val Shawcross AM called for free travel to be extended to children using the train network in August 2015 – full details available here. At the time Train Operators welcomed the proposals and said they would work with the Mayor to consider the scheme.

 

-          Full details of the Mayor’s fares announcement are available here.

-          A TfL map showing which above ground London train routes allow free travel for 5 -10 year olds is available here.

Permanent link to this article
12th November 2015

Brent is the third least affordable place to rent in the country

I recently read an article in Brent and Kilburn Times which said that “Brent is the third least affordable place to rent in the country” highlighted one of the most biggest challenges facing local people. With soaring rents putting huge pressure on Brent residents, the impact of the Mayor of London’s failure to adequately protect private renters during his eight years in office is plain for all to see.

Under Boris Johnson our housing shortage has become a housing crisis. We simply do not have enough homes and the insufficient housing supply means that rents are being increasingly pushed up. Meanwhile, the Mayor readily implemented the Government’s policy of setting affordable rent at 80% of the market price – a price which is not ‘affordable’ for many residents in Brent.

The result is that some residents in Brent could be paying as much as 78% of their salary on rent. With real wages falling and rents rising, the worry is that this could see some residents forced out of the borough.

We need a real change in the private rented sector, with better protection from soaring rents and bad landlords. This should have been amongst Boris Johnson’s key priorities. Sadly, it’s yet another failed legacy to add to his growing heap.  

 Kilburn Times.png

Mayor’s secret plan for affordable home target of only 25% is an "absolute scandal"

The Mayor of London must come clean following reports from Property Week magazine that the he is planning to fix a target of 25% for affordable homes in the capital’s key Housing Zones and opportunity areas. If introduced, the target would effectively prevent local authorities from being able to negotiate the number of affordable homes on a development above the 25% threshold.

A 25% target would be far lower than the those currently demanded by many local authorities. The Mayor needs to adopt far more ambitious targets for affordable housing provision and to allow local councils a say in what the affordable target should be for major developments in their area.

For eight years Boris Johnson has failed to deliver the affordable homes we need, now he looks set to tie the hands of a future Mayor by setting a scandalously low target for affordable housing on major development sites. If true, not only would it stack the deck in developers’ favour, it would let them totally off the hook from their duty to provide the optimum number of affordable homes.

 You don’t get the affordable housing which London needs by being soft on developers and tying the hands of local authorities – we need as many affordable homes as possible. The capital’s housing crisis is growing by the day and people are crying out for homes that they can actually afford to live in. Instead of dealing with this challenge, Boris Johnson seems to be the only person in London who thinks that it’s acceptable for three-quarters of new homes to be unaffordable.


boris.png

ENDS

Notes 

-       The Property Week article, Boris Johnson mulls fixed affordable housing target, is available here

My thoughts on the Tube Upgrade

Local commuters relying on the Metropolitan line will be understandably disappointed to hear that they must wait a further five years until “faster and more frequent” services are delivered as part of the long promised tube upgrade.

With rush hour tubes full to capacity, leaving commuters struggling to get to work each day on overcrowded services, upgrading the tube has to be the single most important transport project in London.

Yes there have been a number of obstacles, such as the failed Bombardier deal and large scale Government cutbacks. But it’s simply not good enough that, after eight years, the Mayor of London has failed to complete what is not only the most cost efficient upgrade to the London Underground, but the most beneficial to passengers and London’s economy.

This should have topped the Mayor’s list of priorities. Sadly, his inability to stay focused means that many local people will have to put up with five more years of overstretched services.

 

Tube Sign.JPG

London football matches cost Met £2m a year to police

The Metropolitan Police should be given the power to recover the costs of policing football matches Labour. The call comes after new figures showed that the force spent almost two million pounds policing top-flight football matches in the capital last year.

Despite facing budget cuts of 20% the Metropolitan Police was forced to spend an estimated £1,917,030 providing policing services for football matches.

Whilst costs for police officers based inside stadiums and on their grounds can be charged to football clubs the wider police presence required outside the stadium has to be covered by the police alone. There is currently no legal right to recover the costs of these services from the clubs themselves.

With the Met facing significant further cuts in coming years the Home Secretary needs to change the law to allow police forces to recover the cost of policing top flight games from the clubs.

With the Met’s budget expected to face huge cuts surely it’s time that clubs covered the cost of policing their games.

If top-flight clubs can afford to pay players hundreds of thousands of pounds a week, they can afford to cover the cost of policing their games instead of expecting the taxpayer to fork out millions to police money-making matches.

This is one case where the goalposts do need to be moved. It’s down to the Home Secretary to level the playing field and make sure clubs are properly contributing to the cost of keeping their fans safe.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

-       Figures outlining the cost of policing football matches were provided in the Mayor of London’s response to the following question from London Assembly Member, Andrew Dismore:

Policing Football Matches

Question No: 2015/2272

What is the best estimate of the cost to the Met of policing outside the 'footprint' of land owned, leased or controlled by the football clubs? 

Written answer from the Mayor

Like all police forces, the MPS supports private sports clubs who hold events under the SPS agreement where additional policing is required on those match days for land owned, leased or controlled by the club. Under present law, the MPS is not able to recover costs for any additional policing outside this ‘footprint’.

The estimated extra cost to the MPS in 2014/15 in respect of the extra policing for football matches outside the stadia for which no recovery is currently possible is calculated to be £1,917,030

Warning over cycling casualties on rise in outer London

The Mayor of London has faced questions after recent Transport for London (TfL) figures showed that cyclist casualties in Outer London rose by 15% last year. The rise was a “clear sign that the Mayor cannot solely focus safety improvements on inner London”.

 I used July’s Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall to warn the Mayor that he must do more to increase cyclist safety in Outer London. His question follows the tragic death of 60 year old cyclist, Clifton James, in Harrow on 21st June and follows calls from local lobby group Harrow Cyclists for more investment in cycling from the Mayor.

Cycling casualties have increased by 63% in Outer London since the Mayor took office and rose by 15% in the last year alone. The rise has led to concerns that the Mayor's efforts to improve cycling safety in the capital could become too focused on inner London routes, with outer boroughs overlooked.

Cyclists should be able to use our roads without fear of injury, it’s that simple. The rise in cyclist casualties in outer London is incredibly worrying and shows that with cycling becoming more popular we need to see investment in safety improvements across the capital, not just inner London.

We have some really promising cycle safety projects, such as the mini-Hollands and Cycle Superhighways. Now we need the Mayor to be more ambitious and spread these schemes further to boroughs like Harrow, lest outer London be left behind.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

-  Transport for London statistics showing a rise in cycling casualties in Outer London can be found here.

-       A draft transcript from Mayor’s Question Time on 15th July 2015 can be found here

-       Harrow Cyclists wrote to Mr Shah asking the Mayor of London to provide sustainable investment cycling facilities across London.

 

Brent and Harrow’s renters left unprotected as Mayor’s rental standard flops

A year after the launch of the Mayor’s flagship London Rental Standard only 14,350 of London’s 300,000 private landlords have signed up. However when he launched the voluntary scheme the Mayor said he would have 100,000 landlords signed up by May next year. I have warned that “Boris Johnson’s system of voluntary self-regulation is failing private renters in Brent and Harrow.

Less than a year before the Mayor said he would hit his target of 100,000 landlords signed up to his minimum standards the latest figures show he is only 14% of the way there with only eight hundred extra landlords signing up in the last year.

In 2012 Boris Johnson pledged that he would sign up 100,000 of London’s private sector landlords to a new London Rental Standard (LRS). The scheme, which was eventually launched on 28th May 2014, sets minimum standards for landlords and amalgamated the various voluntary landlord accreditation schemes in the capital.

When the LRS was launched the Mayor reported that there were 13,512 landlords already signed up to the various accreditation schemes. Since then, according to the latest available City Hall figures, only 838 additional landlords have signed up despite an intensive publicity campaign.

Boris Johnson’s abysmal record on housing is epitomised by the fact that with less than a year to go he has signed up just 14% of the 100,000 landlords he promised by May 2016. This is failing private renters in Brent and Harrow.

We need real change in the private rented sector. Residents in Brent and Harrow need the peace of mind and security of longer tenancy agreements, caps on rent increases and an end to no fault evictions. Instead, Boris Johnson’s system of voluntary self-regulation is leaving private renters with little protection from bad landlords. 

ENDS

Notes

-       The Mayor launched his London Rental Standard on 28th May 2014.

-       When the LRS was launched in late May 2014 there were 13,512 landlords already signed up to the various accreditation schemes

-       The latest figures from the Greater London Authority on the number of landlords accredited under the London Rental Standard can be found here.

-       In his 2012 Election Manifesto, Taking Greater London Forward, Boris Johnson pledged that 100,000 of London’s estimated 300,000 private sector landlords would be signed up to a scheme approved by the London Rental Standard by May 2016. (page 11)

According to Census 2011 figures, there are 819,085 private rental properties in London

Boris Johnson’s rental standard scheme ‘failing Londoners’

A year after the launch of the Mayor’s flagship London Rental Standard only 14,139 of London’s 300,000 private landlords have signed up. When he launched the scheme the Mayor said he would have 100,000 landlords signed up by May next year.

Less than a year before the Mayor said he would hit his target of 100,000 landlords signed up to his minimum standards the latest figures show he is only 14% of the way there with only six hundred extra landlords signing up in the last year. At this rate of progress Mr Copley has calculated that it would take a further 103 years before Boris Johnson hits his 100,000 target.

In 2012 Boris Johnson pledged that he would sign up 100,000 of London’s private sector landlords to a new London Rental Standard (LRS). The scheme, which was eventually launched on 28th May 2014, sets minimum standards for landlords and amalgamated the various voluntary landlord accreditation schemes in the capital.

Soon after the LRS was launched in May 2014 the Mayor reported that there were 13,512 landlords already signed up to the various accreditation schemes. Since then, according to the latest available City Hall figures, only 627 additional landlords have signed up despite an intensive publicity campaign.

With only 14,139 of London’s 300,000 landlords signed up, the figures showed Boris Johnson’s system of voluntary self-regulation was “failing private renters”.

Boris Johnson’s abysmal record on housing is epitomised by the fact that with less than a year to go he has signed up just 14% of the 100,000 landlords he promised by May 2016. 

At the current rate, it will take over one hundred years before the Mayor fulfils his promise to accredit 100,000 landlords, that’s more than embarrassing it’s a scandal.

We need real change in the private rented sector. Londoners need the peace of mind and security of longer tenancy agreements, caps on rent increases and an end to no fault evictions. Instead Boris Johnson’s soft touch and self-regulatory approach is leaving private renters with little protection from bad landlords.

 

http://www.londonlive.co.uk/news/2015-05-28/boris-johnson-s-rental-standard-scheme-failing-londoners

Government’s social housing sell off will leave Brent and Harrow families “with nowhere to turn”

Government plans to sell off social housing across London could see families in Brent and Harrow less likely to find a home they can afford.  London Assembly Member Navin Shah AM said the plans to extend Right to Buy to cover housing association properties would “leave

5,102 families in Brent and 687 of families in Harrow on housing waiting lists with nowhere to turn” as councils’ social housing stock is sold off.

Analysis from the National Housing Federation (NHF) shows that over 23,000 social rented homes across London could be sold if Right to Buy, which allows council tenants to buy their home, is extended to housing association properties. The estimate is based on the number of London households who would be both eligible and able to afford the necessary mortgage to buy their home under the new proposals. 

I have warned the sale of more social housing would leave the 687 families on Harrow council and 5,102 on Brent council's housing waiting lists even less likely to ever find a home they could afford.

I have called for the Mayor of London to commission an assessment of the London impact of the government’s Right to Buy proposals.

Government should support both home ownership and measures to increase the supply of social housing, we won’t solve London’s housing crisis by sacrificing one in pursuit of the other.

There’s no escaping that selling off housing association properties at big discounts would worsen the housing crisis and leave a number of local families with nowhere to turn. It’s already hard enough for families in Harrow to get a home without selling off some of the most affordable in the borough.

The Mayor needs to seriously consider the impact of this policy on Londoners. With many families on housing waiting lists, people in Brent and Harrow want to know whether or not Boris Johnson will stand up and fight attempts to decimate our social housing stock.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-  

-       The National Housing Federation analysis of the impact of extending Right to Buy to housing association properties is available here.

-       There are currently 687 families on council home waiting lists in Harrow.

-        There are currently 5,102 families on council home waiting lists in Brent.

 

 

Night Bus changes must not leave passengers worse off

Night Bus services in Brent and Harrow could face changes this September after the introduction of the Night Tube, Transport for London (TfL) has announced.

Proposals from TfL would see the introduction of 20 new services, but 17 of these would run only on Friday and Saturday evenings.The Night Bus providing a cheap and easy way to travel home from work at night, I would like to see the service continued throughout the working week.

Whilst there are currently no proposals to axe entire night bus routes, reductions are planned for 17 routes across London. TfL said the reductions will be made to those routes where passengers were more likely to use the Night Tube. TfL must ensure their reductions “don’t leave Londoners feeling less safe.

TfL must boost passengers safety by providing real time Night Bus information at Night Tube stations so that passengers have the choice of waiting there for the next bus.

Nobody wants to see passengers forced to wait long times at secluded bus stops or walk long distances home from the tube station at night.

It’s great to see that some new services will be running in, but with night buses providing a cheap and easy way to travel home from work at night, ideally I’d want to see the service continued throughout the working week.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

-   

-       Transport for London’s consultation on changes to the Night Bus can be found here.

Mayor’s failing Rental Standard will take 103 years to hit target at current rate

I have questioned London Mayor Boris Johnson’s commitment to private renters in Brent and Harrow after it was revealed that at the current rate of progress it will take him over one hundred years to hit his target of getting 100,000 of the capital’s landlords signed up to minimum standards. Despite promising to hit is target by May 2016, just 627 additional landlords have been accredited since Boris Johnson launched the scheme in late May last year. The Mayor’s failure will leave many of the 100,696 private renters in Brent and 56,931 private renters in Harrow with little protection from bad landlords.

In 2012 Boris Johnson pledged to sign up 100,000 of London’s estimated 300,000 private landlords to a new London Rental Standard (LRS). The scheme, which was eventually launched in late May last year, sets minimum standards for landlords and provides a kite mark for the various voluntary landlord accreditation schemes in London.

A few days after the LRS was launched last May the Mayor reported that there were 13,512 landlords already signed up to the various accreditation schemes. Yet according to the latest City Hall figures, only 627 additional landlords have signed up since then, despite an intensive publicity campaign. At this rate of progress it will take a further 103 years before Boris Johnson hits his target to sign up 100,000 landlords.

With 100,696 private renters in Brent and 56,931 private renters in Harrow now living in private rented housing, it’s staggering that the Mayor can be so brazen about his failure to drive up standards in the sector.  Boris Johnson’s abysmal record is made clear by the fact that with little more than a year to go he has signed up just 14% of the 100,000 landlords he promised by May 2016. 

At the current rate, it will take over one hundred years before the Mayor meets his target to accredit 100,000 landlords.

We need real change in the private rented sector. Londoners need the peace of mind and security of longer tenancy agreements, caps on annual rent increases and an end to no fault evictions. Instead Boris Johnson’s half-hearted approach is failing private renters in Brent and Harrow and leaving them with little protection from bad landlords.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-   

-       When the LRS was launched in late May 2014 there were 13,512 landlords already signed up to the various accreditation schemes

 

-       The latest figures from the Greater London Authority on the number of landlords accredited under the London Rental Standard can be found here.

 

-       In his 2012 Election Manifesto, Taking Greater London Forward, Boris Johnson pledged that 100,000 of London’s estimated 300,000 private sector landlords would be signed up to a scheme approved by the London Rental Standard by May 2016. (page 11)

 

-       According to Census 2011 figures, there are 819,085 private rental properties in London.

 

-       627 extra landlords have gained accreditation in the eight months between June 2014 and March 2015, equating to a rate of 836 landlords per year. With 85,861 additional landlords needed to meet the Mayor’s target of 100,000 landlords, this would take 102.7 years before the target is met.

 

 

 

Harrow’s ticket offices start to close

In April we will see the ticket office at North Harrow and West Harrow stations close and will mark the start of a project to close several ticket offices across Harrow. The move will leave passengers in Harrow paying more money for less staff support.

The closure comes after it was revealed that the Mayor of London’s plan to close all the capital’s tube ticket offices will cost taxpayers almost £134m. The cost is “staggering” and “£134m of building works and ticket machines won’t make up for the loss of 897 station staff.”

The closure at North Harrow and West Harrow stations marks the start of a process to close ticket offices in 9 stations in Harrow. The closures will also see almost 900 staff cut from London’s tube stations. I am concerned about the impact the staff cuts will have on disabled and elderly passengers.

Amongst other things the £134m will fund additional ticket machines in 27 stations, four new customer receptions and the conversion of 181 ticket offices for other uses.

I am very concerned about the ramifications of these ticket office closures. This argument isn’t about whether staff are based in ticket offices or not. It is about whether there are enough staff in stations to provide the good service people in Harrow have come to expect, particularly the elderly and disabled who often rely more on station staff for assistance.

The truth is a staggering £134m of building works and ticket machines won’t make up for the loss of 897 station staff. No matter how user friendly a ticket machine is they cannot provide the same level of advice and customer service that staff could. Coming after tube fares were hiked for the seventh year running many passengers will wonder why they are being asked to pay more money for less staff support on their journey.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-          The TfL Finance and Police Committee paper detailing the Fit for the Future ticket office closure costs is available here (page 7)

 

-       The following tube stations in Harrow will see their ticket offices close:

 Harrow

Station

Month

Duration of Work

North Harrow

April- June

1 Month

West Harrow

April-June

1 Month

Pinner

July- Sept

1 Month

Harrow-on-the-Hill

October - Dec

1 Month

Rayners Lane

October - Dec

1 Month

South Harrow

October - Dec

1 Month

Stanmore

October - Dec

1 Month

Sudbury Hill

October - Dec

1 Month

Harrow & Wealdstone

TBC

TBC


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London Assembly's Planning Committee will look at the housing crisis

I was on London Live this morning discussing what is happening today at London Assembly’s Planning Committee. I will be hearing from experts on how to design homes that meet family needs.

The committee will be looking at is how we can increase the capital’s housing density through innovative design, without sacrificing the quality or sustainability we have come to expect.

The capital is facing a growing housing crisis and its vital we find new and innovative ways to build the homes, for both individuals and families, that Londoners are crying out for.

Watch my interview here:

http://www.londonlive.co.uk/news/2015-03-18/how-can-london-build-more-housing

 

Mayor admits defeat on apprenticeships

Boris Johnson has admitted that he is unlikely to reach his target to create 250,000 apprenticeships between 2012 and 2016. The Mayor made the admission during a BBC interview marking the start of National Apprenticeship Week. Just four months after analysis from London Assembly Member Navin Shah revealed that apprenticeship numbers in Brent and Harrow had fallen for two years running.

 

The Mayor is “utterly failing young people” after it was revealed today that amongst those apprenticeships which have been created, over half have gone to people over 25.

Government changes have meant that some types of in-work training have been reclassified as apprenticeships. The vast majority of people over 25 in apprenticeships already worked for their employer before starting an ‘apprenticeship’ under the new system.

Boris Johnson has a vast mountain to climb if he is going to come anywhere near delivering the quarter of a million apprenticeships he promised Londoners by 2016, particularly as in some boroughs, like Brent and Harrow apprenticeship numbers are actually falling.

Even with those apprenticeships which are being created, almost half of them are going to people over 25 years old and already in work. I’m greatly in favour of supporting people to develop their careers, but the government’s approach leaves the apprenticeship programme utterly failing young people.

The Government’s meddling with the apprenticeship system has meant in-work training which would have happened anyway is gobbling up the limited funds. This is locking out young people who desperately want an apprenticeship to give them a first step on the career ladder.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-       Mayor Boris Johnson pledged that between 2012 and 2016 he would create 250,000 new apprenticeships in London.

-       In response to a recent Mayor’s Question response the Mayor stated that between April 2012-June 2014, 96,500 apprentice starts have been reported in London. The table below details the total number of apprentice starts achieved over this timeframe, broken down by quarter and academic year.

 

 

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Total

2012/13

12370

9400

10420

12880

45070

2013/14

11080

8280

9380

11310

40050

2014/15

11380

     

11380

Total

       

96500

Note: Apprenticeship starts are not reported on a monthly basis so Q1 2012/13 includes starts reported in April 2012.

Note: Q1 2014/15 data is provisional and cannot be verified until Q1 2015/16.

Note: Q2 2014/15 data is expected late March 2015.

-       The latest Government breakdowns of London apprenticeship starts in 2012/13 and 2013/14 shows that:

 

Apprenticeship starts for over-25s in London since 2009/10

2009/10 – 3,900 (19% of all apprenticeships)

2010/11 – 17,810 (43%)

2011/12 – 22,820 (48%)

2012/13 – 21,560 (48%)

2013/14 – 16,190 (40%)

 

-       93% of apprentices over the age of 25 already worked for their employer prior to starting an apprenticeship.

-       “Only around a third of 16-18 year olds (36%) already worked for their employer before their Apprenticeship, increasing to 42% of 19-20 year olds, 64% of 21-24 year olds and 93% of those aged 25 or older.”
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Apprenticeship Pay Survey 2014 (p.43)

-       The latest Government breakdowns of London apprenticeship starts in each Local Education Authority from 2011/12 to 2013/14 shows that:

Apprenticeship starts in Brent since 2011/12

2011/12 – 1,730

2012/13 – 1,520

2013/14 – 1,340

Apprenticeship starts in Harrow since 2011/12

2011/12 – 1,120

2012/13 – 970

2013/14 – 830 

Home Secretary’s decision not to licence water cannon

The Home Secretary’s decision not to licence water cannon for use on London’s streets at this time should be a clear signal to Boris Johnson that his proposal was ill-judged. Experiences in other countries have shown just how dangerous water cannon can be. They should have no place in our capital city.

Just last month New York’s Police Commissioner Bill Bratton warned that water cannon had a “horrific history” and would not be “contemplated being used anywhere in America.” It’s hard to see why then the Mayor is so keen on seeing them in London, especially when there is little evidence to support their use. The Association of Chief Police Officers for example said there are only three occasions in the last ten years when their use may even have been considered.

The Met Police are already facing massive budget cuts. It’s time for Boris Johnson to accept he was wrong, sell the water cannon and reinvest the money in things the Met actually need. People want police on their streets, not water cannon weapons sitting unused.

The Home Secretary now needs to hold firm and rule out the use of water cannon not only until the after the election, but for good.

 

The Mayor is “accepting defeat” in battle against housing crisis

Mayor Boris Johnson is “accepting defeat in the battle to tackle London’s housing crisis” after setting a target to build just 42,000 new homes a year. Boris Johnson has set the target despite his own evidence showing that 62,000 must be built to clear the backlog on housing waiting lists in Brent and Harrow and across London within ten years.

The house building targets were included in alterations to the Mayor’s controversial London Plan which were pushed through last week despite me and the majority of London Assembly Members voting against the proposals. The Mayor’s “unambitious” target would leave the capital stuck with an ever-deepening housing crisis. Particular concerns were raised that the affordable housing targets within the plan, for only 17,000 new affordable homes a year, would come nowhere near to meeting the needs of Londoners.

Despite setting a target for 42,000 new homes each year, the Mayor recognised that tens of thousands more were necessary to meet London’s growing housing need. Instead of including these in his target, the Mayor has said he expects Local Authorities to make up the difference but failed to give any strategic direction as to how councils could achieve the 20,000 extra homes that are needed to bridge the gap.

The vote came in the same week that the capital’s population hit record limits, reaching 8.6m for the first time. It also came a week after a new report from the Chartered Institute of Housing found that 76% Londoners now believe there is a housing crisis in their area.

By setting a house building target well below what his own evidence shows we need, the Mayor is accepting defeat in the battle to tackle London’s housing crisis. Boris Johnson’s complete absence of ambition could lock us into this worsening housing crisis for years.

We need creative and ambitious solutions if we are to successfully tackle the capital’s housing crisis. These targets completely underestimate the need for new housing in areas like Brent and Harrow and offer no new plans on how the Mayor proposes to increase the number of homes being built. In Brent and Harrow and across London, we need to see genuinely affordable housing being prioritised. What we don’t need is yet more overly-expensive luxury flats which most Londoners could never afford.

Boris Johnson has had seven years now to come up with a plan to tackle London’s housing need, instead we’ve seen rocketing house prices and rental charges, and not enough homes to meet demand. This was the Mayor’s final opportunity to put in place a legacy which would leave London able to build its way out of this housing crisis. He has failed to do so and sadly it is people in Brent and Harrow and Londoners in general who will suffer as a result.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-       At the Plenary meeting on 6th February 2015, 14 Assembly Members voted against the plan and 8 in favour. To overturn the Mayor’s London Plan would have required a 2/3 majority.

-       New polling from the Chartered Institute of Housing shows that 76% of Londoners think there is a housing crisis in their area.

-       The Mayor’s own evidence base found that 62,000 new homes per year would be required to clear London’s backlog of housing need within ten years or 49,000 within twenty years. Despite this the Mayor’s alterations to the London Plan propose building only 42,000 new homes per year. The evidence base is available at The London Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2013 (p6).

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12th February 2015

My statement regarding the postponement of two 24-hour bus drivers’ strikes planned for Friday and Monday

Formal talks facilitated by ACAS would offer an impartial setting for all sides to set out their concerns and hopefully bring this increasingly disruptive dispute to a resolution. By suspending the bus strikes planned for this Friday and Monday, Unite have shown they are serious about finding a settlement.

 

It’s now down to the Mayor to use his office to bring all sides to the negotiating table to stop any further disruption and resolve this issue once and for all.

Given the depth of public disruption caused by the previous bus strikes people will really wonder what the Mayor is up to if he misses this golden opportunity.

 

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12th February 2015

Action needed to stop “scandal” of Londoners dying because they can’t afford to heat their homes

It is ‘deeply worrying’ that the Mayor of London does not have a strategy for tackling fuel poverty despite entering office in 2008. With 12, 241 households in Brent and 9,429 in Harrow now living in fuel poverty I am using Cold Homes Week to highlight the need for urgent action to get a grip on this silent killer.

The capital’s cold homes crisis is hitting an increasing number of families in Brent and Harrow, with the latest Government figures revealing that 12% of households in the Brent and Harrow cannot afford to adequately heat their homes. Across London as a whole nearly 280,000 families now live in fuel poverty, unable to afford the cost of properly heating their homes. Analysis of ONS figures shows that on average between 2008 and 2013 cold homes were to blame for 853 excess winter deaths each year in London. That means that across the five year period 4,266 Londoners are estimated to have lost their lives as a result of cold and damp housing.

Despite fuel poverty levels in Brent and Harrow remaining significant at 12%, there are concerns that energy companies are failing to meet their obligations to help make homes more energy efficient. The ‘Energy Company Obligation’, which was introduced in 2013, places a legal obligation on large energy companies to deliver energy efficiency measures to homes across the UK but thus far in Brent and Harrow just 0.2% of households have benefitted from the scheme.

An urgent Londonwide plan was needed to address the numerous factors contributing to and perpetuating fuel poverty in the capital.

With 25% in Brent and 20% in Harrow people dying each year as a result of cold homes, the first step is to deliver a long-overdue strategy to address this silent killer. In a modern city like London it is utterly scandalous that people are still dying because they cannot afford to properly heat their homes.

London’s cost of living crisis and rising energy bills have seen many households in Brent and Harrow plunged in fuel poverty. If he is to fulfil his promise to be a Mayor ‘for all of London’ then Boris must take immediate and tangible steps to protect the most vulnerable people in our city.

It is deeply worrying that, seven years into his mayoralty, Boris Johnson is yet to come up with a real strategy for tackling fuel poverty.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

 

-          Further information on Energy Bills Revolution’s Cold Homes Week can be found here. Cold Homes Week runs from 2nd – 6th February 2015.

 

-          Excess Winter Death stats can be found here. The World Health Organisation estimate that at least 30% of EWDs are preventable and can be attributed to people being forced to live in a cold, damp home.

 

-          Data on the Energy Companies Obligation can be found here.

 

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5th February 2015

New Crossrail spur must benefit Brent and Harrow

I am urging transport chiefs considering the new Crossrail extension to Tring to include calling points at Wembley Central and Harrow and Wealdstone stations.  Speaking at the London Assembly’s Transport Committee meeting on Wednesday,I have told Crossrail Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme that the move would bring huge economic benefits for the local area.

Regeneration proposals for Wembley, Harrow and neighbouring Old Oak Common have been set out in the Mayor’s London Plan.  Whilst the Government has announced proposals for a new Crossrail station at Old Oak Common, it is yet to confirm whether Crossrail will stop at Wembley Central and Harrow and Wealdstone. 

I am asking that these a calling point for the extended route has the potential to boost economic growth and provide new jobs and homes for local people.

This is about providing better opportunities for people in Brent and Harrow.  These proposals would vastly improve connections across the local area, strengthening our local economy and bringing more jobs, homes and schools.  That’s why I’m pressing this issue so hard.

I’ve raised this issue with Crossrail bosses today, but the final decision lies with the Department for Transport and I will be urging them to give these plans serious consideration.

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15th January 2015

Northwick Park A&E patients wait longer than 4 hours over Christmas

 

  • A&E crisis in London North West continues despite establishment of new A&E department
  • At Northwick Park and Ealing A&E almost half the patients have to wait longer than 4 hours in the week before Christmas
  • Over the 2 week Christmas period 2096 patients waited more than 4 hours at Northwick Park and Ealing
  • London North West worst trust in the country the week before Christmas
  • Across London nearly 17,000 patients across London waited more than 4 hours in A&E over the Christmas period

The A&E crisis in north west London continued this Christmas, with figures released today revealing nearly half the area’s patients waiting for more than 4 hours to be seen in A&E.  Despite the creation of a new A&E at Northwick Park before Christmas, 46.3% of patients at the Trust had to wait more than a 4 hour, making it the worst performing Trust in the country.

The closure in September of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&E departments has meant increased pressure on existing services.  In the week ending 28 Dec, nearly 900 patients missed the 4 hour target, over the whole Christmas period 2096 patients spent over 4 hours waiting to be seen.

The crisis facing A&E services in north west London are symptomatic of a London-wide NHS crisis.  In the week ending 21 Dec only 3 of the 19 London Trusts with A&E departments met the 95% target.  In the following week ending 28 Dec only 4 of the 19 London Trusts with A&E departments met the target.

For months the Government have told us things would get better with the establishment of a new A&E department at Northwick Park. I am afraid my concerns regarding the closure of Central Middlesex Hospital’s A&E have been proved correct. These latest figures show that the A&E crisis in North West London is not just continuing but is getting worse. This is what happens when you chose to shut down two A&E departments in one area.

With over 2,000 patients waiting longer than 4 hours its clear Northwick Park faced a Christmas of crisis as a result of the strain they are operating under. Whilst Boris and colleagues in Government are sitting idly by demand for A&E services is rocketing. We must of course urge patients only to resort to A&E in genuine emergencies, but with GP surgeries also being stretched it is clear we need action rather than more empty words from the Government.

With A&E departments like Northwick Park rapidly approaching breaking point, it is lunacy that the Government is set to close more West London A&Es this year. Last year’s closures have resulted in almost half the patients at Northwick Park waiting longer than 4 hours over Christmas.

Patients in north west London are paying for years of costly reorganisation and health service closures. Why is the Government blindly pushing through these flawed proposals? The Government must change course before the NHS crisis we are experiencing in North West London becomes permanent fixture.

 

 

Demonstration to save small shops at Alperton Station

As the ‘Small Business Saturday’ was promoted and celebrated in Brent and the rest  of the Country, demonstrators gathered outside the Alperton Station to save the much loved local shops who are threatened with permanent closure by Transport for London (TfL). The demonstration was organised by the shopkeepers and I supported this, along with the local Councillors and Barry Gardiner MP.  

On Saturday a large number of local customers, commuters and shopkeepers gathered outside the 4 shop units to demonstrate against the action of TfL who have served notice to the shopkeepers terminating their leases on 19th of December. This will enable TfL to enlarge the units, remove the clutter and refurbish the station. TfL plans to invite tenders in open market when the proposed works are competed sometime in spring next year. 

Alperton Demo .jpg

The plan coincides Brent Councils proposals for regeneration of the area and will see improvement of the forecourt of the station.

It is understandable that TfL wishes to refurbish the station and improve the condition and make it visually attractive by removing the clutter. But the controversy is about their proposal to convert the shop units from existing four small shops to two large shop units. The controversy is also about the entire process and in the way TfL has treated the shop keepers - some of whom have been running their businesses well over twenty years.

The process by TfL to promote refurbishment has been seriously flawed from day one. Shopkeepers have been treated shabbily by keeping them in the dark until very recently. TfL claims that the shopkeepers will have an opportunity to compete and submit tenders but the new large unit will be beyond the reach of these small businesses who would not be able to compete with large ‘Brand’ operators. In their effort to generate more profitable leases TfL is destroying small businesses. I made a last minute pleato Mike Brown, Managing Director of TfL to save these small businesses going under.

Whilst activities are taking place on this Saturday in Brent and in the rest of the Country to celebrate, inspire and promote small businesses, our local small businesses on Alperton Station are threatened with extinction by Transport for London. Ealing Road, like the rest of Brent, provides rich mix of businesses including small family run businesses. I welcome TfL’s proposed efforts to remove the clutter to make the station attractive and improve the forecourt but conversion of small shops to larger units will be the end of the existing small, family run businesses who’ve been serving the local community for decades and acting almost as an extension of customer services of TfL because of their local knowledge. Closing down these businesses makes no sense at all, in fact it’s dangerous, when TfL will soon be closing ticket offices at train stations across London. If TfL goes ahead with their threat, not only this will be the end of small local shops at Alperton station, it would also be death nail to small businesses across London if TfL were to replicate such policies at other stations. I hope TfL will respond positively to my plea to review their plans and withdraw their notices terminating leases of these much loved and valued small businesses.

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8th December 2014

Please complete my survey and forward to people you know

As your London Assembly Member it’s my job to hold the Mayor of London to account and to do that I need your help.

Over the last year London has seen drastic policing cuts, soaring housing costs and transport fares continuing to rise.

 

Your views help me to illustrate the impact of the Mayor’s policies and to ensure the Mayor doesn't get away with more broken promises, that is why I have today launched this year’s Living In London survey. The survey not only gives you the opportunity to have your say on the key issues in the capital but it gives my colleagues and I the vital information we need to help shape our policies for the coming year.

Complete the short survey by clicking here to have your say on how we can improve life for all Londoners.

Sincerely

Navin Shah AM

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3rd December 2014

Revealed: Boris Johnson considering 90% cuts to education and youth services

I condemn the devastating proposals for 90% cuts to the education programmes run by City Hall. The cuts to projects which support young people to stay on at school, develop workplace skills and increase the number of apprenticeships were revealed in a leaked document which admitted they would disproportionately hit the most vulnerable groups of young people.

In a heated exchange at last week’s Mayor’s Question Time Boris Johnson refused to rule out the 90% cuts and resorted to telling Assembly Members to “stick it up your…” The leaked report showed that if the proposals were agreed funding for youth and education projects would drop from £22.6m in 2014/15 to just £2.3m by 2016/171. Certain projects such as those to support apprenticeships and get into work would be axed entirely with zero funding planned for 2016/17 despite the number of people starting apprenticeships falling for the last two years.

The fact that Boris Johnson would even consider cuts of 90% to schemes designed to help some of Brent and Harrow’s most vulnerable young people tells you everything you need to know about his cavalier and uncaring approach to governing.

Projects to increase apprenticeships and support for people to stay on at school may seem like optional extras to Boris Johnson but for many young people they make a world of difference, helping them to get on in an increasingly competitive jobs market.

Boris Johnson may be focused on his next job in Parliament but he has a duty to responsibly see out his term working for all Londoners. These cuts however suggest more a policy of scorched earth, drastically cutting funding to important projects and leaving his successor to pick up the pieces.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

-       BBC London coverage of the MQT meeting and leaked report showing 90% cuts to youth and education budgets is available here.

-       The number of apprenticeships started by region:

 

Region

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

 

 

Full Year

Full Year


  Full Year
  (provisional)

 

North East

38,340

35,870

30,020

 

North West

89,310

84,180

70,640

 

Yorkshire and The Humber

64,200

59,900

 

East Midlands

46,790

49,010

39,290

 

West Midlands

60,470

62,430

51,400

 

East of England

45,820

46,220

39,870

 

London

47,230

45,070

38,550

 

South East

66,850

68,960

58,690

 

South West

55,950

52,540

45,200

 

England Total

515,000

504,200

426,200

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other

5,600

6,040

6,220

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Total

520,600

510,200

432,400

 

 

Source: Breakdown by geography, equality & diversity and sector subject area: starts 2013/14

 

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26th November 2014

What type of London’s Skyline would you like to see?

London in its recent years has seen major changes to its skyline which has generated an important debate. How high should the building be? Are too many, too tall buildings harmful to London’s historic and architectural heritage? Are they blocking strategic views of some fine, old buildings of London?  Whilst there have been various interesting additions to London’s landscape with tall buildings like the Shard; the Gherkin and Walkie-Talkie etc. There’s a controversy about poorly designed and not very well regulated plethora of new buildings built across London. The ‘Skyline Campaign’ recently has taken the lead to highlight these issues and raised concerns about the way tall buildings are developed. And, as a result recommendations have emerged to establish a ‘Skyline Commission’ for a better planned outcome to control and enhance the development of future tall buildings across London.

I am concerned about inappropriate tall buildings being planned across London, including in the suburban areas like Brent and Harrow and therefore joined the ‘Skyline Campaign’. Planning Committee of the London Assembly of which I’m a member has also taken on board scrutiny of tall buildings in London. On conclusion of our work the Planning Committee will make recommendations to the Mayor of London, who is responsible for London’s planning policies.

At the London Assembly, a couple of weeks ago, all political parties unanimously agreed a resolution proposed by me asking the Mayor of London to set up a Skyline Commission for a better approach to tall buildings to preserve and enhance our skyline.

The resolution was NOT against high densities or tall buildings. New high rise buildings in fact, if carefully and sensitively developed, can make a positive contribution and become part of our heritage,   generating a high quality skyline.      

I believe that the current planning process, implementation of policies and approach to tall buildings are flawed and need to be tightened to stop irreparable damage to London’s skyline. The problem is that high density is seen as an automatic license to approve tall buildings of well over 20 storey height. The problem is also that tall residential buildings largely provide luxury and unaffordable accommodation, totally unsuitable to meet London’s housing needs. London requires genuinely affordable housing and requires family homes with gardens which we will not get from tall luxury buildings.

London is facing mind blowing challenges of economic and residential growth with the prospects of unparalleled high rise development. London’s 38 ‘Opportunity Areas’ (new hubs planned for economic and housing growth) with a combined capacity for 300,000 new homes and the Intensification Areas with 8,650 new homes are the type of locations where such tall buildings can and are most likely to emerge. Some of those areas could end up becoming ‘Mini Manhattan’ littered all-over London.  

According to New London Architecture there are over 230 tall buildings in the pipeline. Of these 184 are residential. The cumulative impact of these developments on London’s skyline is not being thoroughly considered. Powerful measures are required to stop the long term and lasting damage from unbridled, ill-considered and ill-conceived development of tall buildings. This is why the recommendation from London Assembly, in line with the recommendation of the Skyline Campaign, was made to the London’s Mayor is to set up a SKYLINE COMMISSION.

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17th November 2014

Most Amazing Performance BY SAMARTHANAM - SUNADHA GROUP

Every year Diwali period brings about a range of entertainment which is a joy to watch. Top of the bill this year was the performance at the Dhamecha Lohana Centre, on Sunday 27 October, by the artists of the ‘Samarthanam - Sunadha’ – a cultural group comprising vision, hearing and speech challenged youth from Bangalore, India. The performance was unique not simply because of the disabilities associated with the dancers, it was spell binding for its quality of classical dancing, fusion of classical music and choreography. The event was hosted by the Lions Club of London Golders Green under the leadership of Lion Bharatbhai Hindocha who is Trustee of ‘Samarthanam UK’ who with his colleagues presented a riveting show to a 550 strong audience, the Mayor of Harrow Cllr Ajay Maru, Uma Kumaran and Cllr Rekha Shah. 

 

Media publicity of the event invited the audience “to have a wonderful time and share the vision of breaking the barriers of disabilities and promotion of empowerment.” True to their word the group, accompanied by two local UK school children, delivered their vision that evening! The first performance set the tone of the afternoon with a mesmerizing dance and music performance of the highest possible standard by artists who with severe disabilities. After completing a successful to the USA the group is now touring the UK till mid-November. Who are these people and the group? Let me share with you some vital information about this talented outfit.

‘Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled’, established in Bangalore in 1999, is headed up by Mr Mahantesh GK who is the Founder Trustee of the organisation. Samarthanam supports and inspires disabled people, including those suffering from vision and hearing impairment. The vision of the organisation is to empower its members to become financially independent by training them and give them life skills. Its work is focused around education, empowerment and sustainable development for the people with varied disabilities and those with severely poor economic and social backgrounds.


One of the many projects that Samarthanam runs for the young adults, ‘Sunadha’ is a cultural branch of the trust that encourages and enables the youth to learn and perform various forms of performing arts. These include Indian Classical, Modern Dance, Bollywood, Contemporary and even theatre.  For the last couple of years visually impaired artistes have performed several shows in the US, stunning audiences with their proficiency in Indian classical and folk dances and music. Sunadha dancers have earned much acclaim and are regularly invited to perform at prestigious events like the renowned Hampi Utsav, the Vishwa Kannada Sammelana and Rotary International convention held at Bangkok last May
Sunadha artistes endeavour to bridge the cultural gap and the experiences they gain travelling around the world and meeting people go a long way towards building their confidence and creating opportunities for economic self-sufficiency. Further, each new show contributes to the growing awareness about the abilities of the disabled across nations.

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2nd November 2014

Navin Shah AM protests against the A&E closure at Central Middlesex Hospital

I joined a scheduled rally today (Wednesday) outside Central Middlesex Hospital with many campaigners protesting against the closure of the A&E unit at Central Middlesex Hospital.

The A&E units will today shut their doors, despite a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report into the North West London Hospital Trust giving the A&E unit at Central Middlesex Hospital a ‘good’ grade. The same report graded neighbouring Northwick Park Hospital A&E (which will remain open and is expected to pick up the slack) as ‘requires improvement’, and found “inadequate staffing levels to provide safe care to patients within the majors treatment area” at Northwick Park. Many angry residents and campaigners attended the rallies at both Central Middlesex Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital urging the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt to reconsider his decision to allow on the closure of the A&E units at Central Middlesex Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital.

Today is a very sad day for the NHS in west London. This level of A&E closures is unprecedented and amounts to a policy experiment with no safety measures. When Central Middlesex Hospital’s A&E closes, its patients will be sent to the underperforming, overworked and unsafe facilities at Northwick Park.

It is disgraceful that the Health Secretary thinks it is acceptable to close a ‘good’ A&E unit at Central Middlesex Hospital, while the neighbouring Northwictk Park Hospital that will pick up the pressure was judged as ‘requires improvement’, will be beyond belief for the thousands of my Brent residents who today see their local A&E axed. Despite all the evidence, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been blindly intent on pushing through these flawed closures. My constituents in Brent expect and deserve better from those running their NHS. It is deplorable that Mayor of London has acted like a bystander and done nothing to help save A&Es from closure. This decision is a travesty.

 

 

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10th September 2014

Navin Shah joins Wembley sleepover for in-need children with NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars

This weekend I attended a sleepover at Wembley Stadium hosted by NFL superstars Jacksonville Jaguars. The event was part of a project by US based Ashley HomeStore to provide free beds to some of the most in-need households in London.

The event saw 100 children from across London gather at the Grand Hall of Wembley Stadium on Saturday 30th August to be given brand new beds. Over half the children participating in the sleepover were from households where they do not have their own bed. The children then had the beds delivered to their home after the sleepover.

The sleepover was hosted by NFL superstars Jacksonville Jaguars who provided a fun packed entertainment programme on the night, which included a tour of Wembley Stadium and an appearance from the Jaguars’ Mascot Jaxson de Ville. This is the first time this initiative has taken place and was done in partnership with the US firm Ashley Furniture Homestore, which shipped 100 beds from Florida.

I spoke with a number of the children and parents hearing about the challenges they faced and the difference the new beds would make to them. I would like to thank the CEO of Ashley HomeStore, Howard Fineman, for hosting the event and welcomed the initiative.

I’d like to thank Jacksonville Jaguars and Ashley HomeStore for their  brilliant ‘A Hope to Dream’  initiative. This project will make a massive long-term difference to all the families involved as well as giving them a sleepover that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

The children were expected to be in bed by about 10pm and ready for their breakfast at 7am but given the excitement and the entertainment lined up by the hosts, I wonder how many actually followed the timetable. I am sure they had a great time on the night and the children will benefit enormously from the beds donated by the sponsors.

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1st September 2014

I urge residents to speak out on ticket office closures

I am urging residents in Brent and Harroe not to miss out on their chance to help stop the Mayor of London’s proposal to close all the Capital’s tube ticket offices. If implemented the decision would not only meant the loss of every one of London’s ticket offices but would see 900 station staff axed.

Boris Johnson plans to axe tube ticket offices and their staff despite the fact that last year almost 40% of ticket sales were conducted by staffed station counters. Opponents of the cuts argue that, even without ticket offices, staff should be retained to deal with more complex queries such as refunds and to help people unfamiliar with the tube network or less comfortable using ticket machines, for example tourists.

During his election campaign in 2008 Johnson pledged not to close any front counters promising to ensure there “is always a manned ticket office at every station”.

 

The consultation, which launches on Friday (15th) and runs for 6 weeks, is run by London TravelWatch and can be completed at www.Londontravelwatch.org.uk.

 

Not only has Boris Johnson gone back on his word to keep staffed ticket offices, he also wants to axe 900 staff. Whilst we are not opposed to a modernised service utilising new technology to free staff from ticket counters, it is imperative that those staff are retained in the station and remain accessible to passengers.

 

People in Brent and Harrow need staff there to help them and deal with the problems which arise. They don’t want the unstaffed ghost stations they would get if Boris Johnson’s cuts are allowed to go through.

Now is the chance for local people to have their say and tell Boris Johnson that closing ticket offices and cutting hundreds of staff just isn’t on, especially after he specifically promised not to.

 

Notes

 

-       The latest figures from TFL, revealed through Freedom of Information requests, showed that 39.15% of ticket sales in 2013/14 were bought in ticket offices.

Protection of Pubs & Industrial Land; Curbing Growth of Betting Shops and Pay Day Lenders and Promoting Cycling.

On Thursday 10th April Mayor’s consultation on changes to the London Plan closed. The London Plan is the overarching policy framework setting out the strategic directions for planning in the capital.

I submitted a response to emphasise some key planning aspects for his constituency of Brent and Harrow. The focus of the response as far as Brent goes is on the protection of our high streets from proliferation of Betting Shops and Pay Day Lenders; protection of Strategic Industrial Land; protection of Public Houses and extension of ‘Mini Holland’ Cycling Programme to Brent.   

In my response to London Plan Alterations I’ve highlighted the need for strong planning policies to protect traditional public houses which are part of our culture and social fabric. Far too many pubs have been bulldozed in Brent and London.  To prevent further destruction I’ve asked for stronger policies to enable local Councils to protect cherished pubs and our heritage. Our High Streets are full of Betting Shops and Pay Day Lender outlets. I’ve called upon the Mayor to introduce policies to help stop disproportionately high growth of such businesses in our shopping areas. I’ve sighted in my submission Brent Council’s recent initiative to restrict proportion of Betting Shops, Pawnbrokers and Pay Day Lenders who have negative impact on our communities.

London is facing a huge housing crisis which London Plan needs to address but at the same time it is critical that employment land is protected and that. I’ve asked that Strategic Industrial Land in Brent gets its due recognition and is made attractive for its development to generate local industry and local jobs.

I’m keen that safe and more cycling is promoted in Brent and I’ve urged the Mayor through London Plan to extend ‘Mini Holland’ cycling programme to the suburbs like Brent and Harrow.

Ends

 Notes:

 1. See attached submission made by Navin Shah AM.

 2. The   London Plan is the spatial planning strategy for London. The Further Alterations to the London Plan can be found here along with details of how to respond to the consultation: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/planning/london-plan/draft-further-alterations-to-the-london-plan

 

A&E’s under strain following closures

New figures have revealed the increasing strain London’s Accident and Emergency departments are facing. The increased pressure on A&Es follows the closure of wards across the capital. In the past year 199,693 people were forced to wait more than four hours at an A&E in London, this is an increase of 18% on the previous year when 168,604 people waited more than four hours.

The local A&E unit at Central Middlesex Hospital in Brent now operates at reduced hours with more suspected cuts to follow. Northwick Park Hospital in Brent, which is on the boundary of Harrow is the nearest A&E unit that is open for a twenty-four hour service. This will put so much pressure on Northwick Park Hospital with people waiting much longer hours at the A&E Department. Both Central Middlesex Hospital and Northwick Park Hospital fall under North West London, which has seen 12,778 people wait more than four hours over the past year.

 

Overall, two A&E units in London have been closed, two are to be “downgraded”, three are set to be closed and a further three are under threat of closure. In the past year all but one of London’s Hospital Trusts with A&Es failed to meet the key waiting time target of 95% of patients seen with 4 hours. In 15 out of 22 trusts this target was missed for over half of the last year. Navin Shah, local Labour London Assembly Member, is calling on the Health Secretary to urgently review the situation, and for the Mayor to lobby government for the resources that London’s NHS needs.

We were told that closing A&Es wouldn’t lead to longer waiting times, but the evidence shows that Londoners are waiting longer to be seen. In the past 12 months nearly 200,000 people across London and 12,778 people in North West London have been forced to wait for more than four hours at A&E. These figures are a damning indictment of the failure to properly plan our NHS services. 15 out of 22 Hospital Trusts have failed to meet this key target.

Last year we all celebrated the NHS’ 65th Birthday, one year on the government’s botched top down reorganisation is putting severe pressure on our local services. Continuing to either close or downgrade London’s A&Es will make the situation even worse. NHS staff work hard to look after us all when we are at our most vulnerable, but they need the resources to be able to deliver the service we all expect. Central Middlesex Hospital now operates an 11 hour A&E service, which adds further pressure to Northwick Park Hospital’s A&E service. I am deeply worried that following these A&E closures, waiting times will continue to be high and Londoners will continue to suffer as a result.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. Figures are from the last 52 weeks, are attached. Figures for 2013/14 taken from here: http://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/ae-waiting-times-and-activity/weekly-ae-sitreps-2013-14/ and for 2012/13 from here: http://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/ae-waiting-times-and-activity/weekly-ae-sitreps-2012-13/

Mayor breaks North Harrow ticket office promise

I quizzed Mayor Johnson at the Mayor’s question time today whether he was mistaken in making pledges at North Harrow Station in 2008 during his election campaign?

In his 2008 Manifesto the Mayor said: “I will stop the proposed Tube ticket office closures in outer London. We deplore Ken Livingstone’s proposed closure of 40 London ticket offices on the underground network. There is little financial, strategic or common sense in these closures. We will halt all such ticket office closures immediately.”  

I am opposed to the closure of ticket offices and Boris Johnson signed a petition outside North Harrow Station in 2008 to keep North Harrow tube station open. The petition was signed by some 4000 commuters.

Taking a complete U turn and going against his own pledges Mayor of London Boris Johnson today admitted he will fail to keep his promise to save North Harrow station ticket office open. Boris pledged to keep the ticket office open in 2008, signing a petition specifically calling for North Harrow to stay open.

It is appalling that the Mayor is going back on his election pledge and the promise he made to me and Londoners at London Assembly in 2008 to keep North Harrow and London’s ticket offices open. This shows his promises are not worth the paper they’re written on. In 2008, he called the plans to close 40 ticket offices “deplorable” yet he is now planning on closing every single ticket office in London. I asked him today how he would justify his decision.

Boris Johnson said in 2008 that there was “little financial, strategic or common sense in these closures”. What has changed? Sadly the Mayor has gone back on his word and it is the people in Harrow who will pay the price for his duplicity.

Ends

 

Notes

  1. http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/2314139.harrow_boris_under_pressure_to_honour_pledge/
Permanent link to this article
18th December 2013

“Government must reverse proposals or high streets will change forever”

Serious damage would be inflicted on town centres if the Government’s proposals to allow shops to be converted into flats goes through. The proposals would allow the owners of shops to convert them into flats without planning permission.

I proposed the motion, unanimously passed today by the London Assembly, calling on Mayor of London Boris Johnson to lobby the Government to reverse its proposals because of the detrimental impact it would have on high streets across London. The motion was proposed in response to the Government’s announcement in August that there would be a relaxation of the rules for converting retail outlets into residential premises.

This is another hair-brained idea from a Government which trumpets localism whilst once again ignoring local concerns. Many local authorities are doing fantastic work regenerating their local high streets but this takes away their ability to make local decisions on what is best for their communities.

We know there are better ways of getting housing than at the expense of jobs and growth. We recognise that our town centres must adapt in order to thrive and many local authorities are already doing this. It’s not right that they should not be allowed a say in what happens in their local communities.

I call on the Mayor to lobby the Government to reverse this ludicrous proposal which will ultimately damage town centres and change high streets forever.”

Ends

Notes 

  1. The motions has been copied below:

Commercial to Residential Conversions

This Assembly calls on the Mayor of London to lobby the Government to reverse its proposal to allow the conversion of shops into flats without planning permission.

This Assembly warns that the proposed permitted development rights may seriously impact on both Inner and Outer London Boroughs by:

1.         Creating hope value for retail premises in London whether viable or not, driving up rents for small businesses;

2.         damaging the integrity of some retail areas in London, leaving shops isolated from one another by unsuitable residential properties; and

3.         generating sub-standard quality of residential units, as Planning Authorities will have no control either over the size and mix of dwellings, nor over provision of infrastructure or standards.  

This Assembly recognises that our town centres must adapt in order to thrive, and that injecting larger residential elements could be beneficial by utilising redundant space and increasing footfall. Many local authorities are already doing this. However, such a move must be done in a plan-led way to avoid destroying the integrity of retail areas.

As well as secondary frontages of town centres, at most risk will be corner shops, local parades, and some neighbourhood shopping centres, which are often at the core of local communities. Because the change of use cannot be applied selectively, this will not spare those shops which are thriving.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to lobby Government to reverse this proposal to avoid serious damage to London’s economic growth, social inclusion, and quality of housing, all to the detriment of localism.

 

450 years until all low-paid Londoners on living wage

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has come under pressure on his record in rolling out the London Living Wage (LLW). At the current rate it will take 450 years for all low paid workers in London to receive the LLW. At today’s Mayor’s Question Boris was called on to accelerate the roll out of the LLW and for London to become a full Living Wage Zone.

Boris also faced questions on the cost of living crisis that is hitting people, including the impact on BME Londoners; Boris’ fare rises; the use of Zero-Hours contracts; the cost of childcare; food poverty and rising energy prices. 

In Harrow private rents went up by 5.70 per cent from October 2011 to September 2012, which amounts to £753 a year, whilst the average change in wages has decreased by -0.70% per cent.

Londoners are struggling with a cost of living crisis with rents, food, fuel, childcare and fares outstripping wages. In Harrow, residents renting privately have seen rents go up by 5.70 per cent from October 2011 to September 2012. That works out as an extra £753 a year. But the average change in wages has decreased by -0.70% per cent.

It is time the Mayor used his position and accelerated the expansion of the London Living Wage. At the current rate it will take nearly 450 years for all low paid Londoners to receive a living wage, I do not want to live in a city where people are forced to survive on poverty pay. If employers paid a living wage it would save the taxpayer money on the benefits bill, it would provide a boost to the London economy and allow people to live and not merely survive.

Permanent link to this article
12th September 2013

Eid Mubarak

I would like to wish the Muslim community Eid Mubarak. Muslims will be coming together with their family and friends in the next few days to celebrate Eid ul Fitr, which marks the end of fasting during the month of Ramadan.

This is a special time for reflection, contemplation and consideration of others. We live in one of the most diverse cities in the world. This is an opportunity to reflect on the benefits this diversity brings to all our lives and how we stand together as one London in the face of those who would see us divided.

I hope Muslims and non-Muslims enjoy this very important day of celebration and that that this will be a joyful occasion for all.eid_mubarak.gif

 

Eid Mubarak.

Pressure on Boris to stop cuts to Fire Service

Local London Assembly Member Navin Shah today voted for a motion urging the Mayor of London to fully fund the London Fire Brigade to stop the closure of 10 fire stations. The London Assembly voted to call on Boris to reconsider his proposals to close 10 fire stations and cut 14 fire engines and draw up measures that avoid the need for cuts to the fire service in London.

Last week the Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) voted down the Mayor of London’s cuts agenda and put forward an amendment that the Mayor should fully fund the London Fire Brigade to keep the current provision of fire stations and engines. The Mayor is seeking advice as to whether he direct LFEPA to implement his cuts and disregard LFEPA’s decision.

Edited photo of Navin in the chamber.jpg

The Mayor must reconsider his position, drop his plans to close 10 fire stations and fully fund the London Fire Brigade. We have seen an unprecedented level of engagement and response against Boris’s cuts to the London Fire Brigade. If he wants to, let the Mayor play with the fire but we are not prepared to sign up for this reckless plan.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. London Fire Brigade Cuts Motion, 24 July 2013:

Motion in the name of Fiona Twycross AM seconded by Valerie Shawcross AM:

This Assembly condemns the financial constraints being imposed on the London Fire Brigade by the Mayor that led to proposals to close fire stations and cut fire engines.

This Assembly therefore supports the decision by the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority to reject the proposed cuts to the London Fire Brigade.  These cuts were rejected by:

  • Over 1,300 Londoners who attended the 24 meetings
  • The 21,770 Londoners who signed 13 petitions opposing the plans
  • And 94% of the online consultation responses received by the London Fire Brigade

We call on the Mayor to provide the necessary funding to enable the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority to maintain the front line response service that the population of this city demand.

 

65 years of the National Health Service

This week the world celebrates 65 years of the National Health Service. I’m immensely proud of our NHS – it touches all our lives at some point. Admittedly, there are times when it makes us frustrated, but there are more occasions when we realise how lucky we are to have our NHS and the high class care and treatment it provides.

The majority of us were born in an NHS hospital, we’ll have our babies in an NHS hospital and in our old age, the chances are they’ll provide care for us of the best quality. We are all aware of the challenges the NHS faces in the future and the problems it is confronted with now - trolley waits in A&E, waiting times for operations and pressure from emergency admissions.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called the NHS a “60-year-old mistake” but a poll this year revealed the truth to be the opposite. 37 per cent of our community are most proud of the NHS above all other institutions. Across London, eight A&Es are earmarked for closure. This includes Central Middlesex Hospital. As a local resident and from own experience as a patient I can vouch for the excellent quality of service this hospital provides. I’m also seriously worried that the closure of A & E at Central Middlesex Hospital would mean extraordinary pressure on the A & E at Northwick Park Hospital which is already facing sever crisis with over 4 hours waiting times. If there was a time to fight to keep the NHS, this is it.

1.NHS Birthday 3.7.13 .jpg

I’ve celebrated 65th Birthday of the NHS by participating in a demonstration with the Nurses and members of our community outside the Department of Health. I’d also be marking this momentous occasion by engaging with our local communities in our High Streets in Brent and Harrow over the next weekends. Happy 65th Birthday, here’s to the next 65! Let us do everything we can to preserve and enhance our valuable asset that the NHS is.

 

 

Mayor of London launches his “2020 Vision” report

Today (11 June 2013) the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, set out his “2020 Vision” report for the capital.

The report makes little reference to project investment in Wembley in Brent on p36:

''Wembley

In Wembley we will build on the success of the iconic national stadium, with the Arena and Conference Centre and the reinvention of the Olympic Way to create a new community of shops, much enhanced public spaces, a new civic centre for Brent Council and 11,500 new homes.

The expansion eastwards of the town centre and the upgrades to the three stations should create 11,000 local jobs''.

The launch has been described as the beginning of Boris Johnson’s “long-goodbye to London” as his attention increasingly turns elsewhere.

 

Mayor Johnson urged to fight Government office to homes policy

I passed a motion on 5 June urging the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to press the Government to abandon office-to-residential permitted development rights was passed unanimously by the London Assembly.

The new planning policy gives developers a free hand to convert offices into housing without planning permission.

My motion pushes the Mayor to stand up for London, highlighting that the Mayor has supported exemptions for areas in Central London, but failed to ask exemption for even one exemption in any of the Outer London Borough.

I raised this motion because I am concerned about jobs, quality of residential accommodation and economic growth in London. The huge disparity in values between office and residential accommodation and economic growth in London will place pressure on offices to be converted into flats, which pushes out businesses and threatens jobs.

Harrow has already lost 45,000sqm of office space to residential use over the last ten years – that’s equivalent to losing  2,190 jobs. This gives us a sense of the pressure already to convert even without these permitted development rights, so imagine what will happen now that the flood gates have been opened. The Mayor has promoted Intensification Area for Harrow in his London Plan but the strategy lodged by Harrow Council for the economic growth in this area is already under threat. Harrow Council’s bid for exemption from the change of use was not supported by the Mayor and refused by the government. Now that the London Assembly has agreed I hope that the Mayor will lobby the government to revoke the policy and help save areas like Harrow from economic damage.

Ends

Notes

  1. Navin Shah is the London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow.
  2. Plenary session on 5 June can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/london-assembly/webcasts
  3. The motion is below as passed unanimously by the London Assembly:

Mover: Cllr Navin Shah AM

Seconder: Nicky Gavron AM

“This Assembly calls on the Mayor of London to lobby the Government to revoke its policy allowing the conversion of offices of all sizes into flats almost overnight and, crucially, without planning permission.”

 

What do you think of your bus service?

 

My colleagues on the London Assembly Transport Committee are carrying out an investigation into London's bus services. 

To get involved and respond to the survey on your local bus services, please visit:  

https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=Q-tvyrV-rbEmiiHiCAbLpQ

Boris slammed for no-show at fire cuts meeting

I supported a motion today slamming the Mayor of London Boris Johnson for refusing to attend the fire cuts public meetings. The motion condemns Boris for snubbing the meetings where he would have had the opportunity to make the argument for the cuts he has demanded from the London Fire Brigade.  

Londoners are invited to challenge Boris Johnson directly next week on his proposed cuts to the London Fire Brigade as well as cuts to the Metropolitan Police and London’s housing crisis at the annual State of London debate held at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster.

The consultation on the Draft Fifth London Safety Plan finishes on 17 June. Residents can also contribute to the consultation through the Fire Authority website, where more details are available: http://london-fire.gov.uk/lsp5

It is deplorable that the Mayor has imposed these cuts after many members of the London Fire Authority and London Assembly had clearly signalled that the level of cuts proposed by him were totally unnecessary. We gave the Mayor a fully costed plan to keep these much needed front line services but he has chosen to continue with his misjudged plans.

Londoners have a final opportunity to challenge the Mayor directly about his cuts to the emergency services, the cost of living in London, and London’s housing crisis at next week’s State of London debate. Boris has refused to attend any of the fire cuts public meetings to make the argument for the cuts he has demanded from the London Fire Brigade. He has made life harder for Londoners and they have a right to be angry.

Hard-working Londoners are struggling to afford daily life in what is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The Mayor gets a lot of media attention for what he says but not nearly enough attention is paid to what he does, or in most cases hasn’t done for London. This is a chance to take Boris to task and let him know what you think his priorities should be for London.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. The State of London debate is taking place on Wednesday 12 June at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, SW1H 9NH. Doors will open at 6:30pm and the event will run from 7:30pm – 9:00pm. To apply for tickets go to http://talklondon.london.gov.uk/events/state-london-debate
  2. Today’s Plenary session can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/london-assembly/webcasts
    1. The motion is below:
 

Mover: Cllr Navin Shah AM 

Seconder: Stephen Knight AM

Draft 5th London Safety Plan Public Consultation

 

This Assembly notes the draft 5th London Safety Plan contains the proposal to close 12 fire stations, cut 18 fire engines and axe 520 firefighter posts as a direct result of the financial constraints being imposed on the Fire Brigade by the Mayor.

 

This Assembly deplores the fact that the public consultation on the cuts to the London Fire Brigade is being imposed on the Authority following the Mayoral direction, implemented on 31st January 2013.

 

This Assembly regrets that the Mayor has refused to attend the public meetings to make the argument for the cuts he has demanded from the London Fire Brigade. 

 

This Assembly is also concerned at the overall co-ordination of the consultation process, which has resulted in widely inconsistent levels of public participation at the meetings in different boroughs.

Are bus services in London up to scratch?

The London Assembly has launched an in-depth investigation into bus services in London as passenger numbers rise and investment into bus services has flat-lined. Local London Assembly Member Navin Shah wants residents in Brent and Harrow to share their experiences of bus travel in London to improve and strengthen the service offered by Transport for London.

 

London’s population grew by one million between 2001 and 2011 and is expected to continue to rise at the same rate over the next 10 years. TfL saw an estimated 49.5million journeys made between 28 April and 4 May on London buses, half of all bus journeys made in the rest of England combined.

 Transport for London recently celebrated a record-breaking week for the number of bus journeys made in one week yet the Mayor is already considering slashing the annual bus subsidy. Investment to improve and expand bus services has flat-lined under Boris and as London’s population is growing at a rate equivalent to two full buses each day, we need to find out how Londoners will travel around the capital and what their opinions of bus services are.

Residents can share their good and bad experiences by filling in a short survey on bus services in London and attending the public meeting on 6 June at City Hall. We need bus users help to ensure the London Assembly puts forward strong recommendations to the Mayor on how we can make bus services in London suit the needs of the people that use them.

TfL’s business plan does not provide for expansion of the bus network, and unless plans are secured to deal with extra passengers, London buses run the risk of entering a period of decline.

Ends

Notes

  1. Details of bus services in London survey and public meeting can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/get-involved/events/bus-services-in-london-public-meeting

London’s most deprived areas hit hardest by Mayor’s fire cuts

New analysis has revealed that the most deprived wards in London will be hit hardest by the proposed cuts to the London Fire Brigade. Of the 100 most deprived wards in London 76 of them will have an increase in the time it takes for the first fire engine to arrive, and 82 of them will see an increase in the time for the second fire engine to arrive at an incident. I carried out the research and challenged Boris Johnson about the findings at Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall.

 Of the 184 least deprived wards in London 38 (or 20%) will see an increase in the attendance time for the first fire engine to arrive at an incident. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is planning to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. A public consultation is currently underway and will run until 17th June 2013.

This research shows that it is the poorest Londoners who will be hit hardest by the Mayor’s reckless cuts to our frontline fire service. The London Fire Brigade’s own plan admits there is a link between fire and deprivation. The increase in attendance times across London are bad enough, but it is truly scandalous that the poorest Londoners will be put at greater risk. All because the Mayor wants to cut the council tax by a penny a day.

I urge all Londoners to speak up and respond to the Mayor’s consultation and tell him what they think. His plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters are simply unacceptable. We presented him with a fully costed plan to keep them all open, but he has chosen to ignore us. While these increases in response times might appear small, across our city every second counts and can be the difference between life and death. It is more urgent than ever that Londoners tell the Mayor what they think. The Mayor might be prepared to take a risk with Londoners’ safety, but we are not. He must take Londoners for complete fools if he thinks he can get away with this.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. The attached table details the 100 most deprived wards in London and the increase in attendance times for first and second fire engines. Source for deprivation statistics: http://data.london.gov.uk/datastore/package/indices-deprivation-2010  and source for fire engine attendance times: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/ward-impacts.pdf
  2. Mayor’s Question Time took place at City Hall from 10am on Wednesday 22nd May 2013. A webcast can be watched here: http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/london-assembly/webcasts

Fire brigade statistics blow hole in Mayor’s case for fire cuts

The London Fire Brigade have released details of increased response times for local wards in London. The statistics reveal that 41 local wards in London will now fall outside of the target response time, due to the Mayor’s decision to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. The wards include areas across London, including some of the most deprived places in London like Bow, and Woolwich but also more affluent areas like Brompton Ward in Kensington.

The information was quietly released onto the London Fire Brigade’s website late yesterday (Tuesday). So far 11 boroughs have had their formal consultation meetings with the Fire Brigade, despite the fact they were not provided with these detailed figures which for the first time reveal the full impact of the Mayor’s cuts.

The details show that residents in an additional 41 wards in London will fall outside of the target response time of six minutes for the first fire engine. This is on top of the 267 already falling outside the target.

These figures clearly show that the Mayor has been misleading Londoners, his cuts will mean that people across our city will have to wait significantly longer for a fire engine to arrive in the event of an emergency. In Bow East the increase is from four to seven minutes, Brompton in Kensington will increase from 4.5 to 6.5 minutes and  in Clapham Town it increases from just under four minutes to nearly eight. This might not sound a lot but a fire can quadruple in intensity every two minutes. These increases are truly scandalous, no wonder they didn’t release this information sooner. This completely blows a hole in the Mayor’s plans for fire cuts, he must abandon them now and adopt our fully costed plan to keep them all open.

This shows how flawed the Mayor’s Draft Fire Plan is, the borough response times in the plan hide these local increases, which are disgraceful. The Mayor’s plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters are unacceptable. We presented him with a fully costed plan to keep them all, instead he has chosen to cut council tax by one penny a day. While a small amount to individual Londoners, across our city this adds up and will lead to a huge cut in our valued fire service. It is more urgent than ever that Londoners respond to the Mayor’s consultation and tell him what they think. Boris must take Londoners for complete fools if he thinks he can get away with this.

Bromley: Plaistow & Sunridge (5.33 – 6.06) 33seconds increase

Camden: Belsize (4.37 – 7.59) 3.22mins increase; Camden Town with Primrose Hill (5.23 – 6.27) 1.04mins increase; Gospel Oak (5.27 – 6.11) 44 seconds increase; Hampstead Town (5.07 – 6.46) 1.39mins increase; Haverstock (5.15-6.16) 1.01 mins increase; Swiss Cottage (5.19-6.45) 1.26mins increase

City of London: Aldersgate (5.22-6.03) 41secs increase; Castle Baynard (5.35-6.17) 42secs increase; Cheap (5.56-6.15) 19secs increase; Farringdon without (5.10 – 6.08) 58secs increase

Greenwich: Woolwich Common (5.32 – 6.36) 1.04mins increase; Woolwich Riverside (4.57 – 7.26) 2.29mins increase

Hackney: Dalston (5.18 – 6.59) 1.41mins increase; De Beauvoir (4.24 – 7.37) 3.13mins increase; New River (5.56 – 6.01) 5secs increase; Queensbridge (5.00 – 6.43) 1.43mins increase

Islington:  Clerkenwell (4.19 – 6.26) 2.07mins increase; Mildmay (5.44-6.41) 57secs increase

Kensington & Chelsea: Brompton (4.37 – 6.27) 1.50mins increase

Lambeth: Clapham Common (4.50-7.47) 2.57mins increase; Clapham Town (3.56-7.53) 3.57mins increase

Lewisham: Catford South (5.29-6.13) 44secs increase; Downham (5.54-7.38) 1.44mins increase; Grove Park (5.10-6.27) 1.17mins increase; Telegraph Hill (5.15-7.24) 2.09mins increase; Whitefoot (5.08-7.57) 2.49mins increase

Newham: Canning Town North (5.58-6.11) 13secs increase; Canning Town South (5.29-6.11) 42secs increase; Royal Docks (5.27-8.39) 3.12mins increase

Tower Hamlets: Bow East (4.09-7.20) 3.11mins increase; Bow West (4.41-6.39) 1.58mins increase; Bromley-by-Bow (5.45-6.10) 25secs increase; Mile End East (5.26-6.18) 52secs increase

Wandsworth: Queenstown (5.25-6.45) 1.20mins increase

Westminster: Abbey Road (5.58 – 6.36) 38secs increase; Churchill (5.27-6.51) 1.24mins increase; Tachbrook (4.29-6.33) 2.04mins increase; Vincent Square (3.54-6.14) 2.20mins increase; Warwick (4.34-7.16) 2.42mins increase; West End (5.44-6.16) 32secs increase

Ends

Notes 

  1. A ward breakdown can be found here: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/ward-impacts.pdf

Fire brigade statistics blow hole in Mayor’s case for fire cuts

The London Fire Brigade have released details of increased response times for local wards in London. The statistics reveal that 41 local wards in London will now fall outside of the target response time, due to the Mayor’s decision to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. The wards include areas across London, including some of the most deprived places in London like Bow, and Woolwich but also more affluent areas like Brompton Ward in Kensington.

The information was quietly released onto the London Fire Brigade’s website late yesterday (Tuesday). So far 11 boroughs have had their formal consultation meetings with the Fire Brigade, despite the fact they were not provided with these detailed figures which for the first time reveal the full impact of the Mayor’s cuts.

The details show that residents in an additional 41 wards in London will fall outside of the target response time of six minutes for the first fire engine. This is on top of the 267 already falling outside the target.

These figures clearly show that the Mayor has been misleading Londoners, his cuts will mean that people across our city will have to wait significantly longer for a fire engine to arrive in the event of an emergency. In Bow East the increase is from four to seven minutes, Brompton in Kensington will increase from 4.5 to 6.5 minutes and  in Clapham Town it increases from just under four minutes to nearly eight. This might not sound a lot but a fire can quadruple in intensity every two minutes. These increases are truly scandalous, no wonder they didn’t release this information sooner. This completely blows a hole in the Mayor’s plans for fire cuts, he must abandon them now and adopt our fully costed plan to keep them all open.

This shows how flawed the Mayor’s Draft Fire Plan is, the borough response times in the plan hide these local increases, which are disgraceful. The Mayor’s plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters are unacceptable. We presented him with a fully costed plan to keep them all, instead he has chosen to cut council tax by one penny a day. While a small amount to individual Londoners, across our city this adds up and will lead to a huge cut in our valued fire service. It is more urgent than ever that Londoners respond to the Mayor’s consultation and tell him what they think. Boris must take Londoners for complete fools if he thinks he can get away with this.

Bromley: Plaistow & Sunridge (5.33 – 6.06) 33seconds increase

Camden: Belsize (4.37 – 7.59) 3.22mins increase; Camden Town with Primrose Hill (5.23 – 6.27) 1.04mins increase; Gospel Oak (5.27 – 6.11) 44 seconds increase; Hampstead Town (5.07 – 6.46) 1.39mins increase; Haverstock (5.15-6.16) 1.01 mins increase; Swiss Cottage (5.19-6.45) 1.26mins increase

City of London: Aldersgate (5.22-6.03) 41secs increase; Castle Baynard (5.35-6.17) 42secs increase; Cheap (5.56-6.15) 19secs increase; Farringdon without (5.10 – 6.08) 58secs increase

Greenwich: Woolwich Common (5.32 – 6.36) 1.04mins increase; Woolwich Riverside (4.57 – 7.26) 2.29mins increase

Hackney: Dalston (5.18 – 6.59) 1.41mins increase; De Beauvoir (4.24 – 7.37) 3.13mins increase; New River (5.56 – 6.01) 5secs increase; Queensbridge (5.00 – 6.43) 1.43mins increase

Islington:  Clerkenwell (4.19 – 6.26) 2.07mins increase; Mildmay (5.44-6.41) 57secs increase

Kensington & Chelsea: Brompton (4.37 – 6.27) 1.50mins increase

Lambeth: Clapham Common (4.50-7.47) 2.57mins increase; Clapham Town (3.56-7.53) 3.57mins increase

Lewisham: Catford South (5.29-6.13) 44secs increase; Downham (5.54-7.38) 1.44mins increase; Grove Park (5.10-6.27) 1.17mins increase; Telegraph Hill (5.15-7.24) 2.09mins increase; Whitefoot (5.08-7.57) 2.49mins increase

Newham: Canning Town North (5.58-6.11) 13secs increase; Canning Town South (5.29-6.11) 42secs increase; Royal Docks (5.27-8.39) 3.12mins increase

Tower Hamlets: Bow East (4.09-7.20) 3.11mins increase; Bow West (4.41-6.39) 1.58mins increase; Bromley-by-Bow (5.45-6.10) 25secs increase; Mile End East (5.26-6.18) 52secs increase

Wandsworth: Queenstown (5.25-6.45) 1.20mins increase

Westminster: Abbey Road (5.58 – 6.36) 38secs increase; Churchill (5.27-6.51) 1.24mins increase; Tachbrook (4.29-6.33) 2.04mins increase; Vincent Square (3.54-6.14) 2.20mins increase; Warwick (4.34-7.16) 2.42mins increase; West End (5.44-6.16) 32secs increase

Ends

Notes 

  1. A ward breakdown can be found here: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/ward-impacts.pdf

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)

The London Assembly set up new Committees to examine key issues in London

 Today at the London Assembly we set up new committees and also appointed the Chairs and Deputy chairs for these committees for the year 2013/2014.
 

Committees, Chairs and Deputy Chairs as follows:

Audit Panel (4 Members)

Chair: John Biggs AM

Deputy Chair: Roger Evans AM

Budget and Performance Committee (7 Members)

Chair: John Biggs AM 

Deputy Chair:  Stephen Knight AM

Confirmation Hearings Committee (9 Members)

Chair and Deputy Chair to be appointed at each meeting.

Economy Committee (7 Members)

Chair: Stephen Knight AM

Deputy Chair: Fiona Twycross AM

Environment Committee (7 Members)

Chair: Murad Qureshi AM

Deputy Chair:  Stephen Knight AM

GLA Oversight Committee (9 Members)

Chair: Len Duvall AM

Deputy Chair: Tony Arbour AM

Health Committee (5 Members)

Chair: Dr Onkar Sahota AM

Deputy Chair: Andrew Boff AM

Housing Committee (7 Members)

Chair: Darren Johnson AM

Deputy Chair: Tom Copley AM

Planning Committee (5 Members)

Chair: Nicky Gavron AM

Deputy Chair: Steve O’Connell AM

Police and Crime Committee (9 Members)

Chair: Joanne McCartney AM

Deputy Chair: Caroline Pidgeon AM

Deputy Chair: Jenny Jones AM

Regeneration Committee (5 Members)

Chair: Gareth Bacon AM

Deputy Chair: Jennette Arnold AM

Transport Committee (9 Members)

Chair: Val Shawcross AM 

Deputy Chair: Caroline Pidgeon AM

 

The full membership of each committe and terms of reference can be found here: http://static.london.gov.uk/assembly/rulebook/ctee-memberships-terms-ref-2010-11.pdf

Mayor’s Policing Plan confirms cuts to Harrow’s Police Service

The Mayor of London’s Police and Crime Plan for London was launched earlier today. The plan confirms that Pinner Police Station front counter and Harrow Civic Centre front counter will close. Proposed ‘contact points’ will mean drastic reduction in opening hours for public access. The plan repeats the claim that Harrow will see an increase in police numbers, when in fact there will be a decrease of 10 police officers.

The new Police and Crime Plan repeats the claim that all of London’s 32 boroughs will see an increase in the number of police officer based in their borough. The Mayor has been previously criticised for this claim as it is based on police numbers in 2011, a low point for the Met following a recruitment freeze. Compared to 2010 17 of London’s 32 boroughs will see a decrease in the number of police officers, and the remaining boroughs will not receive as many extra officers as promised.

The plan also confirms that over 60 police stations and front counters will be closed, 12 stations earmarked for closure have been reprieved but more stations that were safe have been put on the list.

 For the Mayor to continue claiming that Harrow will see an increase in police officer numbers is misleading. Harrow will have 10 fewer officers once his plans are put in place. He is peddling his tired old line that his plan won’t cut frontline police services. It’s time he is honest with residents. He needs to let them know he has failed to get a good deal from the government and that we are now paying the price.

Pinner Police station’s front counter will be downgraded to a contact point with hugely reduced hours. How can a front counter be replaced with a contact point which has ridiculously reduced contact hours be sufficient for reporting crime? The proposed one hour contact time on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday is a joke, at the cost of residents. I’m baffled as the Mayor has stated that he is keen for the public sector to ‘share’ services but has chosen to go against the wishes of Harrow Council by closing the front counter provision at the Civic Centre. I deplore the reduction in police numbers and the plans to close Pinner Police Station front counter and Wealdstone Police Station which has already been closed. The Mayor’s Policing Plan seems to suggests the future closure of existing Harrow Police Station without stating any other replacement option which is worrying and against the wishes of local residents who have been clear in their opposition to the Mayor’s closure plans. The Mayor has told us that all police stations that would be closed would receive like-for-like replacements but today’s announcement shows this isn’t the case. Rather than wasting time promoting himself on the national stage, the Mayor should be paying attention to his day job and getting a better deal for Londoners from his colleagues in government.

There is no reference in the announcement about the future of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams. But, the Mayor is promoting, against the wishes of Harrow’s residents much depleted SNTs which would undermine local community policing and safety’’.

 

Notes

 Please find the plans for each individual borough here: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/mission-priorities/police-and-crime-plan

Mayor’s Policing Plan confirms cuts to police to Brent

The Mayor of London’s Police and Crime Plan for London was launched earlier today. The plan confirms that Willesden Green Police station will close. Also, Harlesden Police Station’s front counter will be downgraded to a contact point only with a drastic reduction in opening hours. It repeats the claim that Brent will see an increase in police numbers, when in fact there will be a decrease of 4 police officers.

The new Police and Crime Plan repeats the claim that all of London’s 32 boroughs will see an increase in the number of police officer based in their borough. The Mayor has been previously criticised for this claim as it is based on police numbers in 2011, a low point for the Met following a recruitment freeze. Compared to 2010 17 of London’s 32 boroughs will see a decrease in the number of police officers, and the remaining boroughs will not receive as many extra officers as promised.

The plan also confirms that over 60 police stations and front counters will be closed, 12 stations earmarked for closure have been reprieved but more stations that were safe have been put on the list. The Police and Crime Plan fails to provide any detail about these closures, it also fails to details where the new “Contact Points” will be based.

For the Mayor to continue claiming that Brent will see an increase in police officer numbers is misleading. Brent will have 4 fewer officers once his plans are put in place. He is peddling his tired old line that his plan won’t cut frontline police services. It’s time he is honest with residents. He needs to let them know he has failed to get a good deal from the government and that we are now paying the price.

Willesden Green Police station will close and Harlesden Police Station’s front counter will be downgraded to contact points with hugely reduced hours. How can a front counter be replaced with a contact point which has ridiculously reduced contact hours be sufficient for reporting crime? The proposed one hour contact time on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday is a joke, at the cost of residents. I deplore the reduction in police numbers and the future plans to close Harlesden and Kilburn police stations against the wishes of local residents who have been clear in their opposition to the Mayor’s plans. He told us that all police stations closed down would receive a like-for-like replacements but today’s announcement shows this isn’t the case. Rather than wasting time promoting himself on the national stage, the Mayor should be paying attention to his day job and getting a better deal for Londoners from his colleagues in government.

There is no reference in the announcement about the future of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams. But, the Mayor is promoting, against the wishes of Brent’s residents much depleted SNTs which would undermine local community policing.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. Please find the plans for each individual borough here: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-crime/mission-priorities/police-and-crime-plan

Happy International Women’s Day

Today marks International Women’s Day, celebrated around the world. The United Nations have celebrated this on 8 March since 1975 – International Women’s Year.

International Women’s Day has attracted global attention for women in developed and developing countries. There has been a growth in international women’s movement, which has been further strengthened the United Nations women’s conferences, building on support for women’s equal rights.

intwomen.gif

In Harrow, the former Borough Commander of Police, Dal Babu implemented a Zero Tolerance policy to tackle violence against women and girls and the abuse they are subjected to.

This comes following the recent rape case leading to the death of a young girl in New Delhi which was a deeply distressing event which brought into focus the issue of violence and lack of respect towards women across the world.

Women in London get a raw deal. Childcare is 35 per cent more expensive in London. The gender gap is wider than elsewhere in the UK. Housing is more expensive than the UK average.

We need to commit ourselves to continue the battle for equality of opportunity. International Women’s Day is a time for individuals to look at what progress has been made around the world and lobby for change. We should recognize and celebrate women that have made an historical difference in their communities. We still have a way to go before progress can be achieved.

Ends

Notes

  1. The General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with both historical and national traditions in 1977.

No frontline fire cuts in next year’s budget

Today Boris Johnson’s plans to close 12 fire stations and axe 18 fire engines were set back. The move came after members of the London Fire Authority accepted that the 2013/14 budget will not include cuts to frontline services. Proposals put forward by Labour Assembly Member Andrew Dismore mean the frontline cuts will not take place in the next financial year (2013/14), and there will now be time for a full and wide ranging consultation with Londoners.

Following Labour’s motion at today’s Fire Authority Urgency Committee the immediate threat to London’s frontline fire services has now been lifted. Today’s move has created time for a meaningful and wide-ranging consultation with Londoners on the Mayor’s plans to axe 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters.

Today we have pushed back Boris’s frontline fire cuts. This means there is now time to consult with people across our city and hear what they think about Boris Johnson’s plans to cut 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters. His plans are reckless and will jeopardise the long-term safety and security of Londoners.

Boris has been forced to take stock and delay his cuts which are too far and too fast. We will now hear what ordinary Londoners think about his plans and this will guide us in our battle to save our much needed frontline fire services. The men and women of the London Fire Brigade do a fantastic job protecting us when we need them most. Now it is our turn to stand up for them and the people they protect every day.”

Permanent link to this article
26th February 2013

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

There is an alternative for Brent

I supported the London Assembly Labour Group’s amendment to the Mayor’s draft 2013-14 budget. The amendment and proposals focus on protecting frontline services, easing the cost of living crisis and helping young Londoners into work.

The key points of Labour’s proposals are:

  • A Jobs Guarantee for all 16-24 year olds who have been out of work for 1 year or more. In Brent this would help 270 young people
  • Cut transport fares by 1% so they are in line with inflation. Londoners living in Zone four and travelling to Zone One on a yearly travelcard would save £282.74
  • Re-allocate business rates to protect frontline police and fire services. In Brent, Willesden Green and Harlesden police station is earmarked for closure, this would be kept open and police front counter provision will be maintained.
  • Freeze the Mayor’s share of the Council Tax which is currently only saving households 7 pence per week
  • Start the process of setting up a London-wide lettings agency

As the economy stumbles and splutters towards a triple-dip recession the Mayor needs to help the economy and help ordinary Londoners. Cutting fares by one per cent will save residents in Brent £282.74 on their annual travelcard.

Our Jobs Guarantee for 16-24 year olds out of work for over a year will put 270 young people in Brent into work, and benefit 7,500 long-term unemployed young Londoners across London.

There has been a lot of local opposition to the proposed closure of Willesden Green and Harlesden police station but reallocating business rates, as we’ve suggested, will help protect frontline police and fire services to help keep London safe and secure.

Boris may shrug his shoulders and say he is doing all he can, but he is signed up to the government’s reckless economic plans. All he has done is said the ‘rhetoric should be toned down’, but that cuts and austerity should continue. At a time when ordinary Londoners are struggling and the economy is flat-lining he must do more, there is an alternative.

Boris has cut his share of the council tax by less than 10 pence a week per household, but at the same time has whacked up fares above inflation for the fifth year running. He must be stupid to think Londoners won’t notice this.

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8th 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

Fire cuts: "It’s time for Boris to listen"

Following yesterday’s London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) I urge Boris Johnson to listen to Londoners' concerns.

The London Fire Brigade's budget has been cut by the Mayor and government by £45 million for the next two years. Last week it was announced that Boris Johnson wants to close 12 fire stations across London. Even after the 12 stations, 18 fire appliances and 520 firefighters 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 Mayor and government are cutting too far and too fast, hitting the frontline and fundamentally undermining the ability of the fire brigade to do their job. That is why we voted against the Mayor’s proposals. 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 has said he will now issue a directive ordering the London Fire Authority to make these cuts. He is ignoring the Fire Authority and is forcing through these cuts against the wishes of Londoners. The Mayor needs to think again and look at reallocating resources from the wider Greater London Authority budget. This will keep our fire stations open and protect the safety and security of Londoners. The final Fire Budget will not be voted on until March so Boris still has time to think again and listen to genuine concerns.

If Boris is serious about listening to Londoners then he cannot overrule our plans for a wide ranging consultation. We want to make sure each borough has at least a two hour meeting and that members of the fire authority are there. We do not want a repeat of the sham consultation meetings carried out by the Mayor’s policing deputy Stephen Greenhalgh.

This is the Mayor’s Budget and the buck stops with him. If he chooses to ignore the express wishes of Londoners then that is his decision. But we will not sign up to any reckless plan that downgrades the fire service and puts at risk the safety and security of Londoners.

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; and Woolwich in Greenwich.

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

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22nd 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

Harrow’s Policing Consultation- “The Alice in Wonderland Plan”

I attended the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) Public Consultation at Harrow Civic Centre in Harrow 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 Harrow. Cllr Thaya Idaikkader – Leader of Harrow Council, chaired the meeting and Harrow’s Borough Commander Dal Babu also sat on the panel.

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 Harrow. 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 Pinner Police Stations and the deletion of facilities at Harrow Civic Centre. There was no mention of Wealdstone Police Station at the meeting - which is already closed to the public.  

Harrow.JPG

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. Whilst the panel stated that police numbers will increase the fact is by 2015, Harrow would lose 17 police officers. Furthermore, SNTs across the Borough would be grossly depleted.

I asked the following question to the panel:

What alternative, equitable front counter facilities will you be making before closing the Civic Centre presence, Pinner Police Station and Wealdstone Police Station? How do you justify the closure of Civic Centre facility when the Mayor is quite rightly promoting shared services? 

I also declared my disagreement to the planned closures. A Pinner Councillor also voiced his opposition to the closure of Pinner Police Station. All-round there appeared to be no support for the closure of front counters and closing of police stations.

MOPAC’s policing plan is like Alice in Wonderland stuff; fictional and fictitious. I’m totally opposed to this make believe plan and so are the residents of Harrow who gave thumbs down to the draft proposals. The proposed policing model presents no more than a make believe scenario and MOPAC’s figures do not add up. Harrow is now short of 55 Police Officers and 70 PCSOs (figures have been calculated from May 2010 to November 2012). SNTs in most wards in Harrow, including my Kenton East Ward are seriously depleted. The rhetoric from the Deputy Mayor is that he wants to see more officers rooted in the community and reconnect with public but in reality he is replacing the current much larger and successful teams with smaller SNTs with the loss of dedicated Sergeants in Wards. This is far from a recipe for better local policing and engagement!

I’m firmly against the closure of police stations as I see police stations as community hubs providing vital access to local police. Closure of Pinner Police Station and facilities at the Civic Centre is very ill-conceived. Why shut down a Police Station like Pinner when it is run by volunteers? I’m relieved to find that a Pinner Councillor also shares my concerns about the proposed closure of Pinner Police station. Harrow Council is fully supportive of the local police and is reaching out for even greater shared services with Police at the Civic Centre. So why shut down the police presence there? Clearly MOPAC has not thought through what they are proposing. The Mayor has stated that he will provide a new alternative front counter in the immediate locality with better facilities before closing police stations, but I did not get any such assurance for Harrow from the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh and Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne when I raised this issue at the meeting. These closures are nothing but asset stripping and an act of vandalism which will hurt locally and deprive communities even further.”

I wrote to the Borough Commander in November requesting detailed information about the long term future of the South Harrow Police Station, SNT Bases, Custody Suites, Safer Neighbourhood Boards and Equality Impact Assessment but have not received a reply to my specific questions. I’d be writing to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh on these matters.    

The proposed policing model is short-sighted and will fundamentally undermine the ability of local police service to keep us safe. Harrow is statistically one of the safest boroughs but I’m seriously concerned about the increase in crime as a result of these draft proposals. Enough is enough and I urge local residents to oppose the plan and respond to MOPAC by 6th March. 

Further details are available on the Greater London Authority's website: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/policing-and-crime/community-engagement.

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

Transport for London’s latest Business Plan

Boris Johnson promised to “bear down on transport costs” during his re-election campaign earlier this year after having put fares up above inflation every year since he became Mayor in 2008. Londoners will instead be hit with 10 more years of above inflation fare rises, starting with a 4.2 per cent rise next month.

The plans for inflation-busting fare rises were revealed in Transport for London’s latest Business Plan which was debated and agreed at a TfL Board meeting on Wednesday (12 December). As Chair of TfL the Mayor had the final decision over what happened. He had the chance to help working Londoners who are struggling just to get by. Instead Boris is busy campaigning for more tax cuts for the very richest, whilst hitting ordinary working Londoners with another inflation-busting fare rise.

The most affordable way to travel around London is by bus, yet bus fares have risen 55 per cent under Boris - going up again next month to £1.40. As rent, fuel and food costs soar, more passengers will seek cheaper forms of travel as family budgets continue to be squeezed and it is important that bus fares remain affordable to people on lower incomes.

Bus Double Decker.JPG

Boris recently announced an increase to the London Living Wage so hard-working Londoners can afford a decent standard of living. But as he gives with one hand, he takes away with the other by continually raising transport costs, leaving London with the most expensive transport system in the world.

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17th December 2012

Call to identify dangerous junctions and streets in Harrow and Brent

I am calling on local residents to identify dangerous junctions and streets in Brent and Harrow as part of Road Safety Week, coordinated by the charity Brake. The campaign GO 20 launched on Monday 19 November and I joined the campaign’s call to increase safety on local roads for people on foot and bicycle.

The GO 20 campaign is encouraging drivers to slow down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops. In 2009, a London Assembly Transport Committee investigation found that in areas where 20 mph has been introduced in London there has been a 42 per cent reduction in casualties.

Transport for London (TfL) has recently invited comments for a new Road Safety Action Plan for the capital. I backed the submission by the charity Living Streets, which focuses on road safety for pedestrians.

I fully support the GO 20 campaign to slow traffic down on our streets. A 20 mph limit offers the potential to increase levels of walking and cycling. I would like to hear from residents about where in Brent and Harrow could benefit from 20mph limits, where there are dangerous black spots and where crossings need to be made safer.

We also need to make sure that all dangerous junctions are identified and made safer for cyclists. I have campaigned about numerous dangerous junctions in Harrow and Brent including Stanmore Hill and The Broadway and Elmstead Avenue and Forty Lane. I’m calling on local residents to let me know which junctions they think are unsafe, they can write to me at navin.shah@london.gov.uk or write to Navin Shah AM, City Hall, London SE1 2AA.

At a time when the Mayor has cut the road safety budget from £59m in 2008 to just £23m this year, it is more important than ever to slow down traffic in residential areas and make all of our dangerous junctions and streets safe for people on foot and bicycle.

 

Permanent link to this article
19th November 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

Picture1.png

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.

Holding the petition outside City Hall with MPs and Assembly Members.JPG

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.

Navin handing in petition .JPG

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

Who’s going to save the emergency services?

I questioned Mayor of London Boris Johnson about NorthWest London A&E closures and London’s vital emergency services at Mayor’s Question Time this week. Londoners are facing a dramatic reduction in Police, Fire, Ambulance and A&E provision in the capital due to central government cuts.

I asked the Mayor if he supported Brent residents in their campaign to keep Central Middlesex Hospital’s A&E department open. The Mayor refused to commit his support despite his direct role in the London Health Improvement Board and health inequalities in the capital.

The Mayor was challenged over his failure to speak up for the NHS in London and protect A&E departments from closure. Despite repeatedly campaigning for tax cuts for millionaires the Mayor has refused to lobby government to keep A&E units open as he says it is outside of his remit.

The Mayor of London was also challenged on:

 * The London Fire Brigade is facing the loss of up to 30 stations, 30 appliances and hundreds of firefighters.

* The Metropolitan Police have already lost 1,444 police officers and 1,960 PCSOs in the past two years. With a £230million budget black-hole this will increase. 

* London is set to lose 7 of it’s 31 A&E departments, leaving the remaining 24 to cover an an extra 120,000 residents each.

I am dismayed by the way the mayor has disenfranchised the residents and stakeholders in London on the matter of NHS changes and A&E closures in London. At Mayor’s Question Time Boris denied any responsibility or support for the hundreds and thousands of residents who are campaigning and genuinely concerned about the closure of the A&Es in their area.

London’s emergency services are facing a crisis, the police, fire brigade, ambulance and A&E departments are all being cut back. This will leave London with less blue-light coverage. At a time when London’s emergency services are already stretched this simply does not make sense. London’s population is also forecast to grow to 9 million people - how will the emergency services cope?

 

Permanent link to this article
18th 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

Save our hospitals

I marched on Saturday (13 September) with local residents to keep Central Middlesex Hospital open.

The NHS plans to demote four hospitals in North West London. The proposals recommend the closure of Accident and Emergency departments at Ealing, Central Middlesex, Hammersmith and Charing Cross Hospitals.

This would mean Hammersmith and Fulham, Brent and Ealing will be without A&E departments, and will affect the provision of health care in North West London. Other departments at risk in the affected hospitals include intensive care, emergency surgery, paediatrics and maternity units.

Neither closing A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital, nor restricting its opening hours makes any sense. From personal experience I can vouch for how overwhelmed and over-stretched the A&E at Northwick Park Hospital is.

 

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Since the very restricted opening of Alexandra Avenue polyclinic the demand on A&E at Northwick Park Hospital has greatly increased. It is absurd to expect residents from the Southern parts of Brent like Harlesden to use Northwick Park Hospital given the, very poor public transport links. I would like this ill conceived closure proposal to be withdrawn, until this happens I am committed to fighting the closure plans to save local health services for the local community.

By Navin Shah AM

Permanent link to this article
17th September 2012

Willesden group warns Olympic Games bosses over transport access for disabled residents

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By Max Walters

Brent Transport Action Group has called on TfL to ensure everyone’s needs are being looked after

An action group have warned transport bosses to ensure disabled residents in Brent are not ‘excluded’ from public transport in the run up to the Olympic Games.

Brent Transport Action Group in Willesden Lane, has called on TfL (Transport for London) to ensure everybody’s needs were being looked after.

Brent will play host to gymnastics, football and badminton during the games which start on July 27.

However, according to campaigners, 40 per cent of bus stops and 76 per cent of tube stops in London still remain un useable for disabled travellers.

Lianna Etkind, campaigns coordinator at Transport for All, which hold regular meetings with Brent Transport Action Group, said: “London is a world city, yet the lack of a budget for stepfree access means that disabled people are denied a fundamental freedom: to travel as equal citizens.”

Figures released by the London Assembly also show that one in ten Londoners are excluded from parts of the transport system due to mobility issues.

Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow also joined the calls.

The Labour politician, who previously took a bus journey with disabled service user and member of the action group, Kate McGuiness, said: “I meet constituents every day who tell me about the problems they have had getting on buses or trains with wheelchairs or buggies.

“Accessible transport should not be an afterthought but an integral element of our transport network.”

However, Mark Evers, director of Games Transport for TfL said they had invested millions of pounds in making the network more accessible.

He said: “We have made improvements such as new lifts, trains, raised platform sections and audio-visual displays.”

He added: “Disabled people intending to travel in London during the Games - and after them - now have improved online resources available to help them plan.

A series of short ‘how to’ films have been created to help disabled people unfamiliar with London’s public transport system.

They are available at tfl.gov.uk/mobility.”

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.”

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.

London Assembly Member Navin Shah joins Anti-Dow Demonstrators in Trafalgar Square

At midday today I joined the campaign group Drop Dow Now in a ‘die-in’ in Trafalgar Square. The protestors lay under shrouds at the Olympic Clock as part of an international day of action against Dow Chemical’s Olympic sponsorship. There are also actions in India, the US and Canada today: in Bhopal, India over 100 survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster staged a similar ‘die-in’ demonstration.

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Drop Dow Now is calling for Dow’s sponsorship of the London Games to be dropped due to Dow’s connections to the Bhopal gas disaster in 1984. The disaster killed over 20,000 and caused injury and illness to thousands more. Dow bought Union Carbide, the company which owned the site in Bhopal when the gas leak occurred, in 2001. The site of the disaster has still not been cleaned up, which has caused contamination of the water supply for thousands of Bhopalis. Hundreds of children continue to be born every year with birth defects as a result.

Whilst I’m fully supportive of the London Olympics, I am deeply disappointed with the attitude of LOCOG and the IOC for failing to do anything about this issue. As campaigners we are committed to continuing this movement to get rid of toxic organisations such as Dow from what are supposed to be sustainable and ethical worldwide Games. We will continue to fight for justice for the victims in Bhopal.

Meredith Alexander, who resigned from the Commission for a Sustainable London in January over Dow’s sponsorship of the Olympics, commented, “Although there is just one month to go before the Games begin, the victims of Dow's disaster in Bhopal are still waiting for LOCOG to acknowledge that the London Olympics are adding to their suffering.

“Dow's high profile involvement in the Games is a slap in the face to the people who have been fighting for years to get justice. Even if it is not possible to remove the Dow wrap, an official apology from the London Games organisers would mean the world to the people who lost loved ones or suffer life-long illness because of the gas leak. Dow's sponsorship is a toxic stain on these Games. Athletes, Londoners and spectators the world over would be better able to enjoy the Olympics if the problem is addressed before they begin."

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Colin Toogood from the Bhopal Medical Appeal said, “Everybody knows that Dow did not own the Bhopal factory at the time of the disaster. But this does not stop them from being responsible now. There is a criminal case still open against Union Carbide (UCC) for ‘culpable homicide’, and Dow refuses to present UCC in court. Dow is harbouring a fugitive from the law and preventing justice being done in Bhopal. Worse than that, while the legal process is stalled, people in Bhopal continue to be poisoned by toxic chemicals. Dow Chemical has both the power and the responsibility to stop this from happening.”

Amy Jonson from Drop Dow Now said, “Dow has been trying to whitewash its toxic reputation with this Olympic sponsorship. They are trying to ignore their responsibilities to the people of Bhopal, where the environmental and humanitarian disaster is ongoing. We will not let this happen.”

By Navin Shah AM

Assembly Member Celebrates Jubilee with Local Residents

By Navin Shah AM

It was fantastic to spend my bank holiday weekend with local residents as Harrow and Brent celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I would like to congratulate all the organisers of the many successful events that took place.

 

Despite the weather, the Sudbury Town Resident Association kept our spirits high as we marched through the town together. The amount of meticulous planning that had gone into the event was apparent as the party started.

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I had the honour of joining the Elmsleigh Resident Association for a street party, which was also extremely well-organised.

 

I visited the Willesden Temple, where the celebrations were well-attended and enjoyed thoroughly by all. These events, along with the many others that residents enjoyed embodied the true sense of unison and community that we have in our boroughs.

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It is during these celebrations that I feel especially honoured and privileged to represent, you, the people of Brent and Harrow. Our community is built on many different traditions, faiths, beliefs and people, but it stands united and stronger than ever.

 

The celebrations were a true symbol of what it meant to be British, reaching out to our neighbours and standing together (even if it is in the rain). Witnessing our younger and older generations come together to celebrate our humble island’s history was truly inspiring.   

 

 

   

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.

Navin Shah AM praises local man for 25 years in fire service

By Navin Shah AM  

Celebrating at City Hall yesterday, the Harrow Fire Station’s Watch Manager, Pierre Marsh was pleased to accept his award for long-service to the Fire Brigade after 25 years.

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I was extremely happy to attend the ceremony and congratulate such a remarkable man on his fantastic accomplishments whilst he’s been in the Fire Brigade.

Pierre Marsh joined the London Fire Brigade in 1987 and has played an important role over the past 25 years. He was one of the founding members of the Black and Asian Firefighters Group, and is now recognised as a national support group within the organisation.

Proud of his accomplishments, Mr. Marsh said: "The Fire Service, for me, is about a duty of service to London and its communities.

"Being a Fire Fighter is about a journey of development and commitment. I am extremely happy to have won this award and to be recognised for my service to the London Fire Brigade over the last 25 years."

I believe that, it’s invaluable having such dedicated, hard-working people such as Pierre working in the Fire Service for this length of time.

Thirty years is a major milestone and reflects dedication to London’s community and their safety.

It was a pleasure to meet Pierre and congratulate him personally on his outstanding achievement.

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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Mayor disregards Harrow-on-the-Hill petition

By Navin Shah AM

I am extremely disappointed’ by the Mayor of London’s response to the 500-signature strong petition submitted last March regarding the lack of accessibility at Harrow-on-the-Hill station.

The petition I submitted at the London Plenary meeting in March, stated 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.

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The response to the petition, sent by Deputy Mayor for Transport, Isabel Dedring, said: “The Mayor recognises that there is more to do to further enhance the accessibility of London’s transport system.

“Harrow-on-the-Hill has been identified in this plan as being in an area for the LU network which should be considered for additional step-free access provision.”

I will continue to lobby the Mayor about this as residents really need and want Harrow-on-the-Hill station to be accessible for them. I am extremely disappointed with the Mayor’s decision, as I’m sure those who signed the petition will be as well.

The £25 million of investment for regeneration and step-free access to Harrow-on-the-Hill Station that the Mayor of London cut in 2008 is desperately needed to make this station a viable transport hub.

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.

Cllr Sue Anderson, lead petitioner, said: “I was really disappointed to find that despite the campaign to get step-free access for Harrow-on-the-Hill promised to us by the Labour Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone, Boris hasn’t made any such commitment.”

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.”

Anti-Dow campaigners continue Olympic protest

 

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It is considered one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes of all time. The 1984 Bhopal disaster killed thousands when chemical gases leaked out of a pesticide plant in India.

Due to contaminated water, the disaster continues to affect the health of hundreds off villagers in surrounding areas. In 2001 the Bhopal plant was sold to American multinational Dow Chemicals whose Olympic sponsorship is causing quite the stir.

Navin Shah, a protester and member of the London Assembly, said: “Lord Coe (Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee) would make you believe, the Mayor of London would make you believe, even the prime minister would make you believe that there is no problem with the sponsorship with Dow. That is completely bogus. It is offensive, they really need to apologise for the kind of offence that they have caused to the poor victims of Bhopal but none of that is happening.”

Anti-Dow campaigners protested in central London ahead of a meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s inspection team. Protesters say the leak and its fallout have killed some 25,000 people and are calling for the company’s sponsorship of a fabric wrap around the Olympic Stadium to be cancelled.

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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London 2012: Dow Chemical defends Olympic Stadium sponsorship deal

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By Owen Gibson

The senior executive at Dow Chemical responsible for its Olympic sponsorship has insisted there is no chance of it dropping the controversial wrap that will surround the stadium at the London Games.

Campaigners have called on London 2012 organisers to end their relationship with Dow over claimed links to the 1984 Bhopal disaster, which killed more than 15,000 people. But George Hamilton, Dow's vice-president of Olympic operations, described the company's critics as "irresponsible". Hamilton said: "This issue is not our issue. We're not going to be bullied by activists or politicians who want to get involved in this, whatever their driver may be. We're not going to allow that to make us waver from our commitment to the Olympic movement."

Dow signed a $100m (£63m) 10-year deal with the International Olympic Committee in 2010 and last summer agreed to sponsor the £7m wrap that will surround the stadium. The issue has led to calls from politicians, including Tessa Jowell, the shadow Olympics minister and London 2012 board member, and Ken Livingstone, Labour's London mayoral candidate, to scrap the deal. But the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the IOC have repeatedly backed Dow's stance.

London 2012's chairman, Lord Coe, this week defended the association in the face of hostile questioning from the London Assembly member Navin Shah, who said the issue was "damaging the credibility of the standing of London and the Games".

Hamilton said: "The people attacking Dow have woefully underestimated our character and who we are. They have underestimated our character, the contribution we've made to responsible care and use of chemicals, and they've underestimated our stamina. We've been here for 112 years and we're planning to go for the next 100."

Hamilton said that it had bought the assets of Union Carbide, the company that owned the Bhopal plant at the time of the gas leak, seven years after the Indian subsidiary had been divested to a third company, McLeod Russel India Ltd. He said: "We didn't buy the Indian assets or liabilities because they had sold them to McLeod Russel. So now to get Dow to take some action that says we are responsible. Legally? No. Ethically, morally? No."

The issue has escalated to the point where Indian government officials are considering boycotting the opening and closing ceremonies. The IOC on Thursday responded to a letter from the Indian sports ministry asking it to reconsider by restating its position that Dow neither owned nor operated the plant at the time of the disaster.

Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP who is leading a group calling for the deal to be re-examined, said that the issue of Dow's liability over Bhopal was only one among several that made it unfit to be associated with the Olympics. "This is not simply about one thing in a particular point in time. This company is not fit to be associated with the most sustainable Olympic Games ever."

Following a recent Westminster Hall debate, Gardiner said that he had written again to Coe outlining a series of issues with Dow and with the procurement process. He said he had yet to receive a reply.

Hamilton said Dow had decided to get involved with the Olympics to reach into new markets, including Russia and Brazil where the next two Games will take place, accelerate its "transformation strategy" of moving from being seen as the equivalent of a utilities company to a "solutions provider" and as a staff motivation tool.

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London 2012 Olympics: Dow Chemical puts blame for ongoing crisis in Bhopal at Indian government's door

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By Jacquelin Magnay

George Hamilton, Dow’s vice president of Olympic operations said the Indian government should bear the brunt of questioning about the contamination of Bhopal, rather than his company, which has come under sustained heat for a £7 million sponsorship of the London Olympic Games stadium wrap and the Olympic Movement in a $100 million deal.

As the first of the wrap’s 336 triangular panels is due to be installed around the Olympic stadium within weeks, the issue was once again debated in the London Assembly on Wednesday.

A motion to ban Dow Chemical officials from London House, to scrap the sponsorship and demand an apology from Locog to the victims of Bhopal for the offence caused by Dow’s sponsorship was rejected 10-11.

Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah, said Dow failed to meet Locog’s ethic and sustainability code and noted: “I’m disappointed the Liberal Democrats and Conservative Assembly Members voted against the motion, and equally saddened that Lord Coe has decided to continue with the deal with Dow.

"This is damaging to the credibility of the Games and the reputation of London.”

Dow Chemical purchased the parent company of Union Carbide, 17 years after it was responsibile for up to 25,000 deaths from a gas leak in 1984.

But in a rare analysis of the Bhopal issue, Hamilton told Telegraph Sportthe government of India had the financial liability in relationship to the Bhopal disaster and that if there was any corporate liability, it rested with Eveready.

Hamilton said the government responsibility had been confirmed by the Supreme court back in 1991 and it was then reinforced after the state government struck a deal back in 1998 with the then landowners Eveready.

Eveready (at the time called Macleod Russel India Limited) had purchased all of Union Carbide Indian assets.

Essentially, Hamilton says, when Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide, it didn’t own any of the Indian assets. They were owned by Eveready, which still operates in India.

Hamilton questioned why the Indian government was now seeking to attach Dow Chemical to a financial remediation plan when it was the government who had had the responsibility to clean up the site for more than a decade.

Hamilton said: ”If there is any questioning it has to be to the Indian government and why have they sat on their hands for 13 years?

”They [the government] took back the land from Macleod Russel India specifically to remediate the land and it has done nothing.

”Now the government is seeking to attach Dow to financial liabilities and responsibilities, when to date every court has said you can’t attach liability to a company that had no association, and this is the same government that has an obligation for additional claims.”

Hamilton argued that if people had a real interest in helping the people of Bhopal they were going about it the wrong way.

”It is very curious that the facts are clear and publicly available but repeated attempts by activists and some politicians are misguided, misinformed and misdirected,” he said.

”The company that purchased Union Carbide was now under Eveready. No one has interviewed Eveready, no one has targeted that company, Dow is not connected with it, but others are clearly connected with it, including the Indian government.”

However protest groups maintain that Dow Chemical, as the owner of the Union Carbide India’s parent company was ultimately responsible.

There are court cases debating the legal position including a long running case in the Southern District of New York.

Eveready said on its website that ”Eveready is neither responsible for the pollution as reported, nor is it liable for the clean up of the toxic material."

It says the responsibility lies with Dow Chemical through its ownership of Union Carbide USA and while it purchased the majority shares of Union Carbide India in 1994 at an auction sale, it has no relationship with the gas leak.

”The present business of the company is manufacture and marketing of fast moving consumer goods and has no connection with the pesticides business of Union Carbide,” the company says. It further adds that the Bhopal plant was closed permanently and all licenses cancelled by the government.

Eveready also claims that the state government took possession of the Bhopal plant ”unconditionally” in 1998.

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

London Mayor’s Budget: Enough to buy one onion

The four year term of the London Mayor and the GLA Members comes to an end on 3 May, when voters will be going to the polls. Last week, Assembly Members questioned the Mayor about his budget, which can only be overturned by two thirds of Assembly Members voting against it.

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This means it is impossible, given the political make up of the Assembly. This year’s budget is critical in that it gives an opportunity for the Mayor to present his vision and priorities for London and Londoners – this Mayor failed to do this.

I, along with my Labour colleagues, proposed a fully costed plan to cut transport fares by seven per cent, this will save commuters around £1,000 over four years. Labour’s proposal is to use Transport for London’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.

Mayor Johnson’s proposal of a one per cent cut to council tax means annual savings of  £3.10 for the average Londoner, or 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. 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.

The examination of the Mayor’s contribution in the last four years shows he has achieved next to nothing. He’s completed, with varying degrees of success, projects started by former Mayor Ken Livingstone and claimed credit for those initiatives as his own. We have seen his vanity projects like the new ‘routemaster’ bus design that is costing £12 million for just five vehicles.

Hire bikes paid for by increased fares but are becoming more and more unpopular with Londoners. And the City Hall council tax freeze, saving Londoners pennies,  is wiped out by the serious impact on the quality of life of Londoners with his huge fare rises, the reduction of police numbers on our streets and failing to deliver affordable social housing.

In all the key areas affecting London’s communities Mayor Johnson has failed to deliver. The number of police officers on our streets is down almost 2,000 in the last two years with incidents of burglary, theft and muggings up since last year.

The Mayor has increased public transport fares over and above inflation every single year since he was elected – a huge 26 per cent increase on average since 2008. As in previous years I have supported the Mayor’s decision not to put up his share of the council tax, and the one per cent cut in his precept this year. But this fails to provide meaningful help to our communities during the period of financial hardship. However, Mayor Johnson remains the main cheerleader for City bankers who caused the recession and continue to draw scandalous bonuses. The Mayor lacks vision and real commitment to support Londoners. The forthcoming election will be the opportunity for Londoners to have their say.

Navin Shah AM

Permanent link to this article
13th 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

Permanent link to this article
30th January 2012

‘TOTAL POLICING’ says New Met Commissioner

The Met Police Commissioner of London, Bernard Hogan Howe, visited Harrow early this month to talk about his ‘Total Policing’ concept to the residents of Harrow, Brent and Barnet. Addressing the gathering of the three Boroughs he explained his ambition of making London’s police the best service in the country and the world. However, he revealed a disturbing rise in crime and burglary figures (noted below) in the boroughs of Brent, Harrow and Barnet.

Compared to the 2010/11 figures:

  • In Brent personal robbery has increased by 14%, residential burglaries have gone up by 15% and there is decrease of 31% in detection rate. Over the same period there were 19,600 cases of stop and search with 7% arrest rate as compared to 4,200 cases of stop and search incidents in Harrow.
  • In Harrow personal robbery has increased by 63%, residential burglaries have gone up by 15% and there is decrease of 31% in detection rate. Over the same period there were 4200 cases of stop and search with 7% arrest rate with dramatic increase in sickness level in PCSOs and overall increase in the level of police sickness.

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Attending this meeting, in my constituency of Brent and Harrow, which was a very welcome initiative from the new Met Commissioner I took the opportunity to quiz him on one the most important issues about reduced police numbers in both Brent and Harrow. With the crime and burglary numbers rising I have grave concerns about depleted safer neighbourhood teams with reduced number of sergeants and the ability of Brent and Harrow to remain safe.

I also pointed out to the Commissioner residents' concerns during the London Olympics when a large number of local police would be deployed in London. In his reply to the reduced police numbers the Commissioner said he was reasonably confident that the resources were broadly right for now and he told the audience to expect a ‘significant announcement in April’. On the matter of police cover in Brent and Harrow during the Olympics he accepted that there would be smaller police numbers in outer London Boroughs but he’d be able to manage as there’d  be help from ‘mutual aid’ deployment of police forces from other parts of the country.

I have no doubt that the Commissioner is ambitious and serious about his plans to improve London’s policing. But I’m concerned that we are witnessing a trend of increased crime and burglary rates as confirmed by the Commissioner and the decreasing police numbers including loss of half of sergeants would hamper our Safer Neighbourhood Teams from keeping our localities safe and put at risk our success in combating crime. I wonder whether the Commissioner’s reference to ‘significant announcement in April’ is about a short term fix before the Mayoral elections. Reduced level of police during the London Olympics in Outer London areas like Harrow and Brent remains a big cause of concern to me.

Navin Shah AM

Permanent link to this article
30th January 2012

Bus drivers treated 'like animals' over toilet closure says Navin Shah

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By Natalie O'Neill

BUS drivers were forced to urinate in bushes "like animals" after their toilets were vandalised and closed, according to the London Assembly Member for Harrow and Brent. Navin Shah made the comments in relation to the decision by Transport for London (TfL) to close toilets outside Brent Cross Shopping Centre in Hendon, after the walls were covered in swastikas last November.

The facilities were reopened last Friday, but Mr Shah said it should have happened sooner and alternative arrangements should have been made in the meantime.

He said: “I find the whole situation totally outrageous. The bus drivers have been treated like animals and with total contempt by TfL.

“I have spoken to a range of bus drivers who are greatly angered and extremely upset at the way they were being treated. In this day and age to not provide toilets and make them use the bushes is inhumane. I have never heard of such a scenario.”

A petition called We are Not Dogs was launched calling for the toilets to remain open. It has been signed by around 300 people, including Mr Shah and mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone.

Campaign spokesman, Gerry Downing said: “The toilets were closed for 30 of the 39 days between November 28 and January 13.

"There was no reason to close them at all - they were fully functional all that time, as proved by the fact that the TfL officials used it themselves all that time, as they have the key.”

But Mike Weston, operations director for London Buses, said: “TfL has worked hard to ensure suitable bus driver toilet facilities are available at least one end of each of our routes.

"The toilets are solely for the use of bus drivers and as such, we expect drivers to respect these facilities.

“If a minority of bus drivers continue to vandalise these toilets we may forced to close these facilities permanently.

“If a bus driver is found to be misusing the facilities, they are likely to face disciplinary action by the operator that employs them.

“If the toilets are closed, bus drivers will be expected to find alternative toilet facilities, such as those in local bus garages.”

We are Not Dogs also calls for the conversion of a broom cupboard to expand 24-hour toilet facilities, a Muslim shower and prayer area and better mess room facilities for more than 70 drivers who take their meal breaks at Brent Cross.

TfL has said the mess room is undergoing refurbishment, which should be completed in the next couple of days.

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Permanent link to this article
17th January 2012

NEW YEAR BRINGS NEW HIKE IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT FARES

In 2012 I want to see a safer, fairer and equal London and continue my work with our richly diverse communities in Brent and Harrow. To deliver this vision my New Year's resolution is to fight a successful election in 2012 and be part of the team Londoners can be proud of.

Right from the beginning of the New Year Londoners have been hit hard by a fourth year of inflation-busting fare increases from London’s Mayor. The fares in London are now costing over a quarter of the minimum wage take home pay and the increase hits Londoners hard at a time when people are facing a squeeze on their quality of life and the London economy continues to struggle under George Osborne’s failed policies.

This is the wrong fare rise at the wrong time, taking money out of people’s pockets when the London economy is struggling and when people are very hard-pressed. The impact of the fares increase applies across Harrow, Brent and London and across ages and income brackets. Every year the Mayor rakes in more income from fares than his budgets and business plans say he will.

Under the Tory Mayor the cost of a single bus ticket has risen by a massive 50 per cent since 2008. The price of a monthly zone 1-2 Travelcard is up 21%, costing £230.40 per year more and the price of a zones 1-6 Travelcard is up a fifth since 2008. Since Boris Johnson was elected in 2008 fares have risen to a staggering level:

  • Bus fares have gone up from 90p in 2008 to the current £1.30. Cost to passengers is £176 per year
  • Outer London is hit hardest. Last year the Mayor withdrew, in the guise of ‘simplification’ the zone 2-6 travelcard (£5.10), forcing passengers wishing to travel from zone 6 but not into zone 1 to buy a premium priced zone 1-6 (£8) card.

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New figures from the House of Commons library shows the increase means an office manager in central London earning £25,600 living in zone 1 or 2 would have to work for three weeks and three days before the cost of their travel was covered. A cleaner on the minimum wage (£11,730) would have to spend 27 per cent of their take home pay in order to pay for a weekly zones 1-6 Travelcard. A newly qualified nurse working in inner London (£25,411) and living in Zone 4 would have to have to work for 5 weeks and a day before they'd paid for their travel, whilst a shop assistant earning the London Living Wage (£16,013) would have to spend 21 per cent of their take home pay to be able to afford to pay for a weekly zones 1-6 travelcard. Hardly surprising that this year’s Annual London Survey showed that 48 per cent of people questioned said the price of fares were their top concern.

Against the impact of unprecedented fare increases by Mayor Johnson, Ken Livingstone is offering a ‘Fare Deal’ to commuters. He plans to cut fares by 7 per cent and slash bus tickets from £1.35 to £1.20. His proposals also include wiping out the Tory Mayor’s planned increases for 2012 and saving the average commuter £1000 over the next four years. That’s what Londoners want, and need.

Navin Shah AM

Permanent link to this article
13th January 2012

NHS Cancer Screening Explained

The NHS offers various cancer screening to people who turn a certain age, when they are more at risk of developing a particular cancer.

Breast Cancer

At the moment the breast cancer screening is available to all women over the age of 50 every three years. They invite all women who are registered to GP practices so not all women will receive the invitation on their 50th birthday but will receive it before their 53rd. Women then have to make an appointment with the nearest breast screening unit. They will explain the procedure of the mammography and will ask the patient if they still want to go ahead with it. The results are usually sent within two weeks to the woman and the GP.

Cervical Cancer

Women aged between 25 to 64 are invited to get a cervical cancer screening. Local Primary Care trusts or GP practices send out invitations and women have a choice of going to their local GP or to a family planning clinic to get the test done and the procedure is explained once you get there. Results should be available within two weeks.

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Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer screening is the latest screening available and all the invitations will be sent out to those who are eligible by the end of 2012. They invite people from the age of 60 to 69 for A bowel cancer screening. For bowel cancer they send out kits explaining the instructions which the patient has to send back to a laboratory for it to be tested. There is a helpline facility with this to help people who are unsure of anything. Results will be sent back within two weeks.

Prostate Cancer

There is no prostate cancer screening available but there is an informed choice programme called Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme which provides information about the cancer. The information packs are sent to GP’s to guide men who are worried about the cancer and all the information needed if someone did wish to take the test.

The NHS sends out these invitations to people so people can keep a check on their health and because cancer is treatable when it is caught at an early stage. However if people do not wish to take part in these screenings they do not have to, even though it is strongly recommended. NHS takes patients’ consent very seriously and they will send out all the educational material needed for people to make an informed decision on the particular screening. 

All screening information is available here or contact your local GP for more information.

Lack of facilities angers bus drivers

I am working with the "We are not Dogs" Campaign, who are organising a lobby of Boris Johnson against the closure of the Brent Cross toilet and for decent toilet and mess room facilities for the bus drivers.

At the moment and on many occasions over the years, Transport for London has closed the only toilet the male and female drivers due to seemingly inconsequential reasons. This leaves the drivers with little alternative but to use the bushes near the Brent River when Brent Cross Shopping Centre is closed.

This leaves drivers vulnerable to being fined, as has happened in the past. Since 28 November TfL has closed the toilet 3 times (25 out of  37 days on 4 January), and say it cannot be opened now until February.

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TfL is threatening to close it permanently because of the graffiti that has appeared on the wall, which one selfish person is responsible for and is not the fault of all other drivers.  

These 'facilities' are for around 70 bus drivers and are completely inadequate. The drivers will be attending the 'Talk London' event in Barnet on 17 January to question the Mayor directly about this. For more information about the event, please see here.

Navin Shah

Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow

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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Permanent link to this article
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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Permanent link to this article
23rd 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

Permanent link to this article
8th December 2011

“SAY NO TO DOW” - Campaign Seeking Justice For Bhopal’s Victims

It was a moving experience to be in Bhopal on 2 December and pay tribute, outside the disused 'Union Carbide' Factory, to the victims of Bhopal disaster in 1984. Standing alongside hundreds of people from Bhopal many of whom had suffered one way or the other from the calamitous events 27 years ago on this very day and still continue to suffer gave me just a tiny ounce of idea of the scale and the impact on the masses of people and the environment.

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I stood outside the compound wall of the factory stunned with mixed emotions of sadness, shame and anger. Sadness for the fact that up to 25,000 people were killed from the disaster and approximately 100,000 still suffer from ailments as a result of the disaster. Shame that the tragedy occurred at the factory owned then 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. Furthermore ashamed also that the ‘London Olympics Organising Committee for Olympic and Paralympics Games’ (LOCOG) chaired by Lord Coe has decided to award a ‘Wrap’ sponsorship contract for the Olympic Stadium to Dow Chemicals - the very company at the centre of ongoing and inhumane conduct leading to ongoing injustice to the victims of Bhopal.

A few weeks ago I joined a campaign in London launched by Barry Gardiner MP, for the immediate withdrawal of the Dow Chemical’s sponsorship by LOCOG followed by launching a petition in the Sattavis Gam Centre in Brent opposing Dow Chemical’s sponsorship. I’m grateful to the Brent Indian Association for leading the support as local organisation and other organisations for their presence at the launch of the petition. The campaign is a cross-party (non-political) initiative with a joint letter to Lord Coe signed by individuals and organisations.

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I urge you to sign our petition or become joint signatory as an organization. Please contact me at navin.shah@london.gov.uk.  

During my private visit to Bhopal on the 27th anniversary of the disaster, I launched a local petition together with a joint letter (for Bhopal/Indian organizations) thus extending the campaign to the very heart of the cause and adding the voice of the very victims and people of Bhopal, India. The visit proved to be an eye opener and gave me the first hand account of the tragedy as well as impressive work being done by the local organisations like Sambhavna Trust and Chingari Trust.

Sambhavna Trust, with donations/contributions from Greenpeace (Nederland) etc. was opened in 2005 and Chingari Trust has operated since 2006. My visit to these two centres demonstrated the great medical and educational support and awareness they provide on a day to day basis to the victims and families.

The highlight of my visit was also participating in the annual procession (demonstration against Dow Chemicals) attended by hundreds of victims/sufferers including second / third generation children with deformities and individuals and organizations. The procession lasted over two hours, passing through the busy areas of Bhopal’s town centre and ended outside the former disused Union Carbide factory reminding people of the tragedy and the continuing injustice dished out by Dow Chemicals. The town during the procession was echoing with the shouts and slogans like: ‘27 years are enough’; ‘Enough is enough’; ‘We’ll fight – We’ll win’ and ‘Give voice to victims’.

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LOCOG’s decision to award sponsorship to Dow Chemicals is inconsistent with their code of sustainability and ethical standards. The victims deserve justice and fairness, it is also important to protect London’s reputation and Olympic legacy. For this I urge Lord Coe to withdraw Dow Chemical’s sponsorship.

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5th December 2011

'Bhopal tragedy was like a dance of death'

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By Ted Jeory

ON ITS website, Britain’s Olympic stadium sponsor Dow Chemical states the “role of chemistry is to do more good in the world”.

It says: “We are committed through chemistry to the betterment of global humanity”, that “we place a high value on listening to our communities and strive not just to be a good neighbour, but a global corporate citizen”.

These boasts may have persuaded 2012 boss Lord Coe and his friends on the International Olympic Committee to invite the US giant into their big Games Family, but the people of Bhopal beg to differ: literally.

Within a few hundred yards of the derelict Union Carbide pesticide plant that spewed deadly gas over the Indian city’s slums on December 3, 1984, is a clinic run by two angels of mercy dedicated to nursing hundreds of children who are still born maimed to this day.

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Rashida Bee, 55, and Champa Devi Shukla, 59, who themselves suffered, grieved and survived the disaster, are founders of Chingari Trust, which scours slums to warn pregnant women the well-water they are drinking is most likely contaminated due to a failure to clear the plant.

The two women and a team of 17 staff have about 400 youngsters on their books but a lack of funds means they can only cater for 128 at any one time.

Dow, owner of Union Carbide since 2001, and Lord Coe like to talk about “sustainability” when it comes to the Olympic Games but the word has an ironic feel to many in Bhopal. The clinic costs about £31,000 a year to run, while Dow, which has failed to clear the contamination from the Bhopal plant or contribute a penny to medical efforts in the city, is funding a £7million “sustainable” fabric wrap around the 2012 stadium in return for exclusive marketing rights.

As Rashida Bee and Champa Devi point out, £7million would allow them to treat hundreds more children and sustain their efforts for 60 years.

They founded the clinic in 2006 by donating the entire £90,000 they were given two years earlier as winners of the prestigious Goldman Environment Award, which is regarded as the Nobel prize for environmental efforts.

Bhopal, with its crumbling roads and choking pollution, is no place to be disabled and judges recognised the pair’s 15 years of selfless work with those gas victims, particularly women, whose rights they now champion. The pair had noticed that children in the areas closest to the pesticide plant were born with appalling disabilities, including twisted limbs and mental problems.

With the money from the award, they were able to expand their work and the spotless clinic is now a shining example of community action. From Monday to Friday, they bus in the children, all of whose parents are gas victims, and give them speech and physical therapy, while on Saturdays they venture among the slums and educate inhabitants who are culturally afraid to show their disabled children in public.

Last year, ironically, a number of youngsters such as smiling nine-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer Aman Quereshi, participated in India’s Special Olympics for disabled children.

What inspires Rashida Bee and Champa Devi is their own history and a desire to right what they see as corporate and political injustice that killed up to 25,000 people and injured about 500,000 more. Rashida lost her father, sister and four close relatives as a result of the leak, while Champa Devi saw her late husband suffer for years with cancer caused by the tragedy. Her son suffered so badly with the pains in his lungs, it drove him to suicide.

“He couldn’t live with it any longer,” she said. “The leak destroyed my family. Gas had rushed into our house. We couldn’t breathe. We ran out, it was like a dance of death, people were actually wanting to die the pain was so bad.

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“White foam was coming out of my daughters’ mouths. We headed for the hospital but the doctors had no clue how to cope. Some victims who fainted were thrown on to a pile of corpses.” Rashida added: “I was woken by people shouting, ‘Run for your lives, you’ll die.’ We ran, but later my eyes shut tight, I couldn’t open them, but when I did all I could see were corpses.”

They both now say that Dow, although it has never owned the plant, “is our enemy” because they “should show some morality, clean the waste and take it back to America”. Rashida said: “They knew about this waste and the suffering it causes when they bought Union Carbide. They’ve spent billions of dollars on their business, but they’ve not contributed anything to Bhopal. It is left to the women here to fight.”

On Friday, as a campaign escalated in the UK, groups in Bhopal burned effigies of Dow’s stadium wrap and of Lord Coe, who many want to visit the city. The anger was intense but campaigners, including the British based Bhopal Medical Appeal, which funds Chingari Trust, are also glad of the renewed global attention brought by Lord Coe’s decision to give Dow a clean bill of health. The campaign was losing momentum – waiting for a bigger anniversary than the 27th on Friday.

It is also a city divided by what campaigners see as a deliberate betrayal of victims by politicians and multinational company bosses. After the 1984 leak, state officials declared only parts of the city “gas-affected” so when Union Carbide agreed to set up a fund of £250million in 1989, claimants were restricted to those areas.

Wealthier areas suffered less, largely because it was their residents, the ruling class, who gave Union Carbide the go-ahead to build its plant close to the city centre and its slums. Judges were said to have treated desperate victims like criminals, handing out meagre compensation awards.

The US Union Carbide bosses were allowed to escape India without facing questions or trial.

The Indian government owned half of the Union Carbide subsidiary and Dow’s lawyers say it is up to them to clean the site. Ashutosh Shukla, a Bhopal journalist, said: “The history of Union Carbide shows a democratic country like India can be bought by multinational companies who can get away with a crime of this magnitude.”

 

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Dow now wants to build water treatment plants in India, but not in Bhopal. London Assembly member Navin Shah, who visited the city on Friday, said: “I hope Coe and Dow do the right thing. If the Olympics legacy is to mean anything, they have to be serious about morality.” Dow insists it has no liability towards Bhopal and is dedicated to creating a safer chemical industry.

The International Olympic Committee said: “Dow never owned or operated the facility in Bhopal, and the state government of Madhya Pradesh owns and controls the former plant site.”

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4th December 2011

UK Assembly member opposes 2012 Olympics Dow sponsorship

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By Zafar Alam Khan

More trouble is brewing up for the Dow Chemicals sponsored London Olympics 2012 as the boycott call by the gas victims’ relatives, survivors and the organisations working for their welfare got a shot in their arm through support from an unexpected ally, a member of the Greater London Assembly Navin Shah.

Shah who is in India for a family function and would be visiting the State capital on Friday while talking to The Pioneer from Ahmedabad over the issue said, “It is ethically wrong to get sponsorship from a company which is responsible for homicide of hundreds of Indian fellows and is not responding to Indian apex court orders.” Shah who represents Brent and Harrow constituency in  North West London further said, “I represent a  constituency of London that has a sizeable population of Indians. Londoners have principles that are based on ethics and moral code and if we are serious about London and its reputation than we should oppose the wrong and unethical sponsors of the games that are going to be held in our city.”

He said, “These Olympics were meant to be about a fitter Britain, but they’ve got a series of sponsors associated with ill-health and death. You’ve got Coca Cola, you’ve got MacDonalds hamburgers which are the key culprits for childhood obesity, and now you’ve got Dow that was once responsible for killing hundreds of people. It’s just a grotesque contradiction in terms to talk about the Olympics, but to have so many sponsors who have negative connotations when it actually comes to good health.”

Shah said that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has “got it wrong” and Dow sponsorship is unethical and immoral. The LOCOG has awarded the contract to build the decorative wrapping on the Olympic Stadium to Dow.

The London Olympics 2012 boycott call over the sponsorship by Dow Chemicals given by the organisations working for survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal has started gaining momentum. Former Olympians from the country were the first to extend their support for the cause that was followed by politicians including the Chief Minister and the latest to join the bandwagon is none other than the member of the Greater London Assembly, Navin Shah.

SIGN THE PETITION

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2nd December 2011

Ex-Olympians to lead rally for gas survivors

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BHOPAL: A member of Indian origin in the Greater London Authority, Navin Shah, and several former Olympians are expected to lead a rally on Thursday here, endorsing support for the Bhopal gas victims and voicing their opposition to allowing Dow Chemicals to be a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics 2012 .

The rally was jointly announced today by gas survivor's organisations who demanded that the Indian government oppose Dow's sponsorship of the Olympics games and make it pay up an adequate compensation the deaths and lingering hurts caused by the disaster of 1984.

The organisers said Olympians Ashok Dhyanchand, Jalaluddin Rizvi, Sameer Daad and others have confirmed their participation Navin Shah said he was joined by the Labour Party's Friends of India and a cross-party coalition of MPs at the Olympic site to urge the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to review its decision to have Dow as a sponsor.

The LOCOG had awarded the contract to build the decorative wrapping on the Olympic Stadium to Dow.

The rally beginning in the afternoon, will start from the Bharat Talkies crossing and wind its way through Union Carbide's abandoned factory. At the end of it, a public meeting will be held in front of the factory, and the Chairman of the London Olympics organising committee, Lord Sebastian Coe, will be burnt in effigy.

 

SIGN THE PETITION

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1st December 2011

Increase in teenagers injured by knives in Brent and Harrow

The number of teenagers injured by knives has jumped 16% in Brent and 90% in Harrow in the last year, new figures show.

I feel the figures are disturbing and I call on the Mayor to do more to "get a grip" on the problem.

In Brent there were 50 teenagers, aged 13-19, injured last year (2010/11), up from 43 in 2009/10.

In Harrow there were 19 teenagers, aged 13-19, injured last year (2010/11), up from 10 in 2009/10.

The Mayor said in his 2008 manifesto, "by using all the powers available to the Mayor and taking a fresh approach, we can tackle knife and gun crime in London".

The Mayor made lots of promises during his election campaign, sometimes unfairly and distastefully using the deaths of young people to grab headlines.

These disturbing figures show that for young people in Brent and Harrow his plans have failed and he was wrong to pretend there are any easy solutions to this problem. He now needs to get a grip on this problem urgently.

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25th November 2011

Assembly member Navin Shah asks people to name most dangerous roads

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By Suruchi Sharma

ROAD-USERS are being asked to name the most dangerous roads, junctions and roundabouts in Harrow and Brent this week.

Last week London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah, backed pedestrians and cyclists on improving a "dangerous" junction in The Broadway, Stanmore.

He has raised the matter with Mayor Boris Johnson and is awaiting a response.

This week Mr Shah has asked members of the public to name the most dangerous roads for Road Safety Week.

Mr Shah said: "Recent incidents on London's roads such as what happened on Stanmore Hill are a stark reminder of the dangers cyclists and pedestrians face every day.

"I'm keen that the matter is resolved as a matter of priority to ensure that both the traffic lights, the road junction and crossings are altered to make them safe to avoid a repeat of any accident or injury.

"I'm also keen to find out how confident local residents feel getting to work, on the school run or going to the shops."

To tell Mr Shah about a dangerous road in your area email navin.shah@london.gov.uk

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22nd November 2011

Boris: I’m "strong supporter" of fire museum (but we’re closing it anyway)

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By London SE1 website team

 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has described himself as a "strong supporter" of the London Fire Brigade Museum just days before the Conservative-led fire authority is expected to approve proposals to shut it down.

The Mayor was asked by Labour London Assembly member (and fire authority member) Navin Shah whether his vision for a combined 'blue light' museum of London's emergency services is now a "dead duck".

"I am a strong supporter of the London Fire Brigade Museum," replied Mr Johnson.

"I have been informed by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority that the current fire brigade museum will need to close when the training site is eventually sold but they have assured me that the collection will stay where it is until that time and then be placed in storage until a permanent home is found for the collection.

"I remain supportive of the idea of creating a blue light museum in the long-term. The responsible authorities (LFEPA, Metropolitan Police Authority and London Ambulance Service) are unable to pursue this aspiration at present because of the difficulty of raising sufficient set-up funds in the current economic climate."

The fire authority will meet on Thursday afternoon to consider budget proposals which include the closure of the museum on Southwark Bridge Road.

Mr Johnson's comments suggest that the collection will not be dispersed; this is at odds with the papers to be considered by the fire authority which say that the museum closure (on 1 April next year) "would generate savings from October 2013 once the 7,500 items in the collection have been disposed of to either other museums, the original owners or sold".

Trade unions have registered their concerns about the authority's plans for the Southwark training centre site.

"The museum is a great resource which provides good publicity for the brigade and generates income for the authority," says Charles Adje of the GMB union.

Last week Brian Coleman, chairman of LFEPA, complained that the blue light proposal has been scuppered by the Metropolitan Police which refuses to allow its infamous 'black museum' to be incorporated into the attraction.

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22nd November 2011

Closure of London Fire Brigade Museum is "ill-conceived" says authority member

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Last week we reported that the fire authority's chairman Brian Coleman had tabled a proposal to close down the museum which is located at Winchester House on Southwark Bridge Road.

Three years ago a similar proposal was withdrawn after objections were raised by serving and retired firefighters, unions and museum users.

So far more than 1,100 people have signed a petition calling on the authority to save the museum which costs just £81,000 a year to run.

"I believe that the whole proposal is ill-conceived," said Cllr Navin Shah AM, a Labour member of the fire authority. "This is our heritage and history we are talking about."

Cllr Shah was speaking at a meeting of the authority's finance and personnel committee on Monday morning.

"The right approach would be to look at how we can invest in a more accessible, better museum which can enhance the educational aspects ... rather than losing the entire collection at a stroke."

Cllr Shah added: "This should be off the agenda. We should look at how we can safeguard and enhance the provision. I thought that the Mayor's proposal for a blue light museum was a good one ... but obviously that has disappeared in smoke."

Cllr Terry Stacy, a Lib Dem member of the fire authority, said he understood the need to make cuts but warned that the museum closure and other proposed savings would "allow resentment to build among staff and the community as a whole".

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"There's a lot of huffing and puffing about the museum," Brian Coleman told the committee.

He explained that the future of the museum would have to be considered in the context of plans to outsource the training of firefighters which is currently carried out at the Southwark Bridge Road site.

"In the medium term Winchester House and the whole Southwark [training centre] site will go," he said. "It will have to be disposed of. When [the site] goes, there's no space for the museum.

"I wish we had money to invest in the museum. I wish we didn't have to make the various cuts ... but I see no proposals from the Labour group on how we can make up this deficit bearing the mind the cuts target we have been by the Mayor which is part of his political directive to freeze the precept for Londoners."

Cllr Coleman added: "I would be happy to reverse the proposed savings if Cllr Shah could propose other savings or other sources of revenue."

Turning to the proposal for a combined museum of London's emergency services, Cllr Coleman said: "It was actually my idea, worked up with the late Sir Simon Milton, to have a blue light museum, and [the Mayor's culture advisor] Munira Mirza spent £8,000 of taxpayers' money on getting a consultant in to look at it. I'd have done the exercise for 10 per cent of that fee.

"Sadly it's gone nowhere. Cllr Shah: you are more than welcome to ask questions at City Hall as to why it has gone nowhere. 

"I understand that the police wouldn't play ball – as ever – because the key attraction for a blue light museum would be the so-called 'black museum' from Scotland Yard.

"They queue round the block for the London Dungeon and I think they'd queue round the block for the contents of the 'black museum'.

He continued: "There's the London Ambulance Service Museum out in Ilford and several warehouses – which you are paying for – to store old police vehicles, believe it or not."

"I still believe that there is some merit in the blue light museum."

The proposal for the closure of the museum – and the overall draft budget for the fire service – will be considered at a meeting of the full authority on Thursday 24 November.

 

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14th November 2011

Policing fears as wards to share sergeants are revealed

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by Lorraine King

The 10 wards in the borough that will be forced to share five sergeants between them as part of the police cuts across London have been revealed.

Earlier this year London Mayor Boris Johnson annouced that some Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT) could lose their sergeants as plans to axe 150 across the Metropolitan Police Service.

According to documents obtained by Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, the following wards will be served with one sergeant: Barnhill and Welsh Harp, Kenton and Queensbury, Northwick Park and Preston, Mapesbury and Brondesbury Park, Kilburn and Queens Park.

All SNTs will still retain two PCs and three PCSOs.

Mr Shah is calling for Mr Johnson to reconsider the plans citing that the borough streets could be at risk.

He said: "There's a real risk that our streets will now start to feel less safe.

"Safer neighbourhood teams have been one of the Met's big success stories , since their introduction by Ken Livingstone, and the sergeants are an integral part of that. The Mayor's making the wrong cuts and should think again."

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of Policing, said: "Every ward will still have a Safer Neighbourhood Team, and every team will still be lead by a sergeant.

"Each borough will have the same strength in officer numbers. The only difference is that the sergeant may be shared amongst wards. In many cases this will lead to better co-ordination."

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3rd November 2011

Cuts to local police sergeants revealed

London Mayor Boris Johnson has cut the number of sergeants working in Harrow's local police teams, it has been revealed.

Safer Neighbourhood Teams - made up of one police sergeant, two constables and three community support officers - were rolled out to every ward in London before Boris Johnson was elected. But earlier this year the Mayor announced the number of sergeants in the teams across London would be halved - from 630 to 330.

According to information provided by the Mayor's office, the following wards in Harrow will now have to share a sergeant:

  • Pinner and Pinner South
  • West Harrow and Rayners Lane
  • Headstone North and Headstone South
  • Kenton East and Kenton West
  • Hatch End and Harrow Weald

Local London Assembly member Navin Shah said: "This comes on top of the cuts the Mayor has been making to the police for the last two years and there's a real risk that our streets will now start to feel less safe. Safer neighbourhood teams have been one of the Met's big success stories, since their introduction by Ken Livingstone, and the sergeants are an integral part of that. The Mayor's making the wrong cuts and should think again." 

In September it was revealed that Harrow has lost 34 locally-based police officers in the last year. The number of police officers across London has been cut by almost 2,000 in the last two years - from 33,404 in November 2009 to 31,527 today.

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28th October 2011

Mayor committed to 20 years of above inflation fare rises

Mayor Boris Johnson today rejected calls from local Assembly member Navin Shah to cut the cost of public transport in London in a row over fares at City Hall. The Mayor confirmed he is committed to putting fares up above the rate of inflation every year for the next twenty years.

Pressing the Mayor to "put commuters first", Brent and Harrow's London Assembly Member Navin Shah said "Londoners are paying more and getting less” under Boris Johnson.

TfL’s operating budget currently has a surplus of £727 million, which means fares could be cut by 5% to help put money back into the pockets of commuters. Labour Assembly members today called on the Mayor to use the money to lower fares.

But Boris Johnson said he remained committed to increasing fares above inflation for the next twenty years, saying a cut is "the last thing Londoners want or deserve”. He said reducing fares "is not right thing for this city."

The Mayor described the under-spends in TfL's budgets as "completely irrelevant" and said that cutting fares would be a "historic mistake".

 

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Speaking at City Hall today, Labour's London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow Navin Shah said: "Since Boris was elected, fares are up as much as 56 per cent. Tube delays are up 10 per cent – we’ve just had the worst week of delays and closures.

"A travelcard now costs residents in Brent and Harrow almost £400 a year more. Londoners are paying more and getting less but the Mayor still wants to raise fares above inflation every year for the next twenty years. He should be putting be commuters first and cutting fares instead of raising them"

Fares have gone up above inflation every year since Boris Johnson was elected. A single bus fare is up 56 per cent. In the same period the average annual operating surplus at TfL has been £301 million.

 

 

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12th October 2011

Harrow Time: Drop in Police Numbers

 

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London assembly member, Navin Shah, criticises drop in police numbers across borough

By Suruchi Sharma

THE LONDON assembly member for Harrow and Brent has raised concerns on a drop in police officers across Harrow after new figures were released this week.

Figures published by the authority (MPA) shows there were 403 full-time warranted officers in Harrow in March last year compared to 369 in July this year - resulting in a drop of 34 full-time warranted officers, which does not include special constables or PCSOs.

The data shows a slight rise in numbers from July this year.

London Assembly member Navin Shah said: "The London Mayor's cuts to police in Harrow undermine the fight against crime and should be reversed.

"The mayor is taking a serious gamble with crime by reducing police numbers in Harrow."

A statement from the Mayor's office said: “The Met has over 1,000 police officers leave each year through retirement alone and it is misleading and inaccurate to suggest that this is because of budget cuts.

“The Mayor has in fact boosted the Met budget by £43 million this year, which enabled the Met to be one of the only forces in the UK to re-open their recruitment.

“These figures also do not take into account the hundreds of special constables who are currently training to become full time police officers.

“By March 2012 the Met will have well over 32,000 police officers, 1,000 more than when the Mayor was elected.”

 

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23rd September 2011

Mayor's 'unfair' fare rises slammed

Local London Assembly member, Navin Shah, has described Mayor Boris Johnson's latest public transport fare rises as unfair and unnecessary.

The Mayor this week announced that fares will soon rise by as much as 8 per cent - the third significant hike since Boris Johnson was elected in 2008. A single bus fare has now gone up by 56 per cent.

A zone 1-6 travelcard will now cost commuters in Brent and Harrow an extra £160 a year.

Navin Shah, local Labour London Assembly member, said: "This is another painful and unfair squeeze on the pockets of anyone who has to use public transport. Bus, train and tube users are being made to pay for the Mayor's unnecessary shrinking of the congestion charge and re-design of the buses. 

"Boris should spend less time campaigning for tax cuts for the richest 300,000 people in London and more time keeping fares down for the other seven and a half million."

 

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Fare rises since 2008

Single bus ticket up 56%

·        was 90p in 2008

·        will be £1.40 in 2012

Costing Londoners £260 a year more

Weekly bus and tram pass up 47%

·        was £13.00 in 2008

·        will be £19.10 in 2012

Costing Londoners £317 a year more

Weekly zone 1-2 travelcard up 23%

·        Was £24.20 in 2008

·        Will be £29.80 in 2012

Costing Londoners £291 a year more

Weekly zone 1-4 travelcard up 23%

·        was £34.60 in 2008

·        will be £42.60 in 2012

Costing Londoners  £416 a year more    

 

 

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15th September 2011

Remembering with hope

Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, attended a service in St Paul’s Cathedral to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States of America and the twentieth anniversary of the Firefighters Memorial Trust.

Addressing the congregation at the service called  ‘Remembering with Hope’, Right Reverend Graeme Knowles stated how people of from many  backgrounds had come together  “to pray for the future security of the world, for a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect, for peace and freedom, for justice and the rule of law.”

The congregation was attended by Bob Neil MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Honourable Louis B. Susman, Ambassador of the United States of America, Courtney Cowart Survivor of 9/11, London Fire Brigade, representatives of Firefighters’ Memorial Trust and representatives of Interfaith Group.

 

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After the service, prayers were held at the memorial statue of firefighters, opposite the Cathedral, led by the Chaplain to the Firefighters Memorial Trust and National Chairman of the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen and Women.

Speaking after the service at the Cathedral and prayers at the Monument, Navin Shah Assembly Member and Labour lead members on London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) said: “The significance of the service for a peaceful world was to reflect on the atrocities in America ten years ago and the importance of working together in the spirit of hope for a peaceful world.

"The moving experience today also brought back the memories from my visit last year in August to Ground Zero site and the message of harmony and hope conveyed through the proposed  ‘National September 11 Memorial and Museum’ on Ground Zero Site to promote messages of commemoration and education.

"I’m pleased that the Memorial was opened today.”

 

 

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12th September 2011

Willesden and Brent Times: Jubilee Line closures

Brent politican slams transport bosses over further Jubilee Line closures

By Lorraine King

A politician has accused transport bosses of being untrustworthy after they announced the Jubilee Line faces further closures in the autumn.

Navin Shah London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow has slammed Transport for London after they promised the closures would be a thing of the past by the end of the summer.

However today (Wednesday), they announced a further three weekend closures between Stanmore and West Hampstead due to upgrade work on the Metropolitan Line.

Mr Shah, who has lobbied Boris Johnson, Tfl chairman and London Mayor, about the closures, has been left reeling by the news.

He told the Times: “TfL are a law on to their own and therefore can not be trusted about anything they say nor can the Mayor.

“Boris keeps fobbing off the people in Brent and Harrow as the deadline keeps on slipping.

“The whole situation is a complete fiasco.”

According to Mr Shah, the closures which stretch back to 2007, have had a detrimental effect on residents, commuters and traders.

He said: “Boris Johnson’s failure to end the weekend closures is causing huge disruption to millions of tube users and lost income to many small businesses.

“As a commuter I can say that there is one part of my journey that I dread on the way to City Hall and that’s when I’m on the Jubilee Line – it is a nightmare.

“Tfl should be ashamed of how they have allowed the Jubilee Line to operate.”

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A spokeswoman for the Mayor said: “The Jubilee line upgrade work is now complete and as part of a separate strand of upgrade work on the Metropolitan line, four partial closures are required at weekends on one part of the Jubilee line because the two lines run alongside each other in one section, leading to a shared depot.

“We appreciate that this does mean further frustrations when some interconnecting lines need maintenance and upgrade work.”

The closures will take place on September 3 – 4, 17- 18, and October 1-2 and 15-16 and effect the following stations: Stanmore, Canons Park, Queensbury, Kingsbury, Wembley Park, Neasden, Dollis Hill, Willesden Green and Kilburn.

Asian Voice Column: Providing Better Access to London's Public Spaces

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An area where I’ve come across constant passion, concerns and demand to improve legislation, in the last 18 years in public service, is the protection, enhancement of our open spaces (both in public and private ownership) and how we can improve access to open spaces for the enjoyment of local community and visitors.  This was the case when I served on Harrow Council’s planning committee for nearly 8 years as well as in my ongoing role in addressing planning policies in Harrow.  As the pressure to develop homes and other infrastructure has grown so has the pressure and absolute need to preserve and enhance our open/green spaces whether they are ‘private’ or ‘public’ has grown.

 

In my role of Assembly Member I’ve served on GLA’s Planning and Housing Committee since 2008 whose remit is to address / scrutinise strategic issues affecting Londoners including people living in the suburban areas like leafy Harrow and Brent that I represent. In late May the committee published its report “Public life in private hand”. The report especially focuses on the different ways the public realm (town/city squares, parks and thoroughfares) - is managed and it identifies a number of consequences relating to the shift in the ownership and management of public spaces from local authorities to developers.

 

The report in the nutshell urges the Mayor to preserve open access to London’s public spaces and asks the Mayor to use his planning powers to keep London’s public realm as open and accessible as possible and better manage the creeping trend towards private control of public space.

 

Three key areas emphasised in the recommendations made in the report:  

 

  1. The Mayor should consider developing Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on the public realm once the Mayor’s Draft London Plan is adopted.  The aim of this approach is to set out what is expected from public space in principle; clear guidance on how London’s boroughs could approach the provision and design of public realm, what desirable minimum standards are in terms of access and use, and how subsequent management responsibilities can be negotiated between boroughs and developers etc.

 

 

 

  1. As to the public spaces (in public / private ownership) in new developments the report recommends he Mayor to encourage London’s Councils to draw up meaningful written agreements with developers to enable it to secure the highest possible level of public access to properly managed public spaces  to achieve full and best public access and use of these space.  

 

  1. At the stage of preparing / amending local planning policies when preparing their ‘Local Development Framework’ the report recommends that the Councils should be mindful of how public space is to be managed in any significant schemes and how they will engage the community in both the design and the ongoing management process. This will go some way towards providing and protecting access to public spaces.

      
I agree with Nicky Gavron Assembly Member, Deputy Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee that high quality, safe and well-maintained public spaces play a major part in the London’s economy, environment and quality of life for both Londoners and visitors.  They are areas where people should feel welcome to meet, sit, eat their lunch or simply wander through. To access the full report or for more details visit the GLA website or contact me  at Navin.shah@london.gov.uk

Asian Voice Column: The NHS Shambles

Government’s NHS Proposals In Shambles

 

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The Health and Social Care Bill, a big gamble and privatisation proposal of our National Health Serv ice, since its conception has met with growing criticism and been a complete shambles. Mounting criticism from all sectors recently forced the coalition government in announcing a so called ‘listening exercise’  which ended this week.

At the heart of the Government both Andrew Lansley the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister are determined to plough ahead in the face of widespread criticism. It is for these reasons there’s been no confidence in the so called listening exercise. A recent You Gov poll promoted by 38 Degrees members found that 95% of the public have no idea how to get involved in the listening exercise and only one in five think Lansley is genuinely interested in listening. Many more suspect that the “listening exercise” is at best what Dr Hamish Meldrum of the BMA describes ”a political device”, and at worst a sham. The dissatisfaction about the new consultation continues to be wide ranging and this includes the trade unions, professional bodies, health charities and patient groups who are deeply concerned about the direction of Andrew Lansley’s NHS plans. It is insulting for the Mr Lansley to rubbish genuine concerns as misunderstanding, or a “storm in a teacup”. The British Medical Association has been scathing on this issue saying “It’s rather ironic that on one hand the Secretary of State says his proposals are there to give doctors more say, more involvement, to listen to them and to let them run the service, and yet when we tell them his plans aren’t working, he doesn’t seem to want to hear what we’re saying.” The British Medical Association has called for a series of changes to the proposals and warned that the entire Health and Social Care Bill may need to be withdrawn.

As reported in my prevous writeups in Asian Voice,  London Assembly’s Health and Public Sevices committee of which I’m Deputy Chair,  has scrutinised the health reforms together with the changes in Public Health and raised its concerns on the issues concening governance and impact on London. I am of a firm view that the listening exercise now conclded is no more than public relations exervice on the part of both  Tories and LibDems in Government and they will eventually force through the proposals which are part of the Coalition Government’s masterplan to attack the welfare state and privatisation agenda for which they have no mendate from people of this country. This is an attack on the most vulnerable in our society and I condemn both parties in the Government.

 

 

Asian Voice: Police Cuts: A Boost To Criminals!

 

It is most extraordinary that Tory Party, the so called Party of ‘Law and Order’ now in government is forcing through 20% cuts to police budgets over the next 4 years. This situation is compounded for London by the fact that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is facing a budget shortfall of £170m this year.

 

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has quite rightly  brought to our attention that "Far from protecting frontline policing as ministers promised, over 10,000 police officers are being cut in the next few years alone and that's 10,000 fewer police officers fighting crime, solving serious cases, or keeping our country safe. Cutting so fast and so deep into police budgets is crazy. It is completely out of touch with communities across the country who want to keep bobbies on the beat." Even the centre-right thinktank ‘Civitas’ has warned  that cuts to the police would boost criminals.

 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s administration is no different when it comes to cutting police numbers and the budget. Last year, long before the coalition government started forcing through its draconian measures, the Mayor proposed a reduction of police numbers by 455 over the next three years and 5% cuts in police budgets Londonwide. The Mayor  has further frozen the recruitment of new police officers, which has resulted in the police estimating that they will have 900 fewer officers in March 2011 than they expected to have. This is the Mayor who pleadged ‘to spend less on press officers and more on police officers’ and ‘to redirect more resources to frontline policing’.

 

Mayor Livingstone introduced the Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) between April 2004 & April 2006 with dedicated teams of six officers in every single ward in London - an innovation that has been remarkably successful.  A report in 2008 demonstrated  that there is a positive association between SNTs and falling crime and increase in confidence in local police. To maintain the excellent work undertaken by the SNTs commitment to current level and composition of the current  model of neighbourhood policing is crucial and this was endorsed by the London Assembly in a resolution in March 2010.

 

In 2008 Boris Johnson at a Mayors Question Time stated “I fully support the Safer Neighbourhood Team model, and I am committed to ensuring that there at least 6 officers in every ward.” However now Mayor Johnson has backtracked on the commitment and refused to maintain the 3-2-1 model of neighbourhood policing and now believes any decision on policing structure is an operational matter for the Commissioner!

 

At the local level, within my constituency of Brent and Harrow, the Metropolitan Police have continually improved the quality of life for the boroughs' citizens over the last decade. I feel therefore that it is a backwards step for 19 police officers to be lost in Brent this year due to the Mayor's freeze in recruiting and similarly Harrow is set to lose 11 police officers in the coming year. I find this situation extremely worrying requiring police to choose which crimes they tackle with reduced resources. I am told that the local police in Brent and Harrow is consulting on ‘flexible ways of working’. This in reality could mean Safer Neighbourhood Teams being taken away from ‘safer’ wards to ‘problem’ areas. If the ’flexible’ working approach was to be deployed it would be critical to ensure that the so-called ’safe’ wards do not end up being neglected areas wiping out the good work carried out over the past years and endangering strong partnerships with local communities.

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7th February 2011

The Mayor must come clean on future of Neighbourhood Police teams

I am calling on Mayor Boris Johnson to "come clean" about the future of neighbourhood policing in Brent and Harrow following reports that bosses have demanded they be changed.

 

All twenty-one wards in each borough are each currently covered by a safer neighbourhood team (SNT) made up of a minimum of one sergeant, two police constables and three police community support officers. But reports from elsewhere in London suggest that the make up of the teams could be changed.

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 Safer neighbourhood teams work well and are highly valued in Brent. But despite Boris Johnson's promise to support them we're getting mixed messages about their future. The Mayor must come clean and be honest with Londoners about the reality of his cuts and whether our team is safe. I don’t want to see the level of crime creep up in Brent or Harrow because of tinkering with our local Safer Neighbourhood teams.

 

In Merton it was reported last week that, "The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, and Kit Malthouse, London’s Deputy Mayor in charge of policing, are demanding borough police forces scrap the existing “one-two-three” structure where each SNT has one sergeant, two constables and three community support officers."

 

And on BBC London this week, it was reported that in Westminster the police are proposing to merge 14 electoral wards in the north of the borough, each currently covered by six officers, into five bigger districts. "These proposals would result in a 50 per cent reduction in the number of sergeants, leaving those remaining responsible for policing a wider area", according to the BBC.

 

Acting Met commissioner Tim Godwin told the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) last week that the number of neighbourhood policing sergeants will be halved from 630 to 330 by the end of 2013.

 

 

Boris Johnson said in 2008, "I fully support the Safer Neighbourhood Team model, and I am committed to ensuring that there at least 6 officers in every ward."

 

The MPA is currently reviewing safer neighbourhood teams and is due to report later this month. I will of course update on this issue here.

You can find your SNT here: http://www.met.police.uk/saferneighbourhoods/

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4th February 2011

Boris Johnson: extending no 18 bus to Northwick Park Hospital not 'good value for money'

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By Jack Royston

EXTENDING a bus route from Sudbury to a Harrow hospital would not be “good value for money”, according to the London Mayor.

Boris Johnson was asked by Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, about the possibility of running the number 18 as far as Northwick Park Hospital, in Watford Road.

Mr Shah told the Mayor's Question Time meeting how residents had contacted him to say they found changing buses “difficult” and were in “desperate need of a solution”.

But Mr Johnson, who chairs the board of Transport for London (TfL), said the £1.3m annual price tag would be too high.

He said: “There is an existing high-frequency service on route 182 and convenient interchange between routes 18 and 182, at the same stop in many cases.

“Therefore, extending route 18 to the hospital would not represent good value for money.”

Mr Shah said: “I understand that previously this has been dismissed because route 182 already serves the Hospital.

“However, the interchange between route 18 and 182 is difficult and patients and visitors to the hospital are in desperate need of a simpler solution.

“They would like the Mayor to extend route 18 to Northwick Park Hospital.”

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26th December 2010

Harrow Christmas Challenge

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I attended Christmas dinner with a group of charming teenagers in December, which was part of Harrow Council's Christmas Challenge programme for young people. At the event there was tradtional Turkey and Yorkshire Pudding Meal and celebration with certificates awarded to Young Achievers at Churchill Place in Harrow. On my table there was a considerable interest from the youth about the London Olympics and how it will benefit Harrow.

The event was attended by attended by the Leader of the Council, Bill Stephenson and the Portfolio Holder for Children Services Cllr Brian Gate.

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22nd December 2010

LU claim ticket office sales continue to fall

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By Martin Hoscik

With RMT union members expected to demonstrate outside City Hall this morning over planned ticket office closures, London Underground bosses have published new figures suggesting ticket office sales have fallen by 15 per cent during the last year.

The unions and LU are currently in dispute over plans to close ticket offices with transport bosses insisting rising levels of Oyster use mean fewer ticket office transactions are taking place.

Plans to close ticket offices were first announced by former-Mayor Ken Livingstone in June 2007. During 2008′s Mayoral election, Boris Johnson opposed the plans, signing a petition against the closures and making a manifesto pledge to stop them.

During the election Mayor Johnson wrote: “Ken Livingstone plans to close a large number of ticket offices at Tube stations, predominantly in outer London because he claims that the increase in Oyster use has made them surplus to requirements. However, what he has not taken into account is that local people feel it is important there is a manned ticket office at their station, as often there are not enough Oyster outlets in the local area.”

However earlier this year Transport for London unveiled similar plans to those previously condemned by the Mayor, leading to unions and political opponents accusing him of breaking his promise to Londoners.

Questioned over his u-turn by Labour Assembly Member Navin Shah at Mayor’s Question Time in March this year, Mayor Johnson claimed to have “no idea what the position of the previous Mayor was on this” and defended the closures.

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Hear Navin interviewed about the RMT Tube Workers' protest outside City Hall on 15 December here.

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15th December 2010

Mayor to face AMs and RMT at December Mayor’s Questions

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By Martin Hoscik

 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson will appear before the London Assembly on Wednesday morning for the final Mayor’s Question Time of 2010.  

Despite the closeness of Christmas, there’s little sign of festive goodwill in the listed questions with Green Party AM Darren Johnson wanting to know whether the Mayor will sack Fire Authority Chair Brian Coleman and AMs from all parties set to ask about the Government’s cuts to Mayor’s budget.

Labour’s Navin Shah wants an undertaking “that there will be no cuts to fire appliance provision in the current financial year, nor in the financial year 2011/2012″ while Conservative AM Tony Arbour is set to ask for an update “on negotiations with Government regarding the funding for economic development work in London” following reductions in the London Development Agency’s budget.

Still on the issue of the LDA and funding, Labour’s Murad Qureshi will ask how the Mayor will “see to it” that London retains its strengths in the low carbon economy without the LDA’s money, while LibDem Mike Tuffrey wants to know how he plans to “prioritise front line services and cut wasteful expenditure” in his forthcoming GLA budget.

Recent student demos will also be raised with Brian Coleman inviting the Mayor to agree that “there is no place for violence” in any protest. Expect AMs to seek Boris’s view on the reported possible use of water cannon to quell future unrest.

Before AMs ask their questions, the members of the RMT union will be staging a demonstration outside City Hall in protest at plans to close ticket offices on the Tube and job reductions.

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said: “Over 900 days into his leadership of this City he has failed to have a single meeting with the tube unions and on Wednesday we will be taking our message to stop the cuts right to Boris Johnson’s doorstep.”

Hear Navin interviewed about the RMT Tube Workers' protest outside City Hall on 15 December here.

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13th December 2010

Only 4 Stations in Harrow are accessible

New figures reveal that 71 per cent of Harrow’s stations cannot be used by people with restricted mobility

One in ten Londoners are excluded from large parts of the transport network because of mobility issues, according to a report by the London Assembly. The report found that in Harrow only 4 tube and rail stations out of 14 have step-free access.

There are 26,620 residents who live in the borough with reduced mobility. Stanmore and Harrow-on-the-Hill are two key stations in the borough that have been identified by local interest groups to have a severe lack of accessibility.

Local London Assembly member, Navin Shah, has called on Mayor Boris Johnson to get a grip of the situation. Last year the Mayor deferred the plans of his predecessor to make 22 stations step-free. Navin said: "Parents with buggies or prams, elderly people and those with disabilities are frozen out of so much of our transport network. Boris Johnson needs to get a grip of this and show that he is a Mayor for all Londoners.

“This affects a high number of residents in Harrow and little progress has been made. The refurbishment of Harrow-on-the-Hill will regenerate the area and make it a fully integrated transport hub. Stanmore is another station where lack of accessibility is just not good enough.” 

The full report, supporting maps and evidence can be found here. You can sign the petition here.

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26th November 2010

Only 6 stations in Brent are accessible

New figures reveal that 78 per cent of Brent’s stations cannot be used by people with restricted mobility.

One in ten Londoners are excluded from large parts of the transport network because of mobility issues, according to a report by the London Assembly. In Brent only 6 tube and rail stations out of 27 have step-free access. There are 33,225 residents who live in the borough with reduced mobility, yet only 43% of Brent’s bus stops are fully accessible.

Local London Assembly member, Navin Shah, has called on Mayor Boris Johnson to get a grip of the situation. Last year the Mayor deferred the plans of his predecessor to make 22 stations step-free. Navin said: "Parents with buggies or prams, elderly people and those with disabilities are frozen out of so much of our transport network. Boris Johnson needs to get a grip of this and show that he is a Mayor for all Londoners.

“This affects a high number of residents in Brent, yet little progress has been made. Lack of accessibility is just not good enough, especially when people from around the world come to Wembley to visit the stadium.” 

The full report, supporting maps and evidence can be found here.

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26th November 2010

Brent's Police teams under threat

London Mayor Boris Johnson gives green light to Brent police to change make up of safer neighbourhood teams.

Every ward in London is currently covered by a fixed model of one police sergeant, two constables and three community support officers. But Boris Johnson says this could be about to change. Supposedly ‘safer wards’ should have ‘flexibility’ to change the teams, the Mayor said this week.

If the ‘flexible’ working approach was deployed it would be critical to ensure that the so-called ‘safe’ wards do not end up being neglected areas and crime hotspots, wiping out all the good work carried out over the past years and endangering strong partnerships with local communities.

He said it was up to local police to decide whether they need the teams. "It would be crazy for me to order them to have a one size fits all approach", he told London Assembly members.

Local Labour Assembly member, Navin Shah, said: “Brent is already affected by the reduction in police numbers due to the freeze on recruitment. Neighbourhood policing in London has been a great success, and the model has worked well. It's worrying that the model which has served Brent for the last five years now appears to be under threat at the same time the number of officers on the beat is going to go down.”

At this month's mayor's question time on 17 November Boris Johnson said: "I don't want to be absolutely rigid about this. I'm not saying every ward has to have an identical configuration of sergeants, constables and PCSOs." He went on, "I'm not anticipating what the shape of the force is going to be after we've been through this process …. These are operational matters. I think that borough commanders will want to have some flexibility in deciding how their resources are to be distributed across their wards. Some wards will clearly be safer than others... I think there's a case for them to be give some margin for manoeuvre."

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23rd November 2010

Mayor appears to commit to protecting London's fire services

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By Tristan Kirk

THE Mayor of London appears to have quashed the idea of cutting the number of fire engines in the capital.

London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority last week agreed to investigate the possibility of cutting 27 appliances from the brigade in the wake of October's industrial action.

But Boris Johnson, when quizzed on the matter, said: “I have talked to the chairman [of the authority] about this matter and I'm assured there are no plans for a reduction in frontline services.”

When pressed by Navin Shah, assembly member for Brent and Harrow, Mr Johnson added: “I'm in favour of retaining the 27 fire appliances. I'm not going to get into some pointless argument with you when we are entirely in agreement that there shouldn't be a reduction of fire appliances.”

When the idea was suggested by the fire authority, chairman by Brian Coleman, it caused uproar among the Fire Brigade Union.

Mr Coleman suggested that the strike by the capital's firefighters had shown the brigade could cope with less resources, and the authority was obliged to investigate making cuts.

When the strike was called, 27 engines were used to provide fire cover.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the union, said 27 engines have now been taken out of service and accused Mr Coleman of acting spitefully.

He said: “I have an idea that Brian Coleman thinks he’s somehow punishing firefighters for their two recent one-day strikes, by confiscating 27 of their fire engines.

“It’s a childish way of behaving, and the Mayor should have told Mr Coleman to grow up and return London’s fire engines, not providing cover for him.

“What Mr Coleman wants to do is slash the fire service in London, and the Mayor covered up for him this morning. Neither of them know the first thing about the risks of firefighting.”

This is the latest twist in a rumbling dispute between the fire union and brigade management, who started talks on Tuesday to try to resolve the problems, about changes to shift patterns.

Ron Dobson, Brigade Commissioner, said: “I hope that the recommendations from the meeting will help us bring an end to the current dispute.

“Although the meeting won’t result in an immediate agreement, I do expect recommendations to come back to both ourselves and the Union within a week or so.

“I hope we can then finally agree start and finish times that will help us make Londoners and firefighters safer.”

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18th November 2010

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

Ticket Office Closures

TfL plans to shed up to 800 ticket office and gateline jobs on the London Underground came under fire this morning after a motion was passed opposing the move.

Labour Assembly Members led the charge against the Mayor of London, asking him to review the decision to lay-off London Underground employees in an effort to maintain service levels in stations across the network.

The motion was supported by all parties aside from the Conservative Assembly Members, who having previously walked away from debating ticket office closures, voted against the motion at the Assembly’s Plenary earlier today.

Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, said: “I find it disgraceful that the Mayor continues to betray Brent and Harrow and outer borough Londoners by refusing to do the right thing and reverse his decision to close ticket offices and his plans to restrict opening hours of ticket offices.

“The real issue here is the safety of passengers using London Underground and the accessibility of the service for passengers, which the closure of ticket offices severely jeopardises.

“The Mayor has done a complete U-Turn on this issue, having rigorously campaigned against closures in the last Mayoral election in 2008.

Having already cut £16 million from London Underground to staff tube ticket offices as well as cutting £28 million that would have made underground stations step-free, it appears that the Mayor’s policy is to say one thing but do the opposite.”

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20th October 2010

London Firefighters announce strike dates

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By Martin Hoscik

 

London firefighters are to stage two eight-hour strikes in a row over new employment contracts which would see changes to the lengths of their shifts.

 The Fire Brigades Union announced on Thursday that members in the capital had voted by 3,482 to 943 to take strike action unless Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson “withdraws his letter of 11 August which began the legal process of sacking the capital’s 5557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters.”

The union has now confirmed its members will strike from 10am on October 23rd and November 1st. Speaking earlier this week FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said “Firefighters hate going on strike – but they hate being bullied even more.”

Ahead of the ballot result the London Fire Brigade announced it had “withdrawn” 27 fire engines from stations across the capital “to prepare for the introduction of a contingency fire service” in the event of a strike.

Responding to the announcement of the strike dates. Cllr Coleman said: “Firefighters are going to be striking over plans to reduce a 15 hour night shift by three hours, and add those three hours to a 9 hour day shift. That is all these proposals seek to do, no station closures, no increase in hours and no change to the four day rest period between shifts. This is about making more time in the day for vital training and fire prevention work.

“We’ve been discussing this for five years and have offered to compromise, so it’s time for the FBU to stop blocking these changes.”

Navin Shah, London Assembly member and Labour’s leader on the Fire Authority said the strike was “bad news for Londoners” and claimed it could have been averted with better leadership.

Shah called on Cllr Coleman and Mayor of London Boris Johnson to “get round the table now and avoid a strike that nobody wants.”

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15th October 2010

Police cuts to hit Brent

Letter to the Press from Navin Shah AM:

Brent Police have continually improved the quality of life for the borough’s citizens over the last decade. I feel therefore that it is a backwards step for 19 police officers to be lost in Brent this year because of a freeze in recruitment, with the possibility of bigger cuts on the way.

Under plans revealed in a report presented to the Metropolitan Police Authority the force is set to recruit 900 fewer officers by next year than previously planned. I believe these cuts do not reflect the necessity to maintain a police presence in Brent, especially when it will lead to the police having to choose which crimes they tackle with reduced resources.

The report warns that the Met will not be putting the same amount of resource into tackling winter crime this year. In previous years "Operation Bumblebee" has sought to tackle the traditional rise in burglary around Christmas time. Budget pressures could mean the force having to decide "where to target resources (e.g. serious youth violence vs. burglary)", according to the report.

The report says the Met failed to meet twelve key targets in the first quarter of financial year 2010/11. Robbery is up 5.8 per cent; knife crime has increased to 4.1 per cent; and car thefts have increased for the first time in eleven years.

The country's finances obviously mean tough choices have to be made but when it comes down to having to choose between tackling violence or burglary, it's there for all to see what the government's cuts really mean. People round here didn't cause the financial crisis yet they are being expected to take the hit for it.

In the last few years we have seen record numbers of police, dedicated safer neighbourhood teams and falling crime. It looks like this is now under threat from the new government and Mayor.

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13th 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.

 

 

FBU Vote for Industrial Action

I am sad to say that the threat of industrial action looms over the London Fire Brigade this Autumn, over negotiations for new shifts and contracts. The Fire Brigade is overseen by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Association (LFEPA) and in September the Fire Brigades Union voted for industrial action short of a strike in protest at the new shift patterns, which they believe could endanger Londoner’s safety.

As the Labour Leader on LFEPA, I am anxious to see a resolution to this issue which satisfies and reassures these concerns. I have written to the Mayor of London urging him to take over negotiations with the FBU, either directly or through ACAS, but there is no doubt this will prove his first major test in industrial relations. You can find out more about LFEPA at www.london-fire.gov.uk.  

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23rd September 2010

London Cycle Hire Scheme Launches

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The London Cycle Hire Scheme, sponsored by Barclays launched in August, allowing members to use bicycles between docking points across Zone 1. Over half a million journeys have already been made on the bikes and I would urge my constituents to consider registering for the scheme for an alternative to the Tube in central London. Registration costs £48 for the key and one year, You can find out more at the TfL website.

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20th September 2010

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

Pedestrian Crossing Removal: Have Your Say!

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The Mayor has instructed Transport for London to identify pedestrian crossings “that may no longer be useful” with the aim of the removing them on the basis these “can impede the smooth flow of vehicles and pedestrians”.

145 sets of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings on London’s streets have been identified and Transport for London are now consulting with local councils but I think it is important that ordinary Londoners should be aware of the Mayor's plans and be able to raise their concerns.

While many crossings in London are over twenty years old, it’s important to remember that crossings are always put in for a reason - to make a road safer to cross, particularly for older people, those with disabilities, teenagers and parents pushing buggies or prams. My view is that this kind of measure should not be undertaken without serious consultation first, and with top priority given to the potential impact on safety for all road users, including of course pedestrians and cyclists.

Below is a list of the endangered crossings in Brent and Harrow. I’m particularly concerned by the large number of crossings in the Brondesbury Park area that have been identified, despite the high concentration of schools in this area.

If you have any comments or concerns about any of the proposals, please contact me. I will be passing all comments to both Transport for London and the local authority to ensure those who use the crossings get their say.

 

Brent

 

 

 

Type of Crossing

Location

Junction

Willesden Lane - The Avenue - Cavendish Road

Junction

Brondesbury Park / Sidmouth Road

Junction

Brondesbury Park / The Avenue

Junction

Fleet Water Business Centre (formerly Brent water estate) Northbound

Pelican

Brondesbury Park by Christchurch Avenue

Junction

Coles Green Road / Crest Road / Oxgate Lane

Junction

Neasden Lane / Quainton Street / Braemar Avenue

 

 

 

 

Harrow 

 

 

 

Type of Crossing

Location

Puffin

Kenton Lane by Belmont Circle North

Junction

College Road / Kimberly Road

Puffin

Kenton Lane by Belmont Circle South

 

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1st September 2010

The Jubilee Line Upgrade: No Light At the End of the Tunnel

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spaceball.gifLondon Underground have this week announced that the closure programme to complete the Jubilee Line upgrade is likely to continue into 2011.

 

The Jubilee Line, as all of my constituents know, has being subject to the upgrade works since early 2007. Over the last three years North West London has been subject to regular weekend closures, rail replacements services and a great deal of inconvenience.

 

London Underground, which is part of Transport for London, concluded the takeover of Tube Lines, the private consortium charged with upgrading the Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee Lines in June. At this point, while work already lagged behind schedule at over £100m over the original budget, it became clear there were a number of problems with the new signalling system required to boost capacity on the line.  TfL immediately announced closures up to December, but this week, following testing of the signals on Saturday August 21st,  it is rumoured to be unlikely the work will be completed before the end of March 2011.

 

When the Jubilee Line is finished, North West London residents will benefit from more frequent trains and shorter travelling time, but this is a distant reward after years of considerable inconvenience and cost to businesses and residents.

 

The closures up until December, which unfortunately particularly affect the North-Western end of the line as much of the work is in the Neasden area. These still may change at short notice so I would advise you to check your journey on www.tfl.gov.uk before you travel. I will of course post news as soon as I receive it. 

 

 

 

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1st September 2010

Visit to the Shri Swaminarayan Nutan Mandir, Bhuj, Gujurat, India

Inauguration of the Shri Swaminarayan Nutan Mandir, Bhuj, Gujurat

 

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I was delighted to take a couple of short breaks in February and May 2010 to see the redevelopment of the temple complex. The visit in May 2010 was to participate in the Nutan Mandir Mahotsav, a ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new temple in Bhuj, Gujurat State, India. This was one of my many visits to Bhuj since the old, historic temple was flattened by the 2001 earthquake and I have followed the nine years of planning, design and construction with a keen interest. The finished result is a beautiful white marble temple with superb, intricate carvings by incredibly impressive workmen and the grandeur of the Mandir provides this important, ancient city with a beautiful yet modern place of worship.

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1st September 2010