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

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Navin's Press Releases

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;

Permanent link to this article
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;

Permanent link to this article
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.

-  

Permanent link to this article
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

Permanent link to this article
27th January 2017

Brent residents urged to have their say on the future of bus services

Potential changes to bus services in Zone 1 could have a dramatic impact on congestion and air quality, according to new proposals set out by Transport for London (TfL).

Before Christmas, TfL launched a consultation to determine the future of 23 London bus routes with the aim of improving reliability, reducing congestion, and increasing the air quality in the capital.

The consultation closes on January 29th, with any changes coming in to effect in the summer of this year.

The routes affected are 3, 6, 8, 15, 22, 23, 25, 46, 73, 137, 172, 242, 332, 390, 425, 452, C2, N2, N3, N8, N15, N22 and N73. Of those, routes 6 & 452 run through Brent.

Any action to reduce congestion and increase air quality in the capital must be seen as a positive step, and I welcome the opportunity for people all over London to have their say.

 However as the consultation was run over the busy Christmas period I urge Londoners to make time between now and January 29th to look carefully at the proposals and add their thoughts, especially if they now have to change buses and are at risk of being outside the one hour hopper fare window.

 

Ends

 

Notes

Permanent link to this article
18th 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.

Permanent link to this article
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

 

Permanent link to this article
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

Permanent link to this article
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.’

Permanent link to this article
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


-       

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

38% say police don’t have a visible presence in Harrow

 

-          Figures from the Met’s Confidence Comparator show 38% of people living in Harrow feel the Met do not provide visible policing presence in their area

-          Across the capital figures show 47% of Londoners feel the Met do not provide visible policing presence in their area

-          Mayor set to miss target to increase public confidence in the Met by 20%

 

The data, drawn from the Met’s recently launched ‘Confidence Comparator’ found that just 62% of local residents felt police were providing a visible policing presence in Harrow with some areas of the borough seen to be worse than others. In some parts of the borough, this figure was as low as 60%.

There is a similar picture forming across the Capital, with 47% of Londoners saying the police do not have a visible presence in their respective areas.

The figures have sparked criticism of the Mayor of London’s decision to cut back neighbourhood policing teams from six uniformed officers to only two, with Navin Shah AM calling on the Mayor to put more police officers back into boroughs. Since the current Government came to power 4,333 police officers and PCSOs have been lost from London’s streets, including 105 from Harrow.

The Mayor commissioned a review of the new neighbourhood policing units in July 2014 but has so far refused to release the review’s findings despite concerns that the new setup is leaving neighbourhood policing stretched. The worrying confidence figures come only a week after it was revealed that violent crime in the capital rose 22% last year, rising by 14% in Harrow.

 It’s now very likely that the Mayor will miss his target to increase public confidence by 20% and it’s not hard to see why. The cuts to police numbers and the Mayor’s decision to dismantle neighbourhood policing teams have clearly been noticed by people in Harrow and indeed across the Capital. It’s increasingly clear that we need to see more officers back on the beat in our local neighbourhoods.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

                                             

-          Figures on Visibility and Confidence from the Mayor of London can be found here. Figures were drawn from the Met’s ‘Confidence Comparator’ which is available here

-          The ‘Confidence Comparator’ found that when asked ‘how well do you think the Metropolitan Police provide a visible patrolling presence?’ just 53% of Londoners answered they felt their police were doing “well” or “to some extent” providing a visible policing presence in their neighbourhood.

-          Percentage scores for confidence in the police are derived from a rolling yearly questionnaire of over 12,000 Londoners as part of the Public Attitudes Survey (PAS).

-          Figures on Police Numbers from the Mayor of London can be found at: London Datastore

-        

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26th January 2015

42% say police don’t have a visible presence in Brent

 

-          Figures from the Met’s Confidence Comparator show 42% of people living in Brent feel the Met do not provide visible policing presence in their area

-          Across the capital figures show 47% of Londoners feel the Met do not provide visible policing presence in their area

-          Mayor set to miss target to increase public confidence in the Met by 20%


The data, drawn from the Met’s recently launched ‘Confidence Comparator’ found that just 58% of local residents felt police were providing a visible policing presence in Brent with some areas of the borough seen to be worse than others. In some parts of the borough, this figure was as low as 56%.

There is a similar picture forming across the Capital, with 47% of Londoners saying the police do not have a visible presence in their respective areas.

The figures have sparked criticism of the Mayor of London’s decision to cut back neighbourhood policing teams from six uniformed officers to only two, with Navin Shah AM calling on the Mayor to put more police officers back into boroughs. Since the current Government came to power 4,333 police officers and PCSOs have been lost from London’s streets, including 195 from Brent.

The Mayor commissioned a review of the new neighbourhood policing units in July 2014 but has so far refused to release the review’s findings despite concerns that the new setup is leaving neighbourhood policing stretched. The worrying confidence figures come only a week after it was revealed that violent crime in the capital rose 22% last year, rising by 23.38% in Brent.

It’s now very likely that the Mayor will miss his target to increase public confidence by 20% and it’s not hard to see why. The cuts to police numbers and the Mayor’s decision to dismantle neighbourhood policing teams have clearly been noticed by people in Brent and indeed across the Capital. It’s increasingly clear that we need to see more officers back on the beat in our local neighbourhoods.

 

ENDS

 

Notes

                                             

-          Figures on Visibility and Confidence from the Mayor of London can be found here. Figures were drawn from the Met’s ‘Confidence Comparator’ which is available here

-          The ‘Confidence Comparator’ found that when asked ‘how well do you think the Metropolitan Police provide a visible patrolling presence?’ just 53% of Londoners answered they felt their police were doing “well” or “to some extent” providing a visible policing presence in their neighbourhood.

-          Percentage scores for confidence in the police are derived from a rolling yearly questionnaire of over 12,000 Londoners as part of the Public Attitudes Survey (PAS).

-          Figures on Police Numbers from the Mayor of London can be found at: London Datastore

-          

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26th January 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.

 

 

Fares Freeze as commuters face seventh year of fare rises under Boris Johnson

 

  • I call for Mayor to scrap 2.5% fare rise to save the average commuter £56 a year on a 1-6 Annual Travelcard
  • Fare freeze can be funded without cuts to other areas through use of £98m of expected underspends and additional TfL fares income
  • Since 2008 fares have risen over 40% with 76% of Londoners now saying fares are ‘too high’

With the majority of Londoners returning to work this week, I am calling on the Mayor of London to scrap his latest fares hike after a new report found that 76% of Londoners now believe fares are “too high”. The report, The case for a Fare Freeze’ found that the 40% increase in fares under Boris Johnson has left many Londoners struggling to cope with the cost of commuting. I am urging the Mayor to use expected TfL underspends and additional income to reverse this year’s 2.5% fare increase and freeze fares at 2014 levels.

 

The call comes as Londoners returning to work after the holiday season face an average 2.5% increase in their commuting costs. After seven years of increases under Boris Johnson and with fare growth outstripping wages the Mayor would be failing Londoners who are struggling to cope with the cost of commuting if he did not reverse the rise and cap fares at 2014 levels. The move could be funded, by utilising £98m of the £309m in better-than-expected fare income and TfL underspends estimated to be accumulated in 2015/16. In the Mayor’s first five budgets, TfL underestimated fares income and overestimated operating costs; expenditure was £1,069m (3.69%) less than expected and income from fares £235m (1.36%) more than expected. Assuming this trend continues there would be more than enough unallocated funding in 2015/16 to freeze fares at 2014 levels.

A survey of 1,219 Londoners carried out for the report found that 76% of Londoners now think the cost of travel in the capital is too high. One woman from Brent who responded to the survey said that ‘’It cost me £6.40 return to get to work - this is insane! Bus prices also always rise faster than inflation’. Another woman stated that ‘’I pay more for a travelcard from Harrow to central London on a weekday at peak time than I did for a train to Bruges from Brussels on a weekend’’.

For seven years under Boris Johnson fare increases have outstripped wage growth forcing commuters to spend more of their pay-cheque travelling to work.

The Mayor’s decision to raise fares for the seventh year running will put even more pressure on Brent and Harrow residents struggling to cope with the cost of commuting. With 76% of Londoners believing fares are too high, a freeze for 2015 would give them a much needed break from the annual rise in fares.

Whilst money is tight, I do not believe the answer is to take more from Londoners’ pockets - especially when TfL is expected to be sitting on millions in underspends and additional fares income.

In 2016 London will elect a new Mayor who will have the opportunity to map out a four year plan for their fares strategy for their term of office. Until then a fares freeze this year would give Londoners some much needed respite from rising travel costs without harming the network’s upgrade and expansion plans.

 

ENDS

Notes

 

-       Since 2008, when the current Mayor came to power, tube passengers have seen fares rise by 37%; bus passengers by 47%. On average fares are up 40% since 2008.

-         Freezing Fares at 2014 levels would cost TfL £98 million in forgone revenue. This could be paid for by utilising £98m of the £309m expected to accumulate from better-than-expected fares income and TfL underspends in 2015/16. TfL consistently overestimates its operating expenditure and underestimates its income from fares. In the Mayor’s first five budgets, expenditure has been £1,069m (3.69%) less than expected & income from fares has been £235m (1.36%) more than expected. On this basis we calculate that TfL will underspend by up to 246m this year with additional fares income of up to £63m. This would leave up to £309m which could be used to pay for a year-long fare freeze that will help Londoners, particularly those on lower incomes, make ends meet in 2015, without hitting its capital expenditure or reserves.

-     For the report 1,219 Londoners were surveyed asking whether they thought fares were 'too high', 'about right' or 'too low'. 924 (76%) said too high, 289 (24%) said about right and only 6 (0.5%) said too low.

-       The full report, The case for a Fares Freeze, is available here.

 

Ofwat announced it will order Thames Water to slash Londoners’ bills

After months of campaigning, the water regulator Ofwat announced it will order Thames Water to slash Londoners’ bills by 5% over the next 5 years.

For the many Londoners struggling to cope with years of stagnating wages and rising living costs that announcement will be a great relief. Water isn’t one of those bills you can avoid, nor do we have a choice about our supplier. For too long water companies have had customers over a barrel – there was nowhere to turn when prices rose.

The 5% reduction will, on average, mean a £17 cut to bills in Brent and Harrow. Whilst that’s encouraging water companies are still allowed to increase their overall prices with inflation. That will mean people could quite quickly end up paying more.

The Mayor of London has taken his eye off the ball in not taking on the utility companies that are squeezing Londoners’ pockets, we on the Assembly will continue to be vigilant to ensure Londoners get their very best value from their water and energy bills.

Thames Water was one of the only water companies in the country to propose price rises, in part it said to fund the new Thames Tideway Tunnel. Whilst the so called super-sewer is important, Ofwat rightly recognised that the project cannot be funded by squeezing yet more out of Londoners' pockets – something I totally endorse.

Navin Shah AM

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22nd December 2014

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

Call to identify dangerous junctions and streets in Brent and Harrow for Road Safety Week

I am calling on local residents to help identify dangerous junctions and streets in Brent and Harrow as part of Road Safety Week. The campaign, coordinated by the road safety charity Brake, starts today (Monday) and aims to raise awareness and increase safety on local roads for people on foot and bicycle.

This year’s Road Safety Week focuses on Brake’s GO 20 campaign 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) recently invited comments for a new Road Safety Action Plan for the capital has 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 blackspots and where crossings need to be made safer.

At a time when the Mayor has cut the road safety budget by £36m a year compared with 2008, 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.

I am asking for local residents to get in touch to let me know which local junctions they feel are particularly unsafe. Comments should be sent to Navin.Shah@london.gov.uk  or write to me at City Hall, London SE1 2AA.

 

 

 

ENDS

 

Notes

  1. Road Safety Week runs between 19-25 November 2012, coordinated by Brake, the road safety charity. For more information, visit GO 20 is a partnership campaign. Find out more at www.go20.org.
  2. The Living Streets submission to the Mayor of London’s "Towards a Road Safety Action Plan for London 2020" is attached.
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17th 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

My thoughts on the firefighters’ pension dispute

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

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

 

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

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30th October 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

Inflation figures spell bumper fare rises for commuters in Brent and Harrow

With RPI inflation today (Tuesday) calculated as 2.5%, I am urging the Mayor of London not to impose his planned inflation busting fare rises. The Mayor’s Business Plan states that fares are scheduled to increase at RPI plus one per cent in January, meaning that fares would rise by 3.5% across London.

The planned rises mean that despite the Mayor pledging to lower fares, since he came to power the cost of travel will have increased by an average of 42% now costing commuters in Brent and Harrow a lot more for an annual travelcard.

Today’s inflation figures mean that fare rises for January 2015 are likely to be:

-       Bus and Tram Pay as You Go – up to £1.50 - a 60p rise since 2008

-       PAYG TfL Rail Services Zone 1 – up to £2.28 - a 78p rise since 2008

-       Zone 1-3 monthly Travelcard – up to £146.35 - a £30.35 rise since 2008

-       Zone 1-4 monthly Travelcard – up to £178.85 – a £45.95 rise since 2008

-       Zone 1-4 annual Travelcard – up to £1,863 - a £391 rise since 2008

-       Zone 1-5 annual Travelcard – up to £2,211 – a £554.76 rise since 2008

This is the sixth time since Boris Johnson became Mayor that commuters in Brent and Harrow have faced inflation busting fare increases. Yet again Boris just hasn’t been straight with Londoners. He pledged to keep fares low, but is set to oversee a 42% rise in fares since becoming Mayor.

 Instead of accepting another year of inflation busting fare rises the Mayor should be standing up for hard pressed Londoners and scrapping his plans for above inflation fare rises.

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.

Officials “trying to pull the wool over residents’ eyes” over A&E closure

Health Chiefs have published leaflets and posters informing residents of “changes” to emergency services at Central Middlesex Hospital, when in fact the hospital’s A&E department is set to close.

Despite medical staff at the hospital initially wanting to use the word “closure” in literature, the hospital took the advice of PR advisers and referred to the closure as “changes” to emergency services.

It’s a disgrace that, having forced the closure of Central Middlesex Hospital’s A&E department, bosses are trying to pull the wool over residents’ eyes by branding the shut down as a simple change.

 The least the local community can expect is to be honestly informed of the closure of services, but instead we are being treated like fools. I am calling on Central Middlesex to stop listening to PR advisers and have a grown up conversation with the local community about the cuts to our emergency services.

Navin Shah demands urgent action for Step Free Access at Harrow on the Hill and Stanmore Station

I met with Isabel Dedring, the Deputy Mayor of Transport for London and Senior TfL Officers on Monday 23 June 2014 to discuss the future of Harrow On the Hill and Stanmore Station.  

TfL confirmed at the meeting, the appointment of consultants who will carry out a feasibility study for step-free access at Harrow OnThe Hill. This study is estimated to be completed in Autumn.

 TfL says they are looking at ‘third party’ funding from commercial opportunities (sale / development of TfL assets adjacent the station) and Section 106 Agreement(s).

I’m glad that Harrow Council is working actively with TfL to find a solution for step-free access at Harrow On the Hill station.

I very much welcome the proposal for a new steering group to monitor the progress. I’d be a willing to participate and help support this steering group.

TfL is looking at commercial opportunities for funding step-free access from the development of adjacent TfL land and properties. I am concerned that this approach will delay the development.

I feel that it is time the Mayor of London, who is also the chair of TfL puts his money where his mouth is to help Harrow.

Step free access is vital for this major transport hub which is also critical for the economic regeneration.

 

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/

Boris refuses to take action on Private Rented Housing

At Friday’s Greater London Authority final Budget meeting the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, refused to take action to drive up standards and tackle rogue landlords in the private rented sector. The Mayor was presented with a costed plan to deliver more homes and take action to help private rented tenants – but he refused to adopt the plans and all nine Conservative members of the London Assembly used their blocking minority vote to stop the proposals.

Londoners are facing a housing crisis and Boris is doing virtually nothing to help people who are struggling. We are seeing soaring house prices, soaring rents and not enough truly affordable housing being built. We need Boris to directly intervene in the broken housing market and directly built houses. He has the land and the powers to deliver significant levels of housing, it’s time he took the housing crisis seriously and got building. But he also needs to take action to drive up standards in the private rented sector, his voluntary approach simply isn’t working.

 Today the Mayor was challenged on just how bad conditions are for some people in the private rented sector. Many boroughs in London are doing what they can, but the Mayor must use his considerable powers and funding to help them.

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17th February 2014

Harrow-on-the-Hill Station: Boris must deliver on promise

I welcomed a commitment from the Mayor of London to make Harrow-on-the-Hill a step-free access station. I have been campaigning for the step-free works since 2009, the project was granted funding in the previous Mayor, but this was cancelled by Boris Johnson when he took office in 2008. The new works will be part funded by Transport for London and Harrow Council.

Like many Harrow residents I was deeply disappointed when Boris cancelled the funding for Harrow-on-the-Hill to become step-free. If he hadn’t cancelled this £25million then residents would have had step free access for several years. It is good news the Mayor has finally seen sense and is now allowing this initial scoping project to go ahead. It’s scandalous that it has taken Mayor Johnson six years to recognise the need for step-free access at Harrow-on-the-Hill Station. We now need the Mayor to commit to carrying these works out as soon as this feasibility study has been carried out. Local people have been forced to wait for too long already.

 I would like to pay tribute to the local residents and campaigners who have lobbied hard for these improvements and urge them to continue their fight. I will continue making the case for this project at City Hall, we need the Mayor to follow through and find the funding for this vital project and publish a clear timetable to make Harrow-on-the-Hill Station fully accessible.

 

 

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14th February 2014

Mayor breaks election promise as over 3,000 police officers lost

New figures have today shown that the Metropolitan Police has lost over 3,000 officers since May 2010, there are now 30,085 PCs in London. In Brent 111 police officers have been lost – a drop of 16%.  The Mayor promised he would maintain police numbers ‘at or around 32,000’. Over the same period the Met has also lost 2,265 Police Community Support Officers. In Brent 88 PCSOs have been lost – 65% of the total, wheares in Harrow 60 police officers have been lost – a drop of 15%.  Deputy mayor for policing Stephen Greenhalgh said last year that it would be a “doomsday scenario” for policing if the figure dipped below 31,000.

I am calling on the Mayor to reverse his cuts to front line policing and secure a better deal from central government for Londoners. Next week the Mayor will decide whether he will adopt proposed amendments to his budget for 2014/15. The amendment would immediately see 1,185 PCSOs and an extra 250 Safer Transport Team Police Officers recruited using the Mayor’s existing budget to help plug the gap caused by cuts to the policing budget by the Mayor and central government.

On Boris Johnson’s watch we’ve seen the erosion of policing in London and in our borough, when he stood for re-election he promised to maintain numbers at 32,000 but he has failed to do this. According to his own figures he has cut police officer numbers by over 3,000 and halved PCSOs, which made up the bulk of our local safer neighbourhood teams.

The Met Police is now the third least visible on the streets compared to other areas of the country. We need a properly resourced police service to tackle crime and provide a much better service to victims. I hope next week he will adopt my budget amendment and start to properly resource our local police teams. The government have cut the policing budget by 20%, the Mayor needs to stand up for Londoners and get a better deal for our city from his colleagues in government.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. The figures quoted above are for December 2013 which are the latest available and are published on the Mayor’s own London Datastore website, see: http://data.london.gov.uk/dashboard-summary/crime
  2. The graph below shows Met police officer numbers from May 2010 to December 2013.
  3. Met third least visible force in the country Value for Money Profiles, HMIC, November 2013, p 43   http://www.hmic.gov.uk/media/metropolitan-value-for-money-profile-2013.pdf
  4. In January 2012 the Mayor of London told the London Assembly:

“I want to repeat that under this Mayoralty there will be no cuts in the police and we will keep police numbers at a safe level. I believe, and I have said many times in this horseshoe, that safe level is around 32,000 or more.” See page 3: http://www.london.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/b5860/Minutes%20-%20Appendices%201-3%20-%20Transcripts%20Wednesday%2025-Jan-2012%2010.00%20London%20Assembly%20Mayors%20Questi.pdf?T=9

 

  1. Stephen Greenhalgh said that numbers falling under 31,000 would be a “Doomsday scenario” for London.

(Stephen Greenhalgh, Home Affairs Select Committee, 4th September 2012)   

 

                       

 

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6th February 2014

London Mayor’s proposal for Harrow & Wealdstone ‘Opportunity Area’

The Mayor of London has released draft alterations to London Plan on Wednesday 15 January for public consultation closing on 10 April. The London Plan alterations have been primarily aimed at addressing key issues of housing and employment with a substantial increase projected in capital’s population over the next 25 years. London Assembly’s Planning Committee will be meeting on 25th February to consider Mayor’s proposals with invited experts.

The draft alterations to the London Plan cover a wide ranging issues including housing targets, town centres, increasing cycling, energy & waste infrastructure, Tech City, noise pollution, sustainable development and creation of new ‘Opportunity Areas’ to accommodate London’s future growth. The alterations propose five new ‘Opportunity Areas’: Old Kent Road, Canada Water, Bromley Town Centre, Old oak Common and Harrow and Wealdstone. Opportunity Areas are meant to be the main locations for new development over 25 years. The new opportunity areas are proposed to create 11,000 new homes and 8,000 new jobs.    

Currently Harrow and Wealdstone area is designated in London Plan as ‘Intensification Area’ with an overall target of 1,500 new homes and 2,000 new jobs (which were revised in Harrow’s own ‘Area Action Plan’). The new designation of ‘Opportunity Area’ propose the target of 2,800 new homes and 3,000 new jobs in Harrow (town centre) and Wealdstone.      

The proposed changes will require close examination to ensure that Harrow and Wealdstone areas don’t end up with unacceptable, badly designed high-rise blocks littering the landscape and destroying the character of the area. If the Mayor is serious about regeneration of Harrow Town Centre he must urgently release funding for the enhanced public transport hub for improved facilities including step-free access for Harrow On the Hill Station and redevelopment of the current Bus Station. I’d be closely following the development, obtain views of Harrow’s residents about the proposed changes and lobbying the Mayor to ensure that Harrow gets its fare share of funding and Harrow’s Town Centre and areas of Wealdstone do not end up being characterless concrete jungle.

 

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24th January 2014

Fare rise hike hit Brent and Harrow

Yesterday (Sunday 19 January 2014) transport fares in Harrow and across London rose for the sixth year in a row, for each of the last five years fares have risen above inflation. This year the Mayor has claimed that fares will be frozen at inflation. However, analysis of the new fare tables show that Londoners in Zones 1-4 who use weekly, monthly or annual travel cards, will actually be hit with yet another above inflation fare rise. Pay as You Go bus passengers will also see their fares rise above inflation.

The fares are calculated using July’s inflation level, which was 3.1%. The above inflation rises for 2014 include:

-       Bus and Tram Pay as You Go – up 3.6% to £1.45 - a 55p rise since 2008

-       PAYG TfL Rail Services Zone 1 – up 4.8% to £2.20

-       Zone 1-2 monthly travel card – up 3.3% to £120.60

-       Zone 1-3 monthly travel card – up 3.4% to £141.40

-       Zone 1-4 annual travel card – up 3.2% to £1800

In his budget the Mayor is planning on cutting his share of the council tax by 1.3%, or 1.1pence a day for a Band D Household. This will save the average London household just £4 a year. A Zone 1-4 Annual Travelcard was £1,744 last year, but from today will be £1,800. This means a couple in Harrow, Croydon or Redbridge who work in central London will be £122 out of pocket each year.

Many people in our borough have been hit with yet another inflation-busting fare rise. Boris has claimed he is freezing the fares at inflation, but this simply isn’t true – and many passengers will see this first hand from today. He is saving people £4 a year on their council tax but is taking vastly more from them in higher transport fares. As Chair of TfL he really needs to do a better job of helping Londoners struggling with the cost of living crisis hitting our city.

Boris is in a position to actually help people who are struggling, but yet again many fares are going up above inflation. We’ve tried to find out from TfL how many people this will affect, but they have not released the information to us. Rather than taking action to help people who are struggling with living in the most expensive city in the world, the Mayor has wasted millions on his vanity projects.

Ends

Notes

  1. London was ranked as the most expensive city in the world this week, see:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-comes-top-in-study-of-the-worlds-most-expensive-cities-to-live-in-9042233.html

2.    The new fares tables can be found at:http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/media/newscentre/29288.aspx

 

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20th January 2014

How many Right to Buy homes in Brent and Harrow are now privately rented?

New research has for the first time revealed that at least 36% of homes sold through Right to Buy in London are now let by private landlords, with 25% in Brent and 35% in Harrow.  The information was released in a new report released From Right to Buy to Buy to Let.

The report highlights the financial cost to taxpayers and local authorities of the Right to Buy, including increased welfare spending due to the higher Housing Benefit payments being paid to tenants in ex-council homes that are now charged at market rates. In some London boroughs, average Housing Benefit claims are as much as £100 a week – £5,200 a year – higher for private sector tenants than for council tenants.

The report also highlights that local authorities are now frequently forced to rent former homes back at higher market rates in order to discharge their statutory homelessness duties.

The report calls for urgent action to reform Right to Buy to alleviate some of the worst excesses caused by the policy in its current form.

The report’s recommendations include: 

  • Mandatory covenants on all Right to Buy properties so they cannot be let through the private rented sector.
  • The current system of discounts should be abolished.
  • A new system should be introduced whereby local authorities retain an equity stake in any property sold.
  • Local authorities should have a ‘right not to sell’ if it is not in the community interest to do so or if they believe it would harm their housing operations.
  • Replacement homes built with Right to Buy receipts should mirror the rent, size and tenure specifications of the home sold

The report shows for the first time that Right to Buy, a policy ostensibly about helping aspiring home owners, has led to tens-of-thousands of London’s former council homes being rented out by private landlords. This has helped to fuel the increase in the housing benefit bill, heaped more pressure on local authority waiting lists and led to more Londoners being forced into the under-regulated private rented sector.

This shows that Right to Buy is poor value for money to taxpayers. Not only did they pay to build the home in the first place, they then subsidised the considerable discounts offered to tenants and then missed out on the rental income that would have covered the build costs. Now, we have the indignity of London boroughs renting back their former council homes at higher market rent levels, once again costing taxpayers through the nose.

Right to Buy has played a central role in causing and exacerbating the current housing crisis. Future governments must recognise that the right of a council tenant to buy their home at a discount, subsidised by other taxpayers, cannot be at the expense of the right of the vast majority of people to have a decent, affordable home to live in.

Physical conditions in London’s private rented sector are worse than any other tenure of housing, while complaints against private sector landlords have increased by 47% since 2008. Median private sector rents increased by 12% in 2011 and 9% in 2012.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. Reference for the above data on physical conditions in London's private rented sector is taken from: ‘Rent reform: Making London's private rented sector fit for purpose’, London Assembly Housing and Regeneration Committee, June 2013:http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Rent%20Reforms%20-%20Making%20the%20Private%20Rented%20Sector%20Fit%20for%20Purpose%20Final.pdf
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15th January 2014

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/
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18th December 2013

Happy Chanukah

On Thursday 28 November, I joined thousands of Londoners for an evening of live performances, free doughnuts for all.  

The Trafalgar Square Menorah is the biggest in Europe and is an annual community event, presented by the Jewish Leadership Council, London Jewish Forum, Chabad and supported by the Mayor of London.

Click here to watch my video message.

Happy Chanukah!

Navin

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2nd December 2013

Happy Diwali

This weekend marks the auspicious Diwali occasion whereby Sikhs, Hindus, Jains and a number of Buddhists across the world will be celebrating this festival of light. The important message behind Diwali – the triumph of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance – is incredibly significant in these times of austerity. The people of London are coming together, from all different backgrounds, to celebrate this joyous occasion as one community.

Diwali is a time for gathering with friends, family and neighbours, enjoying delicious food, dancing and fireworks. It is a time for us to celebrate but also for us to reflect about those less fortunate.

I wish everyone a Happy Diwali and a joyous celebration.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D5SDtH0kBQ&feature=youtu.be

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1st November 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.

 

LIFT FOR THE RAYNERS LANE STATION

Mrs Ariyasena and Ms Beryl Rosenbaum (Harrow Observer of 26 September and 3rd October) are absolutely right in highlighting the plight of commuters using Rayners Lane Station. It is the Transport for London’s (TfL) responsibility to cater for a lift or similar appropriate provision for a proper step-free access. Unfortunately – from my experience Mayor Boris Johnson, who is the Chair of TfL, is not listening to the concerns of our Harrow residents.     

 

01.Rayners L Station 4.10.13.JPG

Rayners Lane station is an extremely busy and a critical station for our communities. But poses severe problems with its 33 steps – one of the problems was perfectly highlighted when I took the accompanying photograph on Friday 4 October at about 12 noon. I’ve written to Mayor Johnson for a provision of lift at Rayners Lane Station. I do sincerely hope that he does not deny this much needed facility to our residents  and  commuters using this station in the way he has  denied similar facilities at Harrow on the Hill and Stanmore stations in spite of repeated lobbying from local residents, disability organisations etc. 

London has one of the most expensive tube/train fares in London and there are plans by Mayor Johnson to increase fares yet again above the rate of inflation. It is absurd that the fares have been going up every year under Mayor Johnson but he’s been bluntly refusing to make even our key stations accessible to the elderly, disabled and those who need level access. I am with the residents on this and will continue to apply pressure on TfL and the Mayor of London to provide our stations free of steps – Rayners Lane Station included. 

Cost of Living in London Survey

This week the Mayor confirmed that he is against freezing energy bills. At a time when Londoners are feeling the pinch you would have thought he would be supportive of measures to ease the cost of living crisis hitting our city. We need real action to help struggling families, under Boris we’ve had 5 years of inflation busting fare rises with another increase due to be announced soon. Recently he pushed through plans to increase rents for ‘affordable housing’ up to 80 per-cent of the market rate, this will increasingly push working Londoners out of their homes to make room for the better off. On top of squeezing people ever harder the Mayor is content to spend more on his advisors than the Prime Minister. Over £1.57 million a year of our money goes on his team at City Hall.

We are currently facing a cost of living crisis where prices are soaring and everyday necessities like food and bills are becoming unaffordable. The Mayor should use his position to ease the burden on ordinary Londoners. I have  launched a survey to find out how my constituents are coping with the cost of living crisis, you can complete this online at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5DM8PHC. I encourage all residents to take a couple of minutes and fill out the questionnaire to let me know how you are coping.

  

Roadmap for house building will unlock thousands of London’s land banked homes

I call for an end to land banking in London and supports proposals whereby developers will have to use or lose their planning permission. The proposals would help tackle land banking in London by unlocking the 210,000 homes with planning permission but which aren’t being built and would also create the new supply the capital desperately needs.

The proposals would allow councils to impose escalating fees on developers who refuse to build, backed up by the threat of compulsory purchase orders for the very worst offenders. This would give councils the tools they need to effectively tackle land banking, where developers maximise value by sitting on land instead of building on it.

The average price for a house in Harrow in June this year was £355,716. The annual change in house prices has increased by 2.1% per cent. The average price for a house in Brent in June this year was £421,933. The annual change in house prices has increased by 8.3% per cent.

 I welcome the proposals this week, which outlined some ground-breaking proposals to tackle London’s housing crisis and build the homes that London needs.

Use it or lose it planning permission is a fair yet forceful way to shift the 210,000 homes in London which have planning permission but are not being built. Under the current system, developers find it more profitable to sit on land than to build on it. This is an innovative response to the land banking that is much to blame for our housing crisis.

Only 18,000 homes were completed in London last year and in Brent average annual house price has increased by 8.3 per cent and in Harrow 2.1%. On average, it now costs £306,414 to buy a flat in Brent and in Harrow a flat costs £244,079.

The Mayor admits he needs to build 40,000 homes a year. This is far short of the 52,000 to 60,000 that experts say are needed. There’s crying need for homes across all tenures, but especially for people on low to modest incomes.

The national house building programme is also great news for the capital. London must already accommodate a rapidly rising population, but if the rest of the southeast fails to meet its own needs, particularly for affordable housing, then the pressure on London could be even greater.

Notes

  1. Labour leader Ed Miliband gave his speech at Labour party conference on 24 September 2013.
  2. The figures for the average house prices can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/in_depth/uk_house_prices/counties/html/county39.stm
  3. The Greater London Authority’s report Barriers to Housing Delivery identified 210,000 potential homes in London which have planning permission but aren’t being built (GLA, http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/planning/publications/barriers-to-housing-delivery)
  4. The Department for Communities and Local Government says only 18,000 homes were completed in London last year (DCLG, Table 253, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-house-building)
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27th September 2013

SWAMI SATYAMITRANAND GIRI MAHARAJ (CELEBRATION TIME)

I attend a number of diverse events of which few are memorable ones - the ones that touch your heart! Last week the event at Kadwa Patidar Hall was one of those unique ones which will remain with me for ever.

Birthday celebrations come and go but the celebration of 82nd birthday of Swami Satyamitranand Giri Maharaj last week (19 September) was truly a big occasion. Big, not for the vast number of people from across the world who attended the celebration. Big not because of the big name community leaders and politicians attended. It was a huge and remarkable occasion simply because of the message that Swamiji conveyed to the devotees and well-wishers. Having met Swamiji on many an occasions and attended such gatherings before I pretty much knew what to expect but the last week’s experience was an exceptional one.

The first message for the politicians like me was a key one. Swamiji referred to the politicians who make a great deal about ‘transparency’. He agreed how important this was but said for him transparency was like a building - a building with windows and the windows of his building were always wide open.  See what you want to! It is important that every one was as honest and open as that. Swamiji has no pretence and is full of laughter which was on display all evening. He was due to retire on a couple of occasions (to have some rest) but given his commitment and how much he enjoyed he stayed on and ‘entertained’ all of us. He asked everyone to laugh and keep smiling because he said ‘laughter and smile are your own property’. Swamiji talked about how people have to face / put up with setbacks in life due to the circumstances like the misfortune and poverty. But he said those with wealth should also learn to persevere and use the wealth for ‘seva’ (service to human kind). Another interesting comment from the Swami was about ‘Roti’ (Bread/Food). When Bollywood deals with roti, it addresses material values – roti, kapda and makan (bread, clothes and property/house) but Guruji said ‘Roti is a passage to Lord Rama’. When one is well fed the link to spirituality becomes easier – empty stomach is no good to anyone.

Swami Birthday.jpg

Swamiji is a messenger of Shankaracharya and proudly talked about ‘Bharatiya Sanskriti’ (the Indian Culture) with a special reference to secular India. He paid a significant tribute to the Indian community in the UK whom he referred as ‘Ambassadors’ of Hindus and India because of their active engagement in promoting the hindu values, cultural & religious celebrations and contribution made by our communities worldwide. 

Thankfully, unlike most community events, the gathering was spared of any speeches from politicians and the entire evening was focused on Swami Satyamitranand Giri Maharaj’s birthday celebrations. The key highlights being the spirited and humorous renderings from Swamiji and special Maharastrian flavour to the occasion with Swamiji wearing traditional maharastrian costumes and looking very impressive! Last but not least a huge thank you to Samanvaya Parivar Harrow who organised this satsang (a family occasion) and their generous donations to the local charities. I remain a dedicated friend of Samnvaya Parivar and my personal thanks to Shri Lalitbhai Thakrar for his total commitment to Swamiji and everything that Samnvaya Parivar stands for.    

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27th September 2013

PENSIONS STRIKE: PICKETS IN BRENT

This afternoon I've visited 2 pickets, first in Wembly and then at Willesden Green Fire Stations in my GLA constituency.

1. Wembley Picket 25.9.11.JPG

The latter one had crews from Willesden, Park Royal and Wembley. I was delighted to see the incredible support from the members of public - drivers hooting in support as the cars drove past and pedestrains stopping by to say thank you to the firefighters and wishing them success in the fight against the pension scheme. On radio too all I've heard last night and today people supporting the fire fighters on pension issues as well as speaking up against closure of fire stations and lashing out at the Mayor for not listening to Londoners. People are with firefighters and so am I on pensions as well as fire stations.

2. Willesden Green Picket 25.9.11.JPG

 

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25th September 2013

Stanmore Picket

I joined the CWU picket line this morning with Cllr Graham Henson and Huw Davies (CWU) at Stanmore, Parr Lane.  

1. Stanmore Picket 25.9.JPG

Pretty much all workers (98%) voting for the strike shows the depth of feelings and an extremely serious fall out between the workers on the ground and the Managers. I've heard today most shocking and horrif first hand account, from a number of employees on the picket line, of harassment and bullying. The staff have accused the management of treating them like slaves, horrific incidents of stress among the employees due to the shabby treatment they receive e.g. a staff member collapsed very recently on the floor ending up in Hospital and cases of members not being allowed leave for bereavements or ill health in their families. I have also been told about a much worse incident which I'm not at liberty to put it in public domain but if it true and work related the Royal Mail and the Management have a lot to answer for! The situation is extermely serious and if the management is serious about resolving the situation I call upon them to put in place an indepndent investigation immediately. 

2B. Stanmore Picket 25.9.JPG

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25th September 2013

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.

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12th September 2013

KING’S DREAM

 Mahatma Gandhi inspired India and the World through his philosophy of Ahimsa (nonviolence) and successfully fought the British Raj for India’s independence. Gandhiji also fought all his life for truth, equality and fairness. Another inspirational figure who fought for the principles of equality is Martin Luther King Junior (MLK Jr) – the ‘King’ of the US civil rights movement. The March to Washington on 28th August 1963 was a mass demonstration organised by an umbrella of civil rights groups as a rallying cry for equal rights. The peace rally was to highlight racism faced by black Americans across America - particularly in southern states with the laws of segregation of black and white Americans. Anyone opposing the segregation faced violent racist attacks from the likes of Ku Klux Klansmen, who retaliated most violently bombing homes and black neighbourhoods. The demonstration highlighted a number of protests against racism that had begun when seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger in 1955. This historical incident sparked a bus boycott campaign across Montgomery, Alabama.

It was 50 years ago (last week) that Martin Luther King delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech to 250,000 people speaking from the steps of Lincoln Memorial in the heart of Washington DC. Let’s recapture some key passages of his historical message that reverberates in the minds and hearts of people even now and destined to leave a legacy for ever. 

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation….”

“When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promisary note to which every American was to fall  heir. This note was a promise that all men – yes, black man as well as white men  - would be guaranteed unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness….”   

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character…."

The speech (worth reading in full) stresses his dream of America becoming a great nation by applying freedom to "all of God's children". The question is, fifty years on after this historic speech and massive demonstration how does one judge America’s record on equality and race? There are mixed views and feelings whether MLK’s dream has been achieved? I feel that there is a remarkable progress but there’s a long way to go to achieve the equality of races.    

Marking 50 years of MLK Jr’s speech President Barack Obama addressed a rally last week at the Lincoln Memorial when he honoured the contribution made by MLK as well as the many African-American & white marchers who protested for equal rights for black citizens 50 years ago. President Obama linked his own rise to the White House with the efforts of the civil rights protesters decades ago and declared ensuring economic opportunity was "our great unfinished business". The ‘unfinished business’ truly applies to the challenges facing equality in America and worldwide. The best tribute we can pay to the life and work of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Mahatma Gandhi is to do everything to achieve that dream of MLK Jr.

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6th September 2013

Death of new truly affordable housing

On 3 September, I attempted to block the Mayor’s changes to the London Plan. The Mayor’s changes will now mean that new ‘affordable’ housing will be set at up to 80 per cent of the market rate in London. This will lead to many new properties in London meant for people on low and modest incomes becoming totally unaffordable.

Today was an historic opportunity for the Assembly to reject a Mayoral strategy but a two-thirds majority could not be secured. This was the first time new powers granted to the Assembly under the Localism Act have been used.

In Brent where the household median income is £30,352, tenants would need to have a gross household income of £48,137 to afford a three bed property at 80 per cent of market rent.

Today’s vote is a hammer blow and signals the death of new truly affordable housing in London. It is a complete travesty that this has happened. Brent Council is against the Mayor’s plan as well as other boroughs of all political persuasions.

The changes will mean that, to rent a two bedroom flat in Brent at the new 80% level a family would have to earn £48,137. The median family income in Brent  is £30,352. This is why I voted against this.

The Mayor’s changes will make London’s housing crisis even worse. They will now push affordable housing out of the reach of many Londoners on low, and in some areas, modest incomes. This will also drive up rent, increase land prices and further distort London’s housing market. Boris should have accepted the recommendations of the Independent Planning Inspector, listened to local authorities like Brent Council and revised his London Plan.

Combined with the welfare reforms the Mayor’s changes will make huge swathes of inner London even more unaffordable than they already are. Today’s vote will contribute to the ghettoization of our city and put intolerable strain on a range of already overburdened local services in outer London. This is effectively giving up on ordinary Londoners on modest incomes by making it harder for them to find a home that is affordable. 

Ends

1.  The London boroughs’ concerns with the Mayor’s proposed changes to the London Plan were raised during the ‘Examination in Public’, further details can be found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/planning/london-plan/examination-in-public and the borough’s specific concerns here:http://www.slideshare.net/CityHallLabour/joint-boroughs-rema-response  

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4th September 2013

Inflation-busting fares rises “a tax on workers”

I am asking the Mayor of London to freeze Transport for London fares and not to put an “extra tax on workers”. The Mayor is due to decide what level fares will be from January later this year, he is currently committed to an RPI+1% increase. In addition, season tickets for train services travelling in and out of London could rise by up to 9.1% this January, it was announced yesterday.

Train providers including Chiltern will be raising their fares in 2014 by RPI + 1 per cent. This means fares will rise by an average of 4.1 per cent, but the maximum individual fares can be increased is by up to 9.1 per cent.

The Mayor must ease financial pressure on Londoners and freeze Transport for London fares at inflation this year. Boris needs to listen and not make life harder for Londoners who are struggling with the ever increasing cost of living. Residents living in Zone 4 have already seen a 21.8 per cent increase in TfL fares since Boris became Mayor in 2008.

Wages are flat-lining and these inflation-busting fare rises amount to a tax on work. Commuters travelling into London will be clobbered with fare rises of up to 9 per cent at a time when utility bills, food and rents are all increasing. The government should be encouraging people to use public transport, but instead people are going to have to seriously consider whether they can afford to commute into London.

Figures obtained this week from the House of Commons library show average hourly wages have fallen 5.5% since mid-2010 when adjusted for inflation. That is the fourth-worst decline among the 27 EU nations. Since 2008, fares have risen three times faster than wages. That is appalling and unsustainable, unless the plan is to make train travel a luxury for the wealthiest in this country.

 

Boris signs off the ''destruction'' of Welsh Harp

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has ignored the concerns of local residents regarding Barnet Council’s West Hendon Planning Application, despite strong objections. The development launched by Barrett Homes is set to build 2000 new dwelling units, including four large tower blocks next door to Welsh Harp, one of London’s biggest and most significant nature reserves. Residents and campaigners are concerned that this development will destroy permanently the natural landscape which contains a wildfowl reserve and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

A cross party joint letter from Brent and Barnet campaigners was issued to the Mayor detailing their concerns regarding the planning application asking him to reject the application.

This is an outrageous decision by the Mayor of London which will obliterate the beautiful landscape, tranquility and ecological values of a site which should be protected for its special scientific interest. The Mayor has ignored the policies of his own London Plan and given Barnet Council the green light to vandalise this site of it’s great value.

 340 people have written to the Mayor asking him to refuse this application. Furthermore, there has also been a submission of two petitions that have been signed by 987 people. It is disgraceful that the Mayor has yet again refused to listen to local communities in Brent and Barnet. People will never forgive him for signing off the destruction of this site.  

 

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.

Go home or face arrest says the Home Office

The Home Office plans to drive vans through Brent and five more boroughs in London with adverts calling on illegal immigrants to leave.

The adverts on the vans say: "In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest. Text HOME to 78070 for free advice, and help with travel documents. We can help you to return home voluntarily without fear of arrest or detention."

The areas that have been targeted by the Home Office is Brent, Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Ealing, Hounslow and Redbridge because they have had either significantly higher or below average numbers of voluntary returns.

I know that immigration in the UK needs to be tackled, but I am shocked to see plans to drive vans around Brent and five other boroughs in London. This will have a detrimental impact on the hugely diverse and harmonious community in Brent. The problem of illegal immigration has to be tackled properly and a campaign like this will only divide and discriminate communities.

We have worked very hard to have a borough which is an outstanding example of a multi-cultural community and this discriminatory propaganda by the Home Office will cause serious harm and raise tension in the community.

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.

 

Barnet Council pushes through the Welsh Harp Planning Application for demolition and redevelopment of West Hendon Estate

Barnet Council yesterday (on Tuesday 23 July 2013) ignored strong objections from local residents to refuse the Welsh Harp planning application for demolition and redevelopment of West Hendon Estate.

Welsh Harp 24 July 2013.jpg

The committee room was packed with residents and representatives of stakeholder organisations objecting to the ill-conceived and harmful planning scheme which would destroy this key site of major local, Londonand National importance. Prior to the meeting demonstrators gathered outside the Town Hall for a rally.

I spoke for Brent residents when I addressed the planning committee and conveyed his strong objection to the application.

The application will now go to London Mayor Boris Johnson, who can either wave through the scheme or direct Barnet Council to refuse it on planning rounds.

This shocking decision by Barnet Council will obliterate the beautiful landscape, tranquillity and ecological values of a site which is supposed to be protected for its scientific interest.

On every single key issue like the density, urban design (height of blocks), housing, community facilities and transport and traffic, the application is seriously flawed and does not comply with Barnet nor the London Mayor planning policies. 29 Storey tower block may be fine for Manhattan but spells a disaster for Welsh Harp.

1. WH.jpg

Overdevelopment with four-fold increase of population and tower blocks on this site is a solution from hell – one that will vandalise this site of exceptional beauty and importance.

It is dreadful that Barnet Council has failed to listen to the local communities in Brent and Barnet and it’s equally disgraceful that the Mayor of London has failed to raise concerns about this seriously flawed application during his Stage 1 examination. The Mayor will now have a final say on this application and I will be lobbying him to reject this application. I urge residents and campaigners to press Mayor Johnson for refusal and save this significant spot of natural beauty from permanent destruction.

Boris forces through fire cuts

It was revealed today that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will continue to force through his cuts to the London Fire Brigade. The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) will meet next week to vote on the Mayor’s plans. The documents for that meeting – which were published this afternoon – show that the Mayor has backed down and will not close Clapham and New Cross Fire Stations. However, he will continue to try and force the rest of fire cuts through.

The Mayor wanted to close 12 fire stations, cut 18 fire engines and axe 520 firefighters. The updated plans released today show that Clapham will stay open, but will lose one of its two fire engines; Chelsea Fire Station will keep both of its fire engines; East Greenwich Fire Station will receive a second fire engine; and New Cross Fire Station will remain. This now means that 10 fire stations will still close with the total loss of 14 fire engines.

The stations that are now planned to close are Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.

The stations that will still lose a fire engine are: Chingford, Hayes, Leyton, Leytonstone, Peckham and Whitechapel.

I’m pleased that the Mayor has listened to local residents and has scrapped his reckless plans to close Clapham and New Cross Fire Stations. However, he needs to keep open the other 10 fire stations and 14 fire engines that he is trying to cut. At public meetings Londoners spoke with one voice against these cuts. Why has Boris not listened to Londoners fully and saved the other stations and engines as well? This looks like he is trying to divert attention from his other cuts, but we will keep fighting them as they are totally unnecessary.

We all know that savings have to be made, but the London Fire Brigade has already saved £66million from the back office. Boris is cutting too far and all to fund his penny a day council tax cut. What would you prefer, a penny a day or a fully funded fire service that can respond to incidents more quickly?

Public meetings have shown that Londoners are fearful for the safety of the areas where they live and work. They are understandably worried about injuries and fatalities from fire. I am deeply disappointed that Boris has failed to protect London’s fire brigade by scrapping his plans. He has let Londoners down with his plan to close 10 fire stations and axe 14 fire engines, after all this is about the protection of the whole of London.

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.

 

 

Serious injuries for vulnerable road users rise for second year

Figures released today by Transport for London show the number of vulnerable road users seriously injured in London’s has risen for the second consecutive year. Local Labour London Assembly Member Navin Shah calls on the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to focus on bringing down the number of serious incidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The figures released on 27 June show serious incidents in Brent involving vulnerable road users increased in 2012 since 2011:

Serious incidents involving pedestrians rose by 19 per cent

Serious cyclist injuries rose by 17 per cent

The Mayor must introduce targets to bring down the rise of serious casualties on London’s roads. In Brent, there has been a 7 per cent increase in serious incidents involving cyclists/pedestrians/motorcyclists and this is not acceptable.

Boris has taken his eye off the ball and the result has been an increase in injuries to the most vulnerable road users. His policy of smoothing car traffic in London has been at the expense of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. If we are determined to encourage more people to cycle and walk then the Mayor must improve public safety on red routes which run through high streets and shopping areas such as Brent.

The Mayor’s priority needs to be making London’s roads as safe as possible, and he should be paying the most attention to TfL’s red routes which pose a greater threat to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

 

Ends

 

Notes

  1. Transport for London’s Casualties in Greater London during 2012 can be found here: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/casualties-in-greater-london-2012.pdf

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

Deadline for members of the public to ask questions on the draft fifth London Safety Plan

There will be an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions on the draft fifth London Safety Plan at the next London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority meeting that takes place after the consultation has ended, on 20th June.  To ask a question, the Clerk must be told by 2.30pm on Monday 10th June 2013.  If you are interested in asking a question at the Authority meeting, please email me at Navin.Shah@london.gov.uk or by phone (020 7983 4876).

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

ATTACK IN WOOLWICH

STATEMENT

Like all peace loving, fair minded people I’m shocked and horrified with the terrorist act in Woolwich. I condemn this heinous and barbaric crime which is no more than an act of public execution – never seen before on the streets of London and I’m ashamed of it. London has one of the best police forces in the world and I’m confident that we will have facts before us to give us a full and true picture about this barbaric incident and ensure that the perpetrators bear the full force of the law. 

Words fail me to express my anger and shock of such a gruesome act happening in London which is a home for diverse communities of different races, faiths and origins. In hard times like these our resolve fore peace and unity is tested the most. I urge our communities in Harrow to stay calm and maintain the respect and trust between communities we have nurtured over the years and continue to fight against all forms of terrorism no matter who the perpetrators are. My prayers are with the fallen soldier, his family and together we must continue to work to drive out such evil acts against humanity.  

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

New figures reveal 2,900 Met Police Officers cut since 2010

The Metropolitan Police’s latest figures reveal that over 2,900 police officers have been cut since May 2010. Since his re-election last May Boris Johnson has cut over 1,300 police officers – despite promising an extra 1,000. The latest drop in police numbers comes at a time when the Mayor and government are considering buying water cannons for the police.

The majority of police officers that have been cut have come from borough police teams:

  • In Brent 89 police officers have been lost
  • In Harrow 66 police officers have been lost

 These latest figures are deeply concerning. Not only have we lost 89 police officers in Brent, 66 in Harrow and nearly 3,000 police officers in London since May 2010, but the vast majority – 2,700 – have been lost from borough police teams. Hollowing out the frontline like this cannot continue. This week we learned that the government and Mayor are considering buying water cannons to use on our streets. It looks like the Met are under real strain, without enough police officers.

Instead of cutting the police budget by 20 per cent and buying water cannons the government and Mayor should be properly resourcing the police. These cuts are completely unacceptable. Boris’ latest policing plan claims that it will put more police into the boroughs and on the streets, the evidence tells a very different story. The Mayor and the Government’s cuts are too far, too fast.

Ends

 

Notes 

  1. In September 2012 Boris Johnson said at Mayor’s Question Time: “I do think that it is important to keep Police numbers high…It is something that not everybody necessarily agrees with me about.  A lot of people say that the numbers themselves do not matter.  I think that they do matter.  I think that it is important that we keep them at or around 32,000.”

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

Welfare Reforms

The Government’s cuts will hit sections of deprived community unfairly and the hardest.  

April 2013 will go down in the history as the month that changed Britain for ever and for the worse. The first of April has seen introduction of a series of cuts including changes to Council Tax benefit; Bedroom Tax; Legal Aid changes; National Health Commissioning Changes and Scrapping of 50p Tax Rate for the Rich.

Cut in housing benefits described as ‘Bedroom Tax’, meant to reduce overcrowding in social housing, will adversely affect an estimated 700,000 people living in socially rented housing who would lose an average of £728 a year. People with one spare bedroom will loose 14% of their housing benefit and people with two or more spare rooms will lose 25%. This particular benefit cut will hit London and urban areas disproportionately where there is acute shortage of social housing. It is also shocking that two thirds of the people affected by the bedroom tax are disabled. Similarly other cuts like the scrapping of access to legal aid and 10% reduction of Council Tax by this government will hit the poorest. Contrast this with the generosity shown to the rich and high earners by George Osborn introducing a handout of 50p tax rate.     

NHS Commissioning changes being implemented as of 1st of April will take full control of budgets to buy services from any agencies including private businesses / companies. The changes will mean unprecedented job losses in the health service and privatisation through the backdoor. At the same time I’d also like to remind you of the government’s closure plans of Accident and Emergency departments in local hospitals like the Central Middlesex and Ealing Hospitals.

Further cuts will take place,which would include scrapping of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and introduction of Universal Credit. The reduction in DLA will affect some 500,000 disable people and their carers. This will see the benefits reduce or removed altogether. No wonder disable peoples’ organisations and charities have forged an alliance “The Hardest Hit” to fight the cuts. Controversial new ‘Universal Credit’ system will replace six of the main benefits with a single payment. The project seems to have come to a grinding halt with the pilot of this welfare system now introduced only in one jobcentre in Ashton-Under Lyne this month. There is a crisis situation with the new system which will put at risk tax credits of millions of families. With the raft of cuts in the pipeline from this April – this has been described as the ‘cruellest month of austerity period’.

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.

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

NHS North West London Decision

Central Middlesex Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department will close along with three other A&E units, it was announced yesterday by NHS North West London.

 Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Ealing and Central Middlesex are due to become downgraded to urgent care centres. Serious emergencies will be referred to Northwick Park, Hillingdon, West Middlesex and Chelsea and Westminster. 

This decision is a travesty. Northwick Park is already over-stretched, as are the other A&Es which are remaining open and the closures of neighbouring A&Es will increase the pressure on these services.

There is widespread opposition to the closure of Central Middlesex A&E but the opinion of residents has been completely ignored. With A&E admissions consistently rising by about 3% a year it is ridiculous to start closing major hospitals in places with dense populations such as Brent.

We will continue to fight to save our hospital and will pursue every available option, including referring this to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and Judicial Review.

hospital.jpg

Permanent link to this article
22nd 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.

Permanent link to this article
8th February 2013

Londoners shouldn’t be left out in the cold

On Fuel Poverty Awareness Day local Labour London Assembly Member Navin Shah is calling on energy companies to stop neglecting Londoners. Research by the Energy Savings Trust shows energy companies have only insulated half the number of London homes as elsewhere in the UK. In Harrow the number of homes insulated in the last year is as low as 8.3 per cent and in Brent it was 8.5%.

Energy companies have treated 7.2 per cent of homes in the capital in order to fulfil their obligations under the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT). Fuel poverty is a widespread issue with over 560,000 London households estimated to be fuel poor.

The figures are bad news for Boris Johnson, who has himself failed to meet his own target to retrofit 200,000 homes by 2012, delivering only 67,000. From April the Mayor will no longer be directly funding home retrofit measures and will instead rely on energy companies to deliver such measures.

As a result of the gap between the end of the existing retrofitting schemes and the new schemes becoming fully functional, the Insulation Industry Forum predicted that 625 jobs will be lost in London during 2013. 

The energy companies’ record in London is pitifully poor, with only half the number of homes benefitting from being insulated as elsewhere in the UK. With the ending of the Mayor’s home insulation programme in London and the energy companies’ complete lack of interest in helping Londoners save money and keep warm.

On Fuel Poverty Awareness Day I encourage all residents who are struggling to heat their homes to ensure they are getting all the help they are entitled to. It should not be a choice between food or fuel.

The number of people living in fuel poverty is rising in London. With fuel prices continuing to rise every winter and when London's higher housing costs are considered, more and more people will fall into fuel poverty each year.

It is essential that energy companies do all they can to help Londoners reduce their fuel consumption and live in more energy efficient homes. Energy companies are not taking this responsibility seriously and Londoners are being left out in the cold.

Permanent link to this article
1st 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

999 services "devastated" in Brent and Harrow

Mayor of London Boris Johnson was confronted yesterday by local Labour London Assembly Member Navin Shah about cuts to emergency services in Brent and Harrow. Emergency services are being “devastated” with the proposed closure of Pinner and Civic Centre (Counter) police stations in Harrow, Willesden Green and Harlesden police station in Brent and the Central Middlesex A&E Hospital in Brent which will be putting the safety of Londoners at risk.

The Mayor is accused of holding ‘sham consultations’ across London for his draft Police and Crime Plan. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Stephen Greenhalgh has attended the consultations in Brent and Harrow but as yet the Mayor has not attended any of the consultation sessions.

Across London, 999 services are being threatened:

  • The London Fire Brigade’s budget has been cut by the Mayor and government by £45 million for the next two years. Boris Johnson wants to close 12 fire stations, lose 18 fire appliances and axe 520 firefighter posts
  • London Ambulance Service is currently being cut by £53 million (19%) of it’s budget by 2015/16, resulting in 890 job cuts, of which 560 will be frontline jobs
  • The Metropolitan Police have already lost 2,147 police officers and 1,682 PCSOs since May 2010. The Mayor has earmarked 65 police stations and front-counters for closure. The Met's own Chief Financial Operating Officer has labelled the Met's Budget for the coming year as 'very risky'
  • NHS London delivered efficiency savings of around £1 billion in 2011/12 and is committed to further savings of £600 million in 2012/13 and £500 million in 2013/14. Eight A&Es are due to be closed across London

 I challenged the Mayor regarding my concerns about the safety of Londoners following the fire cuts outlined in the London Safety Plan. The cutting of fire engines and axing firefighters will certainly put people at risk. We are seeing utter confusion about cuts to London’s policing and fire brigade from the Mayor's office.

I am concerned about cuts to the frontline services in Brent and Harrow. The government and the Mayor are cutting too far, too fast and these cuts will inevitably endanger families and communities across the capital.

The Mayor can’t give a straight answer about how much a closed police station will save or where residents will be able to report crime. Many residents have spoken to me and they just don’t believe Boris when he says that he can close 65 police stations, 12 fire stations, axe 520 firefighter posts and cut 18 fire engines and still maintain the same service we have now. 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.

Permanent link to this article
31st January 2013

Boris attacked for trying to force through fire cuts

Today the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has formally directed the London Fire Authority to make deep and damaging cuts. The Fire Authority had previously voted against the Mayor’s budget proposals to close fire stations, but he is now trying to use his powers as Mayor to force them through.

The Mayoral Direction comes on the same day that Boris was challenged on cuts to the emergency services across London at today’s Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall. Mr Johnson was criticised for not taking responsibility for the cuts he is making to the London Fire Brigade. I argued that the station closures and fire appliance reductions are due to budget cuts imposed by the Mayor.

In his letter to the Mayor of London on 29th January 2013 the London Fire Commissioner stated: "I regard the budgetory position as being a significant factor in the proposals which I have produced."

Today's Mayoral Direction is the first step to closing these fire stations. Boris is trying to hide behind his fire officers, he needs to take responsibility for his cuts. These changes are driven by budget cuts, not improvements to the fire service. Today we have called an emergency meeting of the London Fire Authority, this will take place as soon as possible.

Boris 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. He is trying to force the London Fire Authority to make these deep cuts, which are opposed by us and many Londoners.

The London Fire Brigade and all of their dedicated staff do a fantastic job keeping us safe and helping us when we need it most. He is cutting too far and too fast, hitting the frontline and fundamentally undermining the ability of the fire brigade to do their job. How can cutting 12 of our fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighters be in the best interest of Londoners?

Background

The London Fire Brigade's budget is to be cut by the Mayor and government by £45 million for the next two years. 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 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.

Permanent link to this article
30th 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.

Permanent link to this article
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.

Permanent link to this article
17th December 2012

I joined the “Hardest Hit” campaign on 30 November 2012

I joined a campaign on 3 December 2012 in support of the ‘Hardest Hit’ in Harrow. The demonstration organised by various voluntary sector organisations in Harrow started from Lowlands Road, Harrow and terminated outside the Harrow Council.

The demonstration marked the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ was supported by Harrow leading organisations such as the Harrow Association of Disable People, Age UK – Harrow. Harrow Mind and Harrow Mencap. A large number of demonstrators demonstrated to protect services for disable people. I was joined by Gareth Thomas MP and a number of Harrow’s Councillors who showed their support to persons with disabilities, organisations and for equitable and sustainable development promoted for disable people by the United Nations.

I was pleased to join people of Harrow and a number of our local voluntary organisations to celebrate the United Nations day of persons with disabilities’ and participate with them to promote and protect the persons with disabilities. In the times of austerity measures persons with disabilities are hit even harder at all levels including deprivation and health care issues. I am taking a message to the London’s Mayor from the demonstration today and renew my fight to make Harrow on the Hill and Stanmore stations fully accessible.

01  Hardest Hit Demo (2).jpg

The new buses are accessible but fail to provide adequate space for wheelchair users. I pay tribute to the work of our voluntary organisations and the role they play in awareness of the issues and keeping the fight going.

Permanent link to this article
30th November 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

Ninth Annual Jamaica Day

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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.

 

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.”

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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Navin celebrates Olympics with Harrow Asian Deaf Club

Harrow Asian Deaf Club (HADC) celebrated their first ever London Olympic 2012 Celebration by hosting the event at Bentley Day Centre this weekend to support the London Olympics 2012 in Harrow.

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The venue was decorated with British Flags and balloon in British colours of red, blue and white to celebrate the Olympics and encourage everybody to be proud of being British. HADC had a fantastic turn out, with 200 people joining the celebration including The Mayor and Mayoress of Harrow. The event kicked off with delicious and healthy refreshment and carried the sporty theme.

The enthusiasm for the London Olympics was most remarkable amongst the members and the progress made by the Harrow Asian Deaf Club in a such a short time too is most impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed the quiz and focus on the celebration of London Olympic. For the future Olympic and Paralympic games I'd like to see International Olympic Committee make greater level of consideration for deaf participants and people so that they don't feel sidelined. I look forward to working with the Club.

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 Navin Shah AM

 


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 

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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

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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

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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

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30th 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

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13th January 2012

Access for Harrow-on-the-Hill

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By Suruchi Sharma

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

See my campaigns page for more information.

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10th January 2012

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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29th December 2011

Christmas Message

Dear All,  

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

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

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

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

Navin Shah

Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow

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23rd December 2011

New Windows on Willesden Green

New Windows on Willesden Green Project

 

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On 17 and 18 December I attended the wonderful ‘New Windows on Willesden Green’ project, which was delivered for Brent Council and Design for London by The Architecture Foundation in collaboration with Meanwhile Space and Blue Consulting.

This was a brilliant project, attempting to revive and improve Willesden High Road. I felt it was a huge success and was very impressed by the creativity and innovation on show in the windows of the high street shops.

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I was very pleased to be asked to announce the winners of the window animations, which were installed along Walm Lane and the High Road marking the 25 days leading up to Christmas. The names of the winners are below.

Local shopowners paired with emerging designers to produce an advent calendar of window displays in Willesden with a new Willesden window opening each day.

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Please visit the website and see for yourself the inventiveness which was on display. You can also visit the Pilot Shop until March on the High Street if you are considering taking over one of the vacant shops on there.

Happy Christmas,

Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow

 

Winners

Overall Winner: Kieren Jones (Pilot Shop & Monsoon Bakery)

Best Humour: I want design (Hairways)

Best Rebranding: Patternity (Tailorwear)

Most Festive: Sarah Bick (Norma's Blessed Hands)

Best Visual Impact: Markus Kayser (Open Eye Opticians)

Best Transformation: We are Laura (Glorious Beginnings)

 

Judges

Mark Brearly - Design for London (Head)

Claire Catterall - Somerset House (Curator)

Justin McGuirk - The Guardian (Critic)

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17th 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

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

Libraries are Community Hubs

As the move towards the proposed closure of Brent’s six libraries continues, I would like to make my position clear.

 

The Cuts

It is entirely due to the Tory and LibDem Coalition Government’s ill-conceived and

savage imposition of cuts that local authorities across the UK have been placed in an

impossible position of having to make stringent – often unpalatable cuts. This is

clearly putting local authorities such as Brent Council in an extremely difficult position

of having to make tough choices. Brent Council faces a staggering £60million worth

of cuts next year alone. But as a responsible authority Brent is committed to protect

frontline services from the cuts forced upon it by an uncaring Government.

 

Libraries

Since libraries across the country have come under pressure to close, I and my

London Assembly colleagues have been lobbying Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

We have asked him to help Councils in London who are faced with the decision of

closing of libraries. Unfortunately the Mayor’s announcement launching the ‘Libraries

Trust’ earlier this year has come to nothing.

 

My view

I’ve always seen libraries as community hubs. As a senior Councillor in Harrow I

have demonstrated this by ensuring libraries are not closed, by removing the Tory

threat of privatisation and as promised, restored the Sunday opening of central library

which was closed by the previous Tory administration.

 

I’m not a Brent Councillor so as such have no powers or vote on Brent Council.

Brent has been placed in an impossible position by the stringent cuts worth

£60million next year alone imposed by the Tory and LibDem Government.

 

I do not envy any elected members or officers who have been placed in this

position. I have been talking to Brent’s Councillors expressing my concerns about the

library closures and equally having regular dialogue with lobby groups opposed to the

plan for closures. I’ve offered to work with Brent’s SOS Libraries campaign to explore

viable schemes to keep the libraries open.

 

As the Assembly Member for Brent together with my Assembly colleagues I’ve

quizzed the London Mayor about his plans to set up a ‘Libraries Trust’ to safeguard

London's library services and asked him about his commitment to work with London

Council’s on this. So far Londoners have had nothing more than rhetoric from the

Mayor.

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22nd November 2011

Launch of Campaign against LOCOG at the Olympic Stadium

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN NOW AND SIGN THE PETITION

I was joined by Labour Friends of India and a cross-party coalition of MPs at the Olympic Site yesterday to urge the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to review its decision to award Dow Chemical Company the contract to build the decorative wrapping on the Olympic Stadium. I feel that Dow's appalling human rights record with regards to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster puts the Olympic legacy at risk.

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Background

Dow owns Union Carbide Corporation, which was responsible for the 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India. Half a million people were exposed to the gas and 25,000 people have died as a result of their exposure. More than 120,000 people still suffer from ailments caused by the accident and the subsequent pollution at the plant site.

Health and human rights groups in Bhopal continue to report high rates of congenital deformities and cancers among families who are forced to use contaminated groundwater sources. More than 10 independent scientific studies show dangerous levels of chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride in water supplies.

Dow bought UCC in 2001. It denies responsibility for UCC's Bhopal liabilities and claims the $470m paid by UCC in 1991 to disaster was final. This settlement gave victims an average payout of only $630, and many received nothing.

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JOIN THE CAMPAIGN NOW AND SIGN THE PETITION

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15th November 2011

Brent school children delighted with two wheels

I was delighted to meet pupils at Malorees Junior school in Kilburn who were helping to launch the new 'Bike it' scheme, together with TfL, Sustrans, NHS Brent and Brent Council.

It was great to see so many pupils, parents and teachers taking up cycling in the borough. Cycling is  a sustainable, healthy, and environmentally green way of commuting and should be promoted.

A day of bike-related activates had been planned including a bike breakfast and Dr Bike, for free bike checks.

The number of cyclists in London has been steadily increasing over the last decade and it is fantastic to see the next generation taking it up so early.

There is a lot more that can be done to get people on bikes in London and Malorees is a great example of a proactive approach towards cycling.

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I was pleased to be asked to open the new Bike Shed facility at Malorees', which is already being well-used. It looks like they will need another bike shelter soon as cycling is so popular here.

At the event, I spoke about my commitment to increasing the amount of walking and cycling in Brent, and of my keeness to see other initiatives, such as cycle sports facilities, be explored by Brent’s officers.

Teacher and organiser of the day, Paul Kaffel, said: "We were extremely pleased to see so many cyclists; children and adults alike, at our Bike Breakfast. There was a real sense of community and energy and we look forward to filling our new TFL funded shelter with the bikes of regular ride to school children."

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10th November 2011

ENJOY FIREWORKS – BUT BE CAREFUL & CONSIDERATE!

Happy Diwali and wishing Hindu, Jain and Sikh readers a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year.

Enjoy the fireworks celebrations associated with Diwali and Guy Fawkes and bonfire night. But when you do so remember the elderly people in our community and pets who require a special consideration and care. Please do not set off loud and noisy fireworks and also ensure that you do not use fire works after 9pm. I’d also advice that you strictly follow the following safety code published by the London Fire Brigade:

  • Only buy fireworks marked with the British Standard Kitemark BS7114.
  • Don't drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box, and always follow the instructions carefully when using them.
  • Light them at arms length using a taper and stand well back.
  • Never go back to them once they are lit. Even if a firework hasn't gone off, it could still explode.
  • Never throw fireworks and never put them in your pocket.
  • Respect your neighbours – don’t let off fireworks late at night and remember there are laws to follow. It is illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am
  • Take care with sparklers – never give them to children under five. Even when they have gone out they are still hot so put sparklers in a bucket of water after use. 
  • Keep your pets indoors throughout the evening.  

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If you want information about bonfire safety or the law governing fireworks visit here.

Celebrate by all means but please be safe and considerate.

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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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Permanent link to this article
28th October 2011

Action needed now to tackle unemployment in Brent

Local Labour London Assembly member Navin Shah calls on mayor and government to tackle 10.3 per cent unemployment in Brent as jobless rate across London reaches worst level for almost fifteen years.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics this week revealed that one in ten people across London are now unemployed. The number has risen by 28,000 in the last three months to 425,000. The London jobless rate of ten per cent is the highest since 1997 and the second highest in the country.

Brent has one of the worst unemployment rates in the city at 10.3 per cent. Local London Assembly member, Navin Shah, said the figures were "devastating".

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Calling on the mayor and government to take urgent action, Navin said: "These devastating figures are a direct consequence of the government's policy of putting people out of work in the public sector and stifling growth in the private sector. It's very worrying for Brent, London and the UK. The government and mayor need an urgent plan for growth and to get people off the dole and back to work."

According to the latest official figures there are currently 1,387 vacancies in Brent and 13,000 people unemployed - meaning there are 9 people chasing every local job.

Permanent link to this article
14th 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.

 

 

Permanent link to this article
12th October 2011

A lesson from Delhi for Boris

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By Navin Shah AM, Member of Labour Friends of India Policy Forum

The Delhi Metro has become the first rail system in the world to earn ‘carbon credits’ under a United Nations scheme. The credits were given by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which gives firms in developing countries an incentive to cut greenhouse gases.

As transport links suffer from government cuts and London suffers from some of the worst urban pollution in Europe, the Delhi story provides a timely reminder of the value of environmentally-friendly and affordable transport.

The Delhi Metro was launched in 2002, and aimed to tackle massive congestion in the city. Delhi has 14 million inhabitants and a population density of almost 12,000 people per square kilometre (as a comparison, London has around 5,000 people per square kilometre), leading to massive congestion and pollution.

The effects of creating an environmentally-friendly metro on this problem are truly impressive.

The Metro carries about 1.8 million people every day. It is estimated that it has helped to have taken 91,000 vehicles off the road. 90% of vehicles circulating in Delhi are personal vehicles, and for every passenger who chooses to use the Metro instead of a car or bus contributes to a 100gm reduction in carbon dioxide for every trip of 10km or more.

Not only is this improving the lives of Delhi’s commuters, and reducing pollution in the city, it is the kind of cumulative contribution in the battle against climate change that is so valuable.

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Earlier this month, a major report found that London ranked among Europe’s unhealthiest major cities, with only Dusseldorf, Milan and Rome ranked lower, and had taken "backwards steps" in combating pollution. The European Union has consistently had to press the government over its failure to meet minimum air quality standards in London. Another study found that pollution in London causes 4,267 early deaths.

Despite all this, Boris Johnson has scaled back the congestion charge, introduced above inflation rises in rail fares and government spending cuts have delayed the Crossrail project.

With London rail fares set to increase 2% above inflation 7% in January 2012 it appears that Boris Johnson has failed to grasp the connection between transport, pollution and the economy.

As Labour Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone said

"Fares must be cut on transport grounds to make the system more attractive, but also on economic grounds to put ordinary Londoners first by putting money back in the pockets that will boost the London economy."

The Delhi Metro Carbon Credits for which it will receive £6.1m annually, which will increase as passenger numbers rise show how long-term planning can pay off both environmentally and economically. Whilst this UN scheme is open only to developing nations, it still pays for London transport to be environmentally sound.

It is estimated 725,000 work days are lost across the European Union annually due to pollution. The savings are not just the result of an improved environment, but an efficient transport system is also a massive plus to the economy. It is estimated that a 5% reduction in travel time could save British businesses £2.5bn a year, whilst traffic congestion is believed to cost the UK economy £25bn by 2025.The authorities in Delhi have understood this, and the return on their investment in environmentally-friendly transport is evident not only in the £6.1m they will now receive each year or the 91,000 vehicles they have taken off the road, but the improvements in quality of life for its citizens.

The value of an efficient public transport system is immeasurable, affecting every corner of city living.

 

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    

 

 

Permanent link to this article
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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Permanent link to this article
12th September 2011

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.

 

 

St George's Playing Fields: Evidence to the Planning Enquiry

 As you may know, there is a planning enquiry currently being held to determine the future of St George's Playing Fields in Pinner View. Last year the Council rejected the application to build housing on some of the land.

Yesterday I spoke against the proposals as I am in favour of keeping the land as it is. You can find the transcript of my speech below:

 

My submission is two fold. As an elected member focusing on specific planning grounds and my own experience as a local resident and that of local residents that I represent . 

A poem (Ode) by Marion Garner posted yesterday on her website sums up the mood, emotions and the strength of feeling about the improtance of the fields to me and Harrow’s community.  It goes …..

Ancient Headstone, once so green
Once home to Archbishops, how do you seem?
My ancient meadows are all but gone;
Now parkland, sports grounds or built upon.
Now one solitary field is under threat ……..
 

I wrote to the planning committee last September setting my objections broadly on the grounds of loss of open space and merits of planning proposals. 

I agree -  it is the planning balance at the heart of the evaluation of the application and the key issue is that of open space.

Before I move to the two significant key policies from the UDP and London Plan that already have been mentioned in earlier submissions today I’d like to draw specific attention to a major aspect of the Mayor’s replacement London Plan,  specific and critical to Harrow.

Specific to Outer London Borough’s, the replacement London Plan drawing from the work of Outer London Commission,  acknowledges large and hugely diverse areas in Outer London ranging from the ‘Metroland’ suburbs like Harrow to Industrial areas like Dagenham. With reference to the Vision and Strategy for Outer London the plan states ‘ the significant differences in the nature and quality of life of Outer London neighbourhood’s must be recognised and improvement initiatives should address these sensitivity in light of local circumstances.

With this in mind INTENSIFICATION AREA for Harrow has been proposed by the Mayor offering significant opportunity for urban renewal to regenerate Harrow Town Centre and Wealdstone. Council’s LDF Panel, of which I’m a member, has undertaken a substantial amount of work on Core Strategy – Intensification Area consideration and policies being major aspect of the vision for Harrow.

It is important to note that the area designated for the Intensification Area is in the very close proximity to the appeal site and the vision and policies in developing Intensification Area will have major direct impact on Headstone South including the appeal site. In addition to developing employment growth, as the London Plan acknowledges there is scope for accommodating a substantial portion of the Borough’s future housing need  through high density residential and mixed use development. Of the 5,200 homes to meet Boroughs needs 2500 are flagged up for development in Intensification Area.

If Harrow is to achieve its vision of Intensified development then it is hugely critical that open spaces are preserved and enhanced throughout the Borough to maintain its ‘Metroland’ character. Open spaces therefore like the St Georges Playing Filed require protection from development to provide access to our community to green spaces and to maintain the character of the locality. In my view it is important that the application site is protected from built development as not only it make vital contribution at local level but it also contributes to the hierarchy of open spaces that Harrow needs.

 

Other Aspects of London Plan 2004

  • Mr White, referring to Objective 6 in the London Plan this morning mentioned protection and enhancement of green open spaces – I’d like to add - the objective also gives policy direction to ‘re-sue buildings and brownfield sites, rather than developing on green space’.
  • The draft replacement London Plan adds to this in that it states  ‘As part of London’s multi functional green infrastructure, local open spaces are key to improving health and biodiversity. Their loss must be resisted unless equivalent or better quality provision is made within local catchment area.

 

Moving on to Harrow’s UDP Policy EP47 ‘Open space’

  • It states ‘The Council ‘WILL protect borough’s open spaces, parks, playing fields and recreation grounds regardless of ownership’ ….. ‘Unless surplus to requirements or suitable alternative use is made

          available’.

  • Justification paragraph 3.14 states :  ‘Protecting open space as a resource is important because once an open space is lost to built development it is difficult to replace’

 

Based on the evidence from both Harrow’s UDP and London Plan I fundamentally disagree with the previous inspector’s finding that there was only ‘technical contravention’ of policies EP47.

 

I have lived in the close proximity of the site for the last 30 years in the areas of West Harrow and Central Harrow and having raised two children who grew up in the locality I know the vital importance of such open spaces to our community.

 

As we all know the strength of feeling amongst local residents is very strong about this site and if localism (including aspects related to departure from the current planning approach) were more than lip service – all the evidence points towards the application resulting in harm to the local community and character of the area. I have no doubt that both in quality and quantity terms the current open space needs to remain and enhanced for it to become welcoming and a resource to provide much needed relief from intense development planned in the future within the stone’s throw distance from the site.

Debate: The Campaign to Defend Brent's Health Service

 Last week I was delighted to speak at a public meeting of the Campaign to Defend Brent's Health Service. The campaign is organised by Brent Trade Union Council and Brent Fightback against the effects of Andrew Lansley's White Paper. I spoke about how 'Liberating the NHS' contains dangers for London as a whole, public health in the capital, and the particular needs of Brent and Harrow's population. I very much enjoyed the debate and an excellent summary has now been produced by the Brent News Company YouTube channel which is available here.

You can find out more about Brent's campaigns against the coalition cuts here

You can find out more about Ken Livingstone's campaign to save the NHS in London here

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Flying the flag for St George's Day

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The St George's Day celebrations in Pinner were absolutely brilliant this year. I have included some pictures that I took on the day, which show you what beautiful weather we had and how much fun every had.

Pictured above are the winners of the infamous wheelbarrow pub crawl. The whole of the village was closed to traffic so all of the residents were able to join in and enjoy the celebrations.

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I particularly liked the Morris dancers who performed tirelessly all day. My thanks go to the organisers, volunteers and participants of the event who ensured the day ran smoothly and successfully. I am already looking forward to next year, when we can celebrate St George's Day all over again.

 

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India: Champions of the World!

Areas of Brent and Harrow last night saw huge spontaneous carnival like celebrations after India’s victory over Sri Lanka in the limited overs World Cup Cricket Final match in Mumbai India.

 

Not only billions in Asia and throughout the world saw the game live on television North-West London area of Brent and Harrow with one of the biggest Indian and  sizable Sri Lankan population too was buzzing all day and till late night with excitement. First it was the game watched during the day in homes, bars and clubs followed by the fireworks in streets, back gardens  and greens / parks. The overwhelming joy and the very carnival like atmosphere after the game was for everyone to see.

Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow who saw the game with his family in the Regency Club in Queensbury all day and was one of the many shouting, screaming and excited spectators enjoying the day with splendid food and live drummers in the Club. After the victory Navin and his family joined the large crowd gathered on the green outside the Club and the Queensbury Station and then on Kenton Road.

Navin Shah said “Like billions of Indians and other supporters throughout the world I’m overjoyed and overwhelmed with India’s victory. In the 38 years I’ve lived in Brent and Harrow I’ve never come across such spontaneous scenes of joy and carnival like atmosphere on the local streets. Whilst the little Master Sachin failed the young talented Gambhir succeeded and Dhoni lead by example by taking charge and the six hit by him to mark victory was the fitting finale. The celebrations in India and here showed that for Indians cricket is not just a game it’s a religion. Moreover it’s a great unifying force brining together millions of poor people and the growing middle and rich classes”.

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Harrow cleans up in Park Awards

Harrow’s parks were awarded the Safer Park Award last week for being amongst the safest in London. The successful alliance formed between the Council, police and local residents has proved to be a winning combination and I am pleased to see that their work is getting the recognition it deserves. The three parks in the borough that entered the competition were awarded the highest and most prestigious award - the gold Safer Parks Award. Harrow Recreation Ground, Roxeth Recreation Ground and Canons Park all won the award from the Mayor of London.

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Local residents have worked tirelessly to improve these parks, cleaning them up for others to enjoy.

The cooperation between Harrow Council, the police and local groups shows what can be achieved with cooperation and the awards are well-deserved by everybody that was involved in making the parks more enjoyable places to be.

Harrow Celebrates Holi

On Sunday 20th March 2011 the Hindu festival of ‘Holi’ was celebrated in the Carpark of Harrow Civic Centre. Literally meaning of Holi (or Holika) means ‘burning’. According to the Hindu mythology Holi, a festival of colours, is associated with the demon king Harnakashyapa and in spirit, like the Diwali, Holi marks victory of the good over the evil. The event was organised in partnership between Harrow Council, Siddhartha Shakti Ashram and Sangat Centre.

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I was proud to attend the Holi celebrations. Harrow specialises in new initiatives and the Holi celebrations in the Civic Centre Carpark was one of those when the Council teamed up with local community organisations. I was moved by Harrow’s Muslim Mayor’s address to the large gathering when he described the religious purpose behind this Hindu celebration. This was – yet again - a true demonstration of Harrow’s mature standing as a Borough oozing unity and respect between all religions and communities.

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Tube ticket office opening hours slashed in Brent

Hypocrisy in Action

Today, as the changes come into effect, I condemn Boris Johnson's decision to slash ticket office opening hours in Brent. Ticket offices in the borough were cut by 574 hours and 15 minutes a week  on Sunday.

The changes come despite Mayor Boris Johnson's election promise to "defend local ticket offices" and "stop the planned ticket office closures". In his 2008 election manifesto, the mayor said he would ensure "there is always a manned ticket office at every station". Instead in Brent:

  • 14 stations times are changing
  • Significantly reduced weekend opening times at a number of stations
  • 51% average reduction of opening hours at affected stations
  • No ticket offices open after 7.30pm on a weekday or weekend (apart from Wembley Park)
  • Sudbury Town will be open for 15 hours 45 mins a week only (reduced from 38 and a half hours) (60% reduction)

 Across London opening hours are being cut by 30 per cent  - or 5,290 hours a week.

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The mayor was elected on a clear promise to keep ticket offices open yet here he is cutting far more than anything that was planned before. Passengers will feel less safe and more vulnerable in the daytime and late at night as a direct consequence of the mayor's broken promises.

Transport for All, a charity who campaign on behalf of disabled passengers, have warned that the changes will make stations even less accessible.

Transport trade unions say the cuts will turn stations into a "criminal's paradise", making them more dangerous and leaving passengers - especially female passengers - more vulnerable to crime and anti-social behaviour. The TSSA union recently pointed to an assault which allegedly took place on an unmanned station.

TfL announced last March that 450 ticket office jobs would be cut as a result of the proposed changes. Negotiations over the job losses are on-going and one of the unions involved has accused the mayor of "jumping the gun" by pressing ahead with the ticket office cuts while the dispute is unresolved.

You can find out about the changes at your station in the table below:

Ticket office

Mon-Fri

Current

Mon-Fri

Proposed

Saturday

Current

Saturday

Proposed

Sunday

Current

Sunday

Proposed

Alperton 

0630-1400 & 1530-2000

0645-1115

0730-1830

1045-1415

0900-2100

1100-1200

Colindale

0645-1900

0645-14-00 & 1715-1830

0800-1800

0900-1545

0900-1800

0930-1530

Dollis Hill

0630-1900

0700-1000

0800-1800

1215-1315

0930-1800

1130-1400

Kilburn

0600-2200

0645-1930

0700-2200

0845-1800

0730-2200

0945-1715

Kilburn Park

0630-2000

0700-1315 & 1515-1830

0800-2030

0830-1900

0900-2000

0945-1600

Kingsbury

0630-1400 & 1530-2000

0645-1030

0900-1430

1045-1230

10000-1830

1100-1300

Neasden

0600-1430 & 1530-2000

0645-1030

0700-1900

0900-1300

1000-1900

1000-1400

Northwick Park

0615-1930

0730-1015 & 1530-1815

0800-1600

1000-1345

0930-1630

1000-1200

Preston Road

0600-2000

0645-1130

0800-2000

0930-1445

0830-1830

1115-1245

Queensbury

0630-1300 & 1530-1930

0645-1015

0800-1430

1000-1100

1000-2100

1000-1130 & 1700-1800

Sudbury Hill

0630-1230 & 1600-2000

0715-0915

0800-1530

1130-1230

0900-2100

1100-1300

Sudbury Town

0630-1130

0700-0945

0800-1400

1130-1230

0930-2200

1000-1100

Wembley Park

0530-2330

0615-2300

0630-0000

0630-0000

0800-2330

0745-2315

Willesden Green

0600-2200

0615-1930

0630-2200

0830-1845

0730-2300

0930-1900

 

How are the changes affecting you? Please let me know by contacting me here.

Permanent link to this article
7th February 2011

Tube ticket office opening slashed in Harrow

Hypocrisy in Action

Today, as the changes take effect, I condemn Boris Johnson's decision to slash ticket office opening hours in Harrow. Ticket offices in the borough were cut by 224 hours and 15 mins a week (57% of opening hours at affected stations) on Sunday.

The changes come despite Mayor Boris Johnson's election promise to "defend local ticket offices" and "stop the planned ticket office closures". In his 2008 election manifesto, the mayor said he would ensure "there is always a manned ticket office at every station" and he visited the borough to sign the petition at North Harrow. Instead in Harrow:

  • 8 stations times are changing
  • 57% average reduction of opening hours at affected stations
  • Pinner station will only be open for 15 hours and 45 mins a week (as opposed to 54 hours a week) – a 70% reduction

Across London opening hours are being cut by 30 per cent  - or 5,290 hours a week.

Boris_page_pic1.jpg

The mayor was elected on a clear promise to keep ticket offices open yet here he is cutting far more than anything that was planned before. Passengers will feel less safe and more vulnerable in the daytime and late at night as a direct consequence of the mayor's broken promises. 

Transport for All, a charity who campaign on behalf of disabled passengers, have warned that the changes will make stations even less accessible.

Transport trade unions say the cuts will turn stations into a "criminal's paradise", making them more dangerous and leaving passengers - especially female passengers - more vulnerable to crime and anti-social behaviour. The TSSA union recently pointed to an assault which allegedly took place on an unmanned suburban station, West Finchley.

TfL announced last March that 450 ticket office jobs would be cut as a result of the proposed changes. Negotiations over the job losses are on-going and one of the unions involved has accused the mayor of "jumping the gun" by pressing ahead with the ticket office cuts while the dispute is unresolved.

You can find a table of the changes below:

 

Ticket office

Mon-Fri

Current

Mon-Fri

Proposed

Saturday

Current

Saturday

Proposed

Sunday

Current

Sunday

Proposed

Harrow & Wealdstone (East)

No change

 

 

 

 

 

Harrow & Wealdstone (West)

No change

 

 

 

 

 

Harrow-on-the-Hill

0600-2215

0615-2030

0700-2200

0815-2015

0745-2200

0845-2000

North Harrow

0630-1030

0700-1000

1000-1400

1200-1300

1100-1600

1100-1200

Pinner

 

0630-1130 & 1600-1930

0715-1000

0900-1630

1100-1200

1000-2000

1300-1400

Queensbury

 

0630-1300 & 1530-1930

0645-1015

0800-1430

1000-1100

1000-2100

1000-1130 & 1700-1800

Rayners Lane

0600-2030

0645-1315 & 1615-1845

0800-2000

0930-1515

0900-2030

0930-1430

South Harrow

0630-1300 &1600-1930

0715-0945

0900-1600

1100-1300

0930-1930

1115-1330

Stanmore

0615-1930

0645-1330 & 1530-1915

0800-1900

0830-1830

0900-1900

0845-1830

West Harrow

0715-1030

0715-1000

closed

closed

closed

Closed

   

 

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7th February 2011

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

The Metropolitan Line: Higher Fares: Stagnant Service

 If, like me, you rely on the Metropolitan Line to commute into London, you may have become increasingly frustrated at the reliability of the service this winter.

The final straw for me came on Wednesday January the 19th, when delays due to a power failure involving a new S-stock train at Uxbridge made me late for a Plenary meeting of the London Assembly called to question the Mayor and his Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy, on Transport for London's performance. I was seething by the time I arrived!

There are apparently rumours circulating that that delay, was due to the new rolling stock being "too heavy" for the gradient leaving Uxbridge. I received a very fast response from TfL when I put this to them:

"There is absolutely no truth in it whatsoever.  The failure at Uxbridge was caused when a new train hit a lineside obstruction, knocking the ‘shoe gear’ off the train. The ‘shoe gear’ is what picks up current from the live rail.  The train then came to a halt and couldn’t pick up power.  We got a second S stock to tow the damaged train out of the way and removed the obstruction, so the new trains are now happily running along that branch in regular service."

Happily they may be running, but the Uxbridge incident came two days after a huge signal failure at Baker Street caused chaos on the Met and the Jubilee could go no further north than Willesden.

By this time I had already put some questions into the Mayor about the large number of delays (415 in total!) in December. While an increase was to be expected, given the bad weather, I was surprised to note many more were due to mechanical and human failures (see table below).

Cause Incidents
Severe Weather 24
Signalling Equipment Failures 63
Train failure in service 84
Train failure in depot 47
Other Operational Reasons 16
Staff Absence or Shortage 88
Staff Industrial Action 2
Customer Actions 26
Track & Civils Defects 19
Staff Errors 32
External Causes 7
Defective Station Equipment 4
Security Alerts 3
Total 415
 This table only confirms my belief North West Londoners pay more and more in fares for a stagnating service. After the two years of weekend closures on the Jubilee, combined with intermittent works on the Metropolitan and Bakerloo line, it is difficult to believe the long-term gains in service justify the not so short-term, ongoing inconveniences.

I would urge all affected passengers to contact Transport for London for a refund. Not only are you entitled to it but as delays begin to cost Transport for London money, we may see effots to minimise these delays. TfL will refund all journeys with a delays over 15 minutes that are inside of their control, i.e. not weather or security related or caused by an external party. So 381 of December's delays would be eligible!

You can apply online for a refund here.

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31st January 2011

Untold Stories: Brent's Holocaust Memorial Day

I was pleased to attend Brent's Holocaust Memorial Ceremony on the 23rd of January.

 

2011. Brent Holicaust Memorial001.jpg

The inter-faith ceremony, held at the Town Hall, began with a welcome from by the Mayor of Brent, Cllr Harbhajan Singh and included a number of contributions around the theme of 'Untold Stories'. This year's key note speech was by David Cesarani, Professor of history at Royal Holloway, University of London on the theme of 'Stories from the camps: the told, the untold and the untellable'. In addition to Prof Cesarani's moving tribute and discussion of memory, the ceremony included a fascinating talk from Belsen survivor, sculptor Maurice Blik and there were also reflections from Brent's pupils who told us about their visit to Auschwitz concentration camp. Rev Anthony Wolfson from the Wembley United Synagogue led a memorial prayer in Hebrew and English, with beautiful accompaniment from the London Cantorial Singers. and inter-faith music by 'The Berakah Project'. Portraits of Brent's survivors are also on display at the Town Hall.

 

 

 

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24th January 2011

Who "independently assessed" the slope at Stanmore?

While the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, maintains that the steep slope at Stanmore station legally constitutes "disabled access", the independent assessment of this is increasingly under fire.

Last June, you may have seen an interview in the Harrow Observer with Justin Frishberg, a member of the London Wheelchair Rugby Club which trains at ASPIRE's facility in Stanmore. Justin detailed his experiences of Stanmore illustrating it is not just the ramp but the whole environment that is difficult for wheelchair users.

As Alex Rankin of ASPIRE said in that interview:

 "It's incredibly misleading to have that wheelchair symbol sign on Stanmore station.

"The wheelchair accessible ramp just isn't accessible for wheelchair users. It's far too long, the road is in such a poor condition and it's exposing people to danger. It is frustrating for anybody coming up to use Aspire or the hospital."

I'm of little doubt the issue at Stanmore illustrates the difficulties around a legal definition of 'disabled access', as first defined in the Disability Discrimination Act and now guided by the Equality Act 2010. Accessible in law doesn't necessarily equal accessible for all in practise, yet Transport for London's assessment is based on compliance with the law. We need a shift to focus on user's needs, not the bare legal minimum.

But the gradient of the slope is not the only problem at Stanmore. As users know, the car park is not open during the day time, and the disabled spot often used. I put these problems to the Mayor in a recent question:

Thank you for your response to Question No: 3660 / 2010. As you stated: “It should be noted that there is already a step-free route to and from the platforms at Stanmore using a ramp (which has been independently assessed as complying fully with British Standards) via the car park.” Unfortunately, the car park is closed during the daytime so step-free route is completely useless. Would you agree for a TfL representative to meet me at the station to fully discuss the options as soon as possible?

Answer by Boris Johnson

TfL is of course more than happy to meet you at Stanmore station to discuss the current accessibility arrangements in place and I understand that this meeting has now been set up.

 

It is true that, because Stanmore car park is heavily used, there are occasions when the NCP attendant responsible for the car park may temporarily prevent access for cars for a limited period during the day in the event of all the spaces already being taken. This is to prevent unnecessary congestion in the car park.

 

However, access for pedestrians requiring a step-free route is still available at all times. In addition, the car park should always remain open for mobility impaired customers to be dropped off or picked up even when the car park is full. If you are aware of any incidents when this has not been the case, please pass the details on to TfL who will investigate and take appropriate action.

 

What strikes me most about this response is the lack of imagination at Transport for London. No mention is made of interchange, it is presumed passengers with access issues will get to Stanmore by car, and Transport for London do not admit that the long walk from the bus stop to the car park entrance only compounds difficulties for those with mobility issues. A meeting has been set up between Transport for London, the Stanmore Society, ASPIRE, the Disability Foundation, the RNOH, the local MP, myself and consituents who have contacted me about access to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. I will of course report on the  outcome here.

In the meantime, you can find Transport for London's step-free access guide, which contains more information on Stanmore and all legally denoted 'step-free' stations, here (opens PDF).

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24th January 2011

Fire Brigades Union Endorse New Shift Patterns

On 14 January the Fire Brigade Union’s London Regional Committee endorsed a deal based on a collective agreement for changes to firefighters’ shift pattern.

Some outstanding issues between the Union and LFEPA however remain unresolved. These disputes which relate to the details of the terms of agreement for shift pattern changes could prove to be stumbling block for lifting of the current strike action by firefighters. Unless the strike action is formally lifted by the FBU, the 27 fire engines currently in the possession of private contractor, AssetCo, cannot be moved back to local fire stations.  

Navin Shah AM, Leader of LFEPA’s Labour Group said:

“I’m delighted that the FBU has now endorsed deal for a collective agreement.  This is a move in the right direction and should bring an end to the long and damaging dispute.  Unfortunately until the remaining issues are resolved and the FBU withdraws its strike action the fire engines taken away from fire stations across London cannot be moved back.” 

“I urge both the FBU and officers to act swiftly to resolve the issues.  The safety of Londoners is paramount and I want to see the return of local fire engines without any further delay. “

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17th January 2011

Harrow Christmas Challenge

IMG_3439.jpg

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

Brent Central MP gambles with the next generation

Brent Central MP, Sarah Teather broke her promise to Brent’s youth last week and supported the Coalition’s bill to raise the university cap on tuition fees.

The Government’s new plans will see students paying up to £9,000 per year for university. Before the election earlier this year, Teather vowed to vote against tuition fees.

Her maiden speech in 2003 focused on the unfairness of tuition fees when she stated: “Top-up and tuition fees are serious issues of concern to my constituents. All the evidence suggests that fear of debt will deter those from lower income families and ethnic minority communities. This is particularly the case for Muslims - a large community in my constituency - where attitudes to debt are very different.

"Fundamentally, I believe that this is about whether we want to encourage a world class education system, or a class based education system where students choose universities according to their ability to pay, and universities are judged on the level of their fees.”

Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, said: “She's claimed she's a politician of principle, but when push came to shove, Teather put her party and her career ahead of her beliefs. Her maiden speech must prove embarrassing now.

“Brent is one of the most deprived local authorities in the country and we should be actively encouraging our young people to go to university – not put them off by pricing them out.”

See Brent Labour's campaign in action here.

 

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13th December 2010

Harrow East MP does U-turn on next generation’s future

Harrow East MP, Bob Blackman broke his promise to Harrow’s youth last week and supported the Coalition’s bill to raise the university cap on tuition fees.

The Government’s new plans will see students paying up to £9,000 per year for university. Before the election earlier this year, Blackman vowed to vote against tuition fees signing up to the Harrow College pledge.

Navin Shah, Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, said: “I witnessed the hustings at the Harrow Campusof Westminster Unviersity where Bob Blackman promised to vote against a hike in tuition fees and I am astounded, but not surprised, that he has done a complete U-Turn on this issue.

“It’s obvious that Blackman puts his party and his career ahead of his beliefs and the commitment he has made to my constituents. Signing the pledge must prove embarrassing for him now.

“We should be actively encouraging our young people to go to university – not put them off by pricing them out.”

Bob_Blackman_tuition_fees_small_JPG_display.jpg

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13th December 2010

Mayor to face AMs and RMT at December Mayor’s Questions

mayorwatch_social.png

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.

IMG_2541.jpg

 

Permanent link to this article
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

Harrow police to change make up of safer neighbourhood teams

London Mayor Boris Johnson gives green light to Harrow 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: “Harrow 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."

Permanent link to this article
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

NHS Harrow blasted by Navin Shah over fire at Kenmore clinic

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By Jack Royston

A LABOUR politician has blasted NHS Harrow after a fire at a derelict Kenton health centre where there is asbestos.

The organisation closed down Kenmore Clinic because of health and safety fears in December 2008 but the building has sat, overgrown with weeds, for almost two years.

At around 6pm last night a fire started, damaging the roof and part of the one storey building, in Kenmore Road, sending smoke billowing into the skies above.

Navin Shah, London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, says he met chief executive Mark Easton in September highlighting concerns about vandalism and the safety of the site, but claims his calls fell on deaf ears.

Mr Shah, who is also a member of the fire authority, is now calling for an investigation into the safety of the building and even called for Harrow Council inspectors to be called in.

He said: “We have constantly asked about the future of this site particularly concerns about the clinic, which was shut down without consultation, and the chief executive has done nothing.”

The grounds are protected only by a relatively low fence and Mr Shah, who is also a ward councillor for the area, says he is concerned children may even break inside the building.

Following a review of health and safety at the clinic in 2008 a damning report exposed a raft of problems, including with the maintenance of the safety of asbestos and with the security of the fence, windows and doors.

The documented recommended the clinic be closed “immediately” without consultation, due to the “urgency and severity” of problems with the “unacceptable” building.

Robert Smith, a spokesman for NHS Harrow, confirmed the organisation still owns the site, which is insured, and said there was no asbestos in the roof, where the most visible damage was done.

He said: “NHS Harrow understands that the London Fire Brigade is currently investigating the cause of the fire.

“We are eager to know what happened and will be able to comment further at that stage.”

 

Kenmore clinic.jpg

Comment from Navin:

This picture was taken before the fire at Kenmore Clinic, when I and fellow councillors initially asked NHS Harrow to secure the grounds properly.

kenmore 2.jpg

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17th November 2010

New Shift Changes For Firefighters: Navin Shah AM welcomes an end to the dispute

Today’s meeting of the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority saw London saved from further strike action by London’s firefighters.  At a specially-convened meeting of the Authority, new shift patterns for London’s firefighters were agreed subject to endorsement by the FBU’s London Regional Committee meeting tomorrow.

Speaking after the meeting, Labour's Leader on the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Navin Shah said:

“This is the best news Londoners have had against all expectations and I welcome the commitment of the FBU in signing up to the shift changes.”

“Our tabled Amendment, supported by all the opposition groups, to bring a further report on the negotiations as planned to the Authority meeting on 27 January would have allowed our Commissioner, Ron Dobson, to negotiate a collective settlement at the earliest opportunity.  It is scandalous that the Amendment was voted down purely for party political reasons by the Conservatives.  Throughout the industrial dispute Brian Coleman’s conduct has been disgraceful but I hope the Authority will recover from the damage he has caused to its reputation. ”

“The Labour Group has said all along that a negotiated settlement is the only way forward and I am delighted we now have reached a scenario where the threat of imposing new contracts on our firefighters by confrontational Chairman Brian Coleman and his Conservative Group has been lifted. I very much hope that the union’s London Regional Committee agrees this at its meeting tomorrow and Londoners can look forward to getting back their missing 27 fire engines without further delay.”  

 

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13th November 2010

Shah hits out at fire engine cuts plan

In The HA1

The London Assembly member for Harrow and Brent has hit out at a plan to look at reducing the number of fire engines serving the capital.

Navin Shah said London Fire Authority (LFA) Chair Brian Coleman had gone back on his word over the possibility of cuts to the service.

Mr Coleman said the LFA should look into reducing the number of fire engines to help save money, after just 27 were used to cover the recent strike action.

He also cited a ban on overtime as a sign that changes could be made, saying: “We are really grateful to the FBU for showing us that there are possible efficiencies.

“The union has banned overtime for two to three months and London doesn’t seem to have come to a halt.”

Mr Shah, who is the Labour leader on the London Fire Emergency Planning Authority, said the decision was poorly timed and reneged on previous commitments.

He said: “Councillor Coleman gave a public assurance last week that he would not be cutting fire engines, firefighters or fire stations.

“At this sensitive time when we are trying to settle the dispute, Coleman can’t even wait until the ink is dry before he’s talking about more cuts.”

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10th 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

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

Navin Shah blames Mayor of London Boris Johnson for firefighter's strike

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A LABOUR member of the fire authority has blamed Boris Johnson for a planned strike.

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members voted in favour of the walk-out by more than three to one after a ballot yesterday and will set dates this afternoon.

The industrial action follows a row over contracts to extend day shifts and shorten night shifts.

Firefighters will not be doing any more hours than they are now but say the changes will stop them from seeing their families.

Navin Shah, London Assembly member for Brent and Harrow, placed the blame for the dispute firmly with Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Brian Coleman, head of fire authority the LFEPA.

He said: “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.

“Boris Johnson and his Conservative chair 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.

“They should get round the table now and avoid a strike that nobody wants.”

But his comments provoked a furious response from fellow LFEPA member Councillor Susan Hall, who is also leader of the Harrow Council Tory opposition.

She said: “That is absolutely outrageous. He is politically grandstanding yet again. This is way beyond politics and it is absolutely unforgivable for him to play political games. The safety of London is far more important.”

She said the agreement was arrived at cross party and said the strike was “a shame because it won't solve anything”.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This is a huge vote for strike action. Firefighters hate going on strike – but they hate being bullied even more.”

Mr Coleman said: “It’s disappointing and saddening that the only losers in all of this will be firefighters.

“A strike by the FBU will be unnecessary, unjustified and viewed unsympathetically by Londoners. This dispute centres on proposed changes to make people safer.”

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Our contingency plans will of course now move forward to ensure the capital is protected during any period of strike action by the FBU.”

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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

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

Planning Inspectorate Uphold Dandara Rejection

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I was delighted to hear in August that the Planning Inspectorate had decided to uphold the Council’s rejection of Dandara’s plans for the old Post Office site in College Road. While I spoke at the Inspectorate’s hearing to oppose the height of the buildings, up to 19 storeys high, the Inspectorate has concluded the project was not good enough on design grounds. Dandara has affirmed its commitment to developing the site and no doubt soon enough, the old Post Office site will be one of the first projects in front of the new Town Centre Panel!

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20th September 2010

Brent Youth Visit Olympic Site

I feel very lucky to be a member of the London Assembly in 2010, charged with the special privelege of overseeing the preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. I was delighted to be able to escort some members of the Brent Youth to visit the site in East London in September. The Olympic Park is now coming together at a very rapid pace, as all the buildings are started and nearing their final shape. You can view some more photos of the site on my website or www.london2012.com. If you are interested in visiting City Hall or the Olympic site, please get in touch. 

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20th 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

Navin Shah AM welcomes new planning Panel for Harrow Town Centre

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In July, the new administration of Harrow Council approved a new Major Developments Panel for Harrow Town Centre. The Panel, which will be made up of councillors from both sides of the political divide, is being created to oversee the development of  a new masterplan and co-ordinate and comment on applications so that developments complement each other, rather than being considered in isolation from each other. I’ve been lobbying for such a Masterplan for a number of years and I welcome the panel as the first step in this direction. Following a question from me in September, the Mayor of London has signalled his approval of the panel.

Question number 2728/2010
Meeting date 15/09/2010

 Does the Mayor welcome the decision to produce a Masterplan for Harrow town centre, through the introduction of an  independent cross-party panel able to commission its own expertise?

 Answer by Boris Johnson

 Yes.

 

 

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20th September 2010

Brent Cross Cricklewood : A New Green Light to 29,000 extra car journeys

 

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 One of the first consequences of the new coalition government was the news the new Communities and Local Government Secretary, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP has decided not to ‘call-in’ the £4.5 billion redevelopment of Brent Cross Cricklewood development over the border in neighbouring Barnet.

 

The previous Secretary of State for communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon John Denham MP, had issued an Article 14 Stop Notice in March of this year, directing the London Borough of Barnet not to proceed with the planning application without permission from central government. However, Pickles has overturned this and in loate July Barnet issued the final permission.

 

I am not against the redevelopment of Brent Cross per se, but I’ve long opposed the application in its current form. I believe it is flawed and unambitious by merely aiming to ameliorate the car-orientated plans of the original 1960s development, rather than  pioneering a new form of sustainable suburban development.

 

I’ve been proud to be a member of and support the Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross in its opposition to the development and I am sad Eric Pickles has ignored the vociferous campaigners’ concerns about the development. I’ve no doubt the fight will go on to ensure that at every step of this major development, the concerns of eastern Brent residents will be heard and accounted for. I am certainly dedicated to furthering the cause at the level of regional government.

 

You can find out more about the Brent Cross development on my campaign pages. I’d also urge you to visit the Campaign’s blog

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1st 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

Navin Shah AM slams worst Dial-A-Ride statistics in London

It’s been revealed Brent and Harrow had the worst refusal rates for Dial-A-Ride journeys in London in early 2010.

 

The statistics, released at the July Mayor’s Question Time, show the refusal rate – the percentage of journey requests turned down due to lack of capacity – in both boroughs are considerably above average. While the Londonwide average refusal rate is 7.5%, 13.8% of requests in Harrow, and 12.9% of requests in Brent were turned down.

 

These statistics confirm the anecdotal evidence I hear regularly. While TfL tell us Dial-A-Ride is getting better, constituents continue experiencing problems booking a ride. I’ve written to TfL to ask for urgent targeted improvements in North West London and I’ll certainly be following this up when the Assembly next questions the Mayor. Dial A Ride in North West London needs to be improved urgently. I would urge any dissatisfied customers to contact me  at City Hall with their experiences and I will raise them with Transport for London.

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1st September 2010

The Metropolitan: Lovely new trains, but as usual broken promises

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Over the summer, I hope you’ve had the chance to catch one of the new Metropolitan line trains being gradually rolled out over 2010. The Metropolitan is the first line to benefit from new ‘sub-surface’ rolling stock, which will also be used on the Circle, District and Hammersmith & City Lines. The new trains are lovely: they’re the first air-conditioned trains on the London Underground and have walk through carriages. The trains can also carry more people as standing room has been increased, but at the cost of a 29% reduction in seating. I can see the value of a ‘hop-on hop-off’ spacious train for short distances in Zone 1, but while I think these trains are perfect for the Circle line, I’ve had some concerns about the suitability of reducing seats on commuter journeys over long distances, as the Metropolitan line covers.

However, the signal upgrade is now dependent on the new coalition government's Comprehensive Spending Review and review of the Underground upgrade. Until the announcement in October, we can only hope the Mayor is effectively lobbying the Chancellor effectively on this crucial decision for the Underground, London and Brent and Harrow.

Unfortunately, The Mayor’s responses to my questions on this have not been straightforward. In October 2008 he told me

Question: The new sub-surface rolling stock will introduce a new standard in comfort with the introduction of air conditioning on London Underground trains for the first time. However, a decreased seating capacity of 29% will have major implications for the comfort of Metropolitan Line users north of Baker Street. What measures will TfL make to ameliorate the journeys of the commuting Londoners who pay the highest fares to travel the greatest distances on the network, and who are simply not serviced by a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ design?

 

Answer by Boris Johnson

Although there is a reduction in the number of seats per train, the line upgrade means a more frequent train service and thereby a greater number of seats available to passengers on the line.

This will allow passengers travelling from further out a greater chance of getting a seat and those getting on nearer central London a greater opportunity to get on the first train that arrives.

In December of that year I revisited the issue, after the collapse of Metronet meant a three year period during which the new trains would run but without the higher frequencies promised.

 

Question: In response to my question 2254/2008 regarding the new Metropolitan Line rolling stock, you responded “Although there is a reduction in the number of seats per train, the line upgrade means a more frequent train service and thereby a greater number of seats available to passengers on the line”. Is the Mayor aware the line upgrade, including the signalling upgrade necessary to run more trains on the line, was delayed by the collapse of Metronet. What does the Mayor intend to do for the three year period where the new trains are in operation without the signalling upgrade, with a resultant overall capacity drop of 29%? What measures will you take to alleviate this congestion?

 

Answer by Boris Johnson

It is important to note that there is no reduction in overall Metropolitan line capacity at any time. Overall capacity will increase with the introduction of new trains and timetable improvements which will be brought in both before and after the signalling upgrade.

It is also important to reiterate the fact that the current seating capacity is overstated. As I mentioned in my answer to question 2254/2008, the three seat transverse seat is often too cramped for three passengers. So while it is said that there are 448 seats on each train currently, in practice the number of seats that are available for use is 368.

On the latter basis, seating capacity in the peak hour will be virtually unchanged and London Underground (LU) is confident that most people at Harrow-on-the-Hill and stations north will still get a seat once the new trains are fully in use.

Following the completion of the signal upgrade peak hour seating capacity will actually increase. The additional capacity on these new trains will also provide much needed relief on the most crowded sections of the line between Baker Street and Aldgate.

Finally, it is important to note that LU is managing the signalling procurement so that there will be no delay from the original plan.

 

So, the Mayor now maintains that seating capacity will not drop because “the three seat transverse seat is often too cramped for three passengers”. I think this just shows the Mayor has never travelled on the Metropolitan Line during the rush hour! I’m sad to report he never responded to my invitation to ride the line during those hours to witness the seating arrangements himself.

 

Nonetheless, there is certainly a reduction in seating capacity, and the Metropolitan Line signal upgrade has now been pushed back to 2016, doubling the time with reduced seating to six years. While that’s a problem, we all understand TfL are operating in a tigh financial climate, as are all public bodies and local authorities, but I think this altercation shows we have a Mayor who is not straightforward with Londoners and whose justification changes when challenged.  

 

What do you think of the new trains? Please let me know

 

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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

1300 Demand Better Access At Stanmore

I first became involved in the issue of step-free access at Stanmore London Underground Station in 2009. I was proud to present a petition of almost 1266 signatures to the London Assembly in July of that year demanding upgrades to the station to make it truly step-free.

The petition was organised by Jacqueline Raynaud of the Elm Park Residents Association, with the backing of Harrow Association of Disabled People. Asif Iqbal of HAD presented the petition to me at City Hall.

 

The petition read:

We the undersigned urgently request the installation of a lift at Stanmore Underground Station, as an addition to its current enlargement. The existing "disabled access" is completely inadequate. It is a long steep path which is almost impossible for the disabled, people pushing wheelchairs and also people with luggage to negotiate.

The usual entrance/exit (via 42 steep steps) can be difficult even for the able bodied, particularly the elderly and those with small children, baby buggies etc.

At a tome when all public buildings are required to have proper disabled access, this should surely be a priority at a tube station, particularly one that serves important venues like the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and Wembley Stadium, and which will be used by people from all over the country during the forthcoming Olympics and Paralympics.

 

 

 

In August, the Mayor responded to the petition:                      

Dear Navin

Re: Step-free access at Stanmore Station

Thank you for the petition presented to the London Assembly plenary meeting on 22 July about step free access at Stanmore station. On receipt of your letter I asked Transport for London to look into the matter.

I can appreciate that the current step-free access to Stanmore station, accessed via the station car park using a ramp, is not ideal, given that it is quite a steep path. Furthermore, TfL are aware that this is not always clear to customers arriving from the bus station and main entrance.

Ideally, I would like step free access at all of London's key rail and tube stations but, as you will be aware, TfL is under severe financial constraints following the collapse of the Metronet contract and the larger economic slowdown. In addition, Metronet's station programme was already significantly over-spent due to the previous administration and work has had to be done to pare back Metronet's spending plans to align with available funding.

Given there is already a step-free route at Stanmore, albeit far from ideal, I am afriad that funds are unavailable to install lifts or escalators at the station. However, I have asked TfL to provided improved signange at the station to the step free entrance, which I hope will assist some customers.

Thank you again for writing to me.

Yours ever

Boris Johnson

Mayor of London

 

While running a city's transport services does of course involve difficult decisions, I think the Mayor is telling only half the story. Blaming Metronet's overspend on the 'previous administration' shows a wilful misunderstanding of the PPP arrangements as they stood, originating from central government before London Underground came under the Mayor of London in 2003! It also suggests the current Mayor's priorities and projects do not affect TfL's finances, while of course he plans to abolish the Western zone of the congestion charge, has spent £100m on a new bus and has raised fares every year!

Nonetheless, the Mayor does acknowledge problems exist at the station and I welcome the new signs in providing improved information, particularly for new visitors, though of course this does nothing to improve access itself.

Do you have difficulties at Stanmore? Do you think the signs have helped? If you have any comments or questions why not contact me?