Brent and Harrow
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Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
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Navin's News for January 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRENT

Wounding/GBH up 7%

Total sexual up 20.6%

Robbery personal up 14.7%

Burglary dwelling up 10.9%

Total drugs up 33.8%

Total Crime 6.2%

HARROW

Robbery personal up 40.8%

Burglary dwelling up 14.1%

Theft of pedal cycles up 23.8%

Navin Shah AM

Permanent link to this article
30th January 2012

‘TOTAL POLICING’ says New Met Commissioner

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

Compared to the 2010/11 figures:

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

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

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

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

Navin Shah AM

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30th January 2012

Toilets open but bus drivers maintain "We are not dogs"

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By Kate Jenkinson

NORTH LONDON bus drivers are submitting a 300-signature petition to London Mayor Boris Johnson protesting their treatment as "dogs".

The "We are not dogs" campaign was sparked when Transport for London (TfL) closed the drivers' toilet facilities at Brent Cross, forcing many of them to urinate in public.

The toilets were reopened late last week, but drivers say it is "not good enough".

Campaign spokesman Gerry Downing, of Cricklewood, said a verbal representation would be made at Mr Johnson's Talk London event tonight at the Peel Centre, Hendon.

He said: "The toilets were closed for 30 of the 39 days between November 28 and January 13.

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

"Then they wasted public money pretending major repairs and redecoration was necessary - one official mentioned a figure of £5,000. The repairs should not have cost more than £100.

"The struggle goes on to stop them from closing the toilets at the slightest excuse and to get decent toilet and mess room facilities for the Brent Cross drivers."

Through the petition, drivers are asking for the toilets to be kept open, for the conversion of a broom cupboard to expanded 24-hour toilet facilities, a Muslim shower and prayer area and mess room facilities for the more than 70 drivers who take their meal breaks at Brent Cross.

Signatories to the petition include mayoral hopeful Ken Livingstone and London Assembly memeber Navin Shah.

Mr Shah said: "It’s beyond comprehension that TfL shut the toilets without providing alternative arrangements.

"I don’t think anyone of us would settle for this in our work places, so why is it acceptable for our dedicated, hard-working bus drivers."

Mr Shah has agreed to present the petition at the next London Assembly meeting on March 7.

Transport for London is yet to provide a response to Times Series queries on this matter.

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17th January 2012

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

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By Natalie O'Neill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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17th January 2012

NEW YEAR BRINGS NEW HIKE IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT FARES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Navin Shah AM

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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