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Navin's News for October 2011

Money raised for charity to support soldiers

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By Suruchi Sharma

MORE than £350 was raised through a coffee morning for a charity that supports soldiers and their families.

Harrow mayor, Councillor Mrinal Choudhury, tucked into the treats, including Krispy Crème doughnuts, at the Civic Offices, at Harrow Council on Friday to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund (ABF).

The event was attended by council leader, Councillor Bill Stephenson, leader of the Conservative opposition group, Councillor Susan Hall, and Brent and Harrow Assembly Member, Navin Shah.

Councillor Kareema Marikar, chair of the Harrow ABF, said: “The Army Benevolent Fund offers lifetime support to serving soldiers, veterans and their families, who all make enormous sacrifices in the service of our country.

“The money raised today will help fund the outstanding work it does providing medical and financial support to those in need, in particular those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Thank you to the mayor and political leaders for their support, and to everyone who made donations today.”

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31st October 2011

Cuts to local police sergeants revealed

London Mayor Boris Johnson has cut the number of sergeants working in Harrow's local police teams, it has been revealed.

Safer Neighbourhood Teams - made up of one police sergeant, two constables and three community support officers - were rolled out to every ward in London before Boris Johnson was elected. But earlier this year the Mayor announced the number of sergeants in the teams across London would be halved - from 630 to 330.

According to information provided by the Mayor's office, the following wards in Harrow will now have to share a sergeant:

  • Pinner and Pinner South
  • West Harrow and Rayners Lane
  • Headstone North and Headstone South
  • Kenton East and Kenton West
  • Hatch End and Harrow Weald

Local London Assembly member Navin Shah said: "This comes on top of the cuts the Mayor has been making to the police for the last two years and there's a real risk that our streets will now start to feel less safe. Safer neighbourhood teams have been one of the Met's big success stories, since their introduction by Ken Livingstone, and the sergeants are an integral part of that. The Mayor's making the wrong cuts and should think again." 

In September it was revealed that Harrow has lost 34 locally-based police officers in the last year. The number of police officers across London has been cut by almost 2,000 in the last two years - from 33,404 in November 2009 to 31,527 today.

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28th October 2011

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.

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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.

 

 

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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.