Brent and Harrow
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Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
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Respect For All Faiths And Communities

By Navin Shah AM

RESPECT FOR ALL FAITHS

AND COMMUNITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Glad To Be Back! Thank You!

By Navin Shah AM

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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.”

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

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.

 

Mayor's 'unfair' fare rises slammed

Local London Assembly member, Navin Shah, has described Mayor Boris Johnson's latest public transport fare rises as unfair and unnecessary.

The Mayor this week announced that fares will soon rise by as much as 8 per cent - the third significant hike since Boris Johnson was elected in 2008. A single bus fare has now gone up by 56 per cent.

A zone 1-6 travelcard will now cost commuters in Brent and Harrow an extra £160 a year.

Navin Shah, local Labour London Assembly member, said: "This is another painful and unfair squeeze on the pockets of anyone who has to use public transport. Bus, train and tube users are being made to pay for the Mayor's unnecessary shrinking of the congestion charge and re-design of the buses. 

"Boris should spend less time campaigning for tax cuts for the richest 300,000 people in London and more time keeping fares down for the other seven and a half million."

 

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Fare rises since 2008

Single bus ticket up 56%

·        was 90p in 2008

·        will be £1.40 in 2012

Costing Londoners £260 a year more

Weekly bus and tram pass up 47%

·        was £13.00 in 2008

·        will be £19.10 in 2012

Costing Londoners £317 a year more

Weekly zone 1-2 travelcard up 23%

·        Was £24.20 in 2008

·        Will be £29.80 in 2012

Costing Londoners £291 a year more

Weekly zone 1-4 travelcard up 23%

·        was £34.60 in 2008

·        will be £42.60 in 2012

Costing Londoners  £416 a year more    

 

 

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15th September 2011

Only 4 Stations in Harrow are accessible

New figures reveal that 71 per cent of Harrow’s stations cannot be used by people with restricted mobility

One in ten Londoners are excluded from large parts of the transport network because of mobility issues, according to a report by the London Assembly. The report found that in Harrow only 4 tube and rail stations out of 14 have step-free access.

There are 26,620 residents who live in the borough with reduced mobility. Stanmore and Harrow-on-the-Hill are two key stations in the borough that have been identified by local interest groups to have a severe lack of accessibility.

Local London Assembly member, Navin Shah, has called on Mayor Boris Johnson to get a grip of the situation. Last year the Mayor deferred the plans of his predecessor to make 22 stations step-free. Navin said: "Parents with buggies or prams, elderly people and those with disabilities are frozen out of so much of our transport network. Boris Johnson needs to get a grip of this and show that he is a Mayor for all Londoners.

“This affects a high number of residents in Harrow and little progress has been made. The refurbishment of Harrow-on-the-Hill will regenerate the area and make it a fully integrated transport hub. Stanmore is another station where lack of accessibility is just not good enough.” 

The full report, supporting maps and evidence can be found here. You can sign the petition here.

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26th November 2010

Only 6 stations in Brent are accessible

New figures reveal that 78 per cent of Brent’s stations cannot be used by people with restricted mobility.

One in ten Londoners are excluded from large parts of the transport network because of mobility issues, according to a report by the London Assembly. In Brent only 6 tube and rail stations out of 27 have step-free access. There are 33,225 residents who live in the borough with reduced mobility, yet only 43% of Brent’s bus stops are fully accessible.

Local London Assembly member, Navin Shah, has called on Mayor Boris Johnson to get a grip of the situation. Last year the Mayor deferred the plans of his predecessor to make 22 stations step-free. Navin said: "Parents with buggies or prams, elderly people and those with disabilities are frozen out of so much of our transport network. Boris Johnson needs to get a grip of this and show that he is a Mayor for all Londoners.

“This affects a high number of residents in Brent, yet little progress has been made. Lack of accessibility is just not good enough, especially when people from around the world come to Wembley to visit the stadium.” 

The full report, supporting maps and evidence can be found here.

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26th November 2010

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