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Latest news from Cllr Michael Pavey
Deputy Leader of Brent Council & Labour Councillor for Barnhill
Deputy Leader of Brent Council
It’s been a busy and productive time at Brent Council – but a dark financial cloud hangs over us. The Government have already slashed the Council budget by £140m since 2010 and another brutal round of cuts is looming in autumn. By 2018 the Government will literally have cut Brent’s budget in half.
Despite this, we are determined to protect our vulnerable residents. Last year we achieved this through a huge squeeze on bureaucracy. Now we want to be more creative: to put innovation and income generation at the very heart of our plans.
You can see this new approach in a series of important Cabinet decisions over the past month. We agreed a radical Community Asset Transfer strategy to enable community organisations to take over Council buildings. We agreed a contract to let Barnardo’s run our Children’s Centres. And we agreed a major rebuild of the Gordon Brown Outdoor Education Centre to be funded through contributions from schools. In these difficult financial times, we are determined that Brent Council becomes a hub not only of excellent services, but of creative thinking.
I had the immense pleasure of visiting the Gordon Brown Outdoor Education Centre last month. It was a real joy to watch children from across Brent learning through outdoor adventure. I grew up in Lincolnshire where I was surrounded by nature. Not all Brent children are so fortunate, so it is great that Brent Council provides this gem of a facility for outdoor learning.
Not so easy to overlook is the fantastic new Willesden Green library. I visited this magnificent new facility on the morning it opened and was delighted to see dozens of young families pouring in to enjoy “rhyme time.” Ever the historian, I was also really impressed with the excellent new museum and archive space.
On the subject of history, last month I had the honour of representing Brent Council at the Westminster Abbey memorial to mark twenty years since the Srebrenica massacre. This was a deeply moving reflection on the darkest moment in post-war European history – and a poignant reminder of the power of hatred.
I was pleased to chair the first ever meeting of the Brent Council Equalities Committee last month. We are rightly proud of the diversity in our community and this new Committee has a vital role to play in ensuring that Council services meet the unique needs of every resident. On the subject of diversity, I was delighted to attend the Iftar in the Civic Centre during Ramadan. It was a warm, friendly occasion and I learnt a great deal.
Labour Councillor for Barnhill
In Barnhill the highlight of the last month was the wonderful Chalkhill Park Celebration. It was great to mark two years since the park opened with a joyous community celebration of singing, dancing and fun. Thanks to all the organisers and volunteers for their hard work. Chalkhill has really taken the park to its heart and this was a special day – we would love to make it an annual celebration.
A more difficult local issue has been the London Underground plan to use Uxendon Hill in Barnhill as an access point for essential works on the Jubilee Line embankment. Initial public consultation was very poor so I was pleased to join with my two co-Councillors and the Barn Hill Residents Association to host a public meeting in the Civic Centre. I was initially opposed to the plan, but London Underground made a series of important concessions and I think the final proposal is a reasonable package. We will monitor the situation as it develops. Particular credit goes to my colleague Cllr Choudhary who has worked extremely hard on this issue.
I’m working on a wide range of other local issues – mostly housing related, but also cases regarding childcare, social services, antisocial behaviour, street cleaning etc etc.
Away from Brent Council, my great political passion is Sure Start Children’s Centres and the wonderful work they do to support young families. I was pleased to launch a pamphlet on the future of Sure Start in Parliament last month with the Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt. Children’s Centres permanently transform young lives – so it is an absolute tragedy that the Government has virtually halved funding for Sure Start, leading to the closure of over 800 Centres.
The pamphlet aims to build a campaign so that Councils and communities can work together to protect Children’s Centres and to celebrate the amazing work they do. Please take a look and let me know your thoughts.
I’m always keen to hear from you on any issue, so please get in touch using the contact details below. Or come along to my next surgery: 11-1 on Saturday 5th September in the Chalkhill Community Centre behind Asda.
Have a lovely August!