Just drop me an email if you’d likely to receive my monthly newsletter by email: Cllr.Michael.Pavey@brent.gov.uk
Latest news from Cllr Michael Pavey
Deputy Leader of Brent Council & Labour Councillor for Barnhill
Deputy Leader of Brent Council.
As Indian Summer gives way to damp autumn, the next round of Government cuts grows closer.
Information is starting to seep out, and it’s not good news.
In a typically cynical sleight of hand, the Chancellor has announced that Councils will retain their Business Rates. But at the same time he has quietly abolished the core central grant that Councils receive from the Government.
Localising taxes is always good news. It enables Councils to respond to local needs and it strengthens the link between Councils and the communities which elect them. But local taxes must be accompanied by a national redistribution system. Unless you share the proceeds of taxes nationally, the rich get richer and the poor are left behind.
Letting Councils keep their Business Rates is great in theory, but you need a system of sharing the benefits. Oxford Street will always generate more Business Rates than Wembley High Road. Kensington High Street will always make more than Kingsbury High Road.
These excesses are currently evened out by the central grant all Councils receive from Whitehall. Brent is a net beneficiary of this grant: we give the Government most of our Business Rates – but we get significantly more back from the central grant. It is this central grant which George Osborne has just abolished, blowing a huge hole in Brent’s future budgets
Localising Business Rates is great – but if the Government is determined to abolish the central grant, it is absolutely essential that they introduce a new form of central redistribution.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Government have just snuck in a completely unexpected additional cut to Youth Offending Teams. Like the brutal cut to Public Health I wrote about last month, this is incredibly short-sighted: if you cut the preventative work of YOTs, it is a sad inevitability that you will end up paying far more through the criminal justice system.
These are difficult times, but it is imperative that we do not become defeatist. The Government are cutting Brent Council’s budget in half, but we can do so much great work even with this massively reduced funding. Once the full details of the Government cuts are published, we are determined to produce a creative, forward-looking budget for the future.
And let’s not forget the vast range of fantastic work that the Council continues to deliver every single day.
I was privileged to witness this when I attended the first ever Brent Council Apprentices Celebration Event this month. Brent has a fantastic apprentice programme – one of the biggest in local government. It recruits talented young people from Brent, with some places ring-fenced for care-leavers. It gives them a job and helps them to study for a qualification. It’s a huge success story, but for some reason we hardly ever talk about it.
I first met our apprentices when one of them poured a bucket of ice over my head to raise money for Motor Neuron Disease research. It was an inauspicious beginning. But I quickly acquired a great respect for these talented young people.
People sometimes assume that the apprentice programme is a goodwill initiative or a social outreach programme. It’s not. It’s a way for the Council to recruit brilliant employees.
The highlight of the Celebration Event was Demi sharing how she had worked from a difficult background to become an apprentice and now an Officer in Customer Service. In all my time at Brent Council, I’ve never heard a more powerful, inspiring speech from a member of staff. These young people are a massive asset to the Council and it was great to celebrate them this month.
Oh and without wanting to labour the point, I attended the annual Brent Council Macmillan Coffee Morning and who had made the best cake? Nancy: an apprentice in the Parks Department, beating the Chief Executive into second place!
My highlight of the last month was visiting St Laurence’s Larder and Open Kitchen, a drop-in centre for vulnerable residents based in Christ Church, Brondesbury. Chatting with the wonderfully committed volunteers, as well as the warm and friendly guests, it struck me that this is a truly inspiring example of faith in action.
We have so many different religions in Brent that paradoxically we end up awkwardly avoiding the subject, lest we offend someone. St Laurence’s underlined to me the universal values shared by all faiths – above all the need to support the vulnerable. We should be much less shy about our different faith communities and embrace this incredible social resource.
Labour Councillor for Barnhill.
Last month I wrote about the shocking news that Boris Johnson is considering axing every single Police Community Support Officer in London. I’m delighted that the outcry has led him to rethink, with the decision being postponed to December. However this is only a partial victory so please do sign the petition and keep the pressure up.
Barnhill’s PCSO currently is our local Police team. There is no-one else. If we lose her…
Boris claims he knew nothing about this proposal. Some might question his honesty; I think he’s telling the truth. If you have a part-time Mayor it’s inevitable he’ll miss things. He was probably writing his speech to Tory Conference when he should have been reading his papers.
Another important local issue has been Asda disturbing residents by making noise throughout the night. Under intense pressure from Cllrs Choudhary, Marquis and myself, the Council agreed to take action against Asda for breaking the terms of their planning permission. We have submitted a petition and a dossier of evidence to the Planning Inspector and look forward to a positive outcome.
I was also pleased to have made a strong submission against the erection of a new mobile phone mast at the foot of West Hill. There is already a mast there and I was extremely unimpressed with the impenetrable consultation documents. Consultation should be about engaging with residents – too many large companies seem to think it is about bamboozling them!
I was pleased to attend Labour Party Conference in sun-drenched Brighton. Jeremy Corbyn made a worthy call for a new form of honest politics: a kinder politics. This is more easily said than done – but it is an honourable aspiration and one we should all embrace.
In the Labour Leadership contest I made no secret of my respect for Corbyn, but my reservations about his policies. Especially his economic policies. I was therefore very pleased to see a balanced, thoughtful Conference speech from the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell. It was particularly reassuring to see an apparent shift in Party macroeconomic strategy from funding infrastructure projects by printing money, to the much more sensible idea of a long-term capital borrowing plan.
Away from Brighton, I was delighted to see Sadiq Khan selected as Labour’s candidate for London Mayor. After years of Boris Johnson using the Mayoralty as a job interview to be Leader of the Conservative Party, Sadiq brings a strong commitment to solving London’s problems.
With a wealth of ideas and tremendous campaigning energy, it is clear that Sadiq won this nomination because of his talent, not his ethnicity. But with the evil of Islamophobia on the rise, electing a Muslim Mayor of London will be the perfect riposte to the small-minded idiots who claim that Islam and modern Britain are incompatible. Roll on polling day.
Enjoy October and please feel free to get in touch using the contact details below. Or come along to my next surgery: 11-1 on Saturday 7th November in the Chalkhill Community Centre behind Asda.