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Latest news from Cllr Michael Pavey
Deputy Leader of Brent Council & Labour Councillor for Barnhill
Deputy Leader of Brent Council
Brent Council is currently in mourning. We have lost perhaps our greatest Councillor: the wonderful Dan Filson.
Dan was a truly special man and his passing has touched many of us very deeply. I’ve shared my personal reflections on this principled, independent, devoted man here.
Above all Dan was a man of utter integrity; that is incredibly rare in politics and we will remember him dearly.
But life goes on and Dan would have been appalled at the thought of Council business being delayed on his account.
We are still awaiting details of just how much the Government is going to slash our budget next year, but preparatory work is very advanced. We are determined not to meekly pass on the Government cuts, but to develop a budget full of new approaches and fresh ideas.
A great example is our plans for Brent Council’s superb IT Department. We are aiming to take over the delivery of IT services for Lewisham Council – saving us a whopping £1m a year. And this is just the beginning. We want Brent to become a beacon of IT excellence in local government, delivering services for more Councils – but also using IT to improve our own services: breaking down silos, making the Council more accessible. The potential is enormous and this deal with Lewisham is a huge step forward.
The highlight of my October was attending the Council’s hugely successful Black History Month event. Brent has an immensely proud African-Caribbean heritage with much to celebrate – from Learie Constantine and CLR James to Paul Boateng and Valerie Amos. But there remains much work to do with black communities continuing to face injustices – from the education system to the criminal justice process.
I used my speech at the event to highlight the glass ceiling which still exists in Brent Council between our fantastically diverse workforce and the overwhelmingly white senior management. It will take time, but this must change. I’ll write in a future newsletter about the important initiatives we’re about to launch which aim to make serious cracks in this glass ceiling.
It was also a real pleasure to attend Brent Council’s celebration of Nigerian Independence Day, organised by my colleague Cllr Ezeajughi. As with Black History Month, it is important to honour those who went before – but what really struck me was the incredible future awaiting Nigeria, and indeed the whole continent. Bountiful resources, stunning natural environment and above all dynamic people. China is an established heavyweight; India is taking her rightful place as a global power – surely it’s now time for the rise of Africa.
Labour Councillor for Barnhill
Excellent news locally that the Council has committed to install a yellow box on the junction outside Asda, Forty Lane. A major piece of work is also underway to develop a larger scheme to protect pedestrians and take pressure off this junction. Myself, Cllr Choudhary and Cllr Marquis have been campaigning on this for years, so these developments are very welcome.
Another seemingly endless struggle is the battle with the Metropolitan Housing repairs service. Repairmen failing to turn up; shoddy workmanship; poor customer service; never-ending waits for repairs to actually get done. These problems take up more of my time than any other issue. Following a series of robust meetings with senior managers at Metropolitan, they have now introduced new systems and committed to monthly drop-in repairs surgeries – the first of which will be 2pm-3.30pm on 19th November in the Chalkhill housing office. It looks like things are finally moving in the right direction, so please let me know about your own experiences.
Positive news from the campaign against local Police cuts. In an astonishing intervention, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has denounced these cuts as leaving London at risk of a serious terrorist attack. Hopefully this will lead Boris to see sense. I’m also pleased to see the Labour Party campaigning nationally on this. Police cuts are just as serious in my home county of Lincolnshire as they are in London and the whole country should oppose these dangerous plans.
The Government have been busy this month. They tried to tax people in low paid work more than a thousand pounds extra a year, by slashing tax credits – a move which would hit Brent particularly hard. They looked away while the British steel industry was being dismembered. They picked a fight with junior doctors. And they quietly approved the first new Grammar School in half a century.
The Eleven-Plus is socially divisive, educationally elitist and does absolutely nothing to advance social mobility. It was growing up under the Eleven-Plus in Lincolnshire which led me to join the Labour Party and this new, stealth extension of selection has led me to take action again. I’m delighted to have joined the Steering Group of Comprehensive Future, a national campaigning organisation. If you share my passion in this area, please come along to our national conference later this month.
What frustrates me most of all about the Eleven-Plus is that not only is it socially divisive, it is educationally irrelevant. Research is clear that it is the first two years of a child’s life which determine her future educational achievements – not her performance in an exam when she is eleven. That’s why I’m so passionate about Sure Start Children’s Centres. And so passionately opposed to the Government’s cuts to them.
Almost six months ago the Government promised a consultation on the future of Sure Start. But absolutely no details have been published. Nothing. It looks like they are going to quietly sneak out a consultation over Christmas – and then use the meagre public response to justify another round of brutal cuts. This cannot be allowed to happen. So to coincide with Halloween I wrote an article about this mysterious “ghost consultation” – take a look and let me know what you think.
Have a good November and do 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.