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Latest news from Cllr Michael Pavey
Deputy Leader of Brent Council & Labour Councillor for Barnhill
Deputy Leader of Brent Council.
I’ve just updated my distribution list, so a very warm welcome if you’re reading my newsletter for the first time.
Shortly after my last newsletter, Paris was attacked by gunmen. We shouldn’t indulge these hooligans by calling them terrorists. They were petty criminals and pathetic cowards.
This attack carried particular resonance in Brent, the home of the Lycee International and a growing French community. Brent Council was proud to show our solidarity by lighting the Civic Centre in the colours of the tricolour.
Idiots like Donald Trump may spread division and fear to further their own self-interest. But the truth is that we share universal values as human beings. The cowards who attacked Paris do not speak for Islam – just as the lunatics that attack abortion clinics do not speak for Christianity. We all have different backgrounds and different perspectives – but we share universal values. And there is no more powerful summary of these universal values than Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.
The international solidarity which followed the Paris attacks was deeply moving. I was therefore saddened that this unity turned so quickly into a bombing campaign.
I have no illusions about the barbarity of Isis. But equally I have no doubts that dropping bombs from thousands of feet will not solve this problem.
I am not a pacifist, but this is Rambo-style policy making at its very worst: create some big explosions, get some big headlines and hope the problem goes away.
I was therefore pleased to see all three of Brent MPs vote against the bombing – and I was particularly pleased to hear Barry Gardiner’s detailed explanation of his opposition at a well-attended public meeting.
Ultimately Isis will be defeated by cutting off their money, stripping them of their glamour, taking away their claims to Islam and leaving them isolated. So it was wonderful to see the Pakistani Community Centre in Brent doing their bit earlier this month:
In other news, this month the Government Spending Review announced another round of eye-watering cuts to Brent services.
After years of austerity, people’s eyes start to glaze over when figures are bandied around – but the latest cuts mean the Government will have slashed Brent Council’s budget by over 70% between 2010 and 2020. A truly staggering amount.
I attacked this heartless, incompetent Government for leaving us to clear up their mess, at our most recent Council meeting. You can read my speech here, including how we will respond by developing a budget built upon Civic Enterprise and creativity.
It has been such a busy month with so many commitments. Sadly there’s not enough time to discuss all these events, but I do want to highlight one particularly important cause: White Ribbon Day.
Violence against women is unacceptable in any form, but arguably Female Genital Mutilation is the most horrific of all. So congratulations to Brent Council for using White Ribbon Day to focus on FGM.
Society is squeamish about gore and prudish about genitals – so it is incredibly difficult to convey the brutality of FGM. But listening to a Somali lady at this event brought home to me the sheer horror of it. She described how men only really understand FGM on their wedding nights, when their new wives scream in agony. This is because the mutilation of women’s bodies makes sexual intimacy unbearably painful.
This made me reflect that FGM only continues because it is pigeon-holed as a women’s issue. The Council event was superb, but only a handful of men were there. There are so many incredibly strong arguments against FGM – but if only men realised that it ruins sex, it would end overnight.
We must raise awareness of these issues amongst men. I am therefore extremely grateful to my good friend Tulip Siddiq MP for raising this issue in Parliament.
How about some good news? It was a great pleasure to attend the launch of Real Talks, a series of radio shows produced and hosted by local young people. The shows do a superb job of handling serious issues such as mental health in an accessible and engaging way. Well done to everyone involved – especially my colleague and friend Cllr Conneely – but above all to the brilliant young people: tune into the shows and hear how fantastic they are.
Labour Councillor for Barnhill.
Barnhill was rocked in the last month by the senseless murder of a young man on Belvedere Way. This wasn’t a gang situation, it was a stupid argument at a party which got out of control.
A Police Officer recently told me that more and more young people are now carrying knives. He said that unfortunately young people know that the Police are now too stretched to be able to stop them. When young people carry knives, arguments quickly escalate to stabbings.
We must all be very sensitive to the fact that a young man has lost his life and avoid appearing to politicise a tragedy. But sadly there is a link here to the drastic cuts being made to the Police. 100 Community Police Officers have been cut in Brent alone: our streets would be safer if we still had them.
You may have noticed another of Boris’ local cuts. The ticket office at Wembley Park station has been shut – and cunningly redecorated to try and bury the evidence! I usually use the ticket machines, but it’s always reassuring to see a human face behind the desk just in case. We’ll see how the new system copes in January when all the commuters need to renew their travel cards…
And the really big news this month is that I learnt how to wear a black dress in three ways. This was at one of the classes in Chalkhill run by wonderful local resident and fashion stylist Denise Brown. I’m not sure how I’ll use my new-found knowledge – but I do know it’ll really help the young people in attendance to forge successful careers in the fashion industry.
People often ask why the Labour Councils across London don’t team together to campaign against the Government? So I’m delighted to be one of the co-founders of Red Lines.
Red Lines is a partnership of Labour Councils from Enfield in the north to Croydon in the south, it is here to show that we’re not just going to grumble half-heartedly about Government cuts – we’re going out to shout about how unjust, unfair and downright heartless they are.
It’s still early days for the campaign but please visit the website, sign the petition and share on social media.
Ok, that’s more than enough politics – I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading this newsletter and please feel free to share it with friends and neighbours.