September Newsletter

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Latest news from Cllr Michael Pavey

Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Brent Council & Labour Councillor for Barnhill

Brent Council Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities.

I hope you had a pleasant and relaxing summer. We were blessed with some lovely weather – but the political climate has been much more turbulent.

Anger has spilled over into hatred. And there has been a tragic inevitability about the victims: antisemitism, Islamophobia and now the murder of a Polish man in Essex.

Hate Crime is utterly abhorrent. It has no place in this world – and least of all in Brent. We are hugely proud of Brent’s diversity, so the Council is monitoring incidents of Hate Crime extremely closely.

Although Hate Crime in Brent is gradually increasing, mercifully there has not been a significant spike this summer – with a steady rate of around one incident a day. Religious hatred accounts for only a small proportion of these incidents. Even in the wake of the Paris attacks last November, Islamophobia only accounted for 4% of Hate Crime in Brent. Antisemitic Hate Crimes are even rarer.

The most common Hate Crime in Brent is perpetrated by outsiders: racist abuse by football fans of black stewards and officials on Wembley match days. This is utterly unacceptable and it shows that nowhere exists in isolation – even harmonious communities are subject to hatred from the outside. For this reason, leadership against Hate Crime must come at a national level: a point I made forcefully to the relevant Minister at a recent Home Office meeting.

But we at Brent Council are determined not to become complacent. We will soon be recruiting a dedicated Hate Crime Reduction Officer and will do everything we can to ensure that Brent remains a beacon of diversity and tolerance.

Often “diversity” is shorthand for “non-white”, but Brent is a rare example of true diversity: every continent on the planet is represented in our borough and no group constitutes a majority.

It was great to celebrate one of our newest communities at the launch of the “Brazil to Brent” exhibition at Willesden Green Library. Brent’s Brazilian community is breathing fresh life into southern Brent – and this exhibition rightly puts them on the map. I particularly enjoyed the messages written by local children of Brazilian heritage.

Eleven year old Julia wrote: “I call Brent my home because of all the kind and respectful people. If they tell people from other countries to move out of the UK, it wouldn’t feel like a home any more.” The world would be a happier place if certain politicians thought of young Julia before peddling their divisive rhetoric.

If you visit the exhibition, take a moment to pop into the Brent archive, also located in Willesden Green Library. It’s an absolute treasure trove of fascinating curiosities. I found a postwar report on the feasibility of transporting the population of Willesden to a New Town – fortunately never enacted!

Labour Councillor for Barnhill.

The highlight of my whole summer was the wonderful Love Chalkhill event. The sun shone and hundreds of people had a fantastic time. I particularly enjoyed seeing some incredibly talented local residents take the stage in their heart of their own community. Warm thanks to Amanda Rose for these great photos of the day.

We really wanted to put a smile on everyone’s face in these difficult times, but on a deeper level we wanted to celebrate our community and to foster a real sense of pride and unity. It truly was a special day and we very much hope to do it again next year.

Another good news story has been the absence of rough sleepers in Fryent Country Park. For the last few summers the park has been blighted by scores of rough sleepers who created a terrible mess and intimidated residents. Genuine homelessness is an absolute tragedy – but too many of the rough sleepers in our park have been casual labourers intentionally declining support and refusing accommodation.

Thanks to a new proactive approach by the Council, working with partners and residents, rough sleepers have have been swiftly addressed this summer, nipping the problem in the bud. Long may it continue.

Finally, in July Cllrs Choudhary, Marquis and myself held a roving surgery in King’s Drive. It was great to meet residents and to discuss problems in that area. We’re always out and about in Barnhill so just get in touch if you’d like us to visit your street.

Further afield.

I was shocked and appalled that one of Theresa May’s first acts as Prime Minister was to hint at the return of the Eleven Plus. In response I was delighted to collaborate with Melissa Benn, the Chair of Comprehensive Future, on an article in The Guardian.

Grammar schools are a dusty relic of a bygone era. And rightly so. It’s hardly a surprise that the Tories still sentimentally yearn for those sepia days. But please spare us the hogwash about social mobility.

Grammar schools don’t broaden opportunity, they jealously hoard it. The evidence is crystal clear: poor kids can’t get into grammar schools and even when they do they are massively outperformed by their more affluent peers. Grammar schools are elitist institutions which entrench privilege.

The evidence is equally clear on what does generate social mobility: high quality support in the early years. A child’s development score at just 22 months can serve as an accurate predictor of educational attainment at 26 years. The Eleven Plus? Sadly poor kids are already playing catch-up by the time they start nursery.

Theresa May will never increase social mobility through the societal guillotine that is the Eleven Plus. That will only entrench privilege. To truly tackle social mobility we need to fundamentally change the terms of the debate: secondary education is well, secondary. True social mobility and true social justice will only be achieved by revolutionising support for the early years.

You can read the full article here.

Thanks as ever for reading. I hope you enjoy September and please feel free to contact me on any of these issues – or indeed on anything else!



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