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Latest news from Cllr Michael Pavey
As many of you will already know, last month I resigned from the Brent Council Cabinet.
It is well-documented that six months ago I stood to be Leader of the Council, losing narrowly. I stood because of frustration at the direction of the Council: I wanted to offer an alternative vision for the future.
Having narrowly lost and then rejoined the Cabinet, I had hoped that things would return to normal. But life isn’t really like that and differences of vision don’t just disappear over time. If anything, they widen.
Collective responsibility is absolutely critical to the functioning of a Cabinet system, and as differences were growing, I felt that stepping aside was the decent thing to do.
There was no rancour to my decision and I wish the Cabinet well as they wrestle with the Government’s heartless austerity agenda. My particular congratulations and best wishes to Cllr Tom Miller, my successor on Cabinet. Tom is a refreshing free-thinker with an unashamedly political edge, I’m certain that he will be a real asset to the Cabinet.
Meanwhile I’m really excited to be starting a new role working for the Shadow Early Years Minister in the Labour Education Team. As many of you know, supporting families with young children is my greatest political passion, so I’m very excited about this new chapter.
I’ll also be continuing to represent Barnhill on Brent Council – in fact I’m looking forward to having more time to commit to our wonderful community.
Labour Councillor for Barnhill.
A tragedy this month as a young man was murdered in Buddings Circle, Chalkhill. At times like this the immediate reaction is shock, then sadness. But anger is not far behind.
This is the third murder in Barnhill in little over a year. I believe there had only been one single murder in the preceding three years. Something is going horribly wrong in our society when disputes escalate so regularly into bloodshed and death.
I simply can’t understand what on earth would lead someone to take a knife or a gun to another person. But I do know that if people weren’t carrying weapons, these incidents would be far rarer.
I’m always incredibly hesitant to link any tragedy to a political point, but it was a Police Officer who said to me in absolutely categorical terms that young people are now carrying weapons because they know that there are far fewer Police to catch them.
When I was first elected in 2012, Barnhill had a dedicated Police team of five. That fell to just two – at which point Boris Johnson staggeringly proposed to get rid of all the Police Community Support Officers in London.
I’m old fashioned on Policing: the most effective deterrence to crime is visible bobbies on the beat. When I was growing up, we all knew our local PC – in fact he used to pop into our school to help with PE lessons. That built trust: it meant the Police felt accessible and human – but it also meant that we knew the law was never far away if we started making mischief.
That sounds like some romantic 1950s idyll nowadays! Today the Police are so over-stretched that young people only seem to encounter them in hostile situations. Trust has broken down and everyone is losing out.
The Government have justifiably received much criticism for the cash-strapped state of the NHS and the tripling of tuition fees, but one of the worst impacts of the Government’s brutal cuts has been death of community policing.
Against this backdrop I’m relieved that Sadiq Khan has not only scrapped Boris’ ludicrous plan to fire PCSOs, but that he has promised an additional Police Officer for every ward in London. We should have ours in place by Christmas. This won’t change the world, but hopefully if we get a good Officer, it will at least be a step in the right direction.
In difficult times it’s all the more important that the community stands together. A community where people feel included and welcome is surely a safer community. Solutions don’t have to come from above and I’d like to pay tribute to a couple of groups making a huge contribution in our community.
Firstly the Chalkhill Social and Enterprise Club, a social enterprise developed by a group of local residents with disabilities to provide mutual support and to build an enterprise ethos. Please take a look at their website.
And also to the wonderful ladies who organise and run a table sale in the Chalkhill Community Centre on the first Saturday of every month. There’s a wide variety of stalls and always a lovely atmosphere, so wherever you are please try and pop down this coming Saturday.
It was great to attend Labour Party Conference last month. I always enjoy visiting the fantastic city of Liverpool and it was a considerable relief to see the Party finally draw a line under months of introspective bloodletting and to start uniting against this hapless Government.
A real highlight of Conference was meeting Angela Rayner, Labour’s straight-talking Shadow Education Secretary and a definite rising star. Angela has quickly injected spirited leadership into the campaign against the Government’s nonsensical plans to reintroduce grammar schools.
The Government has clearly been rocked by the way this campaign has attracted support from right across the political spectrum, including many Tories and Sir Michael Wilshaw the highly influential former head of OFSTED. The Government’s recent wobble on this issue is a great example of what an effective outward-facing Opposition can achieve.
I made my own contribution to the campaign by appearing on the BBC local news in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire to discuss how my personal experiences shaped my opposition to the Eleven Plus. From the reaction to my last enews, I know that many of you share my passion on this subject. If you’d like to get more involved, why not come along to the annual public meeting of Comprehensive Future later this month.
Thanks as ever for reading and if you’d like to discuss any of these issues, or indeed anything else, please pop along to my advice surgery this coming Saturday: 11-1 in the Chalkhill Community Centre tucked behind Asda.