I am privileged to represent the people of Barnhill on Brent Council. I was elected on 3rd May 2012 with 56% of the vote and re-elected in May 2014. Prior to 2010, Barnhill had been a rock solid Tory seat. Since being elected I’ve been working hard to repay the faith shown in me.
In May 2013 I was elected Lead Councillor for Children & Families. I prioritised the early years in this role, cancelling proposals to close Sure Start Centres and introducing Brent’s ground-breaking flexible childcare scheme.
Between 2014-16 I was Deputy Leader of Brent Council.
The Deputy Leader is Lead Councillor for Finance and I’m proud to have balanced the Council budget whilst ensuring that all our Sure Start Centres remained open, ensuring that no elderly person receives a home care visit lasting less than half an hour and finding extra funds to hire more Children’s Social Workers.
I achieved this by refocusing the Council on generating income through civic enterprise, rather than salami-slicing itself out of existence. I also developed a new approach to procurement with social value at its heart, and a new radical new Investment Strategy. At the same time I was cofounder of the Red Lines alliance of London Labour Councils.
My proudest achievement as Deputy Leader was to completely overhaul the Council’s approach to equalities. In 2014 Brent Council lost a truly ugly Employment Tribunal for racially discriminating against an employee. I was asked to lead a review into the Council’s systems and processes. Understandably many feared that my review would be a whitewash. But in fact I delivered a series of highly challenging recommendations. Some of these were initially resisted by the Council, but all have now been implemented. These challenging reforms led directly to Brent Council becoming one of the only Councils in the country to be rated “excellent” for equalities by the Local Government Association. Much more importantly, many Council employees contacted me to say what a difference my reforms are making.
Barnhill is a great place to represent. From the beauty of the Barn Hill Conservation Area to the friendliness of Chalkhill; and from the peace of the Country Park to the bustle of Preston Road, it’s a special place.
My proudest achievement is the fantastic new Chalkhill Park, which so many of us worked so hard to make happen.
But most of my time is taken up with hundreds upon hundreds of unique cases. This is the part of my job I find most rewarding. Politics is all about helping people and it’s by rolling your sleeves up and helping with grassroots problems that you can really make a difference.
From helping overcrowded families find better homes, to getting a new zebra crossing on The Mall. From helping vulnerable residents receive the support they deserve, to getting tons of fly-tipping removed. Every case is different and every case matters.
The case study below gives a flavour of my work.
Local Case Study.
Mary works for the Post Office. She recently gave birth to premature twins who spent their first three months on life support machines.
Mary’s private rental flat had vermin, severe damp, exposed electric wires and broken windows. When the twins were well enough to go home, the hospital refused to allow them to return to Mary’s flat because of its condition.
When Mary asked her landlord to make improvements, he served her with an eviction notice.
The Council said there was nothing they could do. She should come back once she had actually been evicted. The twins remained in hospital.
Mary remembered me knocking on her door a few months earlier and wrote to me.
I immediately arranged a Council inspection of Mary’s flat. The landlord was forced to repair the most dangerous problems and the twins were able to come home.
I then contacted Mary’s GP and Health Visitor and introduced her to her local Sure Start Centre. I coordinated these agencies to make it crystal clear to the Council that Mary must be supported.
After several weeks of pressure the Council changed their position and found the young family a safe and clean property. I then worked with Mary’s new landlord to make some additional improvements to the property before Mary and her boys settled in.
Update: three years on, the family are settled in the same flat, the boys are in nursery and Mary is returning to work.
This was a desperately vulnerable resident caught between a heartless private landlord and a coldly bureaucratic Council. Being a Councillor is often hugely frustrating, but with hardwork and persistence you really can change lives.
Every case matters so please get in touch with anything at all I may be able to help with.