New Cultural Centre - Parking review

Have just been informed of Transportation's forward planning for the CPZ areas around the Cultural Centre:
"The review is planned to be undertaken approximately six months after the Centre opens, to give it time to bed in and start hosting regular events.  This will ensure that when we consult with residents and businesses, their responses will be based upon a true picture of the parking impact of the Centre, thus avoiding the scenario whereby a review is undertaken on a partly operational Centre, that would then have to be repeated at a future date as the Centre becomes more fully utilised.
The review is likely to focus on the operational hours of the CPZ in nearby streets in zones GC, GH, GS, KS and the High Road itself, particularly with regard to evenings and weekends, to provide greater protection for residents at those times if required.  If hours are altered, existing parking permits would continue to be valid over the revised operational times, but residents of the new flats within the development will not be eligible to apply for such permits as this is a permit free development with on-site parking."

Registering landlords

Casework can include visiting residents at home. I am often appalled at the awful places where some families live in small and often sub-standard accommodation. Where I can, I have reported these poor conditions. Developers and landlords are often greedy, packing in extra tenants and charging excessive rents. It seems that developers and landlords are kings in the current housing market, but there are ways to stop the worst offenders. At Harrow Court, for example, a landlord was ordered to pay more than £160,000 after being convicted of illegally converting the property into flats. She was told to pay a confiscation order of just under £159,000 - a slice of the amount she received in rent payments - for the unlawful renovation of the site into 10 separate dwellings and had a fine of £3,500. In Willesden, I have found and reported a 6-flat building converted to eleven flats. = Brent council wants to ensure the quality of accommodation in the borough, so a pilot scheme to register landlords is being undertaken in parts of Brent including Willesden. Licensing schemes for landlords of "Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's)" are already in place. The pilot scheme will register other properties, properly converted and managed. The other side of the pilot is enforcing action against the landlords providing sub-standard accommodation.


Steel pan concert

The St Michael and All Angels Church (Stonebridge) Youth Music Project has been running for almost 18 years, involving skilled players teaching young people to play steel pan. The project aims to deliver the opportunity to raise their self esteem and develop essential life-long skills to improve their academic and employability potential. They run an annual four week Summer Music Project, ending with an evening concert where the young people demonstrate and share their learning with family, friends and the local community. A wonderful concert. They are truly expert in their playing!

Being Deputy Mayor

Only two months in as Brent's Deputy Mayor and am really enjoying it. Have attended 15 events to date, visiting a number of settings and meeting a wide variety of people. Most notable was the launch party for the Notting Hill Carnival, the grand opening of the splendid Kingsbury Mandir and the laying of the stone in Lechmere Road, Willesden to commemorate the Victoria Cross (VC) awarded to Charles Ernest Garforth for his bravery in saving fellow soldiers from attack in the first World War. Charles Garforth was born at 19 Chaplin Road, Willesden, and was one of the first to receive this the highest medal for bravery. A ceremony included army officers, councillors, members of Charles Garforth's family and a very special visitor, Sgt Beharry, the only living recipient of the VC for bravery in Iraq. I was pleased to have had a long conversation with Sgt Beharry. Being Deputy Mayor has opened up some very interesting experiences!


Recent councillor casework

Current casework from residents as of 11/8/2014

Relocation of bus stop, Pound Lane
Tree problem in gardens, Chapter Road and Gowan Road
Fly tip in Willesden Lane
Environmental issues, Gowan Road
Neighbour dispute, Chapter Road
Landlord and environmental issues, Cooper Road
Noisy neighbours, Churchmead Road
Overgrown garden, Chaplin Road

"Working on" Projects

Signage for Grunwick Close
Lights in cultural centre tree – liaison with Galliford Try for winter months lighting
ASB in Villiers and Chaplin Roads (with co-councillors)
Future of former police station (awaiting planning application)
Planning enforcement issues: Churchmead Road, Walm Lane
Council tax enforcement: Litchfield Gardens
Use of "Pay Back" team to clear garden area by bus stop, Dudden Hill Lane/Meyrick Road junction


Cheaper street parties

Hosting street parties in Brent have been been made cheaper after Brent Council approved plans to reduce the fee. Members voted in favour of proposals which will see the charge to hold special events slashed to £200. The cost of holding commemorative functions had previously totalled to more than £1,300. The council reviewed the process and requirements for road closures, including removing the need to place expensive advertisements and notices in the local press, enabling the fee to be significantly reduced. Under these new rules, the time it takes to process permission for street parties will also be reduced from 8 weeks to just 6 weeks. The council has listened to residents who have asked for ways that they can hold more of these events.  We hope to see lots of street parties and special events in Brent in the future.

Walm Lane clean up

Congratulations to Deborah Mahs and the rest of the Willesden Town Team for organising this clean up. 30+ residents, with brooms and brushes and water provided by the fire brigade, gave Walm Lane shop fronts a very welcome 'wash and brush up', supported by Veolia and London Transport staff and local shopkeepers. The event highlighted that while the council has a duty to keep streets clean, whether we live, work or just pass through an area, we have a responsibility to respect neighbourhoods and not to litter the streets. We hope there will be similar events in other parts of Willesden.

Taxicard scheme - important information for users

Changes are being made to the Taxicard scheme database. The Taxicard scheme is paid for by the London boroughs and TfL and is managed by London Councils on the boroughs’ behalf. The scheme provides subsidised transport in taxis and private hire vehicles for people who have mobility impairments and difficulty in using public transport. To ensure only active users are kept on the Taxicard database, holders who have not used their card in the last two years have been identified and could have their membership cancelled at the end of the month. The review is to ensure that the database is kept up to date and to remove records of members who no longer use the scheme. This will ensure that data handling is more efficient and will prevent sending unnecessary information to members who no longer use the scheme. In addition, the exercise will ensure that boroughs are able to forecast their budgets more accurately. If a Taxicard holder wishes to reapply for the scheme they can contact London Councils’ Taxicard team for advice.

Should you or a Taxicard holder have any further queries, email taxicard@londoncouncils.gov.uk or contact the Taxicard helpline on 020 7934 9791.


Road works in Willesden High Road

Residents will know of the flood and sewer works being conducted by Thames Water on the Sainsbury site. Upgrading is now moving to the High Road itself and this will create problems and diversions for around a month.  A nuisance for now, but good if all the problems of the past are rectified.

Ellis Close at the junction with High Road, Willesden
Proposed Temporary Traffic Management Order for a road closure in Ellis Close at the junction with High Road, Willesden for foul and surface water sewer mains connection. (Flood alleviation) Closure date: 05/05/2014 to 29/11/2014.

High Road, Willesden at the junction with Richmond Avenue
Proposed Temporary Traffic Management Order for a road closure in High Road, Willesden at the junction with Richmond Avenue for foul and surface water sewer mains connection. (Flood alleviation) Closure date: 23/07/2014 to 22/08/2014.

TfL have told us that the diversion route is from the High Road - Brondesbury Park - Staverton Road - Sidmouth Rd - Willesden Lane (left for 206, 266 & 460, right for 98 and N98).  Route 206, 266 and 460 continue along Walm Lane past Willesden Green Station, while Route 98 and N98 will continue on Willesden Lane towards Kilburn.  Signage should be up at all stops before and will provide instructions on the route diversion and alternative stop locations.


Current casework

A summary of some ongoing issues I am working on:

Churchmead Rd
Possible planning enforcement, excess of rubbish in frontages.
Chapter Rd
Possible theft of bollards and metal road signs seen by resident.
Balmoral Rd: 
Huge tree blocking light in quite a few back gardens. 
High Rd:
Motor bikes illegal parking on pavement outside Domino Pizza.
Villiers Rd/junction with DHL:
Car shop on corner selling and repairing on the road. 
The Oaks:
Parking issues.
Some issues outstanding from pre election period.