12/10/2014

Highest number of planning applications in Brent

In 2013, Brent received the highest number of planning applications ever (4,414) and based on the number of applications received in the first two quarters this year, it is projected that we will exceed last year's figures by 20%. This significant increase in the volume of applications is a sign of confidence in the borough and also from changes in permitted development rights which have made it unnecessary to submit planning applications for some household developments

Extra savings for Brent from public realm contract

Brent's parks and open spaces are expected to look extra tidy over the coming months and years as Veolia, who already look after the waste and recycling services for the borough, start the second phase of their 'public realm' contract with Brent Council.  The contract will see more frequent litter picking in Brent's parks and open spaces, particularly at weekends, and create £1.7million annual saving due to more efficient working across the services that are now part of the contract. This second phase of the contract, which started on Monday (Sept 1), makes Veolia responsible for the grounds maintenance and litter picking in Brent's parks and open spaces and also grounds maintenance at Brent Housing Partnership (BHP) sites. The council's burial service will also now be part of the contract. For the first time we will have a single operation for waste collection, cleansing and grounds maintenance across all our public places which will also deliver £1.7million in annual savings.

Visits to Brent libraries buck London and national trend

The use of libraries in Brent has bucked the London and national trends by increasing in the last 12 months, according to figures released recently.  Statistics complied by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance Accounting (CIPFA) showed the number of library visitors in the borough was up by 1%. However across London the overall figure was down by 7% and across the UK it dipped by 6 %. Borrowing of books in the borough decreased by 2% but across London the slump was almost 10%.  In 2011, Barham, Cricklewood, Neasden, Kensal Rise, Preston and Tokyngton libraries were axed to save £1million.  Since then the remaining branches have switched to opening seven days a week with later evening; offer iPads and users aged between 12 and 17 are no longer hit with late fees.  The library service is now said to be "fitter and healthier than it ever was and has thrown open its doors to a whole new generation of users".
Current casework from residents as of 12/10/2014
Access to telephone service for parking issues.
Penalty notices on suspended parking bays.
Landlord and environmental issues, Cooper Road.
Information sought from Brent Police Commander re manning for Willesden Green.
Tree needing pruning in Chaplin Road.

"Working on" Projects
Signage and parking controls for Grunwick Close.
Lights for cultural centre tree – liaison with Galliford Try for winter months lighting.
ASB and dumping in Villiers and Chaplin Roads (with co-councillors).
Future of former police station (awaiting planning application).
Planning enforcement issues: Churchmead Road, Walm Lane.
Use of "Pay Back" team to clear garden area by bus stop, Dudden Hill Lane/Meyrick Road junction.
Dispersal order – Unity Close.
Environmental issues, Gowan Road.
Landlord and environmental issues, Cooper Road.

Monitoring planning applications for Kings Rd and High Road.

CCTV at No. 8 Hostel

A local bar and hostel in Willesden has been ordered to install CCTV outside and hire bouncers following a series of violent fights involving its drinkers.  The new requirements follow a review of their licence by the Council following a request by the police. The alcohol and entertainment licensing sub-committee heard on July 31 this year a drinker was glassed in the face and other incidents included a reveller being punched several times during a brawl.Under the new rules the bar must have a CCTV camera installed to cover the main entrance and an additional one for the point of access at Churchmead Road. Other conditions include storing CCTV records, employ at least two Security Industry Authority approved door supervisors (one female) to stand guard from 9pm when the venue is open past midnight.  The decision comes one month after The Lounge, in Park Royal, was stripped of its licence after a man was shot and a second one injured on its doorstep during foam party at the venue. Following the incident, Chief Supt Mike Gallagher, Brent Police borough’s commander, pledged to increase scrutiny into licensed premises in the borough.

01/09/2014

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.

25/08/2014

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!