08/12/2012

Improvements to tube end of Chapter Road


Residents living in Chapter Rd and those using Dollis Hill Station will be pleased to know of planned improvements that I have been urging for years. The main aim of the scheme is to improve accessibility for pedestrians by improving safety at crossing points, repairing the footway and "generally improving the look and feel of the road".  Proposed improvements around the tube station include:

• Raise and pave the carriageway outside station to slow down vehicles.
• Install a raised entry treatment at Deacon Rd junction with Chapter Rd.
• Install tactile paving at all the crossing points along the section of the road.
• Repair defected bits of the footway in Chapter Rd between the station and Dudden Hill Lane.
• Remove all existing waiting restriction sign posts and provide new short posts at the back of  footway to increase the width of the pavement and provide more space for pedestrians.
• Install clear pedestrian directional signs outside the station and at the junction of Dudden Hill Lane and Chapter Rd.
•  New cycle stands and cycle hoops at key locations along the road. 
• Reduce street clutter by removing unnecessary signage, bollards and renew any essential items.

"Bomb Sight" – mapping the WW2 bombs


This fascinating site was described in this week’s Brent and Kilburn Times.  The total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in Willesden Green was 40 (High Explosive Bombs). These roads had at least one hit:Pound Lane, Deacon Road, Villiers Rd, St Paul's Avenue, High Rd and Chapter Rd. Roundwood Park appears to have had most of the bombs.

Bomb Sight WW2 bombs census can be found at: http://bombsight.org/#10/51.4399/-0.1064

and the Willesden page at:
http://bombsight.org/explore/greater-london/brent/willesden-green/http://bombsight.org/explore/greater-london/brent/willesden-green/

21/11/2012

Minding schools: Central government v. local authorities


There was an announcement recently that the Ministry for Education would have a very large reduction in staff. This may be seen as a positive move but it rather cuts across Secretary of State Michael Gove’s commitment to remove the influence of local authorities in his policies for academies and free schools and for such schools to be controlled centrally.  This would appear to demand more civil servants rather than fewer. The leaders of all of London’s local authorities have called on the Government to recognise the essential role of local councils in education, in tackling school places crisis and in ensuring that London schools continue to improve outcomes. This will not happen if Michael Gove bypasses local democracy by centralising control of schools in his own hands.  Conversely, the Education Secretary has hinted that a lower tier of control maybe necessary to manage the vast monitoring task. Mr Gove, it is already there, and is called local government!

White Ribbon Day 26th November 2012

White Ribbon Day is also known as the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The campaign urges males to wear a white ribbon as visible pledges never to commit, condone or remain silent about such violence. All Brent councillors are demonstrating their commitment to eradicating violence on women by wearing the ribbon and signing the pledge on Monday 26th November 2012. Members of the public are encouraged to sign the pledge too. While few men are violent towards women, many ignore the problem or consider it not having anything to do with them. However, each week, two women are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner and 70% of assaults result in injury. Such violence is experienced by 45% of women. Brent statistics: 2011/12, the percentage of reported domestic abuse incidents is 1.1% - a rate of 12.9 per 1000. A police report (2012) estimates a long term increase in domestic abuse rates of +1.4%. For the year to date (2012/13), 1.8% of Brent’s population were victims of forced marriage, and 0.9% of honour based violence. For 2011/12 sexual violence incidents are recorded for 0.1% of Brent’s population. This is a rate of 1.3 per 1000. Clearly, there remains a lot to do to raise awareness and action.

20/11/2012

Willesden Green Town Team


The Town Team has government funding is run by a group of local residents and over the summer has been working with the Council to look at the regeneration of the High Road and Walm Lane. As well as additional funding the Town Team will also have access to a support that includes direct mentoring and visits from a range of retail experts as well as regular meetings with other Town Teams to share ideas. A number of activities are being planned in the coming months, including urban design workshops, and a special community festival.  Residents and businesses are intended to contribute ideas to enhance the High Road and Walm Lane to provide for environmental improvements and the wellbeing of all residents of the Willesden area. A major priority is to negotiate “meanwhile” use of vacant premises of which Queen's Parade has been a very successful example. The Team will be launching its own website soon. It is open to any resident or business to join and all are welcome. (Contact Peter Paddon at peter.blue@btinternet.com for any more information.)

01/11/2012

Roundwood Youth Centre

This centre is on the border of Willesden and Kensal Wards.  It was officially opened today and visitors were treated to lively displays of dancing, singing and martial arts.  The building itself is amazing. I remember early days of planning when a number of young people were involved in presenting ideas for its design and interior. The funding promised by government was withdrawn at one stage. Without support from the Lottery (£5 million) this splendid building may not have happened. The new centre is for young people aged 13 to 19 and is packed with facilities including: a cafĂ©, IT suite, multi-use games area, media area, area for sporting activities and a performance area.

16/10/2012

Japanese Knotweed

Have heard this pernicious and evasive plant has been found in Willesden. It is said to be the biggest problem facing the construction industry today (though I suspect government policies and recession must be close runners). Japanese Knotweed is a tall perennial plant. The shoots start to emerge in late March/early April, are asparagus-like and are a red-green colour. As it grows through the summer the red colour turns into red speckles on an otherwise green stem. The weed can grow a metre a month and can cause heave below concrete and tarmac, coming up through the resulting cracks and damaging buildings and roads. Studies have shown that a 1cm section of rhizome can produce a new plant in 10 days. Rhizome segments can remain dormant in soil for twenty years before producing new plants.  It has to be removed by specialists.

Council tax concerns


It is suggested that up to half of people on low incomes will refuse to pay council tax after being caught in the net by benefit changes next year. Under the coalition’s plans to reduce council tax benefits 2m low-income workers will face an average bill of £247 a year – a charge they are currently exempt from. A study found that many councils were resigned to seeing large numbers of residents refusing to pay the tax.  These are people on the lowest incomes. How can councils try to extract taxes from people who just do not have the money to pay?

23/09/2012

Potential changes to planning


Admire Conservative Richmond Council for deciding to defy the coalition government’s policy relaxation of planning rules for building extensions. The planning proposals will allow larger home and business extensions without planning permission. Richmond is concerned with the ‘look’ of developments. I am more concerned with the eventual use of extensions. This proposal could lead to even more sub-standard accommodation and cases of “beds in sheds” because families are so desperate to find somewhere to live and landlords reap the profit. Other planning changes proposed has been letting developers create houses in multiple occupation without planning permission. In Brent – and in Willesden Green - there are already too many planning breaches so I hope the planning service will hold on to its influence on what is built. Another concern is the change to the powers of the Planning Inspectorate to overrule projects blocked by councils.  This would leave people helpless to stop thousands of homes being built on their doorsteps. According to Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, this is a blow to local democracy, as the Government is threatening to take power away from local communities and placing it in the hands of a super quango”.