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.


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.)