James Denselow's Councillor Blog
Commentary on politics and local matters in Queens Park, Brent


Tunnel option delays decision on HS2 rail link

(Evening Standard)

A decision on whether to build a £32 billion high-speed rail link to the North will be delayed until next year, the Transport Secretary said today.

Justine Greening confirmed she was putting off the announcement, which had been due before Parliament breaks up for Christmas in two weeks' time. Instead she expects to make a decision on the HS2 project "in January".

News of a delay leaked out over the weekend amid speculation that Ms Greening was considering a £500 million tunnel for a section of the route through the Chilterns.

A transport source said the tunnel would cost "nowhere near that" but confirmed engineers had been asked to examine the possibility of linking two other tunnels near Amersham. Money for the extension would come from savings elsewhere on the route, the source said.

 
Brent Housing Update

Temporary Accommodation and Housing Benefit.

In January the 9 month transition for Housing Benefit comes to an end.  Many households will have a rent higher than their Housing Benefit.

The housing benefit caps are

1 bed = £250, 2 bed = £290, 3 bed = £340, 4 bed and above = £400

There are 3000 families in Temporary Accommodation.  This figure is fairly stable

BUT

As at 13/11/11 there were 268 households in hotel accommodation. This is a 70% increase in comparison to 2010/11, when there was an average of 157 households in hotels at any one time.  This figure is likely to rise.

B&B accommodation is more cramped, often not in Brent, is unsettling for the family and is much more expensive for the Council.

 All the households have been written to.  Landlords have also been contacted to see if a lower rent can be negotiated. 

One badly affected group are single people under 35 renting one room.  They are now only allowed a Single room rate, ie they must live in shared accommodation with a communal kitchen and bathroom (HMO). There are 124 people affected.

Read more...
 
Waste & recycling success

Motion for Council debate

 

Council notes the remarkable early success of the new waste & recycling arrangements introduced by Brent’s Labour administration, which in its first month has achieved:

 

-       A 50% improvement in recycling rates in one month;

-       Recycling rates of 45%;

-       A 41% reduction in landfill waste.

 

Council also notes that landfill causes a litany of environmental problems, including contributing to climate change; and that accelerated landfill taxes mean these measures will save Brent taxpayers millions of pounds.

 

Council notes that the Labour Group was elected on a manifesto commitment to introduce measures aiming to double the recycling rate to 60%, that the Council’s opposition group have campaigned against increased recycling, and that Labour is the only party in Brent committed to recycling.

 

Council congratulates Environment & Neighbourhoods Officers who have worked tirelessly to implement the new scheme, and the leadership of this Council for showing the vision and commitment to implement policies which will make Brent one of the greenest boroughs in Britain.

 

 
Update from Brent Borough Commander

This week I wanted to round up what Brent police have achieved over the last 18 months to reassure you that we are doing everything we possibly can to make you safer and more confident, whether you live, work or simply pass through our amazing borough.

 

A lot of this success has been achieved through strong links with our Local Authority, local councillors and other key partners such as probation, CPS, Fire Brigade and many others.

 

Successes:

·         Total arrests for 2010/11 were 13,183. This amounts to an extra 1,181 arrests on the previous year.

 

·         Brent has the highest arrest rate in London from stop and search (17.5% of all stops result in an arrest, warning, reprimand or caution).

 

·         We have detected more street crime than any other London Borough over the last 2 years (an increase of 60%). This increases our total crime figure which may cause concern, but it is the right thing to do. Simply put, this means that your police are arresting more people for carrying drugs, weapons or articles used to commit crime, offences that if we were not out stopping, searching and arresting people we would not know about. We will not bury our heads in the sand and pretend these offences are not taking place.

 

·         Safer Neighbourhoods Team’s (SNT’s) have been focussing heavily on increasing your confidence by further targeting the minority who commit crime, instil fear or act irresponsibly.  

 

·         SNT arrest rates have increased by 62% (up from 567 in 2009/10 to 919 in 10/11).

 

·         SNT detection rates have increased by 289% (up from 470 in 2009/10 to 1360 in 2010/11).

 

·         Brent has the highest detection rate for all crime in London (an increase of 10% since 2009 and still improving).

 

·         Brent has the highest ‘offences brought to justice’ rate in London. Just over 34% of all crime has a criminal brought to justice, a result of good street work by uniformed and plain clothed officers, excellent investigation by Detectives and good prosecution relationships with the Crown Prosecution Service.

 

·         Brent police have executed 424 proactive search warrants (intelligence supplied by you on many occasions) since the 6th June this year. We have been taking the fight to criminals. This is a sign of good partnership working with Brent Local Authority, Fire Brigade, CPS, Neighbourhood Watch and other key partners.

 

·         Confidence has increased from 36% in May 2010 to the current figure of 71% .

 

·         We have placed Detective Sergeants into our SNT’s to review, lead and investigate low level crime.

 

·         All victims of crime now receive a personal call from a Detective where there are potential leads to arrest the perpetrator.

 

·         We have placed Detective Sergeant’s on your 24/7 response teams.

 

Challenges

·         All this has been achieved with ever pressing demands to supply Brent police officers to support other areas of London due to unprecedented public order demands (demonstrations, summer disorder etc). This commitment has more than doubled over the last 12 months.  This is the right thing to do as we have to serve Londoners as and when they need assistance.

 

Summary

 

I am proud of what my officers and staff have achieved. Your local police officers, PCSO’s, support staff, volunteers and Special Constables are working extremely hard and are totally focussed on 3 things:

1. Reducing crime

2. Arresting those who commit crime

3. Good victim care.

 

We are having significant successes but we are totally aware of future challenges and will meet them head on. We can do this better with your support - please keep supplying information on those very few amongst us who have no respect for others.

 

We will respond and I promise to take the fight to them on your behalf.

 

If you have any information, however small you may feel it is, please contact us via ‘crime stoppers’ on  0800 555111, your local Safer neighbourhood Teams or via the Met Police Website at (www.met.police.co.uk) 

 

Thank you for your continued support.

Matthew Gardner.

 
.October Recycling Update

We now have a clearer picture of the how the new waste service has performed during its first month.

 

The October picture compared to September is as follows:

 

 

Landfill

Dry Rate

Org rate

Combined Recycling Rate

Sep-11

6574 tonnes

14%

18%

31%

Oct-11

3890 tonnes

25%

20%

45%

 

Headlines:

 

·         Recycling rate at 45%

  • Landfill waste is well down (-41%)
  • The kerbside element of dry recycling (blue bin over green box) shows a 50% increase from 838 tonnes to 1206 tonnes.

 

This will certainly improve as the service becomes more established. Our priorities now include:

 

·         Rolling out the flats service from this month.

·         Tackling contamination and side-waste. We are planning engagement work in all wards, starting with parts of Harlesden, Kilburn and Wembley Central. We will provide a schedule so you can participate if you wish.

·         Ensuring trade waste and household waste is kept apart.

·         Monitoring street cleansing now we have reduced the service in some areas.

 
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