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


Tax Justice Petition

80,000 signers already! Right now party leaders are vying to challenge corporate abuse, let's reach 100,000 today. Sign below now

Dear friends across the UK,

 
Our tax agency is letting big businesses like Goldman Sachs off billions of pounds of tax. MPs have called for action, but the government isn't responding. Let's boost the MPs' call and get the Prime Minister to ensure full transparency and full payment. Sign now:

Our tax chief had secret lunches with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs and then handed them billions in tax breaks – while keeping Parliament in the dark!

MPs are outraged, claiming we are owed over 25 billion pounds in back taxes from these and similar dodgy deals. But the tax agency has blocked an inquiry into the scandal and refuses to release any documents to shed light on why these tax breaks were ordered in the first place.

By acting together now we can ensure full transparency on the Goldman Sachs and Vodafone deals, and get them to pay the tax they owe. Let’s turn up the heat -- sign the tax justice petition to David Cameron -- we’ll deliver it with a splash next week:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/goldman_sachs_pay_your_tax/?vl

The cosy relationship between the public tax authority and major private companies is shocking: the tax agency boss had more than a hundred lunches with big business tax lawyers and advisers, leading to the companies being let off millions in taxes. The agency tried to obstruct a recent Parliamentary inquiry using flimsy confidentiality arguments, and threatened the whistleblower who helped expose the scandal.

Read more...
 
Brent council's intelligent streamlining takes pain out of cuts

Guardian - Automating recruitment saved £500,000 and had knock-on benefits throughout the council, says Tracey Connage

Last year's comprehensive spending review saw the new coalition government plan for almost half a million public sector jobs to be lost over the next four years as a direct result of its drastic spending cuts. It's no wonder that recent reports into the current job market reveal that public sector employment is radically slowing, while those with jobs live in fear of redundancy. It's a trend which every public sector manager is painfully aware.

 

However, as public servants, it's our responsibility to provide value for money. At Brent council we've made huge savings by automating our recruitment and HR processes and have saved £500,000. What is more, we did it in a way that resulted in fewer than two dozen compulsory redundancies.

Read more...
 
Brent Council Position on HS2

Brent Council said it supported the plans but expressed concerns about the tunnel and the potential impact of the vent shaft.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “While we have reservations about more detailed aspects of the proposal we recognise that HS2 has the potential to bring benefits to Brent in the form of improved rail services by adding capacity to the network.

“We are keen that the plan for an interchange with Crossrail at Old Oak Common is accompanied by an improved connection to Harlesden that will kick start the regeneration of the Willesden Junction area, thereby leading to wider benefits.”

The network will be built in two phases with the line from London to Birmingham expected to open in 2026 followed by Manchester and Leeds opening in 2032-33.

 
Police Updates

Brent Police have started the New Year by targeting brothels in the Wembley area, using newly enacted legislation aimed at removing brothels and supporting the women working in them. This operation will be known as Operation Wissant. A number of premises have been identified and last week saw the start of a crackdown by Brent Police working in partnership with the Local Authority. Councillor Ann John accompanied officers on their first deployment. This is the start of a three phased approach that the partnership are taking, not only to address these issues but to ensure that the young women and girls that are often forced to work in these places are provided with sufficient support and care so that they are able to move on from this way of life. We are very much aware of the crime and violence that can sometime be linked to these premises and are aiming to treat the women found working in the places as victims not offenders.

We will be targeting those who run brothels and victimise women by doing so. We know that this will be a challenge due to the nature of brothels and how they run but we welcome any information from the public that will be able to assist us targeting these establishments as we move into 2012 and in the run up to the Olympics.

Following a successful operation in mid December, Brent Borough will be dedicating resources in response to anti-social behaviour (ASB).  ASB in the local area can cause untold stress and a reduction in the quality of life of residents; as such we take these matters very seriously.  From Monday 9th January, Partnership officers will be ringing back all members of the community who call to complain of incidents of Anti-Social Behaviour.  By seeking additional details and deploying Safer Neighbourhoods Officers directly, we hope to provide better continuity and resolutions for local residents.  We will also refer incidents which would normally require a Council response to them directly, reducing the need for multiple phone calls to different agencies.  Feedback from callers who used the service during the pilot in December has been extremely positive and we hope that this will further encourage members of the public to call us and report crime and anti-social behaviour.

Alperton Officers working with investigators form SKY TV performed a warrant In December whereby the occupants within the address were distributing illegal SKY boxes that were defrauding Sky TV out of over 500 subscriptions. The team went into the address and seized nearly 100 decoding boxes and £35,000 in cash.  Police arrested the two family occupants, who are currently on bail.

 
Management Changes in Brent

The council have had about 150 manager posts that have been taken out from the structure and staffing review. Brent has lost 3 directors; housing, business transformation and HR. Directors and assistant directors have taken on extra roles and responsibilities where changes have been made to the departments and they are not being paid extra for the other responsibilities they have taken on. Brent has also reduced the package for the finance director, when the old director left it was advertised at a lower amount so that  savings could be made from the higher levels of management and legally the council did not break any contractual obligations. Since the administration has come into power the ratio of manager to managed has changed from close to 1:2 to around 1:5.5

 
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