Thursday, 30 July 2009

PUBLIC MEETING: Campaign to Safeguard Brent Residents 12/07/2009 St Mary & St Andrew’s Church, Dollis Hill.

notes by p>murry

This meeting was advertised to me by a handbill which came through my door, it was not immediately clear from this document that this was a Labour Party meeting but it was and it carried the legally required “printed & promoted by…” rubric. One speaker suggested a cross party campaign against the proposed Cricklewood development, so I asked why a one party slate with an MP (Dawn Butler), speaking in a neighbouring MP’s constituency. It was tit for tat for an earlier exclusively Lib Dem meeting on the same subject.

The platform was Anne John (Brent Labour group leader), Dawn Butler MP for Brent South and Navin Shah AM for Brent and Harrow . Invited speakers from the floor included Dawood Perez , Director and Company Secretary of Bestway, (the cash and carry group whose premises are threatened by the proposed Cricklewood development), Leah Evans of FoE, Ben Tansley of Brent Cycling Campaign, John Cox (Campaign for Better Transport), Cllr Ralph Fox and the Chair of the Dollis Hill Residents’ Ass’n.

In summary it was explained that the proposed development would allegedly result in involve creating 2700 jobs, 750 homes, a new station and three schools.

Bestway’s main beef appeared to be that it would also involve the relocation of a new waste processing station to the Brent side of the main railway out of King’s Cross possibly endangering the Bestway operation. Several Bestway workers turned up with three neatly produced placards, one of them and their manager both assured me they were doing this voluntarily in their free time. Bestway was not unionized because, Dawood Perez, assured me, it treats it workers so well.

The platform speakers seemed to object to the scale of the scheme and the amount of extra traffic it might generate. Anne John asserted that this was a wider approach than that taken by the Lib Dems who, she alleged only objected to the proposed Waste transfer station, whilst (according to Dawood Perez) bidding for some of the gov’t funding associated with the development.(“section 106 money”)

The apparently more holistic Labour approach was to complain about the inadequate consultation by Barnet Council and insist (how ?) that the development be Carbon neutral, although Dawn Butler required reminding by FoE the term was, which did raise the question in my mind as to whether she knew what it meant.

Never mind, FoE thought that “you can’t stop progress” and Dawn thought that Bestway brought “social and economic benefits to local people” whilst he new scheme did not deal with the relative shopping deprivation of Brent. “We don’t have a major shopping centre in Brent, the developments round Wembley will address that to some extent.”.

Like Obama, Dawn believes in change, but perhaps only the kind found in shopping centre tills. However, as John Cox pointed out even if the Cricklewood is topped there are more similar developments planned for Colindale, Wembley, Barnet and Park Royal adding to the new White City mega shopping mall. Further more it is apparently the opinion of my neighbours as expressed by the Secretary of the Dollis Hill Residents Ass’n that they want a new bridge across the railway so that they can drive around more quickly.