A wildflower meadow

Helping Brent become cleaner and greener

In my role as the cabinet lead in Brent for stronger communities, I find myself covering areas like crime and safety, arts and heritage and community cohesion. These are all pretty fertile areas for someone on the left to throw around ideas and implement their vision, along with that of the Labour Party. One minor frustration though is that in roles like this you can never really reach a full expression of what your politics is about.

I’m a convinced environmentalist. I believe that global warming is the major threat our entire species faces. Further, when you consider the impact of global warming on food and habitation, some of the issues of migration and war we have seen for recent years will impact heavily on people in temperate climates. In my opinion, it’s not good being a social democrat or a socialist if you are not also ecologist in your thinking – a rose must grow green if it is to flower red.

But the environment is not all about big stuff. For that reason, developments like the coming together of local pressure group Clean Air for Brent are entirely welcome – around 1300 people per year are dying prematurely in London due to breathing pollution. Our environment matters because of the impact it has on our surroundings and our every day lives. So I thought I would divert slightly to talk a little about what we are doing on the Council to increase biodiversity and promote cleaner air, via the work of the Labour Party and my colleague, Cllr Southwood.

Most obviously we have launched our new Air Quality Action Plan.

In addition, under a new programme, certain areas in parks across Brent will be turned into wildflower meadows, letting the grass grow in order to create wildlife havens; reducing CO2 emissions, and increasing biodiversity. The programme will also include a reduction in the number of times grass verges in the borough are cut per year, which will similarly reduce the carbon footprint of the service. This new way of managing grassed areas in Brent will allow parks spending to be better prioritised, in light of the significant budget cuts imposed on the council.

The size of each wildlife meadow will vary depending on the size of the park, and all parks will retain some areas that will be kept maintained in a traditional way. This programme will be supported by the launch of the Brent Wildlife Watch website later this summer. The website will provide a platform for residents to send in photos and descriptions of wildlife in Brent’s parks and open spaces. This is part of a wider commitment to making Brent a greener and more biodiverse borough. All of this will be done in partnership, working very closely with local community groups and the friends of our parks.

The following parks will be included in this programme. Please contact me for more detail or for the maps that show the areas to be transformed.

• Roundwood Park
• Neasden Recreation Ground
• Gladstone Park
• Barham Park
• King Edward Park
• Silver Jubilee Park
• Roe Green
• One Tree Hill
• Woodcock Park
• Preston Park
• Lindsay Court
• Sudbury Court Open Space
• Elmwood
• St Raphael’s Open Space
• Northwick Park
• Church Lane Recreation Ground
• Tokyngton Recreation Ground
• Kenton Grange
• Leybourne Road
• Eaton Grove
• Abbey Estate
• Tookey Close

The council is also undertaking a programme to replace all existing street lighting lanterns with new Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. These lanterns will reduce electricity use considerably and have a much longer life span, therefore providing a significant reduction in both running costs and carbon emissions across the borough. To enhance the benefit of the new lanterns a new control system will enable further reductions in electricity use at a highly local level.

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