We’ve come to wish you an UnHappy Birthday

Dear Fairview Homes,

We’ve come to wish you an unhappy birthday.

A year ago (today) your plans were born when you appeared at St Gabriel’s church hall with a “consultation” to demolish a landmark community venue and replace it with a 10 storey tower block.

Your PR firm wrote to a few residents in June last year, about a vague address and with no reference to The Queensbury pub. Your PR firm claimed ‘nobody told us’ about Busy Rascals activities for babies and toddlers. You forgot to mention that the landmark heritage building is in a conservation area, with a thriving pub within. There was talk of short leases; the pub was going out of business. Clearly not true.

22 comments came from the two days. Plenty more have been made since. You will not publish the 22 comments nor have you provided them to Brent Council. Yet you claimed community support in your application to demolish The Queensbury pub (and with it ending Busy Rascals in our community).

You’re PR people have spent the last year undermining the pub and attempting to neutralise opposition. They have patently failed.

Some pretty low blows have been struck – not Queenbury rules at all. You’ve instructed lawyers to tell Brent Council that no part of the building is of any community use. You tell Councillors on the planning committee who you are working with, but didn’t include us on your invitation list?

A year later there is a substantial body of local groups and individuals representing business, charity and community sectors who are unanimous in continuing opposition to any plan that sees the building at 110 Walm Lane demolished. All that has been achieved in the last year is to make the feelings of those protecting the building stronger and stronger.

Busy Rascals are opposed to the loss of The Queensbury. The largest Resident’s Association is leading a bid to get it listed as an asset of community value. The Campaign for Real Ale is backing our campaign, along with an all Party parliamentary group. The Willesden Town Team are with us. The Queens Parade community also. Even the Mapesbury Residents Association is considering a vote – hardly pub goers or Busy Rascals users but residents views are clear.

We are sorry we didn’t get you a present or a card to mark this anniversary. We promise to get you one next year, if you build around the pub, not demolish it.

Queensbury campaigner lobbies absent councillor and hits the headlines

A supporter of the Save the Queensbury campaign, furious at having her emails about the pub ignored, decided to pay her local councillor a visit.

The only problem was that he wasn’t that local. Rev David Clues, LibDem councillor for Dudden Hill ward, (whose boundary is close to The Queensbury Pub) moved to Brighton over 18 months ago. Although he remains a Brent councillor and collects his allowances of almost £8,000 per year, he does not respond to emails and the telephone number listed on Brent’s website is “unavailable”.

Both the Evening Standard and the Brent & Kilburn Times have reported on Kierra Box’s doorstep visit and Clues’ subsequent promise to resign. What they haven’t mentioned is that the two other councillors for Dudden Hill ward, who have been banging on about Clues’ absence for over over a year, have also remained largely silent about the demolition of The Queensbury Pub. Councillor Aslam Choudry (Lab) also failed to respond to emails about The Queensbury for over six months – when he finally did respond he supported demolition. Councillor Krupesh Hirani (Lab) says he has “no opinion” on the pub. It is clear that residents’ views are being largely ignored by all Dudden Hill’s councillors, whether they live in Brighton or Brent.

A Queensbury campaigner has already contributed heavily to one councillor’s decision to resign – if I were Councillor Choudry or Councillor Hirani I would not be too complacent.

Councillor Michael Pavey visits Busy Rascals and promises support

Michael Pavey, the Lead Member for Children and Families at Brent Council, visited Busy Rascals at The Queensbury on Wednesday and promised support for the campaign against the demolition of the pub.

Councillor Pavey visited the Monkey Music class, which is always popular and well attended. He got stuck in with some star jumps and got  a turn on the tambourine and maracas too.

After the Busy Rascals session Councillor Pavey spent some time chatting to parents and those who have been campaigning to keep the pub open. He also signed our petition and gave us some guidance on council procedure. Although his primary interest is in Busy Rascals he is also a fan of the pub itself and promised to submit a strong objection to any attempt to demolish The Queensbury. We have also emailed him a (long) list of things he can do do help us. Later that day he wrote to us:

Thanks for such a great morning. It was a real pleasure to see Busy Rascals in action and I’m completely convinced that this is a service Brent cannot afford to lose.

Sharmine, you are doing a wonderful job – long may it continue. I’m delighted to support your campaign. The Queensbury is a fantastic pub and the community utilisation is a model which should be extended – not terminated by a property developer.

We do need more housing in Brent and it is clear that the current site is under-utilised. I would support a development which provides appropriate housing on the car park site and converts the under-utilised stories of the current building. But I would like to see the ground floor continue as it is. It goes without saying that any development must be sympathetic to the conservation area.

However I will not support any planning application which fails to make proper provision for the continuation of Busy Rascals. Additional nursery provision is always welcome but is not a substitute for a friendly and successful community venture like Busy Rascals.

Subject of course to seeing the details of any application, I would be very happy in principle to speak out against an application which fails to safeguard Busy Rascals. In principle I would also strongly endorse your bid for community asset status and for Brent to develop a Pub Protection Policy. Obviously I’d need to see the detail before publicly committing, but in principle I’m with you 100%.

I’d also like to say that the Save The Queensbury campaign is a fantastic example of community campaigning at its best and I warmly applaud your excellent work.

Councillor Michael Pavey


Councillors and The Queensbury: The roll call of shame

This is an epic battle; good vs evil, David vs Goliath, community vs developer. It seems to also be a battle of resident vs councillor.

Several residents have asked us what our local councillors are doing about the threatened demolition of The Queensbury Pub. Given the huge public opposition to the plans, the response of our elected representatives has been, on the whole, rather shabby. We find it disappointing that they are so out of touch with public opinion and also surprising, given that we are now in the run-up to to next year’s local elections.

We urge everyone to telephone and write to local councillors and ask them to take a stand against the loss of a valued community space. Note that some will say that they will pass your views on to the planners but have no view themselves (the “postman” approach). This is not acceptable – as representatives they should declare a view and stand up for the interests of their residents. If they refuse you might like to ask them why they think it acceptable to remain neutral on (or even support!) the destruction of community facilities in the name of a developer’s profit. Don’t be shy to email or telephone councillors, remember they are supposed to work for us! You might also like to remind them of the upcoming elections which take place in May 2014.

We have listed local councillors in the four wards closest to The Queensbury, along with their known views and their contact details. If your councillor is one of those who is opposing the development it is still worthwhile dropping them a line thanking them and saying you support their stance.

You can find out which ward you’re in here http://www.writetothem.com/

146 of the formal objections to the original plans came from residents in the Mapesbury ward.

Councillor Hayley Matthews (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Matthews’ colleagues tell us she against the Queensbury development although she has not made any public statement regarding it nor, as far as we are aware, has she submitted any formal objection to the plans.
Tel: 020 8937 1133
Verdict: Not good enough

Councillor Chris Leaman (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Leaman is opposed to the demolition of the Queensbury and has submitted an objection.
Tel 020 8451 9072
Verdict: Good

Councillor Sami Hashmi (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Hashmi is a member of the Planning Committee and so is not allowed to declare a view until he hears all the evidence at the Planning Committee meeting. This should not stop you making your views known as a resident and he should still acknowledge your comments.
Tel: 07956 212 825
Verdict: N/A

90 of the formal objections to the original plans came from residents in the Willesden Green ward.

Councillor Lesley Jones (Labour)
Councillor Jones is opposed to the demolition of the Queensbury and has submitted an objection.
Tel: 020 8452 3086
Verdict: Good

Councillor Ann Hunter (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Hunter has so far refused to take a view and is taking the “postman” approach. She has claimed that some residents are supporting the development but has refused to give figures of the numbers of people who have contacted her either for or against.
Tel: 020 8830 2152
Verdict: Poor, and possibly dishonest

Councillor Gavin Sneddon (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Sneddon has not so far taken a view on the demolition of the pub. In conversation he has expressed concern that the development may be inappropriate and too profit-driven but he has made no formal statement. When questioned recently he exclaimed “you can’t expect me to make a decision right now!” and was silent when it was pointed out out that that the demolition plans had been in the public domain for 7 months.
Tel: 07407 155 438
Verdict: Must do better

41 of the formal objections to the original plans came from residents in the Dudden Hill ward.

Councillor Aslam Choudry (Labour)
Repeated emailing finally got a response 6 months after our original inquiry. Councillor Choudry has stated that he supports the need for new housing in Brent. He has not responded to our reply that just 4 of the proposed 56 flats will be the affordable family-sized homes that Brent desperately needs, and that these could easily be incorporated into a design which preserves The Queensbury.
Tel: 07958 732 384
Verdict: Poor and misguided

Councillor Krupesh Hirani (Labour)
Councillor Hirani has submitted a view that the current proposals do not have enough wheelchair-accessible homes and there is not enough disabled parking provision . He has not objected to the demolition of the pub but will adopt the “postman” approach to residents who send him their comments. In response to a tweet asking him if he supported demolition of the Queensbury he said he had “no opinion”. A local politician having “no opinion” on the loss of a community amenity seems quite odd to us.

Tel: 07886 939 295
Verdict: Poor

Councillor Rev David Clues (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Clues moved to Brighton over a year ago and has not been seen or heard from for many months. He remains a Brent councillor and is still entitled to collect his allowances. Many residents have complained to us about their emails going unanswered, his lack of response to residents is now the subject of a complaint to the Standards Committee of the council by one resident, another is promising to pay him a visit in Brighton with copies of her unanswered letters about The Queensbury.
Tel: 07957 140 372
Verdict: Absolute disgrace

24 of the formal objections to the original plans came from residents in the Brondesbury Park ward

Councillor Carol Shaw (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Shaw is opposed to the demolition of the Queensbury and submitted an objection early on in the process.
Tel: 020 8958 4436
Verdict: Good

Councillor Barry Cheese (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Cheese is a reserve on the Planning Committee and prefers not to express a view as it may be grounds to disqualify him from voting. This should not stop you making your views known as a resident and he should still acknowledge your comments.
Tel: 020 8459 1716
Verdict: N/A

Councillor Mark Cummins (Liberal Democrat)
Councillor Cummins is a member of the Planning Committee and so is not allowed to declare a view until he hears all the evidence at the Planning Committee meeting. This should not stop you making your views known as a resident and he should still acknowledge your comments.
Tel: 07976 739 058
Verdict: N/A

The Queensbury is still under threat

Since yesterday’s news that Fairview are withdrawing their planning application to demolish the pub we, along with many other groups, individuals and councillors, have received an email from Fariview’s PR company stating:

“Following conversations with the planning team at Brent Fairview have decided to withdraw their application and re-submit it with a number of revisions. These involve, principally, an alteration to the site boundary so that it incorporates improvements to the pavement in front of the three shops to the right of the site. They have also increased the amount of non-residential space at ground floor level with a view to its including A3 use (which includes uses such as a coffee shop, restaurant or Bistro) and D1 use (which includes crèches and day nurseries).

These changes mean that the amount of non-residential space at ground floor level will be roughly the same as the current ground floor area in the Queensbury. At this stage Fairview are proposing that the split be along the following lines: A3 (one third) and D1 (two thirds).”

Clearly Fairview and the Council are still ignoring the vast majority of residents who wish to see The Queensbury pub and the historic building preserved. We will be calling a meeting soon to bring people together and to discuss our response. Keep checking back here for news.

Planning applications withdrawn

News today that Fairview Homes have withdrawn their applications to demolish The Queensbury pub at 110 Walm Lane.

Of course, we welcome this news and thank all those who have worked tirelessly to protect this community asset.

BUT…. we are cautious because we expect a revised application in due course.

In the meantime this is a marvellous victory in a long struggle.

We hope we have forced Fairview to think again, to go back to the drawing board and design a scheme that is acceptable to our community.

We hope your voice has sent a message to local politicians; some have been very supportive. Others should be embarrassed that plans have been withdrawn because of local pressure and not by their actions.

Those Councillors should ask themselves – who do they represent?

We set out on a campaign to protect the building (in a conservation area) and in doing so protect the pub and its valued contribution to our community.

That is what we will continue to do.

Fairview Homes: thank you for withdrawing your plans, now please build around our community, do not demolish it.