Cllr Joel Davidson is a councillor for Brondesbury Park Ward in Brent
I send greetings to Conservative Home Local Government readers from Brondesbury Park, Brent, where our Conservative team achieved a hard-fought and clear victory in this year’s local elections and returned three Conservative Councillors in a swing from the Lib Dems.
The collapse of the Lib Dem vote in Brent was remarkable – down from 16 Cllrs to just one. which leaves the Conservatives, with six councillors, as the main opposition in our new North Korean-style Diet, with Labour on 56.
We fought a lengthy and active campaign in the ward, meeting hundreds of residents and demonstrating that we as Conservatives are interested only in representing residents’ views in their dealings with the Council, and not the other way round, as tends to be the Labour approach in Brent.
Brondesbury Park is a diverse ward, and we built good relations with local community groups and with people from all ethnicities, since we made the basic case that all residents deserve good local representatives who will make sure their voice is heard, and that we as Conservatives were the best team to deliver that. The argument is simple, but it can never be made enough that Brent Council is funded by Council Tax, which Brent and Brondesbury Park residents pay at very high levels compared to neighbouring London Boroughs.
Yet the service they receive for this very high level of tax continues to decline, and blaming this on national policy or government cuts is just not convincing anymore.
My early impressions of being a Councillor in Brent are that, true to form, this Labour administration is very good at spending other people’s money.
On my first day as a Councillor, our induction event included various stark warnings of the impact of central government cuts on the council budget, and a clear implication that the Council will be looking to raise Council Tax at the earliest opportunity.
It was to my surprise therefore, to find one of Brent Civic Centre’s lavish meeting rooms given over to a long table, with council employees lining up to hand over Apple goodie bags to every new councillor these contained a brand new Ipad and iphone, ostensibly to help us in our duties.
Whilst I appreciate the need to reduce paper consumption and use IT where appropriate, I felt that gleefully handing out these items to every new councillor sends out entirely the wrong message to our electorate, who should be expecting their councillors to be advocating for them in the most cost effective way possible.
I therefore decided that I would return these items to the Council, as I can get my emails on my current Iphone, and can also use my own IT for any other requirements. The story was covered in the Brent and Kilburn Times, and I was intrigued by the overly defensive reaction from the Council Leader, Muhammed Butt, who accused me of living in ‘Cloud cuckoo Land’!
This is a very strange accusation, since I am merely saving resources for his Council and the taxpayers he is supposed to represent.
Furthermore, I am also taking advantage of Brent Council’s own Bring Your Own Device policy, which is supposed to encourage people to use their own devices wherever possible.
Far from firing out indignant insults, I would have thought that Leader Butt should be thanking me for my approach, and encouraging other Councillors to follow my example.
But perhaps he is tired from diverting all his energies towards planning a rise in Council Tax.