Letter: Bad old days in the borough of Brent

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The Independent Online
Sir: What a pathetic apologia from Linda Bellos ('Who really wrecked Lambeth?', 27 January). Between 1986 and 1990, Brent vied with Lambeth for the title of Britain's worst local authority. It is difficult to describe to anyone who didn't live in Brent during that period just how awful Brent council had become. Providing services to the residents of the borough took second place to the council's obsession with race and gender. Rates, and later the community charge, were among the highest in the country, yet rubbish piled up in the streets.

In 1991 a minority Conservative administration took control. Just 20 months later, Brent is on track to become Britain's flagship local authority. We have recruited a superb new management team, unwound nearly pounds 100m of creative accounting and introduced tough income-collection policies. We have reduced the number of employees by 3,000 and significantly improved our standards of service delivery.

The streets are now swept properly, we have the best refuse-collection service anywhere and the town hall answers the telephone promptly and politely. Our policies of market testing and devolving managerial and financial responsibility go farther than any local authority in the country. And we reduced our community charge for this year by 22 per cent.

We still have a very long way to go. But the difference between us and people such as Linda Bellos is that we have the political will to run our local authority for the benefit of the people who live in the borough rather than as a job creation programme or a platform for political posturing.

Yours sincerely,

RICHARD BUCKLEY

Conservative Councillor

Brent Council

Wembley, Middlesex

27 January

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