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Brent pupils secure promises from town hall on living wage and lighting in parks

PUBLISHED: 09:36 11 April 2018

Students from Ark Academy call on the Football Association to become a Living Wage employer (Picture credit: Alastair Wanklyn)

Students from Ark Academy call on the Football Association to become a Living Wage employer (Picture credit: Alastair Wanklyn)

Archant

Students across Brent have won promises of council action on low wages and safety in public areas, including a study of whether to install lighting in a Harlesden park.

Students from Ark Academy hold a protest outside Wembley Stadium calling on the Football Association to become a Living Wage employer (Picture: Alistair Wanklyn) Students from Ark Academy hold a protest outside Wembley Stadium calling on the Football Association to become a Living Wage employer (Picture: Alistair Wanklyn)

Council Leader Muhammed Butt agreed to the requests at a meeting last month attended by more than 150 student activists from Ark Academy in Wembley Park, Al-Sadiq and Al-Zahra School in Queen’s Park and Newman Catholic College (NCC) in Harlesden.

Labour’s Cllr Butt, who will stand for re-election on May 3, fielded requests alongside Conservative Cllr John Warren at the event organised by Brent Citizens, a coalition of civic activist groups.

Cllr Butt said he and council officers would visit Roundwood Park, where – NNC students said – neighbours take a lengthy detour to avoid an unlit path at night.

“No one should feel unsafe,” Cllr Butt said. “The commitment is there to work with you guys, to take a look at Roundwood Park, and if we can we will put those lights up.”

Ark Academy students secured a potential pay rise for low-paid workers across Brent when Cllr Butt accepted their challenge to make Brent a Living Wage borough.

The move would benefit workers such as cooks, cleaners and security guards earning the UK minimum wage of £7.50 per hour. The London Living Wage is £10.20.

Brent is in 10th place among London boroughs offering living wage employers, with 24 organisations signed up. Cllr Butt responded to the students’ challenge to set a new target of 100 living wage employers by telling them the council would cover the costs firms face in obtaining accreditation.

The council currently offers reduced business rates for those who sign up.

The students also called on the FA to become a Living Wage employer during a protest the following day. They waved banners and sang songs demanding the organisation raise its lowest wages.

Brondesbury’s Cllr Warren added: “It’s wonderful to see so many young people here. It gives the lie to the statement that apathy rules.”

North London community organiser for Citizens UK, Tahmid Islam, said: “It is great to see so many young leaders taking charge on issues that matter to them, and it’s great to see Brent councillors on board with them.”

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