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Councillor claims clampdown on workers looking for casual jobs in Brent is racist

PUBLISHED: 17:20 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:20 03 January 2017

Cllr Helen Carr is the independent councillor for Mapesbury

Cllr Helen Carr is the independent councillor for Mapesbury

Archant

Brent’s only independent councillor has opposed extending a “draconian” public order around Cricklewood, Willesden Green and Kingsbury banning casual workers from finding employment.

Cllr Helen Carr, who represents the Mapesbury ward, claims the extended order to move on casual workers who gather to find employment is unfairly targeting Romanians.

The council applied for a Public Space Protection Order (PSCO) in September 2015 after residents complained of anti-social behaviour in Mapesbury and Queensbury.

A consultation to extend it ended last month.

Cllr Carr, who left the Lib Dems in November to become independent, said: “This has been slipped through. The intention for this order is supposed to be about public safety, it’s not intended to prevent people from congregating.

“It used to be the Irish, and now it’s the Romanians. It’s linking the Romanian community with crime. It’s a draconian measure which shows real racism towards Romanians and it’s about house prices aswell.”

She said the initial measure failed with workers choosing to gather in cafés instead. She added: “There’s enormous construction going on in London at the moment and an opportunity for labourers to find work. This blanket ban is to tidy up the Broadway. It’s not intended for that.

“If crime is being committed, that’s another story, but you need to prove it. If it’s the health and safety issues of cars stopping, they need to get registration numbers, that’s another issue.

“Introducing this ban as a principle is unacceptable. We don’t do this in the UK.”

A spokesman for the police said: “The original application was made as police received a total of 474 calls on both wards reporting anti-social behaviour in a 12-month period.

“Residents raised concerns of individuals congregating in order to seek casual work, obstructing and harassing passers-by, intimidating women, littering, public urination and defecation and street drinking. Residents continue to raise concerns with police and the council relating to anti-social behaviour.

“Officers have implemented a number of measures to try and resolve these issues but the problem has persisted.

“Local officers will continue to work with Brent council to tackle anti-social behaviour.”

Cllr Tom Miller, cabinet member for stronger communities at Brent Council, added: “We have just concluded an extensive consultation on extending the PSPOfor Cricklewood Broadway and the surrounding area for a further 12 months until December 2017.

“For several years we have received complaints from residents about groups of casual workers congregating in the area – and this consultation was a response to residents’ genuine concerns.

“We have issued many warnings to businesses advising that they can be fined for picking up workers, and this is reducing the number of people gathering in these areas in hopes of work.

“The council is certainly not targeting any particular nationality or ethnicity through this consultation or the PSPO. This is simply a response to residents’ complaints.”

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