Brent dumps peace march

THE annual peace march and its role in the increasing awareness of the fight against violent crime was dumped on the scrap heap, as the council slashed its funding.

THE annual peace march and its role in the increasing awareness of the fight against violent crime was dumped on the scrap heap, as the council slashed its funding.

The march, which was established in 2004 by Not Another Drop, the main anti-crime initiative organisation in the borough, highlights the plight of victims of violent crimes in Brent.

The event should have taken place last week, but NAD was forced to shelve its plans after Brent Council slashed the money allocated to tackle violent crime in the borough from �40,000 to �10,000.

In June, when the cuts were leaked to the Times a council spokeswoman denied the march would be axed, saying ‘this will not effect this year’s peace march, the event will go ahead.’

But, according to Patrick Jacobs, chairman of NAD, the funds needed to hold the event failed to materialise.

He said: “I am disappointed not only for the African Caribbean community who suffer disproportionately by the rapid growth of gang culture and the widespread use of guns in our community, but also for all the other members of our community who come out to show their support irrespective of their racial backgrounds.

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“I can not direct the blame at any one section of the partnership, but they must know why they came to the decision to reduce the funding by such a massive amount.”

In a further twist, Mr Jacob accused Cllr Lincoln Beswick, the lead member for crime and community, of refusing to sit down and talk with the organisation despite pledging to tackle crime in the borough.

He said: “I am disappointed with Cllr Beswick as he refused to even meet me to discuss the march and the effect of not having an event for the victims of crime in our borough.”

But, Cllr Beswick denied Mr Jacob’s claims, saying he is happy to meet in due course to discuss general community safety issues.

In the past six years, thousands of people have taken part in the event which saw communities unite to march on the borough’s streets.

Such was the popularity of the event that last year the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave it his support. He said: “It’s great to see communities working together in this way and helping to get the message across that carrying a gun or a knife is completely unacceptable.”

Jean Ross’s 22-year-old son Daniel was shot dead four years ago.

She told the Times she was ‘gutted’ when she heard the march would not be taking place.

She said: “It is an important thing to have, as it gets a lot of support and it does raise awareness of the fact that there is violent crime happening in the borough.”

She added: “Not having it this year has left a massive hole.”

The march is the latest casualty of the �90million worth of council cuts which are sweeping across the borough including its crime and community safety partnership department, despite the Times revealing that the division’s intern head was costing the council �750 a day.

A spokesman for Brent Council told the Times that NAD turned down an offer of �10,000 from partnership funds which it felt was adequate to support the event.

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