MP Glenda Jackson stands up crowd at Kilburn Christmas lights event

Former Oscar winning actress in no show high road switch on

PENSIONERS, families and traders were left shivering in sub-zero temperatures after an MP failed to turn up and switch on Kilburn’s first ever Christmas lights.

The crowd were left waiting in Kilburn High Road, for Glenda Jackson, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, to show up until the event’s red-faced organisers asked Brent’s Mayor, Harbhajan Singh to step-in last Friday.

According to Kilburn Business Friends (KBF), a group of traders who spent months arranging the event, not only had Ms Jackson failed to show up but she had not informed them she could not make it.

Zulfi Amade, chairman of KBF, said: “She didn’t even phone and we waited and waited; we were freezing and she never bothered.

“It was supposed to start at 4pm but we delayed it until 5pm after she sent an email the day before and even then she didn’t turn up.

“It was not very nice.”

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In a further twist, Ms Jackson’s excuse for not showing up differs to that of her Labour colleagues.

Ms Jackson told the Times she had not given KPF a cast iron guarantee that she would be there, she said: “I did warn them I would get there if my surgery didn’t overrun; which it did.

“I tried to ring (Cllr) Mary (Arnold) but her voicemail was full, but they (the lights) still got switched on didn’t they?”

However, Cllr Arnold (Lab: Kilburn) said Ms Jackson was hampered by the weather.

She said: “The weather was prohibitive unfortunately, so Glenda couldn’t make it but we had the mayor who did a very nice speech and wished the Kilburn Business Friends success.”

In a further dispute, Kilburn’s Labour councillors have been accused of claiming credit for helping organise the event while Mr Amade said it was all down to the hard work of KBF.

He said: “We took the money (for the event) from our own pockets because Brent and Camden councils wouldn’t contribute while the councillors haven’t helped at all.

“You would think they would at least help with licenses and risk assessments but they didn’t do anything.”

But Cllr Arnold said: “Brent helped a lot with the formalities like risk assessments and insurance advice and what you can and can’t do. There was a lot of voluntary support from both councils.”

Mr Amade said the event was also hampered by bureaucracy.

Insurance for the day was �200 but required the tree to be dismantled by 8pm the same evening as it would cost another �125 a day to remain in the square.

And mulled wine was off the menu because another license was required.

Mr Amade said: “The bureaucracy is unbelievable.”

Despite the politics, people of all ages enjoyed the festive atmosphere with mince pies, carol singers, stalls and an MC on offer.

Despite the wranglings Mr Amade has dubbed the event a huge success.

He said: “It was wonderful we had a lot of people turn up. The police were even dancing in the streets.

“One of them was an opera singer so I persuaded him to sing and he got a massive applause. It was very nice indeed.

“At the end two kids with hoodies came up and shook my hand and said ‘thanks mate.’

“It’s encouraged us to do more for the community.”