High Streets for All Challenge- Have the £175000 awarded “helped create and deliver improvements for the Kilburn High Road”?


Back in December 2021 Danny Beales, Camden Cabinet Member for Investing in Communities, Culture and an Inclusive Economy, make this announcement. Screenshot below:

This followed on a previous announcement made on 4th August 2021, although official GLA annnoucement was made in June 2021. See Screenshot below:

These announcements relate to a GLA fund, called the” High Streets for All Challenge”. For more information about this programe see this link.

The challenge consists of 3 stages. We made a bid for stage 2 and won funding, £20000, to start the project. However Camden treated us rather poorly, were slow off the mark and stopped engaging with us. See our post of 21st October 2021. To try to regain control of the project we requested that the “Life in Kilburn” name was not to be used with any third party without our express permission. That did not stop them and they made a stage 3 bid on the 22nd October 2021, that we did not see, and they of course used the “Life in Kilburn” name.

The stage 3 bid:

Here is a copy of the bid, made by Camden Officers, that makes for some interesting reading!

Below is a table taken from the bid, showing the amount of money requested and for what: (note that individual lines in estimated cost do not add up to £220000)

So Camden asked for £220000 and were granted £155000.

What is also interesting is that 2 full time equivalent Council Officers were to work on the project at a cost of £123000 for 15 months (The length of the funding). That is £8200 per month for 2 people at a salary of £49200 per annum!

A freedom of information request dated 12th August 2022, reveals that on 23rd November 2021, Camden signed a stage 2 funding agreement with the GLA, again without our knowledge, and used the “Life in Kilburn” name, long after communication had stopped between us and Camden. This FOI also reveals that £10000 was withdrawn from the GLA by Camden, in relation to stage 2, on 1st February 2022, but to date no details have been provided as to how this money has been used.

The Stage 3 Funding Agreement:

The details of the stage 3 funding agreement were obtained via a FOI made on 12th August 2022. To our surprise the agreement was signed on 27th July 2022, ie 7.5 months after the funds were awarded for stage 3. Here is the agreement. The agreement was valid between the date of signature and 31st March 2023.

There are strict conditions for the money to be released after project milestones have been reached and when proof of expenditure is provided.

So what was funded and with which milestones?

Here is an extract taken straight from the funding agreement:

As all projects had a finish milestone date of before October 2022, we made a Freedom of Information Request in March 2023 asking what money was withdrawn from the GLA, when and for what purpose as we were not aware of many initiatives that had taken place to “create and deliver improvements for the Kilburn High Road” as described by Danny Beales in his press release.

Here was the answer from the GLA

Conclusion, the £155000 awarded by the GLA to Camden have been withdrawn, but what did Kilburn High Road get for this? Let’s look at each project in more details.

Brondesbury Bridge Art Project

Requested amount £35000 withdrawn amount £35000 in December 2022, beneficiaries Wood Street Walls and Linett Kamala. That’s 22.6% of the total funding.

The total cost of the project is £70000, with £35000 coming from the GLA and £35000 coming from Brent Neighbourhood CIL awarded in February 2019 (not a typo).

Well we don’t know about you, but we have not seen any Art on Brondesbury Bridge apart from “10 Foot” graffiti. Here is a picture of the bridge taken today.

So how can the money have been claimed without delivery? Where is the art worth £70000?

The tender document for the Brondesbury Art project was made on 5th April 2022 for a delivery date of the artwork by 11th November 2022. See the tender details.

There were workshops organised with great fanfare! They even made a few videos, see an example here . But no art!

Library of Things

Requested funding (22nd October 2021) £40000, validated funding (27th July 2022) £40000, withdrawn amount £52000 (December 2022 and March 2023) or 33.6% of the funding.

The milestone for opening was in Autumn 2022.

Hurra!!!! Kilburn has a Library of Things that opened to borrowing at the end of March 2023. This will be great for people who want to borrow items. The Library of Things is located in a very central Kilburn High Road location, ie inside the Kilburn Library at the very bottom of Kilburn High Road. . Is it helping to”create and deliver improvements to Kilburn High Road”?

Why has the cost gone from £40000 to £52000? Is it good value for money? You decide!

2c Maygrove Road the ex “Cod’s Place”- Meanwhile use project.

Requested funding £75000, agreed funding £20000, withdrawn funding £18000 in December 2022 ( £13000 for fit out and £5000 for programe and activities) or 11.6% of the total funding.

TFL gave Camden the use of 2c Maygrove Road in January 2022, rent free. They made an open call for possible users to come forward on 18th March 2022. See document.

The opportunity and the requirements were set as below:

The space remained empty until 8th July 2022 when Linett Kamala,as part of the Brent Biennal, opened the “Disya Dancehall”. It stayed opened until 11th September 2022.

The next occupant, Camden Black Creatives, opened on the 18th February 2023. This means the space remained empty for 5 months, despite the funding having been drawn down in December 2022.

They have added interesting artwork to the shop shutters. But, have they brought “tangible value to local people and their local neighbourhood” and is it helping to”create and deliver improvements to Kilburn High Road”? You decide!

107 Kingsgate Road- the old Kingsgate Community Centre.

Requested funding £30000, agreed funding £20000, withdrawn funding £20000(12.9% of total funding) in March 2023 when the funding was available from October 2022.

The funding is being used to pay a consultancy business to carry an “options appraisal” for this previously much-loved building that closed down in 2019.

While bringing back this building into use for the Community would be very welcome, one has to wonder how it will help to”create and deliver improvements to Kilburn High Road”?

CID “Community Improvement District” project

Requested funding £40000, agreed funding £40000, withdrawn funding £30000 (19.4% of total funds) in December 2022.

This project is very special.

The concept first emerged in Scotland and “Power to Change” wanted to pilot the project in England to see if it could bring more benefits than a Business Improvement District, that favours Businesses in a neighbourhood without involving the whole community. We have personally attended numerous workshops before the High Streets for All Challenge about this model of Community involvement.

The concept was presented during the High Streets for All Challenge workshops that the GLA organised. We brought the concept to the attention of Camden Officers who did not attend most of the workshops although invited. This is an October 2020 paper by Power to Change on Community Improvement Districts.

The deal was for Power to Change to provide support via a consultant up to the value of £20000 and for the GLA to provide a further £20000 towards the project.

A full development plan was to be delivered by June 2022 to Power to Change and the GLA. A freedom of information request made in August 2022 shows that the development plan was not ready then and that it would be available within 1 or 2 months…

Power to Change appointed “The Means”, a place making consultancy as the official adviser/facilitator in January 2022. We know that Camden officers made several visits with the Means consultants to Kilburn in March 2022, without community representatives.

The costed development plan that we received recently, following another Freedom of Information Request is pictured below and was established on the 29th November 20022, 5 months after the June deadline.

The bulk of the budget is for “Kilburn Activators”, £25000, to be spent between January and March 2023.

What is striking is that their salary represents only 34.6% of the “Activators” cost. Unbelievably the management costs of these 3 people amount to £7750, with £4000 to be paid to SHAK (South Hampstead and Kilburn Community Partnership).

So what are these “Kilburn Activators”?

Here is another interesting document that we also obtained via a Freedom of Information Request.

The Kilburn Activators were appointed in April 2023. What have they activated so far?


We are now the 20th December, i.e. 1 year after the £155000 awarded by the GLA should have been spent to “create and deliver improvements” to the Kilburn High Road. Please let us know what improvements you have seen delivered. We are keen to hear your views!