Brentford Question Time
Opportunity to ask questions of Hounslow Cabinet on local and borough wide issues
On February 16th Hounslow brought most of the Cabinet to Brentford Free Church for their third Question Time event. Sadly the event was not packed full of Brentford residents wanting to put their thoughts and views across but there was still a lively debate with those present which was live-tweeted. Joining Cllr Curran were Councillor Amrit Mann, Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Theo Dennison [Finance and Citizen Engagement], Councillor Katherine Dunne, [Housing], Councillor Sue Sampson [Community Protection], Councillor Kamaljit Kaur [Adult Social Care and Health Services] and Councillor Tom Bruce [Education and Children’s Services]. All three Brentford ward councillors were in the audience and the Syon councillors are all in the Cabinet.
There will be a lot of consultations coming out next year on a variety of topics so pay attention. There is a list at Hounslow of current consultations and the major ones are published on BrentfordTW8.
There will be a consultation on basement extensions which will result in planning guidance of which there is currently none.
SC (Steve Curran) says we're ready for the expansion of Heathrow and the increase in residents that may result. AM (Amrit Mann) referred to the massive need for improved public transport to reduce air pollution from the ground rather than the planes. KD (Katherine Dunne) hopes that local people will take up the new jobs rather than incomers to the area.
Consultation is to come on the voluntary sector and how it works with the council and what it needs. Barbara was asking where volunteers were supposed to offer their services with a reduced availability of community space so classes/groups have nowhere to go. TD (Theo Dennison) says we still have 64 buildings so there is plenty of space although they are all under current review. He invites anyone with a good idea for the use of public meetings to get in touch.
A local question was posed by David about waterside strategy, Ballymore and a Brentford museum. SC said strategy meetings have started and Ballymore are still trying to buy up the last 3% of the land. He also said that the council did not want to CPO the land [compulsory purchase, as was done for Lionel Road] and that he didn't expect anything to happen on site this year. KD suggested that if Watermans was to go on the police site that the public cultural space earmarked in Ballymore site could contain a museum. Cllr Mel Collins said that Gunnersbury Museum's regeneration would involve rotating displays of many of Brentford's artefacts. Boston Manor House is currently seeking investment so there may be opportunity there as well. SC did promise that Ballymore's plans would be back in Brentford library within a month for those unaware of the details.
The loudest discussion was prompted by Chris Dakers, who asked (as he has asked several people before) whether Watermans Arts Centre had a business plan showing its viability in the proposed new development on the police site. The short answer was not yet. All councillors emphasised the need for Watermans to be viable on the new site. Hounslow have promised two more years funding and then no more. Hounslow holds the freehold on Watermans and Max Factor building, with London Green holding a long lease on the latter. TD explained that any redevelopment of the arts centre will cost around £10 million which cannot come from Hounslow so the only solution is a joint development. There was much debate about whether the change in location was good or bad. SC said that they have signed Memorandum of Understanding with London Green as initial agreement but that nothing is definite. The current building does need increasing maintenance so time is a factor.
The definition of affordable housing was raised. SC said the official London mayor's definition is up to 80% of commercial rent. Local social rent could be less. KD said it was a useless term as it included social rents, shared ownership as well as a percentage of market rent. She said that it was hard to keep to the policies in the Local Plan as the law was weighted in favour of developers who are entitled to make 20% profit. This is why we rarely get 40% of affordable housing. There is a review mechanisem to claw back when developers make too much profit. There is a council pledge to build 400 council houses between 2014-1028 and 200 have been built. There is a cap on the amount that the council can borrow in order to build.
The very last point raised was on local schools. TB (Tom Bruce) said that the potential school on Commerce Road would be a SEN school (rather than previous suggestions of secondary or primary community schools). Hounslow have put in a bid for one and the Department of Education will invite providers to offer.
Other issues like waste, recycling, Lampton 360, outsourced contracts etc. were debated and can be read on @Brentfordtw8 scrolling down to get back to February 16.
February 27, 2017