Matt Harmer's May Newsletter
Round Up before the Election
* Historic viewing *
This has been frustrating to say the least. For as long as I can remember the sign at the entrance has been a disgrace – covered in graffiti and having no relevant information. Some time ago I identified some planning gain money and, happily, all other local councillors agreed that this was a suitable project. And still no new sign. On enquiring recently I was told that the funds to replace the signs were in this year’s parks budget and always had been, making the whole process of getting the planning gain money a waste of everybody’s time. At least that mony can be spent elsewhere, perhaps on replacement rides for the ones taken away last year.
Perhaps my biggest ever postbag following one of these emails concerned my describing how an enquiry from a neighbourhood PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) as to how he could get books of tickets to fine repeat offenders revealed that the council had taken the decision not to use recent legislation to fine offenders as it was seen to be too ‘heavy-handed’. Happily, in my view, that looks like changing. One of the first jobs of the new council will be to sign off a trial of fines for repeat offenders. Brentford ward is being used to test how well it works, if it’s a success it will be rolled out across the rest of the borough.
Frustrated by years of inactivity and concerned by reports of less than perfect behaviour from some (not all, but some) of the occupiers of the unlicensed boats alongside Watermans Park I brought about something called a Councillor Call for Action. Designed for backbench councillors unhappy at how issues of local importance are being treated by the council leadership, it has resulted in, yes, another report, but one which could with good will and effort resolve the situation to the benefit of all concerned. Whether that means regularising the status of the boats there or putting in pontoons to support more boats remains to be seen but finally things are moving in the right direction.
After dog mess, it’s parking that gets a response. The roads near to Griffin Park that were consulted earlier this year will have to wait until our votes are counted before the votes of that consultation are revealed. For the roads north of the A4 (and Layton Road) who decided to have controlled parking last year, the sixth month review asked for by Cllr Cadbury is due. From various conversations I would say that the principle of the CPZ is agreed but that the hours of control need revising downwards, from all day to one or two during the daytime – thus preventing all day parking whilst making it easier and cheaper for visitors to park.
The results of the survey into potential changes to crossing times on the A4 junctions should be known soon. For me, this started with emails from concerned parents at Our Lady Primary School and went on from there. I secured support from the Council to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers and have been the local representative on meetings with Transport for London designed to see how the approx £700,000 funding from local developments (some of which we prevented from expiring) can best be spent. I get the impression that there may be some differences of opinion between the people in charge of the crossings and the people in charge of vehicle flow, but that is all for the future.
Since I became a councillor, around 800 homes (mostly flats) have been given planning permission. That doesn’t include the development on the old Beecham’s site, which is now filling up, but was given permission before I was voted in. My only role in that development was to help secure some of the new affordable properties for families with a Brentford connection – that is, living or working in the area. I worried that a ‘them and us’ situation might develop between the new development and the affordable housing literally in this case on the other side of the tracks. Those properties are now being filled and the families moving in seem pleased, though we did have some problems when properties were handed over with bare concrete floors - happily all sorted now.
The problems with secondary school allocations filled the intray in March. It was April 2009 that I told the councillor with responsibility for education that parents in TW8 were calling for a new mixed school to be provided in the area and asked for this to be examined. I was only given a loose assurance and ass we all know, little seems to have happened since. Since the last bulletin I’ve heard from three families who are moving away because of this very issue – the lack of activity is very concerning.
Councillor Matt Harmer
May 4, 2010