October's Update from Councillor Matt Harmer
* High Street Hopes *
Stop me if you’ve heard this before but there are signs of life in the possibility of Brentford getting a new town centre.
As you may know, a lot of the land south of the High Street was bought up by the Irish developer Ballymore. Before their proposals ever really saw the light of day the crisis that saw a number of developers across the Irish Sea go to the wall came along and put everything on hold.
Anyway, the developer started making more positive contact earlier this year. The fruits of their work so far will be on display in The Docking Station on Brentford High Street later this month.
They’ll be there on Sat 29th October from 11am to 4pm. The Docking Station is about half way along the High Street on the same side as Nat West. I do hope you can go along. Whilst there’s a long way to go, I hope that we can all keep an open mind for as long as possible. Whilst we should have high aspirations we should also recognise some commercial reality – we are very unlikely to get a combination of world-class architecture, stunning facilities and a very low population density – the number of people that will be living on the site. It will be a balancing act between a number of competing claims: excellent housing including genuinely affordable housing, shops that can attract serious tenants, sufficient open space, whatever community and cultural facilities that can survive for the long term, the need/desire to retain any boatyards and other employment-generating space, there’s a lot to consider. There are a number of things that constrain what can be built, not least that it is opposite a World Heritage Site (Kew Gardens).
The application process is fairly long-winded. At present, we are in the pre-application phase, which should and, by the look of it will, include a good amount of pre-application consultation. They then submit a planning application to the council, after which the council seeks responses from various technical and statutory consultees (for example Thames Water, English Heritage etc) and also local residents. All these responses are considered by the council’s planning department before a decision is taken by councillors on Hounslow’s Sustainable Development Committee. That final part is a meeting in public where the votes of councillors for or against the proposals are noted for the public record.
That’s all a long way off, however. In the meantime please try and attend on the 29th. Oh, and there’s also a website www.mybrentford.com which goes live soon, apparently.
* Mind How You Go *
You’ll no doubt be overjoyed to hear that there’ll be an election next May for the Mayor of London. One of the things you’ll be hearing a lot about – assuming anyone’s listening, which I have to wonder – is Police numbers in London. There’ll be various claims about whether there are more police on the streets and better deployed police and so on and very interesting it will be. All I want to offer here is a local perspective.
As a ward councillor for Brentford ward I’m invited to observe the meetings of the Brentford Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) steering committee. The SNT are the local police, the steering committee are a group of local Neighbourhood Watch coordinators and the like who set their priorities.
When the SNT sysyem started in 2006 there were two Police Constables, three PoliceCommunity Support Officers and one Sergeant, who concentrated on street-level work. However we now have one PC, two PCSOs and a Sergeant that is shared between other wards. And rather than concentrate ojn intelligence and crime prevention they now need to work on the crimes that are reported on the Police’s non-urgent reporting number 101.
Does this reduction matter? I think it does. Whilst it plainly makes sense for police resources to be diverted during urgent operations – riotsk as an obvious example – we have lost something in taking the local police off the streets. It takes a long time to earn trust and in some places that trust is disappearing. Our Brentford SNT – Sgt Chris Jones etc etc – are all excellent and I hope that we can preserve and enhance the work that they do for us.
To contact the SNT call 020 8721 2533 or email Brentford.SNT@met.police.uk. They are not an emergency number – that remains 999. For reporting crimes and other non urgent and non local issues use the 101 service. Which is probably enough numbers.
* Parking report *
These newsletters aren’t complete without talking about parking schemes. Some months ago now we received a petition from Enfield Road residents who wanted a Controlled Parking Zone. To help make the decision, which will be made at the Area Committee meeting on the 19th November at the Free Church near the library, we commissioned a report to study the pattern of parking in Enfield Rd and neighbouring roads. If you’d like a copy let me know.
I suspect there’ll be some disappointment amongst the people who worked hard to raise the petition that we aren’t just going ahead with one. I hope that they and others will understand why this is – making decisions by petition just wouldn’t be possible. However the petitions do get things discussed in public and that is the right way of doing things.
* Charity begins in the High Street *
We’ll begin where we started, at the High Street. The Brentford Toy Library will be opening their pop- up charity shop at Docking Station at 12pm on Friday 28th October. The shop will be open every Friday afternoon up until Christmas. They will be selling a mixture of new reasonably priced toys and donated children's clothing and equipment including baby ware and toys for all ages. They are looking for donations and volunteers. You can contact the organisers via www.brentfordtoylibrary.org.uk
* Can I help? *
Finally, please get in touch if you think I can help, either by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 8560 7033.
In the meantime, thanks for reading.
My mailing address is:
153 Ealing Rd
Brentford, Middlesex TW8 0LF
020 8560 7033
October 18, 2011