Chewing gum, surgery, Verdict cafe,work and a monstrosity
Last Friday I went up to Isleworth station for a photo session with chewing gum. I’m not the most photogenic person on the planet but I reckon I outshine chewing gum for looks, especially when it’s sprayed with fluorescent yellow dye. The point of the exercise is to publicise an initiative from Keep Britain Tidy and Hounslow Highways to cut down on the amount of gum polluting the pavements. I think Keep Britain Tidy are doing it in about 4 London Boroughs. In Singapore I believe chewing gum is banned but I can’t see it here. The police don’t really have the manpower to hang around in wait for the gum dealers and their victims, the Doublemint junkies like me.
In the afternoon I sat in on Ruth Cadbury’s surgery. It hadn’t been well publicised so we ended up with just two appointments. One was one of those frustrating housing stories where a local teacher who currently lives in a 2 bedroom flat with his wife and his parents, is trying desperately to find a home locally that will work for when their baby is born in the spring. Wife has had to give up work with health issues during pregnancy and on a teacher’s income they have no prospect of affording to buy, rent, or do shared ownership anywhere near here. Of course, there’s very little help the council can give because we have very few social homes and we’ll be forced to sell many of those that we have for a discount, so that they can in due course reappear on the rental market for many times the current rent. Reducing tax credits as George Osborne is determined to do, will most certainly not help so I really don’t know what the answer is. Perhaps he will leave the teaching profession as I understand nearly 50,000 did last year – an astonishing figure – which would be a catastrophe in an era when we need many more teachers, not less.
The other subject of the surgery was a very angry contingent of supporters of Nishkam School, mainly but not exclusively Sikhs. As I’ve said previously I have been impressed by the ethos of Nishkam and the people behind it and I stick to that view. I’m not a fan of Free Schools or any school with religious affiliation (mild in Nishkam’s case) but we don’t have any option but to support them if we want local children educated and Hounslow’s position, with which I agree, has been to work with them where they are willing. Whatever the merits of the school, its protagonists would do well to remember that a new school in Osterley, as proposed, will cause genuine concerns for local people and that politicians are not raising issues just to be difficult, but because we are duty bound to represent local residents’ views and interests.
Saturday found me wandering round Osterley backwaters with Ruth Cadbury, Councillors Tony Louki and Bob Whatley and a bunch of local Labourites talking to residents on their doorsteps and promoting London’s next mayor, Sadiq Khan who we’re looking to elect next May.
Monday was spent catching up with email and preparing for the monthly board meeting of Thamesbank Credit Union, where I was standing in as chair. We have lost 3 directors to ‘force majeure’ in the last few months and it was very heartening to see 4 new faces around the table with at least one more in the pipeline. It still frustrates me hugely to hear of people taking short term loans (which often end up being long term) with extortionate interest rates or renting TV’s and appliances on the high street for 3 or 4 times as much as it would cost to buy them on one of our loans.
Tuesday, after a social lunch date, found me in the new Verdict café in the old Magistrates Court in a launch organised by that local treasure, the Brentford Chamber of Commerce. Excellent event and nice people as always, but I had to rush off to hear a licence application at the Civic Centre.
Wednesday was set aside for training on our new council IT but it was postponed to today because of network issues so I tried (and failed) to get my own PC working properly. Today I finally had the training but only time will tell if it makes things better - I am the very first guinea pig.
This evening, a quick mosey to the Steam Museum to see the monstrosity planned for what I still think of as the old NatWest bank site on Chiswick Roundabout. There’s something about this site that seems to attract the most ridiculous planning applications and this one is no exception in my opinion. I thought it was a very weak exhibition, that the questions were highly loaded and, as someone generally sympathetic to development, I walked out of there feeling strongly against the development. Whether the council planning committee agrees, time will tell and whether, if they do, we could stop it in the current legal environment is another matter. Anyway, rushing off now to planning training so I may have a better idea in the morning.
October 23, 2015