Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Talking to people, Isleworth Public Hall, and Remembrance Day
On Friday I met with a couple of residents who both have financial difficulties related to benefits. I am working to help them but in both cases these are genuine people doing their best, who have slipped up in some notification to somebody in a way that the luckier of us have done many times in our lives. If you’re in employment and comfortably off, these misunderstandings are generally resolved pleasantly and nobody gets hurt. If you slip up when you’re a benefit claimant you find the full weight of bureaucracy on your back in a quite heavy handed way, incredibly quickly. They make demands on you that it’s plain to see you have no prospect of complying with and the situation spirals into a huge mess in a matter of a few weeks. I’m hoping that councillors can make a difference here and that I can help these good people to the light at the end of their current tunnels.
Saturday was monthly surgery in the Mission Hall. A lady looking for a venue to run an after-school group (must get back to her) and another lady who wanted to protest about the imminent trial closure of Church Street in Isleworth to cars, which she believes will make her late for work each day after depositing her child at school. I’m sympathetic to her personal difficulties but we did hear the arguments for and against this closure at the last Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum and councillors unanimously (I think) agreed to the trial.
In the afternoon, out knocking on doors with Ruth Cadbury MP in central Hounslow. A bit disrupted because there had been a house fire in one of the roads we were aiming for (thankfully nobody hurt, I believe) leading to road closures, massive traffic disruption, lots of fire engines and coppers. As always in these circumstances, looking down the street it was impossible to identify which house had had the fire: I’m sure all the palaver is justified but you do wonder sometimes… As I usually find when canvassing, virtually everybody is courteous and the vast majority are pleased that you called, even if they support another party. We must have upset some weather god or another though and I don’t recommend handling a clipboard with soggy pages in a gale force wind, but I suppose somebody has got to do it.
The weather improved markedly on Sunday when I went to the Brentford Remembrance event at the library. Lots of groups and lots of people paying their respects and the bugler playing the Last Post which I always find very affecting.
On Monday my first time on the local Labour party premises committee. Interesting but nothing interesting to report. Then off to the committee of Activebase, on which I serve and which is working with the council to take responsibility for Isleworth Public Hall. This is an excellent idea but it has been difficult to get going because we are a brand new charity with no money and the council is seeking to make the Public Hall self-sufficient and avoid any future subsidies. Anyway, it’s now looking positive for us to get going in the New Year and we hope to facilitate community groups to make the place buzz with community activity.
Tuesday was day two of three of my formal training on pensions. Not for councillors sadly (they used to get them but they’ve been done away with grumble grumble) but for the Hounslow Employees pension scheme which run pensions for a lot of other local bodies as well. I wanted to go to the Brentford Recycling Action Group AGM in the evening but a personal matter came up that precluded me going so I’ve booked for their December meeting.
Wednesday was the Hounslow official Remembrance Day event with hundreds of people at the Civic Centre. A rather more formal event than the Brentford one and with all the drama of soldiers in Busby hats (is that the right term!) and the regimental dog – a very handsome Irish Wolfhound. I was struck by the number of old soldiers there including many from around the world. I was privileged to be sitting next to Councillor Bishnu Gurung, a proud ex-Gurkha who served 19 years and is now a popular and hard-working member for Hanworth Park. Later I met an elderly Sikh gentleman with an amazing display of medals and he told me they mainly came from WW2 when he was defending North East India from the Japanese. Makes me feel humble, who has been lucky enough to live in an era where I was never called upon.
I chanced today upon the story of David Cameron’s interaction with his local council leader in Oxfordshire. DC has written a grumpy letter to Oxfordshire’s Tory version of Steve Curran, complaining about the cuts they are planning in services there, with the ‘slight fall in government grants’. Mr Oxfordshire felt he had to write back and ask DC (I am using a touch of poetic licence), if cuts of £72M or 37% were regarded as slight, what might be regarded as severe? Good to see our PM with his finger on the pulse of Local Government.
Last week's: Wheelie bins and other considerations
November 13, 2015