Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last
confession weekly update. Christmas is a family time and none of your business so I’ll skip until normal service resumed on 4th January.
Early morning (not my best time!) on that first day back for the commuting classes I found myself lurking in the environs of Boston Manor Station, stopping one in three like the Ancient Mariner. A colleague and I were handing them a leaflet telling them of Sadiq Khan’s plans to freeze and in some cases reduce the world’s most outrageous transport fares. It’s fair to say that our beloved local residents are not at their most friendly or communicative on a damp morning at 7.30 am, contemplating another year cramming onto crowded tubes for days of hard work up in the smoke however we got a pretty good reception. People are fed up with Boris picking their pockets to finance photo-opportunities dangling from useless cable cars and welcome the idea of Sadiq who after all is the son of a London bus driver and knows a bit about transport!
In the evening, along with Myra Savin, I had my first meeting with the new Friends of St Paul’s Rec group. This was I think conceived on the TW8 forum and councillors were asked to keep out of the way during the inaugural work. It was great to hear the progress that the group have made and good to see how well they are working with Hounslow’s park management company, Carillion and vice versa. They have a lot of plans for the rec. ground which should lead to it being better used and better looked after, one of which I’ll come back to in a minute.
On the fifth I accompanied a local resident who has been having a troubled relationship with West Middlesex Hospital to a meeting with senior management there. I was just there to render a bit of moral support in a slightly daunting situation, but the meeting went off in a friendly atmosphere and all seems to be well. In the evening I sat on a licensing panel for a small coffee shop in Chiswick which had applied for, and was granted, an alcohol licence to accompany more serious restaurant meals.
On the 6th I met with Myra (Mel being off doing other stuff) to try and move forward our joint ward activities and in the evening attended the Labour Party Campaign Committee where we look at how we are going to try and secure a majority for Sadiq Khan and our London Assembly candidates next May. Thursday the ward councillors were called in for a meeting with the bigwigs – Leader Steve Curran, Lead Member for Education Tom Bruce, Director of Regeneration (etc) Brendon Walsh pls other senior officers – for an update on Floreat School, once set for a future on Brent Lea. I am not allowed on pain of a grisly death to say anything about this meeting but I’ll risk a severe flogging by saying that progress on other ideas means that any lingering worries about Brent Lea can now be definitively set aside.
On Friday Myra and I met with some of the boat people (not Vietnamese, for the avoidance of doubt) from the vicinity of Watermans to talk about concerns they have with the marina plans and some alternative ideas that they have.
Saturday morning I spent in darkest Cranford with Seema Malhotra MP and a large bunch of activists, doing the old knocking on doors and talking to residents routine. I was planning to repeat the exercise in the afternoon in Osterley but time, post-lunch contentment and cold damp weather got the better of me.
Monday morning it was up to St Paul’s rec to meet the friends group and discuss developments. The immediate thing planned is to install an outdoor gym and we were trying to work out the best place to put it, plus some minor changes to other things to support it.
In the evening, a marathon session of the Labour group in the Council Chamber looking at the budget changes we have to accommodate next financial year. We have to find another large chunk of savings and not one of the options presented to us is easy or will prove popular. This was a preliminary discussion and there’s a way to go before the budget is presented to Borough Council at the end of the month. We escaped from the Civic Centre going on midnight, a little shell shocked.
Tuesday morning was Credit Union business over at the offices of South Bucks Council in Denham, then quickly back to Kew Bridge to meet with residents and discuss various concerns, mainly about crime/anti-social behaviour and road safety. I was pleased to be able to point out to them something that I chalk up as a very rare achievement: I think that via the good offices of the council and TfL, we have solved the ancient issue that I call Lake Kew Bridge – ie the enormous puddle that has formed outside what is now Costa every time there’s a bit of drizzle. Going down Kew Bridge Road the other day I noticed an ample Lake McDonalds, an impressive Lake Green Dragon but NO Lake Kew Bridge. Based on this huge success, I’m thinking over my next step: should I perhaps end global warming or send a mission to Venus? I’ll let you know.
This morning (Thursday) I went up to Gunnersbury Park to meet Councillor Tony Louki, together with Myra Savin and His Poochness to help Tony better understand the proposed sports hub prior to the planning committee this evening where it will be decided (and where Tony is a member of the committee). I haven’t heard the outcome but I thought it very good of Tony to spend time reacquainting himself with the park so that he can be better informed to vote on the development. After cycling along the A4 taking pictures of rubbish, graffiti etc and tweeting them to Hounslow Highways (all glamour, this councilloring) I took a call from Mel who is laid low in West Middlesex following a minor operation. He asked to help with a homelessness case he has been dealing with so I was off to the Civic to see what could be done (not very much, I’m sorry to say). Later in the afternoon I had Data Protection training from a council officer and had my name registered with the Information Commissioner, then dropped in to see Mel on the way home. He seemed quite chipper, though his bed was ringed with lady admirers (in the shape of his wife Jackie and his assistant Eileen) so he had plenty to be pleased with. He is hoping to be let out on parole at the weekend.
Well, I hope I can be forgiven for my sin of omission. The priest has set an act of contrition: I am to say one Red Flag and two Jeremys and promise to sin no more.