Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Budget cuts, social care, wheelie bins and cuts to council rents


guy.lambert @hounslow.gov.uk

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Well the ole employment coach in GWQ was interesting. It was ruddy cold and poor Julie Brooker was sitting there in about 117 layers wishing she had 8 hands to hold down all the papers on her trestle table in the howling gale. Inside all was calm, various career advisers and a healthy complement of career seekers. I was just a bit disappointed that it didn’t seem to have been widely publicised as it looks an excellent initiative for both employers and employees. Anyway, it’s a new thing so will gather more momentum I’m sure.

Guy Lambert

The weekend was quite active on the doorknocking front, with Saturday morning down in Edensor Gardens in Chiswick. To me it’s always been iDENsa Gardens but my expert spies tell me it’s supposed to be pronounced EENsa. I think I’m too set in my ways to change: anyway, only experts would know what you’re talking about. This is along the lines of people called Featherstonehough who insist their name is pronounced Fanshaw.

Sunday we had a training session getting ready for the London Mayor and Assembly campaign next May and the moseyed down to Hounslow Central for a new take on the wheelie bin saga. The road where we were does not have wheelie bins and is a right royal mess with the cats and rats and foxes vs black bags game but the people there are under the impression they will not be getting them. Something to mention to ward councillors.

Monday was a meeting of Labour Group at the Civic centre, having another crack at next year’s budget. As I’ve probably said before, there are exceptionally tough choices to be made, but I am impressed by the extent to which we are still managing to accommodate really draconian cuts in the grants we get from central government, including the effects of Gorgeous George Osborne’s latest U-turns in his ‘Long term Financial Strategy’ which hit us for an extra few million with a week or three’s notice, without drastic cuts to services. Of course, the final proposals are not set yet and will go to Borough Council in due course – next month I think.

Tuesday, then, was Borough Council itself. Not surprisingly, the Conservatives agreed with the proposal to reduce council rents by 1% in line with instructions from government. I wonder if they are as bemused as I am about another U-turn: until this year we have been told to increase rents to make them align more to the ‘market’. Equally unsurprisingly, we split on party lines on the Leisure and Culture Strategy but the rest of the agenda was pretty uncontroversial though with a little bit of party political knockabout as per.

The most striking and memorable element was a 3 minute animated video, without words, about the life of a child carer – in this case a schoolgirl looking after her mum, whilst trying to get on with her own life and school. It was a really moving film -

– and there wasn’t a dry eye in the council chamber. It’s a reminder of the unseen heroism of so many carers, but especially of the young ones who have so much else to be getting on with, and of whom there are apparently 800 in the borough.

There’s a lot of dreaded lurgy about at present, meaning that we missed Ruth Cadbury’s presence at the weekend doorknocking (this is a record: Ruth is fantastically committed to getting out there to talk to people). I’ve also had a miserable and (thankfully) quiet Myra who has been suffering from loss of voice and the sight of Theo Dennison standing at the Council Chamber microphone mouthing energetically with very little in the way of sound escaping. Thankfully Mel Collins is out of hospital and back on his feet though it will be a while yet before he resumes full training.

Talking of health, I seem to be the only one left standing. On Wednesday it was up to the doctor’s in Chiswick Health Centre, where I have outlasted 2 GPs so far. The first one I had there was a touch old school and when my daughter had a spell as an infant of being a restless traveller he suggested an old school remedy – a touch of gin in her bottle. Anyway, I passed my MoT with the usual list of advisories and then it was off to Heathrow to pick up a friend who’s staying with me for the next week or so. So I’ve been trying to keep councilloring to what can be done at home in interludes, mainly the inevitable email – oh, and the weekly update. I did get out to the Civic Centre yesterday for the latest in the series of meetings about adult social care. This is one of the council’s most important roles but is largely invisible unless you are, or have somebody close who is, mentally or physically disabled or in ill health, or just frail. The council works extensively with the voluntary sector to try and help people but some (deaf people were mentioned) don’t have as strong voluntary organisations locally as others and are harder to find and reach and take on board. One encouraging statistic is that 80% of people in the borough have full digital skills and access:  but of course the 20% who don’t will often be the very ones who need council support.

Anyway, enough already. Off shortly for a brief meeting in the Civic before an evening watching Man United being humiliated by Derby. I hope and expect.

Guy Lambert

January 29, 2016

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