Watermans Marina, Layton Road, and Brentford Chamber
I didn’t want to pre-empt it last week, but I knew I was going to planning to speak in favour of the council’s plans for a marina at Watermans Park. This is a controversial matter and I arrived at my conclusion that this was the best way forward after a series of discussions, initially with the existing boaters and later with council officers, particularly the lady who is project managing the development, and whom I found very impressive. It’s a delicate issue because some people do live there – it’s not clear to me how many – and some are vulnerable. But the settlement has never been authorised either by the Port of London Authority (who own the river bed) or by the council (who own the park), no rent is paid (at least to the relevant authorities, though we believe some boats have tenants paying the boat owners and we know there’s a B&B business) and very little council tax. Both the PLA and the council are very keen to get the situation regularised because the previous attempt in 1999 almost succeeded but did not quite complete. In addition, the riverbank is a valuable asset owned by the community and one from which we can derive a decent income, just as all the other moorings around Brentford do for their various owners, and the two public consultations held late in 2014 were supportive of the plans. Contrary to some of the disinformation being peddled, the vast majority of the park will be retained and improved, as will the view of the river, albeit with probably a different selection of houseboats than are currently there. Planning was approved but there’s still a way to go before anything gets done. Some boats have moved voluntarily and others have agreed to follow but various legal matters will have to run their course.
On Sunday afternoon I spent a couple of hours in Layton Road with Steve Curran – the other ward councillors being otherwise engaged - knocking on residents’ doors and giving them a letter explaining the whys and wherefores of the proposed Floreat School in the road. People are very concerned, not least because they have already been surrounded by new developments for several years and they are now possibly facing another couple of years of building and all that goes with it. There are also concerns about parking and access after the proposed development is concluded. All we can do is to encourage these concerns to be aired to the planners, developers, school and planning committee and, assuming the proposal is accepted which is not a given, get them addressed as far as is possible in the design and regulation of the development.
In the evening we had a Labour Party Curry and Quiz in the Cinnamon Lounge in Isleworth. This was to celebrate Sadiq Khan’s victory, a victory of which I think everybody in London should be proud, and thank the activists who worked so hard during the campaign. Last time I went there it was the Chequers, so now it’s a very different kettle of murgh. Anyway it was buzzing and a good time was had by all, except that some sneaky person had discovered that it was very close to both Ruth Cadbury’s and my birthdays so a cake and the usual embarrassments and embarrassing pictures ensued. To cap it all, most of the questions seemed to be about Eurovision (last time I watched it was won by Sandie Shaw) and the team I was in didn’t win. Not even close.
Monday we had Council Labour Group AGM Part 3 – The Umpire Strikes Back. This is where us councillors put ourselves forward to serve on various committees. It is of course well established that councillors are only in it for the money or the power, or both, though there is an alternative view that we’ve simply lost the plot. I think Monday was evidence of the last theory, as the party’s immaculate democratic processes, umpired by the chief whip, played out. As ever, probably shouldn’t say much until the formal announcements but I will say that elections took place for a series of committee posts which carry no payment and no discernible power, and that I eventually dropped Councillor Mel off in Ealing Road at 1.55 am. The good news is I have secured myself a few more late nights over the coming year!
Tuesday was the Brentford Chamber of Commerce AGM. This is one I like to attend because it is held at Fullers brewery in Chiswick with free beer and free food provided by Gerhard and his team from The Griffin. Oh, and of course it provides an opportunity to network with the business people of Brentford, which is obviously more important than free beer etc. Suzie Betlem stood down as president after her really outstanding 4 year term and will be a very hard act for the Meetings and Events Sales Manager of the Holiday Inn, David O'Connor, to follow. Not a dry eye in the house and good speeches from Suzie, David and Ruth Cadbury MP. Councillor John Todd was in attendance but of course life is rarely perfect.
On Wednesday back up to Chiswick, where my car has been admitted as an in-patient at Capital Motors University Hospital Trust. In the usual way a gloomy face is presented and I am advised to put up the ‘do not revive’ notice, as there is no NHS for cars and the head car doctor doesn’t like the idea of people spending money on his patients. But I insist, vehicular life is sacred and in any case I take the view that since my car is long since past the depreciation disease a bit of spending on other ailments is acceptable.
In the afternoon our first serious canvass for Labour In for Britain – in other words, in favour of staying in the EU. This is in Hamilton and New Roads and Brook Road South. Rain miraculously dries up as we start and the reception is astonishingly positive, in fact every single door that answered my knock revealed a Remainer or 3, many of them really committed. Some of my fellow canvassers unearthed Brexiters but these were few and far between. I suppose people have been listening to Farage, IDS, Gove and Boris and making their minds up, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.
May 20, 2016