EU Referendum debate, Friends of St Paul's and a techno rave
Thursday evening we were in Isleworth for a debate for Labour Members about Remain or Leave, chaired by Ruth Cadbury MP. Seb Dance MEP was for Remain and our very own Theo Dennison was for Leave. I think Theo is the only Hounslow councillor for Leave, certainly in our constituency and that was pretty much how it was in the hall, with the overwhelming majority for staying. For me the vote has never been in doubt, even though I voted leave in 1975! Theo’s arguments seemed to be similar to the ones that swayed me back then – solidarity with poorer countries – but the world is 40 years older and there has been a huge amount of progress in combating poverty in the third world (still plenty more to do), not least thanks to the EU. Anyway, Theo was clearly very passionate and far more impressive than the rag tag army of Leavers who head the campaigns but Seb was clear and logical, and just as passionate. The view in the room was strongly for Remain before the debate and strongly for Remain after. For me, the economic consequences of leaving are crystal clear but they are not what drives me: I want Britain to continue to play a part in the world and influence how it develops. If we leave the EU we will be marginalised, an oddity of a country with no place or influence like someone who’s retired to Eastbourne.
On Friday our canvassing was in Whitestile Road. Reassuring for Remainers as all our canvassing in Brentford has been and, as ever, nice friendly people, most of them happy to see a councillor on the doorstep (even if it’s me blocking the light). Before canvassing I spent an hour or two in Boston Manor Park looking over the arrangements for Junction 2, our friendly neighbourhood techno rave. Don’t suppose when they built the M4 they thought about it providing a rain hood for ravers but there you go. I was really impressed by how professional they all were, and how carefully contained the event seemed to be – a credit to the organisers, council officers and Carillion. I’ve heard no negatives after the event so I take that as a positive!
Saturday morning was our surgery: I was supposed to take over from Mel at Mission Hall to let him get off to another appointment but I completely forgot. Oops, and thrice oops. Mel is always very courteous but I sensed a certain edge in his voicemail when he explained the problem I had caused him. When I phoned him to grovel he was chivalry personified and made light of the problem. I’m lucky to have such colleagues.
On Saturday evening I delivered some leaflets to one of our members who lives in Lionel Road North. I was really shocked by all the flytipping all up the road and my camera phone was on overtime, tweeting to Hounslow Highways. There was also a lot of general litter so I was on to the council officers who control the contract on Monday. As ever, Highways were super-efficient at clearing the flytips but I didn’t think much of their litter efforts when I revisited on Tuesday. I was pleased to hear today that officers are on the case!
On Sunday a party of us went down to Tooting to help out in the by-election there to elect a successor MP to Sadiq Khan. I was heartened to see that these South Londoners dressed quite similarly to us and spoke more or less the same language. In fact it wasn’t all that different from Brentford, though obviously a lot less Brilliant. About 8 of us made the trip including Ruth Cadbury and a few councillors and it seemed all too appropriate that we were canvassing Totterdown Road.
On Monday I spent the afternoon in the Chiswick Labour office stuffing envelopes. I don’t know much about tennis but some people seemed to be upset about some Scottish bloke having lost a match, or something. It turned out he had been beaten by someone called Jock O’Vitch so I don’t see what the Scots (or Irish for that matter) have to be upset about. These are the jokes, folks: if you want culture, you know what to do.
In the evening, Friends of St Paul’s Rec in the Griffin. Detailed plans for their dog show planned for later in the year. It seems there will be a play put on by some human dogs and all manner of dogging going on – more nearer the date. Lots of other ideas being developed but finding money to make them happen is a challenge. They are a great bunch of people doing their best for the community and it’s a privilege to offer such support as we can to them.
Tuesday and Wednesday involved a lot more envelope stuffing punctuated by bits of casework, then Tuesday evening into the Civic centre to meet Steve Curran and officers to talk about the Watermans Centre, and essential works to the building. This is a bit tricky as the plan is for it to move to the police station site pretty soon and we don’t want to spend megabucks the council can’t afford on a building with limited life: on the other hand the Watermans is an important part of local life and we just have to support it and keep it healthy.
It was great to get an invite to the Kew Bridge development in the evening, to share a beer or two at One Over the Ait and to allow residents to allocate blame to the council for everything from slow broadband speeds to the price of fish. Anyway, a fun evening and I learnt a lot about the deficiencies of French Golf Clubs, allegedly.
Thursday I had a meeting with the officer who has been in charge of managing Hounslow Highways. She is excellent and I was delighted to hear she has been promoted and now looks after the waste and parking contracts too. Managing these complicated outsourced contracts is pretty challenging and not everything will go smoothly but I have a real sense things can get better and that councillors and officers can work in partnership to make it happen. I came away with a 400 page extract (I kid you not) from the H Highways contract.
In the evening, a session in the council chamber where the members of the planning committee were initiated into the dark arts. Yeah, I know. No, not instruction in how to get rich from developers, just a lot of quite difficult stuff about how planning law works. I get my first chance to practice next Thursday.
As to the everyday story of Brentford folk, which runneth on and on: well, the 235 runneth when it runneth, and it runneth not when it runneth not, which is most of the time. Big meet on Sunday, Clayponds Community Centre. And apparently unauthorised works to the Sarah Trimmer Hall seem to have restarted – Planning enforcement on site today (Friday)
June 13, 2016