Planning, licensing and some time off!
A week off, so two weeks of semi-idleness to cover. I’ve been having a kind of staycation, with an old friend of mine (all my friends are old) who emigrated to Vienna 33 years ago staying with me for a few days. There was a lot of bemoaning Brexit going on, him worrying about whether he has to become an Austrian – fiercely resisted so far – though as far as I’m concerned one more Arsenal supporter exiled is no bad thing.
On Tuesday before he arrived I spent the morning in The Brentford Free Church attending a green enterprise event organised by the London Sustainability Exchange. Not a huge attendance but it’s encouraging that people are working at this and being supported. This is an area that I think will have increasing importance in the future and the kind of thing in which a place like Brentford with its wonderful mix of people and its diverse - if challenging – environment, could really make a mark.
Anyway, in the nature of these things, there were some council things that I had to go ahead with so last Tuesday I found myself in a Licensing Panel. We were reviewing the licences of two betting shops – including one here in Brentford – who had allowed under 18’s to gamble on their money printing/laundering machines, also known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Both had been caught out not once but twice by police cadets sauntering in. Both were very contrite – the Brentford one especially so – and had heavy conditions placed upon their licences. This is pioneering work by LBH: neither of the chains had ever been caught out like this before so great kudos to the licensing team and their police supporters. This stuff is actually important.
Thursday was Planning Committee and in contrast to the previous one there was a big agenda with a lot of public interest. I spent the morning touring around the locations, as is my wont, with my friend accompanying me: the poor lamb pretends to be interested in all this. There was nothing in Brentford on the agenda which ranged from redeveloped pubs in Hounslow to air conditioning units and humungous basements in Chiswick but the most contentious was a three bedroom semi in Hanworth which had been converted into 6 bedsits/studio flats/whatever. It seems the developers had done nothing wrong in planning terms but it led me to a conclusion that the law here is an ass. At least we are able to take action against their turning the garage into two bedsits/studios/whatever and the enforcement team is on the case. The planning officers are looking to find new ways of controlling this kind of development, and it’s very important that they succeed.
On Sunday the weather smiled warmly at the Labour Party summer members’ BBQ in our headquarters in Chiswick, which is blessed with a nice garden.
From Tuesday I have been back to normal and trying to catch up with stuff, something I am far from having achieved yet! Punctuated by a brief meeting with a resident on Wednesday and a big Labour party meeting at the Lampton Conference centre on Wednesday evening. This was, I suppose, democracy in action but I would not like anybody to think they were intruding on private grief so I’ll say no more, other than I enjoyed rattling a bucket in the doorway to try and get our hall hire costs covered (I failed) and I enjoyed seeing Steve Curran as the head tea boy.
A short one this week, so back to that telephone directory.
August 11, 2016