Meetings, Ballymore and football
Last week I talked about the calm before the storm, and that was about right. Thursday evening was a pleasant start to the storm, with a balmy evening down at One Over The Ait celebrating the completion of the St George’s development. We always get a warm welcome there and this time there was the added bonus of speeches, if you like that kind of thing. Obviously, councillors can’t wait to hear the next speech because in most weeks we have only heard about 217 of them. Mel and I made our excuses and left after an hour or so, so we could take a hike up to Griffin Park to cheer on the Bees boys (Mel) or the Liverpool boys (me) in a youth team match. After the Bees notched a 2-0 lead, the plucky scousers, many of them no doubt scousers from the Ivory Coast or Bolivia or somewhere, levelled the scores. To everyone’s surprise there followed a tense penalty shoot out with the Bees finally triumphant. Grrr.
Friday evening I was joined by Ruth Cadbury and a few local members knocking on doors at the bottom of Green Dragon Lane. Always good to talk to people but of course they raise issues that somebody has to progress, and with one thing and another I’m a touch behind at present.
Saturday morning found Mel and myself wandering along Layton Road and Brook Lane North, posting letters encouraging people to engage with the public debates about the proposed development of a school and housing on the South side of the road, where the Suzuki etc garage currently lies. Mel looked particularly fetching in his Bees shirt, ready for his trip to Brighton to watch the superbees marmalise Albion 2-0. A good weekend all round as the real team did the business on the league champions 4-1 in their newly- extended home at Anfield. Whilst all this fun was going on I was ensconsed in the Mermaid theatre at an Owen Smith event. I had barely heard of him when he put his name forward for the Labour leadership: whatever the outcome, I hope he has an important role in the Labour Party going forward because he really an impressed me as someone who can make a big difference.
Monday was the first of my full week of evening meetings, starting with a discussion amongst the chairs and vice-chairs of area forums about how they are going and what we might change, then a long Labour group meeting talking about the savings we will have to make out of the budget for the next two years after further drastic cuts in central grants.
Then it was Borough Council on Tuesday. The main matter up for debate was the Compulsory Purchase Order for parcels of land south of Brentford High Street: although Ballymore or the Council already own some 93% of the land, there are numerous pockets of land, many very small, that all need to be accounted for and unless we get on with it we will never have a new High Street. Our friends in the opposition came out all Trotskyist and complained that the CPOs were to favour wicked capitalists, which was a touch bizarre, although they also seemed to have forgotten that planning permission was granted more than a year ago on plans prepared by a Turner -oops – Sterling prize winning architect. I made a rare intervention, calling on the powers that be to ensure that Ballymore promptly publish and consult on the waterside strategy (Mel added environmental strategy to the pot) because not only are homes and livelihoods at stake, this is crucial to the character of our new town centre. I know this is also a priority for Steve Curran and Brendon Walsh, and that Ballymore are getting to it, but it does no harm to air the issue in public.
Wednesday evening was, thankfully, a shorter one, where I helped form the consultation strategy for some changes we are making to the way people claim and are awarded Co0uncil tax support.
Amongst all this we have had the ongoing bundles of fun on Brentford High Street: first the sewer works, which inevitably overran (I mean in time – it could have been even worse) and the fun of elaborate turning strategies, but then the added spice of a turning lorry demolishing the Waterman’s Park wall, meaning there are no usable footpaths on either side of the street. This has been a long time in the fixing and I have been frustrated by that, but my spies tell me this is inevitable given the historic nature of the wall and the fact that it has to be strong enough to stop cars careering into the park. I understand there will be a statement about this at the area forum tonight. Hope we get a good turnout. After that I feel I will have earned a cool pint of something or other.
September 16, 2016