Bike theft and post-conference enthusiasm
Friday morning I’m off to Windsor to meet a friend for a coffee. I park down by the river and discover that their parking app is yet another different one – that makes 4 in a week - and that this one rather weirdly seems to bill you in arrears at the month end.
In the afternoon to the Civic with my ward colleagues to meet Hounslow’s heritage officer, her line manager and director. This is something Myra has been trying to set up for a while and it’s very informative and quite encouraging. It turns out that she is a great enthusiast for Brentford and feels we’ve been under selling it (though I do point out I keep telling everyone that it’s Brilliant). She is busy updating the Conservation Area documentation, which is a lengthy job but I’m pleased that her first two are both in the Brentford ward, though the canal one straddles into Syon.
We normally go door knocking on Friday evenings but decide to give it a miss this week. Everybody is a bit worn out after the conference, and we’re arranging street stalls for Saturday to draw attention to the latest bizarre education policies being put about by Theresa May – new Grammar Schools, and faith schools to be allowed to select 100% on religious grounds. If you had a mission to effectively cause divisions in society, it’s hard to think that you could come up with better policies, though no doubt the Tories will think of something in due course.
Us poor councillors are not allowed out in the sunshine on Saturday and we even have to skip our Clayponds surgery because we have to spend the whole day in the Civic Centre thrashing out options to save money. The cuts in council funding are relentless and mainly focussed on urban and less well off areas like our borough, with the likes of Surrey getting off much more lightly. I don’t know whether T May has harangued Windsor and Maidenhead Council for cuts in the same way as David Cameron had a go at Oxfordshire. To be fair, it’s possible to believe that she’s bright enough to notice that cuts to local services result for government’s policies to outsource the blame, unlike her predecessor!
In the evening we have a bit of a party at the Labour Office: our wonderful organiser has left us to take up a role working for the Labour Group in Harrow. We will really miss her and the socialist snacks such as onion bhajis hewn from the solid by horny handed sons of toil from Hounslow are insufficient to compensate, delicious as they are.
On Monday the emergency licensing panel I had pencilled in for the evening – related to police activity – is cancelled so I have an unusual free day. This is welcome as I’m still trying to catch up with emails – both council and private – that have accumulated over my time at conference.
Tuesday afternoon I pick up my latest new bike. This replaces the one that was nicked a couple of weeks ago (grrr) and this purchase includes a vital accessory – The World’s Most Secure Bike Lock, which requires a tactical nuclear explosion to open without the key.
On Tuesday evening we have a regular licensing panel. I am the last of the three councillors to arrive and I observe that Councillor Adrian Lee has rather misleadingly disported himself in the chair on the left wing and Councillor Shaida Mehrban on the right wing leaving the centre vacant and I find I have been elected chair for the evening in my absence. Neither of the applications causes us to dissent so I don’t have to sort out any fist fights between Lefty Lee and Marvellous Mehrban, which could have been entertaining.
My Wednesdays these days are divided between estate (the one where I live) business in the morning and serving my country (manning the Labour Party office whilst we are recruiting a new organiser) in the afternoons. In the evening I chair, in my usual bumbling way, the campaign committee, which is very confident and positive, reflecting the good feeling after the Labour conference. We cook up a number of cunning plans which, like Fabio Capello and his team selections, I will not yet reveal.
Afterwards I am persuaded to do my duty and accompany comrades for a fact-finding mission in the Express Tavern, a place I always find to be a rich source of facts. I leave my bike in the racks outside Sainsburys SECURELY LOCKED and despite the presence of a man strangely standing atop the water feature I consider it not worth the faff of removing the lights, which cost £10 the pair, from the bike. It is really quite unnecessary to say that when I returned, the lights had been nicked, nor that as I headed through the car park where I live I was accosted by one of my fellow directors and castigated for riding a bicycle without lights.
So Thursday I receive a call from a resident whilst I am sound asleep. You might think I was slacking but my phone tells me that this was at 4.57 am, when I consider myself to be off duty. After making a stop at Evans in the High Street to buy some…. lights, I head out to various corners of Feltham, Hounslow and Osterley to have a shufti at the sites which are coming to planning in the evening, plus an exhibition for the hotel in Feltham that I missed at the planning preview. I leave my bike at the door of this exhibition and am followed in by two Police Officers. I point to the architect and say that it was him but they are not interested in that: rather they examine the plans as laid out, forensically. I suggest they should look after my bike for me but they claim to have better things to do, which seems highly unlikely. You just CAN’T get the staff these days.
One of the Planning Applications is for an extension to the Conservative Club in Hounslow. Where they get the money from with their membership in the doldrums I don’t know (a few dodgy British citizen millionaires now called Lord Obalenskavisky) may help with enquiries
October 13, 2016