Surely not "angry residents baying for blood"?
Very often the Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum resembles a scene from the Coliseum with crowds of angry residents baying for blood, either of another crowd of angry residents, or councillors, or (normally) both, all mediated by Melvin ‘Nero’ Collins ruling with his white stick of iron.
On this occasion it was all pretty calm, with just a few of the usual suspects lined up asking awkward questions. Or perhaps I was floating on a sea of Beaujolais, who knows?
Anyway we had a helpful update from the Police (Insp Edwards), from the new local head of the enforcement team (which has been restructured and is making progress with quite a few local issues) and from the Planning Policy team leader on the new Community Infrastructure Levy. This largely replaces Section 106 as developers’ contribution to the local infrastructure (canny name it’s got, eh?) and we’re hoping when it starts to flow more generously it will be more flexible to use on what we really need rather than what we thought we might need when planning permission was granted 8 years ago with a S106 agreement! 15% of this sizeable pot will be decided locally (area forum level) with 80% going to more strategic stuff agreed at Hounslow level and 5% to administer it all.
Afterwards a bit of light fact-finding in The Magpie and Crown involving two scurvy councillors and a revered resident.
Friday afternoon it’s over to Chiswick High Road for the Party. It seems some people don’t like to read about my Parties and I’m sorry if the no longer have any Party to go to but I can confirm that reading this blog is not compulsory and may indeed damage your health, particularly if you are of a delicate disposition.
In the evening, back to La Cuisine with a couple of local friends. The restaurant is getting into its swing and still ramping up, I’d say, but the food was excellent as before and the service super-friendly. (Beer was pretty good too but is beer ever any different?)
Saturday morning another Party (it’s Party time all the time for some of us), this time it’s the Co-operative party in the super-cool surroundings of the Civic Centre. This has the added benefit of avoiding the first bit of the Labour Awayday to discuss the budget savings. Us co-operators are primed to wade through the blood on the carpet in the council chamber from the first bit of the meeting but find the floor in pristine condition. Furthermore, the rest of the discussions proceed apace and by the time the Melvinator breaks out his packed lunch (looked like cheese sarneys, since you ask) the battle is over, so we get our afternoon back, always welcome.
I had to skip the Labour Group meeting on Monday evening in favour of the Credit Union board. We decided to carry over our fantastic special offer interest rates for larger (>£3000) loans into the Christmas period. Support your local Community Credit Union and keep your board in unpaid action so they don’t cause trouble elsewhere by saving and borrowing at www.thamesbank.org!
Tuesday Myra, Councillor Pooch and I meet with officers in Carville Hall Park to discuss improvements there for which we have a bit of funding from Floreat School and Mercedes-Benz. Then we high-tail it up to Clayponds Gardens to look at the rather splendid but slightly neglected park at the top. This is on the borders with Ealing and perhaps unhelpfully they have placed a tank on our lawn in the shape of a sign suggesting the park is in their Borough (there are also suggestions they mow the lawn so please keep schtum about that). Anyway, it’s clearly ours, and we will be doing some very modest improvements just to spruce it up.
In the early evening it’s the ‘definition of a pothole’ meeting with Hounslow Highways. 3 councillors from around the Borough plus various officers including Brendon Walsh, who is ultimately responsible for their contract, get around the table with a number of H Highways people to talk about potholes, pavements and performance. They commit to various things, such as publishing the street cleaning schedule on their website (it’s been elusive so far) and giving us an idiot’s guide to (yes) the definition of a pothole: the definition in their contract, which I have spent some time trying to decipher, is only accessible to those with a Doctor of Potholes qualification. We discuss the role of lay assessors (everyone thinks they are a good thing and we need to get more of them, particularly in the West of the Borough – we have a new volunteer for Brentford, thank you and Hurrah).
Then it’s Borough Council. Just as Parliament has the Beast of Bolsover (aka Dennis Skinner), Hounslow has the Horror of Homefield (aka Gerald McGregor). He has a very posh voice (a bit like Dennis, in fact) and is evidently a great fan of the council, but also a man who likes a joke. This time he wanted to congratulate the Pension Fund on being one of the best-funded and most performant in the country but disguised this praise by pretending to make a criticism. All very satirical.
We were all a bit alarmed when Mel Collins introduced a song. This was about the government’s threat to Community Pharmacies (after all, they are part of the NHS so fair game for stealth cuts to help bring taxes for the richest down) and was actually a perfectly charming video with the basic theme “Don’t go to A&E, or your GP, but to your pharmacy” – pay attention at the back, it all rhymes. Lefty Lee, having returned from his quickie with Sheila O’Reilly, (quick fag break, that is) entered the trenches in favour of the cuts and was met by a truly passionate response from Mel which left our Tory chums crying in the aisles, or at least shut them up. We also covered Heathrow Runway 3 (the council is against it), the so called Sustainability and Transformation Plan for the NHS (ditto, at least the details like closing A&E’s all over the place) and that hardy annual – the Grumble from Genghis about Lampton 360 and the Comeback from Curran. All this is probably in the Book of Common Prayer but it’s a long time since I went to Church.
These ramblings seem to be getting longer so I won’t bore you (well, not much) with Wednesday which was the traditional Ferry Quays morning, Labour Party afternoon (this time doing an audit, what fun) Labour Party AGM in the evening topped off with a few more facts about Magpies, Crowns etc.
November 24, 2016