A hotch potch of meetings
My Ferry Quays AGM was another lively affair with the residents alarmed by a large increase in service charges (us directors too, after all, we have to pay them too!). My neighbour Councillor Oulds was amongst the audience and my spies tell me he’s nicknamed ‘Bang Bang’ but was quiet on this occasion. People get forgiving when we directors point out we’re doing our best, doing it for nothing, run a bargain basement for service charges compared to some local developments and would be delighted to step down in favour of anybody who could do it better!
The main event on Friday was the police ward panel, held in the dungeon under Trimmer Walk. It’s slightly unnerving being greeted to a dungeon by uniforms with key chains but despite that and a very thin attendance (3 councillors, one editor, one member of the public and various boys/girls in blue) I thought the meeting was very positive. We now have two dedicated PCs in the neighbourhood team, plus a PCSO and half a Sergeant. Actually Sgt Mark Saunders is a fully formed human being but we share him with Syon Ward. There was good engagement between the police and the others and we expect at least one new panel member next time, plus a couple who gave apologies. But it would be nice to get more members, especially from Clayponds estate, the new developments along Kew Bridge Road, GWQ etc. Our PCSO, Angela, is contacting all the existing Neighbourhood Watch teams, but coverage is patchy and not all of them are very active.
Saturday morning was monthly surgery: I was despatched to Clayponds where I failed the intelligence test on how to open the shutter until residents’ association chair Julie Brooker told me to pull the pins out (d’oh) and I had one ‘customer’ who had problems mainly with parking issues, which we hope will be sorted when the Clayponds CPZ happens in the spring.
Sunday found Myra and I knocking on the doors in Boston Gardens. It was a lot colder than it looked but we were very pleased with ourselves when we realised we’d managed to do the whole road. Myra had a seriously grumpy and I had a mildly irritated and we both talked to the lovely lady with a tiny dog who told us how wonderful she thinks Mel Collins is (don’t tell him – he’ll get even more smug).
Monday meant a lot of Civic Centre, with Treasury training for the audit committee for the afternoon session – it was a pleasure to be greeted by Comrade Sam Hearn, now that we are apparently all comrades - then a member development session in the evening to do with adult social care. This is one of those very important responsibilities of the council that not many people know about. Well, I know a bit more now which will help if I need to support a resident.
Tuesday was a more relaxed day: turned out I wasn’t needed at the licensing panel so my only appointment was for a very nice coffee and an interesting chat about various issues – local, global and philosophical- with a resident of Regatta Point. I wonder if the BT trainees (it was probably Post Office Telephones or Pigeon post or something at the time) who used to go there before it spent 20 years derelict, enjoyed the view and the general peaceful atmosphere as much as I do. I bet the company was not as good, and the conversation would no doubt have focused on capacitors, relays and related skizwosties and oojamaflips, which wouldn’t behalf as much fun.
Wednesday morning out to South Bucks District Council for a meeting with fellow credit union chairs then back to the Civic for a session on the budget with the LBH Finance Director. It must be a pretty dispiriting job being a local authority finance director at a time when the government is working hard to make your job impossible. He mentioned that if he/we fail to set a legal budget (we will not fail, for the avoidance of doubt) he could end up in prison but I must say causing pain and misery to so many residents by cutting local government finance so drastically seems a bit of an extreme means to remove a few finance directors from the streets, desirable as that may be. I asked him if he had any mates in Surrey County Council who would give him the text number of whomever it is in Whitehall who hands out large sums to councils in need but I think that only works if you have a Tory majority.
After that it was our Labour Branch meeting: we were lucky to have a local doctor – a hospital ‘junior’ oncologist – come and address us about the problems as she sees them. There was discussion of the Strategic Transformation Plan: some criticise LBH for being represented on the board of this but our doctor friend was of the view that they’re going to inflict this on us anyway, so we’re better at least trying to steer it a bit nearer to the right direction. I made the point that I keep telling anybody who’ll listen (OK, anybody, period) that the loose talk that has recently gained currency that we ‘can’t afford the NHS’ is the precise opposite of the truth. The NHS may have the odd wart but as recently as 2014 it was by far the best healthcare system in the world according to independent assessors, DESPITE our spending far less than nearly any other developed country.
Thursday morning it was our Lampton 360 planned maintenance review team, now looking for a transfer on 1 April, followed by a brief discussion on potential changes to the plans for redevelopment in Layton Road: a planning application is expected very shortly.
Talking of planning, I need to go sharpen my teeth because tonight is Planning Committee. The only one in our ward is the proposal for London Irish Rugby Bugbies to share the Lionel Road stadium – there have been some objections to that as well as some supportive statements. Planning is never easy – it would have been a lot easier to hide out and not get myself on the committee but actually it’s one of those areas where you feel you can make a bit of a difference.
February 10, 2017