Very definitely nothing to say
Back to normal this week with plenty of engagements. In my non-standard blog last week I overlooked a rather heroic activity I undertook last Monday, which was turning up at the Southall Lane depot for 6am to meet the waste/recycling crews and introduce them to the joys of www.thamesbank.org credit union – they can have payments made direct from the Lampton 360 payroll (any other employers out there please note and let me know if you want details!). Don’t think it sounds heroic? You have no idea how much of an evening person I am.
Anyway, back to normal business. I went to the Cabinet Question Time at the Free Church on Thursday evening, hoping to see a bit of blood spilt but it was all a bit vicar’s tea party compared to some recent public meetings! Our beloved and esteemed editor [*blush* - Ed] was tweeting away and I guess it was a worthwhile exercise with a reasonable turnout – but the more the merrier next time!
On Saturday I came over all weak at the knees, having caught some bug that’s going around – I blame the worshipful Myra, who had it a couple of weeks ago – which meant that the residents of Hamilton and Brook Road South were spared the delights of councillors messing up their Sunday lunch with foolish questions.
I was pretty well recovered by Monday and cycled the good old A4 in preparation for a meeting with TfL on Tuesday. This was excellent, because we met the man who has responsibility for the TfL road maintenance and he was very positive about working with us, even proposing we meet once a quarter or so with Hounslow Highways. One of the frustrations for councillors is that it’s not easy to work out who’s responsible for what, and just to add to the confusion, it seems the central reservation of the A4 when it’s underneath the M4 is down to Highways England rather than TfL, likewise the abandoned signs, sandbags, traffic cones etc which were one of the main reasons for calling the meeting. Anyway, felt like we made good progress and I’m clear now what Hounslow Highways are supposed to do and what TfL do, and I feel I’ve got someone who’ll help. We passed this gent into the tender hands of Cllr Louki so they could proceed along ‘his’ bit of the A4: hoping that won’t put our TfL man off. We also had our favourite TfL tree man and he was able to tell me that they are about to plant yet more new trees on the little island outside GSK which has been damaged by flooding and currently looks very sad indeed.
Tuesday evening we had one of the annual set pieces – the budget setting Borough Council meeting. At the start of the meeting I got to present to the mayor the petition which people have been busily gathering against the proposals for the Morrisons site, with about 1700 signatures, which is a lot. Presenting in these circumstances merely means announcing I have the petition and handing it to Madam Mayor – no comments on the petition or its topic.
Then we get into the set piece of the budget itself. It was good to hear Cllr Peter Thompson giving wholehearted support to our views about adult social care – that it is inappropriate to try and fund it out of council tax. This is especially the case because it seems the government has actually sneaked through another cut in support to councils disguised as an increase: they have canned the ‘new homes bonus’ worth about £2.1M per annum and replaced it with a one-off £1M for social care. Peter agreed to co-sign a letter to the minister with Steve Curran although I think he baulked at the suggestion that if Hounslow had mates in high places like Surrey we could get a special deal.
The Conservatives couldn’t find anything really to complain about in the budget itself, other than some items which are not fully explained. Cllr Dennison explained in his inimitable way that some of this was subject to commercial negotiation with suppliers so inappropriate to be transparent at this stage. Genghis Todd had his set-piece rant about Lampton 360 and Steve Curran had his set-piece retort. It reminded me of my misspent youth in interminable church services where the vicar reads out something from his book (to be fair, he probably knows it by heart) and the congregation respond in unison, saying the same words that they have been saying since 1549. I doubt even Genghis will last for another 500 years, but who knows. In the absence of Lefty ‘Foghorn’ Lee we had some rare (in my experience unique) utterances from Samantha Davies. I think I descried a Welsh lilt but she seemed a bit grumpy and not very accurate in her observations, but we’ll let that pass. In the end it came to the vote. All us Laboury yeomen and yeowomen (is that a word) sang out loud and clear ‘approve’ or words to that effect and all the Tories said ‘disapprove’ until it came to Cllr Thompson, who appeared to flirt with the fence before coming down on the naysayer side. Hope he didn’t get splinters.
Wednesday morning all hell broke loose with the Sarah Trimmer Hall, with someone pointing out on the TW8 forum that it was being demolished. I couldn’t immediately get hold of planners so I went to see what was going on. I eventually got to talk to the site manager, the very affable Doug (something) and accused him of knocking down a listed building without consent. He went through his papers and handed me a letter from planning allowing him to do what he was doing – with some strong conditions. Everybody (well, me) was confused by the fact there’s another planning application in the system which appears to be for precisely the same thing and is still ’in progress’. Anyway, I departed the site feeling rather foolish and decamped to the Watermans for a meeting with various park and greenery enthusiasts on the subject of Brentford’s green infrastructure. A useful meeting: it’s great to have residents taking initiatives and as councillors we’re more than happy to get involved and render support.
Later on all 3 Brentford and 2 Syon councillors met the people from Essential Living together with planning to discuss our, and residents’ views of the proposed Morrisons development. They are rethinking their plans in the light of feedback and they are busy going door to door round surrounding roads to gather more views. We expect a revised proposal to follow, probably for the April Planning Committee. In the evening, the unbridled pleasure of the Labour Party constituency General Committee. Tonight, I suppose I’ll be up half of it hoping to see the unsavoury Paul Nuttall well kippered in the Stoke Central by-election and the NHS beating the nuclear industry to deliver a Labour win in wind-ravaged Copeland.
February 24, 2017