Who finds himself vice-chair of Planning Committee
My house guest went off to stay with his sister on Thursday so I was able to concentrate on council and political stuff for a day or two – no tanks.
Mainly political on Thursday including some door knocking. This was a particularly delightful evening as it started out with a gentle drizzle and developed into a steady downpour as we interrupted dinners in Avenue Road, Enfield Walk, the Great West Road etc. Not surprisingly it was only die-hards such as the doughty Cllr Savin who turned out and at the end of the evening yours truly returned to his flat and festooned it with soggy canvassing sheets, though I was rather surprised that they all dried out legible by the morning. You learn new skills as a politician, such as how to write on wet blotting paper.
Friday included a trip to the Civic Centre to meet with the head of Planning and one of the officers, again accompanied by Myra. She had set the meeting up, primarily to talk about the Sarah Trimmer Hall which, as those who have been following the story will know, is a listed building that has been partly demolished. This saga has been going on for a long time and local people (and councillors) are pretty upset about it. The council authorised the partial demolition because it was clear that the building had become unsafe – we saw various photos of cracks etc in the walls that have now come down. Our priority now is to get it rebuilt in accordance with the planning permission that has been granted – to turn it into a single dwelling, where the developer has lodged repeated planning applications to split it into 3. The planners, local heritage people and councillors are strongly against this and efforts to protect what’s left and get it rebuilt as close as possible to original, continue.
In the evening, we had the Brentford ward police panel. We have two dedicated PCs and one PCSO, and half a Sergeant. On this occasion our sergeant was otherwise engaged (both halves of him) and our team had been attending an incident somewhere in Brentford. One of them had to stay and guard the scene and you will be pleased to hear that the three PCs attending used an advanced form of technology to determine who should stay and who should attend the panel. The technology is known to the MPS as RPS but to us lay people it is better known as Rock, Paper, Scissors. Anyway, we got two PCs (one is not officially dedicated to Brentford but spends much of his time here) from the start of the meeting together with our PCSO, and our third PC joined later on. The panel has grown with a few welcome additional lay members and we had a good discussion about the issues which are troubling people. Mainly this is moped-related crime and associated drug activity. The police are not permitted to give chase to mopeds because of safety concerns, which frustrates them, but they have nevertheless been successful in apprehending a number of people and a number of stolen mopeds. We also, of course, discussed the recent attack in Albany Road where a noxious substance was thrown in two people’s faces as part of a robbery. I understand this was not ‘life-threatening or life-changing’ but nevertheless it is a horrible thing to happen on our streets and I’m pleased that at present it seems to be an isolated incident. We also mentioned graffiti – bane of a councillor’s life – where the dreaded NEUK or NEUC has been operating ever since I was a councillor and has now been joined by another prolific ‘artist’ who festoons the place with an ambiguous picture which seems faintly pornographic to my no doubt warped mind.
The days all rather blend into one during an election campaign but on Saturday I either did nothing at all or nothing very memorable (though I’m a fully paid-up OAP now so I’m entitled to the odd lapse) and on Sunday I was out knocking in Distillery Walk and around and about that area.
Monday in the Labour party office, then in the evening we hear about appalling events in Manchester, which as well as being a great shock led to very rapid changes in the plans for our election campaign. Jeremy Corbyn rightly sensed that we should call off ‘hostilities’ as a mark of respect. We had a lot of activities planned for Tuesday including some work with famous people who support Ruth, so obviously all that had to be postponed together with our normal canvassing etc activities on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday Evening was the Council’s Annual Meeting, where we elected Sue Sampson as Mayor for the coming year and Mukesh Malhotra as Deputy. They have a hard act to follow after Ajmer Grewal and Daanish Saeed, but I’m sure they’ll do the Borough proud. We also confirm the various committee appointments, and I was delighted to be elected as vice-chair of Planning, which Theo Dennison says makes me the Tsar of enforcement, though I think he got the first two letters muddled up. Tony Louki takes over as Chair of the Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum – thanks are due to the Melvinator for having run this committee so well ever since I was elected – and we hear that Sam Hearn is now Leader of the Opposition. Obviously it goes without saying that We Don’t Like Tories but I must say that, other than the obvious wrong-headedness of their political affiliations which I put down to having mixed with the wrong sort when they were at an impressionable age, they are not such a bad bunch on the whole. Tributes were paid to Peter Thompson who stood down and I sincerely shared the sentiments that he had been a thoughtful and constructive leader. I know Sam quite well from serving on various committees together and I believe he will be a very worthy successor.
We’re back at it today after the minute’s silence at 11am, though there is still plenty of police activity going on in Manchester. I have to go into the Civic Centre now to meet somebody about plans for ‘Plot D’ – the council-owned bit of the ‘Ballymore’ development South of Brentford High St. This will be retail on the ground floor and affordable housing above, so it’s quite exciting that something is finally moving. Later on, I’ll be disturbing dinners again up around Clayponds Gardens, followed by a meeting with a resident. You have been warned.
May 25, 2017