Brentford Councillors enter this century with a Facebook page
I have a confession to make. The meeting with potential fund managers to which I referred last week was not as bad as the visit to the dentist. Indeed, it was actually quite interesting and was flirting briefly with being enjoyable. Of course it is always a pleasure and a privilege to work with the Chair of pensions, Deputy Mayor, Top Rotarian etc Cllr Mukesh Malhotra and the even more majestic Genghis Todd, who provided his usual portion of grit in the oyster. Between the three of us and LBH’s excellent Head of Treasury, Pensions and Capital and our advisers we made, I think, a good team and I’m confident we created a pearl or to be more accurate chose the fund manager who is best placed to provide us with one.
So to planning, dominated by the two linked applications for moving the Isleworth allotments and building flats on the site. This one had generated plenty of emotion and a massive postbag, 100% asking us to reject, but the planning officers recommended approval. Councillors asked many questions covering a lot of ground, with especial intensity in evidence form Messrs Louki and – passionate when roused – Melvinator Collins. With forces of nature like those two and the electricity in the air from residents it was no surprise at all that the two proposals were both kicked into touch. In essence, we thought that the sole real argument in favour, that the development would generate income to maintain the house and grounds, was unconvincing especially as the resited allotments would in themselves interfere with the well-preserved Capability Brown landscape. We thought the Grand Old Duke of Northumberland could look in his piggy bank and find other sources of funds to keep his roof fixed if he really wants to. We were rebels again over a tree in Isleworth. Somebody had built a new house near a tree which had been specifically been preserved when the original permission was granted. The planners thought that the developers’ offer of three new trees to compensate was sufficient, but locals were very sceptical. We decided that the old tree needed to be protected, rather than the developers’ profits which we felt was the real driver for the change of plan.
Friday, an appointment with a resident in one of the towers who has various troubles, then I’m free for the weekend, and Monday is also free of meetings so a bit of relaxation mixed with the inevitable emails and phone calls.
Tuesday I hack across London again to the infamous Excel. I decide to go in the ridiculous car for a change as I have not recently explored the outer jungles of the North Circular. As it happens, not much has changed and I suppose I wasn’t really surprised to be stung a flat rate of £20 to park. Still, the old Emir of Abu Dhabi is said to be down to his last $15Bn so I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge him a bit of folding. This was the Public Sector show and I moseyed round the exhibition for an hour or two. One of the stands featured a JV between my old employer and the Cabinet Office, called SSCL (Strategic Services Connected Ltd) – times change. The presentation I attended was from a man from Kcom – what used to be Kingston Communications when Hull rather quaintly kept its telephone system distinct from GPO telephones, BT etc. Rather inevitably they have become ‘Your Strategic Partner for Digital transformation’ – hasn’t everybody in the IT business? It’s what I was 15 years ago and the amazing thing is how little progress has been made. Rather sweetly my former employer shows a bar chart which shows about 6% of digital services are live in 2017 compared with 25% last year. I bet my customers would have said 42% in 2005 so good to see we’re making progress, albeit backwards. Anyway the man from Kcom, a former councillor, said that all councillors postbags contain dog poo. I’ll rephrase that. All councillors postbags contain letters about dog poo. He said that of the postbag is mainly on this topic, it means the council is not doing too badly on other stuff. It’s an interesting theory and probably not without merit, and I have to confess that my postbag, whilst containing a smattering of it, has lots of other matters so we will not be complacent!
Being over that end in the car, I made a short detour to Dagenham where my career began in 1969, but sadly the old Ford plant where they made Cortinas and Zodiacs is no more and the building I started in is being demolished, though there’s still an engine plant there, I believe.
Wednesday it’s back to the dentist for a bit of resumed torture. There’s a TV on the ceiling that usually shows restful videos of whales and penguins, though on this occasion is showed a hawk with a lizard in its gizzard. I suggested the dentist should show Marathon Man: she said she hadn’t seen the film but wasn’t convinced it would help her build her practice.
In the evening it’s back to Labour Party meetings, which I’m not really cut out for. I suppose I have to own up to being a politician (though it sounds a bit odd) and I’m certainly politically engaged but the minutiae of party democracy and management leave me numb. I prefer talking to normal people!
Thursday morning I cycle down to Twickenham for a bit of Credit Union business – very nice ride it was too, not too hot, not too cold, Goldilocks, Then back for our ‘wardabout’ with Hounslow Highways. This starts near Kew Bridge where there’s a persistent flytipping problem and we wander around the streets noting the usual graffiti, uneven pavements, weeds etc. At some point in all this we lose the Melvinator. Upon enquiry, the man from LBH says Mel was getting a bus but it turns out he was just taking a 2 minute rest in the bus stop, so we get a rather peeved phone call as we walk back through Watermans Park, which was looking very spruce today apart from a bit of flytipping next to one of the bins. We’re getting better at finding and fining flytipping perpetrators so don’t try it!
Finally, we’ve set up a Brentford Councillors Facebook page. There’s not a lot on it as yet because we’re all rather inexperienced at Facebook, so please be gentle with us, but I hope it will be another channel where we can talk about what’s going on in the ward – but we need people to start posting there, so get weaving. [Ed - it would have been helpful to provide a link to this page if you really want people to post but luckily it's easy to find /BrentfordCouncillors/ ]
June 29, 2017