A Brentford Bratwurst at a glorious festival
My weekend started with surgery up at Clayponds Community Centre. One resident who is trying to get permission for a crossover for parking his car and had got a bit frustrated with the system. We tried to solve it there and then but it just frustrated both of us, though he did ring me later to say he was making progress, so I’ll put that one down as a win. Somebody else appeared expecting to find her ex-Worshipfulness Myra Savin. You could see their jaws drop to the floor when they saw it was me and they beat a hasty retreat. It’s an excellent plan as a councillor to have colleagues who are more popular and effective than you.
In the afternoon I cycled down to Isleworth because @joffthechef from La Cuisine had invited me to visit his stall at the riverside market. La Cuisine is temporarily out of action following a kitchen fire so it was good to get some of his excellent grub at the street market, though it wasn’t very busy when I visited.
Sunday was both Brentford Festival and the Mela. I had consulted the weather forecast which told me it was going to be mild/warm so went in shorts and a short sleeved shirt, which provided compelling evidence that you can’t trust yesterday’s weather forecast. Anyway I spent some time circulating, taking in BASH Runway 3, Brentford Recycling Action Group, Brentford Towers Residents Association, Hounslow/Ealing Cycling and others too numerous to list. The grand finale being an enormous Bratwurst which rewarmed my cockles slightly. I decided to go home to warm up and change and by the time I’d done all that I decided to skip the Mela, which was a bit pathetic, to be honest.
Monday I had Credit Union business down in Teddington and in the evening I chaired the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in the absence of Cllr Chatt who’s far too busy developing his suntan in France, lucky blighter. I’m pretty new to the committee but it turns out every September there is a financial review prior to the budget setting which takes place later in the year. Because we set the budget for 2 years earlier in 2017 we will not be revisiting the budget this time, so we concentrated on the Medium Term Financial Strategy, and on reviewing our progress with delivering the savings we have already committed to. It is actually really frightening, the level of cuts we still expect to have to find. To recap, we have already saved about £60M between 2010 and 2015 (we spent £60M less in 2015 than 2010) and have committed to save a further £20M in our annual spending by 2020. We are expecting to have to find another £43M of savings on our remaining departmental net expenditure of £172.2M. At this time, we’re not actually trying to identify the savings – that comes later – just getting to grips with the challenge. Don’t forget also, that the largest cost areas to the council are to do with social care which mainly pertains to children and the elderly, and we have more and more of the latter group. As to the existing agreed savings, they are already very challenging but those in charge of spending believe we will come in on target this year, at least. As is de rigueur for these kind of events out of my left peripheral vision I could see John ‘Godzilla’ Todd squaring up for a bout with Steve ‘King Kong’ Curran where Godzilla alleges the Borough is going to Hell in a handcart and King Kong responds that all in the garden is the best, in the best of all possible worlds. Modest quantities of skin and hair fly in all directions and honour is satisfied with no fatalities.
Wednesday, another meeting of the property maintenance working group. This now seems to be progressing smoothly, and afterwards I get to chair a unique event – well, it’s the first time it’s ever happened. It’s a review panel for a planning enforcement action, where we have agreed to proceed against an unauthorised development and a ward councillor has called the enforcement in for review, hoping to ‘save’ the resident from enforcement action. Being a first attempt, there was plenty of discussion as to whether we had the process right but in the end I felt we had a fair and comprehensive hearing and we decided we should proceed with enforcement action, with a little space for compromise in terms of improving what’s been built rather than necessarily demolishing it.
An evening meeting at our Labour HQ, followed by a bit of fact-finding in the Pilot pub, definitely not a place for the hearing-challenged as the acoustics make it sound like there are hundreds of lost souls screaming. However I was taken with a bit of homespun philosophy on the wall of the gents: “We buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like’. That’s your profundity for the week, folks, more gents’ toilets ramblings next time, if you’re lucky.
Today, the three Brentford councillors meet in the Watermans centre to talk about CIL – the money we get to spent on community improvements arising from development activity. If you want to bid for some of this – there’s £250K to be bid for in Isleworth, Brentford and Osterley – get onto it right now – the closing date is Sept 15th and you can apply here: you can apply here. This is for the community to nominate ideas but even councillors are people in their spare time so we’ve come up with some ideas which we think should be considered. Mostly we’re encouraging people to apply but we may put in a couple of applications ourselves if we can’t find a full time human to do it.
I’m off now for a meeting about Cycle Superhighway 9 which will run from Hounslow to Kensington and which TfL seem to now be getting serious about. Then this evening we have a big agenda in planning, including the office block on the corner of Ealing Road and the A4 and the Peugeot garage on Chiswick roundabout. I don’t know too much about the latter so I’d better go and study it properly.
Don’t forget it’s Tidefest this weekend – celebrate our luvverly rivers.
Councillor Guy Lambert
August 24, 2017