'Lie Back And Think Of England'
A week in the life of a local councillor as told by Sam Hearn
Cllr Sam Hearn who represents the Riverside ward in Chiswick, is chairman of the Chiswick Area Forum. He has written this account of his week as a busy local councillor
Friday 4 th September: Too busy to re-start my weekly blog. A statement has been issued by the Council Leader ahead of the Area Forum about his administration’s intentions towards Dukes Meadow. Never-the-less I continue to receive emails from worried residents. The latest Riverside CPZ consultation arrived with the morning post and messages have predictably begun dropping into my email box. Officers have tried to be helpful by offering a survey monkey option for responding but have provided a slightly incorrect url. They quickly owned up to the mistake. I asked that the correct website address be published on ChiswickW4.
Saturday 5 th September: Wading through emails. Some suspiciously similarly worded emails have begun arriving asking that Hounslow Council respond positively to calls for each Local Authority to take some refugees. Hounslow has already done this. Looking at the agenda for the Area Forum and wondering how everything can be fitted in. The late request from the Lionel Road developers to make a presentation about their application for residual matters was impossible to refuse. It is our last opportunity to comment on these matters before they go to the planning Committee. A special meal at La Trompette to celebrate my brother-in-law’s 60 th birthday.
Sunday 6 th September: A day of dashing around. Out to Wallingford for a longstanding lunch with friends and back for a guided tour of Old Chiswick by Patricia Mann organised to raise funds for St Paul’s Grove Park. I managed to miss the oldest wisteria in Chiswick – something to look forward to!
Monday 7 th September: At Turnham Green Station this evening to hand out leaflets inviting members of the public to log on and help select the next Conservative Mayoral Candidate. There was a big turn out by Councillors. The internet is changing politics in so many subtle ways and we are all struggling to keep up.
Tuesday 8 th September: A full on meeting beginning, for me as Chair, at 7.00 pm with a pre-meeting for a briefing on the called in planning issues. The meeting ground to a halt at 11.15 pm. As expected we had a big crowd in tonight and extra chairs were laid out but more were required. There are three “meaty” topics on the agenda and I hope that members of the public and councillors feel that everyone was heard. Kathleen Healy made a powerful presentation on the work of the Friends of Dukes Meadow. The three Officers from LBH explained that they were newly appointed and had little to say. We have invited them back to answer the concerns raised e.g. prosecuting fly tippers. Allotment holder Roy Forshaw sagely requested that any new master-plan or strategy include the whole of Dukes Meadow. The Lionel Road “residual matters” are monumental in scale but I judge that there is little that can be done at this stage to amend them in any meaningful way. Sometimes you just have to lie back and think of England.
Wednesday 9 th September: Collected from the Civic Centre the papers for next week’s Borough Council meeting . I stayed longer than I intended for an interesting chat with our political researcher Rod Sanchez about the nuts and bolts of councillor surgeries with.
Thursday 10 th September: Attended the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to hear them discussing Hounslow’ plans for extra school places. Demand is on an upward curve and is expected to keep increasing until at least 2030. At which point presumably King Herod will be elected Mayor of London. Embedded in the presentations and discussions was the nagging concern that the Council would have to “enable” the construction of new schools on metropolitan open land (MOL) previously regarded as virtually sacrosanct. The decision by the Planning Committee and the Hounslow Cabinet to allow the new Floreat Brentford School to be built on the Brent Lea Public Park was recently reversed in the face of public outrage. It was made clear that MOL is no longer sacrosanct and that mitigating actions may have to be put in place to soften the blow.
September 11, 2015