A Welcome Pint After A Long Budget Meeting

Local councillor Sam Hearn's blog about his week


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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

Cllr Sam Hearn

Friday 29th January: Quiz night at St Paul’s Grove Park. This year I have been part of the team setting the questions. It’s not as easy as it looks and I was utterly exhausted by the end of the evening. My attempt to auction off the teams before we started was not as successful as I had hoped it would be. Never mind everyone said they had fun.

Saturday 30th January: Try hard to read the papers for next week’s meetings and realise that I do not have the papers for one of the complaints panels and will therefore have to arrive early so that I can get up to speed.

Sunday 31st January: Out to help once again at the Cranford council by-election. They are a nice bunch (can I still use that word?) to work with. This time the main emphasis was on delivering literature rather than canvassing.

Monday 1st February: In to the Civic Centre for a Stage 3 Complaints Panel hearing. As so often with Stage 3 meetings I am just hugely in awe of the resident who has taken on the faceless bureaucracy and tenaciously pursued their case. For a variety of reasons a case that had seemed straightforward in fact raises some complex issues.

Tuesday 2nd February: The Overview and Scrutiny Committee assembles to run through the so called budget savings. There is a good turn-out but colleagues seem unable to get to the heart of the matter with many of the issues. As sometimes happens the answers to a good many of the questions are actually in the paperwork provided. A lone member of the public turned up to observe proceedings. He slips out quietly after an hour or without anyone, a part from me, noticing. Not our finest hour as a Scrutiny Group but at least the process is intact and questions are asked. I really needed that pint of Long Horn IPA that Councillor Todd bought me at The Hole in the Wall. The smoked nuts were excellent.

Wednesday 3rd February: Another Complaints Panel session. It’s the same team of councillors and most of the officers from Monday night. The complainant has refused to turn up for reasons best known to himself, but we still have to hear his complaint. It was suggested that this made the meeting shorter but I am not so sure. The long running maintenance issue that was the ultimate cause of the complaint has still to be resolved so we were unable to reach a definitive conclusion.

Thursday 4th February: Audit Committee. The start time has been put back to accommodate members with “commitments”. There have been “quoracy” problems in the recent past so everyone is bending over backwards to be flexible. Strangely we are not quorate at the pre-meeting with the external and internal auditors where we drill down into some serious issues. We move to a larger room for the main meeting at which officers including the Chief Executive join us. The mystery of the missing members is resolved when we are joined by two councillors who have been sitting in yet another meeting room wondering where everyone is. I have to leave the meeting early to pick my wife up from the airport but not before we have discussed the council’s Whistle Blowing policy. Significant improvements have been made since the recent internal audit of the process.

Have your say on the proposal to amalgamate the two SOG Schools and also on the Plan for the Great West Corridor

February 5, 2016


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