Local councillor Sam Hearn writes a blog about his week
Saturday 18th March: A constituent wishes to discuss
his options before appealing a planning application. The seven day period
in which a councillor would be able to “call in” the decision has passed
so there is nothing that I can do. We have a nice new shiny booklet on
how the planning process in Hounslow works which is actually quite useful.
A great piece of work by officer Marilyn Smith and her reduced team of
Sunday 19th March: Residents are unhappy about the new
pavements being laid in Grove Park Terrace. Historic kerbstones have been
removed and modern ones inserted in front of a row of grade two listed
houses. It seems odd that owners that must comply with strict regulations
protecting every brick in their front garden walls whilst Hounslow Highways
can rip out the old pavements immediately in front of them. Around the
corner in Riverview Grove I am still baffled as to why Hounslow Highways
when replacing the pavement have left the last few metres untouched.
Monday 20th March: To the Overview & Scrutiny Panel as an
observer. As expected we had to sit through a long and tedious run through
of pages and pages of new charges for Council services. Amongst the lighter
moments was a discussion on what the difference between a “purchased”
and an “unpurchased” burial plot is. In future there will be no charges
for child burials. A decision that whilst humane and thoughtful is without
any serious financial consequences. Although not officially a member of
the Panel the Chair, Cllr Chat, allowed me to make suggestions about its
forward work programme relating to areas of the 2017/18 council budget
for which little or no detailed support has yet been provided.
Tuesday 21st March: More email exchanges with residents
about the removal of historic kerbstones in Grove Park Terrace. Hounslow
Highways and Officers now engage with the issue. There is a degree of
urgency since the work continues and kerbstones are no longer on site.
Received a complaint today from a Chesterfield Road resident about the
state of their road surface and the failure of Hounslow Highways to take
potholes and spalling seriously.
Wednesday 22nd March: In the evening I go to hear Toby Young,
son of Labour peer, at an event run by Chiswick Homefield Conservatives.
Toby, an academic late starter, was talking about how he became involved
in the free school movement and just how successful the local free schools
have become. It was refreshing to hear the case put so forcefully. Everything
he said was supported by copious references to research papers. Who knew
for example that over four-fifths of free schools are located in areas
where there had previously been under-provision of school places and that
two-thirds were in areas of social deprivation. After this event I rush
to catch the end of a women’s wine tasting evening in my own ward.
Thursday 23rd March: At the Civic Centre to consult Members'
Services, catch up on paperwork and drop in on a few officers (to say
thank you). To the Watermans Art Centre in Brentford to see a digital
broadcast of the National Theatre’s production of Amadeus. A nearly full
house for what was not a live broadcast but a repeat/encore showing. My
old colleagues at the National Theatre will be pleased. Good news for
residents of Station Gardens. They may soon have an acoustic barrier to
block noise from the adjacent heavily used tennis courts.
Friday 24th March: I attend the Residents Association
Forum at the Civic Centre in the morning as an observer. Strong words
were said about enforcement. Officers put up a case for how active and
effective LBH now is with its planning enforcement but many Forum members
remained sceptical citing both anecdotal evidence and ways in which LBH
manipulated its performance statistics. Forum members are my heroes and
heroines. If only half of Hounslow’s councillors were as well informed
and articulate as the Forum members. In the evening more interviews of
potential candidates for the 2018 local elections.
March 29, 2017