It's Not an Election Bribe and I'm Not Calling It One
Local councillor Sam Hearn writes a blog about his week
Friday 24th November: Once again up the other end of the Borough talking to some of the candidates selected by the Feltham and Heston Association. It is interesting listening to the feedback from doorstep canvassing, yet again its failures in waste collection, fly tipping and potholes. I return home late and then remember that I still have to print out a lot of papers for tomorrow's training session.
Saturday 25th November: All the candidates selected by the B&I Conservative Association for the May 2018 election have been invited to a training session in the function room of a local pub. It is good to see everyone and share experiences. Association Officers are working hard to ensure that all candidates are provided with a full ‘tool kit' and understand what is expected of them.
Sunday 26th November: I spend a couple of hours down loading papers and mugging up on what I will be saying at various council meetings in the coming week.
Monday 27th November: In Civic Centre to talk to Officers about how Hounslow collects the council tax. Labour's budget plans for 2018/19 include a £2m subsidy to working age benefit claimants who currently pay council tax at a heavily discounted rate. Labour plans to stop collecting even these discounted amounts. This of course is not an election bribe and I am not allowed to call it one. No doubt Labour will continue to bleat on about ‘Tory cuts' oblivious to their own profligacy.
At the AGM of the Hounslow Employees' Pension Fund. I am Chairman of the Pensions Board and have been asked to deliver a short presentation on the work of the Board. The Pension Fund has almost £1bn under its management and the Pensions Board monitors and oversees the activities of the Pension Fund Panel, council officers, third party advisors and external asset managers. I delivered my annual report on the Board's activities to the Hounslow Cabinet last week.
This is an example of the cross-party cooperation that partisan onlookers find so hard to understand. I am quite clear that councillors are first and foremost elected to serve the interests of all our residents and that party interests should rarely if ever predominate.
I am very late to the Group meeting at the Civic Centre. The traffic on the A4 is snarled up as far as Gillette Corner. Cllr Oulds chairs the meeting with great dexterity and efficiency. We complete the meeting on time. We discuss amongst other matters what action the Council should take to reduce air pollution. The Council's previous action plan was inadequately delivered and consultation on the new air pollution action plan finishes on 17 th December. Chiswick High Road is one of the most polluted streets in London and is set to be made worse by CS9 even if hybrid-powered buses are introduced. Heathrow Airport and the M4/A4 are major generators of air pollution.
Tuesday 28 th November: At the Civic Centre for the Borough Council meeting. Before the meeting the Mayor holds a small pre-Christmas drinks reception. It appears that Labour have begun their candidate selection process in earnest and there are a few long faces.
Yet again we fail to receive adequate answers to questions about the operation of the Lampton 360 trading companies. The council's park services are to be transferred back in house without any attempt to follow standard procurement procedures that would ensure best value for money. Once again the Council having failed to manage an external specialist contractor properly believes that it has the skills and resources to do a better more cost effective job itself.
Yet again the debate on the abuse by certain landlords of the planning loopholes relating to HMOs is guillotined by Labour and I am unable speak. Labour continues to maintain that the Council needs additional statutory powers. They ignore the powers that they already have and have failed to use effectively. The Administration's slowness to act has left many vulnerable adults housed in unlicensed and cramped accommodation. Whole streets in some wards have been blighted where small family homes have been bought up and converted into five or six ‘self-contained' flats.
Wednesday 29 th November : I attend a meeting of the local Association's Executive to deliver reports on the activities of the Conservative Councillors and the Trustees of the Association.
Thursday 30 th November: A resident has been having repeated problems with the so called “assisted collection” of garden waste. The problem has been resolved for this week but let us hope that it does not occur again. I wonder if anyone else is having problems?
It appears that the new Strand on the Green CPZ has not come into force this week as planned. I am told by Cllr Peter Thompson that officers are saying that “ a number of errors have been found in the Traffic Management Order (TMO), the legal document that defines all the parking spaces/ restrictions / enforcement times etc. and therefore it has not been possible to make it live and commence enforcement on 27 th November. Enforcement of the CPZ has been deferred until next week (Monday 4 th December).” I guess that I will be receiving a lot of emails from residents.
Cllr Sam Hearn
December 2, 2017