Two Hundred Freedom Of Information Requests Remain Outstanding

Local councillor Sam Hearn writes a blog about his week


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Friday 19th January: Boris Johnson’s ‘people’ have been in contact and all the arrangements are in place for him to do a walk-about along Chiswick High Road. A surprising number of volunteers turn up at short notice to shepherd him along the route. He dives in and out of shops and exchanges greetings. As the bandwagon rolls on he turns back for a quiet one-to-one talk with a man who says that his son has lost his job because of Brexit. I have a soft spot for Boris since he came and helped me campaign during the by-election at which I was first elected.

Councillor Sam Hearn

Saturday 20th January: My turn to run the councillors’ surgery at Chiswick Library. An interesting chat with a supply teacher from Ealing who cannot understand why the Piccadilly Line does not stop at Turnham Green. He wonders if the new London Mayor might be able to do something about this. GLA Member Tony Arbour and I exchange looks. Both of us are uplifted by this man’s faith in the system. Tony suggest that the teacher might like to ask the Mayor the question when he hosts a Meet the People Exercise in Hounslow in March. Hard not to paint TfL as the villains.

Monday 22nd January:
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee grinds on with its work. Interesting to hear the report on the transfer of the Library service back inhouse from Carillion (originally John Laing). Detailed questioning during the agenda item relating to the Council’s performance revealed that over two hundred Freedom of Information Act requests were still outstanding. The oldest were nearly a year old. It was a little tedious to hear the Chairs of each Scrutiny Committee report on their activities for the last year – a short written report would surely have sufficed?

Tuesday 23rd January: A busy agenda for the Chiswick Area Forum but fortunately we finish on time. Hounslow’s Head of Traffic, Mark Frost, updates us all on the CS9 Project. It is wonderful that sanity has prevailed and Mark expresses some very serious concerns that he has with the scheme as proposed. It is outrageous that TfL have still not made their response to the consultation public or even shared it with Hounslow Council. The discussion that followed was calm and by and large sensible. It would however be good if the pro-CS9 lobby were to engage directly with the air pollution issue. After May the newly constituted Committee will be seeking to appoint independent members as it has had in the past. Any volunteers?

Wednesday 24th January: My final session chairing the Hounslow Pensions Board. Some potentially thorny but manageable issues emerge as the administration of the scheme is migrated from one provider to another. We look back on some success in laying the foundations for the work of this new body. Other Councils have appointed independent Chairs. We agree to ask the Council to change our constitution so that an independent member can be appointed to the Board.

Thursday 25th January: A long meeting with two senior members of Hounslow’s Finance Team. As always Cllr John Todd sets the agenda and asks the insightful questions. Why has the waste and recycling budget been over spent by £3m and how many homes has the in-house trading company Lampton 360 built or purchased? The 2018/19 LBH Budget will shortly be finalised and this provides the financial back-drop for the Local Elections on 3rd May. Will residents find another 4% rise in Council Tax acceptable without any hope of improved services?

Back to Hounslow for a well-attended meeting of the Brentford and Isleworth Conservative Association. We meet to formally approve the selection of candidates to run in specific seats. God as always laughs at our plans but we are in a much better place than we were at the same time in 2014.

Cllr Sam Hearn

January 30, 2018

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