Local councillor Sam Hearn writes a blog about his week
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.
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
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