Walk Out Of Conservative Councillors at Borough Meeting

Local councillor Sam Hearn writes a blog about his week.


Council Meeting Dancelled Due To 'Lack Of Business'

Emails Disappearing Into 'Clutter' Folder

Impressed by the Commitment of Strand School Governors

A Mini Roundabout Sign That Can Only Be Seen By Pedestrians

Counting 'On Fingers And Toes' At Budget Meeting

Missing A Riotous Night Out In Eastbourne

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Friday 15th July: I follow up on the issue of the Staveley Road cherry trees and get the uneasy feeling that the residents’ petition has not been properly lodged even though it was sent by recorded delivery. Ominously it does not appear on the agenda for next week’s Borough Council meeting.

Saturday 16th July: A resident of Russell Kerr Close informs me that a meeting has been arranged on site with Officers for next Wednesday. The re-routing of the Barnes Passage cycle route through the Close has left residents extremely distressed and annoyed. Once again a petition by residents has disappeared in the bowels of the Civic Centre [officers later admit to it being lost in the system].

Sunday 17th July: Drive out to the Maltster’s Arms at Rotherfield Greys, near Reading, for lunch. It is hard to imagine that villages like this exist other than as sets for episodes of Midsummer Murders. Before we leave I dive into the local church to have a look at the amazing tomb of Sir Francis Knollys and his wife Catherine Carey, daughter of the other Boleyn girl, Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister.

Monday 18th July: Arrived late for the meeting of the trustees of the Thomas Layton Collection. I had been pouring over the papers for the Borough Council meeting in the heat of the day and had lost track of time and forgotten that the start time of the meeting had been brought forward. Threats by the Council to withdraw clerking services from the charity appear to have receded. As the newly appointed Deputy Group Leader and in the absence of the Group Leader Peter Thompson I find myself I find myself acting as “ring master” at the Conservative Group Meeting. Nothing can go wrong

Tuesday 19th July: The agenda for the Borough Council was relatively interesting. Cllr Denison brought forward a Charter for Consultations by the Council. All good stuff but unfortunately he let the cat out of the bag when I asked if the council would in future accept the will of residents as expressed in the results of consultations. Apparently that is not the purpose of consulting residents. If residents fail to select “the best” option presented to them, the Council will still impose it.

There was a healthy debate on the Annual Report of the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny. The role of the Scrutiny Committees is often misunderstood but the general opinion was that good work was being done. Conservatives expressed doubts that, in the absence of a Finance Scrutiny Panel, sufficient emphasis would be placed on scrutinising and monitoring financial performance. In a separate report to Cabinet it was revealed that the Council has overspent against budget by nearly £9m in 2015/16 and that many of the savings included in the 2016/17 budget are unachievable.

A motion first tabled by Cllr Todd in March was finally discussed. No real answer was given to explain the consistently poor performance of the consultants employed to negotiate rent reviews on the Council’s large commercial property portfolio. Nor did the Deputy Leader seem able to come up with any ways of improving their performance – other than to wait until their contract was renewed. A vote revealed that Labour Councillors were more concerned with “solidarity” than protecting the income stream of the Council.

Wednesday 20th July: In the morning I visited Russell Kerr Close for a briefing by one of streets disabled residents. I return in the afternoon for the street meeting with two council officers. Residents drive home the message that the new cycle route is a disaster and Officers acknowledge that the scheme has produced more problems than it solved. They agree to go away and come back (quickly) with a better solution but seem reluctant to return to the status quo ante. Leaving the meeting after actions have been agreed, I head north up the M40 to the village of Tingewick in north Bucks to deliver a talk on John Hampden MP (hero of the Battle of Brentford) to the local History Society. PTO

Thursday 21st July: The local Press seem excited about the walk out of several of my colleagues at the end of the Borough Council meeting. I have to fire off some explanatory emails that will hopefully not inflame matters further. The ladies and gentlemen of the fourth estate no longer attend Borough Council meetings and so none of the journalists are aware of the weighty matters actually discussed in the two hours before we got round to debating ‘motions’. I also note in passing that some contributors to the Brentford TW8 Forum are upset that Conservative Councillors are not calling on the Leader of the Council to resign for his part in the “wheelie bin protest saga”.

July 23, 2016

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