A Trilithon In The Councillors' Car Park

Local councillor Sam Hearn writes a blog about his week


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Councillor Sam Hearn

Saturday 21st January: To the County Museum in Aylesbury for a talk on the twin Civil War battles of Brentford and Turnham Green. Sue has booked a celebratory meal at a restaurant on the South Bank and I return just in time to catch the train to Waterloo. Later at Tate Modern we promenade around the open air public viewing gallery taking in the incredible 360 degree view across London. Having missed the last train to Chiswick we take the Tube and bus home like naughty teenagers.

Monday 23rd January: At the Civic Centre for refresher training in the safeguarding of vulnerable children. Social care services in other Councils have been known to break down with horrific consequences for the children involved. All councillors take on the heavy responsibility of being corporate parents. It was good to meet and hear from members of Hounslow’s dedicated and highly experienced Safeguarding & Child Protection Team. Everyone should know the phone number of the Front Door Duty Desk: 020 8583 6600.

I am unnerved to find that a trilithon has been constructed in what was the councillors’ car park at the Civic Centre. Some say that it is a gallows whilst others believe that it is a tribute to Stone Henge. My favourite theory is that it is star-gate portal through which councillors can travel to the real world.

Tuesday 24th January: I join the Website Working Group meeting in the Civic Centre for its last meeting before the refreshed website is launched. The website incorporates many improvements including a workman-like replacement for the horrible search facility on the old website. The ability to set up your own personal account with the Council is potentially a very useful enhancement. Unless the new website succeeds in dramatically reducing the number of residents who visit the Civic Centre the new (much smaller) building will be swamped.

The Working Group meeting finishes on time so I make it back to Chiswick Town Hall just in time for the start of the Area Forum. Once again a packed agenda and we have to extend the meeting until 10.30. As others have commented it is not desirable to be discussing important matters and making decisions so late in the evening.

The results of the consultation on the Traffic Management Scheme for Wellesley Road and Stilehall Gardens were hotly debated. Many felt the consultation was flawed from the outset. Unfortunately in the absence of the detailed response from TfL concerning the potential impact of the proposed road closures no decisions could be taken. When this matter returns to the Area Forum it must surely be the subject of a separate meeting.

Kathleen Healy’s briefing about the public consultation on the future development of Dukes Meadows was critical of the approach adopted by LBH. Responses made to Kathleen by Cllrs Steve Curran and John Todd appeared to directly contradict much of what Kathleen had said. It was however encouraging to hear that within three years all the activities within Dukes Meadow could be managed by an independent trust such as those that now run Chiswick House and Gunnersbury Park. How such an organisation would be funded is another matter.

There was insufficient time to give proper consideration to Cllr Dennison’s presentation on the 2017/18 Council Budget. Some present were appalled at the prospect of a 4% rise in council tax after so many years of zero increases. There was no time to quiz the Cllr on the estimated £16m overspend by operational departments in 2016/17 and what exactly was happening with waste collection and recycling.

Wednesday 25th January: It was great to be invited to the George IV pub for Chiswick Calendar’s second birthday party. Amazing as always to be reminded just how much Chiswick Calendar contributes to the social “glue” of our home town. Fortuitously I was able to continue conversations from the previous evening with amongst others, Kathleen Healy and Cllr Steve Curran.

Friday 27th January: Rounded off the week by attending a Public meeting at St Paul’s Church in Brentford to discuss the plans for part of the long awaited redevelopment of the town. There were presentations from the developers, local councillor Theo Dennison, the Head Teacher of the nearby primary school and the Chair of the Brentford Community Council. These gave us a great deal of information and it seemed, a great deal to argue about.

Over 100 residents attended the meeting and few if any expressed support for the proposals on the table. Most would favour a development that was less than the planned eight to ten storeys high and that included some genuinely affordable/social housing. The objections of the Brentford Community Council to the plans for Morrison’s site can be found on the website www.brentfordcc.org.uk. There is much that will be familiar in this story to those who have campaigned against the overdevelopment of Chiswick High Road.

February 2, 2017

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