My 'Young Turk' Days Are Far Behind Me

Local councillor Sam Hearn writes a blog about his week


Back In The Throes Of Council Work As Summer Ends

A Trilithon In The Councillor's Car Park

Growing Concern About Proposed Council Tax Rise

Council Meeting Cancelled Due To 'Lack Of Business'

A Mini Roundabout Sign That Can Only Be Seen By Pedestrians

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Friday 6th October: Still absorbing last night’s good news from the Chiswick Riverside Conservatives hustings. Gabriella Giles was voted in as our third candidate for the May 2018 Local Elections. It was fantastic that our ward members had so many really excellent candidates to choose from.

Councillor Sam Hearn

I wistfully reflect that my ‘young turk’ days are far behind me and that I am now the team’s Mzee.

In the afternoon I drive out to Great Hampden to check on the final arrangements for the John Hampden Society’s 25th Anniversary Dinner. Wonderful to roll through the English countryside that in the elegiac in the Autumn sunshine- looks for all the world like some sepia tinted photograph.

Saturday 7th October: Fiddling about this morning for almost half an hour with my council I-Pad. I try so hard to convince my little friend that just because it has updated itself (yet again) it has not forgotten everything it ever knew. Fortunately there is another way for me to view council emails. At Great Hampden for a tremendous feast of seventeenth century food washed down with John Hampden Ale provided by the Chiltern Brewery. It is hard to eat with only a knife and a wooden spoon. The local MP David Lidington, is the guest speaker. He waxes lyrical about the post mortum peregrination of Oliver Cromwell’s head. The skull now lies buried somewhere within Sidney Sussex College Cambridge. The rest of Old Noll is possibly buried beneath a Chiswick church.

Monday 9th October: I start pulling together my thoughts for the next Borough Council meeting. There are so many issue that Labour need to be taken to task on. Sad to see that the Agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Hounslow Cabinet makes it clear that Labour will reject Cllr John Todd’s request for them to reconsider the 78% cut in Youth Services. Cllr Todd’s ‘call in’ of this decision was fully supported by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The Cabinet papers also reveal that the original 2015 budget for bringing waste and recycling in house was £11.5m. The current estimate for this unnecessary project is £32.1m. This scale of the incompetence is quite breath taking. All of this money has had to be borrowed. The revamped Southall Lane Depot will not be fully operational until the end of the year.

Tuesday 10th October: To the Civic Centre for a meeting of the Consultation Advisory Panel. We wade through the draft paperwork relating to two public consultations that both have massive implications for residents all across the Borough: The Great West Corridor and the West of Borough Plans. The Panel members plead for the consultation periods to be extended from the statutory minimum six weeks to at least eight. This plea is unlikely to be heeded.

The pipeline is now filling up with consultations on several significant schemes. Local amenity groups and others whose voices should be heard just cannot cope with the enormous workload. Is this a deliberate ploy to hamstring public opposition or just incompetent scheduling?
Panel members comment on the huge amount of impenetrable technical jargon in the paperwork that residents are asked to respond to. The basic questionnaire for the West of Borough Plan for example assumes familiarity with a wide range of policies and plans without any indication where these might be found. I am sure that I saw Franz Kafka clocking in to the Civic Centre as I left.

Wednesday 11th October: Cycle Super Highway No. 9 is filling up my email in-box. I have tried to keep an open mind but the TfL Consultation document is notable as much for what it does not say as what it does say. TfL’s responses to my requests for clarification have been swift but uninformative.

Thursday 12th October: At the Civic Centre this evening for the Pension Fund Panel meeting. I attend as an observer in my capacity as Chair of the Hounslow Pensions Board. The ramifications of Brexit and what may prove to be the final charge of one of the longest Bull markets in history have driven the value of assets managed to nearly £1 bn. Strategic investment changes seem to be bearing fruit.

Cllr Sam Hearn


October 15, 2017

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