Hounding Hounslow Council On Youth Clubs And Parking Permits

A week in the life of Chiswick councillor John Todd


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Local councillor John Todd is campaigning to keep the Hogarth Youth along with his other casework. In this blog, he outlines how he spent his week on matters of interest to Chiswick residents.

"I've spent most of this week researching and meeting numerous LBH officers and others regarding my call in of the decision to reduce the LBH Youth Budget by £750k, although the figure of £650k appears in the Cabinet report. This leaves a balance of £212k, the lowest in London. This draconian cut may well lead to the closure of five youth clubs across Hounslow.
The 'call-in' procedure stops any Cabinet decision from proceeding pending the Scrutiny Committee endorsing or rejecting my submission. If accepted they recommend to the Cabinet that they reconsider the decision challenged.

Ruth Cadbury MP and now the Unite Union have contacted me to support my campaign. My MEP is helping too, clarifying the use of the EU Cultural Fund which helped in Lewisham.

At 6pm on Monday night thirty parents with their children returned to the Hogarth Youth Club to be filmed by a local video site supporting the club and protesting about the cuts. Their support was brilliant and their passion in support of the club in front of the camera impressive. To many members the club is a crucial part of their lives.

Poverty does exist in Chiswick though it is regarded as an affluent area. A recent government report mentions; 'The Chiswick catchment area is typical of so many districts in West London in that whilst the average picture is one of relatively low levels of socioeconomic deprivation against most measures, the data masks many small pockets of social housing and multiple occupancy private rented housing that is characterised by very high levels of deprivation'

I'm aiming to save three of the main youth clubs across Hounslow. I've drafted an alternative costing.

As a diversion on Monday night I went to a meeting of the Brentford Community Council, a planning forum attended my many professionals in the planning and architectural professions. Four labour local councillors attended too with one irritated that I was on her patch.

It's been a hectic week for casework. The new CPZ Permit renewal now online is very demanding, seeking numerous documents, including Council Tax identity. Other applicants struggle downloading documents previously submitted. The response to one applicant was:

'Regarding your comments, we apologise if you had some difficulties renewing your permit. We understand that first time users who are renewing their permits may find it difficult, however it should be easier next year as you will not need to upload any documents for the next four years.
In relation to the car tax codes, we thank you for this feedback and will be given back to the London Borough of Hounslow.
This year all residents have had to provide their documents again as our permit system have gone online. This is needed for you to create your own account and will allow the system to keep a record.

Regarding the Council Tax registration, previously when applying for a permit you would just select the option. The checks would be done manually, as the permit system is now online it is not connected to the Council Tax department to check the records. Therefore residents were required to upload the documents.'

The Leader and CEO have agreed to review this cumbersome process.

john todd

Waste and recycling collection issues are still occurring. One irritating aspect is that residents reporting a missed collection are prevented from logging an online report for 24 hours because of a glitch in the system. Many thought the collection vehicle Operative was inputting incorrect data re collections made but I'm assured I'm wrong. Changes are being made. I'm pleased to learn that the green collection renewal, will be simpler next year with direct debits being introduced.

Whilst I hound LBH to provide funding for youth services one of its internal trading companies Recycle 360 Ltd limps on. Overspent on budget, no agreed savings made and no KPIs yet in place. A brand new recycling shed near Western International Market costing (at present £24m) nears completion. It has a huge capacity to cater for third party recycling contracts- 360 wins. No luck so far!

The Lampton building entity has bought three or four former council houses, but is struggling to produce evidence that its significant costs are justified. This is worrying especially as members receive little performance data that assuages our concerns.

I remember asking the former Leader why we needed a trading company and he said 'our gardens produce lots of surplus flowers we could sell'. If only we had stuck to that strategy LBH would be 3 million or so better off!

Planning queries always exist. LBH has published for consultation its new edition of its Residential Extension Guidelines. Useful advice for those contemplating any building work.

August 21, 2017

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