13 - 17 March
Monday 13 March
Yesterday [Sunday] I was out and about canvassing in Syon Ward. I had a particular spring in my step I must admit after England’s great victory in the Rugby Six Nations. There wasn’t a Scottish person in sight for me to have some banter with over the result though! Congratulations to England on a fantastic result.
Never mind, it was a good canvassing session all the same. Thanks to Councillor Theo Dennison and Councillor Katherine Dunne and Crispin for their help.
Back to the office today. This morning I attended City Hall for a Member Devolution Group meeting where our guest was the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. I was there as a representative of the West London Alliance and on behalf of Councillor Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council.
It was a very positive meeting and we all agreed there should be more devolution for London - transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, especially by central government to local or regional administration.
I am pleased to say the Mayor of London is on the case with this.
It was then back to the Civic Centre where I had a round of one-to-one meetings that took up the rest of the day.
In the evening, I attended the Labour Group Officers meeting. These are officers appointed by the Labour Group to manage the administration of the group.
Tuesday 14 March
Today, a team of eight peers from across Local Government came to start a 4- day Peer Review of the Council. The peer review team were on site to consider the Council’s approach and performance against five key areas: our understanding of the local place and our priority setting, leadership of place, financial planning and viability, organisational leadership, governance and our capacity to deliver.
In addition we also asked the team to consider the readiness for the council to move to the new civic building on Bath Road in 2019. This took up most of the day along with other meetings.
We welcome the Peer challenge as it is a great opportunity for the council to showcase the great work it has been doing over the last few years in delivering against our ambitions and plans.
This took up most of the day along with other meetings.
Wednesday 15 March
The Peer Challenge was also on the agenda today.
I took the opportunity to talk about our approach to working with businesses and housing today as Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services was not able to attend during the daytime as he is a full-time teacher. He will be interviewed by the LGA once his school day has ended.
At lunchtime today, I attended the funeral of a very good friend. Sadly she died after battling pancreatic cancer. It all happened very quickly and so was extremely devastating for her family and friends. The fact that she was also only in her early 50s also meant it was hard to take. The wake was held at The Weir Bar in Brentford.
I would say to anyone who is not feeling well but perhaps don’t really know why, get yourself checked out and don’t ignore anything. Visit the NHS Website
Later in the day I returned to the Peer Challenge sessions here at the Civic Centre.
Thursday 16 March
Another extremely busy day but a very good one as we welcomed the Mayor of London, Saadiq Khan on his first official visit to Hounslow today.
He knows Hounslow very well and has been a great supporter of our MPs, Seema Malhotra, MP for Feltham and Heston and Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth since their election in 2015.
We took the Mayor to see the progress being made in the Hounslow Housing Zone, with a visit to the Lampton Road site, where over 900 homes – half of them affordable – will be built here.
He then took in a visit to our Recycle 360, at the newly-opened facility in Southall Lane. There the Mayor chatted to staff who collect the borough’s recycling and waste and heard how some staff have seen significant increase in their wages now they are paid the London Living Wage [LLW] as employees of the Council’s company.
His last stop-off on his visit was to Hogarth Court, a newly-rebuilt housing scheme in Heston. He was taken on a tour of facilities and enjoyed a well-earned cup of tea with residents and staff as they told him how facilities like this are helping our elderly residents live independent lives longer.
I would like to thank the Mayor for his support of Hounslow and you can read in full about the Mayor’s visit and his thoughts.
Later in the afternoon, I met with the project team who are doing a great job ensuring the smooth transfer of staff from the DLO [Direct Labour Organisation] to FM360 – a subsidiary of Lampton 360, our wholly-owned local authority trading company.
These are the staff who carry out capital works such as installing new kitchens and bathrooms in council properties.
I then had meetings with senior council staff. One of these was to discuss the status of Brentford Marina.
We have been gradually moving out those boats which are illegally moored there from water’s edge.
The plan is to have a marina which serves boat owners who are legally moored and for residents to enjoy more access to the River Thames, which is a great asset to the borough.
I had another round of one-to-one meetings before there was more of the Peer Challenge this evening.
The last meeting of the evening saw me chair the Health and Wellbeing board. On the agenda we discussed tackling physical inactivity – I am afraid to say I am one of the culprits! I don’t do enough exercise.
We also looked at the annual report and two main issues of sexual exploitation of children and suicide prevention.
Friday 17 March
Happy St Patrick’s Day to all our residents who are Irish or have links to the Republic of Ireland. We are flying the Irish Tricolour today at the Civic Centre
My dad is Irish and came over from Kerry in the 1950s, so I am half Irish and have strong links to Ireland.
Going back to the rugby, the big clash tomorrow in the Rugby Six Nations, it is Ireland v England tomorrow [Saturday] – so good luck to both teams tomorrow.
Back to today, there were more Peer Challenge sessions and a chance to get some initial feedback from the LGA officers.
Thank-you to everyone who was involved in the Corporate Peer Challenge, which began on Tuesday and finished today (14-17 March).
Outside of Hounslow Council, I would like to thank the Peer Challenge team of:
Mike Cooke, Chief Executive, LB Camden (lead for the week); Cllr Tudor Evans, Leader of the Opposition (Labour), Plymouth City Council; Cllr Nick Botterill (Conservative), LB Hammersmith and Fulham
Gordon Stirling, Director of Strategic Services and Customer Management, Derby City Council; John Sampson, Corporate Director of Corporate Resources, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council; Michael Hutchinson, Regional Manager, Zurich Municipal; Fiona Gold, Project Officer Public Health, Surrey County Council and Ami Beeton, LGA Peer Challenge Manager.
Headline feedback from the challenge team is very positive, and they have provided feedback that we have taken on board.
The report will now be finalised and presented to the council in six to eight weeks' time, and this will be shared with you after we receive it.
I then had a lunch meeting with Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council. It was good to catch up with him and to discuss issues that affect both our boroughs.
Tomorrow, Saturday, I will be holding my regular surgery. This will take place at the Residents’ Clubroom, 1 Augustus Close, Brentford Dock, TW8 8QE, from 11am-12noon.
I will then be out canvassing again on Sunday, so a busy weekend all round!
Good luck to Brentford FC who face a trip to Burton Albion tomorrow. I was at Griffin Park on Tuesday to see Brentford take on Wolverhampton Wanderers. I was with my brother, who by some quirk, is a Wolves fan, I don’t know why!
Sadly it was my brother who was the happier one at the end of the night, as Brentford let in two late goals to lose 2-1! Hopefully they will have more luck tomorrow, Come on the Bees!