19 - 23 February 2018
I spent another busy and enjoyable week meeting residents, and progressing council business.
On Saturday, I held my monthly surgery with residents at Brentford Dock Community Centre from 11am, and on Sunday I went out canvassing with my fellow ward councillors, Cllr Dennison and Cllr Dunne.
On Monday I worked from home until the evening, when I joined the Labour Group Meeting to discuss the Borough Council agenda on Budget Setting for the next year.
On Tuesday, I met with Carillion staff at Feltham Assembly Hall who are transferring over to the council. I was joined by Cllr Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Green Policy and Leisure. I wold like to thank all Carillion staff for being so understanding under difficult circumstances. They have continued to provide an excellent service despite uncertainty about their future. The staff who look after our parks, allotments and cemeteries will be transferring to GreenSpace 360, a subsidiary of our wholly-owned trading company, Lampton 360, on 1 March.
Heritage staff currently at Carillion will also be transferring back to the council on 1 March. We really value our historic houses and look forward to having them all back under our control. We have received funding from the National Lottery for three of our houses, Boston Manor, Gunnersbury and Hogarth’s House, and you’ll see renovation continue to take place in the houses and the parks over the next few years.
I also held my usual round of meetings including one-to-ones with senior officers, and my Leader’s Meeting with the Deputy Leader, Cllr Amrit Mann, Chief Executive, Mary Harpley, and senior officers where we looked at upcoming communications campaigns, meetings and events.
In the afternoon, I met with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) at Twickenham Stadium to discuss the agreement to provide new sports pitches and sports pavilions, including changing rooms and an artificial pitch at Dukes Meadows. The planning application was approved on 8 February, and thanks to a contribution of £1.5m from the RFU, work can start promptly in May. We have developed a very positive and close working relationship with the RFU since working with them during the last World Cup in 2015.
In the evening, I attended the Borough Council meeting with fellow councillors. The Budget for 2018/19 was approved, which included the decision to increase council tax by four per cent. Not a decision we took lightly, but due to continued unprecedented Government cuts to local authority budgets, and the desire to continue to provide excellent services for our residents over and above those that are a statutory duty, we felt that this year we had little choice.
On Wednesday, I had the privilege of helping to knock down the last remaining part of Nantly House on Balfour Road, to make way for 75 new residential apartments, all of which will be social housing for local Hounslow residents. This is an excellent example of partnership working with Lampton 360, our wholly-owned company, and Be Living, their development partner.
I then met with one of our planning officers to look at the latest planning applications.
In the afternoon, I joined our Chief Executive, Mary Harpley, at one of our All Staff Briefings. We hold these meetings regularly, and they provide an excellent opportunity to meet with our staff and hear their thoughts on how we are doing and their ideas on what we could do better or differently.
At 7.30pm I joined a group of our civil enforcement officers who are issuing fines for people who have parked illegally overnight. Since the start of the campaign on 12 February, they have issued nearly 200 tickets, mainly for parking on double yellow lines or on the pavement. We’ve had many complaints from residents that we don’t enforce in the evening and overnight, so we have introduced this team for a trial period of one year. If you’re thinking about parking on the pavement or on double yellow lines, think again or you’ll be ticketed! I was shocked to hear the abuse the enforcement officers had to endure – this is not from the owners of the vehicles but from passers-by! - it was appalling. If we didn’t have enforcement, it would be chaos. Please park sensibly and legally.
On Thursday I joined Mary Harpley, Chief Executive, at a corporate induction training session for new staff to the council. This is a great opportunity to welcome new staff, let them know about our vision and priorities and answer any questions they may have.
After that, I joined senior officers to discuss our response to the Mayor’s London Plan, and later had a meeting with officers to discuss the Western International Market, a wholesale market owned and managed by the council. It’s an important market as it acts as a conduit for fresh produce air-lifted to Heathrow to reach the retail and catering trade.
In the evening, I met with representatives from the community who would like to save Hanworth Park House, a privately owned historic building which is suffering from having been empty for 25 years. We support the intention to renovate the property, an important Grade II listed building, but cannot accept the building of new homes on the green belt site. We hope to receive a more acceptable planning application from the owner soon.
On Friday I worked from home, catching up on emails and the week’s events.
Well done to the Bees who won in the week, beating Birmingham 5 – 0. Their next game is on Saturday away to Leeds United. We wish them the best of luck.
I’d also like to wish the England rugby team best of luck in the Six Nations tournament, as they travel to Murrayfield to play Scotland on Saturday.