Archive for February, 2008

Win-win in Isleworth

February 12, 2008

Last Friday morning, I had the pleasure, along with Councillor Phil Andrews, of being shown around two Council properties in Twickenham Road, Isleworth that had been empty for a number of years before we, as the then new administration, took steps to bring them back into use.  Of course, there are nine other houses being brought back into use but these two are the first to be ready for viewings.

It is clear that there has been a lot of work for those on site and it was great to meet some of the workmen.

Here I am looking at one of those houses.

Twickenham Road, Isleworth

I was thrilled to see such high standard accommodation being brought back into use.  Not only do we have 11 family sized properties being made available for allocation but we have removed some ASB hotspots from this part of Isleworth.

I think that this is truly good news for the area and for 11 families who will reside in such high standard accommodation.

Here is a link to the item on the Council’s website about this.

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Scots follow Welsh on Prescription Charges. Scottish Tories follow SNP on budget.

February 11, 2008

I do not expect that the injustices caused by devolution will come up too regularly on the doorstep in Feltham and Heston.  However, I thought that an article in the Scotsman is well worth a read.  I remember Mr Forsyth being as opposed to devolution as me.

We have heard much about the Democratic Deficit caused by devolution.  This news raises the problem of the Economic Deficit.

I remember when free prescription charges were introduced in the Principality, I was equally concerned.  Notwithstanding my disagreement with such a universal benefit anywhere in the UK, this will clearly cause more English people to complain, especially when other parts of the United Kingdom are more dependent on UK public expenditure.  One of the best speeches I recall on this matter was not from a fellow Conservative, but the former brilliant Labour MP for Llanelli, Denzil Davies.

Back to Mr Forsyth, any chance we can do what all the King’s Horses and King’s men could not do and that is “put Humpty Dumpty back together again”?

Blog gets a mention in the Times

February 9, 2008

The blog got a mention in the Hounslow & Brentford Times too on page 11.

Blog gets a mention in the Chronicle

February 8, 2008

This blog got a mention on page 6 of the Chronicle yesterday.  If you found out about this blog that way, feel free to let me know and, more generally, I look forward to your comments.

The Archbishop and Sharia Law

February 8, 2008

I read what was said by the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday.  I have also read various comments about his remarks, including those from Iain Dale.  I could not find anyone who supported his remarks but I will keep looking.

I know that my fellow Welshman is a highly intelligent man.  Surely, he must have known that his remarks would be very controversial!

TLJCC last night

February 7, 2008

Last night I chaired the Tenants/Leaseholders Joint Consultative Committee.  Here is the agenda.

As the title indicates, this is a quarterly meeting of various tenants and leaseholders in the Borough, who are members of HFTRA (Hounslow Federation of Tenants and residents Associations).

I always enjoy these meetings and, of course, it gives tenants and leaseholders the opportunity to directly hold Councillor Andrews and I (and our Officer team) to account for the performance of both the Housing Department at the Council and Hounslow Homes.

It was even worth missing the big game last night.  Great result!

Last night’s Executive Meeting

February 6, 2008

A nice sized agenda (not too short and not too long) at Executive last night.

I presented a report on the Tendering the provision of some form of temporary accommodation.  This is the type of work I am really pleased with and should very much be seen in a Performance Improvement Plan (the PIP that has received a lot of attention in the Press etc) context.  As I said, it is terribly important that we take achieve economies of scale and get more bite for buck in as many services as possible and this should be no different!

We also discussed the Council’s response to the Department of Transport Consultation “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport”.  I supported the recommendations in the report but considered it best for the Council to focus on environmental considerations alone, as opposed to making economic arguments against expansion.

Council Housing and Unemployment

February 5, 2008

Early this morning, I read a BBC News article about the new Housing Minister, Caroline Flint MP.  The Headline of that item and the article in the Guardian are both very emotive indeed.  In fairness, I did not read any quote from Ms Flint to state that Council tenants would be evicted for being unemployed.  My first thought was that such a move would not be enforceable and I see that Grant Shapps MP has made that remark in the updated version of the BBC article.

The most disturbing part of the story for me was the following:

“Nearly three quarters of social tenants under 25 are unemployed.”

If these tenants are indeed unemployed (i.e. not in training either) then this is very serious and worrying.

When I was growing up, I recall all of the dads being in work.  The street was built in the early 70s and all houses were pretty much occupied by families so it is interesting to look back on what was a good model for me personally.

The Hills Report did indeed raise a number of important issues and it was discussed at the Tenants and Leaseholders Joint Consultative Committee back in May 2007.  Obviously the minutes do not capture everything that was said but I do recall it being a very interesting discussion.

As for Caroline Flint, I think that she is a very interesting appointment.  She is very impressive in the House of Commons Chamber and I was surprised that the Prime Minister did not promote her further during his first reshuffle.  Of course, she faces Grant Shapps at the Despatch Box so it will be fascinating to watch two high calibre people go head to head.  Both have a strong interest in Housing and I know that the latter will throw some new and innovative ideas into the pot.

England 19 Wales 26

February 3, 2008

Need I say anything?

Last night’s clash of meetings

February 1, 2008

It is always frustrating to have a clash of meetings.  Not only does it impact on ones attendance record but quite often some interesting agenda items are missed.  Last night I had to miss the West Area (Monitoring) Meeting at Feltham Library because I had a meeting of West London Housing Lead Members at Brent.

As you will see from the agenda, I missed some updates from Transport for London.  I hope that Members of the Public attended to listen to the Council Budget briefing.

As for the meeting in Brent, this takes place quarterly at one of the seven West London Boroughs – Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Kensington & Chelsea.

The two most interesting discussions we had was over cross-borough mobility for those bidding for Council accommodation and we had a discussion on initiatives to deal with overcrowding.  We talked about some things that have been done at a Borough level, as opposed to a sub-regional level.  Councillor Phil Andrews and I took a report to Executive in December 2007, which we are confident will make a huge difference to the lives of 20 or so families.  The project will address their overcrowding and allow them to remain in the community that is their home and where they are settled – truly sustainable communities.  Of course, this will only resolve matters for a very small proportion of families who are overcrowded but as I always say, there is no one solution, programme or project that will deal with this problem.

Thus far, we have held meetings at all the West London Boroughs, except Hillingdon & Ealing.  The anorak in me likes to take a look around each of the buildings I visit, especially within the respective Council Chamber.  Most have their own character & shape etc.  I think that my favourite Chamber in West London so far is Brent’s.  It instills a feeling of Civic Pride and it is not as circular as other Chambers.  It is also not as big as other Chambers such as Hounslow’s.  I do wonder how Members would be heard in Hounslow were the microphones to break down?