Archive for July, 2010

Recent Urgent Borough Council Question tabled by Councillor Pam Fisher

July 29, 2010

On 16 July, Councillors were informed of the calendar of meetings for the forthcoming year.  I have noticed a major decrease in the amount of Borough Council Meetings and with that a major decrease in the amount of opportunities for non-executive Councillors to table questions to Lead Members.  Would the Leader make an urgent statement outlining why this decision has been taken?

The above was not accepted, not deemed urgent and it was not announced that the question had been received.

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Recent Urgent Borough Council Question tabled by Councillor Paul Jabbal

July 29, 2010

In his column posted on the Hounslow Chronicle website on 14 July, Councillor Sharma said:

“We now know that this year we will receive £5 million less than expected from the Government. This means the budget agreed in March has to be reviewed.”

Will the Leader make an urgent statement regarding what the review will entail and the timetable for this review taking place?

The above was not accepted, not deemed urgent and it was not announced at Borough Council that the question had been received.

Last night’s Executive Meeting

July 28, 2010

I attended all of the above, along with a few colleagues.  Here again is the agenda.

Items 4 to 7a were presented by Officers, which is disgraceful in my view.  A couple of times afterwards the Lead Member would come and in say “I commend the report” etc.  This lack of responsibility on the part of these new Lead Members is part of the reason why I moved the following motion last week:

“Proposed by: Councillor Mark Bowen

Seconded by: Councillor Paul Jabbal

In view of the recent decision of the Labour Administration to decrease the amount of Borough Council Meetings, and with that the amount of opportunities for non-executive members to hold Executive Members to account, as well as the unannounced removal of named Lead Members from reports, this Council agrees that the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) for the entire Executive should reflect this major decrease in the level of political accountability by decreasing SRAs for Lead Members by 50% as follows:

                                          Previous             Current
Leader                                   34,000               17,000
 
Deputy Leader                        20,000               10,000
 
Other Executive Members         16,000               8,000

Council also agrees that if the level of political accountability and frequency of Borough Council Meetings are restored that the recommendations contained in the report relating to SRAs for the above positions should be implemented immediately.”

No single explanation has been given for this change and it could easily have been done as an announced at Borough Council.

As for my view on some of the reports:

The Future Provision of the Lampton Park Conference Centre (CSLL 165)
How on earth can they claim that this is financially beneficial when the report makes it clear that money will not be made in the short term?  It will lose money!
Why are they proceeding with the first recommendation without a new business case first?  Lets not let financial facts get in the way of an argument, hey?  Were they to talk in terms of break even point and when the net income will start to come in they would clearly have a stronger case – so why have they not done it?

Parking and Traffic Enforcement using CCTV cameras (ENV090)
I welcome this report on the whole.  I see it as an acknowledgement that the implementation of the cameras in Bedfont and Hanworth was not good enough.  It also exposes a Democratic Deficit that really frustrated me – the report does not address this but a comment from one Lead Member did allude to it.

There were some unproven remarks made by Councillors Mayne and Gupta.  The first made references to this being carried out by the ICG/Conservatives but we did not get any dates of decisions made (he is welcome to post the dates of such decisions and meetings here).  Councillor Gupta made remarks about it all being about Revenue Raising yet was happy to agree to the report which raised no beef with the principle of cameras being deployed.

Pavement Parking (ENV084)
I welcome this report.  What was not acknowledged was that the thorough work in the West Area was only done because I requested it and the then Executive, especially Paul Fisher, agreed to defer a previous report to get it done right and not quick.

In Year Savings 2010/11
Some Lead Members were keen to make political points and play to the audience.  The only thing that some of them may not have realised is that it was a part II item and that the audience was in fact a few Conservative Councillors – Doh!

On a more serious note, the item is a major one and deserves scrutiny.  For any reference they may make in the future about scrutiny, I can point out a Borough Council Meeting that has been reduced in the schedule.

Executive Agenda tonight

July 27, 2010

Here.

An interesting agenda and I intend to be there in the audience.  I welcome 7a and have been pushing for this for quite sometime.  I also welcome item 7.

Item 6 is another matter.  Lets see if any Councillor talks about break even points etc.  Councillor Sharma wanted this approach highlighted in the report for financial reasons – this approach will lose money over the next year or so.  Lets see if he can demonstrate when income will be generated?

Will say more when the meeting is over.  Item 10 is something I cannot post about because of restrictions but the issue of In Year Savings 2010/11 is a very serious one.

Borough Council 20 July 2010

July 20, 2010

Just finished.

I do not think I have been to one like it before.  For anyone who is interested in these things and/or the promises made by Labour at the recent local elections, I urge you to watch and listen to the webcast.  The agenda for the meeting is in the previous posting.

Some initial highlights from the meeting:

  1. The allowance issue was a free vote on the Conservative side but to our amazement the Labour Group split on our suggestion to defer their proposed introduction of a £6,400 Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) for the Chair of Licensing;
  2. The 20% decrease in SRA’s went through;
  3. I moved a 50% reduction for the Leader, Deputy Leader & Other Executive Members on the basis that they have taken decisions to make themselves less accountable (see wording of motion (especially the concluding bit), which was not understood fully by a new and intelligent Labour Councillor);
  4. Councillor Sharma confirmed in an answer to my tabled question that despite what the election literature said about the 100 uniformed officers being in an ‘area’, it will actually be across the whole Borough.  This is major news, as it has always been the case – ever since I have been a Councillor – that within LBH, an “area” means one of Chiswick, Brentford & Isleworth, Heston & Cranford, Central Hounslow and West Area (Feltham, Bedfont & Hanworth).  This is not semantics!
  5. An answer to the question tabled by Councillor Lin Davies revealed that there is no financial forecast for delivering on the 5 promises;
  6. An answer to the question tabled by Councillor John Todd revealed that uniformed officers could be existing Hounslow Homes wardens – there was even a reference to street sweepers.  I do not recall a single mention to police or PCSOs in the answer from Councillor Mayne but will need to check this again.  This is incredible!;
  7. There is already a major difference between the way in which residents have interpreted the 5 promises and how Labour will deem them to have been delivered.  Thus far, only the promise on Council Tax appears to be similar in the way that Labour intend to deliver on it;
  8. Councillor Sharma surprised the entire chamber at one point by stating that he believed that I am human.

Maybe the above indicates why Labour have decided to decrease the amount of Borough Council Meetings?

Note: Here are the two motions mentioned:

“Proposed by: Councillor Mark Bowen

Seconded by: Councillor Paul Jabbal

In view of the recent decision of the Labour Administration to decrease the amount of Borough Council Meetings, and with that the amount of opportunities for non-executive members to hold Executive Members to account, as well as the unannounced removal of named Lead Members from reports, this Council agrees that the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) for the entire Executive should reflect this major decrease in the level of political accountability by decreasing SRAs for Lead Members by 50% as follows:

                                       Previous                Current
Leader                                  34,000                 17,000
 
Deputy Leader                         20,000               10,000
 
Other Executive Members         16,000               8,000

Council also agrees that if the level of political accountability and frequency of Borough Council Meetings are restored that the recommendations contained in the report relating to SRAs for the above positions should be implemented immediately.”

and:

“Proposed by: Adrian Lee
Seconded by: Samantha Davies

This Council does not agree that it is right for the Chair of Licensing to get a chair’s allowance for the following reasons:

The Licensing Committee met once in 2008, twice in 2009 and has thus far not yet met in 2010;
It is unlikely that the need for the Licensing Committee to meet more frequently will arise;
The remaining demands on the Chair are unlikely to be significantly different to any other Licensing Panel member.

In view of the above, Council agrees that the Chair of Licensing will not receive an SRA.”

There is probably a lot that I have missed but it is getting late and my head needs a rest.

Back again!

July 19, 2010

Here is the beginning of dealing with what was deemed most important by the vast majority of residents in Feltham and Heston at the recent General Election.  The legacy inherited from Labour on immigration and race relations is bad as the one inherited on the economy.  This is an area that the coalition government really needs to get right.

Sorry again for letting the blog lapse.  Here is the Borough Council Agenda for tomorrow.  I will post something after the meeting has finished.