As indicated in a previous posting, I attended the public meeting.
Everyone who has spoken to me about the issue in the past knows how gutted I am that things have not progressed faster and for that I began with the word, “Sorry”.
It was a difficult meeting for me to face so many nice people that I know and to be certain, in terms of where we are, that I did not deliver a better outcome. I am old fashioned enough to believe that when you tell the public about your success you must also be humble, honest and acknowledge when success has not been the case.
It was also difficult to engage with some of those who sat at the top table and have said some nasty and vicious things about me. My feelings probably showed. The relationship between me and some on the top table will not result in an increase sale of Christmas cards.
I welcomed the attendance and paid tribute to those who put in the hard work of organising the meeting. I did not count the amount of people but would say that there were 60-70 people there and a majority of these were local residents who care about their local area.
I stood at the back at the beginning of the meeting. Not long after being shouted at by two from the top table, I was asked to say a few words from the front of the room. I am grateful for that opportunity.
On the positive side:
- I was able to give some background and my rationale back in 2006;
- I was able to remind people that a stand and clubhouse that had previously caused ASB had been removed;
- I was able to acknowledge that there are learning points all round, especially for me;
- I was able to make the argument that had a major company taken the site, the usage would have resulted in a far greater impact on local residents, especially in Shakespeare Avenue, than a local football club;
- I was able to deal with a comment from the audience that the Environment Agency had been involved and I have never seen any evidence of toxic waste or contamination;
- I was able to deal with some questions from the public. I was unable to answer some and refused to answer one from the Chair (I do not remember what that was);
- I was asked what I would consider to be a good outcome and my answer was seeing the original vision implemented – many may have disagreed;
- I was able to deal with some of the allegations that had been made against me on the facebook group.
On the negative side:
- The Chair interrupted me on more than occasion, which I thought was unfair and unacceptable;
- One person on the top table heckled me on more than one occasion and only once was he asked to stop;
- I did not get across the behaviour of some but took the decision not to on the basis that it would have digressed from what residents wanted to hear;
- Signatures for a petition were collected. Having heard the wording, I should have tried to urge caution. In addition, when I queried why the petition called for the Group to be involved in all discussions but was silent on the local Councillors, the response from the Chair was, “you found your way to here, I am sure you could find you way there” – I doubt whether many heard that but I should have highlighted that straight away;
- I should have asked everyone to consider that were the wishes of at least one on the top table met [namely to kick the current tenants off the site], then there are a whole set of issues and problems that the Council will need to address.
A claim was made on more than one occasion that the tenant has made between 1 & 2 million pounds out of the dumping. Maybe I should have asked for some figures to substantiate this claim?
The biggest applause of the evening was for the highly respected local historian, Eddie Menday. What he had to say was very interesting but I was not certain how it was relevant in terms of taking things forward. Such is the understandable affection people have for him; no doubt my honesty will make me less popular with some. Sadly, the person who heckled me at the meeting has made a very silly posting on the facebook group this morning, which I decided to address (I have not responded to anything he has posted previously – a read of what he has previousl said will indicate why that is the case).
On Tuesday, members of the cabinet are receiving a presentation from the tenant. This is terribly important. There was some concern that none of the Councillors were from Feltham. I took the view that the wards they represent is not central to coming to a good and considered point of view. I am sure that they will be professional and considered. I also understand that a meeting is taking place towards the end of the month with the tenant and someone to discuss funding – I will find out more.
I was asked about the roadmap for making a decision about the future. I do not think it will be done on Tuesday. When I know more, I will post on this blog.
One of those who set up the meeting was very kind enough to thank me for coming. He will know who it is (if he reads my blog) and I am grateful to him.
As the above indicates, my biggest hope that the original vision can be completed.