Posts Tagged ‘Borough Council Meeting’

19 June 2012 Borough Council Meeting

June 20, 2012

Here is the agenda from last night.

Item 7 was a free vote in the Conservative Group.  I supported the recommendations and considered them sensible and designed to deal with the concerns expressed over the past year even amongst those of us who supported abolishing Area Planning Committees.

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29 November 2011 Borough Council Meeting

December 1, 2011

Here was the agenda.

The Conservative Group supported items 5, 6 & 9.  It was unable to support item 7 as we do not believe that the promises made by Labour at the 2010 Local Elections are being kept.  I proposed, and Councillor Brad Fisher seconded, the following motion:

“At the 2010 Local Elections, Labour made the following promise:

 “Action on crime with 100 uniformed officers on the streets in this area and CCTV [closed circuit television] in crime hotspots.”

When it became the Administration, references to the Borough’s Five Areas were removed and the wording of the pledge was:

 “Action on crime with 100 uniformed officers on the streets and CCTV in crime hotspots”

In view of the unacceptable difference between what Labour promised and what the Council is now pledging, Borough Council considers the first theme, a Safe Borough, to be lacking in credibility and calls for the Labour Group to keep its promises.”

We did not support agenda item 8.

The six tabled questions (three from each Group) were interesting.  My supplementary question (item 15) would have surprised no-one, namely whether the Lead Member would agree with me that more flats on this site would be a sad outcome?  The only surprise was the comments from others – they gave the impression that more flats would be a good thing.  It should, however, be acknowledged that the answer to item 11 did state that some of the capital receipt would be ringfenced for community benefit.  I do not recall a figure but will check the minutes when they are published.

As for item 16, the Lead Member did not guarantee a weekly collection.

Back from a week away

June 5, 2011

Whilst I mostly kept on top of my emails whilst away, I did not update the blog as I had intended, especially regarding the Council’s Annual General Meeting.  Here was the agenda for the meeting that took place on 24 May. 

The Election of Mayor and Appointment of the Deputy Mayor

My Group supported the Labour nomination of Cllr Amrit Mann for Mayor and his choice of Deputy, Cllr Ajmer Grewal. I spoke on behalf of the Group and do believe that this is a good choice.

Future of Area Planning Committees

There were some very strong feelings about the above report. It was very clear that both the Labour and Conservative Groups have differing opinions on the report. My Group did not have a Group Position on the matter, instead all Members were given a free vote. The Labour Group supported the recommendations in the report. A minority of Conservative Group Members, including me, also supported the report. A majority of the Conservative Group Members opposed it. It was a very interesting debate with some excellent contributions, especially from Liz Mammatt who spoke against. My feelings on Area Committees are pretty well known and I believe that the report is a sensible compromise between my position and that of the majority of other Councillors who believe and value the Area Committee component.

Phil Andrews has commented on this decision on the chiswickw4 forum. His views on Area Committees have always differed to mine but I do agree with the following comment he made:

“I would have been more reassured had the Report been presented to Borough Council in the name of the Lead Member whose responsibility it is, rather than of the chief officer”

I have attacked the Labour decision to remove the name of the relevant Lead Member from reports. Amongst my reasons for supporting the report were:

  1. I was supportive of what was written in the report bar some minor clumsy remarks, which did not alter what the report was trying to achieve;
  2. One of the hardest things to explain to constituents is the quasi-judicial nature of planning. It is reasonable for residents to assume that Councillors have been elected to represent opinion in their ward. With Planning & Licensing, local representation (which I am as passionate about as anyone else) is over-riden by the legal requirements placed on Councillors. Were planning decisions not to be quasi-judicial or Councillors were allowed to have pre-determined views about planning applications then the case for more planning applications being determined at an area level becomes stronger than at present;
  3. Some Councillors enjoy and are more able when it comes to certain areas, in this case planning. This enables the planning enthusiasts to run with the decisions that require Member approval;
  4. The financial consideration cannot be ignored. I find it difficult to justify the structure (that does not exist elsewhere in London) when services are being cut elsewhere.

An inaccurate remark made in response to the previous posting epitomise the difficulty with planning, a difficulty which will still continue to a lesser exent without Area Planning Committees, namely the difficulty that local representatives have when it comes to Planning. I know that there were decisions taken (rightly in my view) by the West Area Committee in recent years to over-turn certain recommendations. Residents were pleased with those deciions but the planning inspector overturned each one. Hardly a good outcome for anyone.

I concluded my remarks by stating that I went into the meeting as a strong supporter of the report but became less enthusiastic by a very bad decision from the Labour Group to remove Cllr John Cooper as Chair of SDC. He was very important in such a transition and I know he has looked at this objectively. Cllr Cadbury considered the removal of Cllr Cooper to be irrelevant to these changes. She is wrong. I expect some feedback on the above.

Establishment of Formal Council Bodies 2011/12

I do have concerns about some of the Labour Group decisions but the worst one of all was the removal of Cllr Cooper. Planning is a quasi-judicial matter and he had the respect of both Groups and others.

Notification of the Appointment of the Executive

I was not given the opportunity to ask questions about some of the changes but some would have been:

  1. Why has Housing been removed from Cllr Cadbury’s portfolio?
  2. What has Cllr Gupta been taken away from Education?
  3. Isn’t the portfolio given to the new Lead Member, Cllr Curran, too large for one person? Why does he have Corporate HR also?
  4. Why has Budget Strategy Responsibility been taken from Cllr Dennison and given to the Leader?

But a well natured meeting.  One of those where I could say that it was unfortunate we no longer have webcasting of the Borough Council meetings.

14 December Borough Council Meeting

December 15, 2010

Here is the agenda for last night
And, here is my brief summary of what happened and what was discussed.

There were some announcements about the coalition general things from various Lead Members.

Then various petitions were presented and/or discussed.  This is a relatively new feature at Borough Council Meetings and thus far I am impressed with it.

Annual Review of the Council’s Complaints Procedures
Again the report confirmed that the establishment of the Members Panel to determine Stage 3 Complaints has been a major success.  I remember the shambles I inherited in 2006 so proud that it has turned around so much.

The Hounslow-Ramallah Town Twinning Association
I hope that people will watch the discussion on the webcast.  Here is the report.  I do not think most residents will be impressed that we spent time on this matter.  As is typical for most Labour Councillors, Councillor Corina Smart disgracefully refused to answer most questions put to her.

Amendment To The Scheme Of Members Allowances
Here.  Labour decided that the Chair of the Licensing Committee should receive a Special Responsibility Allowance of £6,400 – up from £500.  Whilst there was no whip on Conservative Members, the vast majority opposed the increase and none supported it.  What I found most frustrating was the refusal of the recipient of this increase, Councillor Tom Bruce, to state why he believed it was necessary.  I have once voted for an increase in Special Responsibility Allowances but got on my feet to justify it at the time (2007).  I also made reference to it in a leaflet that went out in Feltham North.

I tabled the following question to Councillor Theo Dennison, Executive Member for Finance and Performance

“At the most recent Local Elections, Labour promised a fresh war on waste and a Council Tax cut for all residents.  Does this mean that there will be a cut in each of the next four budgets?”

He confirmed that there would not be Council Tax decreased for each of the next four years.  What he refused to do was explain what the election promise meant in terms of Council Tax – will be it a one-off decrease or an overall decrease?  He merely said that the promise was clear.

Almost as clear as the promise from Labour that could have been read as 500 more police before the election but now amount to an additional 100 overalls.

Councillor Robert Oulds asked Councillor Sachin Gupta, Executive Member for Education the following question:

“The consultation for the School Place Planning Strategy 2010-2020 ran until 3 December 2010.  Breaking the information down by the five areas of the Borough, how many responses have been received?”

The only thing I learnt from Councillor Gupta was that he now realises that there is a need for more primary school places, having recently questioned whether we need anymore in the West Area of the Borough.

Councillor Colin Botterill asked Councillor Theo Dennison the following:

“Breaking the information down by financial year, what is the forecast of cashable savings that will be delivered by the Savings and Transformation Programme?”

I need to listen to the webcast as Councillor Dennison gave figures.  I think Councillor Dennison has confused the In Year Savings (much of it Salami Slicing) with the Savings and Transformation Programme.  He has previously had difficulty with forecasting and now he seems to struggle with how money is banked and aligned to what?

The first of the tabled motions (agenda item 14) discussed something Hounslow are unable to influence.  Could this have anything to do with the next motion?  Probably, as we ran out of time.

Meeting ended at around 10:30pm

Banana Republic?

September 21, 2010

Expected the unexpected in Hounslow Politics.  We called this special meeting for good reasons.  There were major items that had not been debated and it important that this happens.

As soon as the meeting began, Hanworth Councillor, Alan Barber, moved that the meeting be adjourned indefinitely.  I knew that the Labour Group lacked calibre and a desire to answer questions but did not expect this.

Anyone who reads the agenda, especially item 4 may understand why Labour does not want this debated?

Latest column in the Chronicle

August 4, 2010

Here is my latest column in the Chronicle.

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.

Another 4000 reasons to punish Labour

April 28, 2010

A Special Meeting of the Borough Council was called last night.  There is a provision within the Council Procedure Rules for a number of Councillors to do this.  The likes of Councillors Connelly and Sharma were signatures.

Here is the agenda.

Not one Councillor justified why it was necessary to call a Special Meeting for this, which is important as it costs approximately £4000 to have a Borough Council Meeting.  Whilst I do not put a price on democracy, residents have a right to know why certain Independents and Labour felt it necessary to call a Special Meeting for this.  Why did they not propose a motion at any of the scheduled meetings during the past four years and why was it so urgent that needed to be decided just over a week before Local Elections?  Or have I just answered my own question?

The performance of Councillors Sharma, Cadbury and Vaught was especially poor and unpleasant, indeed none of them were willing to take an intervention from me when they were speaking.  I wonder why that was?

Feel free to take a look at the agenda and decide whether you believe that last night was appropriate?  No justification was given for last night’s urgency.

Update: See here for an article about this.

Council Tax frozen for a 4th time

March 3, 2010

I cannot begin to describe how proud I am that this administration has managed to achieve four zero increases -in its share of the Council Tax – in a row.  It was an unprecedented meeting for me and other Councillors in that there was a period when the Council could not agree a budget.  But one was eventually agreed and it included no increase for the Council Taxpayer in Hounslow.  A recorded vote took place the second time so all residents will be able to see how their Councillor voted.

All of the above has been managed at a time of massive reductions in graffiti, major new investments in leisure, parks & open space, the most major increase in the profile of planning enforcement of any Council, one of the biggest turnaround in complaints management of any Council and the list could go on.  There is lots more to do but if I had been offered this in 2006 when Labour were removed from being the administration, I would have taken it with both hands (and feet).

No longer is the London Borough of Hounslow London’s forgotten Borough.

Update: Here is the release from Cllrs Thompson & Andrews.

Current news on budget

March 2, 2010

Beyond what was previously posted regarding tonight, there is now an amendment from Cllrs John Connelly and Peter Hills.  Tonight’s meeting can be viewed on the Council’s webcast.