Posts Tagged ‘Councillor Theo Dennison’

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.

Borough Council last night

September 21, 2011

Here is the agenda from last night.  A long meeting that finished at around 11pm.

It was one of those meetings where I was hugely proud of my Group and its performance last night.  Easily won the debate on agenda item 5 (Adult Social Care Consultation Outcome) but did not have the numbers and lost the vote.  The amount of work, research and thought that John Todd, Liz Mammatt & Pam Fisher have put into this has been astonishing and it all showed last night.  Some Labour Members, including Colin Ellar, made considered and non-partisan contributions.  The contributions from the Ed Mayne & Sachin Gupta were unfortunate for their inaccuracy, lack of objectivity coupled with an excessive partisan approach.  Shame that there is no webcast after debates such as these.

John Todd & Adrian Lee tabled the following motion to agenda item 5:

Proposed by Councillor John Todd
Seconded by Councillor Adrian Lee
“This Council believes that the process adopted to implement the proposed closure of Chiswick Day Centre (CDC) has been consistently flawed and materially misleading for the following reasons:

* The LBH Public ‘Budget Consultation 2011’ Document  (CS 13/15) did not mention ‘Closure’ but ‘reconfiguration of day care services”   Residents were materially misled;

* Initial Consultation with users/carers at the Chiswick Day Centre did not mention ‘closure’ either. This caused much distress and confusion to users and carers;  Dementia sufferers and others with diverse medical conditions were not provided with counselling and guidance or the offer of advocacy

* Attendance figures at CDC have been quoted in various LBH documents, namely December 2010 and May 2011, yet no vetting process for new users has been in operation since September 2010. Since March 2011, residents from Greenrod  LBH sheltered housing were prevented from attending CDC

And in addition

* Council agreed in March to increase the charges by up to 3000% for those attending the CDC and other Centres; CDC Users accept these increases which when implemented would materially decrease the financial obligation of LBH to the CDC costs.  However the Consultation process on these new increased charges have yet to commence.

* Suggested alternative proposed LBH options are not viable or considered  to be  appropriate by the Alzheimer’s Society and others.

* Two subsequent  petitions have confirmed that the Public does not want closure;  National Charities including  the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Carers UK and Chiswick based GP’sand  District nurses are opposed to closure too  as are the Hounslow Deanery Synod..

Council therefore agrees that the suggestion to close Chiswick Day Centre does not proceed.”

The above motion was also lost.

Other items from last night:

Announcements (agenda item 2)
A provision for cabinet members that is not always used within the spirit of the provision, namely to make informative announcements about their portfolios rather than complaining about central government.  Last night Theo Dennison used it to talk about the Boundaries Review.  He asked for cross-party support for the Council expressing a view.  He will not get that as the Labour Party, and any other party, can make submissions.  Individuals can too.  But using Council resources is not appropriate in my view.

Petitions (agenda item 4)
One of the petitions related to Feltham Arena.  I wanted to speak after the presentation but was not allowed to do so.  I followed 90% of what the Lead Member, Theo Dennison, said.  It was the 10% that I did not.  Overall, I do not think he was closing the door on the current tenants.  I hope that he does not and gives an opportunity for things to get moving again.
I would have expressed concerns about some of the wording of the petition and the Lead Member, with whom I have not discussed this, appeared to share these.

Annual Review of the Council’s Complaints Procedures
The Conservative Group were happy to support but I did not speak, as planned, because it was late and the report was not contentious.  I was merely going to welcome the report and acknowledge that the Complaints Panel has been a massive success.  I was thinking of reminding the Chamber that Colin Ellar once said the Complaints Panel would be legally challenged.  It has not been.

Hounslow’s response to the Government’s consultation on their ‘Aviation Scoping document’
Supported cross party.

Manor Lane Regeneration Scheme – Compulsory Purchase Order
The wheels of local government move slowly but we welcomed this and agree with the points John Cooper made about CPO being the last resort.

Confirmation of Establishment of an Alcohol Free ‘Designated Public Place’ Report on Public Consultation
A majority of members supported this.

Civil Enforcement of Moving Traffic Contraventions
The Conservative Group had a Free Vote on the matter.  I was inclined to support it but changed to an abstention as I have concerns about both the partisan response from the Leader, Ed Mayne, and, more importantly that a very moderate motion of mine was rejected by him and the Labour Group.  It illustrates why it changed my vote from supporting the provisions to abstaining on them:

“Proposer: Councillor Mark Bowen
Seconder: Councillor John Todd
Learning a lesson from the implementation of the ‘Civil Enforcement of Moving Traffic Contraventions’ report that was agreed by Borough Council on 24 January 2006, and further to the provision outlined in section 3.8, this Council agrees that the following recommendations should be added to this report:
* 2.4 That Members be given, in advance, the relevant details of the deployment of CCTV in their wards.

* 2.5 That Area Committees be given the opportunity to offer suggested areas for CCTV deployment.”

The answers to the first two tabled questions were not controversial, indeed the first was helpful and I did not use the supplementary question because of it, but the answer to the third should be headline news.  The question was:

“For how long can the Lead Member guarantee a weekly collection of residual waste in the London Borough of Hounslow?”

The Lead Member could not give any guarantee.  She referred to wanting to increase recycling (as we all do) but I do not think that scrapping the above is the fairest option.  She will know, as I do, that most residents want weekly collections of residual waste.  In her response to the supplementary question, she said it was the previous administration who scrapped weekly collections.  She is not correct when it comes to residual waste.

Well done to all of my colleagues!

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