Friday, 13 June 2008

Mainstreaming Community Power

It would be interesting, from a purely academic perspective of course, to know whether anyone has yet appreciated the significance of the little reshuffle involving Community Group members on the top table at the London Borough of Hounslow.

Councillor Dr. Genevieve Hibbs thoroughly deserves her elevation to Mayor, and all the indications are that she is already doing a fine job. I encountered her on duty today at the Junior Citizens Initiative which has been held throughout the week at Hounslow Barracks. A local police sergeant who shall be nameless (not that he seemed that embarrassed) approached me whilst I was chatting with her and looked at me in a "who the hell are you?" kind of way. When Genevieve made the decent but unnecessary observation that "I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Phil", all the confusion which had hitherto overcome P.S. Plod seemed to disappear of an instant. "Oh, you're the chauffeur!", he exclaimed knowingly.

One councillor who finds himself recognised with increasing regularity these days is my and Genevieve's fellow Isleworth ward member Paul Fisher (above right). Paul joined the Executive for the first time in May and his portfolio will be Lead Member for Service Improvement and Community Engagement, the latter being additional to that formerly held by Genevieve. The new title should be treated as a statement of intent from this part of the administration that the Community Power agenda is about to loom large in Hounslow.

Working with myself in my Community Safety portfolio, and with Council Leader Peter Thompson who leads, with me, on Community Cohesion as well as generally steering the whole ship in a forwards direction, Paul's appointment to this role shows the new administration really getting its hands into the meat of the empowerment agenda which was heralded by the Community Group motion to Borough Council in March.

Yesterday Paul and I held an interesting and fruitful discussion - the first of many - with a very capable officer of the Council who will be working closely with us on an ambitious project which will embrace and involve our residents' associations and community organisations around the borough. What the ICG has worked for many years to do in our own part of the world, often in the face of fierce opposition from the old establishment, the new establishment will itself be doing across the whole borough as official Council policy, with all the resources of the local authority at our disposal.

As I once implored our opponents on a local internet forum - stand back, watch and be amazed.

And keep an eye on this blog for an important announcement from the west of the borough sometime very soon.


Anonymous said...

Enough of this already - you'll be nominating him for an OBE next !

Cllr Paul Fisher said...

Would you nominate me Dave?