August is traditionally the sleepy season for council business. Whilst the casework continues relentlessly the meetings calendar is virtually bare for councillors, allowing those of us who need to to catch up with other work. It was odd then that today my presence should have been required at not one but four meetings.
It was the fourth and final meeting which I enjoyed the most, doing as I was what I most enjoy doing, meeting the public and trying to help tackle their issues.
The meeting was held at the Bedfont Lane Community Centre at the request of Feltham West councillor Barbara Harris, to discuss a number of difficulties which local residents have had with Hounslow Homes, some of them everyday niggles but others of a more serious nature. As well as Councillor Harris and her Conservative colleague from Feltham North Councillor Gillian Hutchinson, the meeting was attended by several active local residents' leaders and also by Jill Gale, the Director of Housing at Hounslow Homes, who dealt with the issues which arose with consummate professionalism, not being defensive or denying the existence of problems but instead promising to work with councillors and residents to get them resolved.
Inevitably many of the issues raised were beyond Hounslow Homes' remit. Some were also beyond mine (one gentleman wanted me to reintroduce National Service). Nevertheless what heartened me was that the hint of frostiness which was in the air when the meeting began as the attendees prepared to vent their spleen noticably thawed as it progressed, and by the time proceedings drew to a close after some ninety minutes of varied discussion there was a tangible sense of optimism about the place.
Make no mistake, the issues raised still need to be dealt with. However it was a pleasant reminder to any who needed it that human nature is perhaps more trusting and reasonable than we sometimes give it credit for.