Saturday, 20 September 2008

Worton youngsters scoop prestigious community safety award

Young residents of Isleworth's Worton estate (see picture, acknowledgements to the Hounslow Chronicle) have won the Metropolitan Police Commissioner's Community Safety Peace Award for their work under the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

They were presented with the award on Thursday at a London hotel (see below) by the Commissioner Sir Ian Blair and the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP.

The work undertaken by youngsters from the estate includes a massive and ongoing clean-up campaign, clearing mountains of debris, overgrowth and graffiti from the estate's maze of alleyways.

The intitative has been actively supported by the Metropolitan Police and its Safer Neighbourhood Team, community payback, the residents' association (ROWE), ward councillors, LBH Street Management and (after a bit of a misunderstanding) Hounslow Homes.

The success of this project boils down to an excellent joint effort between so many people and the amount of goodwill which has been poured into it by so many local agencies. Special mention must go to Kim Dobson - the estate's terrifyingly dynamic youth organiser, PS Kirsty Hayes, PC Mike James, PC Phil Beal, Bridget Klempner from London Probation and Councillor Paul Fisher, whose performance as a ward councillor and leader of his community quite simply becomes more awesome by the day.

It is difficult to overstate the contrast between the commitment of Paul and other community councillors (if I might say so myself) to empowering good local communities like that on the Worton estate, and the attitude of our New Labour predecessors (one of whom described the same residents as "whingers" during her row with her own constituents over the development on the green, providing them with a useful reminder of what would be in store for them should she or any of her successors ever be re-elected by the voters of Isleworth ward).

I would have loved to have been at the event on Thursday to give my support to these wonderful people who work so hard for their community and for our local environment but unfortunately couldn't due to a few, hopefully temporary personal difficulties. Nonetheless I would like to say a big well done to them all. I am so proud of my community and what, when allowed the chance, it is capable of achieving.

From left to right: Councillor Paul Fisher (Isleworth ward), Sir Ian Blair (Commissioner, Metropolitan Police), PC Phil Beal, Kim Dobson, PC Mike James, Councillor Shirley Fisher (Syon ward, Deputy Mayor of Hounslow), Councillor Dr. Genevieve Hibbs (Isleworth ward, Mayor of Hounslow).

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Further revelations on those rosebuds

Back in June, under the heading "On rosebuds and other thorny issues", I drew readers' attention to the bizarre spectacle of former New Labour councillor Vanessa Smith writing excitedly, and not a little paradoxically, to the letters' page of a local newspaper about the prospect of a fully-fledged Conservative administration at the London Borough of Hounslow following the next local elections in 2010.

The paradox arises from the fact that despite her New Labour sympathies, which clearly remain intact in spite of her quarrel with the local party leadership which led her to contest two council elections as an independent, her deep-rooted hatred of the ICG and of the community empowerment agenda in general means she can barely contain her excitement at the thought of an administration - any administration - in which the ICG no longer plays a part.

So much for Ms. Smith. However, this morning I had the benefit of a long and quite in-depth conversation with a prominent local individual well connected with the Labour Party itself, who informed me without any prompting on my part that New Labour in Hounslow, having accepted the futility at this stage of trying to win back control of the borough, is "pinning all its hopes" (the exact words used) on an all-out Conservative majority in 2010.

When one bears in mind the traditional Labour stereotype of the cost-cutting, service-slashing, privatising agenda of the Conservative Party, this serves to give us some indication of the importance our opponents place within the overall scheme of things on combating the work of the ICG in trying to build a resurgent, powerful and independent community.

Assuming this information is correct - and the evidence of my own eyes and ears (as well as Ms. Smith's letter) tend me towards the view that it is - then it would certainly explain the timidity, to the point of almost deliberate ineffectiveness, of New Labour in opposition. It would also explain the feeling of demoralisation which clearly exists amongst some members of the local party who still place greater import on socialist principles than on organisational control-freakery.

Of course, just to complicate matters further it looks increasingly likely that the next general election will be fought on the same day as the local elections, and that is a contest in which New Labour will certainly not be hoping for a Conservative victory as its heroine and role model Mrs. K££n vies to secure for herself another four or five years of the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed, and which she and her followers presume to be hers by right.

Thursday, 6th May 2010 has the potential to be a very interesting day indeed. Unlike, sadly, the many Borough Council meetings which are still to take place before it.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Back in the swing

Tonight (or ought I at this early hour to say last night?) saw the first meeting of the London Borough of Hounslow's Executive for some considerable time. It was also one of the shortest on record, with only one substantive item on the main body of the agenda and two on "yellow pages" discussed, in accordance with long-established council rules and statute, following the exclusion of the press and public.

I had no involvement in the public item, but the two items on yellow pages involved future plans for the currently derelict Meadowbank Community Centre in Cranford and the New Build by Hounslow Homes on Hounslow's Beavers Estate respectively.

As it happens these are two issues close to my heart. Whilst I am obviously not at liberty to report on the substantive discussions that took place I can say that both items were presented with enthusiasm. There can be few matters which are more relevant to real people than the creation of a community facility in an area of strategic importance which will be run by and for local residents, and the building of fit-for-purpose homes to replace decrepit old stock.

Once again the ICG was able to take advantage of its presence on the current Executive to promote and deliver the community agenda.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Counting the visits, counting the days

Yesterday afternoon I installed an invisible stat counter onto this blog and I am amazed by the number of unique visitors it attracts, especially in the light of the fact that it hasn't been updated for over a fortnight.

It is therefore with a certain feeling of guilt that I put digit to keyboard again, to carry on where I left off.

As I stated previously August is the political "close season" and, as such, I sh
ould in theory have more time during that month than normal to post up my news and thoughts. We know however that nature abhors a vacuum, and into the vacuum created by the relative lack of meetings during August stepped not only the need to make a living, but also the usually vociferous demands of two children who have been enjoying their last summer holiday before entering senior school for the very first time.

Doing the family thing provides one with an opportunity for reflection that is often absent when engaging in political business. At Legoland I had plenty of time to reflect upon how a normal person would view somebody who happily paid £36 to ride on a bus in the full knowledge that it would not arrive for two hours, and that the journey would then last for no more than four minutes before terminating at the exact same point from which it had departed. However as the day progressed I was privileged to be able to enjoy the same exp
erience no less than four times, reassuring me that at just £9 per ride I had received real value for money.

More fulfilling, for me, was a sunny day spent in Brighton. Ever since, at a late age, I learned to drive a car my use of public transport has fallen woefully short of my advocacy of it. It came as a pleasant surprise to discover that, with a bit of luck in arriving at the right station at the right time, it is possible to travel from Isleworth to B
righton in less than one hour and twenty minutes (in other words considerably less time than I had spent standing in the aforementioned queue at Legoland!).

Despite the tendency these days towards holidaying abroad there is still a unique appeal about a visit to an English seaside resort, and Rosie and Joe (above) were not noticably inconvenienced by the experience.

Rosie now has embarked upon one of the most daunting journeys she will make - through senior school - and Joe reports for duty on Wednesday. It seems like no time ago at all that we were pushing them along in the distinctive, elongated Swedish twin pram that announced our arrival to the neighbours.

In the meantime for me it's back to the world of meetings, doorstop agendas and political parry and thrust which seems to have become my lot.

I'll do my best to keep this blog updated as I go along, and as always your comments and observations would be most welcome.