Sunday, 21 December 2008

What a night!

I am posting on a Sunday morning after having spent a day recovering from a wonderful ICG Christmas Social at Isleworth Working Men's Club on Friday night.

Whilst we had had some difficulties during the organisation of the event, the turnout was nonetheless considerably up on last year's and a really good time was had by all.

We were particularly pleased to welcome a dozen or so fellow councillors from the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats and West Area Independents, and couldn't help noting with a hint of irony that only the "pariahs" of local politics (as defined by ex-Councillor Pat Nicholas, May 1998) could host a social event which brought together such a diverse range of local political figures.

Detractors will point to such a display of unity as "evidence" that their foes are in essence all from the same stable, although we would tend instead towards the view that a new era is dawning in local politics which sees most of its participants divided in politics, but brought together by a common commitment to restore honesty and integrity to local debate.

It was great also to see our old friend Jim Lawes, the legendary and much-missed star of the BrentfordTW8 and ChiswickW4 community forums, looking good and (by means of an explanation for his absence from the forums) working very hard.

I hope to be able to post up some photos of the event shortly. In the meantime a big thank you to everybody who came along and took part.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Three Wise Men....a postscript

As we promised those who came along to the Question Time event earlier in the week (see below), we have studied the comments which were submitted on the survey sheets at the end of the debate and have taken on board some of the suggestions that have been made to improve it for next year and to provide an even more effective platform through which residents attending can let us know of their concerns.

One thing that surprised and pleased me was that I seem to have held my own in the "ratings". Attendees were asked to rate the performances of the three elected members on the panel as well as of the Scrutiny team. My rating was marginally ahead of one of my colleagues, and just a little behind the other. Considering I was on "away" territory - almost exclusively discussing service matters rather than the community empowerment issues which are the ICG's concern - I am very happy with this.

Overall the event itself was very well received, with a very large majority expressing the view that it had been a useful exercise.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Three Wise Men?

Probably not. But Council Leader Peter Thompson, Deputy Leader Mark Bowen and I did our best to give full and honest answers when questions were put to us by residents at what will hopefully have been the first of many Question Time events hosted by the London Borough of Hounslow's Overview & Scrutiny Committee at the Civic Centre last night.

Questions were asked on a whole range of subjects, including parking, leisure, social services, conservation and the credit crunch. O&SC Chair Councillor Peter Carey, who was superb as Master of Ceremonies for the event, then put them to each of us for our comments.

There is never too much we can do to engage reisdents and to find out what their concerns really are. Although the gathering last night was too small to be accepted with confidence as being reliably representative, it enabled us to make a very good start.