One of the thus far unblogged about features of the month just passed was the number of very fundamentally different meetings I was called upon to attend.
Meetings are both boon and bane when it comes to getting things done. Without meetings decisions don’t get taken, policies don’t implemented. But the more meetings that one is required to attend, the less one actually gets done in the field.
Probably the most significant meeting, if you call it that, that I was called upon to attend in January had nothing to do with council business. It was a weekend spent in Nottingham as part of my Congregational Federation foundation course. Caroline is also taking the same course, which meant the twins were forced to endure the 260-mile round trip with us, much to their obvious chagrin. One saving grace was that the accommodation at the Congregational Federation headquarters, in which we would normally have stayed, was occupied by students, so we and the others on the course were billeted at the Ibis Hotel, which of course is much more practical for a family group. A very productive and fulfilling weekend in which many new faces were seen and new friends met was rounded off splendidly by a group viewing of Match Of The Day in the small hotel bar.
Many of January’s meetings inevitably featured the Housing Revenue Account budget, with both the government-induced rent hike and the controversy surrounding my recommendation, passed by Borough Council, to use housing reserve funds to help facilitate tenant empowerment on our estates. Meetings with LBH Housing officers, finance bigwigs, Hounslow Homes and HFTRA, as well as with our coalition partners in the Conservative Group, presented me with the opportunity to explain the rationale for embarking upon such a radical venture.
Much was talked about at meetings in the local community too. A consultation exercise over plans to dramatically improve Isleworth Recreation Centre and Isleworth Library by bringing them together into a modern leisure hub were enthusiastically received, despite some initial, and in my view unnecessary teething problems in the consultation process. Meanwhile residents of Old Isleworth heard of the slow but continuing progress being made on the introduction of traffic reduction measures down by the river, and much liaising with residents continued to take place in connection with the proposed footpath along the bank of the Thames in the grounds currently occupied by Nazareth House.
At the Annual General Meeting of the ICG members showed great determination to step up our communication with those we serve, and to raise funds and expand membership still further in this most crucial year. And the point was agreed by everybody present that the most important meeting that any ICG activist will ever participate in takes place on the doorstep.