Monday, 6 April 2009

Confronting problems, embracing opportunities

I may have encountered pockets of resistance along the way as I've sought new means through which to empower tenants on our estates, but tonight when the Rainbow Project Panel was deliberating there was nothing but enthusiasm from all quarters when the Round 2 Expression of Interest Assessments took place at the Civic Centre this evening.

The Chair and Chief Executive of Hounslow Homes, the Chair of the Hounslow Federation of Tenants' and Residents' Associations (HFTRA), LBH's innovative Principal Community Development & Area Initiatives Officer Kate Tomkinson and myself spent two highly productive hours sifting through a new round of applications from several of the borough's active tenant groups, contemplating funding applications for landscaping, play areas, improvements to community buildings, community cohesion initiatives and educational projects for both adults and children.

The magic of the Rainbow Project is that it provides a mechanism for identifying not only where funding is needed, but also where there are particular issues which may potentially be resolved through other means. For instance a request for CCTV cameras, although not always practical due to ongoing maintenance costs, flags up crime concerns and possible hotspots for anti-social behaviour which might possibly be addressed through other channels. Follow-up work is the rule rather than the exception, few applications are rejected out of hand.

Earlier today an equally productive meeting was held between Isleworth ward councillors, representatives from The Isleworth Society (TIS), Hounslow Homes officers, local authority planning and street management officers, and the council's Head of Customer Services Robert Della-Sala. Several issues of importance to us as a local community were discussed, and it was truly useful for every party to have the opportunity to see the issues at hand from the point of view of others. Although as a council we can sometimes be defensive and opt instinctively for the path of least resistance, what emerged from the meeting was a proposal to come together on a quarterly basis and monitor progress, a completely new opportunity for civic leaders in Isleworth who before today had only the sometimes frustrating option of complaining to or through councillors and engaging in endless and often fruitless exchanges of e-mails.

Once again engagement is demonstrated to be the way forward. I am looking forward to our fourth year as part of the governing administration at Hounslow and to the opportunities yet untapped that it promises to bring.

No comments: