Thursday, 17 June 2010

Serving our community from "the other side"

One of the plus points of being an ex-councillor is that one is able once again to function as an "ordinary" community activist without placing the groups and organisations with which we associate into a compromising position.

Back in 1998, shortly after I had been elected to the London Borough of Hounslow, the old Three Estates Residents' Association (TERA), of which I had been Secretary, came under an enormous amount of political pressure to relieve me of my office. This pressure, in the tradition of its originators, went on to manifest itself in the form of threats that essential funding would be withdrawn. Whilst this was of course blatant political posturing of the most appalling kind, it did have in its favour a vaguely plausible point, to wit that as an elected councillor I could have been perceived to have had a conflict of interests.

Now that that conflict no longer exists, I and I'm sure many of my colleagues will avail ourselves of the opportunity to become actively involved in the work of our community from the "inside" once again.

Today my wife Caroline, who for those who didn't know was one of the three elected members for Syon ward prior to the recent local elections, took advantage of two separate opportunities to do just that. The first involved a visit to the allotments in Park Road, where she is now a member of the allotment committee. Several ICG members and other well-known members of the wider community hold plots on Park Road, and the site is becoming very well organised. Allotment holders did not receive a very good deal under the last Labour administration, and although things may well be different this time around it is wise to be prepared just in case.

Later in the evening she was an invited guest at a Social to celebrate the launch of a new Rivers and Byways Leaflet held on the Cathja Project barge in Old Isleworth. The outgoing councillors (that's us!) were specifically thanked in an address by a representative on The Isleworth Society (TIS) for all the help and assistance we had given to them and Cathja during our time as members of the local authority.

There is always a huge amount of work to be done outside of the jurisdiction of a councillor, and it is pleasing to be able to get involved with some of that work once again as lay participants rather than from a perceived political perspective.

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