Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A day in the life of a dedicated community

This morning I attended the funeral of Frances Waugh, who had been the partner of Ivybridge activist George Burrell for nearly forty years. My ICG Committee colleague Martin Murphy was also there, as was our former Vice Chair Pat Cole. It was a modest congregation, but Fran was a sweet lady and we gave her the send-off she deserved.

I have had my differences with George. He is a man who has robust opinions and he has never hesitated to express them. But he is a good man and I am grateful for the support that those closest to him on Ivybridge and elsewhere - who were by no means confined to the ranks of the ICG - turned out to offer him in his time of need.

While Martin and I were at Hanworth Crem the ICG's current Vice Chair Andy Sibley was representing us at the Isleworth Youth Action Partnership (IYAP), at a meeting at the Isleworth Explorers' Club. This is one of those bodies that has received correspondence from certain personages ordering it to desist from inviting anybody connected or thought to be connected to the ICG to its meetings. Needless to say those giving the orders seldom attend themselves, but that hasn't prevented said personages from attempting to dictate the agenda. Like all the other organisations that have received this threatening but entirely toothless rubbish, IYAP very quickly filed it under "R".

This afternoon Caroline Andrews was at Brentford Business Watch, which is fairly much what it says on the tin. During her tenure as a Syon councillor Caroline made a lot of friends and contacts, particularly on Brentford Dock, and it is good that she keeps her hand in with those people, who judging by the invites she receives to events seem to value her presence. In this way the ICG can remain informed about all the latest issues and events which is useful if our help is ever asked for.

Tonight Shirley Fisher and Andy were at the Isleworth Bowling Club on a purely sporting visit, but one which will have reasserted our continued support for this excellent local community organisation.

We are currently being attacked on a local Internet forum for attending these events. It would seem that the powers who at this precise moment in time happen to be would prefer that nobody did so. But we are a community group and supporting community events is what we do, even if they themselves couldn't be arsed.

It is with genuine sadness that I resign myself to the fact that the old negativities would appear to remain, and that the political powers would seem not to have relented one iota in their bitter hatred of the community movement. But it is their loss, we will carry on doing what we do and supporting local people and their organisations. The rancorous, septic bile of our detractors deters us not one jot. The community revolution continues in spite of the election result, if our elected representatives will not work with us then we will simply work around them.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Vince Cable's speech to the Liberal Democrat Party Conference

Reproduced in full:

"I have come to account to you, conference, for the work I have been carrying out in the coalition government.

"I have managed to infuriate the bank bosses; acquire a fatwa from the revolutionary guards of the trades union movement; frighten the Daily Telegraph with a progressive graduate payment; and upset very rich people who are trying to dodge British taxes. I must be doing something right.

"But I am told that I look miserable. I'm sorry, conference, this is my happy face. 'Aren't you having fun?' people ask. It isn't much fun but it's necessary: necessary for our country that our parties work together at a time of financial crisis. And it is an opportunity for the party to demonstrate that we have the political maturity to make difficult decisions and wield power, with principle.

"As for real fun, I am introducing dancing classes into the coalition. Unfortunately, I keep treading on Theresa May's toes and my partners think I have two left feet.

"But what is it like being in bed with the Tories? First, it's exhausting; it's exhausting because you have to fight to keep the duvet. But to hold our own we need to maintain our party's identity and our authentic voice. We had to go through a merger to found our party….we'll never merge again.

"We will fight the next general elections as an independent force with our options open. Just like 2010. But coalition is the future of politics. It is good for government and good for Britain. We must make sure it is good for the Lib Dems as well.

"What brought this coalition together is the need to clean up the inherited economic mess: the aftermath of the banking collapse; the largest fiscal deficit in the G20.

"This is bound to hurt. Strong disinfectant stings. The public is, broadly, sympathetic to the coalition. But we are faced with an aggressive Labour opposition which has chosen the easy option of deficit denial. Deficit; what deficit? Nothing to do with us, guv.

"It has everything to do with them.

"There was, of course, a global financial crisis. But our Labour predecessors left Britain exceptionally vulnerable and damaged: more personal debt than any other major economy; a dangerously inflated property bubble; and a bloated banking sector behaving as masters, not the servants of the people. Their economic model combined the financial lunacies of Ireland and Iceland. They built a house on sand and thought that they were ushering in a new, progressive work of architecture. It has collapsed. They lacked foresight; now they even lack hindsight.

"In an emergency it was right to accept large scale deficit financing. But the deficit must now be corrected. Public spending was ramped up using tax windfalls which have gone. We are a poorer country than two years ago and the budget must reflect what we can afford.

"We know that if elected Labour planned to raise VAT. They attack this government's cuts but say not a peep about the £23bn of fiscal tightening Alistair Darling had already introduced. They planned to chop my department's budget by 20 to 25%, but now they oppose every cut, ranting with synthetic rage, and refuse, point blank, to set out their alternatives. They demand a plan B but don't have a plan A. The only tough choice they will face is which Miliband.

"A proper debate is impossible with people who start from the infantile proposition that there isn't a problem; and simply hark back to a failed world of 'business as usual'.

"But our party will emerge with credit from this crisis. We were the first, by far, to warn of the crisis to come. And last year, Nick Clegg and I warned of future cuts. This inconvenient truth wasn't popular but you heard it here first.

"Then, we established in government the need to combine firmness and fairness. Yes, there has to be a freeze on public sector pay, to save jobs and services, but the lowest paid should be protected. Yes, there will be higher taxes overall. But the broadest backs should carry the biggest burden.

"But I am also optimistic about the party's future because I know there is stamina and determination born of years of real life experience in local government. Those of you who took power from Labour in Newcastle, Hull, Oldham, Bristol, Sheffield and here in Liverpool had to take unpopular decisions to correct budgets which didn't add up. Nationally we have the same problem on a grander scale and want to learn from your experience.

"But the real debate is not 'cuts versus no cuts' - an absurd parody of the policy choices - but how we balance cuts with economic recovery and job creation.

"Growth is essential. Recovery is not possible without sorting out the public finances; but the public finances cannot be sorted out without the revenue from economic growth. Moreover the growth has to be balanced and sustainable, not based on another bubble.

"But economic recovery will not happen automatically, by magic. Government has a key role. It has to sustain demand. That is basic Keynes. Liberal economics also requires us to remove obstacles to growth led by private enterprise. Among them is the threat to recovery from a credit squeeze by banks on small businesses.

"On banks, I make no apology for attacking spivs and gamblers who did more harm to the British economy than Bob Crow could achieve in his wildest Trotskyite fantasies, while paying themselves outrageous bonuses underwritten by the taxpayer. There is much public anger about banks and it is well deserved.

"But I am not seeking retribution. We have a pressing practical problem: the lack of capital for sound, non property, business. Many firms say they are already being crippled by banks' charges and restrictions.

"The Chancellor and I have set out a range of sticks and carrots to get banks to support the real economy. Tough interventions will be needed if capital which could be used to support business lending is frittered away in bonuses and dividends.

"The Coalition Agreement was crystal clear, too, that the structure of banking must be reformed to prevent future disasters and promote competition. Our agenda can be summed in seven words: make them safe and make them lend. I agree with Mervyn. We just can't risk having banks that are too big to fail.

"Beyond the banks, there are vast amounts of institutional capital - in pension funds and the like - looking for productive outlets. The Government is proposing to establish a Green Investment Bank to support environmentally valuable projects and infrastructure alongside these private investors: making the rhetoric of the Green New Deal real.

"And looking further ahead, my colleague Ed Davey is doing valuable work promoting mutual ownership and also - as in the Royal Mail - spreading worker ownership alongside private capital.

"I want to announce today that employees in Royal Mail will benefit from the largest employee shares scheme of any privatisation for 25 years. The Liberal Democrats were the first and only party to call for an employee stake and we are now implementing it in Government.

"The Post Office is not for sale. There will be no programme of closures as there were under Labour.

"And the principle of responsible ownership should apply across the business world. We need successful business. But let me be quite clear. The Government's agenda is not one of laissez-faire. Markets are often irrational or rigged. So I am shining a harsh light into the murky world of corporate behaviour. Why should good companies be destroyed by short term investors looking for a speculative killing, while their accomplices in the City make fat fees? Why do directors sometimes forget their wider duties when a cheque is waved before them?

"Capitalism takes no prisoners and kills competition where it can, as Adam Smith explained over 200 years ago. I want to protect consumers and keep prices down and provide a level playing field for small business, so we must be vigilant right across the economy - whether in the old industries of economies textbooks or the newer privatised utilities and cosy magic circles in auditing, law or investment banking. Competition is central to my pro market, pro business, agenda.

"But the big long term question is: how does the country earn a living in future? Natural resources? The oil money was squandered. Metal bashing? Mostly gone to Asia. Banking? Been there, done that. What is left? Actually quite a lot. People. Skilled and educated people. High tech manufacturing of which we already have a great deal. Creative industries, IT and science based industries and professional services. In my job I meet many outstanding, world class, British based companies. But we need more companies and more jobs in the companies we have.

"It is my job as Business Secretary to support business growth. And this knowledge based economy requires more high quality people from FE, HE and vocational training. Here, we have a problem. Businesses cannot grow because of a shortage of trained workers while our schools churn out young people regarded by companies as virtually unemployable. The pool of unemployed graduates is growing while there is a chronic shortage of science graduates and especially engineers.

"There has to be a revolution in post 16 education and training. We are making a start. Despite cuts, my department is funding 50,000 extra high level apprenticeships this year - vital for a manufacturing revival. My Conservative colleague David Willetts and I want to sweep away the artificial barriers between universities and FE; between academic and vocational; between full time, part time and continuing life long learning; between the academic and vocational. I was the first person in my family to stay on at school beyond 15. I want everyone to have the chance to continue their education.

"There are some unhelpful, cultural, prejudices and vested interests to overcome. The belief that only A-starred A levels count; not apprenticeships. Or a gold standard as defined by the Russell Group not good teaching institutions like Teesside University or Liverpool John Moores. Or the assumption that top Oxbridge maths brains should go to Goldman Sachs or hedge funds not to Rolls Royce or into teaching. Wrong. Completely wrong.

"But what do we do when there is less government money?

"I realise that there are people in the hall who believe that education at all levels must be free and the taxpayer should pay up, regardless of the bill. In reality the only way to maintain high quality higher education with less government money is for the graduate beneficiaries to make a bigger contribution from the extra earnings they enjoy later in life.

"I am doing everything I can to ensure that graduate contributions are linked to earnings. Why should low paid graduates - nurses, youth workers or science researchers - pay the same as corporate lawyers and investment bankers? We have to balance higher contributions with basic fairness.

"The biggest test of our party's contribution to the coalition is whether we can ensure fairness more widely. You'll remember our Conservative colleagues campaigned in the General Election to lift the inheritance tax burden on double millionaires.

"But they have dropped that commitment. They have gone halfway to accepting our case for equalising income tax and capital gains tax rates. They have accepted in the Coalition Agreement that the priority for cutting income tax is for low earners not top earners.

"Ironically, we may be able to make more progress on a fairness agenda with the Conservatives than New Labour was willing to do. Labour was constantly on its knees trying to prove that it was a friend of the super rich.

"It will be said that in a world of internationally mobile capital and people it is counterproductive to tax personal income and corporate profit to uncompetitive levels. That is right. But a progressive alternative is to shift the tax base to property and land which cannot run away and represent, in Britain, an extreme concentration of wealth. I personally regret that mansion tax did not make it into the Coalition Agreement but in a coalition we have to compromise. But we can and should maintain our distinctive and progressive tax policies for the future.

"I started by saying that I am reporting back to you conference. I want to conclude by saying that your role is crucial. In government we are trying to put Lib Dem ideas into action; your job is to keep us honest. We have punched above our weight in government because we have a democratic party which has clear principles and policies. In a few short months we have showed how we can advance our party's policies and principles while serving the wider national interest. But we need to sell this message. The Tories will not do that for us. We have to do it ourselves. That means focus leaflets and doorsteps. That means you. We need you. All of you".

Quit the excuses David - you're a crap manager, deal with it.

Many of the national newspapers and sports websites have reported today on the claim by Everton manager David Moyes that a Brentford supporter threw a bottle into the away fans' enclosure following the Bees' historic Carling Cup victory over the Premier League club last night.

It is an unwelcome distraction from the main event, and in my view the claim was made with such a distraction in mind.

I was in Block E in Braemar Road and I witnessed the "incident" first hand. About 20-30 bottles, all of them plastic and most of them empty, rained down upon stewards and police from amongst the Everton crowd following their team's defeat. One of the hundreds of Brentford supporters who had run onto the pitch to celebrate their team's victory picked up one of the plastic bottles and returned it into the crowd. That was it, that was the "incident" that has made all the headlines this morning.

He shouldn't have done it, of course. Two wrongs do not make a right. But the impression created by Moyes' comments is that a glass bottle was hurled unprovoked into the Everton crowd with intent to cause serious injury. This is a grotesque misrepresentation of what actually happened.

I expressed in another thread recently my contempt for the practice of making other people the excuse for one's own failings. I believe David Moyes has quite deliberately blown the bottle-throwing incident out of all proportion as a means of deflecting attention from his team's poor performance, for which he is responsible.

Before last night I had a lot of respect for Moyes. His teams have not done badly overall and I had always protested that a good manager does not become a bad manager overnight. But his tactics yesterday were frankly rubbish and it ill becomes a man of his stature to be resorting to nonsense like this in the hope that the papers will report it rather than the lacklustre performance of his team.

I hope Moyes is charged with wasting police time. And if he is sacked as Everton manager as well on account of his abysmal team tactics then I for one will not be losing any sleep now.

New council leadership does not respect the opposition. Anyone surprised?

I understand that a very short Special Borough Council Meeting was held last night at Hounslow Civic Centre to consider various questions and motions tabled by the opposition Conservative Group.

The reason it was short was that a Labour councillor moved at the onset of the meeting that it be adjourned indefinitely, and so it was.

Of course this kind of stunt is underhand, bad for democracy etc., but is anybody truly surprised by Labour's actions? I know I do bang on somewhat about the fact that it was a Conservative campaign which put Labour back in office in May - but - well, it was a Conservative campaign which put Labour back in office in May.

The new Labour administration at the London Borough of Hounslow has no respect for its Conservative opponents and, with appropriate apologies to my good friend Councillor Mark Bowen who now leads the Conservative Group (and I wish him well), they don't deserve any respect following the debacle that was the local election.

Labour will simply trample all over them throughout the next four years as they quite rightly do not fear electoral repercussions at the hands of the Conservatives in a borough which has a "natural" Labour majority. Especially with a Conservative-led government in office which, whether rightly or wrongly, is committed to a major cuts programme.

The only hope of unseating Labour in Hounslow now, if that proves to be a desirable objective, lies in the emergence of a third political power within the borough to take on both establishment parties and to present residents with a new, radical, community-led and community-focused alternative. I wonder whether any of the current crop of Conservative councillors is ambitious enough, and angry enough, to wish to join us in helping to bring that about?

In the meantime the opposition should expect much more of the kind of thing they experienced last night. And the less time they spend at council meetings, maybe the more time they will have to reflect upon whether or not the strategy of using the cover provided by the general election to move in on the various independents around the borough in the hope of replacing them in their respective areas of influence was truly a clever one.

Who next after the Super Bees knock Everton out of the Carling Cup?

I'm still on a high after watching Brentford FC knock Everton out of the Carling Cup on penalties with the two wee ones a few hours ago.

I won't launch into a detailed analysis of the match as it has already been done several places elsewhere, but I will say that although we rode our luck at times the Bees thoroughly deserved their victory for their sheer tenacity and spirit.

Now that we're in the last sixteen there is a very good chance we'll be drawn against one of the even bigger Premier League names. With a son who supports Arsenal and a daughter who supports Chelsea that could present me with a real logistical problem.

But in the meantime let's all just savour an historic victory, and say a big "Well Done!" to Andy Scott and all the lads in the team. They did us immensely proud tonight.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Celebrating Isleworth (in pictures)

As promised, here are some photos from this event held over the weekend. I think they are all self-explanatory but I have added a few comments anyway:

The Isleworth Society (TIS) is 50 years old this year. Deservedly it had pride of place at the exhibition.

TIS Chair Mike Derham introduces the Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow to attendees. I tried about seven times to get Mike to look at the camera. Maybe he's just shy.

ICG Treasurer and former Syon ward councillor Shirley Fisher with the Isleworth Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT).

Isleworth Town School was well represented at the event. Attendees included head teacher Eileen Sheedy.

Our local coat of arms. The previous Mayor Paul Lynch said we could keep this in Isleworth. Colin Ellar referred to it in his speech, let's hope he honours his predecessor's promise.

A well-stocked stall from the Friends of Osterley Park. The park is a great local asset, let's hope it has all the friends it needs.

The popular Isleworth Bowling Club. Johnny Rahman, centre, talked me into joining. I used to think only old people played bowls (no comments please!).

Christine Diwell and Mike Derham from TIS share a joke with The Worshipful Mayor Councillor Colin Ellar (where do they find these absurd, anachronistic titles?).

First prize for the most decorative stall would probably have gone to St. John the Baptist Church. Sean and Michael were too bashful to appear in the photo alongside their excellent work.

Frances Waugh

The sad news came in over the weekend that our longtime Ivybridge friend and member Frances Waugh had passed away after having been only fairly recently diagnosed with cancer.

I don't yet know the full details, hence the brevity of this posting. However I and I'm sure all my ICG comrades would like to offer our sincere condolences to her partner George Burrell and to all who knew her, and our support at this most difficult time.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Celebrating Isleworth

It was a pleasure yesterday (Saturday) morning to help out at the Celebrating Isleworth event organised by The Isleworth Society (TIS) and which is taking place throughout the weekend at Isleworth Public Hall.

I am not going to remember all the participants so I apologise in advance to those I leave out, but from recollection they included the Safer Neighbourhood Team, Extended Schools, Isleworth Bowls Club, Friends of Osterley Park, Isleworth Town School, The Mulberry Centre, Isleworth & Hounslow Charities, Syon Park, St. John the Baptist Church and St. Mary's Church.

The Mayor of Hounslow, Colin Ellar, spent some time visiting the event and made an entertaining speech in which he openly acknowledged the unique character of Isleworth, not just in its history but also as a living community today.

As well as myself several ICG members took part in helping to promote the event, many of whom of course being involved with the participant groups themselves. Former Syon councillor Shirley Fisher manned the entrance before joining the main event in the hall, and her former ward colleague Caroline Andrews will be working during the second day of the event later today.

I will post up some photographs as soon as my children decide to tell me whereabouts in the flat the requisite USB cable has been spirited away to.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Brentford is a "home town" according to new survey

Reproduced with acknowledgements to

Brentford is a 'Home Town' according to the widest ever Clone Town survey results released this week by leading independent think-tank NEF (new economics foundation).

The Clone Town Britain Index measures both the identity and diversity of outlets on the core of the high street. It weights more for identity because ownership is critical to the health of the local economy and community. But diversity is important, and so is also included.

Towns scoring below 50 on the scale – like neighbouring Chiswick - are classified as Clone Towns. Over half of the stores counted are chains, and there is little diversity. Towns scoring over 65 – like Brentford - are classified as Home Towns, where almost two thirds or more of the stores are independent, and there is a wide range of outlets. In between are ‘Border Towns,’ which are neither highly homogenised, nor strongly independent and diverse.

The key to success, according to Andrew Dakers, ward councillor (2006-10) and a guiding light behind the group, is the community identifying a vision of a future that it wants for itself. Constantly in sight is “world-class sustainable development that is also financially deliverable”. The group is supported on a cross-party basis.

Chief among issues addressed by Brentford’s community problem-solving has been restoring economic viability, especially in retail. Late in 2005 Jersey-based company Geronimo Ltd purchased freeholds along one side of the high street, later completing more acquisitions to emerge as the centre’s major landowner. Soon afterwards developer Ballymore Ltd’s option to buy the site was revealed, once Geronimo had obtained planning permission for a major mixed use housing and retail development.

Other community groups may have chosen to confront the developers. Brentford’s Steering Group sought dialogue instead. Representatives of Ballymore and Geronimo responded to invitations to attend all the workshops in 2007. In consequence the landowners reviewed the group’s recommendations and provided written feedback on aspects of the proposed urban design approach. In a further effort to support the community, the landowners removed boards on some empty high street shops. With the economic downturn delaying redevelopment in 2009 they started making the units available again on short leases to help bring additional vitality back to the town centre, and by May 2010 they were nearly all reoccupied.

Three years on and the Steering Group has made a number of key interventions: introducing Christmas lights to the town centre, securing funding for a small car park to capture more passing trade, launching the Wedge Card loyalty card scheme, a town centre website and the town’s first ever public event – a celebration of St George’s Day – in the historic Market Place.

Unfortunately, due to a combination of the economic downturn and the developers standing down their development team, dialogue largely stalled, giving campaigners their one serious setback. In autumn 2009 however, a new collaborative approach emerged. With funding secured from Ballymore and the local area committee S106 fund, Ballymore and the High Street Steering Group commissioned a joint workshop and report from The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. The process worked through the complex urban design required for the site and provides the basis of a brief for the urban planner that will be hired to work up a planning application for the site.

In the current economic downturn, upwards-only rent reviews are a major concern for the 50 or so independent high street traders who remain tenants of Hounslow borough. Responding to the local councillors approaches, borough officers are seeking flexible solutions and discussions are now progressing on redefining the rent frameworks. This would substitute lower turnover of tenants and reduced volatility of income in the medium-long term as a goal in place of maximising short term revenue. The proposed framework would consider the type of businesses that are missing from the retail mix when evaluating rental income potential and the marketing of vacant retail units.

Nine of the 13 West London villages were registered as clone towns. Richmond tops the table with just five independents counted on its high street, suggesting Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith will have his work cut out in his campaign to create a retail association to save local independents.

At the other end of the scale only Shepherd’s Bush in addition to Brentford registered as a home town from West London. How long Shepherd’s Bush’s ethnically diverse Goldhawk Road, with 48 out of 52 shops classified as independent by our survey, can survive remains to be seen. The recession has neatly coincided with the opening of the largest urban area indoor shopping centre in Europe – ‘Westfield London’ – right next door, complete with over 250 chains stores.

Of the 18 London villages that were resurveyed from 2005, three worsened. Hampstead, Camden and Brixton all moved from border to clone status. There was better news on nearby ‘hills’, with Streatham Hill improving from a border to a home town and Muswell Hill from a clone to a border town.

Government right to rebuff White History petition

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

How should we define "the people"?

I have to admit that I probably don't know as much as I should about the way that politics works in the USA. It would appear that there, even more so than here, everything revolves around the big two parties, but that unlike in the UK there are opportunities for factions and parties within parties to gatecrash the show by taking part in primaries and publicly seeking nomination for positions of influence within the two party system.

My attention today was drawn to a BBC News item headed "Tea Party surges in US primaries". When I clicked the link I noticed that the article carried the slightly longer title "Tea Party surges in US Republican primaries".

The Tea Party, it would appear, is a fringe group on the conservative wing of the already conservative Republican Party and has won several Senate nominations including in Delaware, where the successful candidate Christine O'Donnell was endorsed by Sarah Palin. In her victory speech Ms. O'Donnell warned her opponents: "Don't ever underestimate the power of we, the people".

I found myself wondering just what it was about the Tea Party that qualified it to presume to speak for "the people". My guess was that, as an organ of the conservative right, its agenda would have something to do with small government, minimal intervention and lower taxes. But not wishing to jump automatically to conclusions, I decided to investigate. Sure enough, it would appear that the Tea Party is driven by a desire for "limited government" and "opposes high government spending". It is also opposed to President Barack Obama's healthcare proposals, his economic stimulus ideas and other aspects of his political agenda.

In spite of the fact that my dislike of political manipulation, control freakery and unnecessary interference in people's lives was what led me to join and work for the ICG, I have to admit that I nonetheless instinctively baulk at conservative "small government" rhetoric. The reason for this, I believe, is that the conservative dislike of government intervention at both local and national levels has less to do with a desire to allow communities to flourish organically and more to do with creating an environment in which everybody strives for Number One and in which, as the heroine of the cult once infamously put it, "there is no such thing as society".

In the world of big party politics this outlook represents one side of a dichotomy which conspires with the other side to try to strike the communitarian ideals heralded by the likes of the ICG out of the discussion and into the wilderness. Whilst conservatives (and I use the term generically rather than as a party label) preach the gospel of Every Man For Himself, their so-called "socialist" critics hold that society should by organised (by them), regulated by The Party as the only agency that has the wit and sophistication to recognise where the interests of that society truly lie, and that any attempt by that society to self-manage should be viewed with the utmost suspicion and crumpled ruthlessly underfoot by the full weight of the bureaucratic machine under its control.

In my view it is essential that ICG members recognise this two-headed ideological assault upon our community ideal for what it is, and do not make the mistake of adopting one twin as an ally in the struggle against the other. Temporary alliances are one thing entirely, but the wider object of the exercise is to use any situation to the community's ultimate advantage, not to succumb to the allure of ideologies which are fundamentally at odds with our own outlook.

It was a government of the right in the USA that wreaked havoc in the Middle East, supported meekly and without challenge by a government supposedly of the left in the UK. A good many of those protesters who marched against the illegal Iraq war shuffled out without conscience or embarrassment a few years later to implore voters to back those who had taken us into it.

The strength of our cause lies in the fact that we are different to, and better than, the whole stinking lot of them.

Goodwill, bad faith and the politics of scapegoating

About twenty years ago (heck, doesn't time fly?) I worked at a portering firm at London's Heathrow Airport. The company was a British variant of an American concept called Skycaps. I joined Skycaps (then owned by Valet Services Ltd.) in the autumn of 1989 because I wanted to do something ordinary, using my hands, out and about, without responsibility over others and not in an office. Within a few months they offered me the post of Duty Manager which against my better judgement I accepted, returning to office-based work and supervising some 120 staff, but I am digressing from the main thrust of my story.

The history of portering at Heathrow had been an interesting one. Hitherto the British Airports Authority (BAA) had employed their own porters. They were unionised, well organised and pretty well paid for what they did. But on top of their wages, they would receive tips from the passengers whose luggage they carried. As no charge for portering was made by the airport at the time, the BAA porters would receive a tip from the large majority of their customers and in most cases would end up making considerably more in an average week from gratuities than they did in the form of wages. It is not an exaggeration to say I knew several who owned multiple homes.

As can be imagined, an element of greed set in. Many porters would make a beeline for the limousines as they turned up on the forecourt outside the terminal building and the modest car that had trundled in unnoticed behind containing the elderly or infirm passenger with their little bag would find itself unattended to and unfussed over.

In some instances passengers who declined to give a tip, or who offered one deemed to be of insufficient quantum, would be made to feel uncomfortable or even insulted.

In fact the BAA porters at Heathrow were no different in temperament to anybody else. Everyone likes to make a living and avarice is one of those negative attributes that all of us possess in some measure. Many of the porters did indeed make it their business to assist the less fortunate, even though they did so at some cost to themselves in terms of lost opportunity, but the reputation of the overall service suffered as a consequence of the greed of some.

The Skycaps provided the BAA management with an attractive solution. A two-bob franchise operation employing untrained staff at rock bottom wages who were not unionised, were paid only at basic rate no matter how long they worked and not at all when they were sick or on holiday, with a high staff turnover enabling summary dismissals to occur on an almost daily basis without fear of repercussions under employment law must have had the bosses positively drooling with eager expectation.

It was even worse than that. The Skycap was required to charge passengers £5 per transaction. All the money went to the airport. He was forbidden, under threat of instant dismissal, to accept tips. All the fruits of the customer's kindness would end up in the coffers of the airport management.

The old porters were not unreasonably furious. They remained in post, but their job description changed dramatically and they became trolley pushers, offering do-it-yourself vehicles to those passengers who didn't wish to pay for a porter service. There were murmurings of strike action and of legal redress but nothing ever came of it, at least for as long as I was there. They knew that they only had to give the management half an excuse and they would be out of the door entirely.

The Skycaps were for the most part a decent bunch - often semi-retired, occasionally semi-literate but more often normal people who had just fallen on slightly hard times and were grateful for anything that resembled a proper job. One or two who somehow got past the interview team - themselves complete amateurs - were downright crazy. One lad on my team who was busy plying his trade outside Terminal One one afternoon was apprehended mid-shift by a vanload of heavily armed police officers and never seen by any of us again (by all accounts he was both an illegal immigrant and a big-time drug smuggler but had still managed to acquire an airside security pass - this was of course pre-9/11).

The junior management tried their best, whilst the senior management were beyond help when it came to any kind of understanding as to how to treat their fellow human beings. As Duty Manager I was asked to sack one employee because he was "ugly" (which indeed he was, but no more so than when we had taken him on) and when I refused I too became persona non grata and took my inevitable place atop the slippery slope. Another guy, a bodybuilder, was offered a job after a successful interview only to be told when he reported for work the next morning that he didn't have a job after all because we didn't have a jacket in his size. I promise this is for real.

But it was on the question of money that the BAA's service-on-the-cheap philosophy came off the rails and that was essentially because, like the BAA porters before them, the Skycaps at the end of the day were only human. Whilst the BAA porters had got used to a certain standard of living, the Skycaps were for the most part not prepared to break their backs for three quid an hour and whenever a five or ten pound note was waved under their noses, basically they took it. Many also went a step further and "scammed" some of their transactions - removing the ticket from the luggage completely and claiming the BAA's fiver for themselves. Whilst a blind eye was turned to the former, the latter was a no-no and a high-risk strategy, and sackings took place routinely.

What has this got to do with anything much I hear you ask? Well it is a real-life tale of goodwill, bad faith and scapegoating - three concepts that I have come across myself in local politics, from which as in many other walks of life I draw heavily upon my own past experience.

The BAA management used an admittedly unsatisfactory situation to scapegoat their entire workforce and, worse, they used the greed of some as an excuse to replace it with a system based upon exploitation that would allow their own greed to flourish in its place. That was an act of bad faith, both to the outgoing BAA porters and to the slave-labour Skycaps. The Skycaps recognised that bad faith and repaid it in kind, by ignoring the rules and in some cases by actually ripping off their employers. Dishonour begets dishonour.

The old porters could have demonstrated goodwill by devising an arrangement in which the modestly-heeled and vulnerable could be protected from the negative consequences of the conduct of the limo-chasers. Such a robust demonstration of honest goodwill would have made it far more difficult for the management to use their shortcomings as a reason for effectively replacing them with non-unionised slave labour.

This for me was the worst part of it all. The scapegoating - the using of the BAA porters and their practices as a transparent excuse for replacing organised labour with a new system in which their replacements were weak and could be exploited.

As my story draws to a close, there is a twist in the tail that might be of interest to some. When I and fellow Skycap Lance Newbigging (later to become active with the ICG and to stand as a candidate) eventually lost our own jobs we worked from the outside to bring our unscrupulous ex-employers "to justice". Not only did we haul them before Industrial Tribunals and County Courts on literally dozens of occasions on behalf of dismissed former colleagues, but we got the best part of the workforce signed up with the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) and forced the company to introduce proper employment contracts and improved working conditions for those still with the firm. Within a year or two Valet Services Ltd. had lost the franchise.

I believe in life that if one wishes to take a certain path then one should take responsibility for that decision and not attempt to make others the reason for it. Scapegoating of the innocent is the very worst form of moral cowardice and those who engage in it tend to end up being repaid in their own coin.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Keeping on the scent at Mogden

Last night (Wednesday) I spent a useful couple of hours at Mogden Sewage Works attending the quarterly(ish) meeting of the Mogden Residents' Liaison Committee (MRLC), an ad hoc body set up by Thames Water as a means of maintaining a regular dialogue with councillors and officers from both Hounslow and Richmond and with local residents, the majority of whom are organised around the Mogden Residents' Action Group (MRAG).

I attended in my capacity as an MRAG official.

Thames as always provided an update of what they claim to have been doing to help alleviate the ongoing problems of odour and mosquito blight that their operation inflicts upon the surrounding community.

There seems to be a widespread if not unanimous agreement that liaison between the water giant and residents' representatives seems to be being conducted in a more cordial atmosphere than has hitherto been the case, which of course is a very good thing, but Thames do in my view remain slippery at times and their dealings still do need to be monitored at close quarters.

The duty to involve residents in one particularly important project was considered by Thames to have been discharged by its willingness to brief the Environment Department at the London Borough of Hounslow. But despite the expertise and professionalism of the Environmental Health officers on the frontline Thames managers must be aware of the almost pathological unco-operativeness that was demonstrated by chief officers towards councillors involved with Mogden under the previous administration and which, I imagine, will be continued under this one. If Thames really does want to demonstrate goodwill towards its neighbours it will involve them at source rather than bypassing them in this manner.

In fairness I did pick up some genuinely positive vibes from the Thames management. Some questions submitted by e-mail from MRAG's Steve Taylor, who was unable to make the meeting, were read out and addressed by Thames, interestingly to the annoyance of a Hounslow Conservative councillor who protested loudly and angrily.

After the meeting I took the brief opportunity available to me to speak to Councillor Ed Mayne, one of the new elected members for Isleworth ward. I asked him how he was getting along in his Executive post as Lead Member for Community Safety, a post I myself held for the first three years of the previous administration. The officer team that works in and around Community Safety in Hounslow is truly fantastic and I told Ed that he was privileged to have been given such an exciting role. I am sure he will build well upon the fine work that I hope I did between 2006 and 2009, and the excellent work that I know Paul Fisher did after that.

I believe the four MRAG delegates did themselves and our community proud with their polite but relentless questioning at the meeting, sometimes on matters which were highly technical and requiring of considerable attention to detail. They are possibly the greatest local example of all of why, whilst councillors and officers play an important role, community is and always will be king.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Burst water main in Brentford High Street

Statement issued by the London Borough of Hounslow, Wednesday 8th September 2010:

major water main has burst in the Brentford area – which has resulted in the part closure of London Road.

"Traffic entering Brentford at Syon Lane or Half Acre is being diverted away from the area.

"The burst water main has been switched off. We are aware that many people will be experiencing low water pressure or have no water. Thames Water will be bringing bottled water to the site. We will provide location information once we receive it.

"If you or your property have been affected by this incident, Thames Water loss adjustors are on site and can be contacted on 0845 72 000 890.

"Traffic diversions are still in place and people should check before starting their journey.

"Brentford High Street is likely to be closed for at least 10 days as repairs need to be undertaken to the road and footway."

Photograph reproduced with acknowledgements to Quilliam Property Services

First meeting as a ROWE Committee member

ROWE's brand new kitchen, funded by the ICG-inspired Rainbow
Project in collaboration with Giggles nursery

At its last Committee meeting (its first since its 2010 Annual General Meeting, which I had the honour of chairing), members of Residents Of Worton Estate (ROWE) - a residents' association based, as the name suggests, on Isleworth's Worton estate - did me the honour of co-opting me to their top table.

It was felt that my experience as a ward councillor for twelve years prior to May this year - three of them as Lead Member for Housing and Community Safety - might prove useful to estate residents as they strive to build their association and their community.

Although I am not a resident of the Worton estate I gladly accepted the role. As well as having worked closely with ROWE for the whole of my time as an elected member I have strong connections with this estate in particular. My father was brought up in Octavia Road, directly opposite the site where the Community Centre now sits. As a child I would visit the same house, then occupied by my late uncle John, my aunt Barbara and my cousins Lisa, Anne and Steve (now also sadly departed), every Sunday morning. When we reached our teens Steve and I would often go fishing somewhere nearby.

A few years later I attended a youth club at my Church which, as a result of its location at the junction of Twickenham Road with Worton Road, inevitably became something of a meeting point of the Worton and non-Worton worlds. Ironically, when one considers my later attachment to the estate, the Worton lads and my own little gang were in constant conflict with one another. When walking home from school in those days what would have been a shortcut for me was in fact a definite no-go area. Instead I took the longer, but safer, route along the St. John's Road.

Anyway, I am digressing. At the meeting tonight I was amongst friends, as I always feel I am these days when passing through Worton. It is in the spiritual if not the literal sense my home.

There were seven ROWE members present, including myself. This may seem a modest number, but when one considers the nonsense that this estate has had to put up with in the past from the local authority it is a miracle that the association still exists and that the Community Centre is still standing.

A couple of years back, at a meeting that I also chaired, what had become an almost moribund association relaunched itself with a new Committee of some 14-16 members. However many of the new additions had been lukewarm, had turned up to their first meeting expressly to criticise the work of others rather than to offer their own help, and had promptly either resigned or drifted away.

This time things are clearly different. The seven members present tonight, plus a few more of my acquaintance who weren't in attendance this evening, are clearly determined to make things work for the benefit of the estate community. We were joined by the local Tenant Participation Officer from Hounslow Homes and Councillor Sue Sampson, both of whom made helpful contributions and seemed to be there with good intentions. I was especially pleased to hear Cllr. Sampson tell the meeting: "This is your association, I'm here to listen and not to tell residents what they want".

Encouraging signs, or lulling us into a false sense of security? Time will tell.

The big news on the estate at the moment is the £419,000 in Section 106 money made available as a result of the controversial Worton Green development, which remains unspent. ROWE is keen that residents will not lose control over the fate of this funding. As always the wheels of progress are turning oh so slowly, but they are turning nonetheless.

Speaking personally I see my role on ROWE as being an advisory rather than a leadership one. As a non-estate resident I feel my place is to take a back seat and speak when I think it might be helpful to do so. I will endeavour to avoid controversy, and it will be interesting to see whether or not it avoids me.

Despite a plethora of forthcoming meetings I find myself strangely looking forward to the next ROWE gathering in October.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Trouble at mill?

Sandwell Conservative defects over schools cuts

A Conservative councillor has defected to Labour over cuts to the government's schools building programme.

Elaine Costigan, of Sandwell Council, said the community had been treated with "utter contempt" and she was "ashamed to be a Conservative".

Nine schools in Sandwell were told they would receive refurbishment money, only to be informed a day later the projects were being scrapped.

The government said it would target work on the schools with most need.

Ms Costigan, who is deputy leader of the Conservative group at the council, said: "This community has been treated with utter contempt by the government over the slashing of the school building programme and when Michael Gove backed out of his promise to come and apologise to the parents, pupils and staff he had so badly let down, I felt ashamed to be a Conservative."

'Huge anger'

Ray Nock, leader of the Conservatives on the West Midlands council, said he was "totally shocked" that Ms Costigan had "jumped ship".

"Only weeks ago Councillor Costigan was openly attacking local Labour Party policies," he said.

Shadow Education Secretary Ed Balls said he had spoken with Ms Costigan and was "delighted" by her switch.

He told BBC News: "The cancellation of the new school buildings in Sandwell is a huge blow to the aspirations of children there as well as to jobs in the local area.

"It's doubly worse because Michael Gove said it's going to go ahead in Sandwell then he had to say he'd made a mistake.

"There's huge anger among parents, among teachers and head teachers, and now that has spread to the Conservative group in Sandwell as well."

Wrong list

In July, Mr Gove announced the cancellation of Labour's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, a £45bn redevelopment scheme which aimed to rebuild all of England's schools by 2023.

The announcement was criticised as being badly handled, with repeated errors on published lists of projects affected. Mr Gove later apologised in the House of Commons.

The Sandwell schools were told they had been put on the wrong list and would not get their repairs after all.

A government spokesman said: "The Labour government left a dire economic mess that we have had to clear up. BSF was inefficient and overblown and had to go.

"We are committed to school building in the future but unlike BSF it will be targeted at schools in most disrepair and areas with the greatest need for new school places.

"The secretary of state and the department recently met with councillors, parents and children from Sandwell to discuss and address the area's needs."

Reproduced with acknowledgements to BBC News.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Reflections on the new IBAC

Last night, in the company of Liberal Democrat leader Andrew Dakers, fellow ICG Committee members Andy Sibley and Caroline Andrews, and several other Community colleagues, I attended a meeting of the now Labour-dominated Isleworth and Brentford Area Committee (IBAC). As well as having an interest in some the issues discussed I was also curious to see how the new team perform.

I have of course been a member of IBAC at a time when it had a Labour majority and was about as welcome as an outbreak of flatulence in an astronaut's suit. But this was the first time I had attended a meeting as a member of the public.

Initial impressions were varied. The Isleworth councillors were quiet, doubtless they will become more confident and assertive with experience. Matt Harmer chaired with authority, but was at times a trifle brusque - as Basil Fawlty might have put it - with some of the members of the public. Ruth Cadbury, interestingly, spoke considerably less than she was given to doing during the previous administration. Possibly now that she is surrounded by "real" councillors her calling to educate has abated a tad?

The enigma for me is Theo Dennison, one of the three new Labour members for Syon ward. He was consistently, and quite vocally, an advocate for more consultation with and participation from the wider public, as I am informed he had been at the previous meeting. Naturally with what we know about the Labour Party locally this "does not compute" but I am keen to establish whether this welcome approach is sincere, or whether he simply has more confidence than most of his colleagues that public participation can be managed and channeled in the direction that the Party would like it to go. Doubtless we'll be able to form a clearer view as his term of office progresses but I believe this to be a potentially significant development and one that is well worth monitoring.

More in keeping with the old local Labour mentality that we all know and love was Brentford member Mel Collins, who on four separate occasions referred to the people in the public area as his "audience" and praised the Chair for having been "tolerant" of said public by allowing them to speak, when objecting to Councillor Dennison's proposal to move the Open Forum part of the agenda forward at future meetings as a courtesy to those attending. Conservative councillor Barbara Reid was irritatingly keen to be seen supporting the Chair in rebuffing this particularly helpful proposal. If he is sincere Councillor Dennison is clearly going to have his work cut out over the next four years.

After the meeting several of us retired to the wonderful Magpie and Crown in Brentford High Street where a rather too nice scrumpy was one of the star attractions. It was a long walk home. Happy days.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Two nights in Weymouth

The family and I have just returned from Weymouth where, thanks to the kind generosity of my sister-in-law Tricia and her partner Pete, we spent two nights at the Haven resort of Littlesea.

I think the harbour at Weymouth is one of the most beautiful places on the South Coast. A really enjoyable few days.

ICG must be more than a localised anti-Labour pressure group - a personal viewpoint

It is common knowledge that the ICG was launched back in 1994 as a residents' response to the controlling influence that the Labour administration at the London Borough of Hounslow then enjoyed over every aspect of organised community life in what was then the electoral ward of Isleworth South.

In those days it was to all intents and purposes obligatory for amenity groups, civic societies and residents' associations to congest their top tables with Labour politicians, apparatchiks who understood that their brief was to represent the party interest at all times, and to pursue the party objective from within whichever host body they had managed to worm their way into. There was never much attempt made to conceal what was going on. Labour were the community's lords and masters and it was generally understood that non-compliance would inevitably lead to the full weight of the local establishment being brought down upon transgressors and, in all likelihood, offending associations and groups finding themselves being strangled out of existence by fair means or foul, with a marked preference for the latter.

Things have moved on today. After twelve years of ICG representation in Isleworth and four years in Syon residents' groups enjoy relative freedom of association even under a new Labour administration. Our community would never tolerate a return to the bad old ways in spite of a few damp and doomed recent efforts on the part of certain of the new councillors to dictate to local groups whom they may or may not associate with. On the community front, ICG members should recognise with some pride that they have changed the rules of engagement for good.

Notwithstanding these entirely positive developments it is understandable that ICG members should continue to be driven to anger by some of the antics of their traditional adversary. When we read the Labour election leaflets back in April promising potential voters that they would put 100 new uniformed officers onto the streets of "this area" (undefined) and clearly worded in such a way as to lead the public to believe they meant police officers, we knew full well that a confidence trick was being pulled on the voting public. The ink had barely dried on the ballot papers before all was revealed - the officers in question would be council officers, and the reference to "new uniformed officers" actually meant that existing officers would be issued with new uniforms (well we didn't actually use the word "police" officers, did we? Tee hee, giggle giggle).

Those of us who contested Isleworth ward and had the dubious pleasure of reading a leaflet from an Ivybridge-based Labour supporter (actually a former ICG member with the morals of a rattlesnake who would appear to have defected upon the promise of some personal reward) claiming to have attended an ICG Committee meeting at which plans to sell off local authority housing stock were said to have been discussed - a claim which was a complete fabrication as no such meeting or discussion had ever taken place - are entitled to feel aggrieved.

I have still not received an apology, and frankly don't expect one, from the local Labour Party Chair for the lie contained in a leaflet issued in his name that I own a holiday home in Portugal when he knows full well the truth is that, unlike him, I don't even own the roof over my own head.

But the fact is that, whatever we may think of their methods and their morals, the Labour Party won the election and did so by a fairly convincing margin. Yes, we can with justification point to the exceptional circumstances under which the election was fought and the fact that our own vote actually increased significantly despite our defeat. But we must accept the verdict all the same, and look not to what might have been but to the future.

That is why I think it would be a mistake, both tactically and ethically, for our members to attack the new administration gratuitously without some acknowledgement of its right to a "bedding in" period, or recognition that it might - just might - be prepared to learn from some of its previous errors. This mistake is in my view compounded when criticism of the new administration comes accompanied by complete silence over the appalling treatment we received at the hands of our own so-called partners during the later days of the coalition (I happen to think that for the first two to two and a half years the arrangement worked rather well and demonstrated the value of trust in any partnership).

I have already drawn attention on this blog to the fact that, even whilst we were in coalition, at least three members of the Community Group on the local authority were approached by the Conservatives and asked to defect to them. I have no doubt that all those approached are bright enough to understand that this attempt had precious little to do with their own talents being sought after (although all three were very talented councillors), but was instead simply an attempt to actually use the cover provided by the coalition to undermine the ICG as an organisation and to step into our shoes in Isleworth and Syon wards.

This is what you get when you treat with big party politicians. The robotic allegiance to a rosette which leads them to favour a bad councillor sporting a particular colour over a good councillor sporting another is present on both sides of the chamber. Sometimes there is not even any logic to what is going on - on several occasions a good working relationship was thrown into jeopardy with no obvious benefit to be gained from doing so. The fable of The Frog and The Scorpion frequently presents itself when one is dealing with the political big boys. They do it because it is what they do.

As I have previously indicated the ICG has yet to decide what it is going to do, elections wise, in the future. Speaking personally, when we say we want to give the new administration a fair opportunity to prove itself I believe we should mean it. But if we do decide to continue along the electoral path we will need to give some thought to what we would want to achieve from having ICG councillors re-elected to office. How would we use the balance of power from opposition for the benefit of our residents? What would be the role of our councillors under the different circumstances in which they would find themselves?

For me all roads lead to the ideal of a third power in local politics (although I like it I avoid the term "third force" as it has reactionary connotations in French, South African and Northern Irish history). Such a power could probably not, in my view, involve one organised party but rather an agreement between several smaller groups that some level of common effort and pooling of resources is desirable. We need to be in a position to confront big party politics all across the borough with a view to seeking real culture change at the Civic Centre.

And we need to do it soon. The big parties will both know that if they can sustain their carve-up for another election the momentum that has sustained the ICG and other local groups and parties may not be maintained. For them to move into Syon, Isleworth and other areas formerly represented by vibrant small parties or independent groups and to smother our communities once again with their bland, anodyne brand of politics, devoid of imagination and lacking in any kind of vision, would be an absolute tragedy after everything we have been through.

It is my sincerely held view that the ICG needs to think hard about where it stands, if indeed it stands at all, in the the vast gladiatorial arena that is our local politics. Yes, we should certainly continue to expose the shortcomings of our traditional Labour adversary, particularly now that it is in office and its words and actions impact on the lives of every member of our community. But we need also to accept that our enemy's enemy is not always our friend and that in the wider scheme of things there is actually some convergence of interest between the big players who may on the surface of it appear to be inveterate rivals, interest which both will be at pains to conserve.

We are the same ICG, with the same objectives, as we have always been but sometimes the world about us changes and we need to move on and adopt new strategies to confront new challenges.

Tea and strawberry cake at Kirkstone Lodge

I was very honoured last week to have been invited by the residents of Kirkstone Lodge, a sheltered housing unit on Isleworth's Ivybridge estate, to a tea party organised by the occupants of the unit and supported by Hounslow Homes and the staff at the unit.

When I was Lead Member for Housing I was forever concerned about the future of dwellings such as this one. The threat of reductions in funding always loomed, and there was a constant feeling that the units were being "phased out". Many feel that the communal WCs and other throwbacks to a bygone age render the dwellings obsolete, and unattractive to potential tenants.

The mistake that is often made though is to confuse sheltered housing with care housing and to consider the occupants to be housebound and in need of permanent care. One resident of Kirkstone Lodge laughed as she related to me how somebody had asked her "Do they let you out at night?"

The tenants at Kirkstone Lodge are assertive, intelligent and well-organised. A couple of years ago I guided several of them as they won a Stage Three complaint against Hounslow Homes which was heard before a Members' Panel. The complainants felt they had not been taken seriously enough when they had objected to certain aspects of the regime under which they were living, and following an articulate presentation by one of their number the Panel agreed.

I enjoyed my afternoon with these residents thoroughly, and the tea and strawberry cake which they insisted I drank and ate in some quantity.

Another strong community in the tradition that Isleworth has developed over recent years.