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.