Saturday, 8 October 2011

Hounslow Homes Annual General Meeting 2011 - Election Lost, Argument Won?

Whilst I certainly don't pine for my old "job" these days, it was slightly surreal to find myself sitting in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre in Lampton Road on Thursday evening.

The reason Caroline and I were so doing was that we had accepted an invitation, sent to us both in our capacity as former Board members, to attend the Annual General Meeting of Hounslow Homes.

The AGM itself is something of a formality. The local authority is the sole shareholder of Hounslow Homes and the various appointments, retirements and other items of business are approved (hopefully) by the Lead Member for Housing, currently Councillor Steve Curran, on its behalf. I know how it works because I did the job myself for three years between 2006 and 2009.

But it was good to spend a little time chatting with some old acquaintances - officers from Hounslow Homes and the Council, Board Members, and councillors from both the political parties that managed to retain representation on the London Borough of Hounslow amid the carnage that saw off all the independents and minor parties in May 2010.

Obviously there were differing opinions as to the success or otherwise of the current administration. Everybody agreed, not unreasonably, that it was a difficult time to be a councillor, with the swingeing cuts that all local authorities are being forced to make. In many respects I am glad not to have this responsibility.

There seemed to be a general assumption across the board, both from officers and politicians, that the ICG in general and I in particular would be seeking to restore the pre-2010 status quo when the next local elections come around in 2014, an assumption that certainly should not be made. Times change, things move on.

What pleased me most of all at the Meeting was hearing the Chief Executive of Hounslow Homes, Bernadette O'Shea, referring positively to the concept of localism during her short address to the meeting. Bernadette and other senior officers spoke favourably and often about localism and empowering tenants when I was Lead Member but the cynic might say, well, they would wouldn't they?

But they speak of it still, and that is hugely encouraging.

During my days as Lead Member some of my then coalition colleagues did not think particularly highly of Bernadette, but I always found her approachable, intelligent, innovative and - best of all - honest. Whom she may or may not vote for in the privacy of the polling booth was never of any interest to me.

When reflecting upon the mood of the AGM it crossed my mind that in some situations it was maybe possible to lose a vote yet still win the argument. Certainly the advantages of embracing the wider community seem now to be apparent to most of those involved with the local political scene.

If the ICG never involves itself again in electoral politics I am satisfied that we will still clearly have left a legacy to be proud of.


Dishonesty/Politics ? said...

Times are indeed a-changing !

Is it the same Phil Andrews writing these pieces ?

Reading them, I cannot help but visualise a 'Reggie Perrinesque' withdrawl from local politics.

Say it isn't so !

You're 50, I'm 30 said...

Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Maggie Thatcher......would you have banquetted with such backstabbers ?

Phil Andrews said...

Please explain.

Anonymous said...

I guess it depends what you describe as local politics. Anyone who wants Phil to keep standing for elections and putting everyone else before his family is selfish beyond compare. Why dont you have a go if you think someone has to. But I cant see him being allowed to withdraw completely as Labour will never forgive him for the way he has changed the conversation and stirred people up to think for themselves even now he is no longer involved on the front line. Hes involved one way or another whether he likes it or not.

Reader said...

Sounds as though you know him better than most, anonymous.

Did he tell YOU why he left the ICG committee ?

Anonymous said...

No actually he didnt Reader. So why dont you tell us Sherlock?