Monday, 23 April 2012

Isleworth: Remembering our History, Defending our Future

Christine Diwell and ICG Chair Ian Speed lead a 
massive residents' campaign to save Isleworth Library
I spent an interesting few hours last week attending the Annual General Meeting of The Isleworth Society (TIS) at Isleworth Public Hall. Although I have been a member for many years it was the first AGM that I had been to for quite a while as it almost invariably seems to clash with something else in my chaotic life schedule.

AGMs in general are, as a rule of thumb, fairly mundane affairs in which the business of electing a Committee and of hearing last year's minutes is conducted to the exclusion of anything remotely interesting to any but the anoraks. TIS AGMs, however, do not follow this rule. Instead once the routine business is done there are tea and snacks, a raffle, and then a "Part Two" which is an integral feature of the meeting.

The elections to the Committee confirmed the current incumbents in situ, which now includes Paul Fisher who was co-opted a few months back and whose continued membership of the Committee was unanimously supported. Although he is not the first ICG member to take up office in TIS he is undoubtedly the most high profile, and his welcome elevation would appear to endorse the ever closer working relationship that the two groups enjoy. A relationship which one must say is something of a "no brainer" when one considers the convergence of interests that exists between us.

On this occasion "Part Two" comprised a fascinating talk by TIS Secretary Christine Diwell, whose great talent for holding an audience seems to grow with every presentation she makes. Even though I had heard much of the talk on a previous occasion my attention was as undivided as it had ever been.

I could not help but be struck by the sheer size of the meeting and the support that it drew from around the Isleworth community. Although the ICG is the larger of the two groups in terms of core membership we could only dream of bringing out half the number for one of our AGMs that TIS achieved last week. That TIS was also able to use the event to generate probably a three figure sum for its funds only served to underline the professionalism of the whole enterprise.

It would also be fair comment to say that the attendance was from the senior end of the age scale, and whilst both TIS and the ICG aspire to recruit more active young people I feel it would be wrong to underestimate the power of the grey activist base - retired, affluent by comparison and, in this day and age, still surprisingly capable when it comes to pushing out leaflets and participating in such things as community clean-ups as well as relentless lobbying.

It occurs to me that the ICG would appear to have morphed organically into an "action arm" of a wider movement, a movement that is given depth and meaning by the activities and the powerful presence of civic organisations such as TIS. It provides a potent combination, and in my view is a model that communities around the borough that find their independence and their unique character under threat from the soulless and unrelenting attentions of the planners and the politicians should seek with some urgency to replicate.


Anonymous said...

After the 2010 election result, wasn't some sort of alliance with The Isleworth Society the most logical step for the ICG ?

Phil Andrews said...

Alliance is too strong a word. Although the ICG doesn't consider itself to be a political party in anything more than the strictly legal sense, that fact alone would compromise TIS in the event of any kind of formal arrangement.

But, of course, the aspirations of the two groups are essentially the same and, bearing in mind there are only so many people in any community who are prepared to get their hands dirty, some overlap in terms of personnel is inevitable. As is the two groups pooling resources for major community activities such as the anti-closures campaigns of the last year or two.

Anonymous said...

......And what are we to make of the latest proposals being proffered for our approval: "Consultation On The Library Strategy" ?

Apparently, all the various cutbacks that have been made or will be made to the library service will not be sufficient to guarantee the continued survival of existing branches.
Therefore, it is being suggested that they 'take in lodgers' and/or 'move to cheaper premises'.

Wrong end of the stick?
Pick up a copy of the consultation document or view it online and see what you think.

Anonymous said...

Well, I see this latest consultation has been picked up on the TW8 website (Home Page & Forum)and I must agree with the 'suspicious' timing of it all.

Seems it has been 'sneaked out' while most people have been pre-occupied with the Olympics and the school holidays.

You just know that the library service is going to be continually downgraded, don't you ?