Friday, 12 October 2012

Does it Matter Whose Idea it Was?

The recent news that the highly successful Rainbow Project had been nominated for a national award in recognition of its partnership work between the local authority and tenants across the borough was truly fantastic.

The Community Impact Award, made by the National Housing Federation, recognises work undertaken in neighbourhoods by active residents. As I write there is no news as to whether the Project won the award last night in the face of some stiff competition from other projects in other boroughs.

Under the circumstances it may appear churlish for me or anybody else to be concerned about wherein lies the "credit" for the Rainbow Project initiative. On a local community internet forum myself and one or two others have been jokingly anticipating the announcement by the present administration at the London Borough of Hounslow, probably through Ruth Cadbury's blog (to which I have referred rather too much recently already), that this was an initiative devised and managed by the Hounslow Labour Party and by her in particular. This would follow a long-established pattern of behaviour, seen most recently in an attempt to steal the plaudits for the success of the resident-led campaign for funding for the repair of the roof at the St. John's Community Centre in Isleworth (which Labour had originally opposed!).

No such claim has yet appeared on the blog - presumably she, like me, has been awaiting the final outcome of the award, and in the event this article may indeed pre-empt such a move.

The Rainbow Project was, as most people who take an interest in these things are aware, first mooted in 2008 under the previous council administration and formally launched following the HRA (Housing Revenue Account) Budget meeting of 2009. This of course happened on the watch of an ICG Lead Member for Housing (myself as it happens), against a certain amount of protest from some individual Labour councillors who felt we were committing too much of residents' money to causes identified by residents. There was an attempt by them to amend the motion introducing the Project so as to bring the management of funding bids under their own control via the Hounslow Homes Board, over which despite being in opposition they still wielded a disproportionate amount of influence. This attempt to subvert the spirit of the Project was thwarted by a majority on Borough Council.

A clue to the importance of correctly identifying the source of this initiative lies in the terms attached to the award, notably that its purpose is to "recognise the vast range of work being done in neighbourhoods by active residents".

In other words it is the success of the community itself, not the political stewardship of the Rainbow Project, which is being considered for recognition.

Any attempt at "ownership" by a political party or administration would be in direct contravention of the whole spirit of the award, and indeed of the Rainbow Project itself.

The Rainbow Project was inspired by tenants themselves, whose idea it was from the outset. We as a Community Group serving as part of a coalition administration merely put the meat onto the bones of the idea and presented it - first to Hounslow Homes and then to Borough Council - on the community's behalf.

Let us hope that this important fact, as well as the Project itself, can for once at last be recognised.


digby said...

I presume you already know that the labour party WANTS you to put up canidates in the election because they fogure you and the tories will split the anti labour vote. the oppinion is that the icg is a spent force and the torys are the biggest threat now. Don't think you can squeeze any consession out of labour they want you to stand, I know that from first hand.

Born Yesterday said...

Scaffolding now in place around St Johns Community Centre - leaky roof now finally being repaired.

All hail mighty St Ruth of Cadbury for securing the funding.