In my last update on the subject of the London Borough of Hounslow's Statement of Community Involvement I pointed out that the Cabinet, and thereafter Borough Council, was set to debate and hopefully adopt its own Statement (SCI) imminently.
I further pointed out that the powerful Group of 15 residents' alliance - in which the ICG plays a significant role - had drawn up a set of robust amendments which have all been endorsed in their entirety by the Planning Committee, and that these proposed amendments would be presented to the two meetings on that basis.
It would appear now that the Statement's appearance will be less imminent after all than first we had hoped. It would seem we are now looking at it being presented to Cabinet on March 12th.
Ordinarily it would have been our assumption, based on past experience, that the ruling administration simply didn't wish to discuss the Statement and its guiding principles and was stalling for time as a means of avoiding getting the amendements onto the statute book and rolled out into the public domain. However word has it (although admittedly from an eternal optimist) that the delay has been caused by the need to extensively revise the draft in the light of the community's concerns.
We have been around long enough, of course, not to accept such a plea at face value. Politicians generally speaking do not like community involvement unless it can be marshalled and corralled by themselves, whilst in this instance the initiative has clearly been taken by the community. But can they ignore such an irresistable and well-organised force as the Group of 15 in what is now only a little more than a year before next year's local elections?
Has the Lead Member delayed publication from a position of respect for the residents and their concerns? Or is the hold-up indicative of a leadership that is still wondering what the hell it is going to do to get itself out of this one?
We will know the answer to that question in March.