At its most recent meeting the managing Committee of the Independent Community Group (ICG) expressed its great concern that the Group of 15 residents' associations, of which the ICG is a member, would appear to be being given the run-around by the Labour administration at the London Borough of Hounslow in connection with its contribution to the forthcoming and long-awaited Statement of Community Involvement (SCI).
A number of amendments submitted by residents to the original draft SCI were formally adopted by the Planning Committee under the chair of Councillor Theo Dennison back in December 2012. At the time we were advised that the proposed amendments, now with the Planning Committee's official endorsement, would be taken to Cabinet and thereafter to Borough Council in January. January became March and now, as we approach the latter half of April 2013, residents have been advised in a one-liner from Lead Member Ruth Cadbury that the proposed report has been pulled from agenda of the April Cabinet meeting too (with characteristic chutzpah Councillor Cadbury tried to sell this as some kind of good news story for the community on the grounds that "we have more time"!).
Attempts to seek clarification of the position from Councillor Cadbury have, at the time of writing, proved unsuccessful.
The ICG has never been convinced that the Cabinet would be happy to accept the community's lead on this process and it is our view that the process is being dragged out with a view to losing it in the confusion that invariably accompanies the approach of the local elections. Whether this exercise in obfuscation is being led by officers or by the political management of the present administration is really of little import. Both parties have an interest in fending off the residents.
As an activist residents' movement the ICG is committed to the process of empowering our community and we intend to increase the pressure on this administration to adopt an SCI in which G15's expressed concerns retain pride of place. Whether we do this as an active participant in next year's local elections or as a pressure group taking advantage of that event remains to be decided, but either way the present administration needs to understand that this is an issue that is not just going to conveniently disappear from the local agenda.