Some 40 locals turned up at West Thames College to see a presentation on Hounslow Highways and exchange with that organisation’s man in charge, Mr Rob Gillespie. The evening was arranged to also offer Osterley & Spring Grove residents an opportunity to raise or discuss issues with other local people and their ward councillor six months after the borough elections.
The guest speaker was chosen as his teams have been around during the last year across most of the ward renewing pavements, replacing streetlights and resurfacing roads. Another reason was because a fair amount of casework raised by residents includes tree, verge, flytipping and street issues.
The main aim however was the beginning of an attempt to open dialogue between residents, this councillor, the council and organisations or contractors operating in our neighbourhoods. For everyone to listen, respond, update and advise.
Hounslow Highways took over running most street services except refuse and recycling since 2013 and is a private finance initiative (PFI) in which Hounslow Council shares an interest with road and construction firms Ringway and Vinci and financed by council tax, government grant as well as banking interests. Mr Gillespie’s presentation can be found here Hounslow Maintenance PFI Overview November 2014 Osterley and Spring Grove
During question and answer sessions, residents made a number of comments and raised issues; unfortunately notes were not taken (this will be rectified for future events) but the following have been noted and will be followed up, should anyone present note something missing please contact me.
- The number of environmental penalty notices issued across Hounslow is very low compared to parking tickets
- Flytipping and other environmental miscreants should be named and shamed
- Schoolchildren discarding litter on routes should be challenged and regular perpetrators fined
- Hounslow Highways and Hounslow Council should offer more direct e mail and telephone contact details
- The missing park gate at Jersey Gardens
- The free bulky collection service is a victim of its own success and efforts should be made to reduce the long waiting time
- Checks should be made to ensure that residents have received street works notices and that these are delivered in good time
- Impact of commuter and holiday parking on roads near our stations and consideration of local parking schemes
Following the meeting, residents responding to an online survey also made the following comments:
- “The whole point of the evening was to communicate what Hounslow Highways is doing, they did this clearly on the night, but their communications when dealing with actual real issues is very poor. Because no one gets back to you to say what they are doing to help you, you are left with no information and assume no one is doing anything; it is good practise to communicate what you are doing and keep people informed.”
- “I have heard talk like this before. At this moment there are lots of leaves around my area in Syon Lane and I have not seen the leaves being swept away.”
- “Many participants were informed of the starting time as 7.00pm instead of 7.30pm. My suggestions is to clarify the better in future. Otherwise over all a good debate at a good place.”
- “I think such events should be continued – they keep our democracy healthy!”
- “Events like this have become a rarity in UK political life (excepting the recent Scottish independence referendum). May there be many more of them.”
- “Mr Jones was very difficult to hear; he stayed in his seat and couldn’t use the microphone. I wondered if any of the critics of litter in the local area had ever been to other parts of Hounslow where it is much worse.”
- “Please make it clearer in future what time the event is actually starting”.
- “It may be a good to check that there are no other events ie Police meetings going on the same date, a bigger number of residents may attend, but this was a good start.”
- “I was impressed by the evening – it was well organised and I learnt a lot of new information. Well done to all involved.”
- “Congratulations for the meeting. It was a good turn out and everyone I spoke to was very pleased that you had organised it. It concerns me that the Council is in the position of hiring one private contractor to tell it whether another private contractor is doing its job properly. I just tried looking up how a complaint could be made about Hounslow Highways, I failed to find out, no wonder they don’t get many complaints.”
- “I believe it’s extremely important that our councillors communicate regularly with their constituents and make themselves available to be grilled in the flesh. Far too few of them actually do so. You not only did but you were open and frank and engaged personably with the audience. No-one could reasonably have gone away feeling that they hadn’t been able to express their views or concerns. The hard part, of course, is making something happen as a result!”
Time did not allow for updates on other ward work undertaken since May 2014 but these will appear elsewhere on http://www.osterleyspringgrove.org .
To maintain this local dialogue and in conjunction with this website, future events are planned during my term of office and all Osterley & Spring Grove residents will be welcome to attend. I am grateful to Mr Gillespie for being the first guest and for his presentation, participation and time.
Many thanks also to the Principal, estates and facilities staff for their hospitality and use of the college’s impressive Endeavour Theatre and even more so to the first year BTEC Film & Television National Diploma students and their lecturer Mr Karim Ngobi for staying up late to record the event.
Tony Louki, 27.11.2014