Forum Topic

The unaccountable council

With the local elections coming up I thought it would be a good time to try and understand the perceived unaccountability of Hounslow council and the decisions it 'forces' upon residents.I am a resident of Orchard Road and I along with many other residents are dealing with the unilateral decision of the council to close the Orchard Road carpark. I understand that this situation doesn't directly affect many residents in Brentford but the way the council have acted throughout the process should concern everyone in the borough.The loss of a carpark so close to Brentford station was going to have a huge impact on the local resident parking. The council started with the usual consultation process with residents. After voicing concerns through the consultation process the council decided to ignore those concerns and push ahead with the closure and redevelopment of the parking area. At this stage residents were forced to fund raise for a specialist consultant to engage with the council regarding its plans. The consultant managed to get some conditions attached to the planning approval regarding the loss of parking in the area.So far the council have not met with those conditions (though they dispute this) and have not provided the appropriate replacement parking solutions that were promised. One 'car space' that was provided was an extension to an existing parking bay of 3.9m when the minimum requirement for a car space is 4.5m. None of this matters because the council are essentially marking their own homework and declaring that contrary to the evidence provided by residents, they have met all the planning requirements and have gone ahead and started the redevelopment.This was a community resource, used by local residents, visitors and of course provided parking for people using Brentford rail station. What right does the council have to take this resource away? in my opinion it was not theirs to take, it was owned by the local residents.What is the point of consulting residents when the council just ignore the findings of said consultations? They have also decided to leave (after further consultation) the current CPZ times and restrictions in place. So for roads surrounding the station we are now finding that on weekends and after 1730 weekdays it is becoming almost impossible to find a car parking space.There really does seem to be no accountability from the council to residents. They do a box ticking exercise (consultation) ignore the outcomes and push ahead with what they want anyway. As local residents it feels that we are absolutely powerless in these types of situations.To be clear the residents were never against redevelopment we only ever asked to be compensated for our loss of parking with a suitable replacement proposal.

Jeremy Weekes ● 68d23 Comments

JeremyAs you should know the Labour candidates made a point of door knocking in the affected roads as soon as we became aware work was starting on building 5 council houses on the car park. Personally I was on the planning committee that approved the plans for these houses, and we were certainly assured that replacement parking spaces would be provided. It became clear during our door knocking that residents disputed that. We then arranged to meet traffic officers on site a day or two later, gained a better understanding of the situation and some ideas of what can be done to improve matters. We then wrote and hand delivered a letter to every door in the affected area, explaining, as far as we could, our plans. Here is the text of that letter:Dear Residents of Orchard Road, Glenhurst Road, York Road, Windmill Road and related addressesWe have been working to understand and look for ways to mitigate the parking stresses resulting from the development of the former car park on the corner of Orchard and Windmill Roads, which had served to provide additional spaces to the on-street parking in the local controlled parking zone.To this end we have sought detail from the traffic department about what has been done at this point and about potential options to improve matters, and associated timescales.Whilst we believe the spaces foreseen in the planning condition have been provided, many of these were conversions of previous single yellow line spaces into Controlled Parking Zone spaces, therefore they don’t provide much benefit outside the CPZ hours, when parking is at a premium in your streets.We are informed that:• Traffic can make arrangements for the shared-use bays in Glenhurst Road to be amended to a continuous run rather than the current individually marked bays; this would likely increase the parking provisions available in the road, subject to reasonable parking by users of course.  This could be actioned in the coming months. • There are some locations where additional bays could be proposed, although these would all have to be subject to statutory consultation, therefore not likely to happen in the immediate future.  • During our discussions with residents, we have noted that there are varying views regarding the operational times of the Controlled Parking Zone and if we are to propose changes to these we’ll need to seek some sort of consensus amongst residents. There were divergent views when the scheme was reviewed during last year, leading to no changes being made at that time, and it’s not clear to what extent (if at all) opinions might have changed. If there are strong views now for change, we’d be happy to support a petition from residents (noting the current times in Brook Lane North/Layton Road are Mon-Sat, 9am-8pm) to instigate further consultation although this would have to be programmed in with the current workload so unlikely to be given immediate priority.As you may be aware, the council is currently in the pre-election period which restricts any changes or commitments to change that we can make, as these can be construed as party-political.At this stage, we are merely candidates to serve Brentford West ward as councillors in the next administration and are clearly in no position to make any commitments to action, however we have heard your concerns on the doorsteps loud and clear and wanted to demonstrate that we will commit, if elected, to do all we can to improve the parking situation in the area.I repeat, if elected, working to improve this situation will be a high priority.

Guy Lambert ● 65d