Forum Topics

It's another world!

SENSITIVE AS THOUSANDS LOSE JOBS AND BUSINESSES GO BUST. A working group of Borough councillors is due to report shortly on remuneration for councillors. Should it increase and, if so, by how much? Currently, Council leader Steve Curran receives £42,332 per year. This compares with neighbouring leaders' pay – £41,808 in Ealing (Labour), and £65,947 in Hillingdon (Conservative). In 2018 a report, The Remuneration of Councillors in London, recommended £68,130. It said: "This is a full-time job, involving a high level of responsibility and includes the exercise of executive responsibilities. It is right that it should be remunerated on a basis which compares with similar positions in the public sector, while still retaining a reflection of the voluntary character of public service."The Working Group's recommendations are expected to be presented at the Council's next meeting, 30 March.The last increase in Hounslow councillors' allowances was in 2018. They all receive a basic £11,045 pa. There are then Special Responsibility Allowances for committee and other work. Deputy leader Cllr Lily Bath currently receives £29,586. Other Cabinet members receive £25,508. The 2018 report recommended these figures should be between £47,962 and £54,505.The 2018 report said: "It is important that, as far as reasonably possible, financial loss does not prevent people from becoming councillors. Allowances are not shown by polls to be something which influences councillors to take on the role, though they are instrumental in making it possible for some people to do so. Allowances should be set at a level that enables people to undertake the role of councillor, while not acting as an incentive to do so. If it is important that there are no financial incentives to being a councillor, it is equally important that there should not be a financial disincentive. It is clearly desirable that service as a councillor is not confined to those with independent means."

Vanessa Smith ● 60d21 Comments ● 40d

With friends like these......

How sad and disheartening to read of the situation that the Friends of Boston Manor find themselves in, unfortunately it is not an uncommon experience among groups like them. This group of people work their socks off, and have done for years only for the council to sweep in and undo all the hard work and committment. The whole idea is that the council and the Friends groups work together, unfortunately Hounslow seem to be control freaks and think they know best with their grandiose schemes and so-called 'consultations'.If we have learned anything over the last dreadful year, it is that volunteering and working together has been of great benefit to communities all over the country. Our parks and open spaces have come into their own as valuable and valued assets. To see a group of volunteers who have raised a lot of money and thrown themselves into making Boston Manor what it was feeling so let down they feel they have no option other than to walk away is appalling, heads in Hounslow should truly be hanging in shame. And before anyone starts shouting 'Covid' this was the situation for many of us prior to the pandemic. There are many Friends groups around this borough who possibly feel the same at times, dealing with Hounslow is not an easy task. E-mails go unanswered, communication is dire and you are left in limbo.But then looking at our elected members and their performance this week is it really any surprise?

Vanessa Smith ● 45d0 Comments ● 45d

Fresh attempt to develop Syon Park Allotments

I don't know how many people are aware, but there is another attempt to develop the Park Road allotments opposite Syon Park Gates by the Duke's Northumberland Estates. The proposal is to build 80 duplexes and flats on about two thirds of the allotments that has been green fields for centuries and allotments for over 100 years. This is at a time when allotment demand is increasing. Out of 33 mature trees, 23 will be felled, along with a multitude of fruit trees and bushes.  Great harm will be caused to the habitats of various wildlife.If you would like to submit a comment on this application, its reference on the council website is P/2020/4292 I have submitted an objection thus: Objection to Park Road Development Application The only good thing that can be said about these buildings is that they are not excessively high compared with other applications in the area. However, the very idea of building on this site, with the loss of 23 trees out of 33 and a multitude of trees and bushes over two thirds of the present site should be considered unacceptable per se. The site is Local Open Space, has been designated an Asset of Community Value, and demand for allotments is hugely increasing due to the population increase in London and its concentration in apartment blocks. Figures obtained by the National Allotment Society (NAS): 40 per cent of councils who responded to the survey saw a "significant uplift" in applications during April 2020, with a 300 per cent increase in one case. The NAS also saw a 45 per cent increase in requests for information about allotments through its own website.  In Brentford there are expected to be many more apartments in 5-10 years than exist now, with an extraordinary community dispute growing over access to private areas of Brentford Dock and Brentford Lock. The continuing existence of green space and allotments should mitigate against this unwelcome trend. It is not acceptable for the applicant to provide smaller plots and say that solves the problem.

Ian Speed ● 87d7 Comments ● 64d

Getting to those falling through the vaccination net

There are quite a few very elderly simply falling through the net on vaccinations.If you know a neighbour particularly on their own it might help to check that they have had some form of communication and are not confused or unable to respond correctly.If you have a basic mobile phone ( which is very common in with over 70's) you will get a text message to call your GP. They will then call you back and take basic details for your suitability of the vaccine.(Sometimes texts come via audio texts on a landline. They are usually very hard to follow and understand.)GP practice can then set your appointment up for you and text you or call you with date, time and location.For this you do not need a smartphone or be online.But. If you only have a landline, you must call your GP and any other vital service and stress this to them so there is a clear note recorded to ensure you are either contacted by a person via landline or get a letter.Oddly many of the letters are being sent to over 80s inviting them to book online and at a location up to 45 mins away ( not including traffic deviations or volume)Completely housebound residents are being kept completely in the dark as are their regular District Nurses and Carers.If you know a housebound non ambulatory resident ( and a great many are hemmed in by  LTNs and are completely unknown. Check on them and make sure that their GP knows that cannot be transported.  A wrong assumption is being made with algorithm based data that a Housebound person can be transported.This has led to some being assumed to be refusing the vaccination by not being able to respond or having not stressed being totally unable to leave home.I noticed on BBC Breakfast how two spokespersons ducked and dived in avoiding questions about this very situation.It would be far better to either say they did not know or that the logistical issues are not resolved.  Transporting the Pfizer Vaccine is still a huge problem.A proper explanation would be far better, even if it's not particularly positive.

Raymond Havelock ● 88d11 Comments ● 68d

Look After My Bills Nightmare.

This is a post from today (Monday 8 February) put on the Facebook page, Look After My Bills Problem Reporting Page by B**** Orm***"After initially being attracted by the promise of finding consumers the best market deal and starting the registration process, I read some worrying reviews and immediately cancelled - told LAMB that I had changed my mind and did not want them to look after my bills. Subsequently I continued to receive emails saying I had been transferred, causing me grief and frustration. I again informed them that I did not want LAMB to look after my bills and also emailed my current supplier to tell them I did not want LAMB to transfer me and that I wished to remain with Coop Energy. LAMB continued to email me about my transfer. What a nightmare! Fortunately Coop Energy stepped in on my behalf. This was quite some time ago and I continued to receive email from them but I have blocked them. Neil I wish you luck. Once they get their claws in you they fill your life with worry and anxiety. Relentless!"                                                                                                                                                                     For some reason, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis on Saturday 6 February urged energy users to use switching companies such as Look After My Bills to try to get cheaper energy.                               All I can say is, before you consider doing this look at the Facebook groups page Look after My Bills Problem Reporting Page and Trustpilot, Look After My Bills reviews before making a decision you may regret for months to come.

Neil Milkins ● 70d0 Comments ● 70d

The death of local democracy

We have all been so happy to finally see the peaceful transfer of power in the USA this week; the removal of a fanatical tyrant who ignored the interests of the people he represented, with often fatal consequences; and the commitment of the new leader to represent ALL the people of the country, including those who didn’t vote for him. Contrast this with our own local government and their continued anti-democratic denial of the right to have our views listened to and acted on by those who would pretend to represent us. Our local councillor is remarkably candid in admitting that the Streetspace / LTN roll-out will continue regardless of the massive continued opposition by the majority of those who’s lives have been affected – he has said he is happy to engage [forum 27/11], but that is clearly a politician’s promise – unless he is referring to the secret meeting just before Christmas that only 3 residents were able to find out about. He compares these changes to the fight against drink-driving; as though there is any comparison between a law that saves lives and the continued attack on freedom of movement that will probably cost lives – does he think we will be persuaded by such childish arguments? Ealing is pressing ahead with its own war against its electorate – this is despite a massive 77.5% negative feedback – two councils working together to heap misery on those who need to travel to work, shop or care for loved-ones. They would have us believe that these measures are pro-cycling and pro-pedestrian – was there ever a problem walking or cycling down the roads that have been closed? Would not a more pedestrian-friendly option be to reinstate school crossing patrols to protect our children on the way to school – there is plenty of money sloshing around to build cycle lanes – could some be diverted to safeguard children? But, of course, this policy was never pro-pedestrian – it’s simply anti-car. We might aspire to have Biden-like representation in local government, but we’re clearly stuck with mini Trumps building their walls and dividing communities whilst denying the obvious and real opposition of those who’s lives have been blighted by their pointless vanity project.

Graham Thorpe ● 88d23 Comments ● 75d

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS.

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS.For some people it is not bearable to think about, or to plan for their own funeral or for that of their spouse. However in these uncertain times I believe it is a responsible thing to do to take some of the pressure and grief off family members by not leaving things to late. Myself and my wife have taken steps to leave very little for our family members to worry about regarding these arrangementsWe have taken steps to arrange Pure Cremation funerals which was catapulted into the news a few years ago by singer David Bowie. For instance, if I die first, my wife will contact a funeral director in Hampshire. They will take care of all the arrangements needed. I would be collected from my home or from anywhere else and taken to Hampshire to to the funeral director's own private crematorium for disposal. No flowers, no family present and no funeral service. Arrangements have already been made for a memorial service shortly after my death.The benefits of doing things this way is that the cost to my wife and family is minimal. If I die at home the cost of the complete funeral arrangement is £1195.00 or £1.445 if I die in hospital or nursing home. The average cost of a cremation funeral in the UK is £3,986, sometimes thousands more.Being a very competitive business I am sure that some funeral directors would charge less than £1195.00.Nobody wants to die, but time and unforeseen events befall us all. In the mean time wash your hands and socially distance.

Neil Milkins ● 83d0 Comments ● 83d

Book a vaccination through the national booking system

Good Afternoon to Residents & Partner Organisations of Hounslow CCGPlease see important messages below and attached posterLetters are now being sent to NW London residents to book a vaccination through the national booking systemLetters inviting residents to register for an appointment at large vaccination centres have now started to be sent out by the national booking service to people in the first priority groups.The letters invite people to log onto the national booking system or call a national number to book their appointment at a centre within 45 minutes of their home address.More information about the national booking service here.The letter will include a unique booking code and individual NHS ID number to support the booking – these will be needed from the letter to book the appointment.Residents will not be able to book an appointment until they receive this invite letter, which will be sent when it’s your turn for  a vaccination.Letters will initially go to people in the top JCVI groups who are in reasonable travelling distance of the locations that are open, and who haven’t already been vaccinated through other NHS vaccination services.People will only be able to book into the large vaccination centres and pharmacies using this system.More large vaccination centres and pharmacies will open over the next few weeks, which will be added to the booking system.Residents are being reminded that if they have already booked an appointment with their GP they should ignore this letter.Public information is also available here https://www.nwlondonccgs.nhs.uk/coronavirus/nhs-covid-19-vaccination-programmeReminder not to turn up too early to ensure social distancingIf you have an appointment booked, please try to ensure that you arrive no more than five minutes before your appointment time.  This is to avoid you having to wait in long queues outside.When you attend your appointment, you'll need to:    bring a face covering, unless you are exempt from wearing one    wear a loose fitting top that lets you uncover your upper arm easily    bring your booking reference and NHS number, found on your invite letter, if your appointment is at a vaccination centreIf you need a carer you can bring them with you on the day.If you’ve not been invited for a vaccination yet, don’t worry.  The NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have the vaccine. It's important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.For more information you can go to the website:https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/Kind regardsHounslow CCG Communications TeamWebsite: www.hounslowccg.nhs.ukTwitter: @HounslowCCG

Bernard Allen ● 91d9 Comments ● 84d

About time too!

AGAIN LABOUR COUNCILLORS BREAK RANK AND CHALLENGE CLLR STEVE CURRAN AND CABINET. This is the third time in three months – unprecedented since her took over.Two groups of councillors have called in Cabinet decisions to be examined by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.The first call-in – next Wednesday – is supported by the 12 councillors below, with the lead being Cllr Unsa Chaudri. It concerns the Cabinet's decision to purchase affordable homes in developments in Brentford, Hounslow High Street and Feltham, at a cost of £82m.The second call-in – to be heard one week later – concerns the Cabinet's decision regarding Council Tax Support. It is led by Cllr Theo Dennison and proposes consultation on cuts of up to £7.8m in support for the Borough's poorest households. Fuller details of this call-in are not yet available.These follow one last November regarding traffic changes – when Cllr Richard Eason called for the resignations of two Cabinet members, Cllr Katherine Dunne and Hanif Khan.Details of next Wednesday's call-in became available today and are as follows:What Decision is to be Called-In: Council Housing Building Programme Update “ ...approved the following purchase schemes to be included within the approved Council Housing Building Programme:1. 50 homes from Network Homes in Fern Grove, Feltham.2. 55 homes from Barratt Homes at High Street Quarter, Hounslow.3. 164 homes from Berkeley Homes/St Edwards at the Homebase site in Syon, Brentford.”Whose Decision is being called in: Affordable Housing Committee (Councillor Steve Curran –Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Corporate Strategy, Planning and Regeneration)Reason(s) for Call-In (Continue on a separate sheet if required):1 Inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision;· This item did not appear on the Forward Plan for a clear 28 days.· There has been no consultation with ward councillors in respect of majorproposals likely to impact the immediate area.· The Ward location of one site was incorrectly stated.· The status of at least one of these sites is otherwise described in the LocalPlan and consultation does not appear to have been considered to begin to resolve this.2 Inadequate evidence on which to base a decision;· The report contains assumptions of outcomes from a yet to be decided planning application.· The decision allows for procurement, agreeing terms, associated costs, without detailing or showing these costs.· The report does not refer to any agreement for future costs and charges to the authority or potential tenants should the report be agreed.3 Contrary to the budget or policy framework;· This decision does not adequately explain the financial implications of these proposed purchases.· There is insufficient shared Background Information to explain processes, unit costs, specifications and the appropriateness of the mix of purchase being sought.A key decision but not treated as such;With an estimated cost c.£81.9m plus transaction costs and ongoing revenue costs this must a key decisionInsufficient consideration of legal and financial adviceThe report contains no information on future financial implications (revenue costs) of purchasing leasehold properties within a larger development There is no evidence of any legal advice on the implications of making this decision prior to the authority making a decision on Planning Permission

Vanessa Smith ● 89d5 Comments ● 87d

Gas and electric suppliers.

ENERGY SUPPLIERS.Because I haven't got a head for figures I have stuck with SSE Swalek for 47 years. But owing to Look After My Bills without my permission signing me up to Utility Point in October 2021, I have had the opportunity to try and figure out which energy provider gives the best deal. I have learned that using switching companies provides the worst deals and leave behind a trail of stress. For instance Look  After My Bills and Utility Point for 4 months have both blamed each other and both have launched an investigation into the mess they have dropped me in. And the situation has not been resolved with 2 BBC consumer programmes investigating hundreds if not thousands of complaints against these 2 companies.My energy provider for 47 years, SSE had suggested that I start off with them as a new customer and on 12-1-21 a contract was agreed with a customer service agent emailing me the following details."Good day Mr Milkins,This is to confirm the effective start date with Swalec-SSE is the 29 January 2021 to take over the gas and electricity supply.This means that you will only be charged from the date mentioned above going forward. All other charges will be applied by your current supplier until the date your supply starts with Swalec-SSE.Thank you.Regards,Yolanda."Hooray. Then I get the following  email from Jolene from SSE on 20-1-20."I understand that you have been sent an email regarding the dates the supply has come back to us and you were advised that you would not have a bill until SSE started [29-1-21], feedback is being provided to that adviser so this incorrect information is not given in the future, for this I can offer a goodwill payment of £30.00 for incorrect information given. SSE can keep their £30 !!!!!!!!!!I have now learned how easy it is to find the cheapest deal for gas and electric. Find a company offering a 2 year fixed tariff which I have done. To date, the best deal offers a 2 year fixed tariff.                                 For gas, the daily standing charge is 27 pence per day. The charge for gas is 2.952 pence per kw hour.For electric, the standing charge is 24.02 pence per day. The charge for electric is 17.42 per kw hour.These prices are considerably cheaper than my former supplier. If anyone can direct me to a better deal, please let me know as haven't signed up to EDF yet.

Neil Milkins ● 87d0 Comments ● 87d

OFGEM Investigation Into Utility Point.

IMPORTANT UPDATE. UTILITY POINT HAVE HAD THEIR SUPPLY LICENCES REVOKED BY OFGEM?                                                                                                                                                                                          After spending nearly 4 months trying to get to the bottom  of how Look After My Bills illegally changed my energy supplier from SSE to Utility Point, today has come a breakthrough. I had to deal with the matter myself after Look After My Bills who claimed to have started an investigation into the matter 65 days ago refused to respond to my last dozen or so phone calls or my last 8 emails. Today someone posted the following on trusted website Trustpilot regarding Utility Point and Look After My Bills.                                                                                                                                   "I just got a quote from LAMB and it suggested I change to a company called Utility Point.According to Trustpilot, this company are under investigation regarding giving customers incentives for positive reviews.The OFGEM website says they have revoked their supply licences with effect from 4 January 2021.LAMB...you say you work with suppliers who value their customers and are committed to improving their customer service.“Don’t worry, if a supplier has terrible customer service we won’t switch you to them even if they want to pay us!”I think you need to have an urgent review of some of the companies you are recommending.I won’t be using LAMB."

Neil Milkins ● 98d3 Comments ● 95d

Look After My Bills Nightmare.

Sorry to get on peoples' nerves but my warning to people about the possibility of the collapse of energy company Utility Point has shaken Look After My Bills into issuing the following statement to a disgruntled Trustpilot reviewer.                                                                                                                                                 Hi Jenny,I understand that there has been a lot of concerns around receiving your refund from Utility Point.At this point in time last year, we switched a lot of customers to Utility Point, we are now switching these customers away from Utility Point. This means that Utility Point have to process refunds for 1000's of customers, so please bear with them as this can take some time. They have doubled their resources to help deal with this backlog and have informed us that the majority of these refunds will be processed in the next 10 days.We review the suppliers we work with regularly based on a number of factors including customers' feedback, Trustpilot reviews, Citizens Advice Bureau and financial stability. If we have several customers expressing dissatisfaction with a particular supplier, we raise an investigation to decide whether we want to continue working with them.If you can kindly respond to my private request for more information then I can look to go through your account with us in greater detail and let you know how best to proceed.I look forward to hearing from you.​Thomas - Senior Energy AdviserLook After My Bills

Neil Milkins ● 101d0 Comments ● 101d