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Note: Anyone who posts a defamatory comment does so at their own risk and must take responsibility personally."Terrapin has a superb track record of helping our clients achieve successful planning consents right across Greater London." – Political lobbyist Peter Bingle, The Terrapin Group.SHOULD COUNCIL LEADER STEVE CURRAN HAVE ACCEPTED FOUR DINNERS WITH LOBBYIST PETER BINGLE? WHAT WAS THE BILL? Mr Bingle works for big developers including two currently active in Hounslow Borough – Fairview New Homes (Heidelberg site, Brentford) and A2Dominion (Hounslow West). As Council Leader, Cllr Curran oversees Planning and Regeneration. Hospitality is acceptable as long as Cllr Curran correctly declares it, as he did. But is it a good look?Some might think it would be more appropriate for him to meet Mr Bingle over a desk in Hounslow House where their discussion could be fully minuted. Instead Mr Bingle took Cllr Curran for dinner. Four dinners are declared across two dates, perhaps two of the meals being for Cllr Curran's spouse (who works for Hounslow Council). We are not told. It might have been in La Rosetta, Brentford (low prices). Or it might have been in Mr Bingle's native habitat around Parliament (more swish and expensive). How much did it cost?In his declaration of interests, Cllr Curran does not say. Perhaps he will now tell us the details.In Parliament Labour has been rigorously scrutinising any potential conflict of interest amongst Conservative ministers and MPs, even when it is declared. It seems fair to apply the same scrutiny to our councillors so people can make up their own minds with the May 5 local elections coming up.Recently Osterley & Wyke Green Residents' Association asked: "“Is it acceptable for the Leader of the Council (also Cabinet Member for Corporate Strategy, Planning and Regeneration) to accept hospitality at sports events e.g. international rugby and cricket matches, from developers who are submitting planning applications in the borough?”The Council replied: “Members are entitled to accept hospitality so long as it is declared in accordance with statutory requirements.”What exactly does Mr Bingle do, in his role representing Fairview and A2Dominion and others? His company says: "Terrapin understands the London political scene. Our consultants are experienced advisers who are able to derisk large, complicated schemes at the start of the planning process and then work with clients to ensure a successful outcome."It adds: "The relationship between London councils and City Hall is constantly evolving. Clients need advisers who understand that critical relationship and are able to assist them navigate through a sea of complexity."Terrapin Communications delivers the following services :"Political audits of individual London councils."Targeted political engagement programmes."Stakeholder engagement."Public exhibitions."Strategic advice on planning in London."Terrapin has a superb track record of helping our clients achieve successful planning consents right across Greater London. If you would like to discuss a potential assignment please contact :"Terrapin is a member of the PRCA and is a strong and public advocate for strong industry rules which are ruthlessly enforced. Public affairs is a force for good in the Body Politic. We therefore welcomed the creation of the Public Affairs Board and adhere to its rules. We are also registered with the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists."Terrapin discloses all our clients on the PAB’s public register and expects our team to act with integrity and ethics at all times."There is no suggestion of wrongdoing. It is a matter of judgment.

Vanessa Smith ● 152d3 Comments ● 147d

Building Brentford’s community?

I may be late to this party, but bear with me…I was watching the news item on the proposed Ballymore development for a 51 storey tower block (with only one stairwell) near Canary Wharf this evening. They included a clip of the 19 storey Ballymore development in East London where a fire took place last May. In the corner of the screen, I spotted a branch of Johns & Co, the same estate agent that opened in the High Street a few months ago. I had a lightbulb moment. A quick Google revealed that Johns & Co was founded by the former international sales director of… Ballymore. I found this: -‘But John Morley is looking to change all that. Previously head of international sales at Ballymore, Morley set up his own management company, Johns & Co, to help take care of the growing number of investor landlords he felt were being dealt a bad hand by the market.One way he set out to differentiate himself was to provide management of the property ahead of completion. “Investors can buy off plan up to three years ahead,” he notes, “so we do a lot of hand holding.” He helps landlords with important decisions along the way to do with finishes, insurance, and tax. Morley also arranges handovers, checks snagging and arranges furnishing, before finding a suitable tenant.Having sold more than 1,000 apartments to buyers in Hong Kong, Singapore and China, Morley had a good understanding of the support those investors needed. Yet while the majority of buyers were once overseas investors, he says the market has changed significantly since 2012, and now around half of buyers in need of his services are UK investors.’ - City A.M. Thursday 12 May 2016Draw your own conclusions, but - unsurprisingly - the notion that Ballymore is striving to build a vibrant community in TW8 rings pretty hollow. It seems to confirm that it’s all about overseas investment leading to transient occupancy and a dormitory town centre. Meanwhile, the Duke of London community - a diverse, organically-grown collection of interesting small businesses (and EXACTLY what the area needs) - is due to be flattened, in order to build yet more flats and unaffordable retail units. In all probability, they will never be occupied. It’s just horribly depressing. 

Tracie Dudley Craig ● 173d5 Comments ● 173d

Gunnersbury Park Debacle Rides On.

Neglected by two boroughs who could not manage to tie a shoe-lace together for decades, handed over in an appallingly formulated way to a Cop-out CIC, then packed out with Cronies of like mindsets and connections, a TfL approach to funding where even a tuft of grass is fiscally overpricedSome good stuff, but from a a lot of grant funding which is unaccounted for and overseen with sort of knowledge that would make an IKEA shelf priced at £2500 plus fitting seem "very reasonable". Much core infrastructure for a public park remains as poor as it has been for 25 plus years. A complete contradiction to 'Community Interest Company " and with not even a freedom of information clause - which needless to say this management wriggled out of. Because it's overseers, both Trustees and Councils, deemed it irrelevant.Even a Velcro shoe strap is too challenging for this CIOC who only know how to bully and manipulate with help from their 'friends'Loss of cheap affordable to all public park amenities and replaced by exclusivity with a patronising faux front of inclusivity.Change is welcome, but that will only be change for the better if ALL the existing league of cronies and those at the trough are not involved in any form.  A completely new broom of more open and honest management put in place properly answerable to the local people of Ealing, Acton and Brentford who seem to be considered as irrelevant unless they can afford it. Community groups must be on the board and as trustees, not just selected politicians and 'preferred' individuals.Local people, not council officers with close connections, or politicians who seem to have failed with Gunnersbury time and time again, need to be far more in control of a Park that was purchased at a knock down price on the premise that it was for the well being of All the local people of Ealing Acton Brentford and Chiswick.Will this be any better? With how things are carried out in our name?I doubt it. It seems more like another move to making it a pay to enter venue like Syon or Kew and not what it is supposed to be, a Public park owned in trust by two boroughs for it's inhabitants.

Raymond Havelock ● 187d4 Comments ● 178d

Does corporate LBH hold grudges for life, or is it simply dysfunctional?

I haven't posted anything of a contentious nature for a very long time, as my years of local political involvement are long behind me.  But a few recent events have moved me to consider whether being involved at any time in any kind of activity without the jurisdiction of the political in-crowd triggers the issue of a one-way ticket to Coventry from which there is never any prospect of return, and whether such banishment is extended to any who may come into contact with me, no matter how unwittingly.A year or so I contacted an Isleworth ward councillor, of whom I had heard only good things, to seek his help on behalf of a local man who was being evicted from his family home following the death of his mother.  The man in question was not a personal acquaintance of mine nor somebody with any history of community activity or known hostility towards the established order.  Just a guy with a problem who had been given my name by a member of the public who had mistakenly thought I was still a councillor.  From the man who really is a councillor I received no response - not an offer of help, not a refusal of help, not an acknowledgement of receipt, not even a stern entreaty to go away.  Nothing.In case my communication had become lost in the system I chased it up.  Again, nothing.More recently I had occasion to contact adult care at LBH to express my concerns about the safety of a vulnerable adult who was being cared for in my locality.  The e-mail address I used was, not unreasonably, the one published on the council website.  No reply was forthcoming.Bearing in mind that a vulnerable person's safety was potentially at risk, I pursued the matter with a follow-up e-mail.  Response came there none.This was followed up with a Stage One complaint.  This seems also to be being ignored.Now when I was an elected member in a previous life I know there were individuals who were deemed by persons unknown, but who seemed to wield unchallenged and unchallegeable authority, to be "vexatious complainants", whose communications could be safely consigned to the shredder without fear of reproach.  Usually these were not people whose complaints were actually vexatious, but rather individuals who raised matters of concern which were considered inconvenient.  I personally put a stop to the mistreatment of one local campaigner who was being blackballed under this mysterious unwritten decree.But as I have not made a complaint to the London Borough of Hounslow, vexatious or otherwise, for at least the last eleven years, it would be rather stretching things for the entire organisation to be ignoring me under the terms of this particular dictum.So could this simply be good old-fashioned inefficiency?  After all I am sure no responsible local authority would be so petulant, not to mention nasty and downright reckless, as to allow the plight of a vulnerable adult whose safety is potentially in jeopardy to be overlooked in pursuance of a decade-old grudge?I would be interested to receive a response from anyone who is in a position to comment on such a matter.  Should that be you, you'll have the honour of being the first.

Phil Andrews ● 246d10 Comments ● 232d

An Invitation - Brentford Voice Annual General Meeting with a ‘Local Conversation’

Brentford Voice Annual General Meeting with a ‘Local Conversation’ – Thursday 28 October 2021, 7.30pm – 9.30pm at Studio 1, Watermans Art Centre, 40 High St, Brentford TW8 0DS.This will be Brentford Voice’s first AGM since it was not possible to hold one last year due to Covid restrictions.  We hope to complete the AGM business in no more than half an hour, and to move on swiftly to the ‘Local Conversation’ at around 8 pm.If you’ve received our Autumn Newsletter titled THE CHANGING FACE OF BRENTFORD (link below), and if you are concerned about the changes that are happening and coming to Brentford, and most importantly want to have a say on the future of where you live we would very much like to hear your thoughts. As much as this is a local conversation it’s very much a ‘listening’ conversation, so do please come along as the future of our community belongs to all of us and we do want to listen to you.If you have a specific topic you wish to raise do please let us know in advance so we can create a structure for the meeting. We are limited to numbers because of Covid restrictions, so if you do want to join us could you please email confirming your intention to attend in advance so we can manage this event safely for everyone. Please email   Watermans has asked us to remind you that they have a restaurant and bar for use both before and after the meeting.We very much look forward to seeing you on Thursday 28 October 2021.

Martin Case ● 252d5 Comments ● 251d

Hoorah! Maybe?

I've been a resident for 26 years in Brentford, next to the Albany Arms as then known. Delighted on the football club's success, but even more delighted that they moved up the road. All this nostalgia about it being a family club is dreamland. I'm thrilled to bits that the gentrified area and residents up the road will now have to tolerate the crowds. Oh dear - not sure how that will pan out around Kew Bridge, Chiswick and Strand et al.But back to Old Brentford. I have seen anti-social behaviour, thuggishness and drunkeness, over the years. I have seen the police ineffective. Indeed I've seen the Police Station close down. I have seen vehicles and property damaged. I have seen local cafes and restaurants warned to close for fear of potential damage. I have seen undesirable "fans" from as near as QPR to across to Millwall, and beyond from Nottingham and Middlesbrough and other points of the compass.Well, Do I like it now? The Albany Arms is the Black Dog, and Griffin Park is gone. Presumably the troublesome will have gone also. If Premier League football for Brentford means I will have a quieter and peaceful life then I wish them every success. Unfortunately it's come rather late for me. The kids have grown up, I've entered retirement and I'm moving on now. After all these years I've found myself in a place which has no banks, no post-office, no Police Station, no Postal Sorting Office, limited GP facilities, an abundance of fabricated overpriced lego flats, pretentious facades without substance, and a creeping council determined to make my life even more miserable with further restrictions. I've no idea what Brentford was like pre-1995, but I suspect it really was a community - however grim. The price of progress? I'm a Jarrow Lad - I know what grim is - and I didn't march down here!But...we've got a Premier League football team with a brand new Community Stadium. Community? That won't last long in the name. In the meantime - what's there not to like? 

Paul Brownlee ● 325d5 Comments ● 322d