As the Ex Chairperson of The Charlton House Residents Association, I must remind you that everything you read on these pages are my personal thoughts, observation and experiences.
Some of my statements below may sound contradictory but I hope you understand where I am coming from.
Our elected local councillors face the same problems as our elected MP's in central government.
A vast amount of voters believe that these elected representatives know everything!
At hustings (pre voting forums) candidates are questioned on numerous and vastly diverse subjects as well as current media fuelled headlines!
These prospective candidates don't and never will know everything, most first time candidates will answer with a personal honest answer, but the seasoned candidate know what is required and will be much less subjective. The one question we should all ask is:
"Are you going to follow the voice of your electorate"
Far to often ordinary people take office with all good intentions but eventually forget about democracy (the voice of the people) and follow the party line (loudest voice or the biggest bully).
Do we want "Honest" or "Party Political Promise"
Who wants controlled parking? who wants wider paths and less roadway? who wants 20mph zones on our roads? do we want more parking for local residents without paid permits? do we want our local roads fit for purpose do we want expantion of the ultra low emission zone around London that directly affect the people who live in London, surely we should be stopping cars travelling into London, people who work and travel into London should park outside the M25 and travel into London by public transport, this would stop emmisions and conjestion,I could go on!
Looking forward or just going back in time
The london mayor who's claim to working class is his father used to be a "bus driver", at some stage needs to take his space suit off and start thinking about the workin class people living inside the M25.
Why can't we have park and ride on major approach roads around the M25? Why can't we use canals and abbandond/unused undergound and overground train tracks and tunnels to move heavy goods around/through London?
The Mayor and TFL need to take note of the people they represent not act like astronauts "lost in space"
On a note much closer to home, why can't "this ex bus drivers son" see that "bus drivers" need a ruling from him to order TFL to follow the Loughborough report on driver fatigue.
Back to Local Issues
Most voters should expect an elected councillor to act in their best interest, people must learn not to expect anything from any prospective councillor until he/she comes up with the goods.
Who are the decision makers? Is it Our "elected" representatives or the bureaucratic system behind the scenes! Yes the well paid bureaucrats who are in well paid position no matter what party is in power.Most new policies are rarely in the best interest of residents/tenants.
What happened to transparency and honesty.
Why don't we (the residents) feel or believe that councillors are listening or acting in OUR BEST INTEREST? Because most of the time they are not!
Most of the time our ward counillors are bullied coerced and at the very least shouted down by those who have the loudest voice and are in a position of authority backed by council legislation/policy passed to allow a chairperson to pass anything he/she wishes without consultation if needed.
Some councillors are very good and do their best, unfortunately there are some who have an eye on a future further up the political ladder.
There is a saying “The end justifies the means” BUT AT WHAT COST TO THE RESIDENTS OF HOUNSLOW.
We are all aware of the financial climate and I am sure most residents acknowledge the council's duty to be prudent. Pease note: Council not Councillor’s
The residents of Hounslow should expect our elected representatives to have our interests and wellbeing at heart. Councillors should act on a collective knowledge gained from the people they represent not on personal opinion, personal aspirations, or by using the old political whip system to ensure alterations in current policies or completely new legislation formulated by the bureaucrats are forced through the legislative process.
A few cases in question:
Our council must enhance how information is obtained from residents. We should have a system in place that is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Up to date communications, resident associations and local resident groups who have an input in the development of local infrastructure.
Meetings can and do take place over the internet using TEAMS, ZOOM etc this type of meeting can and will get better. It also means that any elected resident working for a resident group can put forward local resident issues and be heard from the comfort of their own home. This would allow people who have felt unable to attend meetings because they are unable to travel for health, disability or time related issues.
Our ward councillors must not obstruct, alienate or believe they are better than the people who put them in a position of perceived trust. They should not pass on incomplete fanciful or questionable information to representative bodies who give their time freely to represent residents, or individuals.
We should also ensure future local councillors reside in a permanent place of residence in the borough throughout their term of office.
I must mention something good.
More Gripes some of which I will have touched on already.
Our roads and streets are atrocious, the constant road works and ineffective remedial work carried out by service organisations is not good enough.
Companies who dig up our roads should be liable to resurface the whole width of the road to a specific standard. Only resurfacing the area of workings is short sighted. Filling aged cracks, broken edges, potholes and relatively new sunken resurfacing works with inferior materials is unproductive, costly and ineffective as these replaced areas deteriorate, sometimes within weeks of repair.
Hounslow Highways must stop resurfacing main roads and highways that do not need immediate remedial work. Let us see the roads and streets outside our front doors resurfaced now!
Brentford regeneration has been a long time coming, we can see by the current landscape around Brentford that many new buildings have appeared and many more are in the planning for the next few years.
Whilst accommodation has become the top priority and without question is desperately needed we must remember that infrastructure is the key to successful regeneration schemes.
With the influx of new families our schools, doctors, dentists, shops, public transport and of course the ability to park our own vehicles are at breaking point.
We must ensure that the regeneration of Brentford and all redevelopment within The boundaries of Hounslow start with a true view on infrastructure with our communities at heart.
Local people must have a real say in how they will live now and in the foreseeable future, this means involving the community and taking notice of people who live in Hounslow as a whole.
It is apparent that the government and the London Mayor are pushing local councils to provide more cycle lanes. This is a positive move for safety, but these cycle lanes must be used and cyclists must be held accountable when these cycle lanes are in place.
Hounslow should positively promote the cycling proficiency test and best practice.
The cyclist’s attitude of ‘perceived invincibility’ must be halted. In the main our highway code does not dictate; It advises cyclists to wear high visual Jackets and helmets (safety items) it does say when travelling at night a front and back light should be used (how many cyclists get stopped for riding without lighting) it also says it is ‘advisable’ (not compulsory) to use cycle tracks when provided.
The highway code must make it clear that if a cycle lane is provided it must be used by all cycle riders. Lighting must be used at night and the highway code on observing traffic lights pedestrian crossings etc is compusory for all road and cycle lane users.
As a frequent user of the (A4) Great West Road I encounter cyclists holding up traffic and even more worrying swaying from side to side as well as undertaking and overtaking and cutting up vehicles in rush hour. One or two fingers are often put into the air at motor vehicle drivers, I do wonder what these signs mean!
As a car driver, motorcyclist and Ex PCV licence holder I passed 3 different driving tests to very specific standards, motorised vehicles are taxed, insured and if over 3 years old must be MOT’d yearly at personal cost, but to ride a cycle you need the cost of the cycle (if that), is this fair! It has been suggested that the government , TFL and local councils won't introduce a cycling policy involving riding standards, insurance and registration (number plates) because it could sway voters in elections! My only answer to this is: What about the rest of the people who have motorised vehicles or walk down the paths and cross the road at pedestrian crossings, don't they have a vote?
Cyclists should be insured and hold some form of license to ride a roadworthy cycle. There should be a way of recognising offenders (riding on paths, riding through red lights, riding without care, overtaking at pedestrian crossings, riding on A roads when cycle lanes are provided, making rude gestures to the public when challenged about improper actions etc).
High visual tops with a dedicated registration to the person riding would allow a dedicated cyclist policing squad paid for by the introduction of a cyclist riding tax to bring offenders to justice.
The only way I can see this being introduced is by public demand.
Legislation and enforcement is needed now, I believe the Government, London Mayor, local councillors and TFL should be proactive not reactive.
All local councils must lobby central government and push for changes in the (out dated) Highway Code to bring cyclists in line with other road users. The attitude of many (not all) cyclists is deplorable. Wearing lycra seems to change the cyclists mindset to superman/superwoman status. Most cyclists ride with impunity, they are not required to take any riding qualification nor do they pay road fund licence or insurance and are not required to prove road worthiness of the cycle. The most dismaying thing of all is that they cannot be traced if they have caused an accident and ridden off.
Cyclists ride on the pavement without regard for pedestrians and off the pavement into traffic without regard, they undertake and overtake stationary vehicles in traffic and make erratic manoeuvres without signals or checking it is safe to proceed. They ride through people on pedestrian paving overtake stationary vehicles at all types of pedestrian crossings and through red traffic signals, but when their disregard for protocol and safety is pointed out they use foul signs and language. In the main they have a total disregard for other people.
There are of course some cyclists who do abide by the rules of the road but these people are very much in the minority.
The Mayor of London has spent £Millions providing cycle lanes in London, many cycle lanes run alongside (off road) major roads (ie: the Great West Road) which are not used by all cyclists.
Legislation for "ALL" road users.
We only need to look back over the years, lighting(visibility), seat belts, tyre tread depth, crash helmets, engine capacity and MOT’S, licence plates (for recognition) and the driving licence were made compulsory. So why are cyclists exempt from all legislation? It has been suggested that because there are millions of cyclists who are potential voters that none of the major political parties don't want to lose these voter's when it comes to elections. But what about all the other voter's who abide by legislation.
Central government MUST legislate and dictate what cyclists should wear, what and where they can ride and how they behave, as well as some form of licensing, insurance and road worthiness. The Highway Code must dictate to all road users.
TRANSPORT FOR LONDON (TFL)
TFL (Transport For London) must also come clean on why they alter traffic signal fazing. On many occasions this altering of traffic signal fazing creates major problems, causing huge traffic jams.
Is it all part of a greater scheme to make people ditch the car and use public transport. The only problem is that buses are slowed down by the same traffic problems and of course the dreaded cyclists in the bus lanes that were originally introduced to speed up the public transport service.
The bandwagon for MP'S and the political leaders of London in the 70's and 80's was fast flowing traffic, the introduction of bus lanes was hailed as the way to get people out of the car and onto public transport.
Now the powers that be! find every way possible to slow traffic down IE; traffic signal re-fazing, cyclists in bus lanes, antiquated pedestrian crossings, widening of paths by restricting road widths being just a few ways to obstruct and make it difficult for motor vehicle users.
The newest ploy by our local councils is the 20MPH zones intoduced on our public roads, Hounslow Council has gone even further by closing public carparks and raising the fees on the few left in use.
Is Hounslow Council attempting to rid our public roads of local traffic users by design.
IE: To name but a few
1:Higher parking charges (when you can find a space)
2:Accomodation (New builds) with nil parking or inadequate parking spaces.
3:Forcing through permit parking (CPZ) in many areas.
4:Not providing finances for the resurfacing of our residential roads.