21 - 25 May
Hello again, I am delighted to be resuming my first weekly diary blog following my successful re-election as Leader of Hounslow Council for a second term. First of all, I would like to thank all residents who came out to vote during the Local Elections. Overall, Labour increased its majority in the borough to 51 seats, having taken 2 additional seats in Osterley and Spring Grove ward for the first time.
These results indicate that the council has a strong mandate from our residents to deliver our five election pledges as outlined in Labour’s election manifesto:
- Create 4,000 new apprenticeships and training opportunities to help young people into work.
- Deliver 3,000 new homes for social rented accommodation and 2,000 for shared ownership.
- Invest £2million to fix potholes
- Overhaul doorstep collection to make recycling easier and collect bulky items to reduce fly-tipping
- Protect residents from Central Government austerity policies
I can assure residents that the council will continue to provide the best possible services, even in the face of continued funding cutbacks from the Government.
On Tuesday night, I attended the Annual Meeting of the Borough Council where I was formally elected to be Leader for the second term. It is an honour and a privilege to be able to serve again. I was delighted to see so many representatives from community groups at the meeting.
The highlight of the evening however, was the election of the new Mayor, Cllr Samia Chaudhary, and the Deputy Mayor Cllr Sohan Sumra for the forthcoming year. I would like to pay tribute to the outgoing Mayor, Cllr Sue Sampson, ably assisted by the former councillor Mahesh Malhotra as Deputy Mayor. Cllr Sampson ended her mayoral year, having raised over £73,000, the highest ever sum of money raised by a Mayor in the borough for her two charities; Pink Ribbon Foundation and Refuge.
In addition to my election as Leader of Hounslow Council for this coming term, Cllr Lily Bath was elected as Deputy Leader. I in turn then appointed the eight remaining Cabinet posts. These new Cabinet Members will need to hit the ground running to deliver the promises outlined in our ambitious and exciting manifesto. In my speech to the Borough Council, I emphasised that over the next four years we would champion unity and service for the people of Hounslow. To achieve this, we must be united in serving our people and we must be united in serving those who need us most.
After the meeting, the new Mayor and Deuty Mayor invited guests to a small reception. It was a pleasure to meet friends and relatives of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, also the newly appointed councillors from both sides of the chamber.
On Wednesday I held my first Leader’s meeting with Cllr Lily Bath, Deputy Leader, along with the Chief Executive and other senior officers. We discussed the upcoming induction programme for newly elected councillors which ensures they have the knowledge and skills required to fulfil their role as councillors for their constituents. We also discussed some forthcoming events taking place in the borough such as the imminent closure of the level crossing at Feltham Station to enable extensions of the platforms and the permanent closing of this dangerous crossing. This will inevitably cause disruption and inconvenience for residents and businesses for a considerable period of time, but we are doing all we can to keep this to a minimum, working closely with communities, businesses, Transport for London (TfL) and Network Rail. For more information and to check before you travel, click here.
As we are playing catch-up following the election, the rest of the day was spent in a series of one-to-one meetings
Thursday saw the first finance meeting with the newly elected Cabinet with Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, who is our new Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services. He is tasked with ensuring that we set a budget that is sustainable and enables us to deliver our manifesto, our pledges and commitments. As always, we will continue to be a prudent council that strives to deliver high quality services while ensuring value for money for all of our residents. The meeting was also attended by the Director of Finance and the Chief Executive.
Following this, I attended a series of meetings for the rest of the day.
Today I am out of the office meeting residents and businesses. I will be encouraging my new Cabinet colleagues to ensure that they ‘walk the walk’ and not just ‘talk the talk’. It is vital that we are seen in the borough so we can get a first-hand idea of what our residents are feeling, thinking and experiencing. I know that they are all committed to this. We will be continuing with our engagement with local communities, led by Cllr Katherine Dunne, the Cabinet Member for Communities and Workforce. We are already working on dates for our Cabinet Question Time events which proved so popular last year. We will issue the dates in early summer. These will start in late September or early October.
Once again, I would like to offer my sincere thanks for your support and I look forward to working with everyone right across the borough, whether its Feltham or Chiswick, Hanworth or Isleworth.
Looking ahead for the weekend, it will be interesting to see the outcome of UEFA Champions’ League cup final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday. Closer to home a play off between Brentford FC’s old rivals Aston Villa vs Fulham will see one of the sides being promoted into the Premier League. If you’re out and about tomorrow, the Rugby Premiership Final between Exeter and Saracens kicks off at 3pm in Twickenham. This may cause considerably traffic congestion and delays.
Whatever you are doing, I hope you have an enjoyable bank holiday weekend!