With just over a week to go until Christmas, there’s still much to do before we can take a break and put our feet up!
We recently announced our new Community Safety and Enforcement Service to clamp down on anti-social behaviour. A new Neighbourhood Enforcement Team forms part of the service, merging three previously separate functions; pollution, estate wardens and park wardens. It’s a shared responsibility to keep Hounslow safe and that includes residents playing their part to report cases of anti-social behaviour where they see it, to dispose of all waste correctly and to help put a stop to fly-tipping. You can read more about it in Hounslow Matters which is being delivered to households in the borough this week, and is available online.
Earlier in the week, I met with the company who are organising MIPIM, a networking event gathering thousands of international property professionals in France, which will be taking place in March. Hounslow along with other London councils will attend to promote London and our individual boroughs to encourage investment for housing, commercial and industrial development. We’re fighting against many others for this investment and it’s even more important now as we go through the trauma of Brexit. The cost of the trip will be funded through sponsorship and I’ll be able to provide more details on my visit in the new year.
Learners from our Adult Education Catering Course ran a Christmas bake sale at the civic centre, baking all the sweet treats themselves! I must say they were delicious. The sale provided the opportunity for leaners to understand the principles of organising an event, including customer service skills, along with handling money, which will all help in their future employment. I’m pleased to hear a number of the learners have gone on to securing paid employment with catering companies.
The cake sale raised a fantastic £250 which will be going to The Ealing Road Homeless Shelter
I had an interesting meeting with Alex Page, Head of Community Engagement at the Ministry of Defence, as we’re currently in the process of renewing our covenant with the armed services. It’s vital that we support current and former service personnel for the work they do for us and the country. We have a close relationship with the army and, as you know, the Hounslow barracks have been an integral part of our community for centuries. The barracks are rooted deep into the history of our borough and currently home to The Irish Guards.
I also chaired the Capital Ambition Board meeting at London Councils, which is representative of the 32 boroughs in London and always a highlight for me! It’s great to come together with other council Leader’s to discuss challenges, good practices and new approaches to delivering excellent services for residents.
It’s the end of an era for our interim Chief Executive Alan Adams and I joined staff who came together across the council to say a fond farewell. I would like to thank Alan for his commitment to Hounslow over the years, and for his support both to his fellow officers and staff but also to me, my colleagues in the Cabinet and ward councillors. I am sorry that Alan has decided to leave but wish him well for the future. Our new Chief Executive Niall Bolger will step into his new role on Monday.
I’m here with Niall who came to see us on a recent visit to Hounslow.
Later in the week, I chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss the budget position of the council, which as you know is dire. Austerity hasn’t ended and unfortunately, we will have no option but to cut services further over the next few years. We’ll need to make some very hard decisions on the services we provide, and this undoubtedly is the most difficult and challenging part of my job.
I then went on to chair the West London Skills and Employment Board where we discussed how important it is to have a workforce that is trained and has the right skills to meet the needs of employers. Our main points of discussion also included making the most of the Apprenticeship Levy, ensuring residents of all backgrounds benefit from the jobs around Heathrow, and exploring greater social inclusion for everyone - including ex-offenders and those with learning disabilities.
I got into the festive spirit during my visit to the Millan Women’s Group Christmas celebration in Isleworth and was joined by the Deputy Mayor Cllr Sohan Sumra and Cllr Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities. The group has been going strong for over 25 years, working hard to reduce social isolation in local communities. It was a pleasure to mingle with residents over lunch and to highlight the importance of such groups to help meet the social needs of local residents, and to celebrate the diverse borough we live in.
Answering questions at the Millan Women’s Group Christmas celebration where over 100 people attended.
I was invited to the launch event of ‘Open Kitchen’ in Ealing, which is run by a charity called Muslim Hands. It was great to meet the team and learn about the new restaurant they have opened on Great West Road, offering a free meal for rough sleepers and low-income families. If you’d like to support the initiative, you can find out more and donate to the kitchen here.
To top off the week, I attended the topping out ceremony for Eden House (formerly known as Nantly House) on Lampton Road in Hounslow. The new building is the first site to be completed by Lampton360, the council’s wholly owned trading company, in an initiative that will deliver up to 1,500 new homes across the borough. This development will create much needed new housing, including many more affordable homes which will benefit the local community. Take a look at this short video taken on site today.
I was joined by Cllr Guy Lambert, Cabinet Member for Highways, Recycling and Companies, and Hounslow Central Ward Members Cllr Nisar Malik, Cllr Ajmer Grewal and Cllr Pritam Grewal.
On Saturday I’ve been invited to watch the local derby between Chiswick Rugby Football Club and Grasshoppers Rugby Football Club at Dukes Meadow – I, of course, will remain neutral! That said, I certainly won’t be remaining neutral during the Brentford VS Hull City game! Good luck to the Bees as always.
Have a great weekend all and be sure to wrap up warm.