24 - 28 May
I hope you, your family and friends are well.
To say this week has been challenging would be an understatement. I’m sure that the changes to Government’s travel guidance for Hounslow (and other surge testing and vaccinations areas) that appeared and were withdrawn earlier this week were equally confusing and disruptive for residents, businesses, and communities.
Matt Hancock’s announcement in the House of Commons last week which designated Hounslow as a borough for ‘surge testing’ and increased vaccination, was another example of Government not working properly with local authorities in advance to respond to the increased infection rates of the new COVID19 variant. That was followed by further confusion when the changes were made to travel guidance on the Government website last Friday without any warning, notice or communication. This was simply outrageous. If you missed my statement on this, you can read it here: Statement on localised COVID-19 travel guidance
In the midst of all this distraction, I want to thank our Council staff and NHS colleagues who continue to support residents with their questions and concerns, as well as pressing ahead with the delivery of ‘surge testing’ and vaccination operations on the ground. Particular thanks goes to our Director of Public Health, Kelly O’Neill, who is working tirelessly with other council colleagues, NHS staff, Public Health England and our residents to ensure they remain our top priority in responding to these challenges and localised needs. Read more in Kelly O’Neill’s statement here: Local lockdowns: a statement from Hounslow's Director of Public Health
You can also read my joint statement with Kelly O’Neill here: Cllr Steve Curran, Leader, and Kelly O'Neill Director of Public Health | London Borough of Hounslow
While the Government’s advice and guidance has been unhelpful and confusing, we must concentrate and focus our efforts on protecting and supporting our residents and communities. It was uplifting to see 1300 residents of all ages come forward for their vaccine at the mass vaccination facility at Alice Way Gurdwara on Wednesday. This operation will be repeated today at a Mosque and at an education centre tomorrow. On Monday we will have the biggest vaccination centre in the country, when we will be vaccinating 15,000 residents at Twickenham Stadium.
Once again, we’ve shown our true #OneHounslow spirit and I want to thank residents who have stepped up for Hounslow, taking up the offer of the vaccine and encouraging all those who haven’t yet done so. To find out more about where you can have your vaccination here:
With the spotlight on this situation throughout the week, I was invited for a few interviews by various media channels. These opportunities helped us spread clear messages to the residents of Hounslow and Londoners about travelling in and out of the borough. They also helped us reassure our communities that, on the ground, we are doing absolutely everything we can to support them through these difficult times, and that protecting them from this virus remains a top priority.
We also made the Guardian’s front-page story which covered yet another U-turn by Government Ministers. You can read the article here: ministers-back-down-over-limiting-travel
Radio Jackie also covered the story on Wednesday when I was asked to clarify the situation around travelling in and out of Hounslow following the clear debacle by Government. You can listen to the interview here: Radio Jackie / Hounslow Council leader
This week we also went international! On Thursday morning I was interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, if you’d like you can check it out here.
On a completely different note, we must remember that we are in an economic downturn as a result of COVID, and that the airline industry has been particularly affected. My piece for The Airport Operator features the devastating impacts and challenges faced in the last year by airports and the communities around UK’s major airports, as well as for the economy and jobs in West London. Read the story here, pages 24 to 27 www.aoa.org.uk.
Please remember - the Government’s coronavirus restrictions remain in place. It is extremely important that we continue to follow lockdown restrictions. You should read in full the Government’s information on Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do. Step 3 and Step 4 of the roadmap below sets out the Government’s current plans out of the national lockdown.
Amid this week’s disruption, business as usual for the Council must go on! One of our top priorities in Hounslow is to continue delivering our promise to provide new council homes for local people at local rents. It was a pleasure visit to Herrings Hall Close with Cllr Guy Lambert, Cabinet Member for Recycling, Highways & Trading Companies and Cllr Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities. It’s great to see these 19 new council homes which will have their first residents moving in within the next few months.
In the picture is me with the cup, next to Cllr Guy Lambert with the long hair and Cllr Katherine Dunne leading from the front
Herrings Hall Close’s 19 new council homes will provide two-, three- & four-bedroomed Council homes at social rents in Brentford. Lampton360 have done a great job with these well-designed homes set in a lovely mews off London Road. Each has its own garden and cycle storage, as well as shared open space. The homes are sustainable with electric car charging points, solar panels, bird & bat boxes and beehives. A fantastic achievement! Well done and thanks to everyone involved.
Herrings Hall Close - Council homes set for new residents to move in the next few months
Later that afternoon, I was delighted to meet Mr Kiala and his son, along with Cllr Lily Bath, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing. Mr Kiala and his family moved recently to their new Council home at the Haverfield Estate. The programme of improvements at Green Dragon Lane have been going on for a couple of years and it was wonderful to see first-hand the benefits of these improvements for the lives of our residents.
I’m here with the very happy Mr Kiala and his son, along with Cllr Lily Bath outside their new home
If you read my blog last week, you’ll remember I mentioned nesting swans at Brentford canal! As we’ve been running a project over the last couple of years to improve biodiversity and the environment for existing wildlife and to encourage new species, it is really uplifting to see the fruits of our labour! This week we’ve been running a Swan Competition on our social media channels to vote for a name for the family of swans! The winning name will be revealed later this afternoon (Friday 28th May) and the winner will have afternoon tea with me, courtesy of the Holiday Inn, Brentford. So, keep a look out on our twitter channel; https://twitter.com/LBofHounslow
If you missed the social media posts, the suggested names are below. My favourite was ‘Cygnet Committee’!
- Gok Swan
- Swan Wick
- ‘Cygnet Committee’ (David Bowie 1969)
- Bella Swan
- The Brentford (Ugly) Dock-lings
- Brentford Bevy
- Swanny McSwan Face
- Swan Claude Van Damme
I would like to say a big thanks to JCDecaux, The London Wildlife Trust, The Canal & River Trust, The Green School for Boys and Girls, Octink, Holiday Inn Brentford and Hounslow Highways who have all been part of the Brentford Bridge and Canal project since the very beginning and have been a great support! Thanks to everyone!
Please remember not to feed them or disturb the nest if you’re visiting or walking by.
Looking back to last Saturday, an incredible fightback by the Bees brought a huge win against Bournemouth, even after giving away an early goal. Well done to the boys on a fantastic achievement. We all have to go through it again this Saturday when the Bees play Swansea at Wembley. I will be joining the Mayor of Hounslow, Cllr Bishnu Gurung to give our support to the Bees. Come and say hello if you see us!
Come on you Bees!!!
Please remember we are still in a National lockdown. Follow the rules to stay safe yourself and protect others. We are all in this together #OneHounslow
Hope you have a great weekend! Stay safe.
Cllr Steve Curran