Pledges on Education, the Living Wage and Youth Mental Health
Chiswick Homefields ward candidate Gerald McGregor reports back on his week
Meeting residents during an election campaign is always an exercise in direct democracy and gives all candidates an opportunity to discover more about the ward they wish to be a councillor for. The mechanism however is to have a Listening Approach and this is what is creating a difference between Conservative candidates and those of other affiliations and ideologies.
The Citizens UK approach to the Conservatives
· A healthy Democracy with civil society at its heart. Citizens UK is a people power alliance of diverse local communities working together for the common good. Citizens UK is a people power alliance of diverse local communities working together for the common good.
Their mission is to develop local leaders, strengthen local organisations which are the lifeblood of their communities and make change. Their member communities are deeply rooted in their local areas such as we see in Hounslow. These schools, universities, churches, chapels, synagogues, mosques, temples, parent groups, health trusts, charities and unions, are important civic institutions which connect every day to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Through the method of Community Organising they enable communities and local leaders to develop their voice and come together with the power and strategy to make real change. This leads to putting forward hundreds of neighbourhood improvements - from zebra crossings outside primary schools to reopening renovated public toilets in cemeteries. It is Conservative Localism at heart
Hounslow Citizens and a well-attended Question and Answers Campaign Meeting
As leader of the Conservative Group of Councillors on Hounslow Council I range across the Borough supporting Colleagues and emphasising the policies and values which we wish to place before the electorate.
To this end it was a great pleasure to take part in a hugely varied and wholly successful meeting of Hounslow Citizens at Southville Primary School on 21st April in Feltham. The leaders of the meeting contacted me for a preliminary discussion the day before so I was fully briefed and raring to go. The meeting attended by 200 plus people did not disappoint.
Opening with a buffet supplied by the charity Surplus to Supper (using fresh food that would otherwise have gone to Landfill, completely wasted) the meeting had two choirs providing entertainment before the centrepiece of a Question and Answer session on election pledges.
As a group Leader I held an advantage over my Labour Colleague who did not appear to have authority to pledge commitments in quite the same way. The pledges covered a wide area.
Statements of Educational Need (SENs) asked for a commitment to Health Visitor checks every second year to be resumed after covid and creating community spaces for clinics to operate within the statutory guidelines. This pledge request was covered by the alternative budget proposal of March 1st, providing £700,000 for in house paediatric nursing reports, educational psychologists and for cases requiring Educational and Health Care Plans (EHCP’s) providing for professionally qualified in house staff supporting panels and decision making. My experience has been that this request does not go far enough.
The Labour Administration has had several opportunities to remedy a poor situation in this area, our plan and our pledge is to meet that need from good financial practice. Every Child Matters and spending money on early-years and adolescent care will save all of us higher costs and loss of potential if we don’t grasp the nettle now. The next pledge also touched on vulnerable school children and it involved respite care for families bringing up children who needed extra support. Building Back Better is our approach post-covid, and the provision of short breaks on a regular basis for families and the particular child or children needs to be encouraged and budgeted for, as it is a huge support to the welfare of all those participating.
Economics and Finance: The Living Wage……Two Pledges
After twelve years of a Labour administration, Hounslow has more than half of its wards described as socially deprived in the top twenty per cent in England. To fight this horrendous statistic the Conservative Manifesto for the Borough and our alternative Budget provides for no change in supporting those who get a reduction in Council Tax payments because of their circumstances. More importantly we can move Hounslow away from the curse of minimum wage payments onto a living wage basis. The difference is critical for the well being of families and individual wage earners alike; the London Living wage is an aspiration that delivers less reliance on welfare payments to top up basic income…. benefiting society, ….giving economic independence and the chance of ….social well-being. Our pledge to regularly meet Hounslow Citizens and collaboratively build a strategy stands out as a starting point of a four year period of change and innovation.
Allied to this, the Hounslow Citizens wanted the Council to adopt a living wage for all care workers contracted to work for Hounslow. Given what has happened to care workers during the Pandemic this seems reasonable, but not only that, we would further introduce a medical and care worker permit to allow free parking and parking access during working visits to patients, clients and customers across the Borough.
The change on contractual terms will take longer than four years to achieve given the nature of long term procurement (to allow investment in service care) so our pledge stretched to eight years as contracts would be renewed. That would not stop a Conservative administration reviewing the issue with existing suppliers. We want a drive to the top, no one in a modern free market economy should be allowed sink to the bottom if they show aptitude and willingness to work!
Youth Mental Health Care Programmes
Over the last twelve years the Conservative Party in Hounslow has raised the issues of Respite Care, Day Care, Youth Services and Childrens’ Mental Health and well being, all having been part of a series of reductions in social support by the administration. Our last pledge of the night was to fully support a Youth Zone programme, spreading from a pilot project in Feltham (The Onside Youth Zone) across the Borough.
All of these questions were put forward by different groups representing Hounslow Religious life, different charities and pressure groups and schoolchildren.
Why are these pledges important?
They represent a true relationship between political leaders and their citizens, in this case Listening to Residents. The needs discussed were all reasonable requests, they fit into the sort of budget that Conservatives can manage and handle to a successful conclusion or a further budget mandate and the requests generate policy and a value stream. No operating policy decisions need to be made as they are all extensions of other workstreams and above all they Meet a Need.
More Concerns about Safety on Chiswick High Road
Campaigning across the whole area we find a huge number of residents are unhappy, some anxious, some even afraid for their safety when shopping in Chiswick High Road. We intend to do something about this and other traffic schemes when elected to run the administration, as we regard the safety and security of our residents as a very high priority.
Penalty Charge Notices Review
In our no increase alternative budget published on March 1st 2022 we put aside a sum to cover the repayment of PCN’s automatically issued by camera operators for various traffic schemes across Chiswick which were introduced with no formal public consultation, and where the cabinet of Hounslow failed to respond to a scrutiny panel asking for schemes to be reviewed. This arbitrary and authoritarian non consultative approach does not go down well with residents or their Conservative Councillors
Campaigning across the Borough
This Is Campaigning, with dedicated and committed candidates Jinesh Patel and Jesal Patel in Hounslow East, with the group Leader…………..what a team!
Politics writ large
1 The Labour Party locally is getting into Private Eye Magazine rather too frequently in the Rotten Borough Columns.
After messing up their ward selections, publicly having a faction fight at the Borough Council budget debate and then suffering the embarrassment of losing a senior councillor who walked out of Labour, the latest story is about the comeback of a former leader of the Council who supplanted a democratically chosen lady candidate on a technicality (she accepted then resigned her selection on unspecified personal grounds to make way, allowing the former leader apparently to try and achieve a personal ambition of fifty years unbroken service on the council! Nothing about serving the community!)
2 Democracy is dead, bring back democracy – our manifesto pledges
Published three weeks ago, our manifesto makes 50 pledges responding directly to residents' and the concerns of shops and businesses across Hounslow. We want to bring back democracy by cleaning-up local politics – reducing the number of councillors who receive extra special responsibility allowances (SRA’s), looking at the Constitution of the Borough by reviewing the strong leader model against the committee-based model; and putting the needs of council taxpayers, residents and businesses at the heart of local decision-making by having more public forums. Publishing casework numbers and representative meeting attendance statistics will show who amongst the elected councillors is listening to residents, doing their job and delivering performance as local representatives .
3 We have had a very successful postal vote campaign, a benefit of settling our candidate list early enough to get feet on the ground for the early and mid-stage part of the campaign. Chiswick residents are receiving the Chiswick Matters election leaflet highlighting some of our 50 pledges and providing background for our plans over the next four years.
4 The Election Day
Thursday May 5th
Polls open at 7.00am
Polls close at 10.00pm sharp (you must be inside the polling station precinct at that time in order to complete a vote in the booth)
Polling Stations for each polling district within a ward can be found on the Council Web Site
The Count is overnight on May 5th/6th and all wards should be declaring a result.
Conservative Group Leader and Leader of the Opposition
London Borough of Hounslow
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
Most council meetings are now taking place in person at Hounslow House though a few, such as licensing panel meetings, continue to be held virtually. Even if they are held in person, you can watch them live (or later) on the council's YouTube channel . Please check for each meeting by looking at the agenda reports pack for each committee.
Key Local Election Dates
26th April - Deadline for receiving new proxy voting form
5th May – 7.00am to 10pm local election 2022
Counting of votes – from 10pm
31st May – 7.00pm Annual Meeting of the Borough Council
2nd June to 7th June – Platinum Jubilee four-day weekend
SURGERIES ARE BACK!
We are back to our usual routine, after the pandemic, of holding face-to-face surgeries in Chiswick and Gunnersbury. Chiswick: Every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am at Chiswick Library (the nine Conservative councillors take this surgery in turn). Gunnersbury: First Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am at The Gunnersbury Triangle Club, Triangle Way, off The Ridgeway, W3 8LU (at least one of the Turnham Green ward councillors will take this surgery).
Chiswick Homefields ward
Cllr Patrick Barr
Cllr Gerald McGregor
Cllr John Todd
Chiswick Riverside ward
Cllr Michael Denniss
Cllr Gabriella Giles
Cllr Sam Hearn
Turnham Green ward
Cllr Joanna Biddolph
Cllr Ranjit Gill
Cllr Ron Mushiso
April 24, 2022