|Chiswick Is Not Just 'Cash Cow' For Hounslow|
The new Council leader on street lights, parking and the Lionel Road development
The new leader of Hounslow Council has promised that issues affecting Chiswick people will get an equal hearing to problems elsewhere in the borough despite the area not returning any Labour councillors in the recent local elections.
Labour won a huge victory in the Hounslow Council elections winning 14 more seats to gain a majority of 49, with the Conservatives holding eleven seats, nine of them from Chiswick.
The result has led some local residents to wonder whether W4 might be isolated when it comes to decisions being made on matters of concern to Chiswick.
In a wide-ranging interview, the new Council leader, Cllr Steve Curran told chiswickw4.com that "everyone" was important and he was sorry to hear that some people in Chiswick felt that the area was a 'cash cow" for Hounslow with higher council tax, CPZ and parking charges.
Figures show that Hounslow Council made £634,704 from 13,132 tickets issued on Chiswick High Road in 2012-2013 during the time the Hammersmith flyover was closed.
"It's certainly not the case that we see Chiswick as a cash cow, far from it- Even if they don't vote Labour it doesn’t mean we don't listen to the residents, that's irrelevant to me as long as we provide excellent services across the borough and the people in Chiswick get the same service as anyone in Brentford, Hounslow, Heston or elsewhere- everyone is important"
But while Cllr Curran was willing to consider changes issues such as 'park and shop' measures, he maintains a firm stance on two issues which have caused controversy in Chiswick- the new led street lights and the enabling development relating to the proposed new Brentford Football club in Lionel Road.
"On the question of the new street lighting, when we were canvassing on the doorstep, 90 pc of people really liked it across the borough- it's clean, it's sharp, it saves money, it's environmentally friendly.
However when it was put to him that he was unlikely to have received that response if he had campaigned in Chiswick he said: "Any change is going to be difficult, of course if there are problems they need to be looked at. In my view, its very successful and people are very happy with the road safety and the crime prevention aspect of it. If there are particular concerns they can be looked at but we're not going to down every street, it's not an option. If it was a really big issue people wouldn't have voted for us (Labour) in the election," he said.
In relation to the Lionel Road enabling development for Brentford Football Club,which has concerned several groups in Chiswick and Kew , Cllr Curran who represents Syon ward in Brentford) said he was "delighted" it was moving ahead and it would be great for the borough.
"I know there are concerns but it's gone through all the statutory process and been supported by the Mayor of London and the Minister Eric Pickles, and there has been a rigorous planning process and the Planning Committee have supported it. It's a big change for the borough and when there is continuous change people find it challenging and I'm sorry people in Chiswick don't feel they are listened to.
"Brentford Football Club is committed to full consultation and it went through the full process-now we need to ensure it's a successful development and that the least disruption as possible is caused during the development phase."
Local businesses in Chiswick have complained that a lack of parking makes it difficult for them to trade. Councillor John Todd, local MP Mary Macleod and the Chiswick High Road Action Group campaigned for a trial of a thirty-minute 'stop and shop' measure which was implemented last year on Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road. Cllr Curran said that he would be happy to work with the Councillors in Chiswick on reviewing the 'stop and shop' measure to help local businesses.
But on the thorny question of Chiswick High Road paying high levels of parking fines, he said it was a popular area and therefore attracted more cars. He himself had to pay a parking fine in Chiswick for overstaying in a Council-run park and while it was "frustrating", people all had to pay up if they transgressed.
Chiswick residents have complained that refuse collection and recycling is now worse under the new Hounslow Highways contract. Cllr Curran commented that "it's difficult once people have a perception that things are worse than before", but he agreed that there were some issues, such as leaf clearing which they "didn't get right", and not just in Chiswick. That had now been addressed.
Extra funding had been committed at the end of the last Council to recycling and flytipping measures, but it was also about citizens taking responsibility, he said.
"There's a perception that someone is driving around and deliberately chucking out litter, but it's people living in the borough who are responsible. We have to try and educate people not do do it. We are taking enforcement measures and we will be prosecuting people. If anyone knows someone doing it, let us know and we'll deal with them. It's about having civic pride in your community"
Borough-wide Cllr Curran is committed to focusing on providing more homes, jobs for young people, regeneration and making the borough cleaner. You can read about his plan and the full cabinet chosen at last week's meeting here.
June 12, 2014