|The Busy Life Of Hounslow Council's Leader|
Cllr Steve Curran talks regeneration, sport and Valentines
Hi everyone, and welcome to my fifth diary piece. I hope everyone is feeling ‘loved-up’ ahead of Valentine’s Day this weekend? Here’s hoping for plenty of cuddles in Chiswick and Cranford, hugs in Hounslow and Hanworth and maybe even some betrothals in Brentford and Bedfont!
Mon, 9 Feb: A big round of meetings to start the week! All had the theme of regeneration and redevelopment. The main one was with Hounslow Residential Development Forum to which we had invited developers and social landlords to discuss options for creating more council and affordable housing in the borough and how we can work together to deliver it.
Tues, 10 Feb: The day began with the tragic news that one of Chiswick’s most colourful characters had been killed in a road-traffic accident in the early hours of the morning. Whether you knew her as a regular singer in the congregation at St Nicholas Church, a fixture at one of the town’s other churches, an avid fan of Chiswick cricket club, or simply by her affectionate moniker ‘the car lady of Chiswick’, former concert pianist Anne Naysmith was apparently as famous in the town as other artistic luminaries such as Hogarth, Pope or even Bruce Dickinson! I want to send deepest condolences from all of us at the council to everyone who knew Anne. She was well loved and liked. I understand an inquest is due and an announcement about the funeral is also anticipated soon so that we might all pay our respects to Anne’s memory.
My first council-related engagement of the day saw me head deep into the borough of Southwark to attend the London Council’s Leader’s Committee. This is a chance for all us borough leaders to get together and discuss issues which affect the capital as a whole. One of the main issues was health reform and I made a plea that boroughs should be involved in this at both a London and a sub-regional level. This will ensure we are at the table when dealing with commissioning of health care in the future.
We also had a meeting of the West London Alliance (made up of representatives from the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Brent, Harrow, Ealing and ourselves) at which we looked at opportunities for joint procurement of services, job growth, regeneration and partnership working. We also had news that the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham has applied to join the WLA.
Closer to home I chaired the monthly meeting of our Cabinet, the agenda for which contained several interesting items including an update on our ambitious Golden Mile regeneration plan and our investment in the expansion of three secondary schools in the borough. I think the most noteworthy though was the item proposed by our lead member for education and children’s services Cllr Tom Bruce to seek charitable status for Hounslow Music Service. This much-valued service has been going in the borough since 1980 and currently teaches music to around 9,600 pupils a week on top of organising concert tours, running an exam centre, and bidding for funding for new projects. Setting up a charitable trust would give greater independence to the hard-working staff who run it, while ensuring the council continues to work closely with and support the musicians of the future.
The day was rounded off with the disappointment of Brentford’s brave loss to fellow promotion chasers Watford. The Bees v the Hornets was always going to be a match with a sting in the tail and it’s a shame they got swatted after having done so well away against Leeds at the weekend. Fingers crossed they get back to winning ways on Saturday (14) across London against Charlton.
Weds, 11 Feb: A rare break from both council work and my regular job in the NHS. A free evening too!
Thurs, 12 Feb: I met with our finance and citizen engagement lead member Cllr Theo Dennison to discuss ways of financial mitigation and plans for reducing costs across all our services, especially where there has been an overspend. In the evening I met with Hounslow High Street Quarter to discuss with residents the ongoing plans for the regeneration of the high street.
Fri, 13 Feb: A day which often strikes fear and apprehension into those of a superstitious nature, actually started with a bit of good news. That being. the threatened strike by bus drivers had been suspended. I’m sure everyone who uses buses to get around the borough wants to see a quick resolution to this dispute with Transport for London and a return to business as usual.
Finally I must give hearty congratulations to the England rugby team who I thoroughly enjoyed watching as they overcame the odds to beat Wales in their own back yard last Friday. I’m sure you all join me in hoping to see more of the same tomorrow (Saturday) when they take on the Italians. It’s an early kick-off so no excuse not to take your significant other out for a Valentine’s treat in the evening!
I would like to say to you all, I hope we provided good services this week, and if we have got it wrong for some residents we will try and put it right next week.
February 19, 2015,