Cricket, Radio, And A Plea For More Foster Parents

Ron Mushiso updates us on his week as a local councillor


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I hope you have all been enjoying the weekly blogs and have found them to be insightful and illustrative of the diverse nature of our work as councillors. Since May 2018 it’s been an honour and a privilege to serve our residents in Chiswick in this great team of nine Conservative councillors. They all do a great job championing Chiswick and the interests of its residents. Here is a snippet of my past week as a councillor.

Sunday 28th July : BBC Radio London Interview with Dotun Adebayo

I was chuffed to learn that BBC Radio London wanted to hear my views on the new prime minister Boris Johnson and his new cabinet. I felt that our party had made a brilliant choice in electing a prime minister who has made it his priority to deliver a democratic mandate of getting Brexit done by the 31st October doing so, while sensibly making contingency plans in case of a No Deal Brexit.

As a teacher, I welcomed his pledge to level up per pupil spending in primary and secondary schools across the country. I told Duton Adebayo that one of our priorities in Turnham Green, and Chiswick, is crime. Our hard-working ward police officers do a great job already but the additional 20,000 police officers on our streets, as promised by our new prime minister, will have a massive impact.

Listen again

On Tuesday we gathered as a cross-party group at Hounslow House to agree our priorities as an overview and scrutiny committee for the current municipal year. The scrutiny committee is one of the most important bodies in the council as it monitors local governance and spending. Its task is to review the performance of the council, investigate the effectiveness of its departments, help to develop new working policies and hold the cabinet to account. Of the 41 topics raised by residents, interest groups and councillors, there were 10 high impact subjects that we could take on. They have been divided between the three scrutiny panels – children and young people, health and adults care, and housing and environment – and the main committee. Here is a flavour of three that we all agreed on and the evidence behind our decisions.

Waste and Recycling

To consider the performance of this service and assist in the early stages of the implementation of the council’s new Cleaner Greener Strategy. The background data includes:

• The recycle refresh programme and fortnightly black bin collection is working for low-rise collections with a 51.2% recycling rate.

• High-rise flats recycling levels are only at 7%.

• The household waste recovery rate is 68% (incinerated waste converted to energy)

• In 2018/19, 92% of roads inspected across the borough passed the expected standard of cleanliness. This is up from last year’s figure of 86%.

Social Isolation

Social isolation is an increasing problem across the UK. A scrutiny review could consider how social isolation manifests in Hounslow and make recommendations for action for one or several affected groups. The background data includes:

• 45% of people in Hounslow are single, divorced, separated or widowed. In London the rate is 49% and in England it’s and 41% in Hounslow which is ranked in the top quartile in Age UK’s loneliness index.

• 35% of people in care had as much social contact as they desired. The London average is 40%

• 62% of households are not living in a couple, compared with 55% in England.

Tri-Borough Policing

Scrutiny might assess the tri-borough basic command unit (BCU) model and its impact on community policing, safety and crime one year on. It lends itself to a one-off meeting where stakeholders are invited to present evidence. Hounslow background data on includes:

• Incidences of reported crime increased by over 3,000 from 2015 to 2017.

• In the 2018 resident’s survey, 92% of residents said they feel safe during the day (this is lower than in 2016) and 65% reported feeling safe after dark (this is higher than in 2016).

• With the move to BCUs, the number of staff remained similar at 1,439. The number of PCSOs reduced from 65 in the three boroughs (16 in Hounslow) to 63 across the three boroughs.

• Response times before and after the introduction of the BCU model remain similar.

Wednesday 31st July: Eve of the Ashes and I get run out by a council officer!

With the ashes starting this week it was fitting that we set things off with the Mayor of Hounslow’s annual councillors and officers charity cricket match. It was my first appearance at this event although, as a PE teacher, I was somewhat on familiar grounds. Cllr Vickram Grewal (Labour) was on my team and he is decent cricketer (he doesn’t mind saying so himself) but we came up short chasing 154 against a team with Cllrs Tom Bruce, Mohammed Umair and Khulique Malik. I got run out without facing a single ball, so we will never know! I

n the end, cricket was the real winner and of course we raised money for the mayor’s two chosen charities. Our Barn which runs community-based activities providing learning, life skills and social interactions for young people with learning disabilities, and Hounslow Seniors Trust which works with local partnership groups to organise the Hounslow Older People’s Festival.

Edensor Gardens Community Fun Day on Sunday 4th August 1pm -6pm

Things went from bad to worse when I returned home and checked my emails only to discover that I will not able to start off with rest of the group at the Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle this Saturday (it starts at Market Place in Brentford at 9:30am and finishes at Green Park). I have contacted the organisers to say that it clashes with our surgery at Chiswick Library and it’s my turn this week.

Nonetheless I hope to catch up with the tail end of the peloton after my duties but certainly I will be amongst it on the return trip from Green Park in the afternoon. I manged to touch base with Janet Omondi from the Riana Development Network after missing each other’s phone calls on several occasions. Janet is an ever-present member of our Chiswick Clean initiative. Her and her husband Rodgers are organising the 2nd annual Edensor Gardens Family Fun Day this Sunday from 1pm-6pm.

Last year the event was a resounding success and from our discussions, this one promises to be a belter! The supporting cast includes Hounslow Council, the Metropolitan Police, Brentford FC, Dr Bike, Hounslow Housing and the Road Safety Unit. Not to mention all the food stalls and music that will add to the atmosphere.

Thursday 1st August: Shortage of Foster Homes for Looked After Children and my visit to the Ride

Fostering is one of the kindest things any person or family can do for neglected or displaced young person without a family or a home. A foster parent may be that last opportunity for that child to transform his or her future. As a former looked after child myself, taken into care by Hounslow Social Services at an early age, I know full well the importance of this altruistic act by from a member of our communities. Fostering is a subject very close to all of us as councillors because we are known as corporate parents to over 300 looked after children in Hounslow. We have a duty of care to them just as a parent would to their child.

Nearly 300 Looked After Children in Hounslow!

The London Borough of Hounslow has nearly 300 looked after children. Hounslow is at a critical point. In 2018 only 36% of Looked After Children were in foster homes. Between April 2018 and March 2019, the fostering team registered just five foster carers.

The chief executive of the Fostering Network said in his report this year that, “We are facing a continued increase in the number of children coming into care at a time when financial pressures and reduced budgets mean that local authorities are increasingly cash-strapped”. It means that most looked after children have either been placed in temporary accommodation outside the borough or, worse, outside London in some cases. You can only imagine the impact this might have on the child who is in the process of dealing with hardship and uncertainty.

The Ride

I visited The Ride, a very well managed residential home for looked after children based in a quiet residential part of Brentford. I spoke with the team of social workers who have done a brilliant job in making the place look and feel like any other family home. The Ride is one measure that relieves some the pressures of demand for more foster homes. But at full capacity already, with a full complement of six young people aged between 12-16 years, you can understand the urgency of the situation. I spoke at length with the senior residential support worker Eliramson Saro who has worked there for nearly 10 years. We discussed ways in which we could try to create more of an awareness of this crisis not just in Hounslow but more specifically in Chiswick.

We agreed that potential foster parents may not be aware of the following: Did you know

… 1. Short term fostering : a potential foster parent could foster on a temporary or short-term basis from an overnight stay to anything up to a year. There are several cases in the borough where looked after children are being fostered on a short term basis. It gives a bit of time for social services to match children to potential foster parents in a carefully considered manner. In some cases, it gives social services the time and opportunities to rebuild bridges and plan for the child’s return home.

2. Long term fostering : an extensive matching process considering the needs of the child and the capacity of the foster parent to meet those needs. For some children a permanent home will make all the difference.

3. Parent and baby foster carers : this is a particularly specialised area. Often in these cases, the young mother and child are in need of a safe and nurturing family environment where they can be supported in developing their parenting skills.

Would you consider becoming a foster parent? If you have any questions or would like more information about fostering, please get in touch with me or the fostering team on 0800 731 8558 or

Dates for diaries ;

LBH Cabinet meeting: at which we expect the CS9 decision will be made: 3 rd September at 7pm at Hounslow House

● Borough council: Tuesday, 10 th September at 7.30pm at Hounslow House
Chiswick Area Forum: Tuesday, 17th September at 7.00pm in Chiswick Town Hall
Chiswick surgeries: Every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am at Chiswick library, upstairs in the private room
Gunnersbury surgeries: First Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am at The Triangle Club, The Ridgeway, W3 8LN, usually a group discussion but privacy can be arranged.

Councillor Ron Mushiso Turnham Green Ward


Phone: 07976 702887

Twitter: @RonnieMushiso

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August 4, 2019

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