Reflections on the Last Four Years as a Councillor

Chiswick Riverside ward councillor Cllr Gabriella Giles reports back

Cllr Gabriella Giles
Cllr Gabriella Giles

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A thought occurred to me today: this could be the last blog I write as a councillor for Chiswick Riverside. Not to take anything for granted, I wanted to thank you all for your support.

With seven weeks to go until the local elections, and the cadence in which we, your Conservative Councillors on Hounslow Council, have structured our writing for this publication, I won’t get the chance to write again in this term.

It’s left me feeling rather reflective on all that we’ve done over the last four years, a term which has been marked by the pandemic, and a really tough two years for many. Speaking with residents, friends, family and colleagues, I get the impression that people are ready for a change.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?

A week is a long time in politics, or so it's been said. So what about the last four years? When I was first elected, I had great ideas of what could be done, of how we could influence policy that would have a positive effect on those who live, work and generally enjoy the borough. Unfortunately, it soon became apparent that the council would prefer to pass motions that came out of a national party playbook, passing policy that could impact us anywhere in the UK, and relishing the fact that they could blame national politics on us (a Conservative Group) - who have been elected to serve and represent you at a local level to a local authority that has great sway over our day-to-day lives. Even if we don’t always know it.

The budget setting meeting of a couple of weeks ago was, aside from the last-minute announcements, yet more of the same. Not taking accountability for what they have oversight of, and shirking responsibility. It was impressive to see that Councillor Theo Dennison had the integrity to call out his own team and confirm what I had suspected and stated for a long time. It brought to mind one condescending retort from a petulant Labour councillor, who told me that the administration “allowed us to speak” when I had called out the great silence from many of their group.

As an opposition of nine, and then in December 2019, ten, I had stated that we punched above our weight. On analysis, we have all made statements in the chamber at various times, all having proposed and seconded motions, and asked our fair share of questions. As councillors, we are here to represent those who have elected us, not sit silent in debate, voting as a block just because we’ve been told to do so. I truly believe we have been elected to act without fear or favour, and though it is hard at times to put your head above the parapet, it is a role that merits people who see the value in public service, not solely to be done because you want to advance a certain cause.

International Women’s Day

Anyway, back to the budget setting meeting. I’m sure you’ve seen the announcements from that meeting, so I won’t go into details. I do however want to shine a light on something that I’m not surprised got lost in the reporting of this 5-hour meeting. The Gender Pay Gap Report. Not one to brag about as it shows that Hounslow is going in the wrong direction. From a median average pay gap of 0%, this has now increased to 2.58%, and the mean average pay gap has also increased from 4.07% to 5.07%. While these figures aren’t large, it is another example that the council doesn’t always get things right. Much like some of the organisations that fell foul of the Twitter Gender Pay Gap App on Tuesday. I’m not too sure if any of you spotted this, but some friends and I had great fun observing the posts that many organisations put out on social media to show how much they support women, and the subsequent trolling by the PayGapBot which declared their gender pay gap reporting. Fun, but in reality, a true demonstration of the inequalities that we live with every day. Yet another reminder of deeds not words.

Well, at least we’re not New Zealand’s Black Ferns, if you’re looking for one of the worst examples of performative allyship, here’s how not to do it right.

South Chiswick Unliveable Neighbourhood

And talking of not getting it right, we’ve seen plenty of that in Chiswick Riverside in the plans, implementation and execution of the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood. I’ve written about this multiple times (starting back in June 2020), and every interaction with local residents seems to be about the traffic measures in Grove Park and Strand on the Green. One resident even told me this morning that she “doesn’t know anybody who is in favour” of the schemes.

I won’t bore you with my thoughts on the schemes (you can read them all on, there will be another public meeting this week. I understand Hanif Khan has been invited, we’ll see if he bothers to turn up this time.

Out with the team in Chiswick Riverside. Picture: Seb Wallace

Other News

Meetings with residents to talk about the Strand-on-the-Green Queen’s Jubilee Street Party, Harvard Hill Park, and the alley from Wellesley Road to Chiswick Village all took place this week. Following the death of Sarah Everard, this has been a project where I have been working with residents, the council, Hounslow Highways and the local police to see how we can improve lighting, and the look and feel of the area as this has been highlighted as an area where residents, especially women feel unsafe. What is most annoying is how long it has taken to get action. If there are any areas in Chiswick where you feel unsafe, please do report it to Streetsafe.

We also had a meeting of the Riverside Police Ward Panel recently, thefts of bikes from homes are on the increase, so make sure your bikes are safely locked up and we will be running a bike-marking event once we can secure the budget. If anyone would like to join this group in Riverside, please email me.

Of course, casework continues as usual, housing, council tax, quality of roads (anyone spotted that there’s been a lot of spring cleaning going on?), trees, and even an abandoned car this morning! If you’ve been trying to get a hold of the council and not getting anywhere, your councillor team is available to help you, our contact details are below.

It has been an honour to represent the residents of Chiswick Riverside over the past four years. The ward boundaries will be changing, so to those of you who are moving to Homefields, I’m sorry to see you go, but I’m still around if you need me. To all of those I’ve had the pleasure of representing, I hope you think I’ve done a good job, and will keep me around for a bit longer!

Cllr Gabriella Giles

07966 270823


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.

The key council meetings coming up are:     

  • 15th March – 7.00pm  Overview and Scrutiny
  • 22nd March – 7.00pm  Cabinet
  • 8th March – 7.00pm Licensing panel 
  • 15th March – 7.00pm  Overview and Scrutiny
  • 21st March – 7.00pm Planning
  • 22nd March – 7.00pm  Cabinet
  • 28th March – 5.00pm Audit and governance 
  • 5th April – 7.00pm Licensing panel 
  • 7th April – 7.00pm Planning 
  • 19th April– 7.00pm   Cabinet


We are now able to hold face-to-face surgeries again and, as before, will be available in Chiswick and in 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
07976 703263

Cllr Gerald McGregor
07866 784821

Cllr John Todd
07866 784651

Chiswick Riverside ward

Cllr Michael Denniss
07976 703274

Cllr Gabriella Giles
07966 270823

Cllr Sam Hearn
07833 376222

Turnham Green ward

Cllr Joanna Biddolph
07976 703446

Cllr Ranjit Gill
07976 702956

Cllr Ron Mushiso
07976 702887

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March 14, 2022