Making Local Markets, Housing and Nature Better

Chiswick Homefields councillor Jack Emsley reports back

Cllr Jack Emsley (right) with Cllr Ron Mushiso (left) at the Wild Chiswick stall at a Chiswick market
Cllr Jack Emsley (right) with Cllr Ron Mushiso (left) at the Wild Chiswick stall at a Chiswick market

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July 15, 2023

The run-up to a borough council meeting (this Tuesday, 18 July 18) is always a busy time for us councillors as, in addition to our regular work helping local residents, we prepare to hold the current Labour administration to account. It’s also often a week of contrasts, as we’re able to see the stark differences between some of the brilliant initiatives being driven by the local community and the less brilliant way in which the council is currently being run. So, from great local ideas to frustrating council failings, here’s what I’ve been focussed on this week…

Making the High Road Even Better

Many of you will have seen that the team behind the Flower Market are now working with the brilliant Create Streets to gather feedback on its co design initiative to give the High Road car park a much-needed makeover. I don’t think there’s much disagreement that the current car park has seen better days, with uneven kerbs and road surface, poor lighting, and a wall that’s a gentle breeze away from totally collapsing. Put simply, the space is currently totally out of character with our otherwise vibrant, leafy community. So, what should we do about it?

The Flower Market team, alongside experienced landscape architect Luke Greysmith, developed a plan to give the space a makeover, giving the centre of our High Road a much-needed upgrade with more trees, seating, beautiful paving and a rain garden to mitigate some of the flash flooding we so often see on that stretch of the High Road – all whilst maintaining parking and loading provisions.

I think it all looks and sounds great, and thanks to the team at Create Streets, there’s now an easy way for all of us to further shape the proposals for a much nicer, greener space in the centre of our community! Follow this link to view the proposed design for yourself and give your thoughts on what you like and don’t like about it. Feedback is going to be incorporated into the final plans, which will then be presented to the council for all of the relevant next steps. Projects like this work best when the whole community gets involved, so make sure to have your say!

The Scandal of Empty Council Homes

As I mentioned at the beginning, there’s often sadly a stark contrast between the great work being done by community groups and the decidedly not great way in which the council is currently being run – this week, that’s perfectly illustrated by a new cross-party report which calls for an urgent review into the large number of empty council houses in the borough.

I was proud to work alongside colleagues on the Housing Scrutiny Panel over the past year to investigate the way in which council properties are maintained, a topic that has unfortunately been long overlooked in the borough. What we found was a real scandal: 449 council properties are currently empty, with 199 of them being empty for over a year – that’s a rate that is over double the average in the rest of the country. Not only is this financially inefficient (combine the lost rental income with the fines the council incurs for leaving properties empty for too long), but it’s also morally unacceptable to leave so many properties empty whilst 6,000 people wait for a council home in Hounslow.

The report calls on the council to carry out an urgent review into why so many council properties lie empty, and fix the problems it uncovers in order to give struggling families the homes they so desperately need. Councillors will have a chance to debate the recommendations at Tuesday’s Borough Council meeting, and the lead member for housing, Sue Sampson, will also have a chance to speak on the topic – I hope these cross-party recommendations are accepted in full, and that the council carries out this urgent review of empty properties in the borough and puts in place a clear plan to urgently fix this scandal.

How Can Nature Recover in Chiswick?

This year, following the conclusion of the Housing Scrutiny Panel’s report and recommendations, I’ll be taking on the new challenge of working cross-party to scrutinise the council’s plan for nature recovery in the borough.

The council cabinet discussed it’s five-year Nature Recovery Action Plan at last week’s public cabinet meeting, but sadly didn’t think it was important enough to present to councillors at next week’s Borough Council meeting. Luckily, the Environment Scrutiny Panel thinks nature recovery in the borough is actually quite a big issue, and so will be dedicating this year’s deep-dive to looking at the plan and trying to understand what the council can do better to help nature recover from the climate crisis.

In Chiswick, we’re lucky enough to be home to a brilliant array of local community groups in this space, from the likes of Abundance London with their guerrilla gardening to the brilliant Wild Chiswick who are looking out for local hedgehogs, swifts and more across our area. The panel will be engaging with experts to understand what the council should be doing to give nature the best chance to fight back against the climate emergency, and shape how the local authority looks after the environment and wildlife - watch this space!

Ron Mushiso – Your Local London Assembly Candidate

And finally, I’m delighted that my mate and local Chiswick councillor Ron Mushiso has been selected as the Conservative London Assembly candidate for South West. He’s following-on from Nick Rogers who will be standing down next year, and couldn’t be more qualified for the job: he’s spent the last half a decade representing Chiswick Gunnersbury, and has called the South West home for nearly all of his life having come to the UK aged 12 from a small village in Uganda.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ron in the community for a number of years, both as a councillor colleague but also across a number of charitable projects, including our work with Laptops for Learning to provide digital technology for disadvantaged children and refugees across South West London. He’s a proven, dedicated public servant, and will be an excellent London Assembly Member for our region!

So that’s all of my allotted words for this week’s blog – from supporting the local community to holding Hounslow Council to account, it’s been another typically busy few days, and I’m sure next week will be no different!


Tuesday, 18th July – Borough Council


Chiswick: Every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am at Chiswick Library (the eight 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 Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillors takes this surgery). 


Chiswick Gunnersbury (was Turnham Green) ward

Cllr Joanna Biddolph 07976 703446

Cllr Ranjit Gill 07976 702956

Cllr Ron Mushiso 07976 702887

Chiswick Homefields ward

Cllr Jack Emsley 07977 396017

Cllr Gerald McGregor 07866 784821

Cllr John Todd 07866 784651

Chiswick Riverside ward

Cllr Peter Thompson 07977 395810  

Cllr Gabriella Giles 07966 270823 

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