Category Archives: Council Business

The 55th Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow 2019 -2021: Tony’s Tale

The 55th and 56th Mayors of the London Borough of Hounslow

It is exactly a month since passing on the office of Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow to my colleague, Councillor Bishnu Bahadur Gurung, a member for Hanworth Park Ward.  It is also a couple of weeks since I fulfilled an earlier request to speak at the annual general meeting of the Osterley and Wyke Green Residents Association, on the subject of, Your Councillor as Mayor.  What follows, is pretty much what I said.

“Good evening.

It’s a great pleasure to be here albeit online at the Osterley and Wyke Green Residents Association, an organisation with which I have spent a fair amount of time with when first a councillor in the 1990s and also these past seven years.

Glad you’re thriving and happy to support this continuing.

I have had an interesting and fulfilling two years as the 55th Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow.  The capital city’s widest borough where I had the honour of wearing the current as well as historic chains one of the three different predecessor councils at each of the 340 rendezvous I was privileged to attend, almost totally within our boundary.

Although, being Mayor of this lovely borough, whatever anyone may say about its politics or sometimes less than shiny and occasional pockets of disdain, I have seen great examples of community, enthusiasm and ambition when visiting from west to east and stopping there and in between at those many engagements.

A few times, I have been asked how I became Mayor and, very recently, there have been some assumptions that I would be standing again for that office during the London Mayor and Assembly elections that took place on 6 May 2021. It doesn’t work like that, all up elections for the London Borough of Hounslow are scheduled for 5 May 2022.

Common with other councils who have a mayor, it is mostly the prerogative of the Majority Group, running the council, to choose from among their selves who the first citizen should be.

I did fancy the role, and made it known that I should like to give it a go and received the support of most (although not all) of my Labour administration colleagues.

My first appearance in mayoral finery, May 2019

Formally nominated and seconded by my friends Councillor Guy Lambert and Councillor Unsa Chaudri, I became the 55th Mayor on 21 May 2019, the first to be inaugurated in the new Hounslow House at a ceremony attended by family, friends, councillors, bigwigs and representatives of the two charities I picked to support and raise awareness and funds for.

I chose a couple of worthy and local charities: Hounslow Seniors Trust and Our Barn Community.

I have supported the development of Our Barn Community since 2014 when I first encountered organisers and participants tending the allotments at Osterley Park and later supported their acquisition of a building there.  At this and other locations, Our Barn deliver activities for people aged 16 and over particularly with autism type diagnoses mainly but not exclusively in sports and other team work which lead to skills for work and life.

As Mayor, I adopted Our Barn Community to help acquire additional equipment for their Buddy Bike project also located in Osterley Park.  The aim was to raise money to at least purchase a Velo Plus bike that is built to carry a wheel chair and also a hand trike.

The Our Barn HQ, Jubilee Lodge in Osterley Park

I was also due to reach the tragic age of sixty that year so decided to support another active local charity, the Hounslow Seniors Trust, to help enhance practical and intergenerational arts, sports, dance and cultural events from West to East.  This charity, run by its borough resident participants, have been delivering the Older People’s Festival since the summer of 1993 and I wanted the Mayor’s Fund to support additional activities at other times of the year.

Having been around enough, familiar with local government and how it operates, I felt pretty comfortable with what I could and could not do.

Unsurprisingly, there were a handful of detractors.  Having taken on the role, I had the odd colleague comrade attempting to compound that they always know better by trying to call the shots.  The Mayor is meant to be separate from the leadership.

One or two other councillors who ought to have known or should have learned to be better would often childishly try it on at one or another of the thirteen the full Borough Council meetings chaired by the Mayor.

It’s spelt Osterley and Homebase is in Isleworth

I was, following the July 2020 planning presentation meeting on the Tesco Homebase proposal, the subject of a formal complaint to the council’s Chief Executive by a Hanworth resident and their out of borough sidekick.  A couple of white men were upset that I said that the Berkeley Homes brochure for the proposed developed appeared racist.  I felt that the publication was aimed more at overseas investors and said so; its illustrations did not reflect the real diversity of the area (nor, it subsequently worked out, the developer’s true ambitions).  Following a time wasting inquiry by an external investigator, I was exonerated.

With Councillor Collins and LBH staff leaving the Mayor of the City of London’s Civic Service at St Pauls Cathedral

Having kept to my word of avoiding a chauffer driven limo, I used the cab account on two or three occasions with the furthest journey to a civic service at St Pauls Cathedral with Councillor Mel Collins who tends to get rowdy when using the Central Line.

With the hybrid Zipcar and the Mayor of London at St Marys School Chiswick

Other out of borough visits only extended as far as Ealing, Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham and Richmond Upon Thames as the guest of their Mayors.  At each, and every other function, I availed myself of the Zipcars located at the council offices, my own 1980 Ford, public transport or on foot.

With Sergiy Diduk Vicar of All Saints Church Hanworth and members of the National Association of Blood Bikes at the Ace Cafe Stonebridge

Due to circumstances, I and some of my counterparts had the unique honour of maintaining the Mayoralty for an additional year, offering the rare experience of insight, knowledge of process and the confidence to deliver this favoured position.

Unfortunately, however, the opportunity to extend was borne of the health disaster affecting so many of our compatriots as victims but also as saviours and supporters of our fellow citizens.

The pomp of office has been nothing compared to the sacrifices made by the borough’s key workers in health, emergency services, refuse collection, road maintenance, public transport, education, carers at home, carers in other settings, parks maintenance, public protection, child and family protection.

The innovation, effort and effectiveness of ordinary citizens, some already retired, others cruelly discarded, many just wanting to do something to help relieve the non health impacts on families, lonely neighbours, those homeless.

Not even a third of the foodbank stock at St Pauls Church Hounslow West

Already addressing hunger, poverty and other impacts of austerity, the humbling by food banks, impromptu open kitchens and the establishment of new charitable enterprises by (extra)ordinary people turned what could have otherwise been a disaster into an example of unrealised humanity.  I was privileged to meet the good people of the Chiswick 7th Day Adventist Church Foodbank, Feltham Foodbank, St Pauls Hounslow West Foodbank and the Brooks of Life Foodbank as well as those stalwarts running and volunteering for the Open Kitchen on Jersey Parade.

Fed well by the Millan Women’s Group at Isleworth Public Hall

I won’t be there to see it in the same way but I look forward to learning that the good and generous ladies of the Millan Women’s Group, the 55th Mayor’s first event, who meet at Isleworth Public Hall, will reconvene.  Theirs was my first community event and unexpected but impromptu cash collection, the almost literal widow’s mite.  The Singing for the Brain folk of St Mary’s Osterley will be back in fine voice.  The volunteers and supporters of Chiswick Age Concern will be putting on another Christmas dinner for the 80 or so older members there in Oxford Road North.  The borough’s firefighters may even deliver another one of their non stop runs to raise money for emergency service charities as they did last summer at Feltham Fire Station, organised by Isleworth’s then station officer, Lucy McLeod-Cook.  All events that I had the honour to be invited to and attend.

Birthday cake at the Osterley Lions Carers Event, Indian Gymkhana June 2019

During the Mayoralty I was honoured to celebrated my birthday on event days, with cake on each occasion.  The day of my 60th in 2019, a Saturday and prior to a family celebration, coincided with an official engagement with the Osterley Lions who arranged the carers’ thank you at the Indian Gymkhana.  Downhill from there for the 61st with residents and staff at Atfield House, St Johns Road.

Gifting geraniums at Atfield House, St Johns Road June 2020

I went there to Gift a Geranium, a way to help recognise the importance of care settings not just during Covid but throughout the year.

There is plenty more to follow up with that initiative so that we, as a community, can better appreciate carers wherever they deliver a service.

About to sling the Ivybridge School Council out of Hounslow House, too clever by half

I was most chuffed to have spent time with schoolchildren in the borough.  Highlights included, an in tune performance of Aladdin by the Drama Club at Oak Hill Academy Feltham was particularly impressive.  There were great discussions on separate occasions with the School Councils of Grove Park Chiswick and Orchard Road Hounslow at theirs and Ivybridge Primary in the Mayor’s Parlour.

The 55th Mayor with members of the Victoria Road School Gardening Club, Mr Rob Antill and other Feltham in Bloomers

I helped honour the Feltham winners of the London In Bloom Competition as the guest of the Victoria Road School Gardening Club.

2019 Christmas card – Waterclour pencils and gouache by Stefania Pantaza of Kingsley Academy

Thanking, again, the young artists and staff from both Kingsley Academy and Bolder Academy Schools for offering me choices for the Mayoral Christmas cards for both 2019 and 2020.

With the borough’s RBL branches representatives and Deputy Lieutenant, Mr Paul Kennerley at Hounslow House

I helped support, along with the borough’s Royal British Legion branches and the Greater London Deputy Lieutenant, plan two years of commemorations at the ten local war memorials.

The accomplished Mrs Vera Ward and me at her 103rd birthday celebration in 2019

Time, tonight, prevents me from elaborating on the many Centenarian plus birthdays I attended, such as the celebration for 103 years old Vera Ward.  Mrs Ward, who in the early 1980s, came out of nursing retirement first to work with refugee Vietnamese Boat people at Campion House and to later care for sufferers of AIDS at West Middlesex Hospital.

At the Hounslow borough Kids in Care Awards with my minder for the night

Or the Mayor’s numerous community events, connections with the borough attractions such as Kempton and Brentford steam museums, Chiswick House and Gardens (where I remain a trustee)the Musical Museum, Watermans Christmas Light Parade, Jack and the Beanstalk at the Paul Robeson, the classic car show at Hanworth where I chose the worthy 1960 Mini as winner, being very well looked after at the properly choreographed Kids in Care Awards, apple tree planting (a Feltham Beauty) at Gunnersbury, Rotary London Music Concert at the Royal Festival Hall, various Jack Petchey events for young People.  Plenty, plenty, plenty more, I’ll produce a list another time.

With Deputy Mayor Councillor Raghwinder Siddhu

I had a great comrade and colleague, Councillor for Bedfont Ward, Raghwinder Siddhu who as Deputy Mayor gave unstinting support, filling the voids and standing in when I could not attend events and a lovely Mayoress, Talia Louki.

I feel that I can also say that my residents of Osterley and Spring Grove Ward were not neglected.  I maintained my casework and ward walks reporting the various environmental nonsense and trying to keep it at a low level.  I still responded to residents’ requests for advice and assistance, attended the Ward Police Safer Neighbourhood Panel, Friends of Jersey Gardens, Friends of Thornbury Park, the OWGRA, Spring Grove and St Johns Residents associations meetings among others.

That’s about it.  Happy to take questions and also catch up with more of you in person before too long.

I am still around and will continue to try to represent.

Thank you.”

TL 4.6.2021

© Tony Louki 2021 – No reproduction without permission

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Filed under Council Business, Events, Middlesex, Neighbourhoods, Osterley, Parks, Planning, RAs, Schools, Spring Grove, Thornbury Park, West Middlesex Hospital

Rus in urbe: Feather and fur

One of the Ward’s residents self management companies was recently in touch about how to control a localised Ring-necked Parakeet menace attempting to take over parts of their building.

Psittacula krameri

Mr Tony Bull, the London Borough of Hounslow’s Principal Animal Control Officer was approached for this expert control advice; he said that similar problems occur on certain buildings and estates across the borough.

All bird control in England is governed by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and by General Licences issued under it by DEFRA that allow for the control of certain bird species in certain circumstances.  In this case we would be looking at General Licence GL35 allowing certain controls to protect public health and safety.

The Ring-necked Parakeet is not listed on that licence so any control of eggs, chicks or adults can only take place if a Special Licence has been applied for and granted.  Such licence will only be granted by DEFRA if it can be demonstrated that any other methods of non-lethal control have been tried and failed or if they are inappropriate for any reason.  Even then it is likely that a licence will only be granted in exceptional circumstances where it is not possible to await the end of the nesting season.

Property owners are therefore left with attempts at exclusion at times when the birds are not nesting.  Methods need to be resilient because the beak of the parakeet is exceptionally strong and as members of the parrot family, they are also very intelligent birds and good at problem solving.

Screens to protect cavities from intrusion need to be of decent grade steel and screwed into place; repair of tile roof or block and cement wall needs to be with high grade materials to help prevent further problems.

Without Licence proofing of vulnerable areas with high grade materials during times when the birds are not nesting is the only available solution.

Foxes are not specifically protected like birds but they do enjoy the general protections of other animals in the UK.  Tony Bull kindly gave advice on this matter too.

Vulpes vulpes with columba livia domestica

Foxes cannot be legally poisoned or gassed, they can, however, be trapped or shot.  Once trapped they will need to be humanely despatched rather than released elsewhere otherwise there may be contraventions of Animal Welfare legislation. There are problems with both methods of control in that trapping could see cats and or other wildlife trapped instead of foxes and the problems of shooting are obvious in an urban environment.

Foxes are highly territorial and their numbers are high and if foxes are removed from a territory then it will quickly become reoccupied due to population pressure from adjacent areas.  Attempts to reduce numbers is costly and must take place over a very wide area for a sustained period in order to be effective.

Hounslow Council’s position has been to advise on how to minimise nuisance and in the form of this leaflet.  If a particular fox is causing a problem that cannot be tolerated then there is scope for action to be taken. This would generally be through a specialist company with trained and licensed shootists.

TL 8.7.2020

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Filed under Council Business, Health, Middlesex, Neighbourhoods, Osterley, Spring Grove

Exhibition this Tuesday 18.6.2019: Revision of Osterley Station flats proposal

Transport for London’s preferred developer, Apartments for London, received a fair amount of stick when first suggesting that a development of 118 flats within up to nine storeys, in December 2018.

Residents learning more about Apartments for London latest proposals at Osterley Station

The latest idea is for 68 units within a development of three to six storeys on part of the Osterley Station Car Park. A copy of the proposal may be found here.

There will be an exhibition of the new proposal this Tuesday 18 June 2019 between 2.00 pm and 8.00 pm at the Indian Gymkhana, Thornbury Avenue, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4NQ where the architects and developer will be present to explain, justify and respond to questions.

If interested, please attend to see the new scheme and make comment. As always, Osterley and Spring Grove Ward Councillors would also be interested to learn from residents what they think, too.

 

TL  17.6.2019

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Filed under Council Business, Events, Great West Road, Middlesex, Neighbourhoods, Osterley, Planning, TfL

Planning update: 481 London Road

There has been a fair amount of interest in the two planning applications for this premises.  The first alert was back in February 2019 when the former Melrose Diner externally lit plain wood effort was supplanted by a more bedazzling number to explain the replacement food concept at 481.

481 London Road, Isleworth

Residents raised this matter, particularly the conservation area planning compliance of the fascia but then on inspection the planning use class activity appeared changed from A3 (restaurant) to A5 (hot food take away).  As previously explained here, the planning acts do allow an operator or owner the opportunity to right the misdemeanour of not running with the correct permission by making a formal application within 28 days of notice being served.  Two separate applications were then lodged on 1 April 2019; an item was published here on 14 April 2019 explaining how people may comment if they wished.

As is normal with the planning process, the applications were allocated to a Hounslow Council planning officer whose role is to assess applications against the law, current local, London and national policy as well as emerging draft planning policies.

The outcome of the fascia change application was an officer delegated (did not go to Planning Committee) refusal on 25 May 2019 and the report on that decision can be found here.

There was a similar fate for the change of use class, refused on 7 June 2019 warranting a more complex analysis and interesting response, considering more recent revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework.  Read the planning officer’s report here.

Whilst permission has been refused for both applications, under the Planning Acts, the applicant does have a right for up to three months to appeal the council’s decision(s) to HM Government’s Planning Inspectorate.

The council also has scope to make early moves to enforce the refusal but even then, the applicant can still exercise their right to appeal to the Inspectorate but by taking this approach, Hounslow Council can reduce any delays.  Hounslow Council’s Head of Planning Enforcement has been written to with a request that this line be pursued.

Readers should also bear in mind that the consideration of appeals made to the Planning Inspectorate are not immediate, they can take time to commence as well as to report and all during this period, the applicant can and is likely to choose to continue to trade.

If and when an appeal date is announced, these details will be shared.

Be assured that this process will continue to be monitored by Osterley and Spring Grove Ward Councillors together with neighbours and the St Johns Residents Association as it has been thus far.

 

TL 10.6.2019

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Filed under Council Business, Health, Licensing, London Road, Middlesex, Neighbourhoods, Planning, Spring Grove

The Biggest Ward in Hounslow Borough: Planning updates

There is often a misconception that local authorities are in charge of everything and can influence anything but the basic fact is that Hounslow Council is only able to deliver within the various Acts of Parliament made at Westminster.

In terms of town planning, the council is mainly limited by the content of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Applicants turned down at the first stage of a planning application have a right to appeal to the government Planning Inspectorate and an aggrieved objector, for a fee, can also apply to the court for a judicial review; sometimes either may be pursued all the way to the Supreme Court.

So, todays wee update on aspirations familiar, new, and Oh! No, not that one again, advises of planning at its various stages here, in Osterley and Spring Grove Ward. Planning reference numbers are cited should anyone wish to seek more details on the Hounslow Council website Planning pages using the reference numbers quoted.

Should anyone wish to comment on so far undetermined applications, please write to planningcomments@hounslow.gov.uk

Adini, 891 Great West Road, TW7 5PD Ref: P/2017/5069

Southern elevation of approved Adini residential to Northumberland Avenue

Readers will recall a couple of applications from the owner operators of this site, one to modernise Adini’s commercial facilities, retaining the façade and another for residential to enable the development of the first. The council planning committee refused both applications but the applicant successfully appealed the housing element and the decision is explained here in the planning inspector’s letter.

Former Shell Garage and Contitrades House aka Gillette South Ref: P/2018/4691

Access Self Storage proposal: corner of Northumberland Avenue

This is the site on the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Syon Lane, much loved by itinerant waste collectors. Bar occasional open storage and a brief incarnation in 2017 as a temporary car park for BSkyB, this site was razed in 2008 in preparation for its development as a self storage facility then.

These past five years, the Canada based owners of Access Self Storage have made a number approaches to Hounslow Council Planners to build high and wide on this prominent corner site. Keenly scrutinised by residents and ward councillors the owners have come up with for what some may say is a more humane proposal which is likely to be taken to the council’s Planning Committee on Thursday 2 May 2019.

Osterley Station, Great West Road, TW7 4PU Ref: P/2019/0706

An application for lifts from street to platform level was approved before this councillor’s time back in 2009 but did not get built. A more refined scheme has now been submitted by Transport for London as part of the London Mayor’s ambition to improve access for all to the Underground.

Osterley Station Westbound platform where one of the lifts access would locate

There are some excellent architectural and railway history documents accompanying this application well worth viewing and the substantive commented upon:design and access statement; heritage statement.

Osterley Station Car Park

Readers will recall the December 2018 exhibition at the Indian Gymkhana with displays of proposals for housing on the Osterley Station car park. Following this event, Osterley and Spring Grove Councillors met with the optioned developer, Apartments for London, to feed back our own, and reiterating residents’, thoughts on their ambitions.

So far, no one has come back to us with either a planning application for what the developer originally hoped for or a suggested alternative but as soon as they do, a new exhibition and open meeting will be sought and residents advised and invited.

Domino’s 558 London Road, TW7 4EP Ref: P/2018/0741

In February 2018, the operator of this franchise applied to change their hours of operation from between 09.00 and 22.30 Monday to Saturday and 09.00 to 22.00 Sundays and Bank Holidays to 09.00 to 05.00 Daily, throughout the year. Planning officers considered both the application and responses from neighbours and refused the application and as a result the operator appealed to the Planning Inspector. The report giving reasons for refusal (mainly increased noise and disturbance affecting nearby residents during the night) has already been shared locally but can also be found here.

The inspector has begun the appeal process and has written to the council requesting any further comment from planners as well as residents. That letter can be found here and responses must be submitted in time for a 23 April 2019 deadline.

The appellant’s submission to the Inspector can be found here.

Farm Fried Chicken 481 London Road, TW7 4BX Refs: P/2019/1313 and P/2019/1318

481 London Road, Isleworth

In response to a local resident spotting a sign going up over these hitherto obscured premises, I raised various planning, conservation and licensing queries with numerous specialist council officers on 14 February 2019. At the time of writing, I appreciate the good work of the council’s planning enforcement team in getting (at least meagre) formal applications for the illuminated sign and change of use class from A3 (restaurant) to A5 (hot food takeaway).

To try to understand the applications, the only items to go by are drawings that attempt to regularise the sign and the change of use class.

Hours of operation of the takeaway are a licensing matter and should an application be made, will be shared here.

Warren Motors 585-603 London Road TW7 4EJ Ref: P/2019/0448

Once a common main road feature, the vehicle showroom is gradually disappearing, AFN Porsche and Marlborough Motors have long become Isleworth memories.

There is now a current application for the redevelopment of the Warren Motors site to provide two residential buildings of between part five and part eight stories to achieve 93 flats (comprising three studios, 43 one, 38 two and 4 three-bedroom flats).

The applicant’s agent has stated that the reason they have not held an exhibition or meeting is that the, “consultation process carried out by the Local Authority during the planning application will be more than sufficient. To carry out more engagement above and beyond this prior to the planning application consultation could risk causing consultation fatigue”. I have advised the Hounslow planners that I would be willing to chair a local event on this matter.

Telecoms mast opposite West and Penwerris Courts, Great West Road, TW5 0TJ (previously Ref: P/2016/5062)

 

A bit unusual this in the sense that from what I recall, wannabe applicants run their proposals by councillors first before making formal applications

On studying the telecoms company’s proposal there is little difference, in fact perhaps more obtrusive, to another proposal at the exact same spot in late 2016 which caused great concern locally and was refused by this local authority.

Almost all residents that would potentially face any equipment live in Osterley and Spring Grove Ward as well as the new Oaklands School.

Please forward any comments direct to me, tony.louki@hounslow.gov.uk or other Ward councillors for passing on to the council planners.

TL 14.4.2019

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Filed under Council Business, Great West Road, Housing, Licensing, London Road, Middlesex, Neighbourhoods, Northumberland Estate, Osterley, Planning, RAs, Spring Grove, TfL, Traffic