Category Archives: Events

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

Black Lives Matter: Brentford 28 June 2020

As the Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow, I was asked to attend and speak at the Black Lives Matter event taking place today at Market Place, Brentford today but during the current health crisis, I did not feel confident keeping physical distance. Had I have been there in body, what follows is what I would have said,

Welcome to the politically significant town of Brentford, because this is where, until the early 1800s, elections for the county of Middlesex parliamentary seat, covering 734 km2 from Staines up to Potters Bar across to Tottenham and down to Westminster, would take place.

At the 1820 General Election, only around 7,500 property owning males from a total population of around 1 million in the county took part in the vote.

It wasn’t until 1929 that anyone over the age of 21, male, female, poor had won (because we know it was fought for) the right to vote, an entitlement to participate.

Although, by then, the establishment, hierarchies and elites had begun to consolidate their own infrastructure, which in many respects is still maintained; access to it by outsiders remains pretty well regulated.

One of the highlights during my time as Mayor was early last October learning about the achievements of (the late) Jessica and Eric Huntley with the Friends of the Huntley Archive at a Black History Month event at Brentford’s Gunnersbury Museum.

Eric Huntley at Gunnersbury Museum, October 2019

The West Ealing based Huntleys not only pioneered improvements to black children’s learning through supplementary schooling but also founded the Bogle-L’Ouverture publishing house and a bookshop off the Uxbridge Road in W13 which was attacked with regularity by racists.

Mr Huntley after one of the regular late 1970s racist attacks on the Bogle-L'Ouverture Bookshop at Chignell Place, West Ealing
Mr Huntley following a regular late 1970s racist attacks on the Bogle-L’Ouverture Bookshop at Chignell Place, West Ealing

Their first publication in 1972 was, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Dr Walter Rodney.  At that time, this was a rare modern perspective on the legacy of the four hundred years old imperialist sacking of that particular continent.

My own view is that progress can be made and lives can be changed if people want it to.  To this effect we need to be equipped with a confidence that comes from knowledge.

I would expect, that a large number of people here today have, since the death of George Floyd or the removal of the late 19th century statue of the mid 17th century slave trader Edward Colston, have been conducting their own research, learning stuff never previously considered.

Many have seen criticism of Black Lives Matter protests, some of it appearing selectively focussed on sensation, small pockets of affray and violence.  This is not what I have deduced (nor would I condone) because people of even just my generation have seen lazy reporting, on similar occasions, particularly on many matters of race during the past forty odd years of my own social and political awareness.

Not being there, I cannot tell how many citizens are present but would encourage peace, safety and comradeship here, now and beyond. Demonstrating for something you believe in is no shame but please keep a physical distance.

From Dr Rodney’s book, I leave you with my personal perspective on why I believe, today, that black lives matter too,

“to move slowly while others leap ahead is virtually equivalent to going backward”.

Dr Walter Anthony Rodney 1942 – 1980

Don’t go backward.

Thank you all for attending and am particularly grateful to Brentford’s Sharidin Mumuni for her effort in encouraging this awareness. Have a good afternoon.

TL 28.6.2020

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Filed under Brentford, Events, Middlesex, Neighbourhoods

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

Maxing out the Metro

Residents will have noticed the shroud over Coombe House at 7 St Johns Road, Isleworth where a Holiday Inn was once mooted but now in the throes of a government permitted scheme to convert this former office block to flats.

St Johns Road, Isleworth at Rennels Way

Little reminder is required of the Moore Brothers and neighbouring properties sell off and approval of flats and a couple of shops on planning application P2017/3612 approved in December 2017 but still showing in progress on the Hounslow Council planning pages.

Rennels Way, Isleworth from the east should all the development ambitions be realised

Developer the Citrus Group Limited, have recently been in discussion with Hounslow Council on the two hitherto unlet warehouse units behind Coombe House and Moore Brothers to build flats and some commercial on their footprints. The developer’s agent is referring to Units 1 and 2 Station Works at Rennels Way as derelict but on inspection anyone can see that they are being used as safe and secure site storage and facilities for the Coombe House job.  Perhaps the rent previously sought was too much otherwise they could have been let to small businesses offering start ups opportunities to thrive.

Unit 1 Station Works, Rennels Way

So these sites are being looked at for development and despite what appeared reluctance to engage before a planning application was submitted.

Unit 2 Station Works, Rennels Way

A developer’s representative have been asked at short notice to attend to explain and pitch at the St Johns Residents Association monthly meeting on

Monday 8 April 2019 at 8.00 pm

St Johns Centre

80 St Johns Road

Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 6RU

Because of meetings elsewhere, no councillors will be present so a request has been made to the council’s head of planning for further engagement before a planning application is submitted and expected.

Further updates in due course.

TL 6.4.2019

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Filed under Events, London Road, Neighbourhoods, Planning, Thornbury Park

Osterley Station flats proposals exhibition

Really, please, as always, don’t shoot the messenger.

The developer’s latest idea for building above the car park at the Grade II Listed Osterley Station

After a number of months waiting for someone to get in touch with even the slightest idea of what was being proposed for the car park area of the Grade II listed Osterley Station, we have news.

Ward Councillors have not been involved in any discussions but were advised that there would be an exhibition of proposals prior to the submission of any planning application by the Transport for London development partner, Apartments for London.

This will take place over two days, at Indian Gymkhana, Thornbury Avenue, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4NQ between 2.00 pm and 8.00 pm on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 December 2018, more details are on this flyer.

Many people should be aware by now of the reduction of government support for a large number of public services including transport and there is a demand for real affordable housing London.

The Heaps and Holden Osterley Station tower

The idea of building on TfL sites is not unreasonable but in sensitive locations, all efforts should be made to properly consult and take serious comments and residents’ observations into account before assuming that anything will do.  This is one of the first forays into building over station car parks and will be the subject of intense scrutiny.

Osterley and Spring Grove residents are encouraged to attend the exhibition and Ward councillors would welcome your early views as Unsa Chaudri, Richard Eason and I intend to informally meet the developer’s representatives in the New Year.

 

TL 7.12.2018

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Filed under Events, Great West Road, Housing, Middlesex, Neighbourhoods, Osterley, Planning, Public transport, TfL