A look ahead to Hounslow. London 2022 Local Election Briefing. By Hem Johal, account executive at DevComms
Hounslow is a Labour led council, with the party currently controlling 47 out of a possible 60 seats. The Conservative Party are the second largest party with 10, whilst the three remaining seats are held by Independent members. There is also currently one vacant seat. In the 2018 election, Labour grew their majority, as they achieved 51.6 per cent of the votes, up from 43.9 per cent.
Hounslow will have a full council election on May 5 2022. There has been a ward re- structuring, to take the total from 20 to 22 wards and two new councillors to make 62 in total.
If, as strongly expected, Labour retain their majority, the key question post-election will be the identity of the new Leader of the council. Whilst the Leader will formally be installed at the council’s AGM, the reality is he or she will be chosen at the Labour Group’s private Part one AGM held after the election.
On March 1 2022, Cllr Steve Curran, longstanding Hounslow Leader announced he would be standing down due to illness. Many of the tributes that came in were complimentary of his time in office. However, his fellow ward and Labour Party member, Cllr Theo Dennison had quite the opposite to say. Cllr Dennison heavily criticised Cllr Curran’s term, resigned from the Labour Party and brought forward a motion of no confidence against Cllr Curran, although this was quickly dismissed.
Although Cllr Curran will not be running, Cllr Dennison will be running as an Independent candidate in Syon and Brentford Lock ward. The Labour Party will likely make a concerted effort to guard against Cllr Dennison’s re-election. In Syon ward, Labour won all three seats in 2018, from a local party, The Community (London Borough of Hounslow). Therefore, this is not necessarily a safe seat for Labour. If Cllr Dennison were to win back his seat, this would suggest there is a lack of confidence from the local electorate. However, such a win would be seen in isolation with Labour widely expected to retain their sizeable majority across the borough.
The Conservative Group Leader for Hounslow Cllr Gerald Mcgregor said, ‘Councillor Theo Dennison’s decision to resign from the Labour Party and oppose its budget should give residents an insight into the level of mismanagement of this borough’s finances by the Labour administration’.
One key issue the Conservative Party will look to campaign on is Streetspace. Streetspace is a policy which has mainly been implemented in Chiswick. It was brought in to encourage more active travelling and preventing driving where possible. However, residents of Chiswick believe that it has not worked successfully at all and are surprised the council chose to keep the proposals.
One Streetspace scheme which has been retained is a through-traffic access restriction on the residential Hartington Road, which was “strongly” opposed by 77 per cent of the 967 people who took part in the consultation between June 2020 and June 2021 and strongly supported by only nine percent. (https://www.onlondon.co.uk/hounslow-council-to-make-many-steetspace-projects-permanent-despite-consultations-finding-opposition/)
The group OneChiswick has campaigned for the reversal of the Streetsafe measures and has raised over £45,000. They claim there was no consultation with residents and the policies have only led to disruptions such as ‘road closures, lack of parking, painfully slow and lengthy journeys and detours and severe fines if they fail to spot new, poorly designed road signs.’
Syon and Brentford Lock
As one of three Brentford wards, the Conservatives will hope the strong feelings in opposition to Streetspace can work in their favour here, as it neighbours Chiswick, a strong Conservative area. Both Cllr Curran and Cllr Dennison are no longer running on the Labour ticket, leaving only Cllr Katherine Dunne of the current councillors. Cllr Dennison will also look to take advantage of the weaknesses of the Labour Party after his dramatic defection.
It is possible Labour have identified this issue, as Cllr Balraj Sirai, who is currently a councillor for Hounslow West has been nominated on the ticket for the Labour Party. Labour may believe having a familiar face on the ticket will work in their favour in a ward which they are fearful of losing control in.
In summary, despite the issues mentioned for the Labour Party, it is likely Labour will retain control. There are clearly some issues in certain parts of the Borough but these are focused in particular areas. As these are not particularly far- reaching issues, it is unlikely the Conservatives will be able to use these to destabilise the Labour Group. A priority for the new Leader of the Labour Group, however, will be to bring the party back together in order to rid themselves of the criticisms levelled at them by Cllr Dennison.
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