Monday, 31 March 2008

Boris Johnson meeting local residents

Boris Johnson made a great impression as he visited Chatsworth Avenue in Hounslow to talk to local residents about Heathrow expansion. Unlike Ruth Kelly, he came to see for himself, what it was like to live under the flight path.

Boris has said clearly that he is against Heathrow expansion as he knows how much it will affect the quality of life of residents who live in the area.

Given the ridiculous mess and confusion at Terminal 5 last week and this week ... how can we even trust BAA to run their current capacity effectively and professionally.

Photo - Mary with Farhana Letzelter with daughter Ophelia, aged 4 years, and Cllr Brad Fisher, Boris Johnson MP and Tony Arbour (London Assembly member)

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Back Boris at the Boat Race

Despite the wind and rain, all seemed to enjoy the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race today along the Thames. We started with a team drink at the George & Devonshire pub at the Hogarth roundabout and ended with a well-needed cup of team at Chiswick Pier!

There was a great atmosphere as hundreds of people turned out to watch Oxford win comfortably over last year's winner. Due to the weather, it was the slowest race for 61 years.

Londoners joined in the fun and enthusiastically took our Back Boris balloons from the team in the photo!

The tide has turned and it is now time for change in London. Lets all 'Back Boris' and show how much London means to us.

Photo (from left to right): Alexandra & Gabriella Giles, David Giles, Charles Tannock MEP, Andrew Craig, Fiona, Mary Macleod, Jonathan and Harriett Baldwin and James Collins. Cllr John Todd and Cllr Barbara Reid were still in the pub!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Safer and Greener Streets!

Hounslow Council has just won the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) bid for highways maintenance. There was strong competition across the country and only three Councils nationwide will benefit from a £1.19bn PFI programme to improve local roads. The Borough will therefore receive an additional £17.5m a year that will be used to invest in upgrading and maintaining roads, footpaths, lighting, verges and street trees.

Congratulations to Cllr Barbara Reid and the council officers who presented an excellent bid and who worked incredibly hard to win this PFI contract. Roads across the Borough are in need of long-term investment and ongoing maintenance and so this will make a real difference to our streets. Streets will become safer and greener, journeys will be quicker and footways, lighting, verges and trees will improve, which could all help develop the local economy.

Another great achievement by this Conservative-led Council!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Olympics comes to Brentford Football Club

Congratulations to Brentford Football Club for being selected as one of the London 2012 Pre-Games Training Camps. The London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) have announced a range of sites and facilities which will support athletes participating in the Olympic Games.

Brentford Football Club has also recently teamed up with Barratt Homes Limited and completed the purchase of a 7.6 acre regeneration site at Lionel Road in Brentford. Their plans for the new multi-million pound stadium look exciting, as recently demonstrated in the House of Commons (see photo).

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

A 'Jumpy' Economy

In the Financial Times today, the head of the CBI, Richard Lambert, says that "Britain's economy is heading into much jumpier waters". The CBI have marked down its latest growth forecast to account for the deepening credit crisis and believe that the economy is unlikely to revive until the second half of 2009.

There are tough times in the year ahead ...and we will feel it. Not a great time either for Gordon Brown, who in my view, is still playing Chancellor as well as Prime Minister.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Happy Easter!

We were out in Hounslow Town Centre this morning but the rain, wind and hailstones eventually got to us! The weather may not be great....but I do hope you all have a good Easter weekend.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Local Post Offices under threat

169 Post Offices across London are facing closure under the latest cuts programme, including Chiswick High Road, South Street in Isleworth and Whitton Road in Hounslow South.

The consultation closes on the 2nd April, but the final announcement will not be made until June – conveniently after the elections for London’s Mayor and Assembly.

Across the country over 4,000 Post Offices have closed with a further 2,500 due to close by 2009. Following the last Labour cuts programme, the number of Post Offices in London was slashed to just 849 in September 2007, from 1,225 Post Offices in 2001. Labour holds the record for closing Post Offices faster than any other Government – almost 10 a week since they came to power.

Our local Post Offices provide a valuable service to the local community, particularly to the elderly who most rely on them. I will therefore fight the closure of our Post Offices which are under threat. I plan to:

- Give Sub-Post Offices more freedom to offer a wider range of business services
Push for more Post Offices to be ‘One Stop Shops’
Allow the Post Office to work with carriers other than the Royal Mail
Find other outlets for current Post Offices where it may be more cost effective

Do please sign the petitions that are available at all three locations in the Constituency, if you think they should stay open.

Photo: Cllr Brad Fisher, local resident Lucia Frangiamore of Whitton Road and Mary

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Education ignored in the Budget

The latest Budget from the Labour Government is just bad news for so many people. The budget cannot hide the high debt, high interest rates, higher taxes and now lower growth across the country. The tax take will be £2.8bn a year higher by 2010, which is £110 more for every family.

Most leading economists believe there will be a downturn in the months ahead...and we are badly prepared. Nothing has been put aside to help deal with the bad times and the cost of living is already rising fast.

So what was in this budget?
- Biggest alcohol tax rise for a generation
- 70% of motorists will pay more Vehicle Excise Duty
- Borrowing levels have soared (£7bn higher next year than this)
- Growth is down
- Ignored public opinion on a national road pricing scheme and it will go ahead
- No new money for key areas e.g. education and defence

What more are we getting for our money? In my view.....nothing!

What we need is a new Conservative Government and George Osborne as the new Chancellor.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

David Willetts in Isleworth

It was great to see David Willetts MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, University and Skills, when he visited the constituency this week.

He met with Thalia Marriott, the Principal at West Thames College in Isleworth, then went on to visit the Skills Centre and the Borough Youth Service in Feltham with Cllr Mark Bowen, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Feltham & Heston.

Further education and training is critically important for the future generation. West Thames College is an outstanding example of giving opportunities to many young people to develop their skills and their experience. It has also made a huge contribution to equality and diversity. We met some great students who are really good role models, in having taken the initiative and challenge to create a better future for themselves. We need more young people like them.

Photo -
Front row: David Willetts MP (Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, University & Skills), Thalia Marriott (West Thames College Principal), Mary Macleod (Conservative Parliamentary Candidate)
Back row: Cllr Lin Davies, Cllr Barbara Reid, Billy Elliot (West Thames College Assistant Principal)

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Is it a fix?

The Sunday Times this week had an article in it that alleged that BAA and the Government had colluded to doctor the environmental figures on Heathrow to make the case for expansion.

If these allegations are true, then the Government's consultation is a complete waste of time....and they are lying to us by going through the motion of a consultation.

If these allegations are true, then this will be another case which shows that the Government does just whatever it wants, with no regard to what the public think.

If these allegations are true, then Ruth Kelly must be held to account on this.

Monday, 10 March 2008

M&S Go Green

I really like the new Marks & Spencer scheme to try and reduce the number of plastic bags being used in the High Street.

Every year, British retailers give out 13 billion bags, which take 1,000 years to decay. Following a trial by M&S, demand for bags fell by more than 70%. If this is followed across the country, then there will be 280 million bags less every year. The money raised by M&S from selling plastic bags to food shoppers, will go to the Groundwork Trust to improve parks, play areas and gardens.

We can all make a difference to the environment, even in a small way, and make the world a better place. M&S has taken a lead in the retail sector which hopefully will put pressure on other retailers to also reduce the number of bags they hand out for free.

I have tried to do my bit for the environment and local business by giving the Chiswick, Osterley & Spring Grove and Hounslow South Councillors an alternative to use for shopping or for their Council files. It is the Turnham Green bag. This is an initiative of two women who left the city and trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine and are committed to both environmental and fair trade principles. They carefully source ingredients from those who support their local communities and hold similar ethical values. They also promote good health and try and reduce harmful environmental impacts. Do look at their website and buy more from them

Council Leader and Turnham Green ward Councillor Peter Thompson is on the left in the photo and local resident Margaret Chadderton on the right.

Friday, 7 March 2008

They have done it again! O% Council Tax Increase

Congatulations to Hounslow Council, who this week agreed to once again freeze its share of the Council Tax. Another zero% tax increase!

Hounslow has now moved from charging the 5th highest council tax in London, to the 11th highest. This is definitely heading in the right direction.

Council Leader Peter Thompson said, "Since council tax was introduced in 1993, the average bill in Hounslow has more than doubled. This has particularly hit residents with low to moderate fixed incomes, such as pensioners, who have struggled to meet continual rises. This year has been particularly difficult for us. Most of what we spend comes from Government and we received the worst settlement for a decade. The below inflation settlement unfairly penalises both the council and local residents. We have had to take some tough decisions about to how spend residents money, and we have made savings by identifying where we can do things differently or more efficiently. We have also increased our investment in services that local people have told us matter to them without dipping into our reserves. We are also putting aside £5 million for essential growth over the year."

Well done to all the Councillors, especially Cllr Peter Thompson and Cllr Gerald McGregor, who have worked tirelessly to deliver a budget that is right for the Borough. Thanks also to the rest of the Councillors who work hard to make sure that locally, residents get the services they need. This has been achieved, whilst still managing to ncrease the efficiency and performance of the Council. No easy task!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Let there be peace...

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is currently in the Middle East to try and save Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Medical sources say at least 112 Palestinians - including children - have been killed since Wednesday. Three Israelis have also died in recent days - a civilian and two soldiers. This recent outbreak of violence and bloodshed in Gaza has been triggered by Hamas. Innocent people continue to be killed and wounded around the Gaza Strip.

When I was in Israel a few months ago, I saw some of this for myself as I held some of the rockets that daily were landing in Israel from the Gaza Strip. As we travelled around the West Bank and also as we stood on the Golan Heights - with Syria on one side and Lebanon on the other - it was clear to see how security issues have become part of everyday life. What is disturbing though, is the impact that violence has on the next generation. We visited a school near the Gaza Strip and saw how they are impacted ... always having to play in secure covered areas which are protected.

It is so important that communication takes place and that some peace deal is reached. Peace cannot be sabotaged by the few who want to reject peace ... or more families will suffer and more lives will be lost.

(With me above is Kulveer Ranger, who previously lived in Hounslow and now is Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party for Cities)