Council leader Steve Curran is care-less and care-free about Chiswick and must go, says Cllr Joanna Biddolph during motion of no confidence

Hounslow’s Chiswick councillors tabled a motion of no confidence in council leader Steve Curran for debate at the Hounslow borough council meeting on Tuesday, 10th November 2020. Cllr Joanna Biddolph of Turnham Green ward seconded the motion. Her speech is below. 

Thank you Mr Mayor.

I’m seconding this motion because of the total lack of regard the leader has for residents in one entire area of the borough we serve. We serve. It is not our place to destroy towns, divide communities, drive people out. It’s our role to be inclusive, mindful, respectful. None of those adjectives applies to the council leader.

Let’s look at how much interest his group takes in Chiswick.

You were all sent a powerful, real-life video – Slow Flows the Traffic. Traffic is only one element. It’s the images of frail older people stranded in the middle of the road on a floating bus island. Of stuck ambulances unable to save lives. Of the incompetence of a self-serving care-less administration.

How many of you have downloaded that video? Three. The leader, the cabinet member for highways and one backbencher. It’s five minutes long. You can’t even give five minutes to the residents of Chiswick.

What about the letter from OneChiswick, a group of residents who feel so passionately about the effects of these ill-thought out schemes and are urging you to think again. Did you read that?

You were also sent a link to an article by Julia Langdon about The Queen being stuck in Chiswick Chaos. Julia said, “what better symbolic gesture could she have made than to demonstrate that even a cavalcade of armoured cars and accompanying police outriders is not exempt from suffering the misery that Hounslow council has visited upon us?” Did you read that? Is there any evidence that you care about Chiswick?

I’ll tell you who cares.  Virginia Ironside. She campaigns for the rights of older people. She’s signed the petition Sam presented. Comedian Eddie Marsan. Actors Neil Dudgeon, Sandra Dickinson, Georgia Tennant, Chelsea Healey. Journalists Janet Ellis, Marina Vaizey, Josceline Dimbleby, Lindsey Bareham. Residents Livia Firth – well known for championing environmental responsibility – and her son Luca.

They’ve signed petitions against these schemes. They are all locals. And before anyone claims that some petitioners don’t live in Chiswick, our home town is – or was – a destination for shoppers, diners, visitors. We value their custom. You don’t even value our own local custom, spent locally.

You’d expect me to talk about the drastic effect of these schemes on our shops. Well I will.

Every week, Bayley & Sage on Turnham Green Terrace sends graphs that show a week on week decline since parking was removed. Their emails aren’t even acknowledged. Don’t you care?

Marmalade jewellery hears daily from customers who ring to say they won’t be coming back. They need to park and go, not walk the streets carrying high value goods in their bags. Customers, driven out.

Mike Ormrod has lost trade customers as they can’t afford to be stuck for an hour in traffic to pick up electrical equipment. His business is declining – because of this council’s actions.

That means jobs lost.

The appetite in our local shops for the poster designed by OneChiswick – and for having copies for customers to take away – has been huge. If you’d bothered to walk along our shopping streets, you’d have seen them. In shop after shop after shop. It’s a clear message. Hounslow council, led by Cllr Curran, is destroying Chiswick.

Destroying jobs.  You say we don’t care about jobs.  We have them too.

There are six car dealerships in my ward, all invited by the council to invest here. And now he’s telling their customers they can’t drive here. It’s as hypocritical as it’s possible to be.

As if that wasn’t enough, the council has had the audacity to approve even more restrictions, bringing more LTNs to divide our community. Each one separated from the other by a wall of enforcement. We’re being ruled by our own version of Donald Trump.

You can try to blame Covid and lockdown. You can try to blame Thames Water. The construction of C9. The one thing you won’t accept any blame for is the one thing that has had the most significant effect and it’s all your own work – absurd road closures and the removal of parking. These measures are ideologically driven, show no understanding of the needs of traders and no understanding of the environmentally responsible lives Chiswick residents lead.

As one resident put it, “we are all invested in a better way of living for everyone, but this isn’t the right solution.”

The schemes need to be reversed and a fair and proper consultation allowed. Let’s do it. The person who can make it happen is the leader of the council.  But he remains care-less and care-free about Chiswick. He must go.

I second this motion with enthusiasm.