Party Consensus Fails to Hold During Asylum Seeker Vote

Chiswick Homefields councillor Gerald McGregor reports back

Cllr Gerald McGregor

March 31, 2024

Reporting Back: Council Work

Hounslow Council Commemorates former leader and Recognises Tamil Heritage

The 26th March meeting of Hounslow Borough Council saw council members gathering to commemorate the legacy of Honorary Alderman Steve Curran, the former Labour Leader of the Council.

An important motion was also put on the agenda by the Conservative Councillors Ron Mushiso and Allan Joseph and recognise the contributions of the Tamil community.

Peter Thompson, the Leader of the opposition and a Conservative councillor for Riverside reflected afterwards on the meeting:

“Honorary Alderman Steve Curran, the former leader of the council, was remembered with warmth and admiration for his leadership and dedication to the borough. A respected leader of Hounslow Council from 2014 to 2022, Steve earned accolades for his leadership and a public honour, the MBE (2023). He led initiatives in education, housing, and regeneration, engaging with residents and advocating for their needs. Curran's leadership saw significant progress, marked by his involvement in various committees and external bodies. His legacy embodies integrity, compassion, and tireless dedication to improving the lives of Hounslow residents.

London's Tamil community, hailing from various nations like Sri Lanka, India, and South Africa, enriches the city's tapestry. Over 3,000 Tamils call Hounslow home, contributing significantly to healthcare, social care, education, and culture. Many serve in NHS England, operate adult social care facilities, and teach Tamil language and arts in schools. British Tamils have a storied history, from military service to scientific contributions like the AstraZeneca vaccine. Recognising their immense impact, Hounslow Council resolved to accept the Conservative Motion and honour this, marking January as Tamil Heritage Month and Pongal to support and celebrate the Tamil community's invaluable contributions. Tamil (Thai Pongal Day is a Tamil and Hindu harvest festival designed to give thanks to the sun god for the abundant harvest that he is believed to enable).

I was particularly happy to see so many representatives from Hounslow’s Tamil community present in the council chamber to hear the speeches from Cllr Ron Mushiso and Cllr Allan Joseph showing both commitment to and an understanding of the needs of the Tamil community. It was a joyous occasion and I’m proud that both parties could together and back our motion to celebrate this fantastic community.

Yet, as the council moved to recognise Tamil Heritage Month and Pongal, we were once again left to face a barrage of cheap political tricks from our Labour colleagues as they attempted to score points ahead of May’s GLA election.

The Labour group had proposed a motion calling on the government to lift the ban on asylum seekers working - a worthy cause that Conservative councillors readily support. My colleague Councillor Gabriella Giles proposed an excellent amendment which sought to unite the council chamber, recognising that it was a Labour government that brought in this ban 22 years ago, and regretting that this policy had been carried on by subsequent governments of all stripes ever since.

Her speech was interrupted by Labour councillors who shouted over her and, ultimately, prevented a vote being taken on this important amendment. Is that really how politics in this borough should be?

Labour's insistence on injecting party politics into every facet of council proceedings undermines the spirit of cooperation and detracts from the substantive issues at hand. While advocating for asylum seeker rights is undoubtedly important, it should not be exploited for cheap party-political gain at the expense of constructive dialogue and meaningful action.

As the meeting concluded, there was a palpable sense of frustration among some members who lamented the persistent politicisation of council proceedings. From a collaborative approach to Tamil recognition to the cheap politicisation of asylum policy, it’s clear two sides of the council were on show last night. Moving forward, it is imperative that council members prioritise collaboration and unity in order to effectively address the truly complex challenges facing the borough”.

Cllr Thompson felt that the lack of meetings, meant a consequent lack of scrutiny in the performance and policies of the local authority

The concerns about the meeting have lead to a desire by our group to have more constructive discussions; and proper reports and attendance of senior officers to support cabinet members who sometimes appear to be all at sea. We will work hard to achieve this.

Chiswick Homefields Ward Hounslow Councillors Recognise The Work done by the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust in maintaining the Palladian Heritage for future generations

Celebrating Chiswick House and Gardens, London Borough of Hounslow Chiswick Area Forum 12th March 2024

Following the Chiswick Area Forum, Xanthe Arvinitakis, Director of the Trust invited local residents to an evening meeting the following week on 19 th March at the Chiswick Houuse café, to hear from the trust team and volunteers how the new plans for the renewal of buildings and recovery of gardens would be formulated with accessibility as a key criteria.

This was a well organised and well attended meeting. One plea was for more residents to join the groups of volunteers on a regular basis:

The invitation included the ward councillors Gerald McGregor and John Todd, regrettably Jack Emsley had to send apologies but got a full briefing a couple of days later. We agreed to provide support to the project in one of the most important landscapes in England

From Right to Left Julie Ritson, who looks after the Trust Social Media and is involved in the Dog Show . On her right is Alex Matthews who came along to see the plans after hearing of the meeting. She is a local resident. Between Alex and Xanthe is Debbie McMullen a member of the trust.

Xanthe is on the left with the plans of the proposed works and layout of gardens. She admitted to having a great time meeting the large number of people who attended. Her explanations and enthusiasm were well received by the audience who took the opportunity to talk to the staff and volunteers manning various stalls and offering advice


Cabinet Meetings

Tuesday 16 Apr 2024 7:00 pm

Tuesday 14 May 2024 7:00 pm

6th Floor, Hounslow House, 7 Bath Road, Hounslow TW3 3EB

Council Meetings

Tuesday 28th May 2024 7.30pm -   (The Annual Statutory General Meeting of the Borough Council)

6th Floor, Hounslow House, 7 Bath Road, Hounslow TW3 3EB

Open to the Public

Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Monday 15th April 2024

Monday 13th May 2024

6th Floor, Hounslow House, 7 Bath Road, Hounslow TW3 3EB

During weekends, residents can still access council services on-line or via emergency numbers:
To inform the council of an emergency, please call 020 8583 2222


Chiswick: Every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am at Chiswick Library (the eight Conservative councillors take this surgery in turn).

Gunnersbury: First Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am at The Gunnersbury Triangle Club, Triangle Way, off The Ridgeway, W3 8LU (at least one of the Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillors takes this surgery). 


Chiswick Gunnersbury (was Turnham Green) ward

Cllr Ranjit Gill 07976 702956

Cllr Ron Mushiso 07976 702887

Chiswick Homefields ward

Cllr Jack Emsley 07977 396017

Cllr Gerald McGregor 07866 784821

Cllr John Todd 07866 784651

Chiswick Riverside ward

Cllr Gabriella Giles 07966 270823

Cllr Peter Thompson 07977 395810  

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