Cllr Katherine Dunne dropped as Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council

Image: Cllr Katherine Dunne and Cllr Shantanu Rajawat in March 2024

“Brutal, humiliating” dismissal comes out of the blue

Cllr Katherine Dunne, the Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment & Transport, has been dropped as Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council.

Cllr Dunne, who represents the Syon & Brentford ward, said she was “naturally disappointed” when the news broke of the sudden change on Saturday (18 May).

“Thank you to everyone who has sent supportive messages. I’m naturally disappointed but looking forward to concentrating on my Cabinet portfolio over the next year” she posted on X.

Council Leader Shantanu Rajawat announced his decision at Friday evening’s meeting of the Hounslow Labour Group of Councillors. During the meeting, Cllr Rajawat also appointed Cllr Dunne’s successor: Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Development, who the Labour Leader has known all his life, as they were at school together.

According to Labour sources who attended the meeting, Cllr Dunne asked Cllr Rajawat not to announce the move at the meeting, as he was announcing it to other Labour colleagues. According to reports, he ignored her and carried on, which caused Cllr Dunne to be visibly upset and was “brutal” and “humiliating”.

Cllr Guy Lambert, Cabinet Member for Highways, Recycling and Health Integration, also announced his resignation during the meeting. He will be replaced by Cllr Raghwinder Siddhu, who represents Bedfont ward.

Hounslow Council holds its Annual Meeting on 28 May, where the changes will be confirmed. The new Mayor of Hounslow, expected to be Cllr Karen Smith, who works at ArtsEd in Chiswick, will also be nominated.

Image: Cllr Katherine Dunne introducing Lime Bikes to Hounslow

Reason for Cllr Dunne’s dismissal unclear

As a Cabinet Member and Deputy Leader, Cllr Dunne has championed active travel, including Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes which have reduced traffic and air pollution in parts of Chiswick. Because of this, she has become a target of significant vitriol online from opponents locally.

No official reason has yet been provided for her sacking, but the leadership has been under pressure recently over the active travel policies, with some heated discussions in Cabinet reportedly.

There is some speculation over whether her support Cycleway 9 and the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood Scheme have led to the decision to sack her, but Cllr Dunne still retains Transport Strategy (including Active and Sustainable Travel), in her Cabinet portfolio, along with Aviation Policy, Climate Emergency, Net Zero Neighbourhoods, and Environment Strategy and Policy (including air quality).

During last Friday’s meeting, sources said Cllr Dunne questioned the optics of replacing her as Deputy Leader with another man and asked whether this called into question Cllr Rajawat’s commitment to gender representation on his leadership team. Unhappy with his response, Cllr Dunne pressed the Leader of the Council to answer her question in an exchange described as “heated”.

Responding to the news of her sacking on X, safe cycling campaigner Ruth Mayorcas said:

“I’m so sorry to hear this – really a loss – you are such an inspirational person who held the role with dignity, care and so honourably. The upside is you can really focus even more on your very necessary portfolio of #Environment #Climate #Transport”

Responding to a supporter on X who described her as “an asset to the borough”, Cllr Dunne said she hoped to remain so in the future.

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