Council Leader Shantanu Rajawat announces his new Cabinet for LB Hounslow

Images above: LB Hounslow Leader designate, Shantanu Rajawat; Deputy Leader designate, Katherine Dunne

Katherine Dunne takes over the Transport portfolio

The Council Leader designate for LB Hounslow, Shantanu Rajawat, has announced his new Cabinet.

Cllr Katherine Dunne, his deputy leader, is keeping her Environment portfolio but combining it with Transport, which used to be Hanif Khan’s portfolio before the elections. Katherine has been one of the staunchest supporters of the C9 cycle lane and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and is a member of the Hounslow Cycling Campaign.

She announced she was: “delighted I can continue to work for sustainable and healthy borough via transport strategy prioritising walking, cycling and public transport.”

She also said: “I’m committed to making this work for residents and will be engaging with people across the borough on existing, experimental and proposed LTNs.”

LB Hounslow has been accused of not listening to public opinion on the traffic restrictions, which they introduced in a hurry under emergency Covid regulations. They eventually undid the changes in Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Rd after thousands of people petitioned against them. Shantanu Rajawat has said the newly elected Labour Council would be a “listening” council.

Residents in ‘south Chiswick’, ie. Grove Park and Strand on the Green, want them to think again about the traffic restrictions there. The Strand on the Green Residents Association (SoGA) and the Grove Park Group (GPG) carried out surveys of their membership and found a large majority (70%) were in favour of some measures to restrict traffic, but an even larger majority (87%) wanted  changes made to the current measures, brought in over the past two years to stop commuters rat-running through a residential area in their thousands every day.

The system is complex, with access to Burlington Rd from the A316 blocked by a barrier, access to Staveley Rd severely time limited and access to Hartington Rd limited to the first 320 yards only to anyone without the requisite residents’ permit, to allow access to the Roko gym and playing fields opposite.

Different rules apply to residents according to whether they live north or south of the railway line. Some Uber drivers still refuse to come into the area and visitors (and residents) are bewildered by the signs, even if they are able to read all the information quickly enough. Many people continue to be fined because they do not understand the rules.

“I am prepared to listen and make adjustments”

We asked Katherine Dunne if she would be prepared to review the scheme and she admitted:

“There’s a lot of complexity, which I am not a fan of.”

While she clearly has every intention of sticking to the Council’s policy, which has drastically reduced the amount of commuter traffic through a residential area, she also told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I’m happy to keep a constant eye on how it’s working. I am prepared to listen and make adjustments. If things are not optimal and need changing we can look at that. If people can’t understand what they’re supposed to do, we can address that.”

She intends to keep to the “core principles” of reducing traffic flow through the area and encouraging people not to use cars for short journeys. In her day job she works for the Medical Research Council managing a programme which funds research into the wider determinants of poor health – air pollution, diet and poor housing for example – so the effect of traffic congestion on people’s health is something she has studied in depth.

“But it is also a core principle that people have to have access to their homes. I have had questions asked about things like visitors which we have to look at. I understand that some people need to use their cars and what we want to do is make the roads less congested so that those who need to use their cars can do so.”

“I certainly want to come and talk to people”

She told us she had seen how the Waltham Forest system worked when it was introduced:

“They went for a lot of hard closures, which have a simplicity to them – people know where they can and can’t go – but there are downsides as well. You can’t make exceptions and you have to think of access for emergency vehicles.”

That is why LB Hounslow tried a more nuanced approach, she explained. But it is a bit too nuanced for some residents and visitors who still can’t get their heads round it and find the signage incomprehensible.

SoGA+GPG+Burlington Lane+Park Road Residents are organising a Public Protest to draw attention to residents’ objections to the current South Chiswick LTN. The demonstration will take place outside LBH Council Offices on Tuesday 31 May when the newly elected council meets for the first time.

Katherine told us she wanted to come and talk to people “to see how we can simplify things that have got fairly complex.”

“I will commit to coming and speaking to people.”

Images above: Cllr Guy Lambert; Cllr Sue Sampson; Cllr Salman Shaheen

Other Cabinet appointments

Cllr Guy Lambert, who also supported Hanif Khan in introducing the traffic restrictions, keeps his portfolio of Highways, Environment and Operational Services.

Cllr Salman Shaheen, new to the Cabinet, takes over Parking with the portfolio of Parks and Leisure, and responsibility for allotments. He has been instrumental in the fight by residents in Isleworth to keep land currently used for allotments from being sold by the Duke of Northumberland to developers.

Cllr Tom Bruce is moving from education to Regeneration and Development, while Cllr Lily Bath, (who was Deputy Leader to Steve Curran before the elections), takes over his old portfolio of Children, Learning and Employment.

Cllr Samia Chaudhary, (who used to have responsibility for Leisure Services), takes over responsibility for Health Integration (links with the NHS and Public Health). Cllr Shivraj Grewal is taking on Communities and Equality while Cllr Ajmer Grewal takes responsibility for Safety.

Cllr Sue Sampson takes over the portfolio for Housing management and Homelessness, while Leader Shantanu Rajawat will keep Finance himself.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Amy Croft “surprised to have been elected” as Chiswick’s first Labour councillor in 30 years

See also: Anger but no consensus on what do to about regulating traffic through Grove Park

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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