Image above: Cllr Hanif Khan
I reported last week that Cllr Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport at LB Hounslow, had not been reselected by his own ward, Hanworth Park, to represent it in the May elections. We have now learned that he is seeking selection to stand in Chiswick Gunnersbury ward against Conservative councillors Joanna Biddolph, Ranjit Gill and Ron Mushiso.
The ward they currently represent, Turnham Green, has been enlarged to include Gunnersbury Park and renamed Chiswick Gunnersbury ward.
As is often the way in politics, Hanif’s ousting has more to do with shenanigans in the Labour party than it does with his record as a councillor and Cabinet member. He and his fellow councillors have made Hanworth Park a popular seat and others wanted it. And apparently he’s the wrong type of Muslim – not the same sect as most of the Hounslow Labour Party Muslim members.
Despite his eight years as a councillor and nearly six years in Cabinet he is left scratching around trying to find a ward that will have him. Chiswick wards are scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as Labour candidates are concerned. Chiswick wards are the very last to be chosen in the whole borough. They are the least popular for prospective candidates for the obvious reason that last time round there was a Conservative majority in all of them.
Labour members in Gunnersbury would be delighted to have Hanif Khan, from what we hear, but will the selection panel choose the poster boy for the Cycle lane and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to go up against councillors who have fought tooth and nail against them? If the Labour party members in Gunnersbury choose Hanif Khan to represent them in the May elections it will be seen as a real declaration on the most hotly disputed issue in Chiswick.
Ironically voters in the new Chiswick Gunnersbury ward may not care so much about traffic restrictions. There have been relatively few LTNs introduced there; one that has been, in Wellesley Rd, has been largely popular with residents.
They may be prepared to be more open minded about him as an experienced councillor and Cabinet Member. They may actually want to know about the changes he’s made in his ward, working with the police on community protection measures, shutting down a major drug gang and combatting anti-social behaviour. They may see an advantage in having a councillor who is well connected inside the tent rather than one in perennial opposition.
Image above: Hanif Khan confronted by a protester in Chiswick
But there has been a vociferous minority of Chiswick residents (less than a tenth of the population) who have fought tooth and nail against the introduction of the C9 cycle lane and the Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, who would see the adoption of Hanif as a candidate as a red rag. They may be a minority but they represent a significant number, given the general apathy usually associated with local politics.
They have been supported and encouraged every step of the way by Chiswick’s Conservative councillors, from protests at the barrier in Staveley Rd, in Grove Park (with Conservative Cllr Joanna Biddolph front and centre at the last demonstration and Cllr John Todd hovering in the background even though neither represents the ward where the barrier is) to the attempt by OneChiswick to take LB Hounslow to Judicial Review over the decision to install the cycle lane.
Image above: Protesters against the Staveley Rd barrier in Grove Park, with Conservative Cllr Joanna Biddolph front and centre and Cllr John Todd in the background
So if the Labour party members in Gunnersbury ward are brave enough to choose Hanif they will be laying down the gauntlet and to fight the election on local transport issues. A fresh face who has never stood as a candidate in Hounslow could deny all responsibility for what has gone before but Hanif would have to stand by his record as Cabinet Member for Transport. (He does, by the way, 100% and is proud of it).
The deeply unpopular closure of Turnham Green Terrace as a through route, for months, which coincided with LB Ealing making Fisher’s Lane a cycle route and roadworks by Chiswick Park Tube station and along the High Rd combining, creating traffic chaos.
The closure of Devonshire Rd as a through route, which cafes and restaurants welcomed as they got used to laying out their tables and umbrellas in the road – a life saver for socially distanced dining – but some of the other businesses did not.
Both scrapped after consideration and consultation.
The introduction of the deeply divisive C9 cycle lane through the High Rd, which now sees considerable use by cyclists and for the main part keeps them off the main carriageway.
The introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, which have caused ructions in Grove Park but have been welcomed by those who are willing to put up with driving the long way round when necessary in order to stop commuters barrelling through residential neighbourhoods.
Convenience v air quality and safer streets.
Image above: Hanif at Downing St with Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps to congratulate him on Hounslow’s cycling infrastructure
Hanif is proud of what he has achieved and has an invitation to Downing St to celebrate his achievements in the area of traffic and transport to prove it. And there are many in Chiswick who have also welcomed the changes.
If Hanif Khan is chosen, I guess we will find out what people in Chiswick actually think about all the transport changes rather than trying to gauge by the tedious war of attrition which has been waged on all forms of social media for months – no, years now – between cyclists and antis. So ridiculous has this become that to be deemed ‘pro cyclist’ is seen in some quarters to be a tantamount to devil worship. (Pro class A drugs, pro gambling, maybe, but pro cycling – really?!)
The Labour Party in Hounslow is late selecting its candidates for the local elections on Thursday 5 May. The Chiswick candidates are the very last to be chosen. Mukesh Malhotra, a Hounslow councillor until 2018, has been chosen to fight Chiswick Homefields alongside newbies Saroosh Khan and Olivia Uwechue. Candidates for Gunnersbury and Riverside will be chosen next Monday (14 March). Then it will be game on for the local elections on 5 May.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features
Support The Chiswick Calendar
The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.
We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.
To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.