Getting elected is a humbling experience but it’s a particularly humbling experience to become the new council leader for our wonderful borough. My colleagues and I will work hard and will endeavour to improve Hammersmith and Fulham for all who live and work here.
Defending Charing Cross Hospital and stopping it being downgraded is top of our list of priorities. I have asked officials to set up a hospitals and health care unit, which I will lead. This council will stand with residents in the fight to save our hospitals.
It has been a refreshingly busy couple of weeks. On Monday we announced that the council intends to review the decision to close Sulivan Primary School.
Last week we also shut down nearly £300,000 worth of council magazines and leaflets as well as ending the practice of hanging council promotional messages from lamp posts across the borough.
We want the council go about its business differently. Residents will have more opportunity to be involved in policy and planning decisions and we have asked officials to change the council’s constitution to end the practice of councillors taking hospitality from developers.
We will stick to and work within the former administration’s budget forecast totals. But we have inherited a £20.1 million gap in next year's budget. We will tackle this deficit by cutting structural waste. To set the right tone we have already agreed that the new administration’s councillors will take a 10% cut in their special responsibility allowances. We will strengthen the borough’s finances and stick to our promise to reduce taxes.
Our new administration will officially assume office at the council’s annual general meeting on 16th June. Officials are already working on the due process of delivering the promises we set out in our manifesto.
There is much we hope to achieve: more genuinely affordable homes for residents to buy or rent; improvements to neighbourhood policing; a stronger local economy that delivers for all our residents; and much more that will form the council’s programme over the next four years.
I hope you like the new, zero cost, red white and blue colouring of the council’s logo. We want it to represent how we hope to work with residents from all backgrounds and with a wide variety of views.
My colleagues and I really hope we can do things differently. We will work with residents to meet challenges head on and deliver the change we need for this to be the better borough we all want.
Cllr Stephen Cowan
Leader-elect, The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Councillor for Hammersmith Broadway Ward
The Town Hall, King Street, London W6 9JU