“Strengthening our local economy and making it work for all our residents is central to our programme of change over the next four years,” says Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, as the borough’s plans were posted up in the town hall.
“We’ve made commitments to improve things across a broad range of areas including: acting to make our air cleaner; building many more genuinely affordable homes; protecting residents from crime; campaigning against Brexit and all its dreadful consequences; and much more.
“We will tick off each promise as they’re met – just as we did over the last four years. I think it’s right that everyone who works for us or seeks to work with us knows our local residents and businesses come first and that we will do everything possible to deliver on the promises we’ve made.”
Most council funding comes from central government. But since 2010, 60p of every £1 of that government funding has been cut.
Cllr Cowan explains: “These are tough times but we’re challenging old-fashioned thinking and stamping out wasteful practices. We aspire to be as innovative and efficient as the best organisations in the world and we’ve taken a tough approach to negotiating with property developers – winning record amounts of funding.”
An unmatched record
That, says Cllr Cowan, is how H&F Council has been able to:
- cut or freeze council tax every year
- freeze parking charges
- abolish all charges for home care for elderly and Disabled people
- add more than £4million to the social care services budget
- put more council-funded police on the streets than ever before
- keep all the borough’s libraries and children’s centres open
- retain weekly refuse and recycling collections
- build the brand-new Stephen Wiltshire Centre for Disabled children
- stop using bailiffs to collect council tax
- lead the way in rescuing unaccompanied refugee children
- end the use of B&Bs for homeless families with children.
Radical reform ahead
“Strengthening our civic life is critically important,” adds Cllr Cowan. “Having the public work with us to make public policy in public via our independent commissions has been a huge breakthrough in how the council operates.
“I think it’s good practice to empowering people to get things done and that’s what we’ve been doing with our local residents and businesses. We’re finding new ways of working with residents to change their own neighbourhoods for the better.”
To deliver on its commitment to ‘doing things with residents rather than to them’, the council is:
- leading the campaign to save Charing Cross Hospital
- working to ‘co-produce’ services with the people who use them – particularly older people and Disabled people
- setting up new resident-led commissions on the arts, carers’ services, crime and policing, and teaching – adding to the twelve commissions that have already begun work or reported.
- setting up ward action groups to enable local residents to develop their own initiatives to improve their local neighbourhoods
- investing in community-led re-design of North End Road.
Building shared prosperity through a stronger local economy
The 2018-22 plan includes measures to boost shared prosperity across H&F working in partnership with Imperial College London to attract businesses in the high-growth biotech and digital sectors to the borough’s innovation district in White City.
Cllr Cowan adds: “Supporting local schools and other institutions to align with our industrial strategy will provide local people with the best possible career and business start-up opportunities in some of the hottest parts of the global economy for generations to come.
“Our residents are ambitious to see their lives, opportunities and wellbeing improve, and particularly so for their children. We share those values and will continue to strive to make H&F the best place to live and work in any city anywhere in the world.”
There’s more about the 2018-22 plan in the council’s Business Plan (pdf).
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