Saturday, 8 November 2008

Pride in our borough

When we as an administration speak of pride in our borough, we refer of course to our facilities, our services, the unique character of our towns and villages and most importantly of all, of course, our people.

However on Monday, in the company of the Leader of the Council Peter Thompson who also leads for the borough on Community Cohesion, I took part in a presentation which left me immensely proud of our officer team of specialists in Equalities, Community Cohesion and Community Safety which is quite possibly second to none in the entire country.

The occasion was a presentation to the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) in support of Hounslow's application as a borough for Beacon status in Community Cohesion.

So often these events become exercises in box-ticking, with wearisome speeches about performance indicators and targets which leave one with an impression of subject matter that has been thoroughly digested but not quite really understood.

When it comes to our Community Cohesion work there is not a question of any lack of understanding, nor of clarity of vision as to where we want to be headed. For us it is not about getting a financial reward or a star in our merit book, but about eradicating genuine disadvantage and disengagement and building a complete sense of unity and togetherness in a borough where Everybody Matters.

As well as the Liberal Democrat Leader Andrew Dakers, who has always been supportive, I was grateful to Labour councillor Nisar Malik, who led for his party in the absence of his Group Leader Jagdish Sharma and who very graciously paid tribute to the work of the new administration in building Community Cohesion, as well as to the previous administration of course for the work that it too did in the field. Newly elected in 2006, Councillor Malik has sometimes had a rough time of it in the Council Chamber as a result of one or two comments made which could perhaps have been better worded, but I've long believed him to be one of the stars amongst the current crop of Labour councillors as well as himself being a very likable and decent guy.

Obviously one of the factors that will determine the success or otherwise of our Beacon status application will be the calibre of the opposition, and that is something over which we clearly have no control. Nonetheless I am happy that, even if in the event we are not successful, we have assembled a team in Hounslow that really is going to do the business in building cohesion in our borough in the coming months and years.

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