Thursday evening may have been the fourth time that I'd attended an Annual General Meeting of Hounslow Homes, the London Borough of Hounslow's Arms Length Management Organisation, but this one was a tad different. Not only was it the first time I'd sat it out whilst a new Lead Member did the necessary, but it was also a landmark meeting for another reason. Alf Chandler, who had chaired the ALMO since its inception, stepped down from the hot seat following the introduction of the new two-term rule, and was replaced at the immediately ensuing Board Meeting by former Vice Chair Mohammad Chaudhry (above left).
Alf has been a giant within Hounslow's housing movement for longer than most people can remember. When I first took on the role of Lead Member for Housing back in 2006 I had assumed that he and I would rapidly find ourselves on a collusion course. Whilst his renowned socialist views on housing and some other issues are not in themselves antithetical to my own, my fear was that they would lead him axiomatically to line up with the Old Guard, and its instinctively Stalinist resistance in the face of my unbashful programme for tenant emancipation.
As it happened though I soon discovered that Alf was very much his own man. Whilst there may at first have been an element of suspicion, as my true agenda became clear I feel he came to realise that my objectives in housing were not after all in conflict with his own, and over the course of my three year tenure I like to believe that a real sense of trust and deep respect developed between us both.
Mohammad, who was victorious in a contested election for the top spot, will undoubtedly bring a new style and perspective to the role. As President of the Pakistan Welfare Association and during his time as Chair of the Hounslow Borough Community Police Consultative Group he has established himself as a respected and authoritative presence in the Hounslow community, and ably assisted by his Vice Chairs Andy Lee, Paula Lewis and Councillor Gill Hutchinson he will put his own stamp on the organisation as it progresses over the months and years ahead.
The AGM itself, chaired by Alf, was addressed by the Hounslow Homes Chief Executive Bernadette O'Shea and the ICG's own Jon Hardy, the London Borough of Hounslow's Lead Member for Housing. Below are a few selected pics from the event: