Hounslow Green Party Manifesto – Local Elections 2022

Introduction

We will make the London Borough of Hounslow a greener and more pleasant area, where we are all proud to live.  We will take local measures to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, cut pollution, clean our rivers, and make it easier to get about. We will ensure more local services are provided before any new buildings are finished.

The First Past the Post electoral system heavily favours the two main parties and ensures that the Green Party is unrepresented at many levels of government. Our polling in the Council Elections in 2018 justified 4 or 5 Green Party councillors. We received none.  We will press the London Borough of Hounslow to work for a change to proportional voting at local elections. But in the meantime, we are pressing hard to get Green Party councillors elected.  This is absolutely vital if the council are going to be serious participants in the work to reach net zero in the borough as a whole by 2030.  You can really help us in this by voting for Green Party candidates.  If you want green policies, vote Green.

Green Party activists with green hats

This manifesto covers:

Climate emergency

Industrial chimneys billowing smoke

We will strengthen the Hounslow Climate Emergency Action Plan to cover all greenhouse emissions in the borough and retain the target of net zero emissions by 2030.

We support the few Passivhaus buildings that have been given planning permission so far in the borough. We will extend the use of this standard, or equivalent, to ensure high levels of insulation for all new buildings leading to lower energy usage and bills.

We support the plan to insulate all social housing in the borough to high standards. We will also enable and support high levels of insulation for all existing buildings in the borough by 2030. This will also result in lower energy bills.

Offshore wind turbines

We will not approve any use of natural gas in any new developments in the borough. We have to switch away from gas to address the climate emergency.

We support the plan to replace all gas boilers in social housing in the borough by 2030, primarily with electric heat pumps, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. We will extend this ambition across the borough to the rented and private homes sectors to make this the easiest option available.

We will have a planning assumption in favour of refurbishment rather than the current practice of demolishing and rebuilding. The Council have recently approved the demolition of a series of buildings that have barely been up for 40 years, including Tesco Osterley, Homebase, B&Q and Watermans Art Centre.  There are also proposals coming forward for the redevelopment of Heidelberg (built in the early 1980s) and the north side of Brentford High Street.

Green Party activists at Climate Strike

For new developments we will have a target of less than 300 kilogrammes of Carbon Dioxide per square metre from construction. This will substantially reduce the emissions from the construction of new buildings. Excessive use of high carbon steel and concrete will be avoided in favour of timber frames and lower rise buildings. We need to change current construction methods, and reduce current levels of new build, which emit large amounts of greenhouse gases.

We will support and enable plans to have 500 Megawatts of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation in the borough by 2030. This will be deployed primarily on roof tops. We will establish an Energy Services Company to enable effective use of this energy, as well as sourcing renewable electricity from outside the borough and advising households and businesses on energy efficiency. This will provide energy security and higher control over our energy bills.

Both the new and existing building stock needs to be adapted for them to be comfortable with increasing summer temperatures over the next century.

Local Planning

Crane in front of a block of flats being built

We will re-write the local plan so that it truly takes account of the climate emergency and ecological crisis. We will abandon the current work on West of Borough and Great West Corridor plans as not fit for purpose. The local plan sets the direction for the development of the borough, and we need to get this right.

Another important document for local planning and the development of the borough is the London Plan which was published in 2021.

We accept the current local plan (2015 – 2030) target of 822 additional homes per year. We do not accept the increase in this target proposed in the London Plan. Office for National Statistics (ONS) population forecasts for the UK in 2030 have consistently fallen since 2015. Population forecasts are still falling due to Brexit and Covid, meaning that higher build targets are un-necessary and only benefit the developers. Lower targets will allow less of the over-development that has occurred in recent years and is being proposed and it will prevent any need to build on the Green Belt.

Demonstration against excessive development

We will address infrastructure such as transport, doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries, schools and air pollution issues prior to new developments rather than hoping enhancements will occur after the developments are complete. The current approach will lead to increased local populations competing for insufficient services.

We will target the new build at social housing, with a focus on rents based on the ability to pay for those on minimum wage. We will also be looking at reducing the housing waiting list through the purchase of existing properties by the council. 

We will stop any of the current West of Borough plan proposals to build on Green Belt land either for housing, industry or expansion of Heathrow airport.

We will prevent further erosion of Hounslow’s green spaces, including parks and nature reserves. We will oppose more buildings and tarmac on these green spaces. We will aim for an overall increase in genuine green cover across the borough. Green roofs are not included in this target.

We will take measures to increase bio-diversity and bio-abundance. This includes trees. Where the council cut down trees, they should be replaced a sufficient number of new trees to, at least, match the biomass lost.

We will ensure public spaces and buildings are fully accessible to Deaf and Disabled people including access by wheelchairs, mobility scooters and prams.

Pollution

Car exhaust emitting black smoke

We support many of the environmental initiatives in the London Plan 2021, but we will aim to address these sooner in the borough of Hounslow.

We will take urgent action to address air pollution and take measures to bring air quality within World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. We are still appreciably above these levels in this borough, especially along major roads. These levels of air pollution have significant health risks.

To decrease air pollution we will take actions to reduce vehicle use and increasing public transport, cycling and walking (see transport policies below) as well as removing gas boilers (see climate policies above).

We support the extension of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to the whole of the borough of Hounslow as soon as this can be implemented. If it is not OK to have such polluting vehicles in Chiswick, it is not OK in Brentford or Hounslow either.

We will take urgent action to address noise pollution and take measures to bring noise within World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. We are still appreciably above these levels in this borough, especially near Heathrow flight paths. Aircraft noise above WHO levels is associated with adverse health effects.

Our policies to reduce the number of vehicles on the road will also reduce noise levels as will the introduction of more electric vehicles.

The water quality in our local rivers including the Thames does not currently achieve ‘Good’ status. As per the London Plan we want to have the whole Thames river basin achieve ‘Good’ status.

River near Mogden outlet

To achieve this within the borough we will start with applying more pressure on Thames Water to clean up their act. Mogden sewage works regularly spill diluted sewage into the Thames near Isleworth after quite moderate rainfall. This impacts water quality in the Thames in Brentford and Chiswick.

We will also strongly encourage rainwater being used close to source and having extended green open space in the borough (see local planning above). This allows natural drainage without the water going through the ancient and inadequate sewage system.

We will publicise incidents of high levels of air, noise or water pollution and give advice on how the risks can be mitigated.

Transport

Traffic jam near Heathrow

Heathrow is one of the largest airports in an urban setting in Europe.  The noise and pollution from the airport harms our residents.

We oppose any expansion, such as a third runway or extra terminals, and will take any actions we can to reduce the number of flights to and from Heathrow. This includes opposing night flights, so our sleep is not disturbed from 10pm to 6am.

We support runway alternation without exception except in emergencies. This provides respite to residents.

Stephen Clark with Caroline Lucas demonstrating against Heathow expansion

We support the Cycleway 9 linking the town centres of Hounslow, Brentford and Chiswick by bicycle. Where rearrangement of roads and pavements is required, pedestrians take priority over cyclists and cyclists over cars.

We will aim to enhance a network of well signed, connected green and open spaces and quiet ways for cycling and walking between and within town centres in the borough and safer routes to schools. Where these quiet ways cross roads, priority will be in favour of the walkers and cyclists.

 

Cyclists

The Local Plan (2015 to 2030) includes support for a rail link from Crossrail at Southall to Brentford and a rail link from Hounslow via Brentford to Willesden Junction. Despite this support in the Local Plan, very little progress has been made. We will strongly support moving these projects forwards.

We will also work with South Western Railway to increase the frequency of trains on the Feltham and Hounslow to Waterloo lines. We will work with Transport for London to prioritise renewal of signalling on the Piccadilly line. This will vastly increase capacity.

Some progress has been made on 20 miles per hour (mph) speed limits in the borough. We will extend this 20 mph speed limit to all residential streets in Hounslow and main roads used by pedestrians.

We will progress improved bus services, especially in the Golden Mile Brentford.

By re-balancing the transport system towards walking, cycling and public transport we will aim to achieve 75% use of these modes of transport in Hounslow as soon as 2030. This will appreciably reduce the cars on our roads and thus less congestion for the remaining cars.

Health

There is a key role for local government in maintaining the physical and mental health and well-being of its citizens.  The Green Party will support initiatives to promote healthier life styles through, less use of cars, more walking and cycling, advocating and supporting people to eat better diets with less fat and sugar and more vegetables and encouraging children to participate in active sport.

No less important is to work with NHS bodies (the Integrated Care System for NW London) to ensure easy and adequate access to primary and secondary care.  GP access desperately needs improving and supported in its recovery from the effects of the Covid pandemic.  Older people, in particular, need assistance to navigate their way through labyrinthine system that keep them from the health services and medication they require.

Policing

We support the Metropolitan Police service getting the resources it needs to tackle crime and increase community cohesion. We support increases in funding of youth services and mental health services. Cuts to these services have left the police dealing with the consequences in often tragic ways.

Greener and More Vibrant Neighbourhoods

We support the current Council’s policies for encouraging self-supporting neighbourhoods oriented around walking, cycling, less car use, and access to local shops.  We also support the whole concept of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and will introduce a sea change in co-operating with local residents on their introduction.  We will engage with communities to develop a shared vision on how we will implement greener, zero carbon neighbourhoods.

The Green Party want to see a step change in planting of trees.  These are vital for cooling the cities of the future, reducing pollution, and providing protection from flooding.  Likewise, we will discourage the removal of front gardens and replacing them by car parking. This generally makes neighbourhoods less resilient to flash floods; and makes pavements harder to navigate and more dangerous.

Jobs and business

The nature of work is changing, and this has accelerated with the Covid pandemic.  More people work from home and hence commute less.  Many are looking to start small enterprises in their local neighbourhoods.  We need to adapt to these needs.

The Council should facilitate the provision of workspaces for small businesses and opportunities for people to work outside of the home.  Creative workers are crying out for studio and workshop space. There are many units in new developments, originally set aside for shops, cafes and bars, which are now sitting empty.  These should be brought into use for this purpose.

We will also examine how we could provide officer support for alternative approaches to major developments in the borough.  The system currently favours developers and their highly paid advisers.

The sheer scale of the need to insulate the current housing stock and to move from gas boilers to heat pumps will create many new worthwhile jobs. This will require a considerable increase the need for training the local workforce to meet these needs.

Parks and open spaces

Chiswick House grounds, a peaceful rural scene

Our parks and open spaces are crucial to our physical and mental well-being and for maintaining a vibrant natural environment and a diverse habitat.  We are not opposed to commercial activity in our parks which is consistent with meeting the needs of people and the natural environment but there must be clear principles to prevent the further erosion and downgrading of our open space:

  • No further space allocated to car parking, metalled roads or hard standing.
  • New or improved footpaths, for access should be compacted gravel and sand based and water permeable.
  • Where new park buildings are absolutely essential, they should be audited for embedded and user carbon and should be of timber construction.
  • Additional lighting should be kept to an absolute minimum bearing in mind the needs of wildlife.

We will actively look at models for community involvement in park management.  Smaller open spaces could potentially be passed over to community groups, with adequate long term protection.

Local democracy

Democracy doesn’t stop at election time.  We advocate new ways of involving the public in decision making, for example local citizens assemblies to evolve consensus and policies on how Hounslow as a whole can meet our zero carbon target of 2030.

We will also press to make council decision making processes more democratic and not centred on the leader of the council and cabinet.  We want the council to switch from a cabinet system, which concentrates power into the hands of a few councillors, to a committee system – where all elected councillors make decisions together for the community they represent.

Waste

Overflowing rubbish bin

Whether waste is sent to incineration or landfill, there are large associated greenhouse emissions. We will work to bring forward the London Plan date from 2030, when Hounslow will achieve a municipal recycling rate of 65%. We will also put in place programmes to reduce waste, particularly food waste. We do not accept the London Plan projection of an increase in waste to 2041.

Divestment

Hounslow Council’s Pension Fund invests directly and indirectly in fossil fuel companies, for example in Royal Dutch Shell andBP.  Investment in the fossil fuel industry is incompatible with the aims of the council’s own Climate Emergency Action Plan.  Some transition towards investment in renewables and ethical funds has been made by via the London Collective Investment Vehicle (LCIV) but progress is slow. 

We believe it is no longer appropriate, in 2022, for Hounslow Council to invest in companies engaged in fossil fuel extraction.  We also believe such investments are not in the long term financial interests of fund members, given the very real threat of them becoming worthless, stranded assets. We call for urgent action by the council’s pension fund panel to pledge to divest from all such companies with the greatest possible speed. As elected councillors we will work with fund members towards an ethical, environmentally positive portfolio.

Procurement

 We will adopt a council purchasing policy to favour low embedded carbon products and services.  We will insist that all council contractors pay the London Living Wage.

In Conclusion

The promises made by the council to tackle pollution, congestion, and climate change are meaningless without informed and proportionate action. The council is just not going far enough and quickly enough.  We need Green Party councillors elected in Hounslow to ensure change happens.  You can help, Vote Green on 5 May 2022.

Please see below our local manifesto.  If you have any questions please Click on this link to e-mail us.  We will be glad to hear from you!

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