A new leader for Hillingdon Council has been elected to replace outgoing Sir Ray Puddifoot.
Conservative councillor Ian Edwards was voted the favourite to take over leading the authority in a crunch meeting of Tory borough councillors – who make up the majority of the council’s elected members – on Monday.
The Eastcote & East Ruislip representative, who currently chairs the council’s social care, housing and public health policy overview committee, will officially take up the top job at a full council meeting in January.
Cllr Puddifoot announced he was stepping down after 20 years of service in November.
West London Film StudiosCopyright: West London Film Studios
West London Film Studios has been given the go ahead to expand its Hayes site which is expected to double its value to the local economy of up to £47m.
Hillingdon councillors approved the plan which will allow a new film studio with sound stages, workshops with office accommodation to be built on green belt land, extending the existing studios 150m from the Springfield Road location.
While officers explained the development would usually be inappropriate for building on the green belt, they recommended it to be approved as the special circumstances were “compelling” and had a “strong, credible economic case” for the expansion.
It is “widely acknowledged” the UK has a shortage of studio capacity, and officers’ said that without the expansion it is likely the studios would be forced to relocate away from the borough which would have a “detrimental impact” on the local economy.
The independent studios, run by six members of staff, have hosted projects such as Killing Eve (BBC America), Last Christmas (Universal Pictures), The Gentlemen (Miramax), and Good Omens (Amazon Prime).
Industry giants such as Netflix and Marvel wrote in support of the move, both citing lack of stage capacity as a reason they have been unable to shoot more films in the UK.
Support was also received from the Hillingdon community such as Hayes Town Partnership, Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce and schools and charities with links to the studios.
Seven Hillingdon councillors voted for the plans, while one member abstained due to concerns over the green belt.
John Morse, who voted in favour of the plan, said: ”It’s quite clear we’re going to be in economic stress possibly very shortly and this is a means of providing employment, so I support it.”
Responding to the approval, the studios’ general manager Matilda Wylie said: “The team and I at West London Film Studios are really pleased with the outcome of our planning application.
“As an independently owned studio this is an exciting step for us and an important one for relieving some pressure on the ever increasing demand for studio space in London and the UK."
Planning reforms 'don't make sense' says Conservative council
Hundreds of people have been fined for dumping waste illegally in Hillingdon amounting to £134,000.
Hillingdon Council caught 336 offenders from August to October this year during three weeks of action, with rubbish found in bin bags, cardboard boxes and much more abandoned across 100 streets in the borough.
The top hotspots discovered were mainly in Hayes, in Coldharbour Lane, Station Road, East Avenue, Blyth Road, and Uxbridge Road – with incidents in Hayes and Hillingdon.
Each fly-tipper was fined £400.
The council also reported a 20 per cent decrease in fly-tipping cases between April and September 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
But the targeted campaign by council officers signals a crackdown against fly-tippers compared to previous figures.
According to a Freedom of Information request, the number of fly-tipping cases in Hillingdon amounted to 6,300 cases from August 1 2019 to July 31, 2020.
But the data also revealed that the council’s anti-social behaviour team issued just 94 fines during that same period. This means a little as 1.5 per cent of offenders faced action over the crime.
The hiked campaign over the last three months comes as part of the council’s bid to tackle the issue, and the authority has been targeting streets across the borough to raise awareness of “good waste management” by residents and businesses.
Hillingdon’s environment boss cllr Philip Corthorne, said: “Fly-tipping is a blight on our neighbourhoods, created by a small minority, who think this behaviour is acceptable. However, thanks to the majority of our residents, who are disposing of waste properly and also our dedicated teams who are enforcing the law, I am pleased that we have seen a reduction in incidents.
"Fly-tipping isn’t just criminal – it is also harmful to the environment and costs the council to clear it up, which is completely unacceptable. We will continue to issue fines to those who continue to flout the rules. There is no excuse for this behaviour, as we provide various services for people to dispose of their waste legally.”
New cash boost for walking and cycling in Hillingdon
Five walking and cycling routes are set to be improved to link up key town centres to underground stations across Hillingdon.
The council has secured £100,000 from the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund established due to coronavirus to make the improvements aimed at boosting the environment, improving residents’ health and slashing pollution.
The cash injection will add temporary cycle parking, improved signage, complete surfacing repairs and upgrade cycle infrastructure across routes ranging from around four to seven miles in length.
It will also clear the overgrown access points to the Grand Union Canal.
The routes to be improved are:
Eastcote to High Street, Uxbridge via Ruislip Manor, Ruislip West Ruislip and Ickenham London Underground stations
Northwood Hills to High Street, Uxbridge
South Ruislip to High Street, Uxbridge via Hillingdon London Underground Station
South Ruislip to High Street, Uxbridge via St Andrew’s Park
Hillingdon Labour’s public health boss has said it was a “mistake” for the council to reopen Ruislip Lido after the authority was forced to close the sandy beach due to a lack of social distancing.
Hillingdon Council announced it was fencing off the popular sunbathing spot in the “interest of public safety” after pictures showed large crowds over the weekend.
Residents had taken to social media expressing their fears over the lack of space between visitors, some saying it was unfair on local households by the lido.
Councillor Tony Eginton, Hillingdon Labour’s public health spokesman, said the overcrowded beach will “inevitably” hike the risk of spreading coronavirus between visitors.
He said: “I think it was a mistake. One could have anticipated if the good weather was going to continue there is no doubt that reopening, it was a mistake.
“One of the difficulties with the lido it probably has attracted people not just from Hillingdon but from surrounding boroughs and [counties] like Buckinghamshire.”
A council spokesperson said: “On the 11 May the restrictions were relaxed by the Government as regards the time spent outside and being able to meet one person outside of your family group for picnics etc. as long as the 2 metre distancing rule was applied, at which time the beach was reopened.
“Whilst the majority of our residents and other facility users abide by Government guidelines some did not and the decision was taken to reclose the beach area. This decision will be kept under review.”
HS2 rail link works that would have closed a busy road in Harefield have been postponed until the school summer holidays after Hillingdon Council threatened legal action.
The closure of Breakspear Road South was scheduled to begin on Friday, but has now been put back until the end of the school term on 19 July, according to correspondence provided by Council Leader Ray Puddifoot.
The delay was put in place in part to avoid school exam periods, a HS2 spokesperson said.
They said: “We have listened to local residents and their representatives, and we have taken this decision in response to their concerns – especially those about the potential impact on pupils and their families travelling to school exams.
“We will now work with the relevant utility companies to identify future dates when this essential work can be completed, and we will keep the local community informed as our plans progress.”
On-the-spot fines increase for littering and fly-tipping
Local Democracy Reporting Service
You might want to think twice about dropping litter or fly-tipping in Hillingdon as the council has just increased its fines as part of a crackdown on offenders.
On-the-spot fines for littering, graffiti, fly-posting and handing out leaflets in the street without permission have been raised from £80 to £100 in Hillingdon.
The move follows the introduction of new laws that give local authorities in England and Wales the power to change fixed penalty notice amounts for certain offences.
Study into impact of Universal Credit launched by council
Local Democracy Reporting Service
Hillingdon Council is to launch a major investigation into Universal Credit to determine what impact the system is having on its residents.
Universal Credit is currently being rolled out in phases across the UK and replaces six types of previous benefits:
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Child Tax Credit
Working Tax Credit
The council says it needs to review the roll out of Universal Credit because it carries risks to the council's finances through the risk of increased rent arrears, and of increased homelessness resulting from potential evictions and a reluctance of landlords to house benefit claimants.
The government began rolling out the scheme in 2015 but slowed it down in the autumn of 2017 after outcries from people who said they were losing out on benefits because of the time it took for them to start receiving payments.
In Hillingdon the main roll out of Universal Credit for new claimants is scheduled for October 2018; however the HA5 and HA6 postcodes were brought online earlier last month.
The review will make practical recommendations for how the council, working with partner organisations, can support residents in making claims for Universal Credit.
PM congratulates London Tories
The Prime Minster has tweeted her congratulations to some of the London boroughs which has seen success for the Conservatives.
Theresa May congratulated the Tories in Hillingdon for increasing their majority, which she described as a "testament to your record of delivering great local services."
She also congratulated councillors in Wandsworth, Westminster and Barnet for "a great result".