London election 2022: Spotlight on Hounslow ahead of critical ballot

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n May 5, voters across the UK will go to the polls to decide who will lead their local authority.

Labor won’t expect too many shocks in Hounslow, but a combination of local issues, council tax hikes and redrawing of ward boundaries could see the Tories challenge for more seats this time around.

Key questions

As elsewhere in London, attempts by Hounslow Council to improve road safety and encourage more walking and cycling have sparked controversy in the borough and could be a key factor in some neighborhoods on May 5.

The implementation of the council’s Streetspace projects, which include new cycle lanes, extended pavements and traffic restrictions, have sparked local anger, including a legal challenge by local taxi drivers.

Controversy over such a scheme, in Chiswick, led to Labor councilor Richard Eason’s deselection as a candidate in May after he criticized council leadership for failing to take residents’ views into account.

But borough voters are also likely to be concerned about the current cost-of-living crisis and the impact of council tax increases, with polls finding this to be the top concern of many Londoners.

Half of all London councils, including Hounslow, have increased council tax by the maximum amount – 2.99% – for the 2022/23 financial year.

The average annual tax bill for D-Band Council in Hounslow will rise to £1,774, from £1,702 last year.

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Details

Since the first borough council elections in 1964, Hounslow council has remained largely under Labor control, broken by a Tory majority between 1968 and 1971, and a mandate from 2006 to 2010 when no party had the overall control.

In the last local elections of 2018, Labor had its best result in Hounslow in terms of number of seats won, claiming 51 of 60 council seats with 54.1% of the popular vote.

Two seats moved from the Conservatives to Labor in 2018, leaving the Conservatives with nine seats on Hounslow’s council.

Turnout in 2018 was 36.61%, similar to turnout in previous local elections.

Ahead of the 2022 local elections, the Local Government Boundaries Commission decided that Hounslow should be divided into 22 wards, down from 20, and represented by 62 councillors, down from 60.

Heading into this year’s election, the political makeup of Hounslow Council is slightly different from what it was after the last election due to a series of by-elections that have taken place since 2018.

Long-serving Labor councilors Rajinder Bath and John Chatt both died in the summer of 2019, with by-elections to fill their seats taking place in December alongside the general election.

While the former seat was retained by Labour, the latter was lost to the Conservatives, with the parties split by just 50 votes.

Two further by-elections in May 2021 saw Labor retain two seats.

Last month, as campaigners prepared for the May election, Hounslow’s Labor group was rocked by infighting when councilor Theo Dennison tabled a no-confidence motion in council leader Steve Curran .

The motion was defeated, leading to Mr Dennison resigning from Labor, while Mr Curran announced he would step down in May due to health issues.

Demography

2018 estimates put the population of Hounslow at 270,782, while the 2011 census recorded a population of 253,957.

Hounslow is home to a large Indian community, which represents 18.96% of the borough’s total population. Overall, people of Asian or British Asian descent make up 34.36% of Hounslow’s population.

People of white British descent make up 37.91% of the borough’s population, while those of other white backgrounds make up 11.53%.

Hounslow residents of Black African descent make up 4.25% of the borough’s population, while those from Black Caribbean backgrounds make up 1.33%.

The vast majority of Hounslow residents (63.2%) are working-age adults, between the ages of 18 and 64, while those aged 17 and under make up 24.2% of the population. The over 65s represent 12.6%.

Hounslow has a poverty rate of 25% and a child poverty rate of 41%, which are considered average according to Trust for London. The unemployment rate in the borough is 5%.

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