Independent Community Group Launches Its Manifesto
A Brief Biography of ICG Candidates
MEMBERS of the Independent Community Group (ICG) do not consider themselves as belonging to a political party. The ICG is generally speaking a centrist organisation but one which believes in bringing about radical change to empower communities rather than political vested interests and bureaucrats.
ICG Organiser Councillor Phil Andrews commented: “Politicians will stroll into a neighbourhood they’ve never set foot in, bold as brass, four weeks or so before an election is due and tell people they don’t know and have never met what they are going to do for them.
“Their impertinence and arrogance leaves me speechless.
“The ICG does never and could never conduct itself like this. With us we work all the year round to empower our local residents and at the end of it all we hope that local voters will see through all the political showboating and hype and support fellow local residents who are fighting to make a difference.
"It is this all-in community-focused ethos which leads the ICG ordinarily to baulk at the whole insincere game of party politicking in the immediate run-up to an election.
"But we do appreciate that elections are about programmes, and we need a programme of sorts when seeking office to make sure those who are minded to entrust us with their votes know where it is that we are coming from.
"And so we contest the 2010 local election, as with previous campaigns, on a strong Community Empowerment agenda. Here are some of our issues: "
An Empowered Community
We want to encourage community participation and self-help, not as an alternative to providing assistance to those who really are in need of it, but as a compliment to this process.
This means working with community groups, civic and amenity societies, residents’ groups and the Voluntary Sector in a meaningful way, providing resources and help where possible without strings attached.
Traditionally Labour has opposed our Community Empowerment aspirations whilst as coalition partners the Conservatives have supported them, but clearly as a much lower priority than reducing tax.
We do not want to see a Labour administration in which all our work towards improving resident participation is reversed, or an all-out Conservative administration in which it is sidelined.
We want to see a society in which everybody has a role to play and in which every citizen can take pride.
Community Cohesion is an oft misunderstood concept. It is about building a society in which those things that unite us negate any differences that might exist between us. A society with which everybody identifies and of which everyone has pride in being a part.
But the very idea of Community Cohesion often finds itself under attack from the left and from the right, in both cases die to ignorance and misunderstanding.
In some cases those who rightly celebrate the rich diversity of our society see Cohesion as an attempt to stifle cultural difference. In others the desire to concentrate on what unites us becomes a convenient excuse to ignore disadvantage on the grounds that to address it is “divisive”.
To us Community Cohesion is about recognising and celebrating difference, but then subordinating that difference to the greater values that we all share. And it is about eradicating disadvantage, thus creating the only conditions in which a real, lasting cohesiveness can be built.
We want to see a local authority in which respect for the environment plays a pivotal role in all that we do.
We acknowledge the very good work undertaken by the current Lead Member for Environment, particularly on Heathrow. But there is always more that can be done, and the election of a new administration which placed cost above all else would make it difficult for this impressive work to continue.
Yes we want to see low Council Tax too, and we are proud that for four years our support has enabled Council Tax to be completely frozen.
But low tax must be a means to an end. It is surely not the end in itself?
And we will never agree to chop essential frontline services to make tax cuts possible. Our duty to our vulnerable and disadvantage must always take precedence.
After four years in office as part of a coalition administration we regret to say that we do not believe the old Labour-type mentality at the Civic Centre has been completely eradicated.
We want to see a culture in which service is accepted as the whole raison d’etre of the local authority’s operation, and that co-operation with elected members and particularly with the administration and its strategy is taken as read.
We believe that some chief officers have played a game of “divide and rule” between the two coalition partners, winning the favour of the Conservative Lead Members by co-operating on cutbacks whilst openly obstructing the empowerment agenda brought to the coalition by the ICG. This manifested itself in the worst possible way during the unhappy planning debate on Mogden expansion, where our coalition partners opted to leave us high and dry in preference to upsetting their officers.
It is our honest opinion that for as long as chief officers co-operated on low tax there was little will on the part of our coalition partners to change the prevalent mentality.
ICG councillors involved in any new administration will correct this attitude with immediate effect as an essential component of any coalition agreement.
The ICG supports unconditionally the residents’ litigation against Thames Water and the work of the Mogden Residents’ Action Group (MRAG).
We deplore the lack of support from the two main partners over this blight and will continue to back the residents’ campaign and to seek political help and support from wherever it may be forthcoming.
We refuse to tolerate the mentality which has it that members of the public are a nuisance and an impediment to the local authority going about its business.
We promise to put people at the centre of our work at all times.
Agent for ICG: Ian Speed
Ian has lived in Isleworth all his life. He has spent his entire career in public sector accountancy since 1984, giving him a strong grasp of the issues involved in local government finance and its effect on services. Ian lives in the Osterley Village area and his two children both attend Heston Community School.
Politically Ian is a former Labour activist and council candidate who dropped out of local activism for a good while in the 1990s before re-emerging with the ICG in 2005.
Ian has always been committed to conservation and environmental issues and has been opposed to both the Labour party’s frequent disregard for local heritage and the Conservatives’ desire to concrete over green and leafy areas like Gunnersbury Park.
He is a key member of the ICG team concentrating on Hounslow South, and his family connections with the ward go back to when his father worked at Worton Hall in the late 1950s for the National Coal Board.
He is also a co-opted member of the Isleworth and Brentford Area Committee (IBAC).
In his leisure time, Ian enjoys rock music and quizzes, and last year appeared on BBC TV’s Mastermind following appearance on several daytime shows earlier in the decade.
Councillor Phil Andrews
A lifelong Isleworth resident, Phil was the first independent to be elected to the London Borough of Hounslow when he won a seat in the old Isleworth South ward in 1998. Since then he has been returned to office as an elected member for Isleworth ward at both subsequent local elections.
Phil is Leader of the Community Group on Hounslow Council. Until last May he was, for three years, the council’s Executive Lead Member for Housing & Community Safety. Since leaving the Executive he has served as Chair of the Isleworth & Brentford Planning Committee and is a member of the Management Board of Hounslow Homes.
As Lead Member he chaired the controversial Hounslow Homes Management Review which transformed the local authority’s tenant engagement operation into one which was resident-led and devoid of political interference and favouritism. He pioneered the Rainbow Project and Project Empower in which £1.4m and £4m respectively were made available for tenant-led projects.
His special interests are Empowerment and Community Cohesion. He has spoken at several events and conferences on combating extremism, sharing a platform at various times with Parmjit Dhanda MP, Paul Goodman MP, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and the former MP Oona King.
If elected, Phil wishes to help build an Isleworth-wide residents’ and traders’ forum as a means of furthering the ICG’s radical participation agenda in areas represented by ICG councillors.
Phil is a Deacon at Isleworth Congregational Church.
First elected in Isleworth ward in 2006, Paul chaired the Isleworth & Brentford Area Monitoring Committee and was a member of the Hounslow Homes Management Board before joining the council’s Executive last May as Lead Member for Community Engagement, Community Safety and Parking.
Paul has played a leading role in promoting the community agenda in his ward, bringing millions of pounds of Section 106 and other funding into local projects. Through the targeted deployment of resources he has helped boost the local Voluntary Sector, as well as making funding available for regenerating community buildings and traffic and road improvement schemes. He is a hard-working and popular councillor who has established a keen rapport with local residents’ associations and amenity groups.
Outside of local politics Paul is a keen follower of Queen’s Park Rangers and the English national football side.
Andy has served for the last four years as the Political Assistant for the London Borough of Hounslow, providing him with a firm foundation for the role of a local councillor. He is well known in the Isleworth ward, having managed a popular newsagent’s shop in Twickenham Road for several years.
He has a keen interest in tackling local crime and has served as Secretary of the Isleworth Community Safety Forum (ICSF) and also with the Isleworth Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) Panel. Additionally he was one of the original instigators of the massive local pressure group the Mogden Residents’ Action Group (MRAG).
His interests include sport and in particular football. He also likes cricket and is Secretary of one of London’s largest umpire’s associations.
Councillor Caroline Andrews
Caroline joined the ICG fifteen years ago has been an active and popular ward councillor since topping the poll in Syon ward in 2006 with the highest number of votes ever achieved by an ICG candidate.
A keen environmentalist and member of Greenpeace, Caroline combines her council duties with charity work, to which she devotes a good deal of time as a voluntary worker.
For most of her term of office she served on the Management Board at Brentford Dock and is currently a Trustee of Isleworth & Hounslow Charity.
Her special interest is in preserving trees and green open spaces for the enjoyment of local residents as well for the environmental benefits that they bring.
In the year 2007-2008 she was Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow as she is the mother of twins who will celebrate their 13th birthday on polling day!
Shirley was first elected in 2006 in Syon ward and has been a very active ward councillor, as well as having been Chair of the Isleworth & Brentford Monitoring Committee since May 2009.
She was Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Hounslow in the year 2008-2009.
Well known to her constituents throughout the ward, she has worked on a number of projects with residents of Ferry Quays, as well as having served for a time on the Management Board at Brentford Dock.
Shirley is also a member of the Licensing Committee where she sits on several Licensing Panels, and of the Community Police Consultative Group, the Budget and Performance Scrutiny Panel and the Complaints Panel.
Councillor Jon Hardy is currently the Executive Lead Member for Housing and Service Improvement, having served his “apprenticeship” immediately after having been elected for the first time in 2006 as an active and probing participant on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as well as in the role of Chair of the Isleworth & Brentford Planning Committee.
Locally Jon has led for the ICG on the Syon estate, where he has helped residents secure funding for the repair of the ROSE (Residents Of Syon Estate) Centre which had become even more urgent following the recent fire.
As well as having a special interest in health-related matter, Jon has been a leading light in the campaign to keep the threatened Tropical Zoo, currently at Syon Park, within the borough.
The sister of Syon councillor Caroline Andrews, Tricia is a long-serving ICG activist, having stood as a candidate for the group in Isleworth North ward at the local elections of 1998.
At round about the same time she successfully petitioned the British Airports Authority to contribute towards replacement, double-glazed windows on Isleworth’s Worton estate despite protests that the estate was allegedly not directly under the Heathrow flightpath.
Tricia served for several years on the ICG Committee before taking a back seat for a while to raise her young daughter before she went into full-time education. She is now once again an active Committee member.
Professionally Tricia has worked in sales administration and data control, and she also helps out working with children at local schools.
Cheryl-Ann has been a resident of the London Borough of Hounslow for over 25 years.
She is a keen environmentalist and cultivates her own allotment in the local area. She has also served as an active Committee member and officer on the former Three Estates’ Residents Association.
She comments: “I would like to see a re-generated Hounslow Borough with a vastly improved environmental policy; local businesses being given more help to survive this current recession; more real time courses/skills training and counselling help for local people. It would be an advantage to the residents of Hounslow if community police were enabled to target the places and times where there are potential problems, I believe that the local police force should be supported and encouraged to do more.”
Martin is a popular and longtime Isleworth resident with a special interest in disability issues, encouraging greater awareness of disability and equal opportunity.
He has been a staunch and active supporter of the Mogden Residents’ Action Group (MRAG), frequently representing his local community at residents’ meetings at Thames Water’s Mogden plant.
Martin has held office on his local residents’ association and is a keen advocate of the ICG’s Community Empowerment agenda, seeking wider participation and involvement by residents in matters that concern them.
April 13, 2010