Lionel Road Development Is Not a 'Done Deal'- Ruth Cadbury
The newly selected Labour Party election candidate talks about local issues
Chiswick people should not assume the proposed Brentford Football Club development on Lionel Road is a "done deal" according to the local Labour candidate in the next general election, Councillor Ruth Cadbury.
Local groups have criticised the proposed plans on the basis of housing density, lack of infrastructure, pressure on public transport systems at Gunnersbury tube station, and traffic problems, to name a few concerns.
Councillor Cadbury, who chairs the Planning Committee of Hounslow Council, told Chiswick W4: "I'm in favour of Brentford Football Club staying local and I know it can't stay in Griffin Park. The planning application will be dealt with on its merit and housing density, transport, and traffic, all those matters will be looked at and assessed. There is no done deal. The people making a decision will make a rational decision."
She claims to receive many emails from people in Chiswick supporting the application and who are football fans. But the majority of emails and letters are opposed to the development, and she admits there have been "a few offensive" ones.
And to reassure Chiswick residents about fan behaviour she said: "People are welcome to come to my house on a match day. There can be 300-400 people walking along the road and I have not seen any trouble from fans."
Although she has lived in Brentford for over thirty years, Ruth Cadbury is confident that she is as familiar with the needs of the people of Chiswick as the current sitting MP who lives locally. And with a difference of only 2,000 votes between the two main parties at the last election there is everything to play for.
The Brentford/Isleworth constituency has swung between the Conservatives ( 1974-97) to Labour (1997-2010) and the seat is currently held by Mary Macleod who received 20,022 (37.2%) votes at the last election, beating Labour's Ann Keen who received 18,064 (33.6%) votes. (The Liberal Democrats candidate Andrew Dakers received 12,718 (23.7%) in that election).
A seasoned Labour Party member in Chiswick said he believes Ruth can win the seat back for Labour. "She is extremely experienced. I think her Quaker background brings out her compassion for people and she's very hard-working. I think people, particularly business people are disillusioned with the current government and I think they will vote Labour in 2015".
Parking, airport expansion, the pressure on local businesses, hospital closures, and the proposed new football club are all matters relevant to Chiswick that the Labour candidate says she is familier with. And she will be seen on Chiswick High Road shortly as part of her party's publicity drive on an energy price freeze.
Seen supporting local traders with Labour Party members during a visit by Chuka Umunna
But while she has been a Brentford-based councillor for many years, it was to Chiswick that the newly-graduated Ruth Cadbury came in the early 1980s fresh out of university in Solford. She stayed with a friend for 18 months in the Chiswick village area while working in central London and says she knows the area well. “It’s a lovely place, with lovely character, there’s a neighbourliness and a community spirit there. People fight hard to protect that and that’s important”
Born and raised in Birmingham, a descendant of the Cadbury chocolate dynasty (she is still a trustee of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, a charitable foundation set up by her great-grandparents), she studied social sciences at Salford University and became involved in student politics. Fired with a zeal to oppose Thatcherite policies, she gained a place on the National Executive of the National Union of Students which led to the sabbatical year living in Chiswick.
She became involved with the local Labour Party while a community worker helping market traders and local residents fighting development in Covent Garden. From there it was a short step to election in 1986 as a councillor for the Gunnersbury ward (now part of two Chiswick wards) and the following year, aged only twenty-eight, becoming head of the Council's Planning Committee."That raised a few eyebrows at the time given my age" she says.
While working at Planning Aid for London as a community development worker she undertook a three-year diploma in planning at Westminster University. At the same time she was involved in her council work as well as looking after a young family. Her two sons were born in 1992 and 1994. “Looking back at it, it was probably a bit mad to take on so much, but you just get on with it”. She acknowledges she has had strong support from her husband who works as a freelance policy advisor.
Her career has included position as deputy-leader, involvement in roles on Local Government improvement, community development, town planning and the regeneration of Hounslow.
Does she feel that she can win the battle in Chiswick, which has nine Conservative councillors and a sitting MP?
"This is a key marginal seat but I am confident I can deliver. I've spoken to many people in Chiswick, particularly traders in Devonshire Road and Turnham Green Terrace and we will work to protect our local shopkeepers. I've asked the Council to look at the 'Stop and Shop' parking for Chiswick. And I've been involved in the Piccadilly Line stop issue and on the matter of airport expansion.
"Chiswick covers a third of the constituency, that covers a very diverse area, with many and varied pressures."
Many of these issues, such as the Stop and Shop parking have already been raised by local councillors such as Cllr John Todd and by Mary Macleod, and Cllr Cadbury agrees that there is cross-party agreement on some matters, including airport expansion. But she says its not just a fight against a third runway- "there's noise insulation for schools and homes, there's the retention of runway alteration, and aiming towards a ban on night flights".
Chiswick covers a third of the constituency, that covers a very diverse area, with many and varied pressures.
The financial pressures are taking a toll, even in relatively affluent areas like Chiswick, she says.
"The current government only seems to care about the well-off. There are people in Chiswick who are struggling and I don't believe the current government is representing them. The majority of people are working longer and harder and for less money.
"I joined the Labour Party when Thatcher came to power and there were three million people unemployed. I don't believe the current government cares about the poor and the disabled or those who have to decide whether to heat their homes or spend money on food."
As her election campaign gets up and running she will have even less free time to pursue her love of outdoors activities, including running, camping, kayaking or walking by the sea. She is known to be a keen environmentalist. Her planning committee committments will also have to take a back-seat as the election approaches.
But what drives her to keep engaged in public issues is her strong grounding in the Quaker principles of equality. She gets "angry" when she sees inequality and suffering, she says and wants to use her work as a politician to address this.
"The sense of social justice and fairness is in my DNA".
You can contact Cllr Cadbury at: firstname.lastname@example.org
November 4, 2013