I WOULD strongly disagree with Patrick Hogan's views (Chronicle letters, January 1) that Hounslow Council is wasting £1million on publicity. Our spending in this area includes recruiting social workers, benefit advisers, highways engineers, fraud investigators, registrars, planners, trading standards officers, environmental health officers and others who work to deliver hundreds of essential services.
Residents also need to know what services are available to them - what's happening in their libraries, what benefits our elderly are entitled to, where vulnerable residents can get help and support.
I wonder which of these, or the hundreds of other essential communications, Mr Hogan thinks should be cut? With reference to the Hounslow Plan that was recently delivered to all residents, I want our residents to know what their council plans to do with their money-keeping council tax low, building new family homes, planting 1,000 new trees, declaring war on graffiti, spending money on community safety - these are hardly matters of no substance for me!
Councillors' allowances are always a controversial matter and the arguments for and against have been aired in these pages on many occasions. I would simply make the point that low allowances make it difficult for anyone who is not rich or retired to serve in a leadership role as a councillor and that we still, in Hounslow, have some of the lowest allowances in London.
Finally, Mr Hogan takes us to task for putting the record straight on the future of Gunnersbury Park in our magazine. Let's remember what happened here - our local MP wrote to local residents claiming that the council had plans to concrete over the park. This is simply not true and what better way to allay people's concerns over the future of the park than using Hounslow Matters?
CLLR PETER THOMPSON Leader of Hounslow Council.