Councillor Ray Puddifoot, leader of the conservative group on Hillingdon Council.
WITH unemployment reaching record levels, a national debt which has doubled since 1997 to a massive £825billion and a budget deficit of £175bn, we were all waiting to see what the 'great clunking fist' of Gordon Brown had written for the Queen to read out at the state opening of Parliament.
I have utmost respect for Her Majesty, and being a consummate professional she kept a straight face and read out: "My government's overriding priority is to ensure sustained growth to deliver a fair and prosperous economy for families and businesses."
After 12 years of New Labour there is an 'overriding priority' to deal with the economic mess that has been created, now worsened by a world recession.
How poor Gordon must envy Tony Blair, who with a property portfolio and a large personal fortune, continues to demonstrate the rewards of socialism if you know when to go.
At a local level, the main issue continues to be setting the budget for next year. Once again there will be a freeze on council tax for everyone for a further year.
For those over 65 there will be a freeze for a further four years. Through sound financial management we will also be able to carry on investing in services and facilities, which will not be the case for many other local authorities.
The latest local non-issue has been the lack of interest in Hillingdon and across the capital for the elected mayor option in local councils.
At a recent council meeting we heard that 123 responses had been received to the consultation on this issue from the borough's residents.
Compared to our neighbouring and other boroughs -
Ealing's 52 responses, Harrow's one, Richmond's 18 and Hammersmith and Fulham's 32 - our 123 out of a possible 192,966 looked impressive.
The question was, should we spend £250,000 on a formal referendum on the issue, based on such a low level of interest?
It would be an irrational thing to do given other alternatives for using the £250,000.
Fortunately good common sense prevailed across the parties, and no member of council voted to take this option, with all those elected as Conservative or Labour councillors voting against. except Councillor Bishop, and the two Liberal Democrats sitting on the fence and abstaining. So there can be common sense in politics at the local level. Or can there?
The legislation requires us to hold a special council meeting in December, to confirm our decision, and it seems too good an opportunity for a publicity seeking, bandwagon politician - even if the wagon has no wheels - to resist.
Surely there will be one, otherwise the public will start believing that we can put their interests above party politics.
Councillor Mo Khursheed, leader of the Labour group on Hillingdon Council
THE latest edition of Hillingdon People has, hidden among the five photographs of the leader of
the council, a claim that this council is the most efficient in London.
I have to tell you that is not true. I don't like to say that Hillingdon People is a pack of lies, but that particular claim is so outrageous it makes a mockery of the magazine's claim to be 'News from your Council'.
The Gazette gives me the opportunity to put forward my views but Hillingdon People is purely and simply a rose-tinted and unbalanced rag, which has published a misleading statement to insult your intelligence.
The only really independent rating of councils up and down the country is carried out by the Audit
For 2008 it gave Hillingdon two out of four stars. It was classed as 'adequate', and 'only meeting minimum requirements'. Eighty per cent of councils in London got three or four stars.
Hillingdon was one of only three councils that got fewer than three stars. Hardly the most efficient council in London.
The honest answer about the efficiency of Hillingdon is that it has improved. Indeed, last year the Commission saw it as 'improving well' but that does not mean it is the most efficient.
I am glad for the benefit of residents that the council is getting better but it is starting from such a low base that it could not really get worse.
On all council publicity - posters, leaflets and pens - the Tory administration claims it is providing 'excellent services'.
It is doing this, presumably, in the hope that if it tells you this as Hillingdon residents enough times, you will believe it. Don't be fooled.
The independent Audit Commission has evidence to the contrary. Services will not improve until Hillingdon Tories admit they are running a two-star authority and start to do something about it.
Councillor Mike Cox, leader of the Lib Dem group on Hillingdon Council
WOULDN'T it be wonderful if local residents could: * protect local pubs * support local post offices * save local services, including police stations * increase local involvement in democratic decision making * strengthen the planning process to protect local residents
Do I live in a dream world? Well no, actually, there is a new piece of legislation which does just that.
In 2007, Conservative MP Nick Hurd (Ruislip-Northwood) sponsored a bill known as the Sustainable Communities Bill which, with the support of MPs from across the political divide, was passed into law.
The act was promoted by a coalition of organisations called Local Works (www.localworks.org). It introduces a new process whereby communities and local authorities have to reach agreement on proposals for government action to promote sustainable communities.
Councils who decide to use the act must set up panels of local representatives. These panels can make proposals originated by local residents and look at proposals made by the council.
The council has a 'duty to reach agreement' with the panels - not just to consult, then do their own thing.
Councils then have to pass these proposals to central government, which also has the same duty to reach agreement.
The first round of these proposals was due to be delivered on July 31, but Hillingdon Council has seen fit not to sign up to the act at this stage.
The Conservatives in Harrow have, Liberal Democrats in Kingston have, as have Labour in Hackney.
**If you think this is a good idea, as I do, write to the leader of Hillingdon Council, Councillor Ray Puddifoot, at the Civic Centre, High Street, Uxbridge UB8 1UW - and tell him so.