Hillingdon borough politicians forecast a challenging year with 'threats' to the community in the year to come, with local authority cuts and major decisions from central government.
Getwestlondon asked Conservative Council Leader, Mr Ray Puddifoot , what the thought 2016 had in store for the borough, and he named the budget, school places and maintaining green spaces as key local issues, as well as his hopes for HS2 and Heathrow Airport this year.
He said: “I think with all local authorities, the financial challenges that we'll face will be huge.
“We’re just beginning to get the settlement details through from George Osborne’s autumn statement and what he’s done is frontloaded the cuts to local authorities.
“In Hillingdon , we’re very well placed - we haven’t inflicted the cuts on libraries and services that other authorities have done, so our challenge for the coming year is can we maintain this.”
Mr Puddifoot hopes that “common sense will prevail” when it comes to nationwide issues affecting the borough.
He said: “With HS2, I hope our MPs see that rather than wasting money on a railway that nobody really wants, they'll spend the money on projects we do want across the country.
“And with the third runway, the nonsensical position of the Davis commission saying we want you to build a third runway but you can’t use it until you can meet the air quality conditions.
“How silly is that? Why would you build it then not use it? There’s no chance of them meeting the air quality conditions - there’s a 6 month delay, but they won’t do it in 6 years, it’s nonsense.”
'Not getting any easier'
With the draft budget for 2016/17 released before Christmas, Mr Puddifoot says the borough is on track but with £5 million to find.
He added: “It’s not getting any easier year on year, and it’s pretty galling, in a way, that local authorities are being asked to shoulder a huge portion of the national debt when the government is going to be frivolous with projects like HS2
“We’re not in charge of the wind, but we can set the sails. And that’s what we do, sail in any condition we find ourself in.”
MP for Hayes and Harlington, John McDonnell , thinks 2016 is “threatening to be a tough year” for the community.
He said: The local housing crisis is getting worse. Rising house prices and rents are making it almost impossible for people to get on the housing ladder or secure a decent roof over their heads.
“Government cuts to local council funding and the NHS mean that the care of the elderly and people with disabilities in our community is coming under intense pressure.
“The weakening of planning controls over the green belt by the Government also means that we will be battling again to protect our local green open spaces.”
Mr McDonnell, also the Labour Party Shadow Chancellor, reiterates the greatest challenge will be to “fight to save the Heathrow villages and south of the borough from the threat of a third runway”.
He added: “I am confident that, working together as a community, we will rise successfully to these challenges and protect our community.
“That's why I am so proud to represent our area as it's local MP. I will continue to work hard on behalf of my constituents and my community."