Greenwich Council's new leader promises 'new era' and growth-boosting agenda

News Shopper: New leader - Denise Hyland New leader - Denise Hyland

Greenwich Council's new leader has officially been appointed - and has vowed to follow a growth-boosting agenda for the borough.

Councillor Denise Hyland was elected by Greenwich Labour after the party romped to victory in the elections and has now taken over from Councillor Chris Roberts, who has quit local politics.

In an interview with News Shopper, the new leader - a former teacher and "poor golfer" who has lived in the borough for 40 years - made no new policy announcements, but outlined her "big picture" priorities, vowing to protect frontline services from cuts.

She said: "It's just very important we make sure there's a good supply of affordable housing for people, that we continue from the last administration in terms of making sure that there's growth and we counter poverty in this borough to ensure there is a good supply of jobs for people and that there's a provision of skills so people can actually take up those opportunities."

News Shopper: New leader - Denise Hyland

The former cabinet member for regeneration - who has spent the week chatting with "an A-Z of contacts" following her appointment - has been the public face of council support for new river crossings - including the Silvertown Tunnel, despite fears over worsening air quality.

And Coun Hyland said she wanted a "package of river crossings", along with public transport provision, like extending the DLR to Eltham, which she would be discussing with the Labour group after the Mayor of London's full proposals are published.

Her predecessor's final term was beset by claims over bullying in the party, but Coun Hyland said: "It's impossible really to have a crystal ball but we are a new era, a new administration and we go forward positively. "Basically we should draw a line in the sand. It's been dealt with."

He was also criticised over the use of Greenwich Time, a weekly publication the government is trying to outlaw.

The council has argued its case and awaits a decision. Coun Hyland said, if it went against them, "we would have to take legal opinion."

And she said of her overall approach: "I'm not rushing into any structural changes, I want to hear what people have to say."

She went on: "I do want to see that residents and businesses are investing in our borough and I do want to make it an even cleaner, even safer place to live.

"An attractive place where people want to invest, whether that's a business or a developer. Jobs are really important. Jobs and skills are really my thing."

Denise Hyland on....

Affordable housing

"Overall we've got 38 per cent affordable housing on the peninsula and the same in Kidbrooke."

"If you look at the last election we were returned with a bigger majority. That for me vindicates our policies. If you said to me actually that housing needs to be truly affordable I'd agree with you. What we've been arguing for is more properties available to rent at target rents."

Silvertown Tunnel and air quality

"Of course I'm concerned about air quality. I think it's obviously a very difficult balance. If we actually look at our figures, 85 per cent of people thought we needed additional river crossings. 76 per cent wanting Silvertown, 73 per cent wanting a bridge at Gallions. People seem to think that doing nothing is not an option."

"We're not the promoter of Silvertown so we await to hear what the mayor's proposals are. We need to look at those economic assessments and the environmental impact assessments."

"I'm saying that we need a package of river crossing absolutely we do. I'm not going to get drawn into over whether we'll accept or refuse a single crossing. I want to work with my colleagues, my Labour colleagues in the majority group and get a consensus after we've seen the proposals."

"We in Greenwich want to see public transport provision alongside any crossing. I shall argue to look at the viability of a DLR to Eltham and also to Thamesmead."

Will you fight to keep Greenwich Time?

"Possibly. I think we would have to take legal opinion. I wouldn't rule anything in or out. All options are open."

Bullying

"I believe that any allegations that came forward have been dealt with and if there are any future allegations they'll be equally dealt with. It's impossible really to have a crystal ball but we are a new era, a new administration and we go forward positively. Basically we should draw a line in the sand. It's been dealt with."

Differences between her and the previous leader

"I'm probably likely to be more chatty... I smile in photos and generally speaking we're different personalities. But you know this isn't about personalities really. It really is about the agenda and what we can do to make people's lives better in Greenwich really."

Opening up the council

"I want obviously ward councillors to be frontline councillors, they're the community they're the representatives of the council in the community and they represent their people and its for them to channel people's voices through to the council."

"I really want to talk to Labour group to the majority group about community consultation and here what they've got to say and listen to groups outside in the community.

"I'm not rushing into any structural changes, I want to hear what people have to say."

On criticism the council is too focussed on Woolwich and Greenwich

"We have a continued strategy of developing Charlton riverside, working with Peabody aorund Thamesmead and Abbey Wood to take advantage fully of the new Crossrail station... I'm talking to counterparts in Bexley around joint working. I'm going to see the Mayor of Lewisham. I'm keen to have cross-borough partnerships."

The budget

"Its about making sure that there's the least impact of frontline services that people really value."

"We need to look at for example have another look at our housing repair service. That's something that's come up on the doorstep as needing some attention. People want an efficient service and they do want it done right the first time."

Priorities

I do want to see that residents and businesses are investing in our borough and I do want to make it an even cleaner, even safer place to live.

"An attractive place where people want to invest, whether that's a business or a developer. Jobs are really important. Jobs and skills are really my thing."

"With the budget we just need to be imaginative and with any budget it's really about us being in constant review of our services... it's about ongoing everyday review of how can we improve the quality of our services to our residents and businesses and how can we get it even better."

Why she won't be calling Chris Roberts for advice

"It's an absolute clean break.... I've worked in his cabinet for eight years, I know how he thinks and feels about things and I know how others think and feel about things. I have an A-Z of contacts."

News Shopper: Cllr Fahy

The new cabinet

Deputy Leader John Fahy (pictured) - Children’s Services

Sizwe James - Business, Employment & Skills

Chris Kirby - Housing

David Gardner - Health & Adult Social Care

Maureen O’Mara - Community Wellbeing and Public Health

Harry Singh - Customer Services, Green Technologies & IT

Jackie Smith - Community Safety & Environment

Danny Thorpe - Regeneration & Transport

Miranda Williams - Culture & Creative Industries

Comments (2)

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10:25pm Fri 13 Jun 14

Virtual-Monster says...

Same old same old. Any Cabinet with John Fahy and Maureen O'Mara involved shows clearly that Denise Hyland loves the old guard and is only making cursory changes because she doesn't want to move away from the nose in the trough habits of former Leader Roberts and his ghastly cohorts.

Could Denise Hyland simply be a puppet leader? Watch this space (and of course the further decline of Greenwich).
Same old same old. Any Cabinet with John Fahy and Maureen O'Mara involved shows clearly that Denise Hyland loves the old guard and is only making cursory changes because she doesn't want to move away from the nose in the trough habits of former Leader Roberts and his ghastly cohorts. Could Denise Hyland simply be a puppet leader? Watch this space (and of course the further decline of Greenwich). Virtual-Monster
  • Score: 17

11:49am Sat 14 Jun 14

ms day says...

LETS HOPE FOR THE SAKE OF THE BROCKLEBANK INDUSTRIAL ESTATE CHARLTON COUNCIL TENANTS WHO FACE EVICTION BY LXB IKEA .SHE IS HERE TO HELP GREENWICH SMALL BUSINESS .
LETS HOPE FOR THE SAKE OF THE BROCKLEBANK INDUSTRIAL ESTATE CHARLTON COUNCIL TENANTS WHO FACE EVICTION BY LXB IKEA .SHE IS HERE TO HELP GREENWICH SMALL BUSINESS . ms day
  • Score: 13

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