Langley Neighbourhood Forum Meeting of 3 rd October 2017
Langley Neighbourhood Forum’s Autumn 2017 Meeting took place on 3 rd October 2017 at Langley Hall Primary Academy. Minutes of the previous Meeting were approved.
The Speaker, Slough’s newly elected Member of Parliament Mr Tan Dhesi MP, outlined
what he had done since his election as Slough’s MP. He thanked Slough Borough Councillors and his team for the support he had received and stated that he had received over 600 emails asking him to take action. These were primarily in the fields of housing, immigration and benefits. He had organised his offices at Westminster and in the constituency at Chalvey, where he had spent his childhood and had recruited 5 individuals to his team. He could be contacted at his office, 52 Chalvey High Street, by email, facebook and twitter and snapchat. He would hold surgeries at 5 locations within Slough, including Langley Library.
In his maiden speech to which he referred those present (See https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-07- 18/debates/733C6229-49D0- 4559-8F59-5F1244C2DE13/DrugsPolicy#contribution-56C6F070- EBB9-440A- 86D0-6A74B22A5CBC ) he had stated that he was proud to be a MP of the town which had the first black lady mayor. He was the first turbaned Sikh to sit in a European Parliament. He saw the importance of community cohesion and was concerned not only as regards Sikh and other South Asian issues. He undertook to raise issues referred to him irrespective of whether the issue was from a constituent had voted for him. However, there would be times when he did not agree with the position of constituents who had contacted him.
Mr Dhesi had studied in India for 4 years and spoke a number of languages. He had a BSc in Maths and a Masters in Applied Statistics and had also studied South Asian history. He had worked for 20 years in the construction industry, principally in Gravesend, where he had been a councillor and mayor. He was a school governor and trustee of the Alzheimer’s
Society. He had visited schools and SME businesses and was a keen sportsman.
He would concentrate on local issues and on national issues he was concerned about the
public sector pay gap and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Finally, he was proud of a shared
heritage and proud to be British.
Mr Dhesi then answered questions from the floor:
Q. A major concern at the Forum was traffic issues, with the need for relief for Langley
A. Two local authorities, Slough and South Bucks, needed to work together in
partnership. He would work with local councillors and take on board broad concerns in this area.
Q. What influence would he have on disastrous decisions by local councillors so that
they could be more effective? Constituents were not represented as they should be.
A. He did not wish to denigrate anyone but hoped that he could take account of
individual’s concerns. Since his election, he had met with Borough Councillors and Directors of Borough Departments, including the Children’s Department, and was trying to build consensus on issues.
Q. The Market Lane bridge was closed in anticipation of the building of the WRAtH.
Those who had it closed had closed minds shutting a route that had 10,000 users. Fiona
Mactaggart had held a meeting with Dominic Grieve MP and with local representatives on a bipartisan basis. In the light of NetworkRail’s myopia, he should take action. What action would he take?
A. He would meet Dominic Grieve on the issue. The WRAtH will benefit persons
travelling to Heathrow, but there needs to be a solution to local issues regarding the bridge. Construction of the WRAtH was being delayed awaiting another consultation.
Q. Fiona Mactaggart agreed, but voted the other way. What would he do if the party
went the other way?
A. Experience will show that he is not just voting fodder. He will be voting in the way
that will be for the benefit of the town.
Q. Cllr Plenty had not heard of another consultation. Labour and Conservative
Councillors agree on this issue. When we are informed, it is too late to do anything. Council officers misled Councillors about the closure of the bridge. The Department for Transport guidance is that 2 weeks’ closure was sufficient, but officials would not budge and told untruths to keep the bridge closed. As neither Slough nor South Bucks could afford to build a relief road, there was a need to put pressure on the Government.
A. The Government was still mulling over the WRAtH and so there was consultation
Q. From 2019 – 2024 there were no funds to pay for the WRAtH. NetworkRail would
start construction from 2029. If money is not available, the railway won’t open.
A. MPs are not privy to decisions regarding the pilot scheme regarding the bridge. He
was aware of the strong feelings in Langley and would work in Parliament with neighbouring MPs in partnership.
Q. As the first Sikh MP, when in Rome……You want to represent us, so as an
Englishman, you don’t need a turban, but you should do as Fiona did.
A. Some people are fixated on my background. I intend to work for the betterment of
all, irrespective of their ethnic background, and will address the concerns of all.
Q. There is a problem of lack of understanding by Slough Borough Council as regards
the elderly. There is a lack of money. Age Concern can no longer hold lunches. Why can’t we do it? Slough has an ageing population who should be able to get out. There is a need for the same funding in Slough as there is in Windsor.
A. He has elderly in his family who cannot access facilities. There have been cuts in
funding of £54 million over 5 years. The Council has to make difficult decisions.
Q. What is Labour’s policy on housing, particularly as regards landlords and tenants?
Housing is not keeping up with demand.
A. We need decent housing. As regards the local situation, there is a need for more
Q. Houses owned by landlords charge unreasonable rents, so local people are outbid.
A. He will take it up with Shadow Housing Minister John Heeley.
Q. Slough was offered sums by the Government for a pilot project requiring evidence of
identity before being able to vote, but the Council voted against it.
A. The Electoral Reform Society opposed the scheme because it would disfranchise a
group. 7% of voters don’t have the required ID. A study by the University of California said
that there was a need to alleviate disfranchisement by not placing obstacles in the way of
voting. There was only an 8% problem. It would primarily affect Labour voters.
Q. Could we compare problems in Slough and Tower Hamlets?
A. from Cllr, There was only 1 meeting at which the issue was discussed, but they were
happy to consider the issue at further meetings. There was insufficient time adequately to
consider the issue. Council officials had gone ahead to place it on the agenda.
Q. Why couldn’t the pilot use NI numbers for evidence of identity? Why aren’t we
informed about decisions taken by the Council?
A. Many don’t have a photo identity document.
Q. We should not become involved in the blame game. People need to see decisions
and all should be working together.
Q. The question of the 3 rd runway divides the people of Langley. The Shadow Chancellor
said it won’t happen. If it goes ahead, wherein Slough will there be provision for new
housing, schools and health services?
A. The Government decision was in favour. The DfT considers it important as a hub and
will provide 8,000 additional jobs. However, there is a need for measures to safeguard the
position of Slough as regards noise and other pollution. He had had a meeting with the Chief Executive of Heathrow to discuss these issues.
Q. The 3 rd runway will cost £17bn, but a 2nd runway at Gatwick will cost £7bn. There
should be a holistic view looking at the need for building new houses and other
Q. What is being done regarding training and development? Langley needs
regeneration as well as Slough Town Centre to maintain its local ambiance.
A. There is land available to Slough Borough Council, but not in the Slough
constituency. There was a need for constant redevelopment.
Q. What can be done to improve local bus services?
A. He had written to First Bus about the issue.
Q. What influence can he have on local policing? The local area covers from Wexham to
Colnbrook with insufficient PCs and PCSO’s in Langley
A. He had met the Thames Valley Police Superintendent for Slough to discuss issues.
Q. When would money be provided for development of the area around Langley
A. The council is still waiting for the funding.
Q. The state of the NHS in Langley with local surgeries closing are more homes built.
A. He will take it up with the local CCG.