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Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP accused of ‘conflict of interests’ due to council role

Uxbridge and South Ruislip’s MP Steve Tuckwell has responded to claims that his role within Hillingdon Council means he cannot be trusted to represent his constituents on controversial decisions made by the local authority.

Uxbridge residents have accused the MP of having a ‘conflict of interests’ after a hotly contested decision to move Uxbridge Library was approved by the council last week.

For residents and opposition politicians alike, Cllr Tuckwell’s position as a councillor has been shown to undermine his ability to act as MP – who will sometimes challenge a council’s decisions on behalf of their constituents. One such resident is Scott Raison.

Speaking to Local Democracy Reporting Services at a protest against the move, which will see Uxbridge Library leave its current location on the High Street and reopen in the Civic Centre, he said: “I think its a conflict of interests that he’s a local councillor who will vote on financial issues rather than interests of the local people. It’s almost like he has to wear two hats.”

As a business owner on the High Street, Scott sees the decision to move the library as disastrous for footfall which could have a knock-on effect. For him and many others, the library has become an issue that has exposed the downsides to having a councillor as an MP.

He said: “I’m not sure it works as a system I think he should be independent from the councillors to voice the community’s thoughts, so the fact that he has to go along with the council doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

In a statement, Cllr Tuckwell says that he had no role in the decision-making process when it came to Uxbridge Library and will scrutinise the council to ensure the move brings value for money on behalf of his constituents.

In his statement, he says: “I am not a cabinet member and I have never had a vote on any issues concerning the library. I have passed on to the relevant councillors and officials, any feedback I have received from residents; always aware that the final decision would be made by Cabinet, and I would not be able to influence it other than making sure residents’ voices were heard.”

Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP accused of ‘conflict of interests’ due to council role Harrow Online
Steve Tuckwell MP.

However, ward councillor Tony Burles from the Labour Party claims that he is being disingenuous. He said: “I raised asking [the council] to scrap the idea and the MP voted against my motion so he’s voted to scrap the library already.

“He’s a councillor and said he’s independent and will take the council to task financially, but I think he’s being disingenuous with the truth.”

Indeed, according to council records Cllr Tuckwell did vote against the motion, something that sparked anger and frustration for some residents. Paul Hanscombe said: “I have written to Steve Tuckwell. His office manager is positive and does her best, but has sent generic letters about the library. I doubt he has read anything I have sent him.

“Boris used to read letters and get answers from others. Steve Tuckwell campaigned on supporting local issues but hasn’t given a glimmer of support for the library. This is the biggest issue in Uxbridge for years but not a peep of support.

“In council when he could have abstained he voted against the labour motion to stop the move. There is clearly a conflict of interest in his roles. He is President of Uxbridge & South Ruislip Conservative Association, Councillor and MP. The first 2 take precedence. We need an MP now.”

However, the opposition to the move was roundly defeated in a raucous cabinet meeting last Thursday (February 15) there have been vows made by Labour and locals to continue the fight. For his part, CllrTuckwell has promised to keep an eye on the situation and support residents where he can.

In his statement, he says: “The concerns raised by residents need to be addressed and every effort made to ensure that the relocated library is better equipped, more accessible and offers high quality services for all residents to enjoy. Anything short of this will result in strong representation being made to both the political and operational leadership for Hillingdon Council.

“Whilst as an MP and ward councillor, I have no jurisdiction over executive Council decisions, residents can be assured that I will be monitoring this project very closely to ensure that objectives set out in the business case that underpinned the decision to relocate Uxbridge’s central library are met in full.”

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