Councillor Matt Harmer on Brentford Towers, Recycling, Adverts and more

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* Worryingly wrong *

It’s been a busy month, and this newsletter is overdue. I’m typing this on Sunday evening having just returned from seeing one of the more spectacular examples of incompetence it’s been my displeasure to see. It’s resulted in households in one of Brentford Towers losing their gas central heating and cooking facilities.

I’ll explain. After the Camberwell fire, the flats were examined to see that there were sufficient things in place to stop fire and smoke spreading from within flats to the central lobbies. It was noted that the way gas meters were set up was potentially a risk. Basically, the gas meters are in a cupboard and can be examined from outside the property – it means that meters can be read without going into the properties. From inside the property, the gas can be turned off at the meter, which you might do if going on holiday. Very sensible, but this meant that there was a space through which smoke or fire could pass through.

So, last week, Hounslow Homes contractors sealed up the cupboard. Safer from a fire/smoke point of view. But now, you can’t see the front of the meter. Not only can no-one read how much gas is being used but residents who need to re-charge the payment on the gas meter, using a pre-payment card, can’t get the card in the meter. So you can imagine how happy the tenants are about having no gas on a cold Sunday evening and no prospect of charging up the meter in order to get more gas.

Mistakes happen, and I’ll be calling the relevant people in the morning, but if this is the level of competence on a reasonably simple job, can we trust them to do the hard things properly? Pictures on

* Keep it coming *

This is just one of the many areas that you have asked me to try and help with recently. Additionally, your emails and phone calls are really useful in keeping me up to date on what is going right, what could be better and how it could be fixed. One example – an increase in emails and calls from roads off Windmill Rd on the north side of the A4 has got an assurance that the refuse and recycling service will improve.

Whether it does, of course, remains to be seen, and again your help there is welcome. I live pretty much in the middle of the ward and try to get about as much as possible, but it’s your experiences that really help. After three and a half years of being a councillor I think that we probably spend longer than we need to in the Civic Centre and if there’s something you think we need to know about, please do get in touch.

On the subject of waste and recycling, there is a meeting (yes, in the Civic Centre) next week between councillors and the people responsible for the new service. I’m pleased that the amount sent to be recycled has increased but there are still unanswered questions about how our Hounslow Homes-managed estates seem to have been left out of the discussions on how to implement the new service, about how the service is monitored and whether or not complaints are being addressed in the most efficient manner.

* Help for vulnerable households *

I’ve congratulated local police before on these mails and I’m going to do so again, this time for their co-ordination of a scheme to help vulnerable households stay safer. We probably all know examples of homes that show, from the outside, that the resident or residents may be vulnerable. Broken fences, windows that don’t close properly and so on.

For people aged 65 and over, the disabled, single parents and other residents who are particularly vulnerable officers from the Metropolitan Police Brentford Safer Neighbourhoods Team will visit homes to discuss home security and if necessary arrange for the fitting of new door/window locks and install security chains to doors.  All work undertaken would be carried out by a member of the Metropolitan Police Brentford Safer Neighbourhoods Team with no cost to resident(s).

In addition, under the ‘Justice Seen Justice Done - Community Payback Scheme’the  Metropolitan Police Brentford Safer Neighbourhoods Team, working in partnership with The Probation Service and Local Government, will arrange for residents to have their garden fences repainted, attend to unmaintained and/or overgrown gardens and if necessary fit security spikes to the top of walls to deter unwelcome visitors.   All work undertaken under the Community Pay Back Scheme is closely supervised, and again, there would be no cost to resident(s),

Should you wish to find out more about the schemes, or know a household that could benefit, please let me know and I will pass the details on.

* Inventive adverts *

Anyone who travels down Ealing Road, just south of the A4, will have noticed that some of the advertisement hoardings have been removed. At the same time, it looks as though the Lucozade site given planning permission in 2005 is going ahead. This is on one of the buildings near the Texaco garage and I’m told it will be up and running in the new year.

Another kind of advert appeared on the scene recently, and I think we have to give some credit to whoever thought of it. A couple of weeks ago my colleague Cllr Ruth Cadbury and I were coming out of a meeting with local residents at Our Lady and St Johns School when Ruth noticed a new and very large advert on the side of the new Paragon building (that’s the TVU teaching facility and student housing by the A4).

The strange thing was, it wasn’t a conventional advert but, rather, it was being projected. We looked around and saw the source – a transit van parked on the verge of the A4, with the side door open and a very powerful projector pointed at the Paragon. Some work had seemingly gone into this because the ad fitted the building perfectly. There are some very low-quality pictures at

Wrong, of course, but inventive. And I’m not giving the company being advertised a free plug…

* Christmas is coming…*

A brief What’s On notice. St Faith’s Church will be holding a Christmas Fair on Tues 24th November from 6pm to 9pm. Mulled wine from The Lord Nelson pub, gifts from local suppliers, preparation of Christmas food, carols and lots of other good stuff. More details at

St Faiths is on Windmill Rd on the northern side of the A4, just after The Globe pub. Unfortunately I have to go to a council meeting at 7 but if you’re there before that time, come over and say hallo.

* Keep drinking *

As you may have seen, the Magpie and Crown pub in the High Street has closed, at least for the time being. As a very occasional customer it’s bad news, as the pub always did the right thing in promoting beer from smaller, independent brewers. This may have part of the problem, as it seems to be the chain pubs with the mass-produced chemical concoctions that they pass off as beer making the money at the moment.

Pub fans – of which our area has quite a few – should try and get to the Six Bells in the next few days before it closes for its refit. It’s pretty much unchanged since about 1965 and worth a visit to see what a pub looked like before man walked on the moon. You’ll get a good welcome from Joyce, who has worked really hard in difficult times and deserves a peaceful retirement.

* Game on *

A quick football update. Because of their 2-2 FA Cup draw at Gateshead, there’ll be an extra game at Griffin Park on Tuesday 17th Nov at 7.45pm. If Brentford are successful they will pay Walsall at home on Saturday 28th November, making three home Saturday games in a row.

*Anything to report?*
As a councillor, my first task is to try and assist residents with problems. Please get in touch if you think I can help, either by emailing me at or calling 020 8560 7033. You can also take a look at

Councillor Matt Harmer
Brentford ward Labour councillor
London Borough of Hounslow

contact: 153 Ealing Rd
Brentford, Middlesex TW8 0LF
telephone: 020 8560 7033

November 9, 2009