St George's Day, Watermans, Reynards Mill and London Elections

April Update from Councillor Matt Harmer

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* Happy (nearly) St Georges Day *

Full credit to everyone involved in the organisation of the events taking place around Brentford High Street this Saturday (I won’t name anyone because I will leave someone out and that’s not fair). There’s a Market from 10am to 10pm selling food and drink, arts and crafts and jewellery. There’s a waterside festival with a series of presentations about life and work on the river being held at the classroom at MSO Marine – go down Dock Road, the cobbled road opposite Morrisons. There’s a series of talks from 9.45 to 1.00pm.

On the Piazza (the open area at the top of the steps opposite St Lawrence’s there’s keep fit from 9am to 3pm and from the steps by the Holiday Inn you can try Paddleboarding, Kayaking and Canoeing at various times. On Market Place from 2.30 to 10pm there’s live music from a variety of singers and bands. Brentford Toy Library will be there from 12 midday to 4pm, with 20% off new children’s clothes and their selection of second hand clothes and toys (they are also at the High Street’s Docking Station on Fridays from 12 till 4).

It promises to be something special and you can get more information by going to

And it will also be worth visiting St Pauls between 11am and 4pm to see the latest exhibition of the emerging proposals for the south side of the High Street (they are also there on Fri 20th). More at

* Watermans *

One of the things that may be under discussion at the exhibition may be the Watermans. You may have read about various petitions to call for the Watermans to remain in Brentford. This took me a bit by surprise when I first read about it because I hadn’t heard about any plans to move the Watermans anywhere. I’ve asked around, and there aren’t. I’d love to tell you that I will complain resolutely against any plans to move Watermans to Hounslow or anywhere else but it would be a bit of an empty gesture really because there aren't any plans to campaign against.

That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a debate about what arts provision there should be and where it should be. For many, Watermans means a cinema. For some others, it means the activities that take place in Lampton Park and Gunnersbury Park and elsewhere. What rarely gets mentioned is the Hounslow Arts Trust, the body that runs all this. 19% of their funding comes from Hounslow Council – you can see the details on their website – and so that means that the council is an important partner but not the only partner. For what it's worth, I would guess that the best way forward is to look long-term at finding a future for arts as part of the High Street proposals (and presumably the custom that a cinema could attract would help the restaurants that will hopefully come forward).

I’m sure we’ll talk more about this. I’ve had a few emails, roughly split between ‘move it to the High Street’ and ‘leave it where it is’. You’ll see from the funding that the decision isn’t entirely ours. Anyway, keep the comments coming, they are all helpful, and do try and visit the exhibition at St Pauls.And I may see you at Watermans to see Headhunters in the next few days.

* Reynards Mill *

A quick bit of planning news. In case you hadn’t heard the application to build homes on the site called Reynards Mill on Windmill Road was refused this week. I daresay there’ll be a further application but the decision is the right one and all the local residents who constructively objected are to be congratulated. Next up in that area is the forthcoming consultation on a possible Controlled Parking Zone. Letters should be going out around the start of May and the plan at the moment is to hold a small exhibition at St Faiths. Again, plenty of emails on this, ranging from ‘why haven’t you introduced it yet’ to ‘over my dead body’. One thing I ask – and I’m sure that I don’t need to – is that residents at the exhibition remember that the council staff at the exhibition are only there to show the scheme that us councillors have asked them to. When this happened last time, one or two tempers got a bit frayed. I understand that – it’s a contentious issue – but it’s us you need to be getting angry at...

* History your thing? *

Earlier this evening I attended a meeting of the Thomas Layton Trust, of which I’m a trustee. Layton (1819 – 1911) lived here, played a big part in local life and was a collector of books, prints and all else besides. It’s a big collection, some in Hounslow Library, some at the Museum of London. More info at

There are a couple of vacancies for trustees and so if you think you would be interested please let me know. The commitment isn’t necessarily great though, as is usually the case with these things, you can do as much as you want, really.

* Please vote *

I'm sure that everyone is thrilled by the Mayoral election coming up soon. No? Oh dear. I worry that the turnout will be much lower than an important election like this deserves. You may not be surprised to hear that I am supporting the Labour candidates, Ken Livingstone for Mayor and Lisa Homan for the Greater London Assembly. I'm not going to start repeating things that you can read in the candidates' literature but will say that over the last couple of years we have suffered in Brentford because of the reduction in the police numbers on our Safer Neighbourhood Team (I'd say that the set-up introduced by Livingstone of police dedicated to one ward and fairly accountable has all but disappeared) and I have been told by Transport for London people that they would find it difficult to make a case for increasing the time to cross the A4 on foot because of the present Mayor's preference for reducing journey times by car on major roads. Having the new buses and the bikes might be nice but personally i would prefer some imaginative ideas on how we can help more Londoners find decent affordable places to live.

Anyway, please do vote. It matters.

* Can I help? *

Finally, please get in touch if you think I can help, either by emailing or calling 020 8560 7033. In the meantime, thanks for reading.

My mailing address is:
Matt Harmer
153 Ealing Rd
Brentford, Middlesex TW8 0LF

My telephone:
020 8560 7033

April 25, 2012

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