Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Wheelie bins and other considerations
Thursday evening it was down to the Steam Museum to look at the plans for the Capital Interchange Way site. I had seen something about this before and I thought this was a good exhibition. The designs are definitely different and will no doubt divide opinion but I personally really like them: they are so much more imaginative than those for the Lionel Road site (boring) and for the Natwest Bank site (far too big and ugly in my opinion).
On Friday I met a canal dweller who had raised concerns about maintenance of the tow path and bridges. This issue seems to fall into that classic hole between Hounslow Council, the Port of London Authority and the Canals and Rivers Trust with everybody convinced it’s someone else’s problem. Not helped by the fact that this is not actually in my ward (it’s in Syon) so I might get zapped by the Syon councillors for interfering, but I’m talking nicely to them. My excuse is that I’m a bit of an obsessive about the canal and riverside (as readers of this blog may have noticed) and as ever it’s a delight to spend some time in these little backwaters which are very cunningly hidden away in Brentford.
On Monday I met a resident in one of the towers who has some financial problems with a variety of complicated council tax, rent and benefit issues which are very taxing (pardon the pun) to work out even to someone like me with a (lapsed) accounting qualification and 40 years’ experience in business, never mind people with learning difficulties. I’m now in touch with his housing officer and we are trying to support him in getting this fixed. Somebody has helpfully suggested that his mother, who lives with him, might end up in prison, which has obviously helped him to take a level-headed view of the way forward.
Most of Tuesday was in the Civic Centre catching up with various stuff and getting my shiny new IT to work (actually, it’s the same old IT with new software implementation). Seems to be going OK though I had a glitch yesterday. Bumped into Steve Curran and asked for an update on the 235 bus, which he has been pursuing hard with Barratt, TfL and the council transport section. Despite all our (mainly Steve and the council’s head of transport) efforts the situation appears currently to be deadlocked and the council’s view is that the problem is London Buses rather than Barratt so Steve has raised the issue to the Deputy Mayor for Transport. This is as infuriating for councillors and council officers as it is for residents and we still cannot really guarantee when it will be concluded. All we can do is keep pressing and try to keep people informed, but it’s really not satisfactory at all.
At the end of the day we had a chance to look at the plans for a new and downsized Civic Centre in the heart of Hounslow, and for a new ‘village’ where the Civic Centre currently is. All seems sensible to me, though I’m not a great fan of the architecture of the new Civic. Both Mel and Myra engaged with this in much greater detail than I did and have raised a variety of concerns from the siting of the council chamber (on the top floor), disabled access being via the basement, to concerns about landscaping externally and the absence of any greenery inside. The good news is that we’ll free up the space for many new homes including 40% affordable ones. (And some of us will be more than happy to see the back of the current Civic with its no doubt iconic 1970s touches)
Yesterday, Wednesday, we had another of our ward meetings where we try and run through issues which are of general interest and work out which of us is going to do what. At the end of the meeting we had pared down over 70 topics to a more manageable 36, ranging from issues of huge import to the ward such as the future of Morrisons (still trying to get an update from the new landlords and/or council officers) to more parochial issues like the lighting on the bridge between Brook Road South and Brook Lane North – please don’t ask me why one’s a Lane….
This morning – Thursday – I’ve spent at home writing this nonsense for your delectation or otherwise. Later on I’m going in to start an activity as part of a team led by Councillor Kamaljit Kaur aimed at improving adult social care in the Borough. Another matter where I’m an absolute beginner but keen to learn, and hoping my experience from other spheres might help.
I can’t finish without mentioning the fraught subject of wheelie bins which form a significant chunk of my postbag and are also breaking out on the TW8 forum etc. Living as I do in a flat, this doesn’t affect me directly but it’s a highly emotional subject for some people in the ward. My original view, based upon having done a lot of walking and cycling around the borough, was that wheelie bins were a good thing because there is no doubt at all in my mind that wheelie streets are cleaner than non-wheelie. Wheelie bins are not objects of beauty but they’re a lot more beautiful than split bags and general detritus in the street.
I was also aware that there had been huge resistance to wheelies in Chiswick, particularly the Glebe estate which is not dissimilar to the older parts of Brentford, and I was informed that residents’ views had been surveyed after the implementation and that the majority were then in favour of the change. I cycled up to remind myself what the Glebe looks like (very nice!) but I was struck by a big difference between that estate and Brentford in that the front gardens there, though modest, are 2 or 3 times bigger than the typical Brentford front garden.
It’s council policy to implement wheelie bins for a variety of reasons including reduced collection costs, less spillage and more recycling. I’m personally a bit sceptical about the effect on recycling but in general I support the policy for the other reasons. I do, however, believe that officers should think again about placing wheelies in very restricted front gardens and look more kindly on appeals than seems hitherto to have been the case. I’m aware that some residents are organising a petition about the subject and I think this should be given due consideration by the council.
There, that’s that off my chest.
November 6, 2015