"Itís going to be a ride, whatever happens next."
Thursday morning Mel Collins and I went to the Civic centre to view the revised plans for the cycle lane on Boston Manor Road. The previous iteration of this was strongly opposed and sent back for a rethink and there are still objections to the revised plan, which will be the main subject of discussion at tonight’s (Thursday 14th) Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum. It’s tricky, because as the old saying goes, ideally we wouldn’t be starting from here to get to the required destination, but there’s no doubt that cycling is a growing means of transport and one which is to be encouraged on a whole raft of grounds. I think both Mel and I are sympathetic to the proposal but keen to hear what others have to say before coming to a conclusion and also stressing to the transport team that yet more careful work will be needed in the detailed design if it goes forward.
In the evening, an astonishingly quick planning committee with just three applications and no members of the public speaking for or against any of them. All approved in fairly short order so my trip in the afternoon to inspect the sites was somewhat superfluous (interesting though). I wish all council meetings were so straightforward!
Friday was a quiet day, with a trip to the nurse to get my wound dressed (sounds like I was in battle rather than falling off my bike like a twerp) then lunch with an old pal out in the country.
Saturday is the Brentford Towers Estate Community get together so I attend at the Mission Hall, where various stands are in evidence and at ‘The Pit’, where there is bike maintenance, plus football with supervision from the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. A couple of policemen seemed to be following me around, which is always worrying but they claimed it was a coincidence: they were two of the Estate PC’s funded by LBH doing their community relations thang. I hadn’t come across them before, and I hope their policing skills are better than their football. I was hugely impressed by the little nursery which is run in the Mission Hall, and which I was not previously aware of. They have only been going about a year but have made a lovely space with a wildflower garden and they seem to be anxiously awaiting their first Ofsted. I’m no Ofsted inspector but it all looked pretty outstanding to me and they have places available particularly outside the core hours. If you’re interested you’ll find them at allaboutmedaynursery.com.
On Sunday we had our campaign social in the Watermans Arms, whilst some of us watched the Euro 2016 final. Not the easiest time to be a Labour Party member and passionate discussions about this and that, though none of this has any impact on the day to day.
Monday morning Mel and I were up in Challis Road with a housing officer, a concerned resident and someone with responsibility for repairs. What prompted this is that the road looks a bit run down because of messy front gardens and decaying fencing. Of course the difficult thing is that half the estate is now privately owned (so we need to get clear what can be done to persuade people to tidy up) and half of it still belongs to the council. In theory tenants are supposed to fix fences but it’s a bit unrealistic for those who are elderly, infirm, or short of money especially as the fences are a very fetching reinforced concrete design which would take a sizeable tactical nuclear device to shift. We went away to think about it. It’s a shame, because it’s actually a pleasant ‘garden suburb’ estate and a bit of TLC would improve it greatly.
Tuesday it was the turn of Kew Bridge, meeting with people from the St George property owners/developers, someone from the Strand-on-the-green residents association, a planning officer, Councillor Sam Hearn who represents the baying hordes of Chiswick Riverside, and the inevitable Mel. Last month at planning we approved some minor works to the Thames Path, which passes under the bridge, but nobody thought that was the final solution so this was to try and cook up a better answer. The difficulty is with the Environment Agency, who have what seems to us a rather unrealistic concern about flood risk and perhaps with TfL, who own the bridge. Anyway, we’re going to have another crack at getting a proper scheme, allowing step-free access, agreed and implemented.
We also looked at the pontoon, which was provided as part of the S106 agreement but which has very little use. St George are making some minor modifications for safety reasons and talking to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust (yes, them again) about making better use of it. At the moment the key user group is geese and it’s probably better if I don’t go into too much detail about what their preferred use is. Having cornered the planning officer and St George we talked about an issue for residents of Regatta Point – not sure how much we can help – and then the planner and I strolled through Watermans Park and along the river bank behind the centre and Max Factor – the empty office block. We are looking for a way for a continuous, step free river path to be provided and, leaving aside that Bellway Homes have still not provided a path riverside of their new development, we need to solve the problem of Smith Hill. This is a little track that leads down to the river opposite Ealing Road, and that would need, probably, to be bridged.
Wednesday, a visit to Brook Lane North, where a resident reports persistent drug dealing. We discuss ways to get the local police to engage with this more effectively, not easy, of course, with the drastic reductions in ward teams but we’ll give it a serious go.
In the evening it’s supposed to be the Labour Party branch meeting but we hear from the big party that such meetings are to be cancelled during the current shenanigans also known as leadership election. Not much notice so we decide to turn up anyway so that members who arrive can at least share a convivial drink in the local pub in Isleworth. Any excuse will do for me.
Thursday morning that nurse again and – joy of joys – I am signed off as fully repaired and can have a shower again, which I immediately do before heading off into central Brentford (or Syon to the initiated) for a walkabout with Hounslow Highways and the enforcement team from LBH. Katherine Dunne and (yes, him again) Mel are in attendance. We find various flytips, graffiti etc and the boys from enforcement get their gloves on and go through the flytips looking for evidence as to whodunnit. Sadly, Sherlock Poirot is not in the party and the culprits are not exposed. I lure them into Brentford ward to complain about the repeating flytips at the junctions of Albany and Mafeking/Brook Road South but in accordance with the laws that govern these things, both corners are pristine today.
This update has been a bit boring this week. Well, don’t complain, you should be getting your entertainment from Westminster, whether we are talking about the sad (haha) demises of Osborne and Gove, the, ahem, astonishing appointment of Boris Johnson to a position of responsibility or the travails of St Jeremy. It’s going to be a ride, whatever happens next.
July 15, 2016