Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Brentford hicks, read blog 66
Someone (they know who they are) accused me of having reached an ancient 65 last week, just because it was my 65th blog. In fact this is a shameful misrepresentation because I am in fact an extremely youthful… 64. Anyway, since we're doing numbers:
Well if you ever plan to cycle west
If you don't know the tune there's no hope for you.
On Thursday we got excellent news from TfL: following the walkabout with their tree man recently, he has written to us to say they will be planting no less than 54 new trees in the stretch between Gillette Corner and Clayponds Avenue, plus 10 between Wood Lane and Ridgway Road in Osterley. These will all be planted before next March. Well done to the residents who started this off – this counts as a RESULT.
On Friday, a session with our head of transport and one of his team at the Civic Centre. This was to talk about a range of topics including the consultation on closing Stile Hall Gardens and Wellesley Road in Chiswick – dear to my heart as I lived in the Chiswick Village enclave for 25 years – and the perennial question of the Kew Bridge junction. At present we are awaiting TfL to come up with an approved scheme after previous attempts were abandoned, but I am pressing for some work on our bits, such as a ‘keep clear' box to help people coming out of the new development at 8 Kew Bridge Road – turning right when it's busy is a nightmare. When I got home I had a letter from the leader letting me know that Brentford Library was closed. Facts were a bit hard to come by and some people were suspecting this was more sinister than it appears (it isn't – just that a bit of the ceiling in the children's library has collapsed and we don't want to risk people in there until we know it's safe). Structural engineers were in on Wednesday and we were awaiting their report on Wednesday afternoon – the concern is about potentially toxic dust from the lath and plaster ceiling (plus obviously any further collapses- lath and plaster to the bonce can be harmful).
Sunday was Remembrance Sunday and there was a big turnout at the (closed!) library – bigger than previous years I think. Mel laid a wreath on behalf of the council and Myra on behalf of the Labour Party whilst I lurked in the crowd and various other wreaths were laid. Afterwards a beer or two in the Inverness Club – “Why not Aberdeen?” you ask, “No idea”, I answer – together with some healthy snacks (packet of Onion Rings – one of my 5 a day)
On Monday we had a member development session where the officer who leads the borough's Prevent - anti-radicalisation/terrorism – strategy explained what he was doing. Thankfully the Borough has had few problems in this regard – let's hope it stays that way, and good to know we have people working at it.
On Tuesday I had a succession of meetings at the civic centre. First, Mel, Myra and I met to discuss various proposals for savings that are being put to the Labour group in an ‘awayday' on Saturday. (Shouldn't an awayday be in Barbados or at least Brighton or Blackpool rather than the good ole Civic Centre?). It's getting very difficult because we have gone through so many efficiency savings and mild service reductions in the last few years we will be obliged to make cuts to things which we really want to protect. This is quite dispiriting, and the fact that some other councils are in a much worse state is no consolation. Anyway, we generated a set of questions and opinions in preparation for future discussions.
We then had a session with the leader about Green Belt. It turned out that this was an odd discussion because there is no Green Belt within the ward, though there is a fair amount of metropolitan Open Land (eg Gunnersbury Park) which has similar protections. The council is obliged by the government to review Green Belt periodically, so we are just going through that process. For the avoidance of doubt there is no threat to our green spaces in Brentford, unless Highways England get approval for their bonkers idea to build a tunnel coming up in Carville Hall Park, which is a stretch to think even this government would approve (though I am thankful Boris is busy causing mayhem abroad and is off London's back).
Then it was straight into a meeting of the ‘web and digital panel' which is reviewing the development of a new council website, due to go live in January. Everything is moving forward in a positive way and the new website will make it much easier for those who have a computer or smartphone to access council transactions online, and release resource for those without to access via traditional means, if we can get people using the new channels. Somebody remarked that Councillor Ed Mayne was a Prime Minister in waiting: some might find this a touch far-fetched but I pointed out that he has the name for it. Well, nearly. I will refer to him as Theresa Mayne from now on and expect to see some kitten heels to augment his beard.
My usual Wednesday, estate business in the morning, Labour party office in the afternoon, then back to the Civic for a meeting with the council Chief Exec and Finance director to get some feedback on the questions we had agreed the night before, plus a load of other ones that Mel had agreed with me and Myra without our knowledge (apparently). There was not much they could say beyond clarifying a few things we didn't understand, and stressing that it was up to members to make some hard decisions, but it was a very helpful meeting nonetheless.
In the evening a session of the pre-planning Presentation panel – a perfectly productive parley, and no, I am not taking the P. Our chair was a touch disgruntled that two of the three things presented already had planning applications lodged and pledged that this must Never Happen Again. The point of these meetings is for planning members to get a foretaste of what is likely to be proposed and perhaps influence it: not very likely if the application is already lodged!
Two of them had local interest – London Irish Rugby Club's proposal to share Brentford FC's Lionel Road ground, and the Essential Living proposal for the Morrisons site.
This was the first time I had heard the details of the London Irish proposal: people generally viewed it quite positively with the concern (obviously) that it will mean another 18(ish) Saturdays (mainly) when the ground will be in use and creating traffic and transport pressures.
As to Morrisons – I have heard the presentation so many times now it is almost getting boring, but it is of such momentous importance to Brentford (OK, Syon ward) that we welcome every opportunity. We remarked on the value of consultation, and that the Essential Living crew have done an exceptional job, having taken the time to talk to many different stakeholders (EG, councillors, Chamber of Commerce, School, Community council, Church) as well as holding two public exhibitions (and potentially a public meeting too). We will have a busy planning committee in December because we expect to see the three from last night (the other was for some flats over existing shops on Hounslow High Street) plus potentially the Watermans/Police Station application.
Right now – what's today? It's Beaujolais Nouveau day, that's what it is. And what happens on Beaujolais Nouveau day? Various old gits who worked for Honeywell in Brentford in the 1980s get together at Pissarros in Chiswick to sample the new wine in an extremely cultured manner and relive the glory days of their yoof. I like to go because it is one of the few gatherings I go to these days where I am a youngster. Anyway it is excellent preparation for the Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum at the Free Church this evening, so if a councillor is snoring or singing dubious songs don't make the normal assumption that it's Councillor Louki – it could be yours truly.
November 24, 2016