Planning, crossing points, clean air and a stepladder in the library
So to Planning Committee. I confess that I thought all the controversy would be about the Chiswick Curve application, but it turned out that the speakers – and passionate debate – were about Dartmouth House in Chiswick and Hounslow Heath Junior School. We ended up approving both. There was no speaker relating to the former Dudley House Nursing Home in Spring Grove but the committee didn’t like the application and turned it down against officer recommendations. There was no dissent about the Curve: the officers gave about 117 planning reasons why it should be refused and it was fun to see members of the audience holding up ‘FIRED’ placards as per The Apprentice (actually they said ‘No to Chiswick Curve’). There was a moment of low comedy when Lefty Lee, showing his good Socialist credentials, argued passionately against the poor doors that were in the previous application for this site. Those of us who had read the papers were aching for the punchline, delivered deadpan by the head of planning, who explained that they had indeed removed poor doors via a most creative change to the plan. The simple expedient of removing all social housing from the application, no doubt to win over the faint hearts of the planning committee, meant there was no call for poor doors at all. Unless higher powers than Hounslow Council (yes, they do exist) disagree, it seems there will be no need for doors of any description.
Unsurprisingly, all this fun led to a late night, so Friday morning was relaxed in contemplation of a fact finding mission to Richmond (the Prince’s Head) for a health food fetish lunch of Steak and Ale Pie and Chips, washed down with several pints of Montana Red, for which I seem to have developed a taste. Since it’s called ‘Red’ I presume it must be one of those superfoods. An afternoon in the Labour party office leads to an early evening freezingly proceeding along Popes Lane and part of Lionel Road North, annoying the residents in company with their dual worshipfulnesses, Ruth Cadbury MP and Councillor Myra Savin. Ruth then chauffeurs me down to the Heston Hyde Hotel (no, I’d never heard of it either) for a free dinner (very nice) and a presentation from Seema Malhotra MP and various Councillors and a discussion about plans to engage better with young people in the Borough. Very interesting stuff but in early stages of development.
On Monday morning I had my eyes tested. Always fun to go to Mr Stewart-Duncan but he tells me that if anything my eyes have got better over the last two years. This is very disappointing, as without further deterioration I don’t see how I will ever get to be a Premier League Referee and annoy Messrs Wenger and Mourinho. In the evening, a clash, as I have got myself onto the Housing and Environment Scrutiny Panel but the first meeting I could attend clashes with the Credit Union Board, which I have to prioritise.
Tuesday evening it’s up to the good old Free Church for the Clean Air Brentford event, organised by the same energetic and dedicated local activists that I met over ‘trees on the A4’. A really good event, Free Church packed, and speeches from Prof Frank Kelly, Caroline Russell MLA and Ruth Cadbury MP, a lot of ‘lively’ questions and some short focus groups. In the end five of the six councillors for Brentford and Syon wards take to the stage for our rendition of The Hollies ‘All I Need is the Air That I Breathe’ with Steve Curran as Allan Clarke and Mel Collins in the audience running the mixer deck. Oh, no, sorry, that was the nightmare I had later. Actually we just talked about what the council is doing to help air quality (quite a bit, more than you imagine, but a lot of it is very controversial) and how we can work together to improve things going forward. It’s clear that action needs to be taken at many different levels to make a difference – individual, borough, London, UK, Europe. Oh, forget the last one, the whole woild – they’re queuing up.
Wednesday another Credit Union thing – working out how we are going to encourage employers to allow staff to save and repay loans through the payroll, which benefits all parties. In the evening down to Isleworth Public Hall for public meeting about the Duke of Northumberland’s plans to build housing on the Park Road allotments site and move the allotments within Syon Park. It would be fair to say that this idea has not gone down well with the locals, at least those who filled the main hall last night. Th event was ably chaired by Ed ‘Capability’ Mayne but when people are as disgruntled as many were last night (or angry, as someone told us he was about 10 times) it’s hard to keep the hall in order and get the questions answered. In the end they were nearly all answered, but the mood in the room changed not one iota (according to my iota tracker).
This morning the three Brentford Musketeers plus a couple of Syonaras were outside the former and soon to be revived Brentford Library (I’ll come back to that in a minute) with traffic engineers looking to improve the crossing point opposite the Library, which is an awkward spot because of the Windmill Road junction, bus stop, Somerset Road etc. We were all astonished by how many people were walking up and down the road and also how busy the traffic was mid morning, plus how fast some of it goes (especially the police van with Blues and Twos blaring, but I guess they had an excuse – time for elevenses I should think).
Ah yes, the library. There was a Carillion van in the car park and a step ladder visible through the window, but no human being in sight. We heard yesterday that LBH’s head of property had met with Carillion yesterday and is expecting a positive statement to be published tomorrow (Friday) giving a firm date for reopening “which should be very soon”. Meanwhile I performed a bit of impromptu maintenance on the uncut Yew tree, removing visible signs of ivy growing through it by tugging, with my bare hands, in about 3.7 minutes. I’ve been moaning about that since October so it goes to show… well, something. I’m awaiting the bill for damage to council property.
January 19, 2017