Our stretch of M4 is apparently not Heathrow's problem
On Friday morning I met with the chair of Governors at Green Dragon Primary School. As regular readers of this tosh will know, I have to declare an interest as my lovely daughter teaches there, but I always think the school has a really positive feeling and the site itself is a revelation: it’s like entering a very pleasant oasis in the middle of the Haverfield/Green Dragon estates. We had a very good discussion about various matters and I came away with quite an agenda, looking to see how we can help the school and its ‘customers’.
I spend the rest of the morning cycling around and about doing the old flytip/litter/graffiti routine.
The ridiculous car then had an outing up to Hemel Hempstead for a (not very) liquid lunch with old colleagues, then back to Brentford for the latest stage of consultation on the Great West Corridor plans. This one was at the University of West London and involved councillors, business and property types including developers. I happened to get on a table with mainly developers and it surprised me that they see Hounslow as ‘difficult’ compared to other boroughs. I suppose if the developers are moaning about us being difficult and residents are moaning about us being easy that tells you something, but residents need to be foremost in our thoughts. Personally I’m OK with development along the A4 corridor but I want it to be high quality and proportionate. We have succeeded in clarifying that central Brentford is not part of the Great West Corridor as originally suggested, however the downside of that is that we really need links to the town centre, whether by walking, cycling, public transport or car to be prioritised. It (really) won’t be too long until we have a truly revived town centre, linked to the river and somewhere where people will want to come in the lunch hour and after work.
On Saturday I cycle up to Chalk Farm for the inaugural meeting of Open Labour – a new grouping for those of us on the ‘soft’ left of the party, where I find myself when I look down. I don’t usually enjoy conferences but this one was fascinating and I really enjoyed my bike rides there and back which took me through areas I don’t normally see including an unexpected crossing of Portobello Road, a really spring like day to boot!
Monday I spend the day catching up on emails, followed by a good ride around the ward. In the evening I go to the Civic for a labour party meeting. Fortunately this is pretty short so I’m able to make it back to the Griffin to catch much of the Brentford Community Council meeting. Various matters discussed, with somewhat revised plans for the Morrisons site top of the agenda.
On Tuesday I have to wait in for a washing machine to be delivered. A pre-planning presentation is scheduled for the evening but for the first time in living memory there are no plans to be presented. I therefore take the opportunity to attend the Chiswick Area Forum, which I have never previously been to (despite living in Chiswick for 25 years!) It is held in the stately surroundings of Chiswick Town Hall under the booming chairmanship of Lefty Lee. Quite interesting to see how it’s done in a different area forum and interesting to see Tories in their natural habitat: some of them seem a bit timid in the zoo that is the Council Chamber – not, of course, Genghis Todd or the Horror of Homefields - but they come over quite gruff on home territory. To be fair, the Horror was in his usual form, reminiscent of Harry Hotspur: I’m never quite clear if he’s sending himself up or not.
On Wednesday the Brentford Three met with representatives of Essential Living in the Watermans centre. They brought along a couple of lighting gurus. One had a beard to prove he knew what he was on about and they clarified the calculations and modelling they had done to assess the daylight and sunlight impacts (quite different things, we learnt) of the proposed development. This is one of the more important concerns of residents and we were trying to get an understanding of what is really likely to happen and what that means in terms of planning policy as well as the general environment.
I then cycled down to Isleworth Public Hall to attend the Heathrow consultation – actually, more correctly this was an airport policy consultation: I believe there will be more specifically Heathrow events later. I got hijacked briefly by the cycling lobby who pointed out that it’s already impossible to cycle into the centre of Heathrow (cyclists have to take a taxi!) and will in future likely be pretty difficult to cycle past it as the A4 will be rerouted to the North. In the consultation proper I talked to the official standing by the roads bit. He clearly thought Heathrow’s idea that Runway 3 would produce no more road traffic was laughable (two people trying to keep a straight face) but said not a problem anyway because M4 is already planned to be a ‘smart motorway’. Well, as far as Junction 3. What about J2 to 3 – well, er – and beyond J2 (ie Carville Hall Park to you) – not our problem – down to TfL and Hounslow. Most reassuring, I don’t think.
It was then a quick whiz up to the Civic for something known as Peer Review – where councillors (of all stripes) and officers from other councils come and assess how LBH is doing. Sadly, in St John’s Road my chain came off and despite lengthy efforts by self and two Good Samaritan passers by we concluded there was not the skill in all Samaria to resolve the problem. So in an overheated and extremely oily state I got the bus home instead, which was a great pity because I was very interested in the Peer Review session.
This (Thursday) morning a short session in the Green School. One of the year 11’s had written to me via her teacher to ask me to present to her GCSE class about how not to be a councillor. As it turned out it was a class of only 4 but they were all charming and well-rehearsed with questions. Then the bike shop (bike now fixed free of charge – many thanks the excellent Moore’s of Isleworth) and on to the civic to meet about Brentford Library. Whilst it is now largely open, and has been for some weeks, it has become apparent that there are serious issues with the fabric of the building. These are being addressed very actively with the library contractor who is responsible for looking after these matters and the council is pressing for action to be taken promptly to rectify matters, with restoration of full use of the children’s library the urgent priority. No date yet, I’m sorry.
March 17, 2017