A wiggly bit of land is for sale
On Thursday afternoon I went to a meeting at Hounslow Community Foodbox which is located just behind Pets at Home to learn about their operation with a view to becoming a trustee. What they have achieved is impressive, but it’s the kind of operation that sincerely wishes to make itself redundant. Sadly, on current trends the opposite course is more likely with further excruciating benefit cuts and inflation firmly on the rise.
On Friday I had a routine medical appointment but managed to get to the Hounslow Highways Lay Assessors coffee morning (though it was more of a coffee afternoon by the time I arrived). It was good to see our new Brentford Lay Assessor in attendance and to learn he had already had a walkabout in the Haverfield estate and has another planned for Green Dragon Lane shortly. Meanwhile I was very pleased that Hounslow Highways had assumed responsibility for sweeping the square just off Netley Road which had been looking very neglected – pristine now!
On Sunday I was off up Hamilton Road with her ladyship and a party member, disturbing everyone’s Sunday lunch. Her majesty seems to have lived in every road in Brentford and to know 93% of the residents, which sometimes means progress is slow. The upside is we have good, in depth conversations about Brentford, Hounslow, Labour, Brexit, potholes, quantum mechanics and econometric techniques. Except for the last two.
Moving into the new week, Monday is a day of emails and phone calls and in the evening our credit union monthly board meeting. All reasonably calm, and the good news is that our beloved friends at HMRC have finally come round to agreeing that we have been wrongly paying VAT on a lot of our costs for some years (good advice from professionals there) and we can cease and desist paying it. Chapter two will be trying to get refunds backdated.
In the middle of all this I am contacted about a somewhat bizarre property sale being made by National Grid. This is a rather wiggly bit of land, about 1 metre wide, which snakes between the Musical museum, Holland Gardens, Heritage Walk and Green Dragon Primary School. It is being sold by auction and it’s good to read in the estate agent’s particulars that the one man tent you may be able to pitch on this land (except that there is no visible access other than jumping over a fence) has very good access to Kew Bridge station and the local shops. For the avoidance of doubt, no, I did not make that up. The neighbours are concerned because they had very limited notice of this sale, and had previously been told that the utilities needed to keep hold of it for access to services. There are concerns about who is responsible for the walls and also about proximity to the school. Having talked to National Grid, it seems they have many of these small parcels of land acquired almost by accident and they habitually sell them off, probably to speculators who are hoping that Heathrow Terminal 6 or the 18th lane of the M4 will eventually need the land and they can hold the developers to ransom.
Talking of Heathrow, on Tuesday evening I attended the inaugural public meeting of BASH in the Free Church. Really excellent attendance and great speeches from Jon Stewart of HACAN, our splendid MP Ruth Cadbury, and Maggie Thorburn from Friends of The Earth, ably compered by the driving force behind BASH, local activist Dave Waller. It’s remarkable how quickly he has got this going and it was good to hear how he had been knocked out by Ruth’s commitment and energy (been there, been knocked out, have the T shirt).
Wednesday afternoon, a meeting in the Civic centre about the Green Belt. Turns out we don’t have any in this neck of the woods, only Metropolitan Open Land, though for practical purposes it’s the same difference, having precisely the same protection. Anyway, it’s a government requirement on all planning authorities to conduct a review of Green Belt and this is the opening shot of a discussion which will continue into 2018 and beyond. I was astonished to hear that some of the neighbouring areas just outside London boundaries have a lot of Green Belt and will be under great pressure to release some of it. South Bucks, for example, is over 80% Green Belt. Our focus will be on improving access to and maintenance of the small amount of Green Belt we have out in the wild west of the borough. Anyway, no implications locally so that’s a relief.
In the evening, the heady delights of a Labour Party meeting in Isleworth Public Hall, but the traditional fact finding in the pub was disrupted by a very loud gentleman running some kind of tombola.
Thursday morning I have a meet with a resident who has a lot of goods in store within the Ballymore bit of Brentford. He is being asked to clear it as his lease has run out and the landlords are worried about the safety of the building. This is a problem as it’s far from easy to find affordable storage and the state of the building makes it hard to access his larger items to remove them. He tells me, however that he has recently walked into his unit and surprised a local ‘entrepreneur’ who had ensnared a smallish air conditioning unit with a loop of wire and was looking to spirit it away via the loft space.
I have an unusual daytime licensing panel this afternoon, Thursday, followed by a member working group on ASB and evictions, leading to the delights of the Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum this evening. We will be deciding whether the closure of Church Street should be made permanent and we expect passionate speeches both for and against, so the Melvinator will need to be in his best commanding form to avoid a riot. Meanwhile, we’ll miss the second public meeting on the Morrisons proposals which has been scheduled at the same time.
Anyway, plenty to mug up on so I’d better get on with it.
March 23, 2017