Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Acton Lodge in Brentford and Brentford Festival in Ealing
On Thursday afternoon I meet to discuss some parking tickets which people think have been handed out unjustly. Parking tickets are a ticklish issue for councillors because in accordance with legislative guidelines we are not permitted to intervene in individual cases, so I will only intervene when there seems to be a general problem, and then only to suggest to experts that they might wish to review the circumstances.
Afterwards I have a session with the senior officer with whom I’m likely to be working most closely to try and understand better the state of play with various services and plot the way forwards. We are up against really difficult financial challenges and will have to devise new ways of delivering more for less: as this has been the story for a number of years, it doesn’t get any easier.
In the evening, a training session on ‘supporting your residents’– largely a refresher course but you always learn something.
Friday is largely meeting free until the evening meet up with a couple of chums who act as lay assessors for Hounslow Highways, to compare notes on what’s going well and not so well. I have noticed that there has been a marked improvement in the cleanliness of the streets around Brentford since the recent change of approach, where they blitz a ward one day a fortnight. It’s heartening to hear that this improvement has been noticed in other wards too. This is certainly not to say that there isn’t room for improvement - some bits still get missed and bin emptying is patchy, but there has been real progress.
Then it’s the weekend (and a sunny one). I start off with a visit to one of our Walks to talk to a resident who’s unhappy that her recycling is no longer picked up from her home. She is also suspicious that what she puts in the communal recycling bin is not recycled. I have harboured the same suspicion but I’m beginning to better understand the system and can reassure her. The more you learn about recycling the more you realise how complicated it is!
Then off to Chiswick, passing through Gunnersbury Park (looking stunning, despite the preparations for lengthy works on the new sports hub) and past the notorious flytipping mecca known as Princes Avenue (somewhat improved following recent changes but far from perfect) and ending up in the confusingly named Acton Green. When I lived in Acton many moons ago, I used to observe that there were seven stations called Acton something-or-other but none of them were in Acton. OK, a bit of poetic licence, but now I find Acton Green is nowhere near Acton but right next to Turnham Green station. Meanwhile Turnham Green is half a mile away.
Anyway, I’m there for the Green Days festival and jolly splendid it is too with lots of stalls, mainly arts and crafts. Hounslow Cycling are there, asking people where they would like to see cycling infrastructure improved and on the way out I bump into new Councillor Joanna Biddolph who I suspect is going to work hard and hold us to account, which may be uncomfortable but is no bad thing. I remark that I wish we could get something similar (to Green Day, not Joanna) going in Brentford and Joanna observes that this event has built over 20 years. Of course, we do have the excellent Brentford festival coming up. In Ealing.
On Sunday I meet Katherine Dunne, Rin from the Cathja shop and various others about the Festival of Waste Rin is organising for 29th July in Brentford Market Place. I’ve been exploring the possibility of combining it with ward clean ups and have met a bit of enthusiasm and a lot of indifference, plus Rin doesn’t want to over-complicate, which is a fair point.
Monday comes around and we have a cabinet session where we can share issues, concerns and plans to deliver the 5 key pledges and 133 other items (really) we listed in our manifesto. This will not be easy (to put it mildly) but we have some collective determination and good team spirit, so maybe we can move some mountains.
On Tuesday Corinna is off to the Free Church for the first of 15 days of thrills and spills – it’s the Planning Inspector enquiry into the rejection by Planning Committee of the (IMO) ridiculous Chiswick Curve skyscraper. This is on the old drive-in Natwest Bank site on Chiswick Roundabout (those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end..) which curiously, like B&Q next door are the only bits west of the North/South circular which are in Chiswick – Turnham Red (next time) – ward rather than Brilliance. I find myself sobbing uncontrollably over my Corn Flakes because I can’t attend this, but rather have to go to the Civic Centre for a meeting with Lampton 360, Steve Curran, and builder partners about the developments coming down the track from Lampton. Nothing is simple but the first significant build – Nantly House in central Hounslow – is coming along nicely and Acton Lodge (in Brentford – what was I saying about Acton?) and its Two Bridges chum in Bedfont will follow any day now.
In the evening, I leave the London Borough of Heaven and head off for a Sustrans event just off Gower Street. This is mainly about the work done on cycling infrastructure in the three boroughs who won ‘mini-Holland’ funding from the GLA – Waltham Forest, Kingston and Enfield plus others like Hackney who have done it off their own bat.
Wednesday, Corinna and I are up at GWQ at the lovely RADA café, talking about their problems with broken windows etc. Nobody really wants metal shutters so it’s good to have the man from Barratt, the freeholder, who is an ex-copper, talking about how they are going to improve security. We agree to have one last try to solve the problems using better security and better glass.
In the afternoon, another Lampton development meeting, this time with the LBH housing and property people. And in the evening our Labour branch meeting. An interesting talk about nuclear weapons from a CND woman, and wide ranging discussions on matters from airports to plastic (better not bigger and less all around please)
Thursday morning and it’s Chiswick Feet. My left dog has been killing me ever since the election, but it takes a woman with a scalpel mere moments to chop out various corns. These are a new experience for me. Avoid. She suggests I might wish to lose a few pounds/kilos/hundredweight and, failing that, get better shoes.
An update about The Melvinator. He went on hols to see his in-laws in Norfolk, and sadly his mother-in-law died just as they were fixing to come back. He has been hanging around up there helping father-in law (90+) with the funeral etc but we hope he’ll be back here and at it very soon now.
Councillor Guy Lambert
June 15, 2018