Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Spends his week considering rubbish and recycling
Thursday started out near the Isleworth fire station for one of our rubbish hit squad days. This one seemed to have a cast of thousands and we knocked on a few doors, got a few things cleared up and tried to work out a long term solution. This is the dreaded flats above shops where it’s very difficult to make adequate provision and very hard to educate what tends to be a very transient population. Partly with these I’m trying to support short term fixes, but also research longer term solutions. We had a classic stand off between a councillor and Hounslow Highways – councillor frustrated by repeating problems, Highways unable to fix, probably for good reasons, grumpy words exchanged (not guilty on this occasion y’honour).
Then a very brief hello to the Autism Awareness Day at Hounslow Youth Centre: I was in touch with the organiser via a housing issue, now I think resolved, and was pleased to offer a bit of support, though I had to rush off to the Civic. This was for difficult budget meetings. We’re under inevitable pressure to cut costs but it’s really hard to find stuff that will not have a big impact. Then it was a meeting with the leader and others about Lampton 360 and how they will fulfil their goals for new housing.
In the evening, Planning committee. Oddly, 4 out of the 5 applications were in Osterley and most unusually we refused all 4 of these, against officers’ recommendations. We really don’t like to do this – after all, the officers are the experts – but I suppose it’s democracy red in tooth and claw.
Friday afternoon, all three Brentford Councillors plus one Tory from Turnham Green and one from Ealing Common had a tour of the site of Secret Cinema, which is just starting in Gunnersbury Park. The set looks fantastic and the whole thing is most intriguing. I’m hoping to go over the weekend if I can get tickets but I can’t say any more because… it’s a Secret! There are obvious issues about the noise – not only of the production, which shouldn’t be too loud, but also the set up and knock down – and also about how crowds of nearly 5000 will be managed each day, litter, toilets, etc etc. The organisers seem very professional so we’re hoping it will be a good event and I personally hope we can make it a regular feature of the Gunnersbury Park scene.
On Saturday I thought I should go up to Clayponds: we’ve stopped doing surgeries there because of a lack of customers and started doing them on the third Saturday at Brentford Library. But we hadn’t updated the notices and I wanted to be there in case anybody turned up. I met the chair of the Residents Association instead and we had a long and interesting chat about her voluntary work as a ‘responsible adult’ who supports young (and occasionally older) people who are in trouble with the law and have nobody else to turn to. By the way, None of us can make the surgery we would normally hold on Sat 18th so we’ve had to cancel it. As ever, if you need something give us a call or email and we’ll arrange something to suit you.
Another glorious weekend and I spent most of it cycling around the place with my newly functional bike. Didn’t go very far, just around here and out as far as Kingston down our reserve river ( the Brent and its canal being the a-team for rivers round here). Named after the town, I’d say, though of course it should really be the River Brill.
On Monday a rare, these days, visit to the local Labour office. Our organiser has gone on to higher (or lower, according to taste) things at regional office but we are so lucky to have Eden, who was one of the lynchpins of the council campaign, helping 2 days a week. Nothing much on – we’re recovering from a lot of campaigning, what with a mayor campaign, referendum, general election and council campaign in quick succession. But of course if the Brothers Grimy – Boris and Smog – continue to cause havoc we could have another one any day – are you listening, Brenda from Bristol – ANOTHER one.
In the evening a drink with my flatmate of about 40 years ago. We fell out of touch but he worked as a social worker in Ealing until he retired. Back in the day he and I were the demon fast bowlers for the Ealing Social Services cricket team. Well, I was a ringer. And I wasn’t fast . But I looked a bit scary when I could run. He now volunteers for the CAB so we had a few tales of woe to share. Anyway, it was a lovely evening because after all this time, we got on like a house on fire. I thank Air Quality Brentford, who tempted me to an event where I re-met John a few months ago.
Tuesday morning is our Brentford wardabout. We walk with Hounslow Highways along the A4 from Ealing to Windmill Roads (fly tipping hotspot) then up Windmill where we’re joined by The Melvinator. Mostly looking Ok but for flytipping by a bin and a pair of lovely second hand mattresses (bad luck, they have been taken) then in some of the back roads – Eastbourne, Grove, Avenue Enfield etc. There’s a flytip on private premises (always difficult but we persuade HH to sort) and I grumble about litter left in the gutters. But given it was 2 days before the fortnightly clean, mainly pretty spruce really. Thing about having Mel along, he spots things I rarely do, mainly trip hazards.
Then it’s an update with the leader, just chatting through various issues that I’m working on and getting Steve’s perspective and where needed, support.
In the evening it’s back to Clayponds for a meeting with residents with a long standing ASB problem. On the whole Clayponds is a lovely estate – plenty of green and pretty well looked after, but it doesn’t take much for a neighbour to make a lot of people’s life a misery and it’s very hard to stop. Residents are quite rightly upset and officers are told in no uncertain terms that urgent action is called for, which seems to be forthcoming on this occasion. I am doing Uber duties for Mr Melvinator so it’s then a short drive to Boston Manor for an update on the works planned to the grounds. We already have the plans for the house itself mapped out but we still need to get serious money off the Heritage Lottery Fund to sort the gardens and it was heartening to see a wide group of stakeholders there, and imaginative plans to involve them in the programme design.
I have plenty of free time on Wednesday so I decide to spend much of the afternoon criss crossing the ward after the waste and recycling collection. In general the teams seem to have done a good job, though there are a few boxes left untidy and sometimes on the pavement. This is not easy to get right: some people put their bins on the pavement and are offended if they are returned inside, some properties have narrow access and people rightly don’t like it being blocked and in some cases access is a bit awkward and hard for crews under time pressure. The top people at Recycle360 continue to try and improve this but it’s not perfect yet.
In the evening I manage to join the small group of people who are this month’s manifestation of the Brentford Recycling Action Group. As ever, after a brief meeting we dedicate ourselves to recycling a bit of Ale in the inestimable Magpie and Crown, and a very convivial evening all round. I decide to cycle home via Gunnersbury Park to see about the noise from Secret Cinema but of course the show isn’t on tonight and the ghostly reaches of the park are inhabited only by a shadowy figure on a bicycle, muttering imprecations against the darkness and the inadequacies of his Poundland front light which replaced the very expensive one from a bike shop that ceased working after 3 weeks.
Thursday morning I cycle through a light drizzle down to Brent Way for a cleanup mission. I observe an extremely fit looking young man messing with his Mercedes convertible, and observe to my friend from Serco that he appears to be misusing the Blue Badge. An exchange of views ensues and I might think that the Serco man would get details of the Blue Badge being misused, but I might mis-think, it seems. Mr Fit drives off, cocking a snook at authority, as the old timers would say. By this point I realise I am in danger of being late for my appointment at the Civic, so leg it back to Pegasus, but just as the unwinged non-horse begins its sally down the high street the light drizzle turns to medium rain, so I arrive for my meeting looking just a touch bedraggled. Cllr Raj Bath looks alarmed and even offers to make me a tea, but I have to rush off to my meeting. Corinna is indisposed and Mel’s computer has been indisposed so he didn’t get the invite, so I venture all alone into the planning department where us committee members are flavour of the month having overturned their recommendations last week. Anyway, the officer explains that the Mighty Bees have cooked up a way of getting 24 more flats into the buildings they’re fixing to build on Capital Interchange Way. Well, there may be other issues here, though they are staying roughly at the approved height, but I’m moved to point out that 24 extra flats sounds like about £12m extra revenue, mainly profit, so where’s the commitment to affordable housing in that? Actually, tell you what, I’d settle for £6M S106 monies for us to build council homes somewhere else. Yes, I know, but they want the extra flats and we need council homes so there’s something to negotiate there, surely.
After that, I review with my senior officer Hounslow Highways proposals for savings, in addition to some minor savings I’ve already agreed. Both of us were hoping for more imaginative ideas so we’ll be asking them to put their thinking caps on, if available.
Coming home I am besieged by weird phone calls from Labour comrades. Apparently I have written a letter announcing my resignation. I ask someone to forward the resignation to me so I understand my plans more clearly. It turns out someone has started a gmail account with a name like mine (I am not giving details) and sent a lot of nonsense to a number of random addresses. Lord knows what else he/she has/might send out. If you’re reading this, I am mightily unimpressed by what someone suggests is a prank. No. Not a prank, nasty stuff. If you get odd looking emails from me, they might not be, so please let me know soonest.
Councillor Guy Lambert
August 10, 2018