Happily obsessed with recycling and tidying up
Thursday started with a teleconference (a form of meeting I have always loathed!) with the directors of Lampton360 to discuss various matters of governance, contracts etc. CEO Niall Bolger took the lead as he has been working with our head of governance on some changes which will come to cabinet shortly, and make the way we work with Lampton more robust. More on this shortly.
In the evening it’s a meeting of the Thomas Layton Trust – always a pleasure, and not just because we usually repair to La Rosetta for a convivial chompa (Italian for chomp) and a glass of vino. The council has a commitment to provide space for the collection to be reassembled – some of it is currently in storage – and this has proven tricky but there is what seems to be good news at the meeting from our excellent head of libraries. Not certain yet but most promising. Melvinator, who never misses a meeting, misses the meeting. He has done a fantastic job over the last few months where he has weaned himself off having an assistant to help with email etc to using an infernal piece of kit which I like to call the Brailliac speaking emails to him like a dalek, or the ghost of Stephen Hawking. Unfortunately, unlike us humans this Brailliac seems to be affected by mood swings and it seems it had a serious cob on last week and refused to read him his diary. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and whilst I would never accuse him of being a dog, I am hugely impressed by the way, as a 645 year old, he has grasped this rather complicated technology. It is now working, but is attention-seeking and makes him press buttons more often than it used to, to keep it talking.
On Friday I’m up at Gunnersbury Park for the drop in session about the proposed Ice Age attraction. I am rather perturbed by this proposal, to put it mildly, because (amongst other things) it needs planning permission which has been applied for very late: furthermore IMO the planning application is of abysmal quality. I express these concerns to the powers that be in the CIC and let them know that I’m minded to call the application in to committee unless these shortcomings are fixed post haste. Subsequently, I hear rumours that the event, which was scheduled to start early April, has been put on Ice, as you might say. We’ll find out soon enough – ah, I see on the Ice Age website that it’s postponed until further notice. It would have been/would be controversial but if properly managed would provide family entertainment and a good slug of income to the park. Perhaps it will resurface later.
What a lovely park it is!
I spend some of the afternoon wandering up and down Whitestile Road posting invitations to a coffee morning Ruth Cadbury will be holding.
In the evening I unwind with a few pints in the Magpie and Crown. There were a lot of chaps in floral shirts, which alarmed my companion, but the beer and convivial atmosphere were as pleasing as ever.
Saturday morning I have my surgery at the Library. Unfortunately, I assume it’s the earlier surgery at the Mission Hall and turn up in the wrong place an hour early, cursing that nobody is there to open the door. Be nice. Anyway, I fill the unforgiving 45 minutes by taking a trip along the A4. I am always on at Highways England and TfL to remove redundant signs and they always protest that they are still needed. I suppose this one which resides near Chiswick roundabout we can take away anyway because the agency that created it has been abolished and the works seem to have finished in early 2015!
I have only one visitor to the surgery, a mother of three who lives with her husband and family in a small one bedroom flat. On top of extreme overcrowding she has problems with damp and rodents, so I pay her a visit in the afternoon. She has two lovely little girls and a boy baby and it must be really hard to live in a space like hers. I manage to get an offer of temporary accommodation over the weekend to escape the rodents (though she elects to decamp to a generous neighbour) and to schedule treatment for Monday, but finding an adequately sized flat for her family will not be the work of a moment, even with Mel and I working a pincer movement.
Monday morning, me and Director Victoria are up before the beak, in the shape of the recycling gurus from DEFRA. They are on a mission to explain to us what we are doing wrong but at the end of the session they say they can’t really help us because we seem to be doing everything right in accordance with their preferences. We know we have lots to do to improve things, but essentially it’s good to hear we are doing what they believe to be the right thing, including kerbside sorting.
Later Victoria and I walk Kingsley Road and Hounslow High Street in company with Hounslow Highways and local councillor Pritam Grewal. Pritam’s main concern is the road surface: this is a very heavily used road which ideally you’d like to see completely resurfaced but instead it is subject to frequent patching. It wasn’t too bad on Monday because a load of patches had recently gone down, but you can see it will need more ‘ere long. I was more agitated by the mess, which is not so much on the highway but mainly in front ‘gardens’ which have been turned into hardstanding for vehicles and, in far too many cases, a household tip. A lot of these are houses in multiple occupation and we have to find a way of persuading landlords to live up to their civic responsibilities: this mess is horrible for everybody, including their tenants, and we’ll be doing everything in our power. It’s a problem in other places but a real horror show here.
The cleaning on the High Street, whilst less than perfect, has improved dramatically over recent months. It’s free of fly tipping and largely free of litter but there’s still chewing gum patches and the surface needs a power wash. Behind the High Street there are still some black bag dumps, which we are gradually tackling, just as the police are tackling the beggars, who are said to be bussed in by organisers.
And with one bound he was free! In the evening it’s the Thamesbank AGM. I present the annual report, go through the votes to approve the accounts and the appointment/reappointment of directors and auditors, and then step down as chair and a director of a Credit Union I have worked with for over 10 years. I will still do a little to promote it, but it’s high time for the enthusiastic, diverse bunch of directors we have recently brought on board to take things forward.
On Tuesday Mel and I meet housing people to hear about the proposals to provide 11 new flats, including four 4 bedroom ones, in the base of the Brentford Towers. Bring it on, we both say.
I return to the Musical Museum to see the exhibition about Hudson West – the proposed development on the site of B&Q. I don’t engage much with the proposed design or height of the buildings – there will no doubt be plenty of discussion about that – but I talk at length to the architect about the plans to have an automotive ’showcase’ there. This is likely to be partly free, partly paid (in the manner of major museums) exhibition space on the bottom three floors but with several floors of employment space above let to people who participate in various ways in the automotive industry. On the one hand these might be tech-based companies like Microsoft or Cisco or Uber, on the other hardware companies like Ford or Siemens or Pirelli. I was a bit sceptical about demand but they have had extensive discussions with potential occupiers and have met great enthusiasm. The plans also include a hotel, a couple of hundred flats and various retail – from high-end clothing etc, through restaurants to computer gaming, probably automotive themed. Together with a fellow cyclist, I grumble the museum about the fact there is not a single cycle parking space – not good enough! There is an attempt to blame the council, not necessarily a good plan when you’re talking to a councillor :-)
Then it’s straight up to the Mission Hall for a public meeting updating the plans to improve the Haverfield estate. A good turnout, including at least one person who appeared to be under 60 and some familiar grumbles, mainly about parking. But the proposals for improvement seem to go down OK.
I have to whizz off before the end to attend cabinet, where ‘my’ paper Creating A Cleaner Borough is discussed and approved. This is a really comprehensive plan covering recycling, litter, fly tipping, bulky waste and the general street scene and sets out our determination to improve and how we will approach it – via numerous different strands and lots of resident involvement. The team have done a fantastic job putting this together, including starting partnerships with Keep Britain Tidy, the Local Government Association and others and we are really determined that this will make a visible improvement to our borough.
Talking of Keep Britain Tidy and Creating A Cleaner Brentford – you can sign up to the Great British Spring Clean event on 31st March here: https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/ I’ve set it up and various locals have signed up for it including one of my more difficult parishioners, a Mr Curran of Braemar Road.
That was quite a full day, so It was good to have a largely free Wednesday, though I spent a couple of hours with those pesky envelopes, posting invitations in Carville Crescent.
In the evening, back to the Mission hall for an update event on proposed improvements to the Brentford Towers (beyond the works which are already in progress). The most controversial issue is sheds: there are sheds within the towers, either in the basements or in some cases on the landings. Fire experts think this is a bad idea and many local authorities are getting rid of them but to say the proposal that we might consider doing likewise didn’t meet with universal approval would be putting it mildly. The other proposed improvements were accepted OK, with some reservations and we inevitably digressed into other matters and it was agreed we’d have another meeting in a week or three to talk about the current works.
That’s that really. I like free Thursday mornings for blogging and I’ve managed that today. Off to Osterley after lunch, then a planning presentation in the evening. Oh, and the petition to revoke Article 50 seems to have crashed the petitions website after 600,000 (including yours truly) – update, now 863,000 - signed it in about 12 hours. I shall wander off after Ruth’s coffee morning to support the people’s vote march on Saturday.
Cllr Guy Lambert
March 22, 2019