Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Trying to sort out leisure centres in two shakes of a lambert's tail
On Thursday afternoon I have an update from officers on the work to be done on the leisure services transfer, which has to be accomplished in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, as used to be said regularly when I was just a wee lamb(ert).
Now, reader, you will have to indulge me whilst I digress onto the origins of this term. Of course, you don’t actually have to indulge me: you could fill your boots with Cllr Steve Curran’s very excellent Blog though he has a bit of catching up to do, or you could go and see the blog on ChiswickW4.com produced weekly by a random Tory. Perhaps they will have appointed me to a new role as The Melvinator’s ocular assistant (I could do eyes, he could do ears and memory) or – I don’t know, the Chiswick Tories’ answer to Kim Philby. Anything lucrative considered.
I digress from my digression. Apparently a shake is officially 10 nanoseconds: l Isn’t the Information SuperHighway wonderful?
In fact, on that definition we have more like three gazillion shakes to complete the leisure transfer but it’s still very challenging, to put it mildly. There is stunning commitment both by the officers and by the team in Lampton who have the beady eyes of Samia Chaudhary to contend with as well as me and (far more importantly) a leisure-hungry public. Lots of different strands of activity, numerous risks identified and being managed and I have every confidence we’ll get there.
In the evening, via the continuing wonders of modern technology, the local Fabian Society. Not the size of crowd to hear me speak that Donald Trump boasts of. Not even the size of crowd that Donald Trump really gets if I’m honest but probably more aggregate IQ than a Trump crowd. My talk is on the reality of local government finance. Not exactly my specialist subject (which is rubbish) but a subject which does rather grab your attention as a councillor. The Fabians are very polite, which is always a blessing when I speak, and appreciate the impossible choices we have to make. I reassure them we are in no danger of going bankrupt as Northamptonshire have done and as it is rumoured more than 20 others really ought to but are being discouraged by the government.
Good job that wasn’t too gruelling because it was an early bowl of gruel again on Friday before a packed day of Zooming or Teaming. The morning was entirely dedicated to interviews of the 4 shortlisted candidates for the job leading leisure within Lampton360. This was pretty challenging, for all the right reasons because the candidates we had were universally excellent and it was really hard to choose. At length, we came to a conclusion and an offer has now been made and accepted so that’s one of those risks ticked off.
Straight from that to a trustee meeting for Hounslow’s Promise. Progress is continuing, albeit slowly and not helped by the charity being dependent for support on Cranford Community College which, like all schools, has more than enough on its plate at present without prioritising the work they do voluntarily and very generously for H’s P.
To round off a busy day I have a zoom with LWARB – the London Waste and Recycling Board – to talk about the circular economy, what it means, how we can develop it, how we can train people and spread the word and how Hounslow can be involved. A bit of nostalgia because this programme is funded by something called the European Union – remember them?
Also on Friday I get a couple of sharp digs in the ribs: “you are organising a litter pick on the last Sunday of each month – where will we meet”. Gulp. I’ve forgotten all about it so quickly decide to go to the ever-cooperative A4, the Golden Mile turned into the Stella Mile by the termites who consume cans and crisps and sandwiches and healthy organic snacks and throw what’s left in the bushes, perhaps hoping to seed a Magic Lager Tree. Oh, and of course these days they have face masks and antiviral gloves which they need to discard to provide free access to their ugly gobs. Anyway, sad to report, a small but energetic team have sabotaged all their Magic Trees along a stretch of the Great West Road.
Monday morning was meeting free but in the afternoon we had another recruitment session. The MD of Coalo, our subsidiary which deals mainly with building maintenance has departed to take up a job nearer his home. The good news is that Coalo has continued to operate very well (and indeed has been winning various awards and being shortlisted for others) but we need a new leader to keep the excellent progress going and to take on an expanded role, both within the Lampton360/Hounslow universe and growing the business with external clients. Today we are shortlisting from a wide selection of candidates and we will be interviewing those selected next week.
Early Tuesday we have a Lampton360 board meeting where the directors take some formal decisions (I’m just there to watch!) and we discuss the progress on getting ready for the leisure take-on. Everybody is relieved that we have hired an MD who has considerable experience in the field, though he will formally be joining on the day the service transfers. Baptism of fire, or perhaps chlorinated water, springs to mind.
On Wednesday I have a call with the administrator at Hounslow’s Promise. Hitherto the charity doesn’t have a bank account, relying on support from Cranford Community College and between us we are filling in the forms necessary to open a bank account. There are a lot of questions relating to international money-laundering cartels which of course are a key area of focus when looking at banking for a local charity. These checks are only waived when the applicant is a Russian oligarch and/or major donor to the Conservative party. No doubt my personal transactions will be scrutinised. Yes I did buy an Elephant but it was merely a bicycle recycled within the UK and no tusks – filled with cocaine or otherwise – were involved in the making of this bicycle.
Straight from that into our regular update on traffic schemes. I have been deluged with emails from people in Chiswick, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush complaining about the measures introduced in Chiswick to restrict through traffic and (eventually) provide calmer traffic restricted shopping streets. There was terrible congestion in the first week or two in places and I have been making a point of cycling Chiswick most days to see how things are progressing. I have yet personally to witness any congestion worthy of the name over the last week or so, though people tell me there is a peak around school-emptying time. I’ll try and take a look at that tomorrow (Friday is usually a bad day for traffic anyway). Other matters are progressing though we’re a bit frustrated at the suppliers being slow to finish the planters in Challis Road etc, due apparently to a world shortage of plants. You live and learn. It’s also a bit dispiriting to discover that our light-fingered green-fingered brethren are particularly partial to nicking the plants out of street planters. Perhaps they are trying to provide a picturesque setting for the portaloos they nicked earlier.
Back to Thursday. Economic recovery meets leisure services later in the afternoon. The sun’s gone in and clouds look a bit heavy so my lunchtime bike ride may get squelchy.
Cllr Guy Lambert
October 2, 2020