Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Counting cars and vans on Swyncombe Avenue
Thursday afternoon our regular leisure services update. All going OK, though of course with the dreaded Tier 2 now upon us (no doubt followed in due course by Tier 3, and in due course by full lockdown for a short period as currently advocated by Captain Foresight) it is debatable how long any centres will stay open.
On Friday morning a Teams call involving Hounslow and Ealing councillors and officers about Swyncombe Avenue, which is an entirely residential road with very heavy traffic. It seems from the surveys that traffic is actually similar in total volume to how it was before the pandemic but this is not how residents see it, perhaps because the pattern is very different and perhaps because they have become accustomed to the tranquillity of lockdown (or perhaps because the surveys were done in untypical weeks).
Whatever, it is a very difficult issue for them and has been exacerbated by the reduction in through routes between Boston Manor Road and Northfields Avenue further north in Ealing. This is not something Hounslow can resolve on its own so we agree that the respective traffic officers from both Boroughs should come back with some options for a Teams meeting with residents and councillors this coming Friday. I went down there in the afternoon, and when I arrived, not only was the whole of Swyncombe jammed eastbound, but the traffic was backing up into Boston Manor Road, leaving it congested in both directions. To be fair, the actual jam dispersed after a few minutes, but the road is always very busy.
Monday morning I was hoping to get to Brentford library for the (not very yet) grand reopening but instead I had a phone call from someone from Notting Hill Genesis, who are in charge of the Paragon estate on the A4 next to the University. This estate has been plagued with problems ever since I became a councillor, and particularly since the Grenfell tragedy. But it’s now gone from bad to awful: they have decided the whole 5 buildings need to be immediately evacuated due to safety concerns.
The 800 odd UWL students in specialised accommodation are all being moved out immediately (to somewhere in Wembley) and the 200-odd leaseholders and tenants have to move out by Sunday. They will be temporarily housed, mainly in local hotels but the disruption to their lives is unconscionable. Of course, the Housing Association is doing the right thing, and I hope they will compensate properly for the disruption but it’s a really horrible thing to happen.
By the time I’ve had various conversations on this, it’s time to head off to Cranford for my midday meeting with local councillors and residents, plus a council officer. They have various concerns about overhanging trees (some private, some TfL, some ours) overgrown bushes with rubbish dumped in them, and mess of all sorts. I was particularly taken with this charming front garden. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into making it so beautiful, and enhancing the street scene.
By the time I’d got back it was after 3 so when I got to the library it had closed 😣.
In the evening we had a Labour group meeting to talk about Tackling Race Inequalities – a report produced by our head of Equalities with a team of councillors. I found the meeting very informative and quite humbling. I remarked at the end that I had learnt a huge amount about things that I consider too little, and that I was proud of Hounslow and my comrades for the quality of the report and the discussion.
On Tuesday morning The Melvinator, now shod in real shoes, and I met with the newly-appointed Head of Housing Management to talk about a variety of issues on the Haverfield and Brentford Towers estates. There has been (and it continues) loads of work going on to improve both estates but the trouble with improvement works is that they cause disruption, noise, etc whilst they are going on and it’s been particularly hard to communicate about them given disruptions to timetables caused by the pandemic.
On Haverfield we’re changing the waste arrangements whilst at the same time Hounslow Highways have just taken over the roads and paths and are busy improving them and Coalo have taken over the landscaping. The first I heard of the latter actually happening was a cri de coeur from a resident who had been ‘guerilla gardening’ a bed outside her flat and found one morning that it had been napalmed, which not surprisingly was a bit of a shock. (No, it wasn’t really napalm, more a rotovator). It’s all in a good cause and the flower beds etc actually look a lot better in general but it’s really important to keep people informed and indeed to engage them, especially when they have been doing their best already. We really need a Haverfield Residents Association folks – anyone listening? The Towers is a similar story and I was particularly irritated by this neatly fenced compound containing…spare fences. There was a bigger one containing Heras fencing. It was good to have a senior officer for a couple of hours and have a good old grumble whilst he’s still new to the borough.
In the afternoon a Lampton360 finance update. All OK for now, but because there’s ambition for further cost saving and increased income – and the continuing uncertainties of COVID – there’s risk in the plan and risk sows fear in the entrails of accountants – even lapsed ones like me. Good team on the case though so I’m reasonably confident.
Did I tell you about the red dot on my phone? The one that told me I had been close to someone infected and then disappeared without explanation? The one that I found out was a false alarm that didn’t mean anything? Well, I got another one, clicked and it disappeared as before. But this time there was a little shield on my phone too. This said (words to the effect of) ‘Ha-Ha, only joking, caught you there’ so I suppose that’s world beating progress.
Wednesday a catch up with the chair of Lampton. We talk about progress with the boards of the various companies, about how Lampton Leisure – the new entity looking after leisure centres from 1 st November, will be funded, and a little about recruitment.
So we‘re back to Thursday (apparently it’s very bad to start a sentence with so). So some light blogging in the morning then a catch up with senior officers about my portfolio. All the indicators on waste and recycling are positive – complaints down, missed collections down , recycling up quite sharply (still plenty of room for improvement though). Our recruitment is complete, though not everybody on board yet, and we have a full ‘Special Waste Service’ – looking at enforcement in particular and managing waste hot spots, we have a specialist crossover monitor and we have a coordinator for our Environment Champion programme. Meanwhile all our various initiatives to improve the street scene are going ahead and we’re hoping very soon to get some serious funding for more trees.
Better finish now – too ruddy long anyway, they cried – because I have a Lampton Board, Lampton Finance committee and Leisure transfer update all piling up on each other, and I’ve had to give my favourite Thomas Layton Trust trustee meeting a miss (again).
Something nice from my bicycular travels for your souls, which likely need healing after all that bilge:
Cllr Guy Lambert
October 22, 2020