Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Do we need to build a wall and get Ealing to pay for it?
Thursday afternoon I had a maelstrom of meetings (if that’s not the correct collective noun somebody better tell me what is) starting with the Lampton360 board, then the L360 finance committee, then an update from officers on the leisure transfer. All kind of related, because the hot topic in Lampton is the set up of the new not-for-profit leisure company and the reorganisation of company structure, partly to accommodate this and partly to make the structure more coherent.
There are various legal and governance matters to be sorted but we seem to be getting there. Main thing is that everybody’s determined to make it work and there’s a high level of confidence we can do it, though of course there’s enormous uncertainty about when leisure centres will be able to operate ‘normally’, if ever. This also has an impact on the business and funding model, because in the past the operating costs were covered by memberships and fees, and that’s not likely to be the case anytime soon.
On Friday morning we had our meeting via Teams with Swyncombe Avenue residents as well as council officers and councillors from Hounslow and Ealing. Muggins came out of it with the task of setting up a working group to find a solution, which may not be straightforward. That’s the trouble with this wild border country – perhaps we might build a wall and get Ealing to pay for it, but the precedents are not good.
Later on Friday we had a Hounslow’s Promise trustee meeting. We are still in the throes of trying to get a bank account set up, but in the meantime keeping the momentum going. One of the focuses at present is the programme to support children who need and don’t have adequate access to a PC and/or broadband connectivity at home.
This chart shows the extent of the problem (even after the government’s promise to fix this – another that didn’t deliver) and it is an understatement because I can immediately think of three schools in Brentford which are not on the list at all. If you or your business has PCs they are no longer using please do offer them. Hounslow’s Promise will sort them to protect privacy etc and this is a desperate need for young people who have had their lives disrupted severely by COVID.
On Saturday afternoon I paid a brief visit to the Nishkam Academy, where the Osterley councillors had suggested I attend a preview of the proposed developments at the Tesco and Homebase sites. The show was put on by OWGRA, the local residents' association, who think the development is too high, too dense and too ugly. I had already given some input to a pre-planning presentation (where I had echoed some of what OWGRA say) and it remains to be seen what the proposal is when it eventually reaches the planning committee.
Afterwards I went to Chiswick because I had heard of real bad traffic problems following Thames Water closing Acton Lane without warning. It was very bad, with lots of traffic being diverted along the already busy High Road, then up the closed Turnham Green Terrace, which was a nonsense. The diversions have since been changed but CHR is extremely congested as a result and we have heard this is not the quick in and out job they originally thought, so further changes are needed, I think.
I nipped into the George IV for a reviver and on the way out encountered this sight (those of a delicate disposition please look away). What used to be described in my youth as ‘bad parking’ in the Gents is now proscribed by order of the management (I am talking about the local landlord, not the nincompoop in Downing Street) .
Sunday was my regular litter pick day. Normally I take my car out for a 300M drive to deliver all the litter picking gubbins, but now I have an elephant to carry things I thought I’d try using that. It worked, sort of, though as I remarked to one of my fellow litter-pickers, I wouldn’t want to cross the Sahara with it in that state. Well, I wouldn’t want to cross the Sahara in a fully air-conditioned Range Rover with 2 others available for backup, but you get my drift.
During our perambulations, there was remarkably little litter at the back of Morrisons, nor in Albany, Ealing or Braemar Roads which was a very pleasant surprise, though we did find this wondrous thing which some people say is a bent lamp post. Personally I think it’s a periscope and somebody is spying on us.
At the end of the litter pick I had a chance to exercise my rare talent for selfies. You can see six people (including an apprentice) in this picture, plus an eyebrow. Actually we had 8 pickers but one left just before we finished and we got a rather meagre 8 not very full bags. They went out in Cranford and got 150 bags , so I suppose I should be envious.
This segued (I love that word, a newish one in my world) rather neatly into the network board on Tuesday, where council officers and I hold Hounslow Highways to account, or attempt to. It gave me a chance to praise them for something, because I was truly surprised by how much better litter has become, particularly on Ealing Road. You may have anticipated that my praise did not extend to some other areas, notably weeds. They have almost entirely stopped using weedkiller this year (goodness) but their attempts to replace this with manual methods have been pretty inadequate (badness): they either need a lot more resource or a lot better methods. Pleased to hear they are now using an app to record their operatives’ work on the go, so they can use science to determine how often bins need emptying or streets need sweeping, etc. We will keep the pressure on.
They showed this graph (sorry about the quality) showing the inexorable rise in flytipping since the Hounslow Highways contract started. Let’s hope the various initiatives under Cleaner Greener Hounslow, a little delayed by the pandemic but now kicking in, will flatten this ugly graph.
Then it was off to Heston Pools and Fitness for a video shoot. This is about Lampton Leisure taking on the leisure centres from 1 November and involved the very lovely Samia Chaudhary (who is lead member for leisure) and the not so lovely me. I was hoping to get a still picture from the shoot for your delectation but I think they are suppressing them to protect the innocent. Basically I’m saying how enthusiastic Lampton are to take on the responsibility, and how confident they are they can do a good job for residents despite the uncertain times.
Wednesday morning I’m back in Chiswick (I practically live there at present) looking at some Hounslow Highways-related problems but inevitably getting dragged into concerns about traffic and traffic management. Then back for a hastily-scheduled Lampton board meeting to deal with some of the legal niceties about the leisure transfer (I’m not a director, just an observer, but I do like to observe!).
Thursday’s here again. I spend some of the morning helping my daughter sort out things in her flat (Chiswick AGAIN) and then have a damp but lovely trundle through Dukes Meadows. Council Leisure services update coming up – it’s slightly weird being both sides of a conversation. Must be like a telephone operator when I was a kid and we had a party line and no dialling “this is Heswall 1575, can you please connect me to Royal 9944?” You never knew if the people on the party line were listening in, never mind the operator. But my sister said the people on the party line never said anything interesting or scandalous and obviously I wouldn’t have dreamed of listening myself.
Cllr Guy Lambert
October 30, 2020