Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Coming across a better class of flytipping in Chiswick


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

Sign up for our Brentford newsletter

Comment on this story on the

Thursday is our usual leisure services update with officers. The message is just ever so slightly different - in tone rather than substance - from the message from the Lampton board. Quite rightly: the council and the company have common objectives, which are to bring leisure services back under our control and adapt them to properly support fitness, families and fun in partnership with health, community and sporting bodies.

The council’s job is to define what outcomes it wants and the financial parameters. The company’s job is to work out how best to fulfil those needs and focus very closely on satisfying its customers, and generating income to improve and expand the service. We are also keen to have our leisure services not inextricably linked to buildings – public health (+ fitness + fun) can be walking, jogging, exercises in parks etc and it’s better to make the best of all options.

Friday morning we have a Teams meeting with the ‘Haverfield Partnership’. I’m trying to get all the parties currently engaged with improvements on the Haverfield and Brentford Towers estates updating each other, councillors and most importantly residents about what’s going on, because there are a lot of different activities happening simultaneously. These are aimed mainly at improving the estates for residents (and a little bit at providing 11 new homes) but it’s proving difficult to keep people informed and at times people are upset or bewildered by what’s going on. Unfortunately this first meeting happened when a number of people were away for half term but it’s good to have established the principle and we urged the housing team to work hard on improving communications to residents.

Later we have a discussion about the planning application for the former Gunnersbury Park bowls club building, which all three ward councillors have ‘called in’ so the planning committee can consider the application. Officers are recommending refusal but I’m concerned that the outcome of refusal will be the building and bowling green being left derelict for 18 months whilst the Gunnersbury Park CIC advertise it for community use with estate agents. The old bowls club (as I understand it) has been wound up and whoever takes on the clubhouse building will have to take on a full maintaining and repairing lease, which will be a stretch for community use.

Actually the planning application is for a café supporting a golf centre which qualifies as community use (and would be a very welcome addition to the park given the loss of the previous one). Whatever, there are arguments for and against and I want to give the oxygen of publicity both to those who argue that the bowls activity should somehow be reinstated and those that argue that the space can be better used for other purposes. Anyway the meeting helps me understand some of the arcane corners of planning legislation which come into play here. I hope we end up having a proper debate at planning.

The weekend beckons and I make my usual pilgrimages en bicyclette in various directions. One of my favourite haunts is Dukes Meadows in Chiswick and I come upon (and naturally report) this strange sight.

At first sight you might think it is a mutant superslug from the planet Cummings but on closer inspection it proves to be a mattress, very neatly rolled and encased in black plastic, held together by some kind of gaffer tape. Look, I am against flytipping in all its forms but at least I can understand what drives someone who lives in a flat with no bin facilities to put a maggot-infested black bag out on the pavement a day before the refuse collection. But to spend time rolling and wrapping a mattress, carefully securing it with tape, loading it into a car or pickup and taking it under cover of darkness (I imagine) to a public park so you can dump it – why would anybody do that? It’s about a mile from the Townmead Road recycling centre in Mortlake where they could book a slot and dump it for free without any need to faff around with Sellotape. Or they could pay £40 (less if on income support) and get up to 5 bulky items taken away by the Council’s Tidy Town scheme – your neighbours probably have stuff to add if you haven’t got 5 things.

Sunday was the Chiswick Flower Market. The traffic in Chiswick continues to be badly affected by the closure of Acton Lane for Thames Water repairs - the 3 day job having now become a 3 week job, in the way of these things – and to a lesser extent by the works to provide Cycleway 9, and of course the loss of road space that entails. The organisers had not advertised the Flower Market this time because the view last time was that it was actually too successful in a time of COVID. This time there were somewhat fewer visitors and the market had been physically extended to take in more of the service road, plus Devonshire Road. Anyway, it was great: just the right number of people and the High Road in general buzzing. Ruth Cadbury was there and was off delivering stuff on one of the cargo bikes.

A person riding on the back of a bicycle  Description automatically generated

Monday is free of meetings so I decide to head out to the far West (i.e. Hampton Court, the extent of my normal range) and enjoy a bit of autumn riverside. I am not troubled by rain but old father Thames obviously has been and I stop by the weir at Teddington.

During the day I have a zoom call from a student at the University of Westminster who is doing a study of the identity of Brentford and its community. I’m always happy to engage with students about Brentford and I tell her how much I love living here, for all its quirks and indignities. Lovely place with lovely people. I hear later that she has also talked with The Melvinator and I expect she’ll get the same overall story there, albeit with different details.

Somebody writes to me with this link from the Daily Hatemail.

The only response I can think of is ‘Blimey’. Not a happy thing to have happened in Brentford, if it did, and rather makes my blood run cold.

Much of my mailbox at present is about traffic changes, from people in Chiswick who want less of them and people in Swyncombe Avenue who want more of them. The Swyncombe ones get more of my attention – my ward and a difficult problem we really have to solve, and the solution is overdue. There are the usual rumblings about bins and housing issues and anti-social behaviour. Some I can solve, others are very intractable and it’s very frustrating being a councillor with these problems confronting you. But it really upsets me to think of what some people have to endure from difficult or aggressive neighbours, problems that go on for far too long and seem virtually insoluble, particularly in a time of COVID.

Tuesday our regular West London Waste call. The scary bit of this is not so much COVID and new restrictions (though they won’t make waste services any easier, and this time I’m pleased we have been told to keep Space Waye open, unlike last time when we were told to shut it) as the Brexit transition. I reproduce this slide to show the risks WLWA are trying to mitigate, in conjunction with the 6 boroughs. There are a lot of known unknowns and there may be unknown unknowns too. But of course that is unknown.


Graphical user interface, text, application  Description automatically generated

I was supposed to go to a Future of London virtual meeting in the afternoon on planning, but with everything else going on at the moment I didn’t make it.

So back to my two-legged Lampton Leisure updates, starting with the Lampton Chair on Wednesday, to be followed by council officers and Samia Chaudhary on Thursday. Of course all our plans have been thrown somewhat into disarray by the return of Lockdown II – The Virus Strikes Back. The staff transition took place on Sunday and has gone very smoothly. They are all now on the London Living Wage and there is work to be done readying the centres to open, we hope in early December, lockdown allowing. Lampton have hired a new leisure MD who will start a week on Monday so that will take some of the strain from the existing management. Our contract with Fusion Leisure is at an end and the future will be very positive I think, if it ever happens!

Later on Wednesday afternoon we have our regular transport update. Loads of scrutiny of what we’ve done so far, some popular, some not, and we will very shortly be into the first round of independent interim reviews, which will likely lead to some changes, minor or radical. Some people are very exercised , which is fine, but threats on social media are definitely not fine. It’s also wearying to read people saying we’re declaring war on cars: I’m afraid that is arrant nonsense, but I do want people to think twice about using their cars and avoid it when they can. I will continue to use mine when I need it but I’ve discovered I actually need it very rarely.

Just about blogged out, a sunny afternoon beckons and I will no doubt have a new shovel load of emails when I look there. Looks like the Orange Caligula will have to resort to Caligula tactics if he wants to keep power, which is a bit better than it was when I abandoned the utterly useless TV programmes and newspaper websites in the early hours of Wednesday. We really need Peter Snow back.

Oh, (sorry about keeping doing this but…) it was gorgeous yesterday evening down Ferry Quays way.

A large body of water surrounded by trees  Description automatically generated

Cllr Guy Lambert

November 5, 2020

Bookmark and Share