Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Mainly talking rubbish again this week
On Friday morning I had a formal meeting of the West London Waste Authority. Sometimes I lose track of things because I blather on about waste, recycling and its challenges so often so forgive me if I’ve said this before but I think it bears repeating.
Our target, currently, is to double our recycling rate which has been flat across the 6 boroughs for nearly 10 years. Ours in Hounslow is inching up by a percent or two a year but would take several years on current trends to get to 65% unless something else changes, But what is most likely to change will actually reduce recycling rates as (we all hope) the ‘polluter pays’ principle gathers pace and people who sell you plastic containers and drinks cans and beer bottles introduce deposit schemes so they take most of them back again.
I’m impressed by West London Waste: they have a good grasp of what needs to be done, are an influential adviser to government and work well with the boroughs.
We – the 6 West London Boroughs – have done a stunning job of reducing our use of landfill
But we have plateaued in our rate of recycling
In the afternoon I’m down at Green Dragon School, or in North Road to be more precise. To try to minimise crowding amongst pupils and parents, they’ve started exiting some children through the back doors. But this has led to some near accidents on the North Road cul de sac because children and parents spill out onto the road and people live at the far end of the road so a few need to access or egress whilst the road is blocked. We’re hoping that a bit of cooperation and give and take can resolve the problem, though the school would love to have a bit of volunteer support in the shape of a kind of ‘penny arrow’ person (a step below a lollipop) to help oil the wheels of cooperation – any volunteers?
Saturday I go to Twickenham to check out the Eel Pie Island artists exhibition and sale. I buy a lovely set of place mats depicting a certain river and canal-side town I know and love by my favourite Brentford artist. Wendy is still looking for a studio in Brilliantville if anyone can help.
On Sunday it was Chiswick Flower Market, just lively enough when a friend and I visited late in the day. My friend very kindly bought me a large houseplant which now festoons the corner of my flat and provides a home for a few fairy lights that overflow the window.
On Monday morning I had a session with the new MD of the property companies in Lampton. This was mainly about the proposed development in the New Road site in Feltham, which is likely to be very largely either council homes or ones on genuinely affordable rent. I gave him a steer about some things that I’d like to see to improve the public realm thereabouts.
Then it was down to Coalo headquarters in Ashmead Road Feltham for a meeting with Mr 55 th Mayor and a thank you to another bunch of local heroes who have supported the community (and continue to) through the lockdowns – the repair people who look after our council properties.
In the evening, I attended an hour or so of a seminar put on by the London Jewish community for councillors. There was a decent turnout, and we learned about many Jewish voluntary organisations, some more religious than others, who provide strong support to their own and other communities. The pandemic has brought the support activities of many different faiths to light and they are highly valued, even by the likes of me who don’t have religion.
On Tuesday I went down to Watermans Park with Friends reps to meet the contractor and people from council property who are jointly trying to get the marina (and its surrounding bits) built and occupied. Having been delayed by the pandemic they are now really stymied by the closure of Hammersmith Bridge. It seems the Port of London Authority is at best going to allow one day a month next year for navigation under the bridge. The various rotting hulks on site have to be broken up on site – refloating them is not permitted by the PLA – and taken down to (I think) the Medway in bits. But this cannot be achieved in a day, so the crane and cutting boat will have to cut up a boat and then wait a month to dispose of it. Apparently no yard upstream of Hammersmith can deal with this, so unless there’s a change of heart this will take a long time. Until the hulks are cleared they cannot start the piling for the marina, and sod’s law will no doubt dictate we’re then in the heron nesting season. We urge access to the park at the Eastern end to be restored and I agree to liaise with traffic/TfL (for the Cycleway) and our parks team to ensure we all work together for the best programme we can achieve.
Afterwards I repaired for a coffee to the Watermans centre – what a pleasure to be in there again – and encountered some strange people outside – very Brentford.
In the evening, Cabinet. Quite a long agenda but we got through it pretty quickly. The challenging outcome was the report from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on our Streetspace schemes and their governance. Their recommendations in many cases mirrored what we plan to do anyway but it’s always helpful to get a different perspective and it is sharpening our focus.
The other cabinet paper that caught my fancy was the one about Community Engagement and Consultation. It’s very hard to keep on top of some of these long reports (there were well over 300 pages of material for cabinet) but this one is full of really important ideas about how we improve engagement and I’ll be coming back to it again and again I reckon.
Wednesday morning, a couple of hours in Boston Manor Park with the landscape architect who has designed the scheme with extensive input from ecologists and arboriculturalists (try saying that after 5 pints and a scotch egg), together with Friends, Greenspace and a council officer. The Joy of Six meant that it was between me and the Melvinator, and he lost out. People are very worried and have been upset by the changes to the park. I have been reassured by correspondence recently and indeed Wednesday’s meeting. I hope the Friends were too, though I haven’t had a chance to review it with them as yet.
Then a quick lunch in the Black Dog with my erstwhile councillor colleague Sam Christie. Hot Dog in the Black Dog, almost poetic.
A chat over zoom about FoodBox matters and then our fortnightly traffic update. We are just beginning to get objective data about the effects of the changes on traffic patterns, bus times etc in Chiswick, which will feed into the first of our interim reviews, likely to be held shortly now after a delay to accommodate Overview and Scrutiny. Inevitably, discussion about Swyncombe Avenue, where consultation is about to start, extended to allow for the Christmas break, which I thought preferable to deferring to January.
I hoped to get to the Brentford Voice/Ballymore review but I was going out in the evening and I just ran out of time. I’ve spent a bit of time today, Thursday, mulling over their Brentford identity survey, but I need more time to give it a proper read.
Round to Blogsday, aka Thursday and an early start – 8.30 for a Coalo strategy presentation (well worth it) then straight into a 10 am one to do with the skatepark ambition. We’re struggling to find a place in Brentford but we have two ideas to take forward. We never thought it would be easy, but this felt like another hour well spent (though I’m not sure the isolating child who was an occasional contributor would agree!)
Then over to the Greenspace Depot in Western International Market. They have invested in some new toys machinery to improve working methods and to save on the cost of the previous rented equipment. That yellow thing behind be rips out tree stumps and sorts out the mess left behind (I think he said) and is one of only 5 in the UK. They’ll be saving tens of thousands just on the rentals aside from any productivity gains. It was good to see 4 flagpoles inside, ready for our 4 new Green Flag awards.
Last item of the blogweek was our regular update on leisure services. Delighted to hear that Brentford Fountain is opening (not the swimming pool yet) on Monday, and the ones due this week have opened on time. I hear they got the Chiswick boiler going, finally, but then it failed again and they are awaiting a part, but between Lampton Leisure and the council asset team we’re making steady progress across the centres.
Brentford Library is now more extensively open and I’m going there tomorrow to have a look around, together with Samia Chaudhary and the Melvinator. My spies tell me it looks great, so looking forward to it!
Cllr Guy Lambert
December 11, 2020