Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
How you get rid of your potato peel could be costing us all money
Progress being made around Watermans Park
I met with the creative workspaces group on Thursday afternoon as anticipated. They have done an extensive survey of local creatives with a view to understanding what they need and how much they would be able to afford. The idea is to get a sense of the requirement for this space to inform how we can plan for it within Brentford. There are a wide variety of needs, some for dedicated space (workshops, studios, retail) some for space that might be shared or communal (rehearsal, performance, exhibition space and café/communal areas). I have fed this into the planners, though I’m unsure how it might be accommodated. At least we have some sense of the need and it was heartening to get over 40 responses.
Friday was an in person (!!!) meeting at Harrow Civic centre of West London Waste authority. Harrow is a horrible place to get to, by car, bike or public transport but as ever bike is best. On this occasion though, with my arms still a little dodgy and overnight frost I decided discretion was the better part of valour and drove. Heartening to find that the council car park is currently free so that saves me a few quid and a lot of hassle 😊 . Actually as one of the weird effects of the pandemic, the journey there in the tail end of the rush hour was pretty clear but the journey back in early afternoon was horrendous. It’s not easy to get definitive traffic levels but I hear they are now at roughly pre-pandemic levels in outer London. But I suspect what used to be a large peak in the rush hour is now more spread across the day.
This is the budget setting meeting for next financial year for the waste authority. Basically the 6 boroughs who are members pay the costs through complicated formulas, but the main component is the cost of disposing of waste. Our job is to minimise the tonnage we send to them for disposal which is charged at PAYT (Pay As You Throw) rates. For general residual waste which is sent to the incinerator near Bristol, we have to pay over £100 per tonne, whereas the rates for garden and food waste, which are recycled, are much lower. Every time you put a kilo of potato peelings or mouldy bread in your black bin in costs 9p in council tax, and actually food waste is heavy and it tends to smell, especially in the second week after your bin collection. Quite a lot of residual waste could be recycled (we think around 40% is food) so do your best! I have a bit of a wrangle with them about levels of reserves (I’d love to have them distributed) but discover that other Waste Authorities in London have between 3 and 7 times as much reserves as West London, so that rather spikes that gun.
In the evening I am at Watermans for a play about Medea – a Greek tragedy updated to modern suburbia but hardly a suburban experience, even if we’re in the suburbs. Actually a highly engaging one woman (plus two blokes providing music) show and very memorable. Dinner at La Rosetta afterwards, excellent service, food and ambience as ever.
On my trip to the Watermans my knee had made a sort of cracking noise as I headed down the stairs and I found myself hobbling quite some, so I had to cancel my plans to go door knocking at the weekend, which will be a relief for those behind the doors.
On Monday a meeting with people who live in Layton Road, at the Novotel. The road has had its problems over recent years and has some serious issues at present, including some recent alarming criminal activity. People are quite rightly looking for help from the authorities, and I was pleased to be joined by Police officers from our safer neighbourhood team. I came out with a long list of things to be addressed in the road, and this will be a focus over the coming weeks.
On Tuesday I had a couple of introduce themselves Zootings © - one with an old colleague from the IT industry 20 odd years ago (I suppose that was reintroduce). At the time he was talking of giving it all up and focusing on the orphanages he had set up in Romania but as it turns out here he is, still in the IT industry, still a salesman. Not sure I’m much use to him but nice to catch up.
Then it’s a new communications person: we’ve been keen to improve our communication about environment issues (see 9p per kilo above, plus flytipping and littering) and it’s good to have a professional on board to make this happen.
In the afternoon it’s the Lampton Group Finance and Risk session, a lengthy Zooting© where we go through the financial results, risks and issues of each of the companies.
Wednesday is meeting free apart from the Labour party AGM via zoom in the evening. It’s all a bit complicated because with the change in ward structure coming at the elections in May we’ve decided to reform our branches so there are a lot of new roles to be elected. As it happens, most are uncontested but as luck would have it we have to have one election, which is not straightforward via Zoom. The secretary has to email a ‘ballot paper’ to each voter, which is great except that one voter’s phone is broken and she’s using a borrowed phone where she can’t access email. A solution is created and inevitably the vote ends up in a draw. Penalty shoot outs are not recognised by the Labour party so it’s the time-honoured spin of a coin. Branch chair then searches his house in pursuit of a coin (a credit card is not accepted) and finds one down the sofa. He spins it, and it falls under the fridge. Eventually we have a result! I manage to avoid any party office, which is an excellent result as far as I’m concerned.
We’re round to Thursday again so I spend much of the morning writing the usual drivel. I have a catch up with my cabinet assistant at lunch time, then late afternoon I have a session with the leader and director of housing about various local planning matters, followed by Cabinet briefing in the evening. I need to read the papers for that, a modest 464 pages this time.
Well now, realised that my camera has been on strike this week so I didn’t have a single picture worth sharing.
So I went along to Watermans Park and tried to capture the progress there. It’s difficult with high Heras fencing and JCBs dotted about but it’s looking great (see top of article). I understand trees will be going in next week
Cllr Guy Lambert
January 28, 2022