Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Similar job, new title, Orchard Road and a net gain of pubs
This is blog number 342, apparently, which reminds me that my home phone number when I was a child was 342-1575. Actually it was Heswall 1575 before that, when we had a party line and had to connect all calls by talking to the operator ‘this is Heswall 1575, can I speak to Royal 9944’. Having a party line should have been fun, as you got to listen to the other lot’s conversations if you picked up the phone at the right moment, but our other party – we had no idea who they were – were reliably very boring. This is the kind of nonsense you have to put up with if you read this.
Anyway, back to the usual stuff. Where was I? Ah yes, I was off to Walthamstow to look at their eco show home and estate regeneration. So bike to Hammersmith then tube to Walthamstow Central and a short walk to the eco home. This was the unsuspecting Victorian terrace on the right, which shortly will house council tenants – at the moment it’s a demonstration place. Wish I’d taken more pictures – we were promised some but they haven’t come yet. They have put external insulation on the outer walls around the house, maybe 10cm thick. Except they couldn’t at the front as it’s a Conservation Area, so they have insulated the walls inside. Obviously you lose a little bit of living area, but not so you’d really notice. They have (obviously) done loft insulation and (not so obviously) underfloor insulation. They put a little toy moon buggy robot thing under the floor and it sprays up gunge on the bottom of the floorboards. I remember the draughts whistling through the floor when I lived in a Victorian house.
Out in the back garden is a lesser-spotted air source heat pump. This had been a mythical creature to me – I’d never seen one. It looks a bit like a cassette air con unit but it’s about 6 times as big. In the utility cupboard there’s a hot water cistern (takes you back), an electric boiler, and a lot of panel thingies with flashing lights – these are the batteries which store the energy from solar panels on the roof. Other features too numerous to mention, but this was really fascinating. The regenerated estate (photo above) was not so unique but gave an insight to how these things progress. This used to be a very afflicted estate with ASB etc and now seems very pleasant, though personally I would have a lot more green space and less concrete piazzas.
All in all a fascinating day and I really value these days out where I get a perspective on what’s going on in other boroughs.
In the evening, back to Hounslow House for the Labour AGM part 2. This was something of a non-event for me as it was mainly for the elections for Labour representatives on the Overview and Scrutiny committee, elections in which cabinet members are not allowed to take part, so I repaired with a few colleagues to my favourite Hounslow Indian restaurant, Honey Moon, via a pit stop at a new sort of food court (and beer court) in Hounslow High Street. I was quite impressed.
Before that all us cabinet members had to visit the headmaster in his study (or, technically, the council leader-elect in his office) to be told of our Cabinet portfolios. Mine is much the same as before, with a new name. Salman and I were slightly confused that both our roles mention parks but worked out that it’s his job to make them beautiful and fill them with happy, smiling people and it’s mine to go in afterwards and clear up the resulting mess. It’s actually a sensible split of responsibilities and means I am now truly to blame for all mess anywhere in the borough rather than just being blamed unfairly for it.
On Saturday several of us councillors from the three Brentford wards met with Brentford Voice in one of the welcome additions to my ward, The Black Dog. We’ve picked up 4 pubs in the boundary changes – Dog, Beehive, Kings Arms, Royal Horse Guardsman – and lost only 3 – The Express, One Over the Ait and the currently defunct O’Riordans so I reckon that’s a decent trade (though of course the Princess Royal is no more). I digress. We were talking about the upcoming Canal Festival Brentford Voice are organising on 25th June This is an exciting event and us councillors will be helping out on the day.
On Monday afternoon I went to Orchard Road with a colleague from Traffic to meet with local residents from Orchard and York Roads and talk about the parking issues and what we are trying to do to alleviate them. We are due some written proposals from the traffic team by tomorrow, but the parking problems hereabouts will be difficult to resolve in the short term – there are just more cars seeking spaces than road space to accommodate them. We discussed a couple of ideas with residents but they can’t be implemented overnight.
On Tuesday I was planning to get to the Speak Out AGM at the Steam Museum, but I couldn’t make it. On Monday the waste disposer I have in my flat had a hissy fit whilst I was trying to get rid of the husk of a pomegranate and I observed water, mixed with a kind of pomegranate and chicken porridge, coming out of my cupboard under the sink. Lovely. The excellent Jason from Villa Plumbing and Heating in Challis Road immediately agreed to come and fix things up but I was waiting in for his arrival (and of course he fixed quickly and economically, remarking that he had seen my face on something that came through his door. I told him I had put it through, early one Thursday morning a couple of weeks ago).
I did manage to attend a Zooting © update on the works in Watermans Park. The fact that it is not quite finished is frustrating, but doesn’t it look wonderful in its not quite finished state?
On Wednesday morning, a Zooting© with a comms person, where she asked me a series of questions about my background and what my task is in cabinet, and what I hope to achieve etc. I imagine these profound insights will be published somewhere, sometime.
Later we had the board of Lampton Community Services. A lot of progress, with our commercial waste service now introduced on a trial basis prior to a more extensive launch in late June/early July. This has been a long time coming but everything about it looks very professional and I have high hopes that it will both be a decent business and will help improve our environment, particularly around parades of shops. We will learn more during the course of this year.
In the evening a Labour Party members meeting, well attended in Isleworth Public Hall. I cycle there (and back) through the pitch dark (on the way back) Syon Park and have a little inner seethe that I am allowed to cycle there in darkness but not on the beautiful new cycle lane in Watermans Park because there are no lights (it is about 50 times more lit from the street lights than Syon Park is by the moon on a cloudless night). I’m afraid this is the cyclist’s lot – we are obliged to wrestle with buses and the odd Lamborghini on Brentford High Street and Chiswick High Road because the largely complete cycle lanes have not been signed off as safe. We are told to hang around in the lion’s cage because the inspectors have not certified the footpath free of vicious voles.
So, round to Thursday again. A morning cycle ride (like so many mornings) a bit of blogging and a rare lunch in La Rosetta with the chair of Lampton Group, where we compare notes on challenges and opportunities for the four years ahead. Decent lunch and stimulating conversation. Before lunch I had an email with this picture:
It shows the hoarding (designed right next to where I live in Brentford) surrounding the ‘New Road Triangle’ site in Feltham where Lampton Development are just starting on site to build 176 new flats, mostly for social rent. It’s been a real struggle to get this to construction, given the Brexit and pandemic-related upheavals in the building market, and I’m proud to be associated – admittedly rather tenuously - with this. It will be a fantastic development and will help another tranche of families into good accommodation, from the housing list or from currently overcrowded accommodation, Hurrah!
This afternoon, after I’ve finished this, I have Lampton Group Finance and Performance review, then off to Hounslow House in the evening for a couple of face to face meetings and the ‘marketplace’ event, where all the council services show off their wares to each other and to councillors, new and old. And ancient.
Cllr Guy Lambert
May 26, 2022