Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Bhangra dancing on tiles arranged by Nadine Dorries
Off I went to the Sheraton Skyline hotel, where the Lampton Leisure meet was being held (they had been bumped from a cheaper council-owned venue, apparently). You think you’re nearly there when you get to the Hounslow West Roundabout, but it’s actually about another 100 miles, or feels like it. I missed a lot of the fun, but arrived when one of our Non Exec Directors – a local GP – was talking about how Lampton Leisure can contribute (and is contributing) to health in general by helping people to get fitter, less obese, happier. There were some lovely testimonials from people – all I think middle aged women – whose lives had been really improved by some ‘social prescribing’ of leisure activities.
Lampton Leisure have introduced or are in the process of introducing more than 50 new activities or facilities over the course of the current year, which is truly impressive. They also have been running the HAF programme – Healthy Activities and Food for schoolchildren during holidays and have had nearly 2000 attendees with stunning feedback. I also this week bumped into someone who had joined Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre in preference to the private gym he previously attended. He was full of praise for the facility, the ‘deal’ and especially the staff who welcomed him in.
I heard at the meeting that they have secured a lorry load of chlorine. So what? You might say – well, it’s enough to keep our swimming pools open for 6 weeks. There is a world shortage of chlorine (!) and many pools are closing because they can’t get it.
I am so proud of Lampton Leisure, and they are really only just getting started.
On Friday evening it was up to the Indian Gymkhana club in Osterley for the Mayor’s inaugural dinner. Dress code was smart and I’d done a lot of cycling about on a warm day, so for once in my life I drove. A little embarrassing as I had refused The Melvinator a lift on the grounds I was cycling but needs must. This meant alcohol consumption needed to be strictly controlled, but the event was lively and I really enjoyed the Bhangra dancers (amongst other things)
I found myself wondering who had arranged the tiles on the dance floor. Decided the only person interested in culture who would have the talent for this was the culture minister, Nadine Dorries.
Sue Sampson organised an auction and succeeded in extorting large sums of money out of those present, for prizes of debatable value. I was ready to bid an outrageous £100 on one item, but the opening bid was for £200 and it sold I think for £500. Blimey. A decent sum raised for the mayor’s charity which seems a most worthy cause, especially as the founder and polio victim Arun Patel graced us with a powerful speech. I was lucky enough to win two prizes in the raffle – 6 tins of Indian beer (made in Harold Wood, Essex, obviously) and 6 glasses to put it in. Last time I won a raffle it was chocolate flavoured red wine, yum yum.
On Saturday morning I hie to heavenly Heston for the Heston Action Group AGM. Arriving at the community centre there doesn’t seem to be a lot of action so I circle the place, looking through windows, appearing to anybody watching as if I’m casing the joint. Having made several phone calls I eventually consult the invitation, which of course is for Sunday, which I can’t do, so brilliant organisation as ever.
Anyway, means I make it in a timely fashion to the first ever open mic event in Watermans Park, having first stopped for some cooling Neck Oil at the Brewery Tap and discovered a ‘wellness market’ thereabouts. Some outdoor massaging going on and I decided to buy myself a ‘garden in a bottle’.
I omitted to take any pics of the Open Mic event but I did take a video. I tried to load it but failed. Console yourself with the knowledge that the quality of musicianship by the open Mickers was way beyond the standard of camerawork from your correspondent.
Following an excellent Saturday dinner in Siracusa (always a favourite of mine, now with the added attraction of customers) Sunday morning saw me back in the vicinity for our second mass surgery at the Digital Dock. Not as mass as it might have been as Balraj and Marina had COVID, Dan had a kidney stone, and Katherine didn’t have COVID but didn’t know that until she’d managed to persuade someone to sell her a test – so she arrived later. A few friends and ‘customers’ dropped in and all in all, I think a good way of trying to engage which will only get better when the High Street revives further.
Then Lara and I were off to the Armenian Summer Festival in North Acton playing fields. This was a lovely event – very friendly people, some excellent free food and drink and great entertainments.
Lara joined in the dancing but I decided to save my talent in this pursuit for another occasion.
On Monday I was down at the Watermans to meet The Melvinator for a catchup. That was nice, and fortuitously the chair of the Friends of Watermans Park came in – they had been trying and failing to contact each other so Mel paid over his £10 sub and is now a member.
After that a Zooting© with a finance director at the council. We are working with APSE (the Association for Public Service Excellence) to review our strategy for the companies with and expert outside body, and this was a discussion about terms of reference. Then off to Hounslow House for a compulsory training session. Turned out to be a duplicate of one I’d already attended so I took a rain check at the first convenient break in proceedings. Not my week for organisation.
Tuesday I was due to lunch with the chair of Lampton Group and Shantanu, the leader, but unfortunately Shantanu has developed the dreaded lurgy so it was just the two of us. Plenty to keep us going though and these meetings are always helpful.
Afterwards I was up to Clitherow Road, where a lot of the residents continue to experience difficulties – mainly around noise and privacy – following changes to the school’s outside area. Trying to find a solution between the school, the Catholic Diocese, The Department for Education and the council but at present we seem to be getting nowhere much, and not even fast!
On Wednesday morning we had arranged an onsite meeting in Boston Manor park with the team there – an update for me and a familiarisation for Lara. Glorious morning and a lovely day to spend an hour and a half looking at this beautiful park. I can see the progress every time I visit though the lake has still to be finished due (you’ve guessed it) to materials problems – in this case oak, which I think will line the edges when it’s done. Didn’t worry this moorhen though, Apparently she took over a nest from coots after their chicks had been predated by someone (probably a heron or a crow). We’re all pulling for baby moorhen when he/she emerges.
After that a meet with a resident in the River Café over a housing issue, then a session back at the Digital Dock with local graphic design man Simon, various councillors and Rhys Williams. This was about some ideas Simon had floated about improving the environment under the M4, and maybe elsewhere in Brentford. Felt very promising and we will build on that in the coming weeks.
So we’re round to Thursday, and an early start. Cycleway 9 is now complete and open between the far side of Hammersmith Broadway – actually pretty much to the border of recalcitrant Kensington and Chelsea - and Turnham Green. It’s rather a wonderful cycling experience and made all the better by how busy it’s getting, especially the numbers of families on their Babboes or kiddie bikes.
Anyway, Katherine and I meet Will Norman, Walking and Cycling commissioner at the GLA and his colleague John Futcher and ride to the far end of Hammersmith and back to Chiswick. He is complimentary about the partnership with Hounslow and the workmanship and project skills of Hounslow Highways. The Department for Transport have shown their commitment to the strategic development of our capital city again, by agreeing long term funding support for no less than 19 days. Wow. Seriously, Will is hopeful that the years of wrangling might come to an end soon, and that there will be an agreed position covering 2 or 3 years. Hardly a lifetime in transport terms, but a start.
Later Lara, Rhys and I spent a couple of hours with EcoWorld, the developer of the Brentford stadium complex and various other things locally (including, probably, Griffin Park in due course). We had a tour of a couple of their ‘market rent’ flats, which are pretty nice and apparently doing very well attracting tenants despite today’s market rents. They mention to Rhys that he could watch Brentford playing whilst still in bed.
After that, a session in the Express with an academic from UCL who’s keen to support entrepreneurship round here in Brentford. Interesting conversation, and he tells me his similar activities in Camden have been very successful. We have to work out between us how to take this forward.
Cllr Guy Lambert
July 15, 2022