Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Taking advice on tides from a possibly fake Captain Pugwash
Friday I was off to darkest Sutton to the Royal Marsden Hospital. Janice, to whom I was married for 25 years, needs a specialised test for the progress of her Hodgkins Lymphoma and this is the only place to do it. The ridiculous car’s air con works for part of the journey, which is more than can be said on Tuesday when I pick her up from chemo at Kingston Hospital. Anyway the good news is that the test has come out completely clear, but as is the way with these things I suppose, the treatment continues for now.
Anyway, the weekend was quiet, attending a BBQ put on very expertly by a former resident who is now slumming it in Ealing on Saturday, then on Sunday the Party on The Pier in Chiswick. There was a free boat ride down towards Hammersmith. Captain Pugwash (probably not his real name) who was giving the commentary kept saying there was only a few inches of water under us because it was a spring tide (I always thought they occurred in Spring but you live and learn)
Anyway it was a lovely event and gorgeous weather (not yet heatwave) and good company with Katherine Dunne and Amy Croft, amongst others. The automatic text says ‘a group of women posing for a photo’. Technology is not infallible.
Monday I was on parade bright and early for another set of interviews for a non exec director for the Lampton Homes company. We did this a while ago but ended up not hiring anybody. This time we did make an offer but for mysterious reasons we were turned down – so I’ll be back doing the same in a month or three.
In the afternoon we had a partnership workshop between the council and Lampton, about how we can work together to progress our climate emergency activities. Still plenty to be worked through but always good to talk.
Afterwards we had a Labour group meeting. We usually do this the day before Borough Council but we had postponed Borough Council because of the heatwave and everybody being urged not to travel. We might have cancelled the group meeting but we’re keen in this new administration to have more engagement with colleagues, and there a lot of meaty issues to talk through. Tonight we mainly talked about two issues – Electric Vehicle charging points and the cost of living crisis, and what the council can do to offer support.
Electric vehicles are tricky: they sold quite slowly in Hounslow until 2020 then last year there were way more registered here than even our higher scenario. But it’s trickier than that, because different vehicles have different needs and a charger in Bedfont isn’t much use to someone who lives in Brentford. Furthermore, an electric point on the street will usually take away a ‘normal’ space, which is unpopular with the vast majority who haven’t electrified, especially where parking is tight (like in much of Brentford). But we need to serve those with electric cars too (and we want to encourage them) so it’s a bit damned if we do and damned if we don’t. All we can do is try to balance all this as best we can.
The cost of living crisis is more serious and it’s only going to get worse, not only for the poorest, but for many on middle incomes too. The government support is pretty nominal and not very well targeted. There is a tiny bit of support for councils to try and help in emergencies, but this won’t paper many cracks so it seems inevitable that a lot of people will have real hardship as the months go by. We can’t help much as a council with income, but we will be offering whatever support we can with advice and emergency aid.
Tuesday was definitely stay at home and use strategies to avoid cooking yourself day, whilst Kemi Badenoch seems to thing global heating is a bore and Liz Truss proves yet again how she is economically illiterate. Even former Young Conservative leader Nick Robinson has trouble hiding his disdain on the Today programme.
Newsnight had an inadvertent (?) comment on the Tory leadership candidates – their subtitler compared them with the Torrey Canyon. People around in 1967 (virtually all Conservative voters!) will remember the wreck of this oil tanker as one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Now we have Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss, either of whom might make the Torrey Canyon disaster look like spilt milk.
On Wednesday I had a Zoompointment© with a physiotherapist. It seems in person physiotherapy is now a rarity. I had no idea how this would work but the physio asked me a lot of searching questions about where it hurts (this is my right knee, which went pop several months ago whilst I was trotting down the stairs and has been slightly dodgy ever since) and diagnosed what the damage was from that, some kind of ligament strain or tear. Then she emailed me an exercise routine and I will have another Zoompointment© in a few weeks. All very impressive and to be honest I felt just as well cared for as I would have done face to face.
In the afternoon Lampton Leisure board. Things continue to move in the right direction and my Direct Debit this month comes from Lampton Leisure (which is quite easy to understand) rather than Debit Finance, which it used to be: the first time I saw it I was on to the bank, thinking I was being scammed!
In the evening, a pleasant pint or three with the denizens of Brentford Voice, together with Katherine Dunne and Tom Bruce, the lead member for planning and regeneration. This was about Brentford regeneration matters, both the town centre and the Great West Corridor, and all very convivial. We’re hoping it was useful for Tom, who is new to this role and is very open to listening.
Today, Thursday morning, I hack into the Guildhall in the heart of the city. I am standing in for Katherine Dunne at a session laid on by London Councils, about car sharing schemes. Personally I think these are a wizard idea, but the difficult bit is to get them to critical mass, so that you can be pretty sure you can get hold of a car locally if you need one. I’m an old hypocrite, addicted to my daft great vehicle even though I barely use it. If I was rational I would send it off to the great garage in the sky and join one of these schemes myself, saving a heap of money and perhaps a tiny bit of planet. A very interesting discussion about what the car share companies themselves, the boroughs individually, the borughs acting together and TfL could do to promote them, which would be to everybody’s benefit. Will discuss with Katherine when we get a minute. The Guildhall is rather splendid.
I had cycled to Chiswick station to get a bit of exercise in the morning so it was a cinch to cycle back along Thames Road and join (albeit late) the celebrations around the opening to the public of the arch under Kew Bridge. Katherine is wielding the choppers, flanked by Ruth Cadbury and Will Norman, the London walking and cycling commissioner.
One of our council employees showed me her neat reuse idea. She had dug out an old handbag and fitted this natty bracket that secures it to her Brompton bike – neat, and I just love ideas to reuse old gear.
During the week I had adopted a tree, as urged by Hounslow Greentalk I am awarded a nickname – Plane7 – and I have this rather sad little blighter to rescue, if I can. Apparently it’s a Norway maple, and I’ve been trying to water it each day – they recommend 20 litres, but I struggle to provide more than 12.
Do adopt a young tree yourself if you can do a bit of watering (and if you can’t adopt, please water young trees anyway – they really need it in this weather).
Well, after all that fun it was back home for a Zooting© board meeting for Lampton Community Services. Lots of detailed work going on in the depths of the finances of Coalo, which struggles to make ends meet, and there is significant progress. And we’ve recently started really marketing our commercial waste service, which seems to be going down a storm – lots of proposals going out and a good number of them leading to new contracts, very promising.
Finally another Zooting© informal cabinet meeting. We talk about weeds again, and our contractors’ struggles to get on top of them without using poisons. We also talk about values, which is rather the opposite end of the scale from weeds! We developed a set of One Hounslow values last year which are now at the heart of how Hounslow officers go about their business. It was good to run through them again, and we’re also looking to make them public: they are the principles by which everybody in the council, members and employees, seek to serve.
Well, Newsnight is on the TV, which tells me it’s time to put this blog (and this bod) to bed. Not sure I can bear to watch Pinky Sunak and Perky Truss slagging each other off about policies they were so proud of a couple of weeks ago. Pinky and Perky, you belong together, preferably as far as possible away from the helm of our country. The greased piglet is on the way out, but I’m not sure we should celebrate too much.
Cllr Guy Lambert
July 22, 2022