Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert
Should the borough's parched parks be getting Brown Flag Awards?
On Friday morning Lara and I met for a little wardabout, going through most of the streets in the ward to inspect how they were looking following the ward cleaning day which was Thursday (i.e. the day before, for those with a limited grasp of the calendar). There was actually very little litter about, but the ward does not look like we would want it to, largely because of weeds. As I may have mentioned, we have stopped using weedkiller almost entirely in the borough and it’s evident that our contractor, Hounslow Highways, is still struggling to get to grips with non-toxic weed removal techniques, something that every borough is likely to have to grapple with shortly as the almost universal weedkiller glyphosate is likely to be banned due to its toxicity to insects and (probably) people.
To be fair, some people say weeds are just a different word for flowers, and some look really great, but nobody likes tufts of them in gutters or tripping you up when they grow in cracks in the pavement so we are putting plenty of pressure on contractors to find solutions. New tools are coming out which help. We bumped into a crew in Avenue Road who were busy with hoes and chatted to them for a bit as they worked. It’s hard graft and slow progress and must have been pretty hellish when it was 40 degrees: thankfully by last Friday the weather was more temperate.
There were some no parking signs (it’s almost impossible to get at weeds in the gutter when cars are parked) and parking on the side of the street they were tackling was quite thin, but still some parked cars. Do try and move your cars if you see these signs, or if you see people weeding – it makes a huge difference to productivity and effectiveness (and avoids any danger of your pride and joy getting a ding.
Somebody had asked me what to do with a dodgy-looking canister she had found on Hamilton Road – could it go in the recycling? I didn’t know the answer so decided to retrieve it myself. Turns out to be Nitrous Oxide and I think is used to make cream fizzy. I have consulted with colleagues and it turns out it’s likely recyclable if empty but will probably explode if crushed with gas in it, so it will be taking a trip to Space Waye after my holiday so people who know what they are doing can sort it out. One of the perils of the recycling business is how many things are likely to explode under pressure, from an AAA battery to a large canister of gas. I’m told there is a fire in a recycling centre in England every week as a result: we’ve had one or two minor ones at Southall Lane but so far our vigilant team have prevented any serious fires.
After our walkabout (or more accurately Bikeabout) I repaired down to Rye By The Water for a tranquil break.
Not many places on this planet (or other planets, I imagine) where you can see a 1914 Cadillac parked next to an eyeless Rolls Royce Phantom with a Fiat 500 Gamine lurking in the background. The latter will likely look like this when Romance of Rust have consummated their affair with it.
On Monday morning I had my monthly catch up with ‘my’ Exec Director. We talked about the civil enforcement team and the vehicle fleet department which are now within my remit and both with plenty of challenges, not least ‘greening’ the fleet – Hounslow has around 400 vehicles from light vans through school buses to refuse trucks and traditionally they have nearly all been diesel. Now we are moving as fast as possible to non-polluting or less-polluting alternatives. The technology is changing all the time and it is not - yet at least – feasible to have (for example) electric bin lorries, and in any case we would have to invest heavily in infrastructure to charge them.
Civil enforcement is going through substantial changes to improve focus on the things that make a big difference to safety and well-being, which are priorities for the next few years (and probably for evermore!). We also talked some more about weeds and cleanliness and a little about bins, but the recycling and waste service is going well and I have very little to moan about at present.
Later I have the first of a number of Lampton Zootings© this week – this being the group finance and risk committee. I’d like to stay for Health and Safety – a big issue in Lampton where there are a lot of quite safety-critical activities – but it’s time for our surgery at the library. 3 visitors (well actually 4, but one was a couple), one about ASB in Lateward Road, one about planning issues opposite the station in Boston Manor Road and one about improving the gardens in a small council estate. Good discussions with good people and a pleasure to be working with them and with Lara.
On Tuesday I cycle out to Cranford Community College to meet one of my fellow trustees of Hounslow’s Promise. We need to set up budgets now we have finally persuaded the good burghers of Lloyds Bank to deign to award us a bank account.
Then a crosstown ride to Inwood Park, where I have been asked to stand in for Salman Shaheen, who is busy being a new daddy, at a photo session celebrating our 21 Green Flag parks. I hadn’t really appreciated Inwood Park. It is quite extensive, and bang in the middle of Hounslow. Part of it is fenced off at present because we’re about to start building a water splash facility – would have been super popular a couple of weeks ago and will no doubt come into its own in future years to help stop young Hounslovians cooking in the global heat.
I did remark that in the present weather we should perhaps rename these awards brown flag, but Inwood Park is a real credit to Simon, who has worked for the council (then John Laing, then Carillion, then Greenspace360) for 44 years. Apparently the single rugby post which presumably means that one-way rugby can be played here was donated by the Rugby Football Union on the occasion of the World Cup when it was held in England in 2015. Keen observers will note I have contracted a case of bicycle trouser (see picture at top of article).
After that, a brief catch up with the Lampton director who looks after Recycling and Waste and the vehicle fleet, then I was free until the Lampton Group board on Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile I heard a worrying story about lionesses running wild in Sheffield and mauling some unfortunate Swedish women. I didn’t see this on the TV because for one thing I was out to dinner and for another I have a sensitive nature and wouldn’t want to get upset. Others of a sensitive nature should steer clear of Wembley on Sunday as I have heard these same lionesses will be there, hunting German women and it could all get very messy. By that time I will (British Airways, customs, Heathrow, fires, COVID etc permitting) be well out of harm’s way on a Greek island.
This afternoon I will have a brief meeting with Katherine Dunne to talk about car sharing companies and other matters of mutual interest and later a Lampton Development and Investment Board, then a cabinet briefing with the main matter for discussion being our plans for a greener Hounslow.
Early in the morning I’m off to Heathrow so there will be no service on this channel for 2 weeks, though new councillor Dan Bowring has agreed to step into the breach for at least next week: expect an upgrade in intellect and wit. Obviously I will be thinking of Brentford every minute I’m away and pining to be back here in a couple of weeks’ time.
Cllr Guy Lambert
July 29, 2022