Having a Grand Time as Zombies Descend on Hounslow
Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back on his week
Friday was meeting free, but it presaged a weekend that turned out to be quite full of activities.
First of all, a resident of Clayton Crescent wrote to me following me welcoming the application of external insulation to their homes there, saying there were problems with the way the work had been done – not, let me quickly say, by our very own Coalo, but by an external contractor. I arranged to meet her on Saturday morning, but when I arrived I was met by a number of different residents all with stories to tell of problems minor or severe. It felt like one of those old films where the townsfolk come out and confront Jimmy Stewart about some local grievance. It took me a while to get around to it but I have just sent off a dossier of casework this morning.
In the evening I had heard of something called Deblozay – part of the Summer of Culture and led by Watermans – taking place in Hounslow. Deblozay is apparently Haitian creole for chaos, so it sounded like my kind of culture. Wow, what an evening. We started in Inwood Park in central Hounslow which seemed quite peaceful in the dark until various ‘people’ or zombies started to emerge from the undergrowth. Drums started playing and we were then led around central Hounslow as if we were following the Pied Piper of Hounslow.
As the pipers led us through the Treaty Centre, the High Street, outside Asda, sometimes emerging on nearby roofs and finally to Bell Square, various weird instruments called out – vuvuzelas, carrot graters -and it was impossible not to dance, even for fat septuagenarians. Finally the zombies themselves danced with real humans (I think) in Bell Square. Two hours of fun and wonder, for free. Lovely.
No peace for the wicked – Sunday morning I was up bright and early (by my own lame standards) to visit the Community Garden the Heston Action Group are creating in the Sutton Playing fields in – you guessed it – Heston. Having finally tracked down where these playing fields are (Google Sat Nav not hugely helpful!) it was a delight to see what they have already achieved. The HAGs are such a great group in many ways and always a pleasure to see them but there was an ulterior motive this time. I know they have installed some water tanks to catch water off local roofs and put it to good use supporting plants, trees etc. Inspired by Brentford Voice Lara (and I) is keen to see if we can do something similar in Brentford so it was a bit of a fact finding mission for me. Lara wasn’t around but has arranged to take a Brentford posse to meet them shortly.
The garden is taking shape, and it was nice to see a new volunteer from the surrounding houses being initiated whilst I was there. They experienced one of the grass fires blown over from the other side of their fence but are extremely undaunted!
They have about 4 tanks installed – two huge ones and two smaller ones like this. They have persuaded a local farmer to support them with some of the equipment and Greenspace to fill the tanks in these dry times.
Then it was back to Brentford to the Steam Museum. I had been invited to the preview of @Brentfordthrumylens’s (also known as Karen Reader) exhibition at the Steam Museum. The Exhibition opens to the public on the 3rd of September 2022 & into early 2023. The Museum is open every weekend from 10am until 4pm. This was well up to Karen’s always high standard, and I was inspired to fill in a card of my own first memory of Brentford in about 1978. As it will go on for a while there is no reason to miss it!
By favourite was this ad for the Beehive Brewery in Catherine Wheel Yard, (now Road, or even Blue Road!). The beehive in this picture seems very closely related to the one now on top of the pub!
By this time I was getting a bit weary but I wasn’t going to miss the music and storytelling on Brentford Lock Piazza, so off I went there and again it was great - really creative and fun to watch.
In the evening I had dinner on my neighbour’s balcony and caught a Brentford sunset.
It got oranger later but I was too busy tucking in by then.
I recovered from all this fun on Monday, having realised I couldn’t hold my ward surgery in the library as it was closed for Bank Holiday. Lara and I are always happy to talk anyway, outside of surgery times, so don’t hesitate to contact us (or Marina, or Rhys, or Katherine, or Dan, or Balraj) via our council emails or phones!
On Tuesday morning I was down to the depot in Hounslow with my cabinet assistant Aqsa Ahmed to see the electric refuse wagon we currently have on trial.
We had a short run with the demonstrator chap and it was all nice and apparently they perform well in trials. Trouble is they currently cost about 3 times as much as a diesel version, which itself costs quite a bit more than a Dacia (or a Bentley for that matter) so we are being careful about how and when we introduce them. We will also need lots of new infrastructure and we don’t have the capacity to do that in our current depot. The immediate plan is to switch as soon as we can to HVO fuel which reduces net emissions by about 85% I’m told – and you can use in a previously diesel vehicle. Hydrogen is another option - I wonder if Lara and I can fit a tank on the exhaust pipe to capture the water a hydrogen vehicle spews out!
I hadn’t realised that the animal control team are based at the depot too and it was good to chat with them in person. We were also introduced to two temporary residents including this delightful puppy.
Don’t all rush -he/she (I didn’t ask) has an owner and our officers hope they will soon be reunited.
In the afternoon it’s Lampton Group Finance and Health and Safety – plenty happening but nothing very exciting – then the police ward panel. Again. Plenty happening, and we will miss PC Dan Topps who is moving on (as they do) but we will still have our other PC Dan who knows the wards well and our great PCSO Angela Mirzai who is a Brentford veteran, plus Sergeant Jim Cope, so service and engagement, which have improved greatly in recent years, should be maintained.
Wednesday morning we’re out on the Canal opposite GSK with people from the Canal and River Trust, Sky, JC Decaux and other local businesses all of whom are keen to improve the towpath between the A4 and the High Street so their people can take advantage of the new town centre that’s emerging. We’re really keen to support this and get community groups engaged and it’s a real delight to see our local employers stepping up (nice people too!)
Then, via a few minutes in the Digital Dock, we’re off to the A4. Brentford Voice have jogged us to revisit an old chestnut – the general unattractiveness of the A4, particularly where it has the M4 overhead (ie all Lara’s and my ward) and the barrier it creates between the two halves of Brentford. As I remarked in a tweet, this is a wound in the town we can never heal, but we can at least improve the scar tissue it has created. Lara and I are accompanied by someone from Brentford Voice, plus someone from the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society and a council officer who has the job of making the road better. This is really kicking around ideas at an early stage, and I think it was illuminating for the council officer in particular. But it also sparked ideas amongst the rest of us. Hoping some plans will emerge shortly for councillors and the community to mull over.
There is a mouldy old box in the middle of the A4 which looks like it dates back to the days of Henry VIII. I suppose his seventh wife may be incarcerated there, but I find there is a logo on the hut – and it relates to my old employer, Honeywell, though I personally very definitely plead not guilty, y’honour.
Round to Thursday, and a quick update with the Lampton Group chair. This evening we have Overview and Scrutiny committee plus an informal cabinet meeting.
Need to recover for a bit, so see you next week,
Councillor Guy Lambert
September 1, 2022