Holding the Area Forum at the Vacuum Cleaner Mecca

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back on his week

The Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum at the Gtech stadium
The Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum at the Gtech stadium


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Taking advice on tides from a possibly fake Captain Pugwash

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December 2, 2022

Best plan laid… well favourite bike’s front paw had gone soft again so the trusty Heffalump made the trip to the vacuum cleaner Mecca (also known as the Community stadium) for the Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum.

Bit different to what we’re used to – we even got served some very tasty soup which blended superbly with the soup I’d had 20 mins earlier at home, and nice to have my favourite tipple – fizzy water.

A brilliant new idea on the agenda – a presentation from some local young people – actually two, one for 11-17, and one for 18-25 – to tell us what they want from the council. It’s worth reproducing their summaries here (18-25)

  • Young people want SAFER STREETS, with a focus on reducing CRIME & antisocial behaviour.
  • EDUCATION should focus on helping young people to transition into adult life
  • Young people want to see more support in transitioning into JOBS, and support with CAREER advice and gaining experience.
  • Young people would like support with HOUSING, especially those who are in the criminal justice system.
  • Young people would feel happier with CLEANER ENVIRONMENTS, especially focusing on reducing litter and improving cleanliness in busy areas
  • Young people enjoy spending time OUTSIDE, but parks should be made safer.
  • Young people enjoy eating food in Hounslow, going to restaurants and shopping.
  • More accessible MENTAL HEALTH support is incredibly important for young people, especially those who have left education
  • Young people like how DIVERSE Hounslow is, any many feel a sense of community here

Vimeos from both groups are here – well worth a couple of minute for each!

Hounslow Young Researchers (11 - 17)

Hounslow Young Researchers (18 - 25 Responses)

e had an update about the Ward Improvement Areas. This is a new team just formed. They work for the head of recycling and the idea of this team – mostly or maybe all existing people mainly from the bin team – is to have a more comprehensive responsibility to improve cleanliness etc within their ward (or actually several wards). It’s something I’ve been keen to get going and has taken longer than I would have liked but I’m very hopeful it will make a big difference.

The rest of the IBAF agenda was fairly normal – update from the cops (they don’t like crime and are doing their best) questions from residents about this and that.

On Friday morning, a telephone call with the MD of Lampton Community Services. There’s a lot going on in Coalo, Greenspace, Recycling and Cleaning services etc and with me having been off the radar for a couple of months there was a lot to catch up on. LCS is coming to its next development – business recycling launched and getting a lot of new customers, cleaning getting more business among schools for example, Coalo getting its act together after a difficult period and Greenspace doing well, but we’d like to do some more development of business.

Then I cycled into Fulham to attend the Physio for my arm/shoulder at Charing Cross. Nice man but he gives exercises to do, sometimes a bit sore. Then on line for a Hounslow’s Promise Trustee meeting. I am trying to edge out of this role: I don’t really have the time to give it what it deserves and they have some new trustees so I’m taking my chance.

Then I had a chat with a consultant surgeon I know, who’d very kindly spent some time looking over my medical records on my recent fun. It is all a bit confusing and I have been unable to provide any clarity as I seem to have been in some cuckoo land for a few crucial days. He said he had seen some spectacular pictures of my head that he had the good sense not to share with me. In summary, I have been very lucky (or talented) for avoiding a much worse outcome, for which I remain very grateful (doesn’t stop me moaning about pains in my arms though). He also confirmed that I was OK to drink alcohol (within the doctor’s 20 units a week) and I broke my recent duck with a modest pint of beer which seemed to be made of nectar.

I actually had 2 dates on Friday evening – the Cycling people and the Armenians. Only energy for 1 so I went to a well-attended cycling do, having seen the Armenians a few days before.

On Saturday we had an all day Hounslow councillor day at that vacuum cleaner place again (for clarity – we pay for that out of our own money!) Mainly a team building event, plus considering what we should be concentrating upon. A very good day except one of my colleagues put a large red squiggle on the back of my blue shirt. I explained I had only bought the shirt on Black Friday for a greatly reduced price of £800 and I expected him to cover the replacement cost of £1200 before inflation. I don’t think he believed me, despite me being a politician.

On Monday I had a teams thing about my DBS (Disclosure and Barring System) Application. You might think that the admin company that has done this for about 7 years about someone who had lived at the same address, gone by the same name etc that they would know who I was, so that some of the basics might be reduced. Anyway, a few days ago I filled in this rather tedious set of forms, including providing pictures of my driving licence and passport, a utility bill with an address showing and the inside leg measurement from my maternal grandma. This response didn’t get to the right place, mainly because they didn’t tell me where to send it and it seems I guessed wrong. On Monday I had another go with them guiding me. Anyway, this was not successful, so I’ll have another go tomorrow.

After that it was some Lampton stuff – group Finance committee. Lots of concerns, all to do with inflation, almost entirely to do with energy cost. I skipped the Audit and Risk committee because tragically I had my surgery at the library which clashed. Actually nobody came and I buzzed off for a Labour Group meeting at 7.30 at Hounslow House.

Tuesday I had a really treasured meeting – with a real live GP. I do think I deserve a bit of attention after what I’ve been through recently: all improving but it doesn’t mean everything is perfect. Then I had a lunch at La Rosetta with Shantanu, my leader. We wanted to catch up – in my case to try and get clear what happened, mainly some of the blanks in my mind about what happened in and after the September Council Meeting. It was very good to spend some time with Shantanu: I was a fan of Steve Curran; Shantanu is a very different sort of person but I am blessed by have such an excellent leader following another one.

It was a rather uneventful borough meeting, though we had something unique in my experience – a motion moved by the leader and seconded by Peter Thompson, leader of the opposition. It was about running our politics in a more respectful and less abusive than some we had seen in the past (including last week!). This is not easy, because we have radical different views on some matters (though in truth, there is a lot that we agree upon) but I think we made a noble attempt to go down a more productive road. Time will tell.

Wednesday morning I was up to the Scout Hut in Willow Close. Many months ago I heard of problems they had with the building – roof, lights, kitchen etc. I mentioned this to the MD of Lampton services and suggested our colleagues in Coalo (and some suppliers) would like to help out on a voluntary basis. It is not a palace but it’s now a good, sound building which the Black Wolves are very happy with, and shows that the nonsense of scouts being driven out by a lack of building is absolute hogwash!

It wasn’t only Coalo and their mates doing the work. Lots of people in the scout movement work tireless on the building (and scout stuff!) doing a lot of the work in the hut and outside in the garden, where they are creating a step free entrance in the background, cunningly hidden by people. I think they said they were going to plant a number of apple trees bred from the one you can see, which apparently has survived from the original Brentford orchard!

In the afternoon it was Lampton Group Ward (by Teams) and preparing for the forthcoming formal cabinet (in person) and a cabinet private look at how the budget will evolve over the next few years. It will not be any fun with new austerity on one end and enormous inflation at the other end. Quite scary even at a well run council like Hounslow, and plenty work to do.

Only two things today – a visit to Northfields Library (which is actually supposed to be tomorrow but was a nice trip, and I met with an Ealing Councillor who’s involved there) and a teams meeting with Hounslow Highways and Network Rail about lights on the Brook Lane Bridge. I’ve been trying to get lights there for 7 years (when I started as a councillor). It feels like progress to get both Network Rail and HH around the same table, though I’ll remain cautious until I am dazzling owls.

Finally, I awoke to one of the best Brentford dawns I remember, and had to take a piccy from my balcony.

Brentford dawn

Councillor Guy Lambert

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