Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Lowest borough for number of people in temporary accommodation


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

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One of the difficulties of writing a weekly blog when your memory is challenged (it’s always been this way, not advancing dementia – well, at least it has been as far as I remember) is that if it isn’t on my calendar it didn’t happen.

In my calendar for last Friday there are two ‘optional’ events which I opted to not go to, because I decided I had something better to do. It might have been something of great import for the residents of Brentford or Hounslow or it might have been a leisurely bike ride. When history is written, it will be deficient in the details of my activities on Friday 14th September, except that I had the pleasure of meeting Cllr Tony Louki and the much lamented former Cllr Sam Christie for some refreshing ales and stouts in the Magpie and Crown, followed by a largely pleasing visit to the new Leda Goan/Portuguese restaurant by Brentford bridge. I expect I’ll be back to both establishments.

Saturday morning I’m up to the Novotel for a meeting with the leader of the council and various officers and councillors to discuss our manifesto pledge for housing. The Executive Director for Housing puts matters in perspective: during the last administration LBH delivered a little over our manifesto pledge of 400 homes for social rent. In the WHOLE of London only 2100 such homes were built by the 32 boroughs. Our new pledge is to secure 3000 of them in the same period – half as many again as the whole of London delivered in the last 4 years. To say this is challenging is an understatement. Saturday was girding our loins to meet the challenge. We were presented with a number of slides about how our housing department is going. I was particularly struck by this one:

Temporary Accommodation

it's a great achievement to get the people who are placed in expensive and often inadequate temporary housing down to the lowest in West London, especially as we have succeeded in eliminating bed and breakfast almost entirely. Housing remains an enormous challenge, however: it makes a huge difference to people’s lives and I’m pleased that we have it as such a priority.

Monday is a most alarming day, as I have a meeting set for 8.15am in the Civic Centre. Even when I had a real job I was never a morning person and resisted meetings before 9, and this is the second in 3 days. This is with Senior Managers of Hounslow Highways, prior to our regular meeting with officers at 9am. We remain generally satisfied with the infrastructure – roads, Pavements, streetlights – part of the contract but have serious issues with the street scene. To be fair, Hounslow Highways are under great pressure due to the exponential growth in fly tipping which we are failing at present to get under control but we reiterate that the bins really must be emptied regularly. General street cleaning has improved in many respects but still falls short in some areas.

Then it’s a visit to my dentist in Chiswick (like taking my car for an MoT, they always find something at a check-up) and back to the Civic centre for a meet with the head of Lampton 360 Investment – the building/homebuying arm - at tooth hurtee. Sorry I mean 2.30. The old ones are the best.

In the evening Labour Group clashes with the Credit Union Board so I leave www.thamesbank.org in the capable hands of vice chair ex-councillor Mukesh Mulhotra. We debate, and after a lively discussion agree, to  a motion to ask the Labour Party leadership to back a People’s Vote when the terms for Brexit are revealed (if ever).

In the meantime history repeats itself as the council’s IT security regime does unspeakable things to my council telephone, resolved (temporarily as it later transpires) by ever-helpful IT people.

On Tuesday afternoon I meet with the lead officer and Chief Executive of Lampton 360 to talk about plans for gaining some external revenue from other councils, businesses etc and for the future of our ‘other‘ recycling depot at Space Waye. We agree plans to go to cabinet shortly.

In the evening was Borough Council. The first major discussion was about our 5 key pledges and how we plan to deliver them. We thought our Chiswick chums might want to be supportive, given that the pledges were supported by the overwhelming majority of Hounslow electors and it started off promisingly before descending into the usual chaos. I sometimes wonder if some of them have been at the bottle. Councillor ‘Treasure’ Todd (who I hasten to add had not been at the bottle, at least I don’t think so) was most critical of Lampton 360’s plans to build some flats IN EALING. Actually we have been trying (and it looks like we have succeeded) to find a way to provide a much-needed visitor centre for the Gunnersbury Triangle which is owned by Hounslow council and last time I looked was in CHISWICK – and much treasured by the residents there - albeit the borough boundary means the road is in LBE. There was a rumour after the meeting that the Conservatives are starting a petition to rename Chiswick Park Station – which is directly opposite the proposed visitor centre – as Ealing Park Station. Of course, they probably want to suppress any idea of public transport in Chiswick because their chum Tony Arbour says most Londoners don’t use it.

The real highlight of the evening, though, was Councillor Mushiso’s motion in support of the Labour policy to support a better not bigger Heathrow. This is about as uncontroversial as it gets, as it has been our policy since Boris Johnson was on the naughty step in kindergarten (plus ca change). We tabled an amendment to reinforce our commitment to hold Heathrow to tackle noise, traffic and air pollution, whether the Tory government decision to expand Heathrow is implemented or not. This amendment, which you might have thought would be just as uncontroversial, caused apoplexy and impassioned speeches amongst the blue team whilst most of us looked on sympathetically. In the end it all calmed down and everybody voted unanimously for the amended motion and I suppose nanny led them all off to their rooms. Anyway, all jolly fun, I suppose, if that’s what turns you on.
Wednesday I have yet another meeting with Hounslow Highways senior management, this time in The Verdict café in Brentford, though I’m not sitting in judgment. Well, not much. Friendly exchanges but I think both sides understand that the state of the streets needs to improve. The council will do its part but most of the action falls upon our partners.

Thursday afternoon and I am getting ready to visit The Beak, also known as the head of finance. I’m not sure what sin I have committed but you can be assured that I will have several copies of Hounslow Matters down my trousers just in case it gets tricky in there.

September 21, 2018

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