Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Looking at rubbish collection on Haverfield estate


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

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All this seems an age ago as it was before my little holiday, but I have a blog to fill and I’ve only been back a couple of days so I’ll have to dig up some history.

On Saturday (6th) I took the Mission Hall surgery that the Melvinator normally covers. Some footer team or another were playing somewhere oop North and it was an early kick off, so he was off early morning.

I had no less than 6 punters, which is pretty much a record. One person wanting to be rehoused, one person wanting NOT to be rehoused, one council house maintenance problem, one council tax summons (in error, as it turned out), one query about a court order and one person needing help filling in a form. I had to go for a lie down after all that.

On Monday morning I met with the external expert who is reviewing our street cleaning, together with the lead council officer. In some ways our street cleaning is working well, but there are some obvious problems and a fresh expert pair of eyes (four of them actually, as the expert has a pal) should reveal some things we could do better.

In the evening it was back to Southall Lane for our second evening of depot tours. This one was slightly better attended, but still way off the 2 times 50 who had booked. Still, these tours are worthwhile in helping people understand the complexity of recycling and I’m hoping the attendees will tell their chums.

Then it’s even more glamour – Stansted airport at 5am on Tuesday ready for Ryanair. Actually once you get past Ryanair intimidating and bullying customers, I found the plane a sight more comfortable than British Airways – I could actually fit in the seat both laterally and longitudinally. Arrival in Ibiza was greeted by a thunderstorm which led to a smug story from the esteemed editor, together with a picture of flytipping, Ibiza style (lob your old fridges and mattresses over the cliff). Anyway, weather improved and I was happy by the pool, though I was a bit alarmed by this huge dog that seemed to be overlooking us. But perhaps I had had a touch too much Estrella.

squint and you can see a huge dog

I cannot leave the subject of Ibiza behind without commending OK Rent a car. Alright, a Fiat 500 is not a Ferrari but I thought there must be a catch when they quoted me £3.35 for a full week’s rental. But unless I’m seriously missing something, there is no catch.

Back home this Tuesday lunchtime and zoomed back from Gatwick for a cabinet meeting in the evening. I had to present two papers – one about moving the Space Waye depot under the management of Recycle 360 and one about them commencing a commercial waste service. Both of these look like real opportunities, now that the new recycling service has bedded down and Southall Lane coming up to its first anniversary. Both proposals were agreed unanimously.

I spent much of Wednesday touring around the Haverfield estate accompanied by the Melvinator, various housing officers and recycling people from both the council and Recycle 360. We are looking at making big changes to the bin and recycling arrangements on the estate and there’s a chance to make life easier and more aesthetically pleasing and to free up some of the caretakers time to… caretake, rather than lug black bags around. This will need to be consulted and some investment but can be financed out of other plans for the estate. This is our first crack at making a big inroad into our recycling rate from flats, which is currently low, and I want to get going just as quickly as we can. We can save significant amounts of precious £££s as well as contributing to saving something even more precious – the earth.

In the evening we have a session in the Civic centre about the Boundary Commission proposals for the council. To be clear, they are not messing at all with the borough boundaries but are reviewing whether we have the right number of councillors, and ward boundaries. Our submission is to keep the number of councillors the same: our population has grown a lot since the last review and the job has (I’m told) got more complex but we don’t want to increase, adding cost and making the council more unwieldy and reducing numbers is counter-intuitive. Time will tell what the Commissioners think. Next year we get down to ward boundaries. There, it’s a racing certainty there will be some changes: some wards such as Brentford and Hounslow Central now have 13000 voters and will continue to grow a lot whereas others, like the Chiswick wards are 8 or 9000 and much more stable. The meeting doesn’t last long and I am lured by a couple of colleagues for a curry. So good to be back to good old-fashioned British grub after a week with that foreign muck.

Thursday morning I’m at Lionel School for their harvest festival – a 9.15 shift for the tinies and 10.15 for the bigger ones. It’s a lovely ceremony and I’m reminded how good for the soul children are. I sit there with an inane grin on my face and then thank each batch and their parents for the enormous amount of food they have collected for Hounslow Community FoodBox. The teacher asked if I was going to take it away but I explained there’s not a lot of room on a bicycle. Actually there would not have been enough room in my car either.

In the afternoon it’s the Civic Centre, first for a meeting about governance of the Lampton companies which we need to overhaul slightly now I am the cabinet member with responsibility to represent the council as a shareholder. As is often the case, things are a bit more complicated than I had anticipated but we make useful progress. Then an update with officers on our pledge about potholes. We’ll be launching this in the next couple of weeks.
After that it’s a meeting of the Thomas Layton trust. We are still trying to find a new home for the collection of books and in an idle moment I remind myself that hot air in Brentford has a history stretching back to well before I became a councillor.

Hot air balloon

Later in the evening, a mercifully brief meeting about a proposal to use an independent design panel to look at major development proposals, in addition to the scrutiny already undertaken by planning officers and the Planning Committee. I’m slightly reluctant to comment on design aesthetics because I recognise how subjective this subject is, but having independent experts from the building and architecture trade reviewing things, paid for by the developers, falls into the category of ‘what’s not to like’ in my book.

Cllr Guy Lambert

October 19, 2018

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