Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Forces himself to wield a spade for the community

Bulb planting at St Paul's
Bulb planting at St Paul's Recreation Ground


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

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I had my meeting with the Director and the Lead member of Finance. I inherited some over-budget expenditure in the services I’m responsible for, which largely result from optimistic savings targets when the services were transferred from a commercial provider to our very own Recycle 360, not helped by the volatility of the recycling market. We think we can recover these overspends over the next couple of years, which of course is entirely due to my inspirational presence and nothing at all to do with officers scurrying around reforming services and doing deals based on their expertise and hard work. I am beginning to learn this politics game.

Next it was a selection of residents from around the borough, many of whom I know well, for a workshop with our street cleaning consultants. I did the introductions and then shortly had to rush off to Cabinet Question Time, which apparently led to one of the residents (who I hadn’t previously met) walking out. I am trying to contact him separately, because we need these engaged citizens, who can make a big difference, to stay engaged. I had a bit of feedback from some of the attendees and we will be working out what to do as a result of this study shortly.

Cabinet Question Time was again very thinly attended, though some of those residents who had been in the previous meeting appeared later on! There was a disabled girl/young woman there with her dad, and I learned about some of the issues young people with disabilities face when they transition from being seen as children to becoming adults, where the provision is very different. I really wish we had a proper government in place, who committed the resources we need to improve lives for those who need so much support. It’s really heart-rending to see these loving parents who have given up so much of their own lives to help a child, virtually on the breadline and at the whim of capricious decisions about financial support taken by the DWP and their dodgy service providers. Meanwhile the government announce the end of austerity whilst gaily sailing on with a £1.3Billion cut to local government and more to help with potholes than schools, who apparently can apply for a grant for a new pencil. Mind you, I hope we get some of that pothole money.

Friday was a welcome meeting-free day but on Saturday I was out in Feltham meeting some residents who are objecting to plans to build flats in the Tesco car park there (which happens to be at the bottom of their gardens. Nice people and I understand why they are resisting the development but we must also be mindful of planning law and our strong need for new housing. We will have a tough decision to make at planning committee this evening. I had, of course, gone to Feltham in a short sleeved shirt and a light jacket, failing to anticipate the (literally) Arctic blast that set in on Saturday. My teeth began chattering as we toured the car park. I was hoping to go to help out at the Brentford Towers Residents Association Halloween party but after a combination of Feltham and seeing my daughter I ran out of time. Saturday was bulb planting day in St Paul’s Rec. I made a severe error of timing and arrived whilst people were still doing work, unlike last year. Anyway, I wielded a spade for an hour or two before making my excuses and leaving.


One unchanging feature of my 3 and a half years as a councillor is our local celebrity (in his own mind) Mr or Ms neuc. He’s now turned up on our lovely old dry fountain and no amount of urging can get the police to catch him/her (frankly, I’m not surprised, given their resource constraints). Somebody knows who it is. Somebody please share it,  or cut off his/her pocket money.
Monday was marked by a pleasant lunch in the Black Dog with one of my old neighbours. Fortunately this was insufficiently liquid to interfere with the afternoon meeting at Brentford Library where Mr Melvinator and I were given more details of how the plans are unfolding to bring the upstairs into use as an adult education and community use space, with a couple of classroom, refurbished toilets and kitchen, and a lift. Looks like we will get some funding for this from central government, and it will be so good to get that space used. We’re hoping to find some funds to improve downstairs too, plus we can pinch some of the furniture when the Civic Centre closes next year. Now we just need listed building planning consent but it would be hard to do any of this without improving the general look and feel of the library interior. In the evening it’s our regular Labour Group meeting to prepare for Borough Council tomorrow.

Much of the day on Tuesday is taken up with attending the Lampton 360 Group board meeting at the Southall Lane depot, though I manage a few visits to fly tipping hotspots in Hounslow on the way there. Most uplifting, not. All the Lampton companies in the group are progressing OK, though the board (and shareholder) push back on various matters in each of the subsidiary companies, as boards (and shareholders) will.

So to Borough Council which starts with her worshipfulness the Mayor presenting certificates to no less than three groups from around the Borough for outstanding voluntary service. Many cabinet members make announcements about good things, such as the excellence of the schools in the Borough and various chunks of money received, and I feel a bit of a failure as I haven’t prepared any announcements. I should have announced the two things that we issued Press releases for last week – the launch of the Pothole Busters campaign, and my announcement about plastics, which we are now recycling entirely within the UK. This is really important to me, as it means we are not contributing to the plastic waste in the sea.

We have cross-party agreement on our submission to the Electoral Commission: despite the growth in population since the last review, we want to keep the same number of councillors. How the wards will be arranged is for chapter 2, next year.

Our Tory friends think they have got Candice Atterton bang to rights about the mental health support the council offers the elderly. You can see poor Ron Mushiso visibly deflating as Candice turns over her 15th page of notes about what we are doing. Then Genghis Todd gets to his feet to have a pop at Lampton360 (actually, showing exemplary economy, he asks me to read out the questions as well as the answers.) This is an easy one to respond to, as amongst other things I am able to point to the enormous saving we have made by getting rid of the shocking contract we inherited from the dark days of the Tory administration, known latterly as Carillion. Sam Hearn was due to move the traditional pro-Range Rover anti-cycling motion which they like to bring to every Borough Council, supported by Patrick Barr, but as neither of these two bothered to turn up it was left to Supersub Todd to take up the reins.

Wednesday I had my monthly update with the leader, then a tour round Hounslow High Street, where we are trying to improve the cleaning and general maintenance, with officers, Hounslow Highways and local ward councillors. It has definitely improved since we started monthly inspections a couple of months ago but more improvement is needed, and planned.
Then I have an update with the head of planning about what’s going on in the Brilliant town. Mel organised this meeting but then couldn’t attend so it’s just little old me. The good news is that Hyundai have started serious work on the old Alfa Laval tower, which has been derelict for far too long and I’m hoping the anti-social behaviour we’ve had on that site has now abated. I also hear that the enormous advertising hoarding has now gone, though I haven’t checked for myself as yet.

As anyone who has recently passed Morrisons will see, our friends Ballymore have started serious work knocking stuff down before commencing building next year. I’m encouraged to hear that they are eager to make progress as fast as they can, so I’m hoping our long-blighted High Street will start to take up its new shape soon.

The judicial review of Morrisons is set down in the Courts of Justice for 22 and 23rd November and I might just go along to see the show (or a bit of it) even though I’m told it’s just m’learned friends acting unfriendly to each other and nobody else gets to talk. The planners believe the process they followed – which is what the JR is about - was correct and that LBH will win (or I think it’s more accurate to say Morrisons’ objection will fail) but whether Essential Living will still want to build it after all this time is another story.

Meanwhile the Watermans/Police station and I believe the plans for the Citroen garage site have been called in by the Secretary of State, apparently because of Kew Gardens’ concerns. Unlike everybody else, there are no time limits on him making up his mind. Finally, the report on Chiswick Curve has been formally delayed for a bit. There’s still so much going on, or in reality mostly not going on, in Brentford I could write a book [please don't, Ed].

That’s all for this week. I’m off to another board meeting – that of Lampton FM 360 – later, then something about apprenticeships and what will be a contentious planning committee. I will need a rest tomorrow.

Cllr Guy Lambert

November 2, 2018

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