Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Pubs: nil; hotels and restaurants: three


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

twitter logo @guylambert

Facebook /BrentfordCouncillors

Sign up for our Brentford newsletter

Comment on this story on the

A few years ago I worked very near Covent Garden and it made a pleasant change to return and have a bit of a wander. It’s got even more vibrant and crowded and, heady with Beaujolais Nouveau I spent a few minutes listening to a string quartet (?) playing lively classical music with huge energy and smiles. Beguiled, I broke the habit of a lifetime and bought one of their CDs of what I suppose are popular classics – some of them seem familiar even to a Philistine like me.

I need to get to the Civic centre but decide to pass by Brilliant Brentford to pick up some papers etc on the way. I’ve picked up a flat tyre on Pegasus and haven’t got round to fixing it so, being definitely unfit to be in charge of a motor vehicle I cycle to the Civic on my toy bike. Another session of the parks working group. The head of parks is rightly pleased with herself because she has mapped the boundaries of parks around the borough where there is a border between parks (maintained by Greenspace), highways (maintained by Hounslow Highways) or housing land (maintained by Hounslow Housing). We get frequent border disputes, not to do with Housing trying to conquer Parks territory but because everybody thinks it’s somebody else’s problem. The work now is to clarify, agree, and maybe do a bit of horse trading to make things more logical and efficient.

Afterwards Tony Louki and I hatch a plan to try out Brentford’s new restaurant Caspari. He declines an offer to travel on my handlebars and says he’ll get the bus. I arrive all sweaty and find him sitting serenely there, having persuaded some mug to give him a lift. Everybody seemed to be eating enormous plates of spare ribs but I opted for a healthy pizza and Tony dismembered and devoured various bits of seafood but we both thought it was top nosh and a welcome addition to the landscape.

On Friday morning I invite myself to the Hounslow Highways Lay Assessors coffee morning, as do some of our officers. It would be wrong to say that the Lay Assessors are revolting, but some of them are unhappy at the level of communication from H Highways and I was keen to try and help this, especially as we will be seeking to extend the scheme to incorporate ‘street captains’ next year in line with our manifesto. The Lay Assessor scheme really works for Hounslow Highways and the council and it’s important we keep these excellent volunteers feeling valued and motivated. I was struck by this display on the wall of the H Highways meeting room:

Don't litter
Now if they can just persuade their parents/neighbours etc…

In the evening we’re at the Novotel for a meeting between the cabinet and senior council officers. We discuss the Ofsted report on Hounslow’s Childrens’ Services which has come out as ‘Good’. This is really strong progress from a service that had serious issues and ‘required improvement’ at the time of the last Ofsted so we spent some time paying tribute to the officers who have made this happen as well as laying plans for the areas that can still be improved. But the main discussion was about our medium term financial strategy. We are making good progress, despite serious challenges, bringing home the savings already agreed but there are a load more savings to find over the next couple of years. Austerity may be over in T May’s mind but it certainly doesn’t look that way if you’re a local authority or a school or a Police Officer.

Saturday I go to the Guildhall for the London Councils Summit. We are addressed by James Brokenshire – a singularly apt name for someone presiding as the Secretary of State looking after local government at this moment of the world – and sundry MPs, pollsters, council leaders etc, and a thought-provoking day was had by all. I think this picture says it all:

Expenditure by London boroughs

I had to skip my surgery to do this, but the Melvinator stepped in prior to going off on one of his exotic trips to Chester.

On Monday morning I’m in the Civic centre for an update on the ‘Pothole Pledge’. There’s been an uptick in pothole reporting and – rather as I anticipated – most of the potholes reported fit within the criteria so Hounslow Highways are obliged to fill them without drawing on our special fund. We will keep pushing it, to try and ensure we have captured all the problems people around the borough have with potholes before deciding priorities to fix. So don’t be shy – if there’s a pothole that gives you grief, report it on the Hounslow Highways website even if it has been judged ‘not deep enough’ when previously reported. Then it’s a meeting with the Director of Housing, who now looks after the enforcement service, to work out how we deal with enforcement against private landlords who allow mess on their land which blights the street scene. Not easy to tackle, but we float some ideas.

In the evening there’s a meeting with the London wide Deputy Mayor For Housing, James Murray but I have to decline this because it clashes with the Credit Union board and I’ve missed the last two. Credit union marches on, gradually increasing membership and with a strong board who are really getting their teeth into it.

On Tuesday I resume my career as a radio star. When I was about 20 my sister worked for Radio City 194 – the Liverpool commercial radio station at the time – and she invited me to review a couple of motor racing books. But as soon as the light went red my mind froze and my throat contracted so you might politely say it was not captivating radio. This time I was invited to The Big Debate on BBC Asian Network. It was to discuss the state of streets and whether litter, flytipping etc is worse in Asian areas and if so, why. The topic had been raised by a fantastic young Sikh man – previously from Hounslow, now living in Greenford but hoping to return  - who took a whole month off work to try and improve the street scene. There was a caller from Oldham who said Asian areas were no-go areas in the town, followed by someone else who said this was a load of cobblers. I said that there’s no doubt some areas are worse than others but that I think this has much more to do with the type of properties and tenures than it does with ethnicity or background. Anyway, I didn’t clam up, though there were plenty of umms and erms and Nye Bevan would not have been proud of me.

In the evening, a Cabinet meeting. The public are invited to these meetings but only Councillors Hearn and Biddolph, plus a couple of council officers, are in attendance and frankly the meetings are a bit dull with very little debate – we’ve thrashed things out by the time we get to a formal meeting – but thankfully brief.              

Wednesday Morning I head up to the Harvester on Boston Road for a breakfast with the Chambers of Commerce. I don’t do enough to keep in touch with local businesses so I will try and make a point of going to these from time to time – really an opportunity to network and hear any concerns.

Some credit union stuff in the afternoon and a free evening – very nice. This morning I’ll be off to meet a resident about a planning matter. Later on I meet FM360 for an update on their work maintaining and improving council properties and the evening is our regular planning presentation. This one is of particular interest as it concerns the ‘Duffy Site’ – the final phase of the Brentford FC development and we’re eager to see what’s proposed and in particular whether there is sufficient social housing proposed, given that the rest of the Brentford FC development is 100% market price.

The frost I could see earlier on Brentford Dock seems to have dissipated so I think I’ll brave the bike for my trip to Chiswick. Bracing, like Skegness.


Cllr Guy Lambert

November 22, 2018

Bookmark and Share