Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Suffering from man flu but can't miss a column


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

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Friday morning I have a coffee with one of my former fellow directors of Ferry Quays to catch up on the local goss (and because she’s a lovely lady and a dear friend!). I lend her a bicycle pump. Thinking about it, she just might take it to France with her and if we have a snap Brexit it may get impounded by the customs. Scary.

In the evening I have a brief meeting  with Seema Malhotra MP at Memories of India in Osterley. This is about her financial inclusion work but who should be sitting in the restaurant when I emerge bedraggled from a drizzly bike ride but Steve Curran, this time with his wee lad. Well, not all that wee. It’s getting a bit spooky this. Alexa, please stop telling Steve Curran my dining plans. And I don’t even have Alexa (or anything else from Amazon, for that matter, because in a quixotic gesture I boycott them, just as I used to make sure we had Rovers on the company car scheme. That ended well).

Saturday morning was surgery at Brentford Library and – shock, horror – I had no less than 3 visitors. One had an asbestos-y shed, one had Mercedes Benz at the bottom of his garden and concerns about his future relationship with the sun, and one wants a housing swap. It’s always a pleasure to visit our lovely library and I thought this was a great idea – books wrapped up so you can’t judge by their cover but from a very short description.

Library books in the library

In the afternoon I went down to Hounslow to put my shoulder to the electoral wheel in Hounslow Heath ward. Lots of Labour students were out to help but I ended up with a bunch of old lags, councillors etc.

9pm Saturday I had a phone call… ‘you don’t know me but I live in one of the flats in Carville Hall, and when I look out of my window I espy a number of caravans on the lawn’.  This is the first traveller incursion we’ve had in the ward in my time, so I’m quickly on to Steve Curran, who knows what to do. We have a number of police officers which the council pay for and they are wheeled into action, mainly to monitor the situation and observe if any serious crime is going on. By Sunday afternoon our enforcement team can serve a duly authorised notice to quit within 24 hours, but if they choose to ignore it we need a court order to move them on. The police can issue what’s known as a Section 61 notice which allows immediate action but they need strong evidence of serious crime for this. The group in Carville were taking up a lot of space and people found them intimidating, but they were not committing any serious crimes. The police said they would be moving on shortly but the council proceeded to seek a court order. This would have been heard Thursday (today) but the travellers moved on peaceably on Wednesday, making a decent job of clearing up behind them. The bad news is that they merely popped across the A4 into Gunnersbury Park, so the cycle is repeating itself.


Sunday morning it’s the Brentford clean up. We met outside, umm, Carville Hall Park. Didn’t seem a very productive plan to go in there whilst we had visitors so our small crew including Steve Curran did Clayponds Lane, Green Dragon Lane and the little park in Green Dragon. I’m running these litter picks once a month on the third Sunday so if anybody wants to join us at 10 am on 16th June, let me know. Also, if there’s a hot spot you want us to deal with, tell us!

On Monday I’m out on the Haverfield estate with recycling officers, Recycle 360 and caretakers trying to move forward recycling options for the maisonettes there. They now have wheelie bins rather than communal and are keen to have ‘normal’ recycling, but this is difficult to achieve due to access problems. We think there’s a compromise solution.

In the evening it would normally be our Labour group but because it’s election week we go canvassing down in good old Hounslow Heath again. A merry band of councillors from Brentford, Syon, Hounslow Central and Osterley take to the streets.

On Tuesday morning I meet the people from BRAM – the property managers for GWQ. How many people know that there is an indoor green wall there, in the tower by Ealing Road roundabout? I didn’t until somebody hosted an event there and showed me and I can’t say it’s had much of an impact on my life since. It’s very hard to maintain and they are hoping we can suggest something else to relieve them of the planning obligation. To discuss with planning. Maybe locals think it’s great, but nobody ever mentioned it to me.
Tuesday evening we have a presentation from the head of the local CAB. We pay them some money and provide some space for them to deliver advice services, mainly in Chiswick and Feltham. This was both fascinating and really worrying. They dealt with 26,903 problems last year, which is pretty astonishing. Demand is growing strongly, largely due to Universal Credit. Their problems with household debt went up 19% last year and debt causes suicidal thoughts and extensive mental health problems. Some of the figures they mentioned about Universal Credit administration were unbelievably bad: apparently (I think I got this right) no less than 93% of UC refusals from the DWP are immediately reversed when the CAB query them. It seems they don’t understand their own rules. Just think of how much time is wasted for staff (and CAB) whilst causing extreme stress to victims. I couldn’t make eye contact with Tory councillors during this session. Most of them are decent people at heart but surely they cannot defend this.

Then things looked up. It was the Council AGM and “Mayor Making”. I had the privilege of nominating my magnificent friend Tony Louki to be our new Mayor. I think he looks just like the cat that got the cream. It’s really hard work being Mayor, as his superb predecessors Sue Sampson and Samia Chaudhary have proven: Samia raised nearly £90K for her charities  and Tony has chosen two local charities – Our Barn and Hounslow Seniors Trust to receive his largesse. Tony will certainly do things his own way: I’m sure he’ll enjoy it and I expect it to be fun for everybody who plays along with him.

Having dined with about 10 members of the Louki family on Tuesday night I woke up with a cold on Wednesday (I think these facts are unrelated) so stayed in all day until a trustee meeting of the FoodBox followed by the Police ward panel early evening.

Cllr Tony Louki

Thursday morning I opened up the Labour campaign room in Ealing Road (there’s an election, remember?) then returned to my pit with copious amounts of LemSip and self pity. Come fire, earthquake, flood, nuclear attack or man flu though, the blog must go on.

Cllr Guy Lambert

May 23, 2019

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