Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Junction 2, Ballymore's car park, travellers and an illuminated bike ride


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

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Thursday morning brightish and early, Trimmer Walk for the opening of the Enforcement centre. A cast of thousands and speeches from Steve Curran and Katherine Dunne.

I’m pleased we have this in the heart of the ward and the working environment is as good as you can make a windowless space: fortunately enforcement officers spend most of their time out there enforcing so will not be spending long spells in this cellar, and the quality is such that short spells will be very comfortable.

In the afternoon an update with the head of environment on progress with our Cleaner Greener Borough programme. Then a series of planning related meetings – Watermans (this has been called in by the Secretary of State so there will be a public enquiry); Mercedes Benz’ plans to expand their showroom/works; L&Q and the Morrisons site – culminating in mandatory training for planning committee members. Racking my brain as to where I knew the trainer from until it eventually clicked: I tried (and failed) to sell IT services to him in ~2004 when he was CEO of St Albans District council. There had just been a change of administration there and I remember some very self-important Lib Dem members, now in charge and with great confidence they would come in like a whirlwind and fix everything, and me sitting there thinking they hadn’t a clue! Anyway we were in our training until 10 pm: I never was the best pupil and was inclined to fidget and stare out of the window when I was 9. Not much has changed.

Friday was a meeting free day but I wanted to go see what was happening at Junction 2, starting with their first ever Friday night event. Panic in the morning when somebody saw a sign saying it was OK to sleep in camper vans but not on the grass verge. Turns out this sign had been left on a barrier reused from a previous event and one which had slipped through the organisers’ net. It was very swiftly removed, as we had always insisted we would not tolerate anyone staying overnight. Anyway, on the night, everything seemed remarkably quiet. Lots of marshals, a few bored cops, not much noise (on Boston Manor Road at least) and a very peaceful atmosphere. Even the rain had had the good manners to fall in the morning so nobody got very wet.

Saturday was the start of Bike Week so I joined the ‘Illuminated Ride’ organised by Hounslow Cycling. They are experts on quirky routes through back streets, alleys, parks etc and about 15 of us including 3 councillors wended our way from Turnham Green station via a good chat with the lifeboatmen at Chiswick Pier, to the Bulls Head on Strand-on-the-Green. I’m not in the picture but you can see Pegasus’ front leg sticking out to prove I was really there.

Bizarrely, I thought I could hear Junction 2 at the Bull but I couldn’t hear anything as I cycled towards it and, again, it was barely audible when I got to Boston Manor Road. I enquired of one of the cops about our uninvited guests in Brentford – a bunch of travellers who had let themselves in to the former High Street car park and were busy redecorating their new home with building materials brought in from around and about (I don’t think much of their landscaping skills, I must say). He said they had been served a Section 61 notice – police speak for “Move on, Now” – but had avoided getting themselves moved courtesy of imbibing some neck oil at local hostelries. Now, you’re not going to encourage me to drink drive are you, officer? They eventually departed on Sunday, no doubt to refurbish another des res with lorryloads of trinkets they pick up here and there.

I checked out the free Junction 2 family day on Sunday. They had no idea how many would come and were quite surprised by the attendance – I believe 2500 or so registered and more turned up on the day. The petting zoo was popular early on

But the film was the main attraction

Again, the rain held off and started soon after the film ended. I think someone had told upstairs that this is a very well organised event and it’s only fair for the powers that be should act supportively.

On Monday I had a lunch with friends in the Black Dog – very nice too – then to the Watermans in the evening for a rather thinly-attended trustees meeting. It’s a difficult time for Watermans with any potential move now on hold because of the Secretary of State (whoever that is from week to week) calling in the redevelopment plans whilst the existing building is really up against its ‘use before’ date. At the same time, they have financial pressures including a reduction in grant income to cope with. The management are addressing the issues as best they can – pretty effectively as far as I can see - and there is a determination to carry on providing an excellent service to all parts of the community across the borough.

On Tuesday the Melvinator and I meet with planning officers and a sizeable contingent from Ballymore, their architects etc to talk about the car park ‘Block G’ which is attracting plenty of attention, not necessarily in a good way. There is little to be said about the scale of it – that was agreed years ago – but we want to talk about the design. I think the Dock Road end – which is flats - is OK and I have no problem with the ‘leisure’/ boat-related element on the canal/river side which I think will have a decent riverside path. But I am not a fan of the proposed treatment of the High street/ Heidelberg elevations. In essence, we agree design is subjective and they point out that they are very clever award-winning architects and have designed a wonderful scheme. I still don’t like it though and I hope they can find a way of softening it.

Afterwards I meet some of the HAGs from Heston together with an estate agent from Ealing who has been instrumental in winning ‘Best High Street’ awards both for Pitshanger Lane in Ealing and Bridgnorth in Shropshire. His ideas are quite similar to what we are attempting across Hounslow but his experience getting it done is helpful and he makes strong points about good behaviour being self-reinforcing and the importance of engagement and education, including with businesses. Mental note to take a look at Pitshanger.

Then a meeting with finance people about the services in my portfolio – early signs are they are on track this year though still budgetary challenges – followed by our task group about the public realm, This now covers everything from potholes to libraries. We are trying to do good things across the piece but the agenda is very wide ranging and we sometimes get frustrated at the pace of progress.

Straight from that into cabinet, which is unusually long due to an extensive agenda.
On Wednesday I am visiting a friend of mine in Hackney and make the controversial decision to do this on my bike, a plan which would have been better had it not rained all the way and all the way back. I had to change from my drowned rat look for the Labour branch meeting. It turned out we could not use Isleworth Public Hall as usual because it was affected by Thames Water’s widespread failure to provide it (water). They could have squeezed out my shirt. We repaired to the Swan Inn, where the water was a bit tainted – I thought it tasted rather of hops.

Today I was supposed to be attending a TfL meeting entitled ‘A New Kind of Suburbia’ but I have cancelled that, as I want to go and pay my respects to my friend Cllr Raj Bath, who passed away recently, at his funeral. A sad day for all of us.

Don’t forget – this weekend we have our public engagement event about Cleaner greener at Hounslow House at 10.30am on Saturday.

On Sunday morning at 10 it’s the Brentford/Syon litter pick meet at 10 outside the police station, Half Acre.

Cllr Guy Lambert

June 14, 2019

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