Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

New ideas for declining high streets and an atypical environmental problem

Designing by water


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

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I was off bright and early on Thursday morning to join the protest outside the Law Courts in The Strand related to Heathrow expansion – this is the appeal against the legal challenge to the Third runway that failed in March. I was only there for a few minutes but saw many luminaries from Brentford and Chiswick including Ruth Cadbury. I then had to retrieve Pegasus from a bunch of press photographers (paparazzi? – I don’t think they were there for me. Or Pegasus) to head off to my main event.

This (pictured above) was in the series I have been attending called Future of London and was about designing by water. I was pleased to see that Brentford Lock West was featured as an example of a design that works – I agree!

It had been a glorious sunny morning but natch as I remounted to head home it started hissing down and didn’t abate until I reached Chiswick. Dressed as I was merely in a shirt and trousers I had to go home and change every garment, socks included, before heading to the Black Dog for a liquid lunch with old pals.

Thursday evening was in the Blue School in Isleworth for the Isleworth and Brentford Area Forum. The main agenda item was about the Brentford stadium and surrounding developments, which have sprung up with alacrity. I asked a few questions, about the ‘Duffy Site’ where we are supposed to be getting some affordable housing and where the planning application has yet to emerge (still negotiating) and about their progress making sales (slow, but they have sold a number of flats – I think they said 60).

So to Friday, and 3 of us cabinet members - Kath Dunne, Hanif Khan and me - were making the trek to Waltham Forest to have a look at their ‘mini-Holland’ cycling and walking improvements. Their work is well advanced, though not yet complete, and we got a really good tour with the council’s deputy leader and a volunteer. The main things they have done are to introduce a cycle highway down one of their major roads, Lea Bridge Road. They have to created ‘villages’ by using ‘modal filters’ ie bollards to stop cars rat running or doing school runs etc. And they have pedestrianised some of their secondary shopping streets.

Small shop

The results are stunning. A small shopping street (think, say, Fauconberg Road in Chiswick) which had been dying has been closed to all traffic, I think 10am to 8pm. It is now thriving, with new cafes and an independent bookshop, and most of the planting etc. maintained by the grateful businesses.

Knitted bollards

In the ‘villages’ the people love their bollards so much (and the quiet, safe streets they have brought) that they knit woolly jumpers for them to keep them warm. I was going to cycle all the way home (would take nearly 2 hours) but as it was hissing again I wimped out and got the train to Liverpool (Genk1 Liverpool 4) Street and cycled back from there, weather kind.

Saturday was my surgery at the library. One lady who lives in a private block with 18 flats where there is a dispute over who the landlord is. One of the perhaps landlords is trying to evict them all. This lady has lived there for 15 years and others have lived there longer. A complicated case for our friends in housing.

Then on the bike again and off to Westminster for the People’s Vote ‘march’. Of course I was late because of the surgery so I went in by the back door, straight into Parliament Square, which was amazingly easy. There were a few unsavoury Brexiters squawking and a few unsavoury remainers squawking back at them and a lot of coppers looking on ready for anything that escalated beyond a squawk. Nothing did. I did see some blood, but this was an elderly man who I think had fallen foul of a particularly evil two level kerb and fallen on his nose. Coppers and chums were looking after him but nothing serious. I watched a few videos on the big screen but, frustrated by the fact that mobile data was off so I couldn’t find out what was happening next door in the big palace and irritated by being draped in an EU flag every 9 seconds (lovely flag, but not when it’s over your head) I didn’t last long before heading home again.

Sunday morning is my regular litter pick. This time we did Ealing Road. Just 4 of us and just 4 bags collected but volunteer litter pickers are like Heineken – they refresh the parts that other litter pickers cannot reach.

This had all been a bit hectic, so it was good to have a free day on Monday to catch up with stuff, though we had a Labour Group meeting in Hounslow House in the evening, discussing how we are going to achieve the next round of savings. Government remains in chaos, so at this stage we don’t know what the settlement will be for next year. They are still threatening the so called ‘Fair Funding Review’ which is a new wheeze they have for pinching money off Labour councils in the cities and giving it to Tory shires. Chaos sometimes helps, because they haven’t got around to this as yet.

Tuesday was another meeting-free day but Wednesday was pretty full. Up to Westminster for 9am. I am now regularly beating the Google maps cycling time estimates so I made Smith Square in 45 minutes – quicker than it would have been by car and a good 20 minutes quicker than public transport.

This meeting was with the Local Government Association. We have been selected as one of 4 councils sponsored by them to look at Behavioural approaches to improving the environment. It was no surprise that Havering (Romford etc) council has similar issues to us, but we could have replicated the Westminster slide fairly precisely.  


Whereas the New Forest one had some features we recognise and some which are a bit less common in Brentford.

New Forest

Then back to Pears Road in Hounslow for a before and after photo opp with Hounslow Highways on the Pothole Pledge (this was ‘after!’). Then I was going to go to Green Dragon Lane for a discussion about improvements to their little park, but time defeated me and the park will be exclusively Melvinated (with the parks people and GreenSpace 360 and the Brentford Towers Residents Association!).

Later we had a FoodBox trustees meeting. Nice to have a new trustee (who works for the former Lampton FM 360 company now known as Coalo – don’t ask) and a shiny new sign outside, provided by our friends in Coalo also.

Off to see my sisters in Darkest Huntingdonshire today, then a meeting with the new chair of Lampton360 in the evening.

Cllr Guy Lambert

October 24, 2019

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