Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Big brother is watching you from a basement in Brentford


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

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There was a big crowd for the opening of the CCTV centre. Inside a building full of cameras and Enforcement people is one of the few places I’m happy to leave my bike unlocked, though it still makes me nervous.

There is a wall of extremely HD TVs which can be split into multiple images or blown up so that a single image covers many screens. I would show you a picture of this but if I did, I would obviously have to shoot you and it’s hard enough getting people to read this stuff without me popping them off. The actual new cameras – state of the art I’m told – are being deployed gradually across the borough and because they essentially operate wirelessly it will be much easier for us to respond in a timely manner to local issues. It was particularly pleasing to see gloriously detailed pictures of one of my favourite fly tipping hot spots. I’m not going to tell you where in case you’re the culprit.

Then I was down at the Verdict for a coffee with the NHS woman who is part of the local social prescribing experiment and who is looking for places to carry out one to one interviews in Brentford and Isleworth (and, oddly, St Margarets). Can’t help with the latter but I have followed up a few ideas in B&I.

Planning in the evening. Most of the applications were in the West of the borough, with one in Chiswick. A few of them were controversial and one of the things in planning is nearly always trying to balance the common good against some downsides for neighbours. Most unusually, we followed the officers’ recommendations to approve in each case, not without some misgivings.

Friday morning I was out bright and early, meeting some HAGs in Heston. On this occasion these were male members of the Heston Action Group, and there were council and Hounslow Highways officers in attendance also. The HAGs work tirelessly to improve their area, with their major focus on litter and fly tipping. We focused on a couple of places where there are flats above the shops, one of the constant challenges for environment teams. We’ve made some progress and need to consolidate and further improve. We’re also hoping to use the learnings we have from working with the HAGs, plus what we’ve learnt from researching what works in other local authorities around the country, to launch a new way of cooperating with locals to improve neighbourhoods around the borough. Launch in a month or two.

Next stop is Cranford and Councillor Dhaliwal, who shows me one of those roads utterly blighted by takeover by the car. It’s a pleasant crescent (poetry again, I just can’t stop myself) where all the front gardens have been turned into car parks, the grass verges into mudholes and the paving stones shattered. It’s not easy to find a real solution to these streets but we have some ideas for mitigating the problems.


The rest of the day is free and the weather good. Last week I referred to W Heath Robinson and the Editor instructed me that I should go to the Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner. As anyone who reads the BrentfordTW8.com forum knows, I am incapable of disobeying orders so I decided this was the day to fulfil this one, and embarked on a bike ride involving unspeakable subways under the M40 in Northolt (or somewhere), and almost killing myself following orders from Google Maps to turn into a park via a locked gate.

The trip was worth it – a small but perfectly-formed museum and a nice place to spend an hour or so with a few sniggers and some belly laughs.

Laughing gas

I liked this one, for which the caption reads “German breaches of the Hague Convention – Huns using siphons of laughing gas to overcome our troops before an attack in close formation” published in the Sketch in 1915. Was this the prototype for one of my favourite Monty Python sketches – The Joke That Killed?

On Monday evening I’m in Cornish House for a meeting with the Brentford Towers Residents Association about the continuing works there. The refurbishment of the towers themselves is complete bar odd bits of snagging and the creation of a footpath along Green Dragon Lane has begun. I’ve had a couple of grumbles about the latter, one about the temporary loss of parking – which doesn’t seem severe, but should have been notified – and the other about loss of trees. Sadly, a few of the trees down Green Dragon Lane will have to go (some already have) to accommodate the footpath but it is much needed, particularly for the ever-growing population of mobility scooters who often find themselves having to use the road. We will replace trees two for one, and additional work on landscaping is planned. Heartening to hear that the London Museum of Water and Steam are engaged with this, wanting to capitalise and somehow link their museum visually with the towers which are all named after luminaries of the water industry.

Emerging on a horrible stormy night I find most of the barriers surrounding the road works have blown down, leaving the road too narrow to drive down without driving over one or two. I go to trusty FixMyStreet to report, but I also park my bike and manhandle a few of the barriers to a position where they are no longer obstructing. It is one of the mysteries of modern life why Hounslow Highways, and, it seems, every road mender in England (at least) has decided that these flimsy plastic barriers which blow over whenever there is an episode of flatulence within 100metres are the preferred solution. I reported the pictured barriers in Brentford High Street a few days ago, observing that they create a far greater hazard than the one they are supposed to be protecting. Naturally, Hounslow Highways came out almost immediately and stood them up again. Somebody walked past quickly in a long coat and they fell down again. This time they claim they have put them up in a more robust formation (and will also expedite fixing the problem they ‘guard’) but I’ve yet to inspect.


Tuesday morning, the delights of the dentist, on this occasion causing pain only in the wallet  but without anaesthesia. In the afternoon it’s Hounslow House followed by Cranford Community College in the evening and for the first time this winter I’m wimped out of cycling by the weather. It’s cold, wet and dark, and I need to look respectable. But I could overcome all of those if it wasn’t for the gusty wind so I opt for the car. OK, fair comment, looking respectable may indeed be beyond me, whatever the mode of transport.
The Cranford event is Cabinet Question Time, and the audience is smallish but really engaged. David Blackett, Chair of Heston Residents’ Association is in the chair and handles things most admirably.

Cabinet Question Time

I cop a particularly challenging and complicated question – actually about 16 questions – about recycling, flytipping, street waste bins, litter etc and respond with all the plans we are currently implementing which will help make all these better over the next few months.

Sometimes I emerge from CQT wondering why we bothered but this was definitely not one of those times. We take away some important learnings, including that the lady in the audience whose brother was recently murdered had difficulty working out how to access the various support elements available to her from different agencies. The council pledged to find a better way of signposting this to support the police, NHS, Victim Support and other agencies who are primed to assist in such circumstances, plus of course our own social services. All round a most constructive event.

Today I go to meet the Chair of Lampton for one of our regular catch-ups. Then a meet with TfL and traffic people about developing plans to continue Cycleway 9 from the Beehive to the heart of Hounslow. In the evening I’ve actually paid for a ticket so I must go to the Chiswick Calendar’s annual Party party party.

Cllr Guy Lambert

January 17, 2020

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