Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Meetings are going virtual and social contact being minimised


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

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Writing a weekly blog, mainly about my movements, is going to get tricky as we move into weeks/months/years/decades when nobody is allowed to move.

I’ve moved some this last week, though not that much, so let’s make hay whilst the sun still occasionally makes an appearance. Unfortunately The S*n continues to appear regularly but maybe not so much of an issue in these days of paper shortages – Private Eye says 48 sheets of toilet paper FREE with this issue this week.

Last Thursday I got in the ridiculous car and went down the M4 to Reading to have lunch and a (single, before you start) drink with a bunch of old pals. Shows I don’t get out much because I find the M4 from here to Reading is now a 50mph zone whilst they turn it into a Not Very Smart Motorway, presumably to thin out whoever’s left after Covid 19. Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling’s legacy lives on even as he is now taking up the reins as chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Perhaps it will make him intelligent (I doubt it) and us all secure (you’re ‘avin’ a larf).

In the evening I was booked to go to the London Transport Awards dinner as the Boston Manor Road cycle lane had been shortlisted for the ‘Excellence in Walking and Cycling’ award. We decided collectively that we would not attend in the current circumstances and as it turned out we didn’t win anyway – the award went to TfL and Camden for their joint Midland Road-Judd Street scheme – so yah boo and sucks to the Transport Times.
On Friday my only appointment was with the doctor as I’ve decided it’s time to start taking gout drugs. Turns out I have to have my kidney function tested before they prescribe so when I most unusually had a renewed attack, this time in my ankle, I was unprotected, though this one was very mild.


On Saturday lunchtime we had a Hounslowfoodbox.org.uk trustees meeting at our Global Headquarters in Brickfield Lane. We just wanted to take stock of where we are, which is OK for the immediate future. But we’re concerned about a number of things: ramping up of demand because of people losing income, or schools closing so school meals not flowing; reduced donations because people are short/only shopping online/unable to get enough; illness or worry amongst our volunteers. It’s pretty impossible to plan because everything is moving so fast and unpredictably, but we’re doing our best.

Saturday evening I saw that a band called Central Line were playing the Brewery Tap so I thought I’d give them a listen, though I was a bit dubious about going to a crowded ‘petri dish’ place. When I arrived around 9.30 there were all of a dozen customers in the pub, plus a two piece band. By the time I left, at about 11, I was only deserting the landlady, barman and band. And this was nothing to do with the quality of the music, though as you can imagine the atmosphere was not exactly Woodstock. It seems people are getting the message, though I saw a picture of the New Inn  on Tuesday (St Paddy’s Day) with a crowd of revellers. Not me, I’m afraid, for the foreseeable.

Sunday morning was my monthly litter pick, revived after a winter break. We tackled the area behind the Beehive/Morrisons, steering clear of the old police station site which is beyond the capacity of a small band of volunteers (I am taking that up with the landowners via Syon Ward councillors)
Litter pickers

When I tweeted this picture I was admonished for not self-isolating but I pointed out I was taking the picture – it was the others who weren’t self-isolating. Anyway I’m under 70. Just. Afterwards we self-isolated with a coffee in the far from isolated Verdict and I looked in on the end of the classic car event in the Blue Road, having enjoyed the sight of a 1966-registered Ford GT40 (not this one, but you get the idea) trundling past Jenny’s.

classic car

We were supposed to canvass in the afternoon but for reasons that are probably pretty obvious the Labour party has asked us to suspend activities. Nevertheless a couple of us met in the Rada café (in case anybody hadn’t got the message and turned up anyway) and discussed, amongst other things, how we can help out in the crisis.

On sunny Monday I took advantage and cycled down to Hampton Court and back, which blew away a few cobwebs. I had been planning to entertain the Zumba class again, but I decided that I’m going to give up the gym for the duration- just seems a risk not worth taking when I have Pegasus and an exercise bike at home (kindly donated when my neighbour moved).

I had three things pencilled in for the late afternoon/evening, the first being a cabinet briefing on what the council is doing about the Coronavirus. There was a Skype option which I decided to take as I was expecting to go to Gunnersbury Park for the Secret Cinema briefing a little later and the Thamesbank.org credit union AGM afterwards but (not surprisingly) the briefing took some time so I missed the other two.

Officers in the council often mention that they had a contingency planning day  and I confess I always think ‘what a bore’ though I have some previous experience of how important planning for these things is. Back in 2005 the office and warehouse where I (and several hundred colleagues) worked was closed down for many weeks by the explosion at the Buncefield Oil depot near Hemel Hempstead.  Had it happened at 8am on a weekday you would have been spared me as a councillor as I drove right past it on my daily commute. Fortunately (or unfortunately, take your pick) it happened on a Saturday night when I was ensconced in a hotel in Birmingham having been presenting a prize at the National Police Symphony Orchestra concert (don’t ask).

Buncefield Oil fire

Is the council well prepared? Well, sort of. This thing is unfolding at a breakneck pace but I’m really impressed by the work that’s been done so far. There is a well-developed emergency structure and command mechanism and contingency plans to deal with eventualities such as infection appearing within the workforce. Some working practices have already changed, many people are working from home full time, flexible approaches have been negotiated with various subcontractors as well as council teams so that we can focus on the most crucial services if and when the worst hits us. We’re still working out the best way to work with volunteers and at present pointing them towards already-established groups like Age UK. Expect an announcement very soon.

On Monday evening I was aware of gout coming back so I cried off the cabinet meeting which was held on Tuesday evening. We’d agreed anyway to do it with the minimum attendance to make it quorate. Tuesday morning it was bad but it wore off nicely during the day and was OK enough for me to cycle again – this time to Putney – on Wednesday.

My hands have never been cleaner, my fridge never so bereft of embryonic chickens, and my social life, never exactly humming, never so empty. I guess that goes for most of us. Be careful out there.

Cllr Guy Lambert

March 19, 2020

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