Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Wonky wheel not preventing a gradual move back to normality

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Road closur at Dukes Meadows


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

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Well I didn’t find out about Nottingham going carbon free because my entirely carbon-free journey to the conference was disrupted by a derailment of ‘GotoWebinar’, probably in Taiwan, or Iceland or Hayes. I believe there were no injuries so that at least is a relief.

The next thing was our latest Lampton360 board. We’ve been having these every fortnight recently because there’s been a lot going on, and on this occasion we welcomed two new directors. Our chair is a woman from Lancashire called Gill so naturally one of the new directors is a woman from Lancashire called Gill, though we’re going to call her Gillian. The other one is somebody I know, the current chair of our other LBH company, Coalo. It’s good to have the board back up to strength and to bring our two companies closer together, and as things are now settling down we’re likely to revert to monthly board meetings. Beyond the personnel changes, not much to report: services carrying on as usual and works about to restart on our two current development sites including Acton Lodge which as you will know is quite obviously in Brentford.

Next meeting was FoodBox trustees. Demand seems to have stabilised at about 4 or 5 times our ’normal’ level but we are concerned there may be more need out there that we don’t hear about. There will be people affected by this crisis who have scant experience of ‘safety nets’ and may not get to hear of FoodBox or be more hesitant about using our service. People (and businesses) have been very generous with their donations and we have a small amount of capacity to serve more so we spend some time discussing how to reach this hidden audience.

On Friday morning we hear of revised plans for 250 Gunnersbury Avenue from the developers. This is a currently derelict office block on the corner of Power Road – actually not in our ward but adjacent – and the three Brentford councillors hear about it from the developers over Zoom, with the Melvinator making a welcome appearance via telephone. Well, he didn’t appear but we could hear his dulcet tones and imagine him. The plan here is what I think is a new concept for round here, known as co-living: small self-contained studios with a lot of shared space – gym, cinema, sitting room, kitchen, dining room etc. These would be set in about 5 storeys (from memory) above some flexible workshop space which they say will be ‘affordable’. I can see that this might be appealing to a certain category of younger people and if it ever comes to planning committee my concerns would be about what ‘affordable workshops’ actually means – they haven’t worked it out yet – and longer term management of the facility: I’d have a real fear it could degenerate if the finances get tight.

In the afternoon I go on my daily bike ride. I have been closely involved in our plans to improve provision for walking and cycling and I knew we were hoping imminently to implement the closure of the through route through Dukes Meadows to motor vehicles. This is a regular route for my perambulations (or should I say percyculations?) and as luck would have it I arrived whilst lead Member Hanif Khan was waiting with the photographer and gardeners for the arrival of Steve Curran. Am I developing a politician’s sixth sense for a photo-opp? (See picture above)

On the way back I have a general trundle round the ward, partly to inspect the fence around the fishpond in Gunnersbury Park which someone has complained is damaged (not as far as I can see) leading to fights, general ASB and finally a bit of apparent arson within the fishing compound. Just what the park managers need at a time when the park is under all kinds of strain, especially financial.

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I wind up in New Road, where I espy two ladies of my circle engaged in a socially-distanced chat. What to do? They can talk to each other, and I can talk to one of them, but the three of us talking together would be streng verboten, as they say in Wales. We decide it’s OK provided we speak to only one other at any time. If the third person happens to overhear, well, nothing we can do about that. One of my lady friends is a retired teacher who has one of those folding wooden rulers which when I were a lad teachers used to use to tap you on the head from 2 metres distance (it was 4 cubits when I was in school) when not attending or to rap you over the knuckles 4 times simultaneously when they were overcome with a fit of the sadism.

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She was using it now to fend off intruders. As we chatted in the prescribed fashion, a chap in a BMW with a special noise-making exhaust decided to see if he could reach 70mph within the confines of New Road and still brake sufficiently to make the corner. I think he succeeded on both counts as I didn’t hear any tearing metal. There’s a lot of this about during ‘lockdown’.

I looked forward to a weekend of continued social distancing and a lot of cycling. I felt my wheel going a bit wonky and found a broken spoke. There’s a place in King Street which fixes things like that while you wait, but the man said the rim is beginning to split and whilst he can fix it for now I really need a new wheel. I ask him what would be the best wheel for a man of my avoirdupois. He looked at me doubtfully, probably thinking a tractor wheel wouldn’t fit on my bike, but eventually told me he could order one which would cost as much as a whole normal bike. I said go for it.

Coming to Tuesday we have our regular West London Waste update. Very little to say actually. We’re all collecting most of the bins – some not doing garden or bulky waste – and all of our council tips are open, all with long queues, all with residents coming who didn’t really need to. One of the worries has been the markets for recycling material but, whilst prices are all over the place we’re currently managing to find a home for all our stuff. We are doing specific research into what people are bringing in using tablets on the sites so the data that flows from that will be interesting.

In the evening, our cabinet update, partly preparing for the formal cabinet meeting which takes place on 9 th June (you can attend via Microsoft Teams).

Wednesday I have a meeting free day so I decide to ride right into central London on my wonky wheel, causing one or two helpful cyclists (they’re like that) to point out to me that I have a wonky wheel. It is quite startling how much traffic has already grown, despite the fact that most people are still not working (at least at the office/shop/factory) and most shops are still closed. Of course to be fair, opticians are still closed so I suppose everybody is busy testing their eyesight.

Hammersmith and Fulham have been busy putting barriers all over the place to create protected bike lanes, and whilst some of these are welcome they are not all very well thought through. One of them was blocked by a large lorry causing cyclists to have to negotiate a hairy manoeuvre, rejoining the single remaining lane of cars.

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Plus going west along King Street it’s now too narrow for a car to overtake a bike (or vice versa) which led to an uncouth youth in a large Audi blowing his horn at me. If I am asymptomatic he may regret his impatience, as I caught up with him at traffic lights and gave him the benefit of my opinion in a strongly projected voice (and no doubt with a side dish of micro droplets).

Our excellent head of traffic is cooking up schemes for Hounslow which we are announcing and implementing each day – still looking for ideas from residents online.

Nearly time for my regular update on my cabinet portfolio with senior officers. Then it’ll be back to our local concerns – messy front gardens, fly tipping, blown down fences, planning issues, financial distress, anti-social behaviour… and wonky wheels.

Cllr Guy Lambert

May 29, 2020

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