Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Gareth Bale style wages demanded for bodyguard-cum-bouncer role

Hounslow Councillors with Will Norman on Chiswick High Road


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

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Thursday afternoon I had the ‘Cleaner Hounslow’ Community Reference Group. A relatively thin field of community worthies but a good discussion nonetheless. There’s a particular focus on how we promote cleaner greener on the Hounslow website. Council websites are – perhaps necessarily – transactional and a bit dull, but we should look at ways of having something more inspirational right at the front page.

It’s frustrating that so many of our cleaner initiatives have been delayed by Great Uncle Covid and our recruitment for the Special Waste Service has had limited success so far. We have also lost our excellent coordinator for the Environmental champions programme – she is a graduate trainee and the Hounslow graduate programme (rightly I think) moves people on to different roles every few months so we have to recruit a replacement. But we’ll get there. Fortunately most of the worldwide web understands the concept of geography so we are not getting too many applications from people based in Aberdeen or Aberystwyth where you have to go to find your local COVID test centre.

Later we have an update from officers about the Leisure Services transfer from Fusion into the council and Lampton360. This is really Samia Chaudhary’s gig but I’m invited along with my Lampton Hard Hat, Hi-Vis and steel toecapped boots on (well, you can’t see below the waist on Teams and I’m not telling). Lots to do, but we’re getting on with it and apparently there has been almost exclusively positive feedback about the change from residents, especially those that are leisure members.

Friday morning we’re out in Chiswick to meet the walking and cycling commissioner from the GLA, Will Norman, to celebrate work starting on the temporary version of Cycleway 9 through Chiswick. We meet on Turnham Green Common – Will on his Brompton, Candice Atterton and Hanif Khan on their bikes, me on my Elephant (Elephant bike, for clarity) and Steve Curran on his newly-acquired (on a council hire scheme) Brompton. I ask if he parked in Sainsbury’s and he gets very narked and points out that his physical state bears witness to him having cycled all the way from Brentford (yes I know that’s not the Tour de France but an excellent start).

There has been a lot of congestion in Chiswick and the works to the High Road to accommodate the cycle lane haven’t helped, though things were much better the last time I cycled through in the afternoon peak. As I say again and again, the only way we will help London be more liveable is if those who can, avoid driving where they don’t need to. It’s clear to me this is happening, just not yet to the extent we all need.

Hanif’s bike is particularly cool-looking and he starts to explain to me how he bought it second hand and has applied a whole string of modifications to it. Hanif is a more recent convert to cycling than me and has moved (like me) from being a committed driver to becoming a strong advocate for cycling and I find him really inspiring.

Defunct Hounslow council opposition leader Joanna Biddolph has got herself into a true blue funk (and there is no blue funk like a true blue one) about things and has appointed me to a new role “ lead member for highways and borough bodyguard-cum-bouncer Guy Lambert”. I have written to Hanif and said if accept this role for the traffic department I demand wage parity with Gareth Bale, plus danger money and Luncheon Vouchers, but he hasn’t replied.

On Monday and Tuesday I had registered for the online ‘summit’ of advocates of world car free day. I ‘attended’ a few sessions interspersed with meetings and the normal round of emails and phone calls. Wish I’d done more but it was fascinating to hear of the success of freeing up streets from car domination from Edinburgh to Ethiopia. I am emphatically not anti-car – I have just added a subscription to Autocar to my long-standing sub to Motor Sport - but I am appreciating more and more how crucial it is for us to break the habit of using them for every journey, particularly in cities.

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Monday lunchtime I was down at the Verdict for a coffee with Brentford Voice and the council leader. Our conversation was ostensibly about a letter received from a local retailer but covered Post Offices, Morrisons, Ballymore, the police station, Watermans, council accommodation, the waterside, the identity of Brentford, the price of fish and the health of the “Prime Minister”.

In the evening a Teams meeting with the Brentford Towers Residents Association. This covered many topics – the now completed upgrades to the towers, the 11 ‘hidden homes’ being formed within the towers and likely to be completed and occupied around November, trees and landscaping, lights and anti-social behaviour and the forthcoming ‘Cruyff Court’ coming soon to the location currently known so romantically as ‘The Pit’. I asked about the impact of the access-only restriction recently introduced on Green Dragon Lane and it’s fair to say the reaction was enthusiastic, one member saying her journey from Burford Road to Wicksteed House in the rush hour had changed from taking 45 minutes to 1 and a half. Another said it was the best thing the council had ever done which may be a touch OTT but welcome nonetheless.

Tuesday lunchtime we have a meeting with EcoWorld about their plans for Griffin Park. Those who have been paying attention will remember they had a planning application approved some time ago to create a small park in the middle and ring the ground with about 75 town houses. They have now taken possession of the ground and have begun to dismantle it and this was to update (and consult) ward councillors on the plans for demolition and how this will be communicated to residents, particularly those neighbouring Griffin Park. Needless to say, they also want to make changes to what they build compared to the ‘old’ planning permission – some I like, some I don’t and we councillors gave our opinions on these changes which they may or may not take any notice of before submitting a new planning application! Anyway, they will be issuing a first newsletter to near residents this week and further newsletters will follow. We agreed that there should be two levels of news – to those in the immediately surrounding roads, and to those in the wider area loosely defined as between the High Street and the railway, between Boston Manor Road and Netley Road.

In the evening an online campaign committee, not that anybody can do much campaigning at present. We just like to check that we’re still alive. I suggested a physical meeting but there were seven of us and nobody liked the idea of a grouse shoot.

My diary shows a strategy meeting for West London Waste Authority (WLWA) on Friday but my diary has become impossible and I’ve had to duck out of that. But I’m very interested in waste and recycling strategy and after a couple of years before the mast, consider I’ve got a reasonable grasp of it now, so I arranged an offline chat with the MD. I think we’re quite well aligned on strategy across the authority and the 6 constituent boroughs, but I was concerned to deal with any disconnect between WLWA, the council and Recycle360, because we expect big changes in government policy over the next few years and it’s important that our facilities, whether owned by individual councils or by WLWA are developed and used in the most economic and practical way. I don’t think there’s a problem, particularly after our talk, but it’s important sometimes to get these things on the table.

For 5pm I had organised a litter pick in Lionel Road North under the banner of Keep Britain Tidy and the Great British September (postponed from Spring) Clean. I had had only two confirmed co-conspirators and by the time it got to 5.15 nobody had turned up. I tried to ring them but got no answer so I gave up and headed home – no fun litter picking on your lonesome ownsome and anyway Lionel Road seemed surprisingly litter free compared to how it sometimes is. Natch, as soon as I got home I had not 2 but 4 people ringing/texting saying where are you. I had things to do in the evening so they were disappointed.

Thursday dawns and I start my weekly appointment with inkwell and quill pen to write Ye Blogge. I can see it’s going to be an interrupted day because I am expecting a waste-related phone call and a Griffin Park phone call in the morning and then various lunchtime events so I warm my bowl of gruel early and get on with it. The phone calls duly come and at 12 it’s time for my regular catch up with senior officers. We have the other side of the conversation about WLWA strategy and catch up on the various initiatives which are in train, to do with recycling, Hounslow Highways, leisure and the various road schemes. Nothing much to report: I could talk about the Battle of Staveley Road where the faction who would like their road shut off to those who rat run at speed between the A316 and the A4 are opposed by the faction who live in Park Road. But the latter are supported by the massed ranks of the Chiswick Riverside councillors who are opposing this scheme initiated and funded by the Department for Transport, though no doubt in a very specific and limited way, and I wouldn’t want to infuriate them. (Thanks to The Chiswick Calendar for the pic by Andrea Carnevali)

park road protest

Then I’m off to Brentford library, where a posse of officers/builders etc are awaiting me. I have been grumbling them about when the library is going to reopen because I have scars on my back from when there was a leak in the roof a few years ago and the library took months to reopen. I know there has been a problem with the lantern in the roof and there are major works going on to fit a lift, create toilets and provide adult education rooms and I don’t have a good feeling about progress. Well, this will surprise you greatly, but I’m not always right, and on this occasion I have severely misjudged things. From the outside it looks like a closed library with not much happening:

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But inside it’s transformed. The books are upstairs (and a bit dusty) next to the refurbished and ready to use toilets.

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whilst downstairs everything has been stripped out and the two classrooms for adult education formed, one with an acoustic ceiling. And one going full height to the restored roof lantern

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The good news is that the library is planned to reopen during October, though only using the old children’s library initially but the whole thing reopening probably in November with two training rooms, a small meeting room, the library arranged over two floors with a ‘proper’ lift and toilets for all including a disabled one. Hoping there’ll be some improvements to the outside space too but I’m really excited about how the inside is going to work, both as our local library and as a community space for all to use.

I’ve been bloggering around on and off all day and I’m now coming up to my 5 o’clock update on the leisure services transfer, after which I have to get ready to tell the Fabian Society about ‘The Realities of Local Govt Finance’ – ours will be shot to pieces by my Gareth Bale-style minder’s salary. I hope.


Cllr Guy Lambert

September 25, 2020

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