Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

A desperate struggle with a group of dodgy boilers


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

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On Thursday afternoon we had the Lampton Development board. Work continues apace at the two sites they are currently building. One of these used confusingly to be called Acton Lodge. Well it certainly confused me when I was first a councillor, having in a previous life been a resident of Acton and not regarding it as a part of Brentford, but that is where Acton Lodge was. But it is no more, and has become Herrings Hall Close. Where that idea came from I have no idea and I recommend against Googling it if you’re of a sensitive disposition. Some of the buildings have now emerged from behind the hoardings on London Road and, in their unfinished state have attracted a bit of criticism: wait till they are finished, folks, and never forget that these are new build council homes for social rent, sorely needed.

There are a couple of other projects on the stocks but with new management on board and a reset likely of the relationship with EcoWorld, Lampton are working with the council to decide what’s next.

Then it’s more Lampton with the Finance and Risk committee. No great surprises and the finances are looking positive with probably more opportunities than risks, though that’s dangerous talk in these times.

I have to leave before the end for the weekly leisure update. The big issue is still boilers: as I said last week there are two of them (one is supposed to be for backup) in each of the 6 leisure centres but only one of the 12 was working. So there’s a desperate struggle to get them up to muster so they are not a block to reopening the leisure centres. Everything else seems to be going well, though lots to do to make them clean and safe, and to sort out IT, signage etc.

On Friday I make my pilgrimage to Halfords They do indeed have the right clamp for My Little Pony and to my considerable satisfaction, after an IKEA-like period of puzzlement I manage to fit it in a way which looks satisfactory. However I have not yet ventured out on it and when I do it will be very gingerly. It is one thing having a bookshelf collapse when you put a book on it, another entirely if your bike decides to bifurcate in front of a 267 bus.

Friday was otherwise a quiet day. I generally get out for an hour or so on my rather cumbersome new bike, mostly confining myself to between Richmond and Fulham with a bit of firkling around the ward and the West Belfast ghetto as one of its councillors likes to describe Chiswick. In the evening we are introduced to some new technology from the Labour party, though inevitably I can’t get into some of it because of password problems.

On Monday I have an introductory call with the new Coalo MD. I met her at interview but this is the first time we’ve spoken properly since she came on board. Seems very dynamic and with a real service ethos, something which I think is so important. I’m really impressed with the people at all levels within our companies. Many of the senior people are new and I think they’ll provide very positive leadership to the staff who have served us so well during the very difficult days of the pandemic.

Talking of which, I was recently convinced by the case for topping up vitamin D, apparently especially important if you’re ‘mature’ (me), ‘amply proportioned’ (me) and/or dark skinned (not me). Strange how a pandemic increases knowledge in all sorts of diverse areas. I’d never heard of an International Unit (IU) for vitamins before, but when I went to the chemist they had Vitamin D in doses of anything from 500 IU – which sounds generous –to 10,000 IU – which sounds barking. Having read around the matter a bit I have decided it is not at all barking.

If I start making dog-like noises, it’s probably just the drugs.

On Monday Evening we have a Watermans trustee meeting. It’s horrendously difficult to run an arts centre in these uncertain days, and despite having received emergency funding from the Arts Council and various other sources, plus putting a lot of the staff on furlough, the Hounslow Arts Trust has had to eat heavily into reserves. They have been very busy when they’ve been open but of course they can only put one posterior in every 5 or something seats so that is no way to approach break even, so the decision has been taken to launch a major crowdfunding exercise, as many neighbourhood theatres have done.

This started this morning and so far I see they’ve raised about £5,000 of the £60,000 target. So here I am, panhandling again. There are rewards attached so if you can donate, or just renew your membership, please do so here.

They are working hard on things that you can access online.

After all the Watermans excitement I arrive late for the police ward panel, now expertly chaired and driven by a resident and a great improvement on the days when I was in the chair. In fact I arrive so late that everyone is saying goodbye, but at least I tried.

On Tuesday our regular Streetspace update. We cover 4 workstreams – communications: we will be doing more of this shortly; correspondence – there has been so much that the traffic team couldn’t keep up for a while - just catching up now; interim reviews, which are about to start; and future schemes, where we will have the luxury of being allowed to consult prior, as opposed to the emergency schemes so far implemented, where we had been instructed by government to go ahead first and consult afterwards. The whole programme is a huge challenge for the team but they are dealing with it with great resilience.

In the evening we discuss matters which will come up at next week’s cabinet meeting. Quite a heavy agenda, though my trading company update is fairly light and uncontroversial.

On Wednesday evening we have a meeting between the Brentford and Syon councillors and a collection of residents involved in Brentford Voice. They have prepared a long list of questions on topics of local interest, some of which are very hard to answer – EG the future of Watermans given we don’t yet know what the Planning Inspector will conclude about the application to redevelop their site and the old police station. I have a personal engagement so have to duck out before the end.

I might have thought they were still at it now, except that I met Steve Curran at 9am this morning at Hounslow Highways depot in the imaginatively-named Depot Road. You’d think someone would have come up with something more romantic – I dunno Mackerels Mansion Mews ? – to match Herrings Hall Close. Anyway, this event was to mark the acquisition of 2 spanking new Euro V1 Hydrostatic Scarab Magnum Sweepers. Or what are better known as ride-on Hoovers in old money. Hounslow Highways were eager to tell us they cost £350,000. I asked if that was a BOGOF offer but they didn’t answer. I did think they could have had my car for that money rather than these ugly yellow things but to be fair my car probably wouldn’t be as good at picking up 1 tonne of debris from the gutters. There are 4 anti-litter (etc) pictures on the sides (2 vehicles, 2 sides each, geddit?) all created by children of council officers and/or Hounslow Highways staff. Really good they were too, as were the 6 or so runners up for which Steve and I and the MD of Hounslow Highways all signed a certificate. More autographs than I’ve done in a day since I used to sign the cheques for Honeywell back in the 1990s.

The good news about these is that a) they have more capacity so don’t have to return to the depot so often and b) they have only one engine whereas the ones they replace had a donkey engine as well as a diesel, so there were twice as many emissions from the old ones.

At lunchtime my monthly update with the environment directors – informative as ever and as we begin to (touch wood) come into the post-pandemic period we’re all set to accelerate the pace of our various cleaner, greener programmes.

Leisure update any minute so I’ll close with this week’s pretty picture – moody sky from the Grove Park Terrace level crossing.



Cllr Guy Lambert

November 27, 2020

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