Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Learning how to tackle poverty and obesity from our friends in the north


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

Brentford folk like transport changes or at worst not bovvered

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Here we are, nose back to the grindstone though as yet the grinding compound is mild grade on my nose, ie, not so many meetings etc, though of course the emails flow in their mellifluous abundance.

In truth, much of the routine work had been suspended until last weekend though whilst the swan that is Hounslow glided smoothly over the surface, officers were scurrying around energetically beneath the waves dealing with all the issues which stem from tier 4, preparing for mass vaccinations, asymptomatic testing, business grants, etc etc

It was Tuesday before regular meetings really resumed, but they came back with a bang. First thing was an update with the chair of Lampton, where we discussed the emerging business plans which will be coming to cabinet in a month or two, and the impact of Tier 4 and all that jazz. Our delivery services – Recycle, Greenspace and Coalo – carry on with their day to day activities, sustaining the high level of service they have throughout the pandemic. It is very challenging for them all in different ways, but the particular difficulty is Coalo where quite reasonably many people are resisting having tradesmen in their properties fitting new kitchens, bathrooms, adaptations etc.

Leisure, of course is another kettle of fish entirely with the leisure centres we had recently reopened now abruptly reshut. Whilst that does give an opportunity to continue fixing the problems inherited from the previous regime, such as dodgy boilers, it is very frustrating for many of the staff who were furloughed, unfurloughed and now furloughed again. A lot of them have volunteered to help with pandemic related activities and ones that are still working are developing more online activities which should be announced very soon.

Then it was all parks – the potential for a skateboard park, perhaps in Gunnersbury, perhaps an improved Thornbury, perhaps both – then an update on the works in Boston Manor. This was a meeting (online natch) between council officers, Friends group, Greenspace and the architects who will be dealing with changes to the Friends’ café etc. The tree works continue until (I think) around March and there was a lot of talk about improving communication. Much has been done already with notice boards etc and more will follow. There will also be increased presence on site shortly so it will be possible to talk human to human (providing they are 2 metres apart, only two humans are involved and they are both wearing masks and ideally snorkels).

I had to leave this meeting early – not that I was adding much to discussions about window opening and provision of toasters – to attend a Brentford Towers meeting. Many, though not all, the flats have ‘sheds’ allocated to them. Some of these are on the landings all the way up the towers and some are in the basements and the tenants (and leaseholders) have had them in some cases for 30 years or more. But the fire consultants are very clear post Grenfell – you cannot have such sheds within tower blocks unless they are extensively fireproofed and the costs of doing that are prohibitive. Such sheds are present in many places around the Borough (and elsewhere) but Brentford Towers are the test case and the housing team are having great difficulty finding an acceptable solution. A number of ideas were bandied around with some especially bandy contributions from The Melvinator and we’ll meet again shortly to progress.

Then it was a session on Hounslow’s Corporate Plan, which is due an update shortly. In this session we focused on Health, Wealth and Youth, the three th’s. These debates – we had another in December about Green issues and Poverty – are really interesting. We look a lot at what other councils are up to and where they are making a difference – Leeds, where they seem to have turned the tide on childhood obesity; Preston, where they have pioneered building wealth by encouraging local spend by the council, local businesses and residents; Wigan, where they have ‘The Deal’

We probably don’t say it enough, not that anybody believes us anyway, but Hounslow council is very ambitious for our Borough and I hope people are beginning to see the progress, which we are making despite the chronic funding cuts and of course the pandemic.

In the evening I attended the Streetspace consultation event for Isleworth. People very reasonably are concerned about access to the hospital and the impact of traffic displacement, and we’re working with the Ambulance service, NHS and of course TfL and will modify these schemes if they are not working. Changes to the street scene are frequently unpopular and I just saw this morning someone reflecting on other changes that take a while to gain acceptance. When I was a teenager it was the breathalyser, then we’ve had compulsory seat belts, the congestion charge, closing the North side of Trafalgar Square, the ban on smoking indoors. All extremely unpopular at the time, but how many would get support to reverse now?

Wednesday morning I attended the private launch of Food Waste Action Week, which will take place in early March. The material is embargoed but one of the interesting points made is that about 30% of food in the UK is wasted and this has a colossal impact on greenhouse gas, council budgets (we have to pick it up and dispose of it and even if everybody is good and uses their green bins we still have to pay the recyclers) and of course on personal budgets. Because, contrary to what most people believe, it isn’t supermarkets that are the main ‘wasters’, it’s us, the public. Oh, and everybody thinks it’s not them, but their neighbours.

In the afternoon a Lampton formal board meeting. We talked mainly about the impacts of COVID which I’ve already mentioned, and briefly about the emerging business plans and I thought I had to leave early to attend another meeting, but it turned out this meeting was imaginary.

My camera phone has been unusually idle this week so I can only share my health tip

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I’m not a great believer in this stuff but with COVID I have been dosing myself heavily with Vitamin D and I’ve now added Selenium. It might be an old wives’/husbands’ tale but why take the chance?

Oh, and ever since I’ve been a councillor I’ve been trying to get lighting on the footbridge in Brook Lane North. The Melvinator says he’s been fighting for this since the bridge was built in 1894 but I think he may be exaggerating. Last story was the lights would dazzle the train drivers. But I found these on a footbridge in Chiswick, hidden from their delicate eyes, so we’re having another crack.

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Cllr Guy Lambert

January 14, 2021

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