Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

A dispatch on how Dispatches reported on the dispatching of our waste


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

Brentford folk like transport changes or at worst not bovvered

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What a pleasure it is to meet these new all-singing, all litter-picking Environmental Champions. We know there are plenty of people across the borough who are passionate about improving the environment, but in the sometimes stressful and contentious life of a councillor it’s a real joy to meet people who just want to make things better and are happy to give time and energy to make it happen. People from all corners of the borough, from Hanworth to the borders of Hammersmith, interested in cleaning and greening their neighbourhoods. I have sweet dreams on Thursday night.

Friday morning is a different kettle of bananas as it’s time to embark on the next stage of my 5 year mission to persuade Lloyd’s Bank to get the name and address of the HounslowFoodbox.org.uk treasurer correct. Their operators are astonishingly busy as usual and I have to congratulate them on their ability to be constantly astonished, though to be fair this ability seems to be shared with all other call centre operatives everywhere. It must be something in the water.

In the afternoon it’s the opening of the BikeHub premises on Brentford High Street with a few bikeists and councillors in socially distanced outdoor attendance. It’s great to have two bike premises in Brentford what with Jim down the Blue road and now Winston and his chums here. This is the former housing office in Brentford High Street, externally transformed by really original and attractive signage by the multi-talented www.wendymackenzie.com/

It’s a busy hive of activity inside as I found out when I asked Winston to fix a brake problem on my bike on Monday. I kept knocking on the internal window to the old housing office behind the glass, but nobody came to assist with my housing issues.

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After that it’s a tricky meeting with Swyncombe Avenue residents. We need to find a way of reducing the traffic in this residential road, where the provision of traffic reduction measures elsewhere has woken everybody up to just how overused this road is. Our traffic team are having trouble coming up with a solution which meets ever-changing traffic regulations and takes account of a range of feedback from consultees, who live near and far! We agree to meet again in a week or three.

So I’m set freeee for the weekend (well, for an hour a day’s exercise) so on a lovely Saturday I decide to be a very brave soldier and actually cycle up the hill to Richmond Common. I stop for a breather at the top and I’m reminded how beautiful it is up here. Normally I’m too chicken to attempt the hill and I’m just a little dot down on the river bank, though to be fair I’m not often mistaken for a little dot.

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Monday is relatively free, though I have received a bunch of mainly standard letters, or variation on a theme, about the changes in Boston Manor Park. There is some real disquiet, even though from the council’s point of view we believe we have consulted heavily locally with residents and stakeholders over several years, and of course the whole enterprise is approved and financed by Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, with extensive input from architects and ecologists. There’s an extensive blog about the works here and I’ve been urging people to attend our next engagement event on 25th March in the evening, which will be attended by our ecological advisor. You should be able to sign up for a ticket very soon but any problems drop me a line guy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

A catch up with the Lampton Group MD in the afternoon and I raise a few questions about the Business Plans which will be going before cabinet shortly.

In the evening we have a Labour Group meeting which means I can’t catch the Channel4 Dispatches show about recycling live, but I do catch it later. This causes a bit of disquiet – do watch it on catch up – but some of it is misplaced, or doesn’t apply to Hounslow despite them having taken some footage inside our state-of-the-art Southall Lane materials handling depot. I gave a bit of feedback to the wonderful bragonline.org.uk which I think may end up on their website but worth repeating here:

A thought-provoking documentary, but experts take the view that it was very slanted

In case anyone is unduly worried....

  • The amount of contamination picked out by the guys on the picking line is quite limited (less than the presenter implied)
  • All of our recyclate through Southall Lane is sold for real £££s to people who see a value in it – so it is genuinely recycled (at present there is little or no market for textiles, however).
  • Food waste (managed by West London Waste Authority) goes to an anaerobic digester in Mitcham and is turned into gas for the grid (and for powering vehicles) and fertiliser. We pay about £10/tonne for this –a lot less than for residual waste
  • Garden waste (also via WLWA) goes to a biodynamic farm in Sussex where it’s composted into fertiliser (we also pay for this service, from memory ~ £30/tonne)
  • Our contract for incineration is ‘pay per throw’ so there is absolutely no incentive to increase or maintain our level of residual waste. Quite the opposite as it costs us ~ £110 per Tonne to dispose of
  • Our focus is to reduce waste overall and in particular to move food waste from residual into food. Research shows us that even in houses with kerbside food waste collection 45% of the residual waste is food. We have rolled out food waste recycling to 7500 flats in blocks over the last few months and plan to increase that to 30,000 over this coming financial year
  • Our recycling rate is slowly improving – a couple of percent each year for the last two. A slightly perverse measure as we’d prefer people to produce less food waste and to compost their garden waste in their garden which would actually reduce recycling rates!
  • Our residual waste is nevertheless sharply up this year – because most people are locked down at home not in offices/factories/shops/restaurants. Recycling up a little more than residual.

The presenter makes the point that energy from waste incineration will produce more carbon than energy from coal in due course. It is also true that electric trains produce more carbon than steam trains, for similar reasons.

It happened to be our fortnightly West London Waste update on Tuesday morning so we were able to discuss the documentary. We’re hoping against hope that the government will follow through on pledges to reduce waste in the supply chain and enhance the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Though please don’t call me a cynic if I say I bet they will be keener on a deposit scheme for aluminium cans (recycle value £800+ per tonne) than for plastic trays (more like £50).

Then I hie up to Clayponds Gardens, which I always think is such an attractive estate. I meet the redoubtable chair of the residents association who has helped the NHS turn the community centre into a vaccination hub, related to a pharmacy just up the road over the Ealing Border. All going smoothly when I’m there though I’m told supplies are erratic. The community centre looks so much better now we have persuaded Housing to put a coat of paint on the outside and clear up a few excrescences that had appeared on the external walls. We walk around with the well-loved caretaker (Eddie, I think, but my memory isn’t what it used to be, as far as I can remember what it used to be) and he points out various calumnies related to the motor vehicle fraternity, such as parking on pavements and the grass, blocking access to the bins and running a rally special stage down one of the estate paths. All in all a load of bollards so I’m requesting some bollards to deter the bollards.

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Late afternoon it’s our quarterly Brentford Towers partnership meeting. Various matters discussed – the 11 new flats within the towers are finished bar the shouting, apparently look fab and expect to be handed over for occupation from 31st March (I urge them to get people in there on the 1st April – there are people in desperate housing need). My syntax has gone haywire. Flats don’t expect because they have no brain. We (who have brains of a sort) expect THEM to be handed over on 31st March. The new Cruyff Court in the former Pit is being built (I missed when they said the precise timescale) and they are busy improving the landscaping. I noticed they were digging for wildflower meadows down Green Dragon Lane when I cycled past which should be a delight, but residents rightly are more concerned about quiet seating areas etc which are also well in the pipeline.

Cabinet Briefing in the evening, where we go over the topics for the formal cabinet meeting on the 23rd.

Wednesday morning we have a Teams meeting with TfL about A4 topics with councillors from Brentford, Osterley and Heston wards all chipping in with our two penn’orth. The Melvinator and I both have substantial lists as do others from out West. It’s heartening that TfL seem more and more responsive, testament to the spirit of partnership between Hounslow Highways, our traffic team and them. Now if they just had a budget…

In the evening our regular member COVID briefing. Cases are sharply down but we are still in the top 3 in London for infections so we really mustn’t be complacent. Whilst hospital admissions are well down there are still far too many in Intensive Care because people spend a long time there. There is also a worryingly large number of victims of Long COVID, which comes in multiple different flavours, none of which are pleasant. Kelly O’Neill our director of public health always gives me great confidence that we are in good hands in the borough, and it’s also good to see officers plotting the path (we all hope) out of this mess.

After that, the delights of the local Labour Party AGM. Hmm, meeting at 1.30 and the sun’s out for now even if blowing a gale. Better get that exercise hour in before it starts raining again. The Councillor, my friends, will be Blowing in the wind, The Councillor is Blowing in the wind.

Cllr Guy Lambert

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March 11, 2021

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