Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

A difficult decision on Tesco/Homebase after a five hour meeting


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

Brentford folk like transport changes or at worst not bovvered

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And so to Planning. There were technically two agenda items, but really only one, because the redevelopment of the Homebase site at Syon lane to accommodate a new Tesco store, car park and flats up to 17 storeys high is intimately linked to the redevelopment of the existing Tesco site in Osterley to provide shops… and flats up to 17 storeys high.

Needless to say, there was a lot of opposition to these proposals from many different quarters, but planning is a complex subject and not entirely in the hands of the council, because higher authorities such as the Mayor, Secretary of State or the Planning Inspectorate outrank us. If a council decision is overturned we lose any traction we have to insist the developer makes concessions to local needs.

Further, such developments can provide a lot of housing including housing affordable by those living on minimum income, and our needs as a council for such accommodation have mushroomed during the pandemic, having been pretty extreme beforehand. The most heart rending story I hear as a councillor – and far too often – is families living in overcrowded accommodation, or with no secure place to live at all.

So these big developments are always a matter of judgment. For me, and 2 or three colleagues, the balance was against these developments, but the planners recommended approval and most councillors went along with them so we were heavily outvoted.

All that took more than 5 hours so I was pleased that the discussion on Friday morning was the more positive thought of a local skatepark. We have been trying to work out a solution to this for many months and are focused on two possibilities. One of the people who came – the man behind the skatepark in Acton Park, mentioned the one on Bishops Park in Fulham so I took a pic or two when I passed.

Fulham skate park
Fulham skate park

Fun for all ages. These pics were on Friday, and it was mad busy on Sunday. My Friday afternoon was therefore (you might have guessed) spent on the ole bike, down to Putney and back.

On Saturday I decided to cycle to Hanworth with some litter picking stuff for a woman who litter picks in the Crane Valley park with her children and is joining our Environmental Champions programme - all welcome!

I thought I knew the Crane Valley Park but this was a new bit for me, from the Hanworth Road down to the Great Chertsey Road. It’s really lovely, and going there made my day.

Sunday was Brentford Market, and quite lively despite the weather. Steve Curran was there with his rather posh new bicycle which has front suspension and looks pretty cool to me. I did a bit of mild grumbling about my bike to Brian from BikeHub and he said ‘Ah, I may have just the second hand job for you’ so I wait in eager anticipation. My Elephant bike is great for shopping but I rather lost faith in it when I nearly went into the back of a 65 bus on Ealing Road - the brakes are reminiscent of the ones on the pre war Austin Seven owned by one of my boyhood heroes, Graham Hill. They worked (he said) by rubbing the tyres against a kerb. Mine are more digging my heels into the tarmac.

Visiting my daughter in Chiswick I came upon this sign, which gave me a good feeling – they are breaking out in various places like spring blossom.

Street change sign in Chiswick

On Monday we had the first meeting of the new board for Lampton Development and Investment. This was mainly introductions from our new board members to the small Lampton team and a run down of the projects in progress and in prospect, but all in all very positive and much to play for over the coming months.

Tuesday morning our regular West London Waste update. Not too much to report except that our exec director has now become the technical advisor to the authority. The tentacles of Hounslow are spreading out across London, which is a recognition of how good our officers are.

Then I’m off to Chiswick House, where His Worshipful Majesty the 55 th Mayor of Hounslow is giving an award to a long serving member of staff with no less than 52 years service. Of course his service probably started with Ye Countye of Myddelsex, then Acton and Chiswick Urban District Council, then LBH, then CIC, then LBH again, then John Laing, then Carillion, then GreenSpace360 but he’s been looking after parks across the borough throughout all that. I was thinking with 52 years service he must be ‘Really Old’ and then I realised that I first turned up to earn an honest buck from the Ford Motor Company in 1969 which seems, if my maths hasn’t fallen foul of ageing, to be 52 years ago. So actually he must be ‘Really Youthful’, like me. It says something about a man to serve the same public for 52 years and this is a top man who has brought enormous benefits to our parks, cemeteries, allotments etc over the years.

In the afternoon I stopped by the new ‘Cruyff Court’ on the Brentford Towers estate, which has been created in the space formerly known as ‘The Pit’. I started to take a picture because it was lovely to see maybe 30 children of ages between probably 5 and 17 playing there. But when I got my phone out a young chap perhaps 8 or 9 years old came across the court and started remarking that he thought I was a paedo. Innocent times, so I can only give you a generic image.

Cruyff pit in Brentford Towers

In the evening it’s Lampton Leisure – the induction session for new board members and for the rest of us also to meet the Leisure team. Lots of youthful enthusiasm on show and isn’t it great to have our leisure centres open again. I’ve had some positive feedback about the improvements at Brentford Fountain and always happy to hear people’s experiences – good or bad – which I will pass on to the team, who are eager to improve.

Wednesday morning I have a zoom meeting with somebody from an outfit called ZenBin. They are looking to develop an app which will make it easier for people to understand what they can recycle and where, and also to help get the message across to people whose first language isn’t English – an important issue in Hounslow where from memory something like 150 languages are spoken, and that doesn’t include Scouse or Geordie. We agree to keep talking via officers and West London Waste.

Coming off that call I get the sad news that one of those lovely people that make Brentford what it is has passed away. Virginia Fassnidge has been a stalwart of I think many local causes, but I knew her from the Brentford Recycling Action Group, as a regular on my local litter picks (which I will restart soon) and indirectly as someone who mentored and supported people in the ward. She was a pleasure to know, and will be sadly missed.

In the afternoon a meeting with the Friends, traffic and parks people about Watermans Park. We are keeping the heat on this development which is complicated by the impending (assuming TfL get some funding!) arrival of Cycleway 9 combined with efforts to improve the park, plus the development of the marina. We were hoping to have access restored to the east of the park by now but the contractors have encountered underground difficulties so there is a delay. It was heartening to see ugly great lorries with ugly equipment on site there this morning (Thursday).

Then it was the Lampton Community Services Board – again the first of the new structure and some probing questions asked by our new non-execs, particularly on the Coalo side of the business which has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

Round to Thursday again and a trip to lovely Chiswick to be double-Pfizered. Well, single-Pfizered but this was step 2 so now I am a fully fledged vaccinated individual, and feeling smug. All a very pleasant and efficient experience once more – thanks as always NHS.

This afternoon, we are set free to knock on doors again – something that has been sadly lacking for a year or more, so me and a few pals will be out annoying people in the great political tradition. They will say ‘you only come out when there’s an election on’ and I suppose it’s true we haven’t been out for a year, but that was uncle COVID rather than a lack of enthusiasm to hear from people.

More Lampton later on, but this afternoon ‘Watch out, watch out, watch out watch out there’s a Councillor about’ (anyone old enough to remember the Humphreys?)

o apply for planning permission and to engage with some local schools, which will be welcome so I hope we can get this back on an even keel (no pun intended) and running with the tide not against it (pun intended).

Sunny day, a very long evening’s planning purgatory in prospect, still a few hundred pages to master before the meeting, a bicycle wanting to go walkies: you and I are therefore excused further nonsense until the interminable story resumes next week.

Cllr Guy Lambert

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April 16, 2021

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