Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Going back to Hounslow House for the first time in over a year


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

Brentford folk like transport changes or at worst not bovvered

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I spent Friday morning listening and watching the planning committee training that I missed. Mostly it’s familiar but I picked up one or two changes of which I wasn’t previously aware. I was able to mention them to my examiner (the council’s Head of Development Management) when we had a call at lunch time to prove I had done the work. Of course, as has been the case when I’ve crammed for exams throughout my life, I have now completely forgotten what it was, but it will be lurking deep in my psyche when I attend planning meetings, of which the first is tonight… in the flesh, wow.

On Friday evening a bit of gentle door-knocking up in Chestnut Avenue and The Garths. As ever, I enjoy talking to people in Brentford. They don’t always agree with you. They often have something they want to complain about – sometimes to do with the council, sometimes the price of fish. But there’s often some great banter and almost everybody you meet is well worth meeting and makes my day a little brighter. Got brighter still after a beer or two in the Lord Nelson.

A quiet weekend mostly, enlivened by a visit to the Chiswick Flower Market (my spies tell me there will be a feature in the Daily Torygraph gardening section of Saturday) which brought a little bit of restocking for my balcony pots (you can only get a little bit on a bike, especially as I am still not on the Elephant).

This picture in Private Eye pleased me greatly for its economy – at least three errors in 4 words.


Coming round to Monday, a discussion with the leader and Chief Exec about Lampton360 matters and then in the afternoon our latest member development session – this one about communications and how to work with the council’s comms team.

In the evening it was the Watermans board. They are gradually reopening and everybody is delighted to see posteriors perched upon seats again, even if for now (at least) there are not so many posteriors. The Guru Tandoori is open – though for reduced hours to match the centre – and on the occasions I’ve eaten there I’ve found the nosh very good and the setting pleasant – give them a try! Apparently there are very good films about at the moment so they are often selling out and the theatre reopens soon. Difficult to run the outside programme because many of the artists are non-UK and that is problematic this year, what with Brexit on top of the pandemic, but they will manage.

On Tuesday I have my one to one with the Lampton Group chair. She had rung me a few days ago to tell me that she had accepted a new job as CEO of Cumbria County Council as it undergoes a merger with district councils – seems like the precise configuration has yet to be agreed. Gill will be a great loss to Lampton – she is a very powerful personality and has made a big difference – but at least we now have a really strong crew of non-exec directors and executive leadership so the companies will continue to thrive, I’m sure.

I spend some of the day on the old bicyclette, and I take great joy in watching the seasons unfold. I love these wild (for London – I didn’t see any bears) areas down by the river in Duke’s Meadows.

Dukes Meadows River View

Thames Path at Dukes Meadows

Back to earth for a FoodBox trustee meeting. The charity has grown (really, food banks should be shrinking but little prospect of that) a lot both in services delivered and in resources, and we are working to update our policies and organisation to reflect a need to be more professional – always a challenge in an operation run entirely by volunteers.

After that, a splendid steak at La Rosetta with a couple of those lovely Brentford people I originally met in a moaning about the council session. A lovely evening, accessed by the exotic transport method known as walking, as I’d managed two punctures in one day. Nasty little spike in the tyre that I missed the first time. Probably those pesky Chiswick foxes.

Somebody rang me to say there was a tree in their garden that was causing concern. A couple in their seventies and he rather disabled, looking for a bit of help. More of those lovely Brentford people I keep coming across – just a touch Scottish in origin but in these parts for many years. I hope I can help them. The tree also overhangs the footbridge over the railway so does need to be addressed.

Overgrown tree

By a complete fluke of coincidence, when I get home and open my email, somebody has written to me to tell me of the worries he has about this tree and various neighbouring ones that overhang the railway line. They probably belong to Network Rail (which can be a challenge) but soon they will belong to Great British Railways apparently. A bitcoin in my pocket (how modern am I?) says they will be equally useless at looking after trees.

On Wednesday it was the board for Lampton Community Services. Sizeable challenges for the housing maintenance bit (aka Coalo) as we ease out of lockdown but lots of energy to improve in all ways, meanwhile there’s a lot of attention on the vehicle fleet, which needs to be readied for the ULEZ coming to Chiswick from October and our general goals of reducing emissions. In a previous life I managed a vehicle fleet and I find it a bit galling that somebody has invented a new term (‘Grey fleet’) that I had to Google to find out what it meant.

As I wandered around Brilliantville I suddenly noticed a change on the corner of Catherine Wheel Road. I have been waiting for work to start on the build of our 90-odd new council homes where once was NatWest, the electrical shop, etc. So good to see another 90 going up in Brentford to complement the 11 that have gone into the Towers, the 19 in Herings Hall Close and various others that are starting in small developments around the town. For the first time in many years we are building more council homes than we are selling off via right to buy.

Brentford High Street construction site

In the evening I had been asked to address Chiswick Labour Party Branch to encourage people to stand as councillors in next year’s elections. Whether it is a good policy to field me for this purpose is debatable but I did stress that not every councillor ends up like me – some are young, slim, attractive and useful. I actually love being a councillor, despite its frustrations, for the connections you build to the local community and the times when you feel like you’ve made a difference. If the recent London elections are anything to go by this is a good time for Labour people to be standing in Chiswick – the Conservative vote really collapsed in Chiswick and perhaps Chiswickians are waking up to the fact that Labour councillors would serve them much better.

So it’s Thursday again, and this morning a meeting about Watermans Park. There are a number of different but related activities going on there – the marina development, improvements to the childrens’ playground and the general landscaping, the advent of Cycleway9 at some point and of course the potential redevelopment of the Watermans centre site. Thanks to the Friends group (with a bit of help from councillors) we’re getting some focus into these changes and we think by the end of this year or early next we’ll have a much improved park there.

Later, we have an introductory session on Hounslow Greentalk. This is a fantastic new app where all the 123,235 council-owned trees in the borough have been logged, whether they be on streets, housing estates or parks. Hounslow is the very first place in the whole wide world that has done this and it’s a really fabulous resource, which will only get better as people start to use it and feed back and (eventually) add further data. The council and its partners will also add data at some stage about other parts of the green infrastructure that are not trees but really – give it a try. It works on a PC or as a phone app and has heaps of information about 383 species of tree in the borough and will generate walks for you. Fun.

This evening I will visit Hounslow House for the first time in about 15 months. It’s planning committee, and these meetings must be held in the flesh from here on in. It actually feels quite weird and I will be able to reacquaint myself with the suit I left on a hanger in the members area. I suppose it will now be perforated by moths.

Cllr Guy Lambert

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June 11, 2021

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