Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Being Mr Grumpy, getting tested in the stadium and chips on Father's Day


Guy Lambertguy.lambert@hounslow.gov.uk

tel 07804 284948

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Well, I went to the first of my two scheduled webinars about reduce, reuse, recycle, the circular economy, cloth nappies, libraries of things, refillable containers, reworking of old appliances and a dizzying plethora of things that can be done to reduce carbon emissions and the general use of the earth’s resources.

When I had a proper job I remember one leadership course I went on (well, I remember others, but this one is in my mind) where what stuck was the idea that a leader should pick their time to lead, follow or stand aside. So much to do and limited capacity in my brain and amongst council officers who do the real work. The huge difference we can make in this area is food waste and that’s one area where we are taking a lead and concentrating our resources. There are other things where others are leading and the council follows and supports like Hounslow Community Transport’s furniture recycling service. And others where our job initially at least is to stand aside and not get in the way, like shops which encourage you to bring containers to refill, etc.

Whatever, after one webinar there were so many ideas buzzing around my head I decided to skip the second one and get ready for our Streetspace update later on Thursday afternoon. Still heaps going on in this area with appeal court judgments and the data (other than that eaten by Chiswick foxes) being worked through by the traffic team. The traffic people are awaiting the final report of consultations on the Devonshire Road closure, but anticipate a partial reversal – which has now come to pass. I think we will come to regret this reversal – probably quite quickly – but at present the traders and residents are showing themselves predominantly against the closure.

A meeting free Friday and the door knocking session I was expecting didn’t happen so I was into the weekend.

On Saturday my daughter came round for a slightly early Fathers Day event, involving a gentle ride up the canal to the Fox in Hanwell. I have previously described the Fox as having the best chips in West London, possibly the planet. I think it might have changed hands in the meantime but the chips still seem to be excellent, if not quite as magnificent as I remember them. The garden has been made more practical for extensive outdoor eating, but has lost a little of its charm – something we see across the area I think, and a real long term impact of the pandemic, for good and ill.

We wander back via the currently blessedly quiet Swyncombe Avenue and Gunnersbury Park, then down Lionel Road South, whereupon we encounter Councillors Biddolph and Giles chatting, and no doubt plotting my downfall, by the Kew Bridge station bus stop. They have just come from their PCR tests in the stadium, which reminds me I should do likewise so I double back to do so. As is normal when I go for testing, I’m unable to make the QR code thing work and this seems to be not just me, judging by the reaction of the testing staff who roll their eyes and very quickly revert to manual data entry!

Qr code  for Brentford PCR Testing

The good news is the test (later) comes out as negative and I spend some time taking in the heady atmosphere of Bee heaven and chatting to a friendly council officer.

Main activity to speak of on Sunday was the resumption of the Brentford litter pick, which we did on Sunday afternoon around the usual areas – back of Morrisons, Albany Road etc. About half a dozen volunteers and it’s strange how much fun it is having a little litter pick for a couple of hours. As usual I’m useless at the selfie/group picture thing so history will not record this event in graphic terms, nor the short aftermath in the garden behind the Griffin pub.

Monday offers no meetings so I do my ward round, reporting the odd pothole, graffito, flytip etc. It’s lovely to see the wildflowers coming up on Ealing Road (in the bits where our beloved Cadent -the artist previously known as British Gas, the Gas Board, etc – haven’t destroyed them with digging up) and Green Dragon Lane. This is so much more inspiring than grassy lawns everywhere and they tell me they will be even lovelier next year when they are better established.

Grass verge in Brentford

Another Grass verge in Brentford

On Tuesday I have my catchup with the chair of Lampton, she now ensconced in Kendal as she gets ready for her new job at Cumbria council. I ask her what she thinks of new coal mines (having been listening to a podcast on the matter ) but she says that’s for politicians to decide. Sometimes it’s handy to be a paid official.

Then it’s our set piece Network Board with Hounslow Highways. As ever I’m Mr Grumpy about various matters but the main priority is to get the extensive work we’ve commissioned under the Pothole Pledge done as soon as possible. We also have a lengthy discussion about street trees. Hounslow Highways have the responsibility of looking after all of them and there are more than 11,000 across the borough. In quite a number of cases we would not plant the same species of tree today as ‘we’ planted 60 or 80 years ago because they have grown rather too magnificent for the pavements they are set in or the houses they abut, but the magnificence is something we really value and the public (rightly) are horrified when they are felled – even when they are in poor health, as happens to trees, like the rest of us, in the end. It’s a tricky subject.

Mr Grumpy

On Wednesday morning I attend a ‘drop-in’ session with the expert who’s helping us improve governance at Hounslow Foodbox. We need to refresh the trustee group because the current bunch of us lack some skills and diversity. In due course I would like to step down from trusteeship here to make way for new blood but in the short term I’m being encouraged to do more, whilst we look for said new blood.

In the afternoon, the Lampton Development and Investment board. Nothing ground-breaking to report – the 19 council houses they’ve built in Brentford will be handed over to new tenants shortly with the development of supported accommodation in Bedfont coming later in the year, plus lots of focus on getting the New Road Triangle scheme – approved last week at the planning committee – getting moving on site in the autumn I suppose that is ground-breaking, literally. Meanwhile, the activity to buy existing homes – nearly all ex-council – in the market to let to people from the housing list is gathering pace.

In the evening it’s Labour party business. We start with a meeting addressed by experts on Palestine. The situation remains somewhat impossible, but perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope with a new Israeli government which despite being led from the far right is more inclusive than has been seen in recent times. One of our Jewish members speaks eloquently from the Jewish/Israeli perspective and it’s very enlightening to get these insights, though how they get out of the current mess remains a massive challenge. This is followed by a bit of Labour party democracy in action – very laudable but not much fun – with most of us sneaking looks at the most exciting night so far in the European football championship. In the end, the inevitable England Germany clash is confirmed and I have to resurrect the Gary Lineker quote “ Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.”

Very busy Thursday starting 9am and a bit relentless so I was up with the larks this morning to serve my adoring public – both of you, and the hundreds who read this so they can pick holes in it and build their dossier about my inadequacies. An early start has its compensations if you live down by the Rivers Brent and Thames.

Early morning by the River Brent

Cllr Guy Lambert

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June 24, 2021

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