Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Should the council just let weeds grow to aid bio-diversity?


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I had the update with my exec director. The waste and recycling services are still performing well, with missed collections at their second lowest level since records were kept and quality issues very low. This despite some real strains: volumes of waste are still very high and it’s very hard to recruit HGV drivers (you may have read that elsewhere) and some of ours are on their first holiday since the start of the pandemic. We’ve managed to keep a full service going unlike some boroughs by having supervisors take shifts behind the wheel, overtime and some Saturday working. I’m proud of them. Prices for our high quality recyclate are also going up, which is a relief. What we get for a tonne of plastics has more than doubled between April and July. Would love to keep all our recycling onshore but there seems insufficient capacity to recycle cardboard here so a lot of that goes to the Netherlands and Poland, and some to India which seems counter-intuitive. Still, they are paying well over £100 per tonne so I’m reassured it is actually recycled.

Hounslow Highways are busy with their normal summer maintenance programme, and also with the pothole pledge, and it’s good to see North Road comprehensively fixed, plus several other roads around and about – at cabinet we’re seeking approval to ‘do’ a total of 46 roads across the borough.

We need to talk about weeds. Hounslow and Hounslow Highways have taken the ‘brave’ decision to do away with weedkillers in our weed management regime. We’ve been asking around other councils and few others have made this change, which is likely to become a legal necessity in the next couple of years, so we feel we’ve been doing a bit of pathfinding. This has led to a lot of weeds around the place, to a level that many people (me included) find unacceptable, though a friend of mine told me she was very pleased with the biodiversity this provides and wishes other councils would do likewise. Whatever, I have been on to Hounslow Highways to get them under control and they have greatly increased the weeds team so things are gradually improving.

Police panel in the evening. All the police officers had been called off into central London to help police protests there (Extinction Rebellion I think) but our valiant PCSO was there. Nothing exceptional to report, but we mused on the make-up of the panel, which could do with some younger people and those from our council estates, particularly the Towers and Clayponds (and indeed the new estates near Kew Bridge).

Then it was Friday, and there appeared to be a big walkabout job in my diary, but it turned out to be a mirage so my only engagement during the day was to visit a local who was complaining about his kitchen installation and various other concerns. I was accompanied to his house by some senior people from Coalo and we spent some time investigating. It was hard to see how else the installers could have tackled issues but we agreed the finish was poor and the Coalo people agreed to come back with some improvements. Coalo had not actually been involved in the original installation – but I was pleased to see the council’s company taking responsibility for supporting the council and, most importantly, its resident.

I found these mementoes on this elderly widower’s fridge a rather poignant memory of a long life.

Momentos on fridge

In the evening I was scheduled to knock doors but as only two of us turned up and neither of us had the ‘fluence, we decided it would be better all round if we sampled the wares in the nearby Express Tavern. It was lively indeed, in fact I couldn’t hear myself speak in parts of it, but we found a quietish corner of their extensive ‘outdoor’ area. It’s nice enough, and works for COVID times, but I rather regret the more undeveloped garden areas that too many pubs have lost.

So it was the long weekend, and I decided it was time for the ridiculous car to have its annual wash and brush up. I have been frequenting the car wash place off Bollo Lane in Acton/Chiswick since Mick Jagger was in short trousers so off I went for the usual highly energetic and efficient service. Car spotter that I still am, I was most intrigued by this unusual machine parked against their wall.

Old van at car wash


Front of old van at car wash

I’m sure you’re all falling over yourselves with excitement and nostalgia, but if you haven’t worked it out, it is no less than a Phase 3 Standard Vanguard van. My encyclopaedic knowledge of British cars of the 1950s and 1960s (really) could not compute this and my best friend Wikipedia couldn’t either.

So I researched the Standard Owners club and learned that this beastie was constructed in Australia by chopping up a saloon and never imported here. Well, this one clearly has been. I have suggested the club contact the local garages to see if anyone admits to owning it and whether it’s for sale. I’m sure someone will want to save such an elegant beastie. Wells, such a beastie, to be more precise.

As I may have mentioned, I had been in Greece recently and rediscovered the joys of what I rather inaccurately describe as ‘dancing’, so looking for an outlet here I polished up my shiny new Lampton Leisure membership card (only £37.30 pm for 6 leisure centres for an old geyser) and booked in for the Sunday morning Zumba class. This was hilarious for me and no doubt even more hilarious for the other people (all of the female persuasion) in the class. I will do more of this!

Monday a friend I had made in Greece came over and was eager to visit her childhood home in Roxborough Avenue. She left there when she was 5 years old and Ed Sheeran was in short trousers (am I repeating myself?) and observed that her childhood home had shrunk in the wash, as they tend to. It was she who was complimentary about the weed growth, and it was nice to get a different perspective. Sadly you can’t really reconstruct a Greek island on a chilly Monday in Hounslow but it was nice to reminisce.

In the evening it was Harmonica Lewinsky and Simon down at the Brewery Tap. I hadn’t done music there since just before the first lockdown, an occasion when I found myself the only remaining customer as the band came to the end of their repertoire, which was a bit alarming at the time. Anyway, it was great to be back there and the ‘Blue Road’ makes a nice amphitheatre. I had tried to catch the band that was playing in aid of the FoodBox at the Magpie the previous evening but after messing about had arrived just after they’d finished.

Brewery Tap

Tuesday was a blank day so I really felt (wrongly of course) I’d caught up after that.

On Wednesday we had a Teams shortlisting session for the candidates to be chair of the Lampton Board. Despite the hatchet job published a little while ago in Private Eye, the previous chair had done an exceptional job so whomever we chose as successor has big boots to fill. The candidates seem very strong, and our shortlist is therefore longer than a shortlist really should be.

In the evening, a meeting between the Cabinet and the Corporate Leadership Team of council officers, to update us all on the Community Solutions Unit that has grown out of the Community Hub the council ran early in the pandemic. This is an attempt to make it easier for people – especially the more vulnerable – to access council services. There are many vulnerable people around who really need a complex mix of help from the council and the nearer we can get to providing a ‘one stop shop’ the better. Excellent progress being made.

On Thursday morning I’m down to Jubilee House – Hounslow Highways’ HQ in Depot Road Hounslow – with the council leader to kick off a new anti-flytipping campaign. They have collected a day’s worth of flytipping ‘winnings’ from their clearance teams in two bays of their yard and this is less than a pretty sight, as you can imagine (and of which I would show you a picture if they had arrived from the photographer). We’re trying to tackle flytipping from all sorts of different angles but in the end it’s down to our residents to stop doing it. There is really no reason for them to flytip, and the overwhelming majority of what we see is household waste that somebody couldn’t be bothered to dispose of properly.

Then I’m back in Brentford for the Grand Reopening of Brentford Library. It is looking truly fantastic inside. There are two classrooms for Adult Learning courses – they are running computer literacy and art courses at present – see www.hace.ac.uk - but are keen to run further courses as and when residents let them know what they want. Do tell them, or tell us councillors who will pass the message on. There is now a lift to the lovely first floor where much of the library is located and there are toilets available for the Great Brentford Public – wowee, revolution is upon us. Do take a look, it has been transformed.

Curran and Chaudary

I was hoping to get official pics from the photographer but they are not to hand, so you’ll have to be content with this amateur snap of Cllrs Curran and Chaudhary just after the tape was cut. Forgot to mention, there is a fascinating history display on the first floor. I suggested to the young archive person who compiled it that it would make a good leaflet/booklet/electronic document if he can find the time.

This evening it’s another bike ride to Hounslow for the Planning Committee. Three applications and all will be controversial (there is rarely an application at committee that isn’t!) but with a bit of luck I’ll get home in time for my cocoa.

Oh – don’t forget… this weekend is The Creative Mile.

Wander along and look at our lovely art and artists and I expect there’ll be plenty of other attractions

The Musical Museum say:

Admission and all activities are free and as well as mini tours of the collection, Wurlitzer concerts and BBQ are hosting five local bands and the work of seven local artists. It promises to be a very busy weekend… hopefully we’ll get a good turn out from the local community.

Don’t miss it!

Cllr Guy Lambert

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September 3, 2021

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