Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Paxman fails to show for my big BBC flytipping interview


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Well now, I hoped last week to get home from planning committee in time for my cocoa, but at the end of the meeting I said to Tony Louki ‘I need beer’ and we agreed to have (just one) at the Rising Sun. I attached my bike to a traffic sign (note to self – need to harass traffic to put bike stands outside pubs) and we sat down on one of the tables out front. We soon had a visitor in the shape of a fox. Being an unsophisticated Isleworth-type fox it hadn’t developed a taste for traffic counters but was interested in the chips we were sharing to wash down the beer. Nothing doing so it ambled off.

Next visitor was a small dog out on its solitary constitutional. I’m no dogger, but I think it was a French Bulldog, which I wouldn’t think of as super-athletic but he caught sight of Mr (or Ms) fox and a scene reminiscent of Road Runner ensued as he chased it back and forth across London Road, dodging the traffic and the parked cars.

I heard a bit of a clang and saw that my bike had fallen over (as it does when attached to traffic signs) and thought nothing of it. But a few seconds later a gentleman walked by carrying a bicycle saddle. My inner Inspector Clouseau burst into action which led me to jump up and ask ‘are you stealing my saddle?’. He turned around and handed to me saying ‘I didn’t know it was yours’ which was probably the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. Apart from anything else my rear light was on the saddle stem so I would have had to ride home standing up and without a light.

Back to business. All planning applications - 2 in Chiswick and one out West - got through, after plenty of debate and with some new conditions attached.

On Saturday I cycled down to Feltham, where I had booked a (free) ticket for an Open House event involving the Freddie Mercury history story. Unfortunately there are two ponds in Feltham which apparently share the same postcode and it seems I was at the wrong one so I didn’t meet up with the organisers. No matter, it was a lovely day and I made my way down through Hanworth etc to Hampton, then back up the river on the dark side, through Kingston and Richmond. It’s a pleasure I really appreciate, whatever the weather (bar snow) but a sunny day puts a cherry on the top.

Sunday was quite busy with fun things. In the morning my weekly commitment to looking an idiot by doing Zumba in the Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre. It’s a delight to visit these days under Lampton Leisure and I find my complete incompetence quite hilarious, also providing a bit of slapstick for the other class members.

Then (after slipping into something less comfortable) it was a visit to Chiswick Flower Market, which was having its first anniversary.

dray horse at Chiswick Flower market

Them dray horses were back, together with about half a million people (I counted) and there seems to be quite a phoenix rising from the ruins of Chiswick High Road.

But that wasn’t all, because the other half million (there may have been an overlap) were busy in my neck of the woods celebrating the Creative Mile.

Creative Mile people at tables

Creative mile exhibition

Inside Musical Museum

Hot metal works

Really enjoyed my visits to the Steam and Music museums, Watermans, Studio Flox and the various venues around the Blue Road. I actually found a picture I wanted to buy but the artist told me it had been sold. She said it was her first exhibition, but it didn’t show at all and there was talent on view all over the place. Felt great to be in Brentford and congratulations to those who had the vision and drive to make this happen – it was a rip-roaring success.

It occurred to me during the day that many of our local artists and crafts people have a rather precarious existence, with their studios in buildings that are in danger of being demolished or which are subject to problems like flooding etc. We need to think about how to accommodate them as the revitalisation of Brentford progresses – they are a really important part of the town’s identity, and I’ll be looking at what can be done about this.

Back to the mundane. On Monday I attended a meeting of the Safety Advisory Group for Brentford Community Stadium. Fire, Ambulance, Police, council, club etc reviewing how the first few matches have gone off (basically without significant problems) and learning lessons for the future. Actually very interesting though all I do is listen.

Later we have a member development session on homelessness. The pandemic has put extra strain on families and far too many have been blown apart, though good to hear some have come back together. This is a massive issue and really difficult for the council to tackle, though we manage, one way or another. Just as bad is overcrowding. We really don’t have enough larger properties and many we do have are now occupied rather thinly by empty-nesters. We do encourage tenants to downsize (including with £££) but their homes often have happy memories and there are many who have lived in the same house for 50 years or more. And of course many have been lost to ‘right to buy’ and ended up with private landlords.

On Tuesday we had Cabinet in the evening. It was a pretty long agenda including an important item for me – the Environmental Improvement Programme and securing funds for that – and a more routine one – the quarterly report from the trading companies.

On Wednesday I had a bit of a complicated day. I have decided to upgrade my hearing aids, because I found it very difficult to communicate when in crowded places during my holiday and people I met told me to try other technologies. This meant a trip to Boots in Kingston and because I was going to be interviewed by BBC TV shortly after I thought it would be better to go by car and not arrive a sweaty mess. Every time I use the car round here I realise how much I don’t like it any more. I could have got to Kingston much quicker by bike and greatly improved both mental and physical health, but there you have it.

The BBC thing was a fly tipping story so we were at a hot spot in Feltham where a medium sized dump had been left for a day or two to provide a backdrop, and show our Special Waste Service in action. They are lurking in the background of this picture behind their supervisor (or ‘mum’ as she calls herself) .

Flytipping with BBC crew

It was a good mixed flytip, with a bit of furniture, an airing rack and numerous black bags. The person who had bought something from Amazon and dumped the box with her name and address helpfully attached will find shortly that whatever it was she bought will cost her £400 more than budgeted.

The team (one reporter and one cameraman, neither of them Jeremy Paxman) interviewed a shop owner who is greatly impressed by the improvements the Special Waste Service have managed to make in central Hounslow, filmed them in action going through bags for evidence (they were up to 5 fines by the time I left) then got my two pennorth – provide facilities, make sure people know what they are supposed to do, fine heavily those who don’t want to comply. It has worked in Central Hounslow which is vastly improved, but the team is only 3 plus a supervisor (or mum) and we need more to cover the whole borough.

Back home for the Lampton Community Services board. There are financial and operational challenges across the piece but it’s good to see the companies getting on with their ‘community value’ agenda as well as grappling with these.

Then straight into the Hounslow Community Foodbox trustee meeting. We have lost a couple of trustees lately and were recruiting anyway, particularly to augment skills and diversity. If you or anyone you know is interested and think you might have relevant skills do let our chair corinna.smart@hounslow.gov.uk know. Meanwhile, people have been asking if they can donate their £20 voucher to the foodbox. Afraid that’s not possible, but you can always use it to buy stuff to donate or, better still, treat yourself to what you fancy then donate £20 (maybe plus gift aid) to the FoodBox. That way you support local business and a local charity. By the way – volunteers always welcome, especially now as demand continues but many people are back at work.

After Foodbox we had a Labour party branch meeting where I talked a bit about how we are developing our manifesto for the next elections in May 2022. I started off a process a few weeks ago and it starts by consulting residents on what they want us to concentrate on, in their area and around the borough. We will be distributing questionnaires very shortly – do respond if you can.

Thursday morning after a bit of blogging I am due to go to Hogarth roundabout to discuss some cleaning etc issues there with an enthusiastic Environment Champion who lives there. Get to my bike and find a flat tyre. My Little Pony is brought into service but when I get on it, that too has a flat tyre, so no option but to hoick it in the boot and drive there, late. No time to fix anything before I’m out again to Whitton Dene to look at some road issues with Cllr Tom Bruce, so I drive again. Grr, two days bikeless I am climbing the walls.

That’ll do for now. ‘See’ you next week.

Cllr Guy Lambert

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September 10, 2021

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