Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Making Tommy Layton turn in his grave



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On Thursday afternoon I went to Lambert Lodge, the sheltered accommodation unit in Layton Road, to meet a resident and understand the concerns she had about her housing situation. She was quite worried about what she thought had broken a rule. I didn’t think she needed to be but raised a case with the housing team to clarify – more later. I’m always struck by what a pleasant facility Lambert Lodge is and the pride the residents take in their surroundings. Unfortunately I can not claim the same for Lambert Flat, which is currently suffering from damp and various other afflictions.

Next, I attend the Finance, Risk, Audit and Performance committee for Lampton 360 group. Quite a mouthful and as you might imagine quite a long agenda. Lots of diverse challenges relating to Brexit, Coronavirus, Supply Chain etc but it’s reassuring the attention the execs and non-exec directors are affording these problems.

Next it’s the Thomas Layton Trust. As many will know, Tommy was a local dignitary – you’ll see his name on various plaques around Brentford if you keep your eyes peeled – and a well-known collector of ancient artefacts, books and general knick-knacks. He lived by Kew Bridge roughly where One Over The Ait is now, and left his enormous collection to the council. Currently some of this is in the Museum of London, some in Feltham Library, and some in the Metropolitan Archive, ie storage. There were some bits and pieces in glass cases in Brentford Library but these have (I hope temporarily) disappeared during the refurbishment. We really want the collection to be brought back together in Brentford and the best candidate we have at present is likely to be the Stables at Gunnersbury Park, if we eventually manage to get grants to restore these. We’d also like to get a display restored to Brentford Library and perhaps engage local schools with this. By the way, he is no doubt turning in his grave even as I write, at the idea of being called Tommy. If he was around today perhaps he would be called T-Bone, after some of his artefacts.

In the evening a real life meeting to compensate for the two earlier Zootings ©. This is the Brentford Voice AGM – short and formal – and their first ‘Community Conversation’ – longer and more contentious. The said T-Bone comes up, and at least one person is very disgruntled at the idea the collection will end up in Gunnersbury which is NOT BRENTFORD in her view. I find myself rather the centre of attention and some opprobrium in a number of full and frank exchanges of views. At the end I announce “I need beer” and am lucky enough to find two lady friends who are happy to accompany me to the Griffin in search of same.

Friday was quite busy with personal stuff as I had two friends arriving for the weekend, one for my spare room and one for the sofa. There was some sorting out of duvets, sheets etc unused for many months and trips to stations to pick them up.

Then in the evening I left them to enjoy a takeaway and an evening of TV because I had committed to attend the Mayor’s inaugural dinner. This was a bundle of fun with good company, liquid and solid refreshments and Nepalese dancers as well as speeches, an auction and a raffle. There were raffle prizes provided by Active 360 (paddleboarding and canoeing) Watermans Centre (ticket vouchers) and Brentford FC (tickets) – well done Brentford Ward. The mayor raised nearly £3000 for his charity SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association).

Hounslow Mayor's reception

Hounslow Mayor's reception

Saturday morning I abandoned my guests again briefly to cycle up to Fishers Lane to be boosted in the COVID department. I showed my guests around Brilliant Brentford and they (one from Jersey and one from Devon) were most impressed, as we all were with our meal at Galata Pera – much busier these days, and deservedly so. Going to bed my arm was a bit sore when I was jabbed and when I felt it there was an alarming swelling. On closer inspection, the swelling turned out to be made of cotton wool. Guests departed on Sunday, in time for me to join the Halloween Mystery bike ride with Hounslow Cycling, further proof of my extreme anti-car politics which even stretch to the radical activity of afternoon tea in Osterley Park. It was genuinely a bit spooky down by the canal in the dark, though I was more afraid of falling in the water than of any zombie attack.

Cycling at night

On Monday there was a Zooting © about the Summer of Culture, coming to a Borough near you next year. This meeting was really to present some early thoughts and seek feedback from members about how to frame it, how to engage people across the borough.

About this time I was alerted to Cllr McGregor’s appalling blog about ‘creeeping apartheid’ because we have implemented some Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and cycle infrastructure, and the Mayor has extended the Ultra Low Emission Zone. He has also compared these measures with the Berlin Wall, whilst one of his colleagues gleefully reports someone describing councillors like me as The Brentford Taliban. A couple of years ago the story in Chiswick was that the cycle lane down the High Road would successfully destroy Chiswick where the Luftwaffe had failed. Really, have Cllr McGregor and his colleagues lost any sense of reality. All these regimes killed hundreds or thousands of people and made many more lives miserable. It must be frustrating being in opposition but as one or two of their councillors – notably the two who sit with me on the planning committee – demonstrate, you can still have a great deal of influence if you engage with the issues rather than indulging in lame party political sniping from the sidelines.

Tuesday was a maintenance day, with my new second hand bike spending the day with the Brentford Bicycle Works in the Duke of London premises, with an excellent service provided, as ever, by Jim. Whilst the bike was being attended, a plumber attended my flat at the behest of the estate manager, after I reported some alarming damp in one of my walls which adjoins another flat. The net result of this visit so far is that I still have damp, and little idea of why, but my central heating doesn’t work, so I suppose that’s a result. The bike is poetry in motion, however.

Late afternoon an update about the new neighbourhood grants. These are for small sums, though larger grants are available in the scheme of things. If people have things they want to do, large or small, do let me know and we’ll work out if there’s a grant to apply for. I’d especially like to enhance activities for young people, which I think are pretty poor in Brentford – perhaps we can get some seed funding to start an activity which if successful can then be sustained by fees?

In the evening, cabinet briefing, where we consider proposals etc which are planned for cabinet which will take place 18 th November. This one is mainly about finances and the One Hounslow transformation programme. I was hoping to get to Green Drinks in the 6 Bells, but cabinet went on too long so I remained thirsty.

Wednesday was meeting free so I fitted in a hair trim and a flu jab, and today I started with my regular fortnightly West London Waste Zooting © (nothing to report) followed by a visit to the home of the person I met at Lambert Lodge last week, accompanied by a senior housing person. There was really no problem and I hope minds have now been put at rest.

Shortly I will have the Lampton360 Group board, then I will have to dress in my Dinner Jacket (surprisingly it still more or less fits) and journey up to the Grosvenor House in Park Lane for the Local Government Chronicle Awards dinner. Hounslow is shortlisted for three awards, including being on a shortlist of only 4 for Council of the Year – wish us luck!

Cllr Guy Lambert

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November 5, 2021

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