Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Greetings from the new representative for Brentford West

Brentford West's two new councillors
Brentford West's two new councillors



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A knitted postbox and a lavender library are canvassing highlights

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Observing mayhem at the Windmill Road/A4 traffic lights

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So here we are again. A new administration. A new leader. A lot of new colleagues. A new ward. Maybe a new job.

Going through a council election is quite a stress: many weeks tramping the streets knocking on doors (if you live in Brentford West and think your door has not been knocked, you are almost certainly wrong – you were not in, or didn’t answer, or didn’t hear). I managed to get through this campaign without falling over, which I think is a record. I don’t know how many people I spoke to but I do know that there were a lot of them, that virtually every single one was courteous and a pleasure to meet, and most were happy to see us. We intend to carry on engaging throughout our term of office, knocking on doors and perhaps some new ways of engaging – after all there are 4 brand new councillors in Brentford plus a brand new one in nearby Chiswick Riverside (which actually includes a sizeable chunk of Brentford) and a lot of new energy and creativity around the place.

Our election in Brentford West was greatly enlivened by the efforts of our Green Party rivals as well as independent Bob Ayres and of course the traditional enemy, the Tories. It’s hard to get in a froth about Mike Denniss, one of the Tory candidates as a) he’s a neighbour b) I know him quite well from the Planning Committee and c) he’s a nice man – what he’s doing with the rest of that shower is a mystery! I will say the same for both the Green candidates, Stephen and Tony: I know them both well and they were forever lurking on the streets, harassing the poor residents even more than we were and producing so many leaflets that people were asking us how many trees had died for their campaign 😊. The other two candidates, Zoe for the Conservatives and Bob Ayres, I don’t think I’ve met. Bob is robust in his criticism of councillors and whilst I obviously don’t agree with him I salute him for his campaign, which was very active and gained more than 200 votes - impressive.

Come election day and Lara was up, wishing the birds of Whitestile Road good morrow, whilst I was a touch later and a touch south in Challis etc, delivering reminder cards. It’s amazing to those of us who are totally immersed how many people say “Oh, is it today?”

It was fun to find two of Lara’s Labour Easter Egg-stravaganza posters coloured in and displayed in someone’s front window.

Lara’s Labour Easter Egg-stravaganza posters

Anyway, for us it’s a 24 hour shift, starting about 6am and finishing at 6.30am the next day in my case, as I ferried a sorrowful Melvinator home. The recount for the ward he was contesting - Chiswick Riverside - was still going on, but it was clear that he was no longer personally in the race. By that time it was all over bar the shouting, and at the end of the night Labour had gained two councillors to 52, with the Tories static on 10. In the round, it’s probably healthy to have a Labour councillor in Chiswick – well, that’s definitely healthy – and a Tory in Hanworth, though I say that through gritted teeth.

Having slept it off I decided I needed a hair of the dog that had had no chance to bite me on Thursday, so Friday evening I hied to the Brewery Tap where my friend from 40-odd years ago, Paul Stewart, was blasting out the blues with his band. R&B from the 1960s – my kind of music and they even sold me a CD which is playing as I write.

the Brewery Tap where my friend from 40-odd years ago, Paul Stewart, was blasting out the blues

It became a very musical weekend because I spent Saturday afternoon at the Hanwell Hootie where there are about 100 bands to choose from.

Hanwell Hootie where there are about 100 bands to choose from.

Then on Sunday I made an all too brief appearance at the Musical Museum for the Open Mic event hosted by Jim ‘Brentford Bicycle Works” Kent.

Open Mic event hosted by Jim ‘Brentford Bicycle Works” Kent

Plenty of talent on display there, but I only had time for three acts including this very Brentford duo.

Talking of Brentford Bike Works, I had occasion to go find Jim on Monday as some charmer had taken a fancy to my saddle on Sunday night and taken it home with him/her, meanwhile strewing various papers etc around the place. Lovely. So I had to use my Elephant bike for my trip to Hounslow for the Labour group AGM where we elected the Labour leader – and council leader designate and Mayor designate, amongst others. I was delighted with the outcome, with Shantanu Rajawat elected leader and Katherine Dunne deputy: just a slight regret they weren’t the other way around, as it’s high time Hounslow had a female leader. Whichever way round, they will be an excellent and innovative leadership of the council when they are confirmed at the next council meeting. Raghwinder Siddhu will make a fine Mayor too so that is icing on the cake.

Back to Hounslow House on Tuesday for a moving event to mark Steve Curran’s stepping down from the council. Poor Steve is near the low point of his intensive treatment at present but he’s strong and was able to attend and make a short speech. There were speeches from His deputy, Lily Bath, his ward colleague Katherine Dunne, Cliff Crown of Brentford FC and some other partner organisations, and from Hounslow’s Chief Executive Niall Bolger, who became quite emotional. There is a strong bond between a CEO and Leader who together win Council of The Year and their partnership will be hard to follow. It was an emotional event for me too, saying goodbye (at council – I’m sure I will still see them) to The Melvinator, to the kind, courageous and very admirable Hanif Khan, and other valued friends such as Mike Denniss.

After that, I joined the queue to sign my letter of acceptance of the post of councillor in the presence of the CEO, have a brief chat with him, have my official photo taken (long hair and all!) and fill in my declaration of interests form.

Then it was Wednesday, and one of the most crowded days of my council career starting with a pre- briefing at 8am then a series of Zooterviews© with prospective Non Exec Directors for Lampton Investment and Development. Some point during this it occurred to me that it was my birthday, and quite an important one at that, so following a Lampton shareholder board in the afternoon I was away to the Express Tavern with a bunch of my best local friends for a lovely dinner (the food was ace, as of course was the beer).

So, back to the Thursday routine – Zooting© with the Lampton chair (a routine which may come to an end, according to whether I am reappointed to cabinet and whether Lampton is in my portfolio) then a bit of light blogging. I was gratified by people on the doorsteps (and indeed people from outside Brentford I bumped into at Steve’s leaving event) mentioning that they read this nonsense and value it.

Later on, it’s back to Hounslow House. Lara and I are having a session to plan how we will work over the next four years and then we have various compulsory trainings to attend. I must say I’m in my happy place at present – the election behind us and success all around the borough, a fantastic young ward partner from whom I have already learned plenty (and who has taught me how to smile in selfie photo-opps) and really excellent new colleagues all round. My near-perfect choice of leadership team, and even the sun is shining. A new chapter begins.

Cllr Guy Lambert

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May 12, 2022

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