Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Saying goodbye to an old friend too soon and hello to a new cafe not soon enough

A very tasteful Coronation mug



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Similar job, new title, Orchard Road and a net gain of pubs

Deciding on how we will operate as councillors as the dust settles

Greetings from the new representative for Brentford West

A knitted postbox and a lavender library are canvassing highlights

Casework continues to pile up despite approach of 'purdah'

Observing mayhem at the Windmill Road/A4 traffic lights

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Lampton Group Performance and Finance review contained nothing startling, but the ‘Marketplace’ event in the evening had plenty to keep me interested. I had a couple of brief chats with senior officers – one with our head of commercial property about a couple of council owned sites in Brentford, and an initial catch up with the Exec Director of Environment. We’ve been working together for several years but have been looking for a session to reset priorities for the new administration – a proper session will have to wait until after the Platinum Jubbly as the particularly gorgeous mug has it (picture above and now reduced to a real bargain £19.99 from its original £24.99 – buy within the next millennium while stocks last.

It is actually quite eye-opening to be reminded of all the services the council operates, some of which I rarely encounter – trading standards, supported accommodation for people with complex needs, education welfare, fostering support (always short of foster carers), cultural services (Summer of Culture coming up now) – as well as the ones I am all too familiar with – housing, environment, revenues and benefits, bins, highways, parks, parking and traffic. Council staff at the marketplace are all so enthusiastic and proud of what they do and eager to engage with council members. I find the whole thing uplifting as well as informative.

On Friday morning I’m up in Clitherow Road with a large deputation of residents. Their gardens back on to the playground area of Gunnersbury Catholic School and for at least a year they have been experiencing a raft of problems following redevelopment of the sports hall. There are some planning issues outstanding, mainly to do with landscaping and protecting their gardens from overlooking and excessive noise. It was a revealing experience to actually stand in their gardens and see the problems at first hand. They are frustrated because they feel their concerns are not being taken seriously either by the school or by the council’s planners. Unfortunately planners could not make this meeting but they were expecting to visit this week – I need to get an update and try to move this on. The picture rather illustrates why there’s a problem here.

Gunnersbury School playground

Time for a quick inspect of the adjacent Boston Manor Park, where works continue – frustratingly slowly as with all these things – but the ‘new’ park is really taking shape and it was good to see the rebuild of the community café coming on apace.

Boston Manor Park cafe being rebuilt

In the afternoon, a terribly sad experience, the funeral of my friend and former colleague, Myra Savin, at the Mortlake Crematorium. The crematorium was packed and scarcely a dry eye in the place. Beautiful eulogies from Myra’s partner David and her son Edward, a real celebration of her life which was always full of compassion and laughter. Taken far too soon, and she will be missed by many, not just me.

myra savin

We then moved to Myra’s beloved Watermans Centre for what I suppose you call a wake. We captured a slice of continuing life as a fox found his way to a sandbank where many birds were hanging around taking in the sunshine. A couple of crows took exception to his presence and did their imitation of dive bombers, gradually driving him away. Unfortunately my camera skills are nothing extra so the best I could do was this, with the dive bombers out of shot but Mr (or Ms, who knows?) Foxy cowering.

Fox on a sandbank by Watermans

Unfortunately I ran out of time to visit the launch of the Jubilee display in Chiswick High Road organised by Abundance London and Make and Paint, with schools contributing artworks celebrating the Jubilee. These will be displayed in shops etc along the High Road until 11th June. Must remember to take a look and you should too!

Saturday I managed to get in one of my longer bike rides down to Bushy Park and back through Thames Ditton and Kingston, something I hadn’t done since last summer. On Sunday it was an organised bike ride for Ride London. We started with the Hounslow Cycling contingent in Brentford Market Place with about 40 of us and ended up in the city of London, picking up thousands more on the way.

HCC Ride London 2022

Ride London 2022

On Monday I was out with our lovely 56 th mayor, Bishnu Gurung, on the day before he was defrocked. He had agreed to come to our friendly neighbourhood McDonalds to help out with a litter pick organised by their franchisee. It’s a pleasure to work with McDonalds and their new franchisee, who is really committed to help out locally – a very pleasant change. Sadly our litter picking coincided with a serious shower. We were afraid that Bishnu’s chains would rust so confined ourselves to litter picking mainly in the Watermans car park where there is (mainly) a roof to keep the rain off!

Then I had been asked to stand in for the Council Leader on a Zooting © with TfL to let us know about a new consultation, launched yesterday, on reductions to bus services as a result of the continued shortfall in fare revenue and the government’s reluctance to offer support. As it happens, the proposed reductions are confined mainly to central London and have little if any effect locally. The wider problem is the lack of support for capital expenditure which means some trains are increasingly geriatric and signalling upgrades long overdue, restricting services like the long-touted plan for Piccadilly line trains to stop at Turnham Green and causing increasing signalling failures.

In the evening we had our first Labour Group meeting of the new administration, where we were updated on all the committee appointments etc. I have a new cabinet assistant in the shape of young Aqsa Ahmed and I look forward to working with her, but I was disappointed to miss out on a position on the planning committee, which I have really enjoyed over the years.

On Tuesday I cycled up to Abbey Road in Park Royal, where Brent council have their Household Reuse and Recycling Centre (or tip, to use its unofficial name 😊). I was meeting the CEO of West London Waste Authority to talk about plans for the new administration, and in particular how we can cooperate better in building a circular economy. There are a number of initiatives gaining pace at Abbey Road as a cooperation between Brent and WLWA, and she showed me these in operation – bicycles (Feltham Young Offenders are a partner here), furniture, laptops/electronics.

Car light sofa

I really fancy that car/sofa (apparently the lights work when you plug it in) though I have no idea what I’d do with it! A really interesting discussion and plenty of food for thought. So much better to save this stuff than send it to be melted down or burnt.

They are trialling a brand new electric crane grabber thing which the manufacturers have lent to them. They haven’t used it yet as they have only just installed a socket big enough to plug it in.

Electric Crane

In the afternoon I cycled into Hounslow House for Borough Council, preceded by a brief meeting with the Leader and a Zooting© for the Lampton Group Board. Naturally when I left my flat it was dry so I was in shirt sleeves. By the time I got to my bike it had started drizzling and by the time I got to Hounslow House I was drenched, with the rain naturally stopping as I parked my bike in the council bike shed.

Whatever, group board was good and the Annual Meeting of the council saw a stirring speech from our new Leader. I had the chance to say a few words about Myra, and we had a reception with our new Mayor Raghwinder Siddhu afterwards. I had a brief chat with our new deputy Lord Lieutenant Rosi Prescott who was most charming and told me she lives in the centre of Chiswick, on the High Road. I wonder if she will come to cycle to Hounslow House as and when C9 is completed all the way to Hounslow Town Centre. Now that would be a role model. Here’s the deputy Lord Lieutenant of Rutland in uniform to give you an idea how a female Lord Lieutenant might look pedalling up Hounslow High Street (bicycle and High Street not included). Hopefully that is a helmet on her head.

deputy Lord Lieutenant of Rutland

Somehow I suspect a limo is more probable as a means of transport but we can dream, though I’m slightly concerned I may get locked in the Tower for my impudence.

On Wednesday morning I had a meet in The Verdict with new Brentford East councillor Rhys Williams, who I am already addressing as Rhyshi, though as far as I know his wife is not a zillionaire. We were sort of handing over a few Brentford East things that I have been handling and generally discussing the characteristics of the ward and passing on some tips about how not to do it. My next stop was a few doors nearer home at Café Capri where I had discussions about children, life, the universe and the state of pigeons, as you do, with a friend of mine. I was fresh in the knowledge that my superstar ward partner Lara has succeeded in not only getting a response out of National Highways about the pigeon traps they have installed under the M4 flyover (to be clear, they were not intended as pigeon traps but that is what they have become) but getting what looks in serious danger of being a helpful and constructive response. Applause is due – pigeons have been suffering unnecessarily and it looks like there may be an end in sight, quite soon.

Wednesday evening was our first ‘political cabinet’ since the election – a chance for cabinet members and assistants to get together and for us to begin to map out how we will work to deliver our manifesto promises and generally improve the borough. Good to get the team together and some excellent ideas.

Today (Thursday) morning I was out with Sue Sampson, the cabinet member for housing. We share a lot of views about council and other social housing and we wanted to tour around the borough to get a sense of how our home wards – in my case Brentford (as was) and in hers Isleworth – compare with others across the borough. We started in Brentford and hit Chiswick, Heston, Feltham and Hanworth and we found it all quite instructive. We seem to have similar ideas about how things might be improved and I’m hoping we can support each other to make improvements happen.

Gosh, this was a long one, I hope not too dull. Signing off now to enjoy a bit of sun (except it’s now cloudy, obviously)

Cllr Guy Lambert

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June 2, 2022

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