Weekly Update From Councillor Guy Lambert

Frustrated by weeds but impressed with Councillor Biddolph's attitude to weed

Not using Glyphosate has made weeds more difficult to tackle
Not using Glyphosate has made weeds more difficult to tackle



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Trying to stay positive despite continuing to test positive

Still got it on the dance floor at seventy but Covid-19 lays me low

In which I succeed in avoiding both going around and up poles

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

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Never made it to Isleworth Public Hall last Thursday so the delights of the efforts of Isleworth photographers were lost to me chiz chiz as Nigel Molesworth would have it. For those of you not familiar with Nigel, he was an inmate of an imaginary boys boarding school known as St Cakes. As I was myself an inmate in my yoof of a school which might easily have been the one upon which St Cakes was modelled I find his insights most diverting and have just purchased his Compleet works. Microsoft, having been educated in a less august establishment have not grasped the correct speling of compleet (or speling).

On Friday I was looking forward to being admitted as an inmate at Hounslow House, where we cabinet members were to be given ‘Top Team’ training – something which is offered to set a new administration off on the right tracks, particularly when there has been a change of leader. But that ruddy T line was still there and Katherine Dunne had also contracted the Plague so we couldn’t go in. Heroically, the trainers managed to make it a makeshift ‘hybrid’ workshop so Kath and I were able to ‘join’ it as a dreaded Zooting©, which worked impressively well.

Saturday morning – manna from heaven – I tested again and there was not the faintest blip against the T line so I was allowed to go out and run and play with the other girls and boys. Well, in my case, hobble and play. So I cycled up to Clayponds Community Centre, where they were holding a public safety event – a good opportunity to meet fellow councillors, local coppers, firemen, council officers in the community safety team and the local heroines who run the community centre there. Unfortunately public attendance was a bit thin on the ground, but a useful couple of hours nonetheless.

On Monday we had an update Zooting© about Neighbourhood grants, the princely sum of £1000 per councillor that we get to disburse via community organisations in our ward. Lara and I therefore have £2000 to dispense, though I have a feeling £1000 is already spoken for, and I’ve had a request for another few hundred. But of course there’s £7000 across the three wards with the Brilliant B word in their name so if you have some cute ideas, we’re all ears.

Late Monday afternoon we had a Labour Group meeting, where we talked through the papers that were scheduled for Cabinet on Tuesday (of which more anon). In the evening we had a Corporate Parenting training. Councillors are reminded that we all have a statutory responsibility to all the looked after children that the Borough takes care of.

There are currently 290 looked after children. 33 are 0-4, 27 are 5-9, 79 are 10–15 and 145 are 16 plus, plus there are 285 ‘care leavers’ – young people without a supporting family who have recently become adults but still in most cases need some ‘parental’ support. Quite a lot of them were formerly ‘Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children’ so they will have even more needs than UK-born children without a family. Quite why the picture above, created from a pdf, has a few random red dots on it I have no clue. Perhaps it has developed Monkeypox but if so I can assure you it’s not contagious. Three of this cohort of cared for children (well, not kids any more) were present in the room and took part in the presentation. Each of them was most impressive and I hope they are all as proud of themselves as they deserve to be. One of them asked us all to share what was the one thing we would like to change or improve. Many of us asked for economic changes (for me, it was decent housing that they can afford for every resident) but I was startled and impressed by Cllr Jo Biddolph – the only Conservative in the room, I think – who made the most un-Conservative proposal that she would legalise and control all drugs. I have thought this is the way to go for many years and I was heartened by Jo calling for it and gave her some spontaneous applause, which a number of people joined.

On Tuesday morning I had to go to Hounslow House for a filming session. I am sworn to secrecy. Am I the next Doctor Who? Was I auditioning for a role as James Bond? Or am I off to Love Island. All will be revealed in due course. It could be something you never thought of. This meant (grrr) that I missed a session on the London Boroughs Healthy Streets Scorecard and only caught the last 30 seconds of a Watermans Park update Zooting©. Will have to talk to the Friends to get a steer.

In the evening, back to glorious Hounslow House for a cabinet meeting – you can catch it here if you missed it. This is all about – looking forward - our Corporate Plan, how we plan to deliver it and how we plan to pay for it. And – looking backward – the way last financial year played out – generally positively, as we have come to respect from our excellent Finance team.

After that I was down in the weeds, with a cabinet meeting where we discussed the state of weeds on our roads, in our parks, and on our housing estates. We’re in a bit of a perfect storm in that we have (almost entirely) stopped using Glyphosate weedkiller, which definitely kills bees and probably kills people, at a time when climate change is being celebrated by the British Confederation of Weeds, who announce record numbers and record growth at all their meetings, with a very hearty cry of Flubalub . Now you tell me - is the Cabinet more entertaining than Bill and Ben? Seriously, people (me especially) are quite upset by the difficulties we’re having getting weeds under control and Hounslow Highways and our other contractors are told in no uncertain terms that they must do better. We will return to this topic in a week or two, when I hope we have made significant progress. As I cycle around different boroughs, it’s obvious that everybody is having the same trouble, even the boroughs that still use poisons, and it’s heartening that the cabinet are unanimous in endorsing the decision we took back in 2020 to do the right thing by the planet and our health by stopping using this nasty stuff, despite the challenges it creates.

On Wednesday afternoon we had a Zooting© about potentially updating the recycling and waste rounds. We have stuck to a pattern whereby every house has recycling and waste collections on the same day, but this causes some strain, because some areas have more residual waste and less recycling, whereas some are t’other way round, so perhaps the recycling crews are super-busy and the waste crews quite relaxed (or vice versa). We also have some strain on the lorries, which are getting quite old now and have had a very hard life, plus changes coming down the track from the Environment act 2021. Sometime. Subject to there being a minister somewhere to take decisions about how it will be implemented. Bill and Ben would be very strong candidates for high office compared with current incumbents…oh I mean yesterday’s incumbents… oh I mean the incumbent installed today to make way for the one appointed yesterday who resigned today. But unfortunately they have never been elected and I’m not sure flower pots are allowed in the House of Lords.

Straight from that to an update Zooting about the Women’s Euros, coming to a football stadium you may have heard of near you, starting tomorrow when Germany take on Denmark. Wow, exciting, a bus stop in Hounslow being beamed across the world (or at least Europe).

Later on, Lara and I mosey up to the Princess Royal (as was) to meet Bishop Hovakim Manukyan the primate of the Armenian Church in the UK. Not sure I’ve ever met a Bishop before (except when I got confirmed c 1967, when there wasn’t a lot of chit-chat). The church have purchased the PR (and the old Brentford club shop next door) and are developing it as a community centre. On the evidence of last night they are very nice people and they put on a good spread of finger food, topped off with some brandy, allegedly from Mount Ararat, which went down very well. Nice to meet many residents from Braemar and Ealing Roads – some who I know well, others who I have never met. The Church is eager to work with the local community and community groups so if you think they might help, let me know and we’ll put you in touch. Somebody was asking me about yoga classes recently – must dig that out and see if it might be a runner.

Phew, been a busy week. Today we had a Zooting© with TfL – it was supposed to be in person but at least one of them and at least one of us currently has the plague. It was informative, though we’re all still frustrated that Grant Shapps, MP, the current incarnation of Bill (or Ben) can’t see the way to agreeing a funding settlement that lasts beyond next Wednesday (I kid you not). What a way to run a chip shop.

Have to rush off now to a Lampton Leisure strategy workshop (in person shock horror) about how they will contribute to improving Health and Wellbeing in the borough. I will have to brave the A4 cycle lane out to Heathrow, with dubious implications for my health and wellbeing!

Sorry, no pics this week, didn’t really take any and my other sources have run a bit dry – perhaps some of my fellow Councillors will fill the breach?!?

Cllr Guy Lambert

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July 7, 2022

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