Fewer Than 1,000 Emails to Read on My Return

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back on his week

Opening up the Two Bridges development
Opening up the Two Bridges development


Failure To Evict Dead Pigeons But Success on Other Issues

Committed to Dressing Up as a Sausage Roll for His Constituents

Should the borough's parched parks be getting Brown Flag Awards?

Taking advice on tides from a possibly fake Captain Pugwash

Bhangra dancing on tiles arranged by Nadine Dorries

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It seems so long ago – car sharing discussions, Lampton Development and Investment, Cabinet discussion about our plans to further Green the Borough.

Ah well, that’s close to my heart, and covers a lot of different areas – trees, waste reduction, recycling, greenhouse gas and pollution reduction, parks, rivers etc etc. I am never less than impressed by the level of thought and planning that goes into these matters. Not sure how much I’m allowed to share yet as plans are still being agreed but it’s impressive and will be out there soon.

The highlight of Lampton Development and Investment is that they have completed and fully let the Two Bridges development in Bedfont – 11 units of 24 hour supported accommodation for tenants with autism and/or learning disabilities, and 10 units let to local ‘key workers’ – people who keep the area going but earn modest incomes – at ‘LHA’ rates – much less than local market rents. I’m proud that Lampton are able to achieve this, and still have the finances work for the council. Here’s the council leader and deputy cutting the tape, with some of the residents of the supported block.

Anyway, on Friday morning I was off from the furnace that was London to the cool, temperate climate of a Greek Island.


greek island

greek island sunset

Life can be so tough. Still, when I came back there was beauty of a different type down at Rye by the Water.

Rye on the Water view

Coming back, theoretically refreshed but actually suffering from quite a heavy cold, I was gratified that my council unread emails were under 500 and my personal ones under 400 – last year they added up to over 1000 after 2 weeks away.

The plants on my balcony were looking a bit sad despite some attention from a neighbour, but I was delighted to see the tree that I adopted in Timber Wharf Walk, and which I had thought might be a lost cause (especially after my two weeks’ neglect) seems to have revived and put out some heartening little green shoots whilst I wasn’t looking.

Tree with green shoots

I was back here late on Friday, and on Saturday morning I had a call from The Melvinator raising an issue with the bins on Haverfield estate. He mentioned that his legs are bad at present, to the extent he was going to miss the Brentford/Man United game that evening. I said that was a pity because obviously Brentford were going to win 4-0. Sometimes I wish I was a betting man.

By Sunday I was meeting my fellow councillors in the Digital Dock for our 3-ward surgery session. A young couple from Durham Wharf Drive (by the Holiday Inn) were unhappy that they have no recycling facilities (me too!) and I’ll be following that up together with many other things from my mailbox.

Monday I’m easing back into the world of Zootings© with a session with officers, lead member for parks Salman Shaheen and my ward partner Lara about skateparks, something that has been nagging away for several years. Pleased to see officers taking this very seriously, and more work on this later in the week.

In the evening, the first of 4 sessions in the local pubs this week (I’m not always like that, honest) with a resident I met in my early days as a councillor and who I hadn’t seen for a while.

On Tuesday, my regular monthly catch up with ‘my’ Exec Director about progress on a variety of fronts. Recycling and waste continues to run very well, with success in collecting bins and recycle boxes well over 99%, the garden waste service more popular than ever and just a slight concern over assisted collections, which are not as reliable as we would like. We did have a bit of a spike in problems in July, partly because we changed the service times to try and protect the teams from being out doing heavy work when it was 40 degrees, leading to a few more missed collections than usual.

On the street scene, we’re very unhappy with the performance of our contractor on cleaning in general and weeds in particular. They are still struggling with managing weeds without poison, something we’re very committed to as a council: but the alternative ‘systems’ don’t work as well as advertised and it really comes down to people working hard with hoes (especially difficult when they are also being gently cooked). Hounslow Highways have been busy recruiting extra operatives, but it's far from everybody’s dream job and recruitment and retention is not easy. We’ve also had a big blitz on the A4 in cooperation with TfL who have had some night closures. I haven’t had a chance to inspect much of it but the bits I’ve seen look a lot cleaner.

On the plus side, we seem to be beginning to turn the corner on fly tipping, with the number of reports down quite sharply over the last few months. This has been a real blight and if we are finally getting it under control it will happinate me (and everyone else, I reckon) very greatly!

On the vehicle fleet side, which now comes into my portfolio, we are gradually replacing a predominantly diesel fleet with less polluting technologies, whether that be electric, HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) fuel or perhaps hydrogen. All of these are tricky in different ways – not least you need a very big plug for a large electric lorry plus it costs a bomb to buy – but we are currently trialling both an electric dustcart and an electric kerb loader (for household recycling collection). Lots going on – hard to keep up sometimes.

Inn the evening (Word insists on the double n) I’m back in the Express Tavern, signing an Irish passport application for someone who is 100% Irish (don’t ask why) and putting the world to rights from Taiwan to Tipperary.

Wednesday I finally got my unread council email down to zero (OK there are quite a number that are now a tasteful shade of yellow, meaning I have to go back to them) and then a visit to the Lord Nelson to discuss skateparks again. Without council officers on this occasion but progressing some ideas we have had independently.

Round to Thursday, and the day starts with a Zooting© of the Lampton360 shareholder board. This involves senior managers and directors from Lampton with major commissioning teams in the council and is chaired by the Exec Director of Finance and Corporate Services. These meetings can be a tricky in certain areas but this morning’s felt wholly constructive, and it feels like we’re on track in every area, though there are big challenges ahead from inflation in our costs, and the same inflation hitting our residents and perhaps our rent and leisure income. We are also losing our Group Managing Director and the MD of Lampton Investment and development very soon – both retiring, and both will be a huge loss. But the good news is Lampton has such a strong reputation we are attracting very high quality candidates. We are in the Champions League of local authority companies and very definitely not in the Manchester United basket case category. Mind you if MU beat Liverpool on Monday my team could be bottom of the league so I suppose I should keep my trap shut.

Later on today I have a meeting in Brentford Library about … Brentford Library and how it is going after its major investment. Then, you’ve guessed it, I’ll be going to the pub. This time it’s the Kings Arms to discuss the very tricky matter of parking around the Orchard Road area.

I hope you enjoyed the contributions form Dan and Lara over the last couple of weeks. I expect we’ll do a bit more of that as time goes on, and we’re all always very happy to hear feedback on these blogs, especially any that is printable.

Councillor Guy Lambert

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August 19, 2022

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