Orchard Road, Church Walk, Bond House and Other Bollards

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back on his week

Councillors outside the Brentford Library
Councillors outside the Brentford Library


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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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Our library meeting included the Exec Director as well as the Head of Libraries, Lara and I and sundry councillors from Brentford and beyond. Several months ago a formidable group of local women attended my surgery with concerns about how our library is working. Some of the things they were arguing for, like moving all the books downstairs, are clearly not a possibility given that we have created rooms for adult education (and available for community use) in part of the downstairs area but we agree that, whilst the investment in the library has made it fit for the 21st century and given it the redecoration and updating it badly needed, it has made it a bit clinical and less welcoming than before. We have some ideas to make it even better, but it’s certainly worth checking out if you haven’t been there recently.

After that Lara and I were up to the Kings Arms to meet what turned out to be a sizeable delegation of parkers (none of them nosey) from Orchard Road and thereabouts. We discussed the difficulties we have in solving the parking problem there: we have provided most of the extra spaces promised but they don’t help much because the majority are yellow lines turned into CPZ bays, which doesn’t help outside CPZ hours. We’re continuing to work on some other options but in truth there is very little space thereabouts.

On Friday we had planned to meet in one of my favourite Brentford gourmet eateries – the Boston Sandwich Bar – but sadly its tables were full of other discerning clientele and we repaired to its Johnny-come-lately rival, the Blend café-restaurant. To be fair, they do a fine Americano. However, we were not there to idly chew the fat -even the fat in bacon rolls – but to meet a delegation from Church Walk who wanted to talk about and show us the impact on their homes of the revised planning application that Kearns builders have submitted for the former green enclave next to the railway line. For a long time this was held by a trust and neighbours had access to it, but as nature abhors a vacuum, capitalism abhors a plot of land that is not generating income. It’s changed hands a couple of times and not surprisingly is now mooted for a fairly intense development. Up to the planners how they interpret this application. As I am no longer on the planning committee I can come off the fence and say I think it’s too much, but Lara’s mind will have to remain open until it comes to committee (if it does). Lara was particularly taken with one of the residents, Toffee. If she could get rabbits the vote she’d win a landslide every time.

Rabbit with football

Afterwards we met with a resident in Bond House who has various troubles with the way the building is managed by the freeholders (Hyundai), managing agents and the Housing Association (A2 Dominion). We’ve had intermittent problems with this building (and its neighbours) ever since they were constructed. The communal spaces are poorly maintained, the bin room being particularly horrible with flytipping and evil aromas, plus the half-completed and abandoned construction on the former Alfa Laval tower – it was once going to be a Hyundai car dealership – has left the balconies terribly overshadowed and insecure. We’re not quite sure what we can do here but are working up some actions.

Following that I did a bit of a tour of the ward and I was pleased to see that the council has completed the work in Clayton Crescent, applying external insulation to the walls of the council houses there.

Clayton Crescent

You can tell the ones that have been done by their windows being recessed. A simple thing that will make a big difference to bills in these older houses and reduce greenhouse gases into the bargain. This is something the government should have been promoting for years and should really concentrate on now, but it looks like they will be keener on tax cuts which will benefit the Eton classes most of all.

I had also noticed that the 235 bus is stopping behind Morrisons rather than proceeding up to Great West Quarter. We had terrible, persistent problems with this a few years ago, before the landlords at GWQ replaced the unreliable (and perhaps vandalised) bollards that keep out general traffic. I hear this latest hiatus is due to works being carried out in GWQ for a defined (and shortish) period rather than bollarditis so I’m hoping it will resolve in the next few days and save me from having to jump up and down (though the bollards probably jump faster than me).

Bollards at the Great West Quarter

Come Monday morning, and a Zooting© with a plethora of officers and lead members from traffic, housing etc about the Orchard Road parking problems. Not sure how much progress we really made, but Lara minuted the meeting and we have some proposals for officers and colleagues to progress.

In the afternoon I was back at the library for a welcome session for Ukrainian refugees. There was a big turnout – at least 25 families had signed in in the hour that I spent there – and there were council officers there to help them with Housing, employment, schools, adult education, and a number of other matters, plus translators. It was nice to see Brentford FC Community Sports Trust in attendance with a nice leaflet welcoming them, translated into what I imagine is Ukrainian!

Football for Ukrainians

On Tuesday I made two cycle trips to Hounslow House: first to meet our political assistant Denise and chat about life, the universe, etc and to pick up papers for the evening meeting. Back in the evening for a cabinet briefing preparatory to the formal cabinet on 6th September. We had not one but two quarterly reports for the Lampton companies to present, due to a quirk of the diary and I was delighted to have the Group Chairman Martin Cresswell in attendance to do the hard work of updating colleagues. Katherine Dunne presented a proposed new policy which I find quite exciting – but the agenda has not yet been published so I’ll keep mum.

On Wednesday it was our Hounslow Highways Network Board – the quarterly meeting where the head honchos from their parent company attend. We went walkabout in the streets of Hounslow because we are unhappy about various matters related to street cleaning, weed management etc and we wanted to show them why. To be fair to Hounslow Highways, their road construction and maintenance work is generally regarded as being of a very high standard – hence our independently assessed position of having the best roads and footways in London – but we are not so happy with the ‘softer’ aspects which we feel have deteriorated this year.

In the evening I was back in the pub again, this time the Black Dog, to meet my deadly rival Dick Dastardly, otherwise known as Stephen Clark, who stood in Brentford West for the Green Party in May. In truth, there is not much I disagree with the Greens about, though obviously the emphasis sometimes differs, and Stephen is a long time resident of Brentford who really cares about the place, so it’s great to talk to him. One of the things we talked about was Proportional Representation – something we both agree would be a better constitutional settlement for the country (and councils too) and this is something for which he will be lobbying.

Thursday morning a Zooting© with the deputy CEO of Hounslow and the Head of Communities, plus ‘my’ environment exec director and my cabinet assistant Aqsa Ahmed. They – the communities team – have commenced community ward ‘walkabouts’ to engage with local organisations and other residents to promote better engagement. I wanted to make sure there was room for walkabouts more focused on environmental matters and we seemed to come to violent agreement: to be fair, violence is tricky over Zoom.

So that’s my week, but I want to signpost something for the weekend (no, not what you’re thinking of). According to our chums at Brentford Voice (and I quote) “ A group of professional actors and musicians will be performing on the Brentford Lock piazza, 3.30 to 5.30 pm this coming Sunday (28 August) telling stories and playing music in a lively way. Suitable for all ages.” Be there on the square!

Councillor Guy Lambert

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August 26, 2022

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