Dealing with the Brentford Zombie on Boston Manor Road

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back

Cllr Guy Lambert
Cllr Guy Lambert

March 3, 2023


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I have had chums staying me for a few nights, which is fun but can be a challenge with 3 blokes of a certain age trying to live in a 2 bedroom flat. It was a bit cold for sleeping on the balcony so I had one in the kitchen/dining/sitting room and one each in each bedroom which rather upset the breakfast arrangement, but trips to Big London, lunch one day at The Griffin (great grub), dinner in Siracusa with Tony Louki and a couple of his footer pals – lively debate and nobody seriously injured, though Louki’s QPR beaten at home by his mates’ Blackburn.

I trekked down to St Mary’s Hospital for my second frozen shoulder injection. For once in my life I arrived early, at which point they told me it was the wrong hospital. I showed them the letter but the team was at Charing Cross, so a bit more trekking and arguing to fit me in. They did. It hurt. My shoulder is improved but it will take a while until my googly is up to scratch.

So, my weekend was mainly social, with moments of councilloring fitted in the gaps between host and social duties. I delivered them to Heathrow on Monday, one for Austrian Airlines, one for Megabus, then spent the afternoon trying to catch up with emails etc. In the evening I got the short straw and went to the library for a bit of surgery, but my scalpel remained in its scabbard because there were no residents coming for an operation, so I was lonely. Meanwhile Lara, who has been very active with the people who live in Charlton House, was down there and had what I think was a lively session. I decided to spend an hour after surgery on my bike, checking the situation on the A4 (still very frustrating) and also taking a look at the now completed permanent barrier on Whitestile Road.

Somebody wrote to me pointing out he had seen 7 vehicles driving straight over it. This nonsense may sort itself out, but my sense having looked at it is that it’s not substantial enough. In discussions with the head of traffic. As to the A4, crossing it is very restricted and it seems our chums in National Highways (NH) are not interested in the concerns we have about access and safety. Our traffic man wrote to the contractor, “There is a statutory requirement to act on high-risk safety concerns within 2 hours under NRSWA so I would ask immediate action is taken based on this inspection report.” However NH have ignored this and similar complaints from TfL. The dangerous situation remains and it is so dark under the flyover that I was not far from running down a pedestrian coming off the Brook Lane crossing on my bike at 3MPH. Frustrating, and all I can think to do is keeping chasing it up with TfL, traffic team and the MP. Perhaps I could go and see Mark Harper (hadn’t heard of him, but he’s the Minister of Transport for the next few weeks and seems to be an expert on resigning or getting sacked) but he wouldn’t see me anyway.

Anyway, Tuesday was our budget-setting meeting at the council. Our Conservative chums always oppose the budget but this time their pantomime complaints were a bit thin (to put it politely) and their speeches were a bit incoherent. They recycled (one thing they get right, a bit of recycling) their moan from 4 years ago about street lights being dimmed. I can only recall a couple of complaints in 4 years – one about a park in Chiswick, where we immediately upgraded the lights to general satisfaction, one about a footpath where we’ve added extra lights and one current one about a junction in Feltham. These outraged Tories save up their concerns to bring them out at the budget meeting. I suppose they need something to complain about. They were also complaining about fly tipping: well, I’ve been wrestling with that for some time and we have reduced fly tipping across the borough by 23%, because we have got more focused about how we manage it, with more improvement certainly on the way (plus we had a professional flytipper fined over £4000 just now – delighted to get one of these through the backlog in the courts!)

Wednesday we had the after-circus show, when we could get back to sensible activity, a regular Lampton financial session – still very tricky but situation improving – and then an evening session about our Youth Employment Guarantee. This is a very ambitious plan and one which needs us to support our young people, some with very unpromising starts in life following the government largely abolishing the once very helpful Surestart service. We heard some real horror stories but there was a lot of enthusiasm amongst those attending – exclusively Labour members as not a single Conservative bothered to turn up which might say something about what they think is important!

During the day somebody asked me what the gates on Brentford Dock look like. I have a ‘privileged’ position so I went out to take a picture and was greeted with the rather sorry sight of a child trying to get over one.

child on Brentford dock gates

In the end her dad (I presume) came and lifted her up, and took her back towards the area where she’s welcome. A poignant moment.

Thursday turned out to be a busy day, starting with supporting pickets at Gunnersbury Catholic School.

supporting pickets at Gunnersbury Catholic School

Me (right) with John McDonnell (second right) and striking teachers
Me (right) with John McDonnell (second right) and striking teachers

As it happened we had a visitor from Hayes – a very well-known Labour man known as John McDonnell. It was fantastic to see him and he was the humble but committed and intelligent man he has always been.

Then I was out to Osterley, to meet someone who works (voluntarily) on Osterley Lane that runs into the back of the park, from Southall. I went there a few years ago when it was really plagued with flytipping. This lady (heroic – thank you) does some clearing herself and regular attention from Hounslow Highways (who came by whilst we were looking) and it looks enormously improved. There are still problems, particularly behind fences into areas we think are owned by National Highways (this blog is getting a bit circular…). I agreed to have a crack at improving this and then I was off to Boston Manor Road for another meet with a resident.

There’s a very weird situation with his neighbouring house. It has been in a shocking mess – inside and in the gardens and there seems to be a doubt about who owns it. I think I said in a previous instalment that it seemed to be owned by the Brentford Zombie because he was said to have died but continued to turn up, as he does to this day. Meanwhile, somebody turned up with a van from a house clearing company, claiming it was ordered by the owner, but then the Zombie appeared and asked what they were doing with his stuff and told to desist and stop it! Anyway, the original (Zombie) owner seems to be paying the Council Tax (very near to my heart) and it now seems to be progressing towards the courts. As a councillor you learn (?) new things every day.

In the evening it was an update on the work that’s being done on the Brentford Town Centre plan. They had engaged with some community groups (EG Brentford Voice) earlier and it was great to get engaged with this as local councillors.

Before that, I took advantage of a lovely March evening to take a look around where I live. Heidelberg continues to disintegrate, and a couple of ‘my’ trees are now behind Heras fences. Talked to a woman who works for the contractor and she promised to try and save my trees for reuse there or for use elsewhere.

Meanwhile this lovely blossom tree will be saved and in 2067 we may be able to walk past it along the river to Dock Road if Ballymore ever finish their car park.

tree in blossom

Oh, and those chairs are still there, but this maybe your last chance…

See y’all next week


Councillor Guy Lambert

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