Creative Differences on the Set of My Latest Film

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back

Cllr Guy Lambert
Cllr Guy Lambert

June 9, 2023


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Last Friday I was down on that balmy morning at Rye by The Water enjoying a coffee with the Environment Director, talking about our favourite issues - bins, litter, potholes etc – oh, and pavements. We are a grumpy pair when we see any problems on the road etc network. We have improved the number of flytips (though nothing like enough, yet) and like Whackamole - graffiti (or something – like horses invading a graveyard) pops up. Some improvements coming very soon but this is not something that has rapid improvement without determined repetitive grinding away at problems.

On Friday evening my peaceful evening on the balcony was interrupted by the noise of a helicopter, which hung around like a buzzing hornet for about half an hour. I could see it up, apparently over Brentford Lock but somebody posted somewhere – can’t find it now – that it was because a couple of teenagers had appeared on the top of the police station. I am asking whether that is true, plus some other questions about the Police station – today and in the future!

Saturday my peace was disturbed by other matters, giving a lift to Heathrow and its extortion system for getting £5 for stopping for 34 seconds to drop someone off (and loads more if you forget) but then home, and a free bike ride up to Boston Manor Park for the Nature Festival. I was a bit grumpy because I thought it could have been better publicised (I still think that!) but was really positively surprised to find a bustling crowd there.

We had the lady from the Heritage who paid for most of this, Katherine who’s the deputy leader and Salman who’s the lead member for Parks, Parking and Allotments. Good job we don’t have a Parka service. Anyway it was all pretty wonderful to see the park back in a good state and people really enjoying it. Somebody kindly bought me an excellent coffee from the new café, though someone complained it wasn’t Kopi luwak. Personally I’ll pass on that and be kind to a civet -which looks rather cute - (and a human).

Sunday was more fun in the sun – this time the Chiswick Flower Market.

As you can see from the pictures Chiswick was virtually deserted as predicted by some councillors but the one or two people who attended seemed to be making the best of it, especially the excellent steel band and (in my case the frankfurter in a crepe with a sauce described (very accurately) as delisious. I also spotted a refugee from Brentford standing in a long line waiting for ice cream – ah, must be summer!

Not all life is a bowl of cherries (or delisious sauce) so Monday I was back to the grindstone with the Trading Companies Shareholder review (ie Lampton review) followed by a review with the adult services and the health directors at the council. I have a daunting new role ‘Health Integration ICB and ICP’. The first task is to learn and recite the abbreviations confidently, and we spent the time on a very first explanation of how all this works, or doesn’t work, or we think it’s important to start it working better. It will take me a few weeks and a few more tutorials.

On Tuesday morning my plans to meet up with The Melvinator didn’t happen because not only the place we arranged to meet wasn’t open and the Melv was still at home.

I went home to talk on Zoom with a lady from the Local Government information Unit – a research and adviser to Local Authorities – had asked me for a personal interview as I had pontificated in one of their surveys, about the Future of Parking. It’s an interesting question for me, because cars are expensive to buy and keep and in London are typically used very little. (This is also true of bicycles, barbecues and electric egg boilers – I recently gave mine away having used it once and gone hi-tech with a pan of water thereafter). In Brentford West, parking is difficult in some areas and people get very frustrated by it. But cars are allegedly parked for 97% of the time and I read that a modest new car probably depreciates by £5000 per annum for the first 3 and costs maybe £2000 to run whilst it moves for about 5500 miles a year. That’s a lot of moolah going out of the purse. You can do the Math.

Anyway, it’s a matter that interests me. I came from a car dealer family and spent a chunk of my life working for Ford, Renault and a dealer. Now I live in an area where there is very limited place for parking. I am of the opinion that in a few years’ time (not sure how soon) it will become a bit eccentric to have your own car – it would be better and cheaper to rent when you need it – a Range Rover when you’re climbing a mountain, a convertible for a hot day and a Dacia for going to Kingston or Space Waye. I am a supporter of car sharing schemes but I’m too set in my ways. I’ve no idea how it will play out in Brentford, but I’ll not be surprised if car owning goes down a lot as parking congestion and costs go up. By the way, before the tabloid picks this up and says ’Lambert trying to ban cars’ I’m not and none of this is nobody’s policy, just me musing.

That was a long bit. In the afternoon I had my first external meeting on my new health gig. It turns out that ICP means Integrated Care Partnership, that is (I think) 8 councils working together and working with the NHS. We probably need the Maastricht Treaty but I’ll settle for, I don’t know, The Protocol of Perivale.

Then it was down to Hounslow for my colleague’s leaving do – very sad to lose her – and then a political cabinet. It wasn’t actually political, but it was us discussing what went well/bad/could be better under the pandemic – the idea being to learn any lessons (not about dropping phones in Feltham Pond at convenient moments). Then we discussed how to use our next ‘awayday’ (somewhere in the borough) where we consider our agenda for what to agree with officers about what we focus on next.

On Wednesday I met with the Leader, Shantanu and the Chair of Lampton, updating on the state of Lampton and what we need to work on over the next period to get the best results out of our companies. We actually had a lot of clear agreement, and one thing being to think about our strategy for how to develop the business and the services.

Then my chance to be a film star, which I have undoubtedly flunked, talking about ‘No Time to Waste’ our new campaign to persuade people to get even better at recycling as we try to get to 50% recycling soon. Our version of Bunuel wanted to take the pics in an iconic location and as we didn’t have time to go to Barbados we did Hounslow House. I proved I could read a teleprompter but broke the rules by wanting to modify the script. These prima donnas.

So suddenly it’s Thursday. A fairly free day with just one Teams meeting with the Chair of Lampton and the deputy CEO of Hounslow, talking about how to modify how we manage Lampton hereafter, like a section paragraph to the one with the Leader yesterday.

Tomorrow I have to go to the Guildhall for the Walking and Cycling Conference. This is 8.30 to 4.30 so quite a long one, after which I have to get home and get ready for flying out to Nice for a long weekend in a friend’s flat in Nice. Apparently there’s no WiFi so that makes me very very sad.

Oh, nearly forgot to mention yesterday evening with Flox Studio in the old Max Factor building at the AGM of Waterman’s Park friends, and a lovely historical presentation about the ‘panorama of the Thames. I’m so pleased at how the park refurbisment has (rather slowly) progressed with the boardwalk about to open and the marina to be built very soon. I hadn’t realised until yesterday that someone has done some great graffiti down near Studio Flox. I suppose it is technically graffiti but I’ll accept this very happily.

Councillor Guy Lambert

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