Not Pretty Enough to Be a Canal Festival Volunteer

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back

Cllr Guy Lambert
Cllr Guy Lambert

June 30, 2023


Herding Lime Bikes on the Haverfield Estate

My Planned Nice Weekend was Anything But

Creative Differences on the Set of My Latest Film

Unintelligible Traffic Lights and a Radioactive Cone

Some Changes to My Role But Still the Minister of Mess

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Yes, I did have a meet with a couple of library friends and some good ideas were floated but this has been a busy one and I have done nothing with it as yet - sorry both.

Next thing I knew it was Friday, and I am back on the team with West London Waste Authority. I have cycled to Harrow in the past but it is a horrible journey so I decided to drive there, and sample the new and exciting features of the Ealing Road. Wow. It took me 27 minutes to get from McDonalds to the A4. It would have been worse if lots of people had not gone off through Netley Road, to where I know not, but it removed them from the queue at least temporarily. I had left plenty of time for the journey so I avoided the extra stress of being late so it was not such a terrible thing in my newish car.

Not my favourite set of subjects though – audits and risk register and even the discuss of the Business Plan, more my cup of tea, was not very exciting because we all think we are more or less on the direction. Steady as we go. Having said that, we are still waiting for the government to make their mind up about when and how they will implement the Environment Act which was all passed in 2021. This will likely mean some new challenges but we can’t rise to them before we know what they are!

In the evening, as I strolled towards Morrisons, I observed that some chap had decided that he was bored with the art work on our prize-winning car park and decided to start painting it car park colour again.

car park painting

Then it was Saturday, and the long-awaited Canal Festival. I had volunteered to help out but I suppose someone decided I did not have sufficient good looks or charisma so I was not selected. Obviously I cried quite a bit in the morning but eventually I decided to go there anyway and see if I could have some fun despite being snubbed. Of course, last year it was very weird for me because whilst I had got over the super-mild version of COVID I’d had, the little plastic thingy was still showing me positive so all I could do was lurk on the wrong side of the road and send good vibes (well, I thought so).

This one was a much more satisfying day out, starting out with the Chiswick School steel band. At that time of day it was rather quiet apart from a bit of off-hand snogging so I wandered down to the Duke down by the Brewery Tap.

brentford canal festival

Annie the landlady seemed to be bringing some black bags of waste back in so I suggested she should be going the other way (not encouraging any fly tipping I assure you) but first of all I was taken by the Ford Thunderbird on display there.

Perhaps I am a bit eccentric because I was not so attracted by the Aston Martin DB6 or the XK (?) 140 which are both worth a trillion but I have cheap tastes. I chatted a bit with Lance ‘Romance of Rust’ and his team and asked about the Facel Vega that he was restoring a while ago. He gave me a lovely story about it but I must say that’s something really exotic that I really would go for. He had an Aston Martin DBS under a cover – ah, I can get quite interested.

On the way through I saw this restored wooden rowing boat – lovely.

Then I went over to the other side of the canal fiesta and caught (amongst many good things) the Morris Dancers.

Also spotted an old picture of Brentford Dock though to be fair us plebs were banned from looking at the river then too.

That was Saturday for you, though I forgot to mention I did a surgery in the morning at the library. Only one lady, and one I had encouraged to come. She is one of far too many people who have a family in a flat that is not big enough for her family. Furthermore, she cannot afford the Housing Association rent but I had to tell her she would struggle to find anything cheaper in these crazy days. The housing crisis hits me in the face at least once a week, and despite the effort we put into building or buying or converting housing we are nowhere near creating a decent answer for many people. One of the main reasons we need a proper government, because councils just don’t have the authority to really fix the problem.

Sunday was another busy day – coffee in the morning with a close friend in Kew, a picnic at Chiswick House in the afternoon.

On Monday morning you might have seen me lurking suspiciously outside Morrisons, but actually I was waiting a couple of council officers and the head of Hounslow Highways who were taking me on a mystery tour around Brentford, Chiswick, Isleworth etc whilst I moaned about some of the work done (or not done) by Hounslow Highways. We were finished by lunchtime and I fitted in a Word meeting with some Hounslow officers in the afternoon.

There a couple of things that people are grumpy about at present. One of them is the ruddy Ealing Road roundabout where I think I am either the champion in grump but certainly merit a place in the final. The other is Lime bikes. I don’t entirely understand why people are so unhappy about them – they used to be parked all over the place and in about 2 years I remember only one complaint. Now, they are generally parked in defined places (yes, I know, not always) and if they aren’t the people who rent them are warned, fined, fined more, and are banned if they sin more than 3 or 4 times. Of course, the message hasn’t got through to everybody – the new system has been in place less than a fortnight I think – and there is more of bikes on their sides and probably being interfered with by people who want to nick them. We are all working hard with Lime to get this fixed and I think it will be shortly. In a couple of places, I think the pens are not in the right place and I’ll be pushing to have these changed. Anyway, on Tuesday I had a call with the head of transport and his boss, and most days I give them an update on what I see around the borough (oh, and Ealing road in the bundle of whines).

In the evening we had cabinet briefing, where we go through the things we’ll be taking to ‘official’ cabinet in a couple of weeks. It’s always a bit daunting when the papers we should ideally master amount to 708 pages on this occasion. I can’t claim I have control over every word or comma.

We also talked about the challenge (now my very own) of Health and social care integration (it’s now in my job title). It is mightily complicated but also very important. One of the officers produced this chart which gives (a very approximate) view of the costs here, with the only one under the council’s responsibility being social care. We will be working increasingly closely with the NHS in all its forms, to find the smart way to do these things and provide better answers without bankrupting ourselves. I’m actually keen to get to grips with this, hard as it will be.

On Wednesday no Hounslow meetings, some personal time and a session in le Chien Noir as I like to call it in the evening. I barely drink these days so a ‘session’ left me feeling quite merry – hooray!

Today a day out involving a cycle to Ealing, catching the Elizabeth line (heavily delayed due to the traditional signals problems) to Farringdon then finding the HQ of the Connected Places Catapult in Clerkenwell. This is a government initiative and most of it is looking at how councils etc to go about their plans to reduce emissions, particularly of C02. There are different issues here, encouraging residents to reduce their own, but mainly focused on how council reduce emissions from their estates, and where we get the money to do it. This is mainly council estates and its far from easy or cheap. One of the councils that presented said they had done this on three older semis and the cost of doing this for a pilot house was between £125000 and £145000 each, really not doable at all! Much of what will be done is much more modest and the thought is that for many such houses – council or privately owned – it will, with great difficulty, be possible by making a long commitment and paying back the investment needed by taking the benefit of sharply reduced energy bills. Anyway it was a very stimulating debate, with our CEO Niall Bolger one of the people interviewed. There’s a way to go before we get any kind of conclusion but we are at least tackling the issue and we will find the answers. Here’s Niall doing his gig.

Inevitably, there were delays on the Lizzie Line back here, though they didn’t say why like this morning. It was the way it was – suck it up, as the modern persons say.

Now, don’t miss this Saturday afternoon in the Watermans Park. Between 3 and 5pm for the first of the Watermans Friends’ July Summer Bandstands, please come along if you’re free – and if you want to support the Friends you can pay your subs (£10 I think) if you wish.  There’ll be some great music to enjoy with the Speak Out in Hounslow Choir, Shout Out Brass Band and Compound Radius. There’ll be something on, free, every Saturday in July (at least!)

Watermans Park


Councillor Guy Lambert

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