The Ham Proves To Be Recurring Theme of the Week

Syon and Brentford Lock councillor Dan Bowring reports back

Cllr Dan Bowring

October 6, 2023


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This is Dan Bowring, standing in for Guy Lambert who is on holiday.  I’m not jealous at all.  It’s been rather a busy week for me, with lots going on in Brentford.  It was an early start on Monday morning handing out flyers promoting the upcoming Area Forum, outside St Paul’s School with Cllr Katherine Dunne.  

It was good to bump into several residents I knew, and one particularly notable interaction was being told “no point, bloody councillors are never seen in Brentford”, to which I replied “Hi I’m Dan, I’m a councillor”.  The individual slunk off, muttering “well fair enough I suppose”.  I picked up some case work about a crime that a resident didn’t feel was being given sufficient attention by the police, I popped round to their house later for a more detailed chat, then asked one of the neighbourhood policing team to get in touch with the resident to see if they could help.  

The morning also included a meeting with one of the new operators in the Ballymore development, it’s great to see a mixture of popular high street chains and independents, a good mix of the two is right for a town centre in my opinion.  After several calls and emails I headed to Hounslow House to pick up more flyers for the Area Forum having exhausted my supply giving them out this morning, and at several sessions last week.

I had initially requested a print run of 1000, but the council officer had suggested 250, not wanting (rightly) to over order and see paper waste.  We compromised on 500.  Resupplied, I went to meet cllr Rhys Williams to hand them out at Green Dragon school by the Brentford Towers, it was great to meet lots of residents, and Rhys picked up some casework.  With all the flyers gone a week before the Area Forum, I’ll be able to get 1000 for the next one (it’s on the 18th of December).

On Tuesday I met with residents and their managing agent regarding a dispute with a neighbour concerning a planning application.  I was able to offer general advice regarding the whole process and how they could object, but I have to remain neutral in case the application comes before the planning committee, on which I sit.  I then went to meet some residents on the Ham who had concerns about the traffic being routed down their road when the new Morrisons opened in 2 days time.  

Wednesday I spent a lot of time on the phone, and emailing officers regarding the traffic from Morrisons.  I was assured everything would be in place.  I was also invited to meet the manager of the new Morrisons and have a guided tour.  It’s a great store with a really good hot food counter, I was given a free pizza which was delicious, and priced at £6 I do not need to declare it in my register of gifts.

Thursday heralded the much anticipated opening of Morrisons, and the related traffic.  Work commitments meant I was in Central London in the morning, but I got to the Ham in the afternoon, and after speaking with residents and the temporary traffic light operator it was clear some tweaks were needed.  Officers managed to get them in place for Friday.

On Friday I had a video call with councillors and officers about the Area Forum on the coming Monday, we had a really packed agenda with lots of guests, and an overall theme of health provision.  That evening I popped out to have a check on the traffic situation in the Ham.  As I left I said to my wife “I’m just going out to…” and before I could finish the sentence she said, “the Ham?”  

Things were better there, and I bumped into some residents heading back from Morrison’s and made a new acquaintance, the recently appointed Director of the Steam Museum (or London Museum of Water and Steam) we had a brief chat about some of the challenges and opportunities they are facing.  

It’s a well loved and important local asset we want to support.  I promised to send across the details of an upcoming event that I felt would be really helpful, and invited her to the Area Forum on Monday, where I would introduce her to the councillors who represent the ward the Steam Museum is in.

On Saturday I realised that the event in question was actually on Monday morning, I sent across the details but registration was closed and the Director was unable to book in.  I agreed to meet her at Hounslow House at 9am and blag her in if necessary.  On Sunday morning I was in Brentford with my wife and children.  As we cycled home via the Ham, my wife commented “so this is where you spend all your time”.

Monday morning I arrived at Hounslow House and met the Museum Director, we popped up to the event and no blagging was necessary as officers were very accommodating even though she had not registered.  As I was leaving I stopped to have a chat with security, which I try to do whenever I have time as they are a great bunch, work very hard at what can be a challenging job, and frankly seem to know more about what’s going on than most people.  

While we were talking a resident came in and was requesting assistance and was given a leaflet advising how to contact the relevant service.  He seemed confused and his English was limited so I stopped him for a brief chat.  Using an Arabic translator app we got to the bottom of his problem, but as he doesn’t live in my ward, the casework should go through his local councillors.  I emailed a summary of the problem on, and one of them has already taken on the case.

I then realised I was a little late for an important meeting at - you guessed it - the Ham, so jumped on my bike to meet Cllr Tom Bruce who is lead member for Development and Regeneration, he has been supporting me on the issues in play and he had helpfully convened some of the most senior officers in the council from the departments of planning, traffic, and regeneration.  It was really helpful to get them all together on-site to see - and discuss - the issues that intersect across their relevant departments.  

Also present were residents who had been concerned and affected, at times emotions ran high and one person said “we have been forgotten down here, all that money spent on Ballymore and look at what we have to live with”.  I could understand why he said that, as there are significant issues that need addressing, not least the dire state of the footpath.  The resident was visibly upset and wasn’t impressed by anything officers or councillors had to say.  I think only action will convince him otherwise.

After a rushed lunch I met with officers from Housing to discuss a complex case with a problem neighbour.  I was impressed at their level of understanding of the problem, and also their expertise on relevant policies and powers that we have.  Then I travelled 3 floors up to speak at a licensing panel which was hearing an application for Sam’s Waterside, a new high end restaurant in the heart of the Ballymore development.  I was glad that the licensing panel saw fit to grant the license.

An hour at home and then out to the Area Forum, the turnout was down from 70 last time to 42 which was disappointing, but the torrential rain was probably a factor and perhaps also being a Monday night.  42 residents is still one of the best attended in the borough.  I think we can do better and hope we will at the next one (18th of December).  The focus was on health with some presentations from the hospital director of West Mid, the assistant director for primary care, and a local GP.  As well as that there was a spirited open forum, presentations on the new family and community hubs, and constructive discussions with Lime, as well as the bustling marketplace.

Afterwards we had a mini debrief at the pub, and I cycled home.  Via the Ham. 

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