Why There are Definitely Not Too Many Flats in Brentford

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back

Cllr Guy Lambert
Cllr Guy Lambert

October 13, 2023


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So, I was off (eventually) for Italy and the excellent Dan Bowring took up his pen and filled the gap with an excellent, detailed and long blog. He managed to get more likes in one week than I had collected in 400 – perhaps I should retire!

But I will soldier on, starting my 5th century, though some people think I’m talking about my age. As anticipated, I had a couple of meetings that Friday – feel about a month ago, one with a young woman who has been deserted by her husband who took any money and assets and left her with 2 young children, debts, benefits that are way away from paying her rent and what would be a nice flat if her private landlord took the damp in her walls and the mushrooms that have come out of hiding behind the wallpaper seriously. I am doing my best to help her with housing and benefits but have, frankly, made no progress.

People on social media constantly complain about flats being built in Brentford. What is very clear to me is the sheer numbers of people, very commonly single mothers who have been abandoned by their partners, with literally nowhere to go. Landlords in the private sector still have the availability of no-fault eviction which means people are sometimes callously evicted and put on the mercy of the council which has a waiting list that has gone through the roof, largely because of this change. It’s all very well to complain about flats and I understand many people don’t like them, but think about your own position in an established home and, please, be more supportive of councils and others who are trying their best to help young families to get a home, somewhere near their job, school, friends, families. This is by a long way the worst thing I come across as a councillor and there is a new one every week.

After meeting this woman, I’m off to a café in Chiswick to talk to an old friend has his own problems with a charity he is running and trying to get help from the council to agree a new lease on premises.

Saturday morning, a surgery in the library – me and Lara and one local resident raising an issue. I hope we made progress with his problem – time will tell.

On Sunday morning I was off for Italy. But then British Airways happened and I was back in Brentford trying to get a ticket for Monday. After another dose of British Airways I got one and was back to Gatwick where their attempts to mess me up were eventually overcome, and I got to Monopoli. Was it worth it? I’ll let you decide.

A wonderful time with some wonderful friends, then back to the real world and some other friends.

On Sunday morning was our joint surgery, but many of my comrades had skulked off to my old home city to bathe in the waters of the Mersey and the glorious speeches of Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves and the rest. Even two of our chums made it to the platform, Marina speaking in support for our vital and miserably paid care workers.

marina sharma at Labour conference

And Amy, alongside our shadow minister Wes Streeting, arguing passionately in support of the NHS

Amy Croft at Labour conference


Down in Brilliant’s Digital Dock there were only Dan, me and later Rhys and as usual most of the people who needed attention were looking for Syon councillors and/or Katherine related to her cabinet responsibilities. We heroically did our best to fill the void.

On Monday I was beginning to catch up with emails, but the day punctuated first by a chat with The Melvinator who was raising some issues with the environment – pavement problems from a hole to blockages, felt keenly by a couple with severely restricted sight. Working on it.

Then off to Southall Lane for a photo shoot related with our ‘No Time To Waste’ recycling campaign. I don’t like these photo opportunities – one of the reasons I can’t be a proper politician – because apart from anything else I always seem to look fat in the pictures, there must be a bug in the cameras. But this one was fun, because we were celebrating the two primary school girls who had won a contest to have their very own pictures on our waste and recycling trucks.

They were great fun as well as clearly talented. Look out for their pictures, and some pictures of some of our favourite grown up residents whose photos we’ve also chosen to go on trucks. Every one is a recycling enthusiast.

Tuesday morning I was online for the Borough Based Partnership. This is about developments in the NHS in Hounslow, where I am the council representative, together with some of the local residents. This is still new territory for me but this one is easy to get my head around, and very relevant to the local area. The one which answered a topical question was:

“Hounslow has a decreasing GP population (these figures do not include ad hoc locums)

•In April 2022, Hounslow had 169.69 FTE GPs. In April 2023 Hounslow had 165.7 FTE GPs. This represents a 2.4% decrease in GP numbers.

•Hounslow has had an increase in the number of patients per GP. There are now approximately 2027 patients per GP*. This is higher than the national average at 1,700 per GP in October 2022”.

On top of this our NHS workforce is very experienced, which like me it means they are not as young as they used to be and that is an additional challenge. The BBP is working on various tactics to improve things – technology to improve choice and productivity, better use of other medical professionals, and I’m sure this will help but it will still be very difficult. We need a government that actually cares about the NHS and the end of politicians (especially Prime Ministers) making wild promises that the have no interest in actually delivering. Hopefully that starts next year but there is stuff we can do in the meantime and I’ll certainly be doing all I can to make this real. There was masses of info, and I still need to work hard to improve my understanding, and what to fight for.

Oh, if you’re eligible for a COVID booster, you have to go to a pharmacist. It would be too easy and economical to do it when you go to your GP to get your flu jab, but that would cut the pharmacists out of the loop, and old cynics like me might think this is because pharmas help with raising funds for the Conservative party.

Later I was in a Lampton meeting about how they manage the approximately about 600 local homes they have. Nearly all the tenants are referred from the council from people on the housing list, but hitherto we have used a private contractor to manage the relationship with residents. This has worked well, but expensive and we want it to have best service, delivered by Lampton themselves. On the way after a sensibly paced transfer plan.

Then it was a resident in Boston Manor Road who in theory has a back alley behind his house. Like so many of these back alleys the reality is a bit different from what we might prefer and to add to the difficulty here, the alley is technically in Ealing Borough. These border places are often a pain.

I’ll do my best to find a solution but I’m not sure where I’ll find it.

In the evening I was over at the Musical Museum for a big presentation by Brentford Voice about making the most of our cultural assets – people, rivers, museums, artists, artisans, history etc. It’s a big subject and not obvious what to do but there was an excellent attendance by people from different backgrounds and skills and it all felt a good place to be starting from.

On Wednesday I was supposed to be attending an online presentation from Thames Water but whatever I had as an access arrangement didn’t work, no doubt all swept away in a surge of effluent and now floating along the Brent and/or Thames, so I missed the fun.

Then my monthly update with ‘my’ environment director and team – more material than usually which is welcome if also a challenge. In the evening another crack at the Brentford Voice culture thing, This one in Digital Dock and only councillors, working out how to progress it.

Thursday I was off to my GP, currently just off Goldhawk Road, and I decided to do some secret shopping with Lime. I met a young woman near where I live who was starting a Lime rental. There were 5 of them parked outside my door on Saturday, not causing any problems in this capacious cul de sac, but clearly against Lime/Hounslow rules. I asked her if she knew this but she claimed she used a Lime every day and as far as she knew she could leave it everywhere in the area they cover, She knew nothing about pens and all that.

So I did an experiment. The bike was not great but functioning and I tried to park at the doctor’s car park. Bike said ‘Not Here’ – good – so I parked in the pen around the corner. One bike was already there but on its side. Returning I thought I would pick that one up, but no pedal. Didn’t want my previous one because the power didn’t pick up properly, so went to one that was nearby in the next road (illegal park). I scanned it and was about to go when I realised this also had a missing pedal. Tried to park it and was told ‘you can’t park here!’ Left it anyway and went back to my original bike and took that into central Chiswick. I tried to park it on the High Road ‘not here’ and they directed me to Devonshire Road (good) though actually round the corner in Glebe St. Lots of bikes there, mainly upright. Did a bit of shopping then selected another bike from Glebe. Good bike took me home with no issues except it stopped the power in the bike lane in Watermans Park. Not for long and it reappeared when I started going up the hill near Watermans centre. Got home and parked in Pump Alley ‘Not here’. Parked it anyway and wrestled with the app but I find now they have stopped the rent but I’m charged £12.88 for 44 minutes cycling (gulp) on this leg. 2 other bills obviously, much less for the 2 other rentals. So an expensive little experiment – I’ll try and get a credit as it was all to advance knowledge. My conclusion was that the system was really working so you can pick one up anywhere but if you don’t park correctly you are caught, one way or another.

Now I was home, I had the formal review with Hounslow Highways, online. I had my usual selection of grumbles, but I actually came out of it feeling that the management there was beginning to take our problems very seriously and I’m hopeful we can get a good improvement over the coming months.

Then I got on my proper bike and I was off to Chiswick Pier to have a chat with a friend of mine who is a trustee there. Had quite a long conversation with the trustees and came away with a task to try and find out what the council’s plans are. Not really my job, but I do like to help out when I can, and anything to do with our rivers is close to my heart.

Councillor Guy Lambert




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