Is the Horse Power on Santa's Sleigh Sufficient?

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back

Cllr Guy Lambert
Cllr Guy Lambert

December 8, 2023


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So there I was up in Harrow. I was asking a couple of awkward questions of the people at the Waste Authority – well, I was trying to be awkward – about their costs, which are passed on to the 6 councils who use their services. Us councils pay for the depots they have in London (one in Transport Avenue, Brentford) and the fees they pay for the incinerator that deals with most of our ‘residual’ waste. It goes down near Bristol after this is parked on the trains that take our stuff down there. Actually they do very well, I think but like everybody else they have to cope with Britain’s inflation. Important I think that we challenge them, because we are both their only customers and we pay all their charges.

An old colleague of mine in the Credit Union services had invited me to lunch in a pub in Harrow on the Hill but it was after I had bought a beer that he told me he couldn’t make it. Well, I had to order a meal to soak up the beer. After I got home after the always breathtaking beauty of the drive back to Brentford I found an unwelcome communication lurking in the corner of my windscreen. I’d been caught for parking in a largely deserted street with no signage on the road surface or on any lamp posts. I suspect the whole place is a CPZ – kerching. It’s a reminder that I really should avoid driving, something which was reinforced on Thursday when I was grumpy about paying £9 for 2 hours and 1 minute parking in a car park in Wembley. Note to my colleagues in traffic, a revenue opportunity there…

In the evening I was back on my bike, for my first Christmas party with cycling chums at the Express Tavern. Didn’t stay long as my hearing has been particularly challenged as my hearing aid wasn’t working – it has mysteriously recovered now – but it’s always good company.

On Sunday it was the last flower market of the year in Chiswick in its Old Market Place, which anti-everything Chiswickians prefer to hear it described as the car park outside the old police station – far more romantic a name. Anyway it was fun as usual and I spied Santa Winston singing a carol in a choir.

Santa at a chiswick market

Santa is about 7 foot tall and I thought his apprentice reindeers, also on the site, were a bit under-sized to pull a sleigh with Winston driving it.

Ponies at a christmas market

On Monday I had 2 engagements, one was out in Feltham for a celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Interesting speeches and questions from the audience. Useful to hear this because it reminds me there is always more that we could and perhaps should do more for people living with disabilities. Hearing concerns from the horses’ mouths (not the ones in Chiswick) makes it easier to get the message.

a celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Then I was back in Brentford, for the Christmas party at Danehurst for the over-60s. Being over 60 I found I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying whilst the young woman in Christmas tunic was banging out Christmassy songs (very well) but I had the special privilege of sitting next to James Barnor who has plenty of over-60 miles on the clock and is still a captivating man. Modest, friendly, with a very happy demeanour – a lovely companion.

James Barnor

Google tells me he has sprinkles on his face, but it is what I would describe as a beard – I’m old fashioned about some things. He is a photographer, and he has been taking pictures around London since he arrived in the 1960s, having served his apprentice in Ghana. There’s a hefty entry about him on Wikipedia. I’m so proud that he has a home in Brentford, and it’s a delight to talk with him and leaf through the book he had with him. His photos are really evocative.

James Barnor stories

On Tuesday I was out in The Big Smoke, having a beery lunch with old colleagues in Covent Garden. One of my friends has a wife with advanced dementia who on previous occasions he had to rush home because of a crisis. She is now in a care home, which is bitter-sweet for him, but at least he could stay to the end.

In the evening it was an informal meet of the cabinet with Katherine Dunne doing most of the heavy lifting with three of the four topics. Good meeting but it meant it was too late finishing for me to make it to the Green Drinks in Brentford. I really like to attend that but it always seems to clash with something at the council.

On Wednesday I was down in Isleworth for a brief meeting about our plans to create a memorial for Eileen Sheridan, a cycling legend who lived most of her life in Isleworth. I have been inveigled to help out with the fund raising and I had to report I had not yet secured a bank account though I have a cunning plan. Turns out the Chair Brian, has another cunning plan. There’s a lot of cunning around, though in short supply in central government. To be fair, they have plenty of cunning plans but they need Baldrick to come up with better ones.

In the evening, out to Feltham again for the Cabinet Question Time. What a gorgeous bunch we are. There were about 50 people attending including several from Brentford and we covered a lot of different issues, under the admirable chairship of Sally Smith from the Chamber of Commerce. It was lively but courteous and I think those who attended got something useful out of it.

cabinet question time

Thursday morning we had an update from officers on the idea to create some more resident parking and a kind of mini park to partly replace the one which used to be on Windmill Road. It has some controversy and some legal things to go through, but we are, I think, making progress to get this going next year.

Then I was off to Wemberley – it really was Wemberley itself, right next to the stadium where Brent Council has its fancy new council headquarters. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to get rid of the name G-Tech and have our new stadium known as Brenterford. Probably not, but we can dream. Anyway this was for a meeting of the Integrated Care Partnership and was known as an informal meeting, where those who know what they are talking about discussed some emerging plans and worked out how to take them forward. I am unusually quiet in these meetings because I am arriving at a long series of activities late in the day, and am not much of NHS person except as a customer. It is actually quite an inspiring agenda, and most of the people are professionals from NHS or social services with only 2 of us evil politicians in attendance. I learn plenty and later will be looking to contribute more to the discussion.

Today I have a friend coming up from Devon for the weekend. She was going to use a train but because of floods she’s going to drive. The wonders of the A38 and M5, where I was a regular in the 1970s. And don’t miss.


Councillor Guy Lambert


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