A Couple of Liverpool Mugs Get Smashed

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back

Cllr Guy Lambert
Cllr Guy Lambert

February 2, 2024


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I’m always a bit dubious about the Holocaust days, not because I am not interested/shocked about the Holocaust but because I’m not very good at lots of speeches (by others – my own speeches of course are like something penned by Shakespeare and delivered by Churchill).

Anyway, I decided I’d go to Cranford for the event, and it was well worth the visit. There were 3 speeches that stood out, one by my esteemed Leader, obviously, but the other two from people I’d not seen before or heard of them. One was Rev Martine Oborne, the Area Dean. A very inclusive speech and nicely delivered but what stays with me is this. She went to the first peace event about the horrors in Israel and Gaza and was shocked by learning on the news that she had attended a Hate March. This is a middle-aged female minister, and about the last person I’d imagine as being a hater. The only other one I knew on this demonstration was my ward colleague, Lara, who is equally far from being a hater. It reminds me of the depths we have stooped to.

The other main speaker, and actually the really main speaker was Dr Martin Stern MBE. Born in Holland with German parents – they had fled their comfortable life in Berlin. His father was Jewish and his mother was a gentile, so their marriage suddenly was illegal. His mother died in childbirth in Holland and he never saw his father after that (he had caught the attention of the occupying country). He and his baby sister were helped by various people but they were taken to Germany and for reasons he doesn’t know but probably an administrative error, the two of them were not on the train to Auschwitz. He ended up after the liberation with some relatives in Manchester, eventually learned the language and caught up with his schooling. He had decided to be a doctor – you can imagine why - and worked in the NHS until he recently ‘retired’ but now goes around to tell people what happened so it would not all be forgotten. Meeting him was a great privilege and his story is rivetting. Get it here, well worth a read.

Oof, after that I had the peaceful interlude as my fortnightly meeting about Health Integration. We have consultants working out proposals with the people in the NHS and the social services who actually have an idea of what needs doing, and I expect to get some output shortly.

When I got home I had a eagerly-awaited of two mugs from the Best Football Club in the world (outside Brentford, obviously) and I opened the parcel eagerly.

Liverpool mugs get smashed

I have to say I was disappointed. Mugs are lovely but better with the handle attached and the rest of it in one piece. I have ordered replacements.

Not a lot of excitement over the weekend but perhaps the most garish sky I have ever seen

Good for the soul, if one is present.

Monday, no meetings during the day but in the evening we had one said to be about ROCE. To a man with a commercial background and a brief period as an accountant that obviously means Return On Capital Employed. I was struggling about that being a priority for the council but it turned out it was a consultation with us Cllrs on Radical Overhaul of Consultation and Engagement. It is an acknowledgement that our way of consulting could be improved (some people would say so more forcefully!) and we are looking how to do better.

On Tuesday I had the first of what will be regular monthly meetings with my new director, Phil who has taken over the role now my previous director Victoria has gone off to be the CEO of Islington. This was quite a meaty meeting going through all the things I lead on – recycling and waste (still going very well) Hounslow Highways (going well, within a very limited budget) Fleet management (going through a big change like the vehicle market) and a lot of local issues which are within Phil’s responsibility. It was a positive meeting and sometimes having new faces help to keep things moving, though the limited budget is a big challenge.

In the afternoon I had agreed with a lecturer at our friendly neighbourhood University that I would talk on Health inequality to a class of new students as paramedics. They wrote to me with a number of questions which I didn’t have good answers for, but got a fantastic crib sheet from our Director of Public Health. I enjoyed talking to them immensely and I hope the feeling was mutual! I lerned lots and I hope they did too.

This meant I was late for the next meeting, online with Lampton Leisure board. In summary, they are doing well at attracting new members and child swimmers (though swimming coaches are still on the ground. Or in the water, I suppose)

In the evening we had an informal cabinet meeting. We discussed new plans to make reporting better (the proof of the pudding is in the eating, for an old sceptic like me) and we talked again about the budget and the constraints we have to live with.

On Wednesday I had to attend West Middlesex, this time to do with my hearing, which has deteriorated in one ear. Audiologist did the usual (and some unusual) tests and pointed me at a doctor, who confirmed there is an unexpected development. I was anticipating a head transplant but that is not on the horizon (at least yet) but I will be called for a MRI.

In the afternoon I went to see a local family who have dire housing problems. I had been talking to them for some time but had not actually visited their home. This family of 3 live in one small room in a small house – originally 2 bedrooms - where there are 4 other tenants. The room (for 3 people) is I suppose comparable in size as my small spare bedroom. It is supported by a bathroom which didn’t look too terrible and a kitchen which they don’t use. It is filthy, including rat droppings, lovely Jubbly. I don’t know what I can do for them. They ‘pay’ a hefty rent for this tiny hovel which is actually paid by Universal Credit, leaving them with very little to live on, though they are not complaining. The landlord is evicting these lovely people under a ‘Section 21’ no-fault provision, which means the landlord wants it back, they don’t have to say why and they won’t. My guess is they will be hoping for more rent from someone else with no choice. People on social media complain about people being homed in ‘chocolate boxes’ in new flats. These people would think it was Christmas to get even a single room in a new flat, They would at least have kitchen and bathroom facilities, be free from rats etc. I am not a person who gets angry very much, but the plight of families like this, who have no choice and little prospect of a better life, whilst people who live in comfortable houses complain about development, makes my blood boil.

Friday morning I went up to Holborn for a meeting about ‘clutter and chaos’ on pavements in central London. We share a generally mild version of this problem in suburban Hounslow, and it’s something that concerns me, so was very interesting to hear from people who are more expert and more affected. Still digesting. One presenter compared street works by utilities in London and Paris:

We of course have a free playing field with lots of different bodies having the right to dig up streets. In Paris they have a much more restricted arrangement. In New York, there are only 3 private waste companies serving shops etc, and they have to comply with rules, like coning at a consistent time.

He talked about “street scars” where utilities (usually) replace handsome pavers with tarmac and the powers councils have to make them fix properly are inadequate. We need new legislation and probably more determination between the council and Hounslow Highways.

On the way back I was alerted to go through Chiswick Mall where a flooding problem had repeated. People think it’s blocked gulleys but in this case it is more that the drainage system itself has not enough capacity. Hard to fix, because it involves the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Port of London Authority as well as Hounslow and Hounslow Highways but we need to find a solution to this. Residents sometimes get trapped in their homes (or outside them).

On the way home I chanced upon a Hounslow Highways team who were busy working cleaning and tidying on Thames Road and Hartington and doing a thorough job.

Well done lads. Glad it was a good day for it!


Councillor Guy Lambert


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