Turnham Green ward councillor Ron Mushiso on his week
Cllr Ron Mushiso in front of Flower Market poster
As I write this, I am preparing to return to my regular job as a teacher after the Bank Holiday weekend. The Summer Holidays have come to an end and I am looking forward to seeing our pupils back in the classroom and on the sports fields. We all accept that Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon, but that we have to prioritise the educational needs of our children.
Chiswick Clean Up:
Our monthly litter pick returns this weekend after a long lay-off due to covid-19. A number of you have been in touch throughout the lockdown offering with this cause. We are finally able to bring it back and I know much our regulars have missed this humbling monthly get together. The full details will be at end of this blog. We will be meeting on Turnham Green (in front of the Church) ready to start at 2pm. I encourage you all to get in touch on using the detail below if you wish to come along. Strict social distancing measure will be in effect. This unfortunately means that we will not be congregating indoors for refreshments afterwards at 3pm like we have previously. Hounslow Highways have kindly provided us with gloves, litter pickers and bin bags. Hand sanitizers will be made available. I hope to see some new faces there.
Chiswick Flower Market.
Looking ahead to the following weekend; it will be the turn of the Chiswick Flower Market on Sunday 6th September 2020 from 9:30 - 3pm. I hope that you will all be able to attend and help make it a resounding success. Cllr Gill and I have already signed up for the odd jobs working behind the scenes and marshaling. We are both looking forward to it especially knowing how much effort and hard work has gone into bringing this event to our doorstep. I tip my hat off to Ollie Saunders and the rest of his team for putting Chiswick on the map once more for all the right reasons. A good news story for our residents and local businesses at last; especially given the chaos and disruption that they have endured this summer. I am of course referring to Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road, as orchestrated by Cllr Hanif Khan, the Lead Member for Transport at Hounslow Council.
Chiswick in Chaos thanks to Labour
Thanks to Cllr Khan and his administration, what should have been a glorious walking and cycling revolution, has turned into a blockade of sorts that seek to divide our community. As my colleagues have pointed out previously in their blogs, part of the reason there was such a rush to introduce these schemes to Chiswick was purely financial. Many of these projects dreamt up and prepacked long before the pandemic. In their haste to secure funding, Labour put finances before people.
What's frustrated people the most on Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road, has been the removal of parking spaces and the end of the 30-minute free parking allocation. These parking spaces and their proximity to local retail is what's helped some businesses to stay and not relocate. In some cases, parking is the absolute lifeblood of their business in retaining customer. And yet, the Labour administration has failed to acknowledge this fact. They have also failed to acknowledge our elderly residents and those who rely (health/medical) on the car to make their journeys. These closures and restrictions on the High Road are clearly harming our local economy.
What a cycling revolution should look like
We have been consistent from the outset that we were fully behind Secretary of State Grant Shapps' announcement that should have heralded a Walking and Cycling revolution across the entire country. We published our cycling policy as a follow up to ensure that good planning and open dialog with elected representatives and stakeholders would prudent, in order to maximize this opportunity. We asked Labour to tailor any and every project to the needs of that particular community. We warned that a bulldozing approach would not be appropriate.
We pledged our support for a public consultation provided that it was thorough. In other words, all the stakeholders including businesses had to be consulted. We respected the fact that due to the pandemic some temporary cycling schemes would have to be introduced to make it easier to get around on foot or on two wheels. We have since learned, to my horror, that Cllr Khan intends to allow these schemes to remain operational for at least 3 months before they are reviewed. That takes into the middle November at the earliest.
What Cllr Khan has failed to grasp is that you can't bulldoze your way into getting what you want. You need to bring the community with you. The community includes cyclists, motorists, visitors, business owners, children, the elderly and their careers. They all have a stake in the Walking and Cycling revolution.
Lessons from Amsterdam and Berlin
My social media feed is congested with comparable anecdotes between Amsterdam and Chiswick. And even though I am a keen cyclist and I find some of these posts useful; I have to remind my cycling friends time and time again that Chiswick is not Amsterdam. But to be absolutely sure, I took a trip to Amsterdam in the summer to see the cycling phenomenon for myself for the first time. Then as a comparable I went across to Berlin and hopped on a e-scooter for the first as I navigated my way around city.
What impressed me the most about these great cities was the harmony between pedestrians, cyclists, E-scooter riders, motor-cyclists, car drivers, trams and commercial goods vehicle. Yes, there was plenty traffic and the best way to get around was either on foot or on two wheels but the roads were shared seamlessly.
This collective approach is exactly what our cycling policy had set out to promote in response to Grant Sharps announcement during the height of the pandemic. Our cycling policy was welcomed by motorist and cyclist alike. Labour just simply refused to work with us. But we all know that things can change. Even as I compose this blog Brighton and Hove Council have decided to remove 600m section of temporary bike lane along the seafront to ease congestion. I hope that we too can return back to this and restart that conversation that began in May 2020.
The Lead Member for Transport ought to familiarize with John Maynard Keynes and his famous quote that said ‘When the facts change, I change my mind.' The entire Labour administration should take note, after all, he is one theirs.
Chiswick Traffic and Transport Committee
As the Conservative group, we are engaging with our residents on this and have as of this week, formed our own subcommittee to look at ways that we can improve the various traffic management measures being proposed and implemented by Hounslow Council including the temporary Cycleway 9 scheme. We had our first meeting this week chaired by Cllr Sam Hearn. You will be hearing more about this in the coming weeks.
Cllr Ron Mushiso