Friday – 19th November: I joined councillors Gabriella Giles, Gerald McGregor and Jo Biddolph for a briefing on the next steps with C9. We had only been informed of the briefing two days before. We learnt at the briefing that the work would begin next Tuesday. None of the councillors were happy that the work would continue through December since this is the busiest and most important trading period of the year for many of the businesses based on and around Chiswick High Road.
We also learnt that none of the local businesses had been consulted before hand and that letters were only now being sent out to inform them of what was about to happen. No traffic modelling work had been undertaken to identify what the impact of the works would be on the local road network. So far as we could ascertain there was no reason why the work could not have been done in the new year.
Saturday 20th November: As some of you will know we have stepped up our canvassing ahead of the local elections in May 2022. It was good to be out with the three candidates for Chiswick Riverside, Gabriella Giles, Seb Wallace and Peter Thompson. There is no real substitute for talking to people on their doorsteps. We finished some earlier canvassing in Oxford Gardens and began progressed to Stile Hall Gardens. The road closures associated with C9 and the parking restrictions associated with the opening of the Brentford Stadium have affected people in different ways.
Although councillors have been dealing with residents’ concerns about these issues for many months there was still plenty to learn from listening to residents. The local stretch of C9, and the stadium are here to stay but we must look for ways of achieving better outcomes for as many people as possible. It is not acceptable that hundreds of households are trapped in an enclave with only one narrow exit route and where evening parking is restricted every weekday and not just when there is match at the stadium.
Monday – 22nd November: To Strand on the Green Junior School in the early evening for the first face-to-face full governors meeting since Lockdown. It was quite exciting to meet everyone again. Covid has brought its challenges and supporting remote working for pupils still places huge pressures on staff. Unfortunately, I had to leave the meeting early to join a Conservative Councillor Group meeting at Hounslow House. The Group Meeting looked ahead to the Borough Council meeting on the 30th identifying likely issues with matters on the agenda and how we would approach them. We will be raising, amongst other matters, flat lining recycling rates, the response to COP26 and how poor street lighting impacts the safety of women.
Tuesday – 23rd November: I have regularly raised the issue of how the council enforces the access restrictions on Thames Road / Strand-on-the Green. This was originally to have been delivered by an innovative scheme that relied on ANPR cameras. Over the months various excuses have been provided for the non-appearance of these cameras. Initially, councillors were told that the council was awaiting the results of a pilot project. Then it was explained that there were problems with procurement. Finally, at the Call In meeting in September it was stated that for ‘operational’ reasons no cameras will be installed.
Officers have explained that the traffic data appears to show that drivers are voluntarily adhering to the spirit of the experimental traffic order and the signs without out any need for enforcement. Residents and the many businesses along Strand-on-the Green have not been consulted about this nor has this explained to them. The sign at the entrance of the road continues to display a large ‘camera’ symbol so it is hardly surprising that residents and others have assumed that access restriction is enforced by ANPR cameras.
Since the introduction of the ULEZ scheme this sign has of course been largely obscured by a large new ULEZ sign. The council have agreed to “take a look” at the positioning of the ULEZ sign.
Wednesday – 24th November: It was good to hear from officers that the consultation period for the planning application for 17 Hartington Road (P/2021/2827) has been put back and that the application will now be considered at the January rather than the December meeting of the Planning Committee.
Having been advised by TfL that essential refurbishment and maintenance work will begin from 6th December on the road bridge over the railway on the A316 close to Chiswick Bridge I requested that the council and TfL urgently consider the relaxation of the restrictions on access into Hartington Road from the A316. No reply has been received from Hounslow Council but TfL have agreed to discuss this with Hounslow Highways. The lane closures that are part of these works will place great stress on the local road network at exactly the same time as the council have decided to undertake major works on Chiswick High Road. It is almost as if TfL and Hounslow Council are not talking to each other.
Diary Malfunction: I nearly missed this latest meeting of the Blossom Day Steering Group but I am glad that I did not. Fortunately, another member prompted me. As we descend into Winter it is good to be reminded of Staveley Road’s annual cherry blossom miracle. It was frustrating this year to have to fall back on a virtual event. We are grinding into action and refreshing our plans for 2022. The Steering Group would benefit from some fresh blood and we are seeking new members and volunteers. You can find out more about us on the Blossom Day W4 web site. If you would like to have a chat or become actively involved please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday - 25th November – A resident asks how he can contact SERCO. He needs to pay his PCN fine and has lost the paperwork. Strangely this is not a problem I have encountered before. The answer turns out to be quite simple and can be found on an FAQ page on the council website. This link may be worth keeping.
Most council meetings are now taking place in person at Hounslow House though a few, such as licensing panel meetings, continue to be held virtually. Even if they are held in person, you can watch them live (or later) on the council's YouTube channel . Please check for each committee by looking at the agenda reports pack for each committee.
The key council meetings coming up are:
• 30th November: Borough Council
• 2nd December – Planning Committee
• 6th December – Cabinet Meeting
Face to face surgeries have been reinstated you will be able to meet a Conservative councillor in Chiswick Library on Saturdays at 9.30am and at the Gunnersbury Triangle Club at 10.00am on the first Saturday of every month. Please contact your ward councillors by email or phone, as listed below.
Cllr Sam Hearn