I've Seen Things You People Wouldn't Believe on Staveley Road
Chiswick Riverside ward councillor Sam Hearn on his week
Saturday 26th September: A quick update in a virtual meeting with councillor colleagues about the impact of traffic measures being implemented across Chiswick by Hounslow Council and TfL. We agree to continue our support and advice to residents’ groups seeking sensible changes. These campaigns are not party political in nature and many residents are justifiably frustrated when they realise that they are either not being listened to or are being treated like little children. As a council officer confided in me recently “I think we have got our communications strategy badly wrong”.
At the end of my visit to Waltham Forest’s Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme last year our guide made one heart felt plea. If you embark upon such a scheme he said “Consult. Consult first. Consult during. Consult after.” That was our big mistake he said in Waltham Forest. In the council’s rush to meet TfL funding deadlines it did not consult properly and created a massive bow-wave of resentment, misunderstanding and general obstructionism.
The new “temporary” cycleway-9 came out of left-field and was approved by a senior officers decision (it did not even get Cabinet approval) because it was deemed essentially the same as the original scheme and we should all love it because it did not take big chunks out of the pavement. So, losing traffic islands and bus lanes and the creation of a “bus-gate” are not fundamental changes? We are being treated like young children.
Petitions that you might like to sign;
Sunday 27th September: Lunch at the Saracen’s Head in Beaconsfield with two old Oxford based socialist friends and just about manage to avoid talking politics. Easy when you have so many ailments that you can bore each other with. I realise with a lurch that it is over 30 years since I last visited this pub/restaurant. The colourful old pub sign has long gone. Probably no longer politically correct. I wander over to the Church from the pub. John Hampden MP was fined for illegally raising the militia in this very churchyard. No doubt there are some at Hounslow House who would call him an anarchist.
Monday 28th September: Up early to see what if anything is happening at the Park Rd / Staveley Rd junction. Lots of rumours and in addition residents have had exchanges of emails with officers over the weekend. There is a proposal to insert a temporary crossing close where the existing well-constructed one is to be “removed” to provide a turning circle.
Tuesday 29th September: Hounslow Council’s Pension Board meets for the first time since February when we were technically inquorate. This is a virtual meeting and one elderly member no longer has access even via a mobile phone and gives his apologies. As Chair of the Board I have been trying to keep up to speed with the pension fund’s investments and the effectiveness of the scheme’s relatively new administrators. Last week I attended as an observer the first meeting of the Pension Fund Investment Panel since before lock-down. People ask me if I find these meetings boring. I suppose on one level I do, but at a more fundamental level it can never be boring learning how the pensions of thousands of Hounslow’s employees, ex-employees and pensioners are safe-guarded.
An eccentric group of local residents are claiming that the new traffic measures are triggering a shopping boom on Chiswick High Road. A glance at the research on this link should make it clear just how important car drivers and pedestrians are to a successful high street,
Wednesday 30th September: The Chiswick House & Gardens have published their ten-year strategy and announced that it must make some administrative staff redundant (see story on ChiswickW4 front page). The trustees are asking for the public’s comments on the strategy via Trustinfo@chgt.org.uk . The finances of the Trust have been torpedoed by Covid and reserves prudently built up in previous years have been used to shore up basic operating expenses. Those of us who use the gardens and have visited the house know what an amazing public resource it is. We must do all we can to ensure that LBH continues to fund the charity appropriately even as it faces financial challenges of its own.
Thursday 1st October: Awoken around 7.00 am by Hounslow Highways operatives erecting temporary signs at the junction of Park and Lawford Rd. I dress quickly and walk to the Park Rd Staveley Rd junction. The whole area is cordoned off with metal fencing and workman move purposefully around putting equipment and materials in place. Someone says that Hounslow Highways began arriving at 5.00 am. Discretely parked in the middle of the road a police van sits with officers ready to “prevent a serious incident of public disorder”. Two pedestrian refuges (traffic islands) are dug up. Ugly red and white plastic barriers are inserted across the junction. Eventually the road is reopened and then we notice that the “no right turn” signs that are supposed to keep traffic from turning right into Lawford Rd have been cunningly located behind trees.
I log on to the Local Government Pension Scheme Autumn seminar run jointly by CIPFA and Barnett Waddingham. As Chair of the Pension Board it is important that I attend. A wide range of topics are covered in an extremely professional way and there are plenty of opportunities for delegates to ask questions and make contributions. I struggle to think how I can summarise he key messages for my fellow board members. There is a general view that the pandemic has provided a much-needed stimulus for pensions’ administrators to move to remote working and sharpen up their online offer to scheme members. On the other side of the coin there is unfortunately an increased risk of system penetration and cyber-crime.
Friday 2nd October: Peering out of my living room window I watch convoys of cars and commercial vehicles turning into Lawford Road (a narrow residential street with parking on both sides) ignoring the no right turn signs. Occasionally traffic grinds to a halt as drivers face off at the junction. A neighbour has helpfully placed some bollards at the junction but drivers ignore them. Workman arrive to re-locate the no left turn signs so that drivers coming south on Park Road can see them. It makes no difference. I observe that once one vehicle turns right into Lawford Road four or five follow on. We have been promised a temporary mobile camera to act as a “visual deterrent”. This will obviously have some short-term impact but once the camera is moved what will happen then?
As the light fails reports begin to come in of a white-van man and a BMW driver who have driven on to the pavement and grass verge to by-pass the barrier at the junction of Park and Staveley Roads. The POTUS and the First Lady have tested positive for the corona virus. I have the strange sensation that I have become an extra in a dystopian movie. Faith in democratic institutions has evaporated and goodwill towards those in authority, who are supposed to protect us seems, like a distant memory. Anyone for Blade Runner-3?
Cllr Sam Hearn
VIRTUAL DATES FOR YOUR VIRTUAL DIARY
Most council meetings have been cancelled. A few are taking place virtually and residents can attend online. Joining instructions will be on the council website, in the agenda reports pack for each committee, here.
5th October 3.00 pm Licensing Panel
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL COUNCILLORS
Surgeries have not yet been reinstated. When they resume you will be able to meet a councillor in Chiswick library every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am and on the first Saturday of every month at the Gunnersbury Triangle Club from 10.00am to 11.00am. You can, of course, still contact your local councillors by email or phone; see their contact details below:
Chiswick Homefields ward
Cllr Patrick Barr
Cllr Gerald McGregor
Cllr John Todd
Chiswick Riverside ward
Cllr Michael Denniss
Cllr Gabriella Giles
Cllr Sam Hearn
Turnham Green ward
Cllr Joanna Biddolph
Cllr Ranjit Gill
Cllr Ron Mushiso
October 4, 2020