The More Things Change the More Things Stay the Same
Chiswick Riverside ward councillor Gabriella Giles reports back on her week
Plus ça change?
Since writing my previous blog at the end of February, there have been many events that have marked our lives – the passing of loved ones, strangers and those who inspired; the great vaccine rollout resulting in over 32 million people in the UK having received their first dose of a vaccine; and the further easing of lockdown restrictions meaning that many of us have been able to enjoy a draught pint for the first time in many months.
However, when I look at my inbox, many aspects seem to be constant – emails about the road closures that have been imposed on Chiswick by the powers that be still fill my inbox; concerns about social distancing and cycling on the towpath at Strand on the Green continue to flow in; and, of course, meeting agendas prompt us into the normal rhythm of council life.
In March, you may have seen a piece on the 4,065 PCNs that were issued between 2nd December 2020 and 10th March 2021. After further investigation, I found out that 2,419 of them were warning notices issued to first-time offenders, and 77 were cancelled for other reasons.
Between 18th January and 15th February, no PCNs were issued to those who crossed the threshold of enforcement (just after Roko and before Chiswick Quay - pictured above) “due to the number of vehicles that were captured by CCTV going through the restrictions”. Formal enforcement began on 16th February, and no warning notices have been issued since.
Which unfortunately means that, if you are a mother who resumed driving her child with special educational needs to Strand on the Green for school via Hartington Road at the start of the summer term, there is a high chance that you would have incurred 10 penalty notices in the course of a week without even knowing you had incurred one.
I know that supporters of this scheme will criticise me and say that people shouldn’t be driving their kids to school down this route when there are other options available (different routes available, public transport, walking, cycling, etc) but when you receive emails from residents and non-residents alike expressing confusion at the multi-faceted schemes that now rule our lives in Chiswick Riverside ward, you can’t help but wonder what has gone so wrong.
Back in June 2020 , I referred to the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood as “a rose by any other name” and I have taken every opportunity to write in my blogs about what has been happening in the ward. I have been criticised for exaggeration for saying that these measures would create segregation in the neighbourhood I grew up in. Unfortunately, I can’t sit by and watch while the powers that be carve up this beautiful part of Chiswick in such a way that means that there is inequality between those who have access to certain routes based on where they live and those who don’t.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I sit on the boards of the Chiswick Pier Trust and the Thames Landscape Strategy. Old Father Thames, which has brought solace and freedom to so many over the past year, has seen a bit of a revival. It is at its cleanest since before the industrial revolution, home to endangered species and one particular little visitor that brought inspiration to many during a time of unease.
It was in my capacity as trustee of these two organisations that I first contacted Mary Tester, the British Divers medic who was responsible for observing and monitoring the seal Freddie Mercury. We had been working with the Chiswick Pier Trust to get further information in the public domain about what to do when encountering a seal in the wild when Freddie was unfortunately attacked.
Not wanting to let Freddie’s demise be in vain, Mary has worked furiously hard to ensure that people are aware of the fact that there are over 4,000 seals in the Thames, that the river is not biologically dead, and asked me to join the Seal Watch group formed by local river users. Aside from raising awareness of what you should and shouldn’t do when seal watching, we now have a few projects in the pipeline and I would like to share with you one that could create a real difference.
During her investigations, Mary identified that seals are not protected under law in the UK from harassment by people or their dogs. Not least a new petition (I know, I hear you exclaim “not another one”) asking the government to “Strengthen laws protecting seals”. If you feel as strongly as we do about protecting these marine mammals in the UK, please do sign our petition.
Continuing with the river theme, this week the Chiswick Pier Trust hosted the latest Spring Series talks, and the recordings of Old Father Thames and Rewilding Arcadia are now live on their website. Both these events were very well subscribed, and the upcoming events are not to be missed – with another talk on the Thames, the Jazz Cruise (already sold out) and the much awaited return of Party on the Pier . Be sure to put the dates in your diary!
Events and Local Groups
That’s not everything that’s been happening, so please take a look at some key events and future dates for your diaries.
Cllr Gabriella Giles
VIRTUAL DATES FOR YOUR VIRTUAL DIARY
Meetings continue to take place virtually but this will change during May – which explains why some meetings have been cancelled, while the council works out how to make them meet social distancing requirements. You can currently attend online. Joining instructions will be on the council website, in the agenda reports pack for each committee, here
4th May: Annual General Meeting of the Council
5th May: Overview and Scrutiny Meeting CANCELLED
10th May: Overview and Scrutiny Committee CANCELLED
11th May: Cabinet CANCELLED
13th May: Planning Committee
18th May: Borough Council Meeting CANCELLED
25th May: Licensing Panel
Face to face surgeries are still currently not taking place. When they are reinstated – we hope from 17th May – you will be able to meet a Conservative councillor in Chiswick on Saturdays at 9.30am in Chiswick Library and in Gunnersbury on the first Saturday of every month at 10.00am at the Gunnersbury Triangle Club. Until then, please contact your ward councillors by email or phone, as listed 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
May 2, 2021