The Police Station and Policing, Travellers and Travel, and Not Forgetting Covid

Chiswick Gunnersbury councillor Jo Biddolph reports back

Cllr Jo Biddolph

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August 6, 2023

Police station development

The deadline for responding to this application has passed with residents now waiting to find out whether the planning officers will send it back to the drawing board for improvement, refuse it or recommend it for approval in which case it will automatically go to a planning committee as it is a major application.

There was a strong reaction to the first iteration. After so many years tolerating a supremely ugly block, another not quite so ugly block didn’t do us justice. Sadly, as many have said, the latest version doesn’t make the most of this high-profile location, not least as it seems not to have taken the best of Chiswick as its starting point.

Look opposite at the handsome former police station (Carvosso’s, now The Crown) with architectural features that make it stand out and us proud to live here. Or next door where large arched windows above local shops add visual interest. Or the George IV pub, The Fire Station pub, Foster’s Bookshop. Yes, there are a couple of horrors in between, but they should not be the benchmarks. It needs prettying up. And a more attractive roofline. It is, after all, in the Chiswick High Road conservation area.

The section along Linden Gardens is now taller, increasing its impact on residents’ daylight and privacy for the sake of a handful more occupants. Its height and density don’t fit in with this part of Chiswick. It is grabby.

And, yes, I am going to talk about parking. There is none (other than for bikes). It will retain the two spaces in the Chiswick High Road car park that were allocated to the police and that is it. It’s not realistic. Knowing that there will be many visitors a day, I am of course worried that parking for shoppers will be taken up by Birchgrove staff, suppliers, all those who support older people and visitors. So I rang Birchgrove and learned that all its other developments have parking for between 25 and 50 cars. Yes, those other sites are suburban, and, yes, Chiswick has excellent public transport but, if you are an older resident visiting a friend, how attractive are our tube and rail stations, not one of which has step-free access? What’s more, the person I spoke to at Birchgrove volunteered the view that even at its Ewell site, which has the most parking spaces, more were needed .

Why not use this development as a pioneer site for underground parking in Chiswick? That would be good for Birchgrove residents – and for our retail and hospitality economy. The council should contribute to the cost – out of the millions it has made from road closures and LTNs.

Met Police turnaround plan latest

The top floor area of Hounslow House was impressively full with representatives of organisations throughout the borough when, on Friday 28 July, the West Area BCU (borough command unit of the Met Police) gathered to be briefed on the latest plans to improve the Met after Dame Angela Casey’s damning report of institutionalised homophobia, misogyny and racism. This was a two-way listening event, with presentations to us on the amended turnaround plan and mini workshop discussions on each table about what we thought of it. There does seem to be a genuine and deep concern in our BCU to make policing better and to align the plan with each of the boroughs in the west area (Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow).

We heard from the Met’s assistant commissioner for Met operations and performance Matt Twist; our borough commander chief superintendent Sean Wilson; our chief inspector for neighbourhood policing Barinder Gill; and others. There was a strong contingent of police cadets, too, observing.

The new policing plan for the Met is based on three key pledges: more trust, less crime and high standards. That’s the PR soundbite. There is more in the press release that launched it and full details in the plan.

I sat on a table with Chiswick’s Aubrey Crawley, who founded the West London Queer Project to improve the lives of West London’s LGBTQ+ community, and inevitably profoundly interested in the way the Met develops.

There was only one glitch. Queuing for the buffet with Aubrey, another person from our table launched into Brexit attack mode making the wrong assumption that all Tories voted for it and all Labour voted against it. It made this Tory Remainer seek comfort in rather too many delicious brownies.

Travellers on Chiswick Back Common and in Gunnersbury Park

There has been an influx of illegal encampments in Hounslow for the last couple of weeks and Chiswick Gunnersbury ward has not escaped. On Tuesday, a small encampment (four caravans and four cars) arrived on Chiswick Back Common. I dashed out to have a look then dashed off a swift email to the residents’ association, and residents I knew lived nearby, to let them know that the council’s neighbourhood enforcement team had started the legal process to move them on and what to do if there were any concerns or incidents. I passed reports of anti-social behaviour (joy riding in their cars on the common) to the enforcement team. The picture of Gunnersbury Park was different with a report from a resident of ill-treatment of a dog (possibly also that dog’s litter) which seemed linked with the encampment there; this was passed on to the animal welfare team though I suspect the encampment had moved before anything could be done.

On Thursday, meeting a political friend for a curry in Bedfont, I realised that we had been lucky. The encampment there was much larger (I counted 15 caravans but could see there were more in the distance, each one with a car). Bedfont is blessed with many green open spaces which makes it almost inevitably an ideal spot for travellers. It’s great for a curry, too, and the price of a glass of Shiraz is very acceptable. Or two glasses (and I don’t know how my order for a medium glass turned into a large one).

If travellers arrive, please email the neighbourhood enforcement team on

Lime e-bikes … and scooters, please no

Comments continue to drop into my inbox about badly parked or abandoned e-bikes blocking pavements or junctions, or jutting out into the road upright or tipped over, or simply in the wrong place along a road. I’ve spotted several when out and about and my Chiswick bus journeys are now spent eyes down, tapping on my phone, reporting what I’ve just walked past to Lime. If you see me standing still, eyes down, tapping on my phone, I’ve had more bikes to report than I can fit into one bus journey.

The council is getting tough at last, responding to a recent report from a resident by issuing an instruction to Lime that, if a reported bike isn’t removed, Hounslow Highways will remove it permanently. Let’s hope that one instruction doesn’t have to be repeated. The issue, though, isn’t so much the removal of the abandoned bikes as the leaving of them. Legitimately hired bikes can easily be parked in designated bays. Eliminating the hacking is what’s needed.

Meanwhile, on my usual route down to Chiswick High Road I spotted an abandoned Lime e-scooter and feared the worst. True to new form, I reported this during the bus journey and later emailed Cllr Katherine Dunne (cabinet member for climate, environment and transport) for reassurance that e-scooters haven’t arrived here. They haven’t (but the recently approved policy includes e-scooters, so they might well be coming at some point).

Lime e-scooter in Gunnersbury
Lime e-scooter in Gunnersbury

I’ve also seen other brands of e-bikes clogging up our pavements. Chiswick Gunnersbury ward shares a boundary with Ealing and, annoyingly, Ealing manages some of the pavement on our side of Gunnersbury Lane and Popes Lane. So users of Ealing’s e-bikes and e-scooters can dump their bikes/scooters on us, either because the geo-fence includes the pavement or the bike loses power outside the geo-fence and becomes very hard to ride so is abandoned. If you see a Dott, Human Forest or Tier e-bike or e-scooter, please report them as appropriate:


Human Forest:


After reporting so many Lime e-bikes, on so many bus journeys, I’ve learned a trick or two for speeding up the response. Reports go to somewhere else in the world where the recipient won’t know where on earth to look for Reckitt Road (as an example of a road, and of an e-bike problem area). So, for a swift response I recommend you:

  • Take a photo of the bike showing it in context
  • Take a photo of the QR code on the plastic section between the handlebars
  • Email both to adding The road name, Hounslow, London, W4 (or the postcode in full if you know it)

Taking a photo of the QR code can seem a fiddle too far but it means that Lime can identify the rider and issue a fine (unless, of course, the bike was prankstered or hacked). The most recent time I’ve heard a hacked Lime e-bike being used was when one was being ridden downhill, in the middle of the road.

Worrying about young people and cyberspace?

Standing in a queue for an ice cream recently, I started chatting with the person next to me - a mum and her biggest worry was the mental health of her children and their friends and the influence of the Internet. With holidays in mind, and many hours in the day for young people to get lost online, family and friends might like to know that the National Cyber Security Centre has recently published an interactive online security resource, Cyber First, helping 11 to 14 year olds stay secure online.

Covid-19 inquiry – please take part

The impact on our local economy, the processes for applying for grants, furlough, the lack of support for the 3 million freelancers excluded from furlough or grants, Eat Out to Help Out, the phenomenal response from our fantastic pharmacists, the surge in volunteering … I found I had so much to say (including a personal perspective) when I responded to Every Story Matters, the Covid-19 inquiry’s collection of our experiences. If your life has slowed down a little because it’s August, please consider spending time on this important inquiry. Responses will be collated, analysed and turned into themed reports (all anonymised). The format is very clear and easy to use. It seems to me to be a textbook way to encourage memories to flow; mine certainly did. The survey and updates on the inquiry are on the inquiry website.

Every Story Matters logo

The effects of the pandemic are still being felt locally, including in our local shops, cafes, restaurants. Chatting to one owner (of a shop, two restaurants and an empty unit that was formerly a barber) and others, this is an especially bad summer. When we are here, rather than on holiday elsewhere, we aren’t going out as much because of the cost of living, the soggy weather and changed habits learned during lockdowns. If you are here, and you can afford it, please do shop or eat out in our local businesses. It’s a tough market for them and they would really appreciate your support. Even buying a coffee will help …

Catching up over coffee

Residents seem surprised when they see councillors hanging out together over a coffee but catching up in person is so much better than phone or email (necessary though they are when urgent or confidential). The most recent time I met Cllr John Todd for a decaf flat white, in sunshine outside one of our lovely independent cafes, we agreed that the breadth of the subjects we take up for residents is extraordinary. The lives residents lead are so varied, and often so complex, that although we always refer to potholes and pavements (or weeds, the need for more deep cleanses to rid our gutters of detritus, the lack of a litter pick after recycling/waste collections) underneath that veneer is so much more. Please do ask us if you would like our help.

Councillor Joanna Biddolph

Chiswick Gunnersbury ward

07976 703446



Nothing in the immediate future


Chiswick: Every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am at Chiswick Library (the eight Conservative councillors take this surgery in turn).

Gunnersbury: First Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am at The Gunnersbury Triangle Club, Triangle Way, off The Ridgeway, W3 8LU (at least one of the Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillors takes this surgery). 


Chiswick Gunnersbury (was Turnham Green) ward

Cllr Joanna Biddolph 07976 703446

Cllr Ranjit Gill 07976 702956

Cllr Ron Mushiso 07976 702887

Chiswick Homefields ward

Cllr Jack Emsley 07977 396017

Cllr Gerald McGregor 07866 784821

Cllr John Todd 07866 784651

Chiswick Riverside ward

Cllr Peter Thompson 07977 395810  

Cllr Gabriella Giles 07966 270823 

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