No Clarity on Future of Methodist Church or Watermans

Brentford West councillor Guy Lambert reports back

Cllr Guy Lambert
Cllr Guy Lambert

March 29, 2024

Last week in my impeccable style, I urged readers to get along to somewhere to do something between 11 and 4 on Sunday. I like to give locals little challenges so I was pleased many people attended without my invitation to Brentford Market. Perhaps they had read my blog and used Brentford’s unparalleled sleuthing skills to work it out. Another success for me. In My Opinion.

Back to the chase: on Thursday morning it was my regular update with the chair of Lampton on Teams and later I cycled around a bit, as is my wont, mainly looking for which pavements I should nominate for work under the pavement pledge. I passed through Braemar and my eye was caught by some unusual notices on the former Methodist church. Somebody remarked that looked as though they had emerged from a primary school.

Last year, after we had been puzzled what was going on (or not) with the old church I was given a contact number for the Pastor (I hope that’s the right name) and phoned him up. He answered and was quite open: they have sold the site to a ‘good’ developer – he wouldn’t tell me the name – and in due course they would develop some kind of housing. Heard no more for a few months and somebody asked me to find out what’s going on. Pastor was now neither answering my calls or responding to a voice mail. The planning department have heard nothing either but this slightly odd notice with no contact details says ‘refurbishment’ which is different from redeveloping. Time will tell or if anyone has any clues…

In the evening I was off to Hounslow House for a meeting about Women’s health. To start off I was the only male in the room, a bit daunting for a shy young man like me. So probably a bit of a taster of what it was for women when they first started getting jobs traditionally for blokes (and into ‘Gentlemen’s’ clubs like the Garrick – not yet, and they were probably not gentlemen anyway). After a bit a couple of other males appeared so that made me feel less out of place. There were presentations from an impressive selection of mainly consultant doctors and it was very informative. Not about illnesses and treatments, but an insight into how people see health and the health service, plus into female concerns in particular.

Next day I was off for my quarterly holiday in Harrow, for West London West Authority. I just love driving to drive there (not) but cycling there defeats me now. I still have nightmares about Horsenden Hill, which I once renamed the Alpe d’Horsenden. The meeting was interesting though. We talked about our main priority, to get food waste recycling up. We worked so hard on this last year and are now (by 1 percentage point but they all count) champs of W London and the only borough going in the right direction apart from Hillingdon, who are novices trying to catch up. But the craziness is that nearly ¾ of our food waste ends up in general waste, despite every house in the borough having weekly collections versus fortnightly general waste. It’s slightly different in flats – not quite all have facilities - but it costs us (council tax payers) over £110 to dispose of a tonne general waste and less than £20 to dispose of food – and there are great savings in greenhouse gases (mainly the worst, methane) and other environmental matters (smelly rotting fish!).

Then we heard about the plans for a circular economy hub being developed in Acton, on the site that used to be the Stirling Road recycling centre, mourned loudly by some in Chiswick. This is a bit of a pilot and we’re trying to do a number of these around West London. Exciting. Well, it is if it’s your bag.

In the afternoon I was out again, this time to the Water and Steam Museum – such a landmark in Brentford. It was the first ever World Water Film Festival. Lots of short films about, or taken in water. I was riveted but I’m afraid you’ve missed it – held last weekend.

So, Sunday was the event I talked about, and I confirm it was Brentford Market. Lively, fun, well attended, exotic food, exotic cars, exotic people. A rip roaring success. People of a certain age will know this is a Rover but I think it was the Rover experimental Turbine car or a fake. Apparently someone from Austria made a replica but this looks like the original (nerd talking).

There was also an Allard – don’t remember ever seeing another. I always thought they were pig ugly when I was a kid but they grow on you, as does a Lancia Fulvia saloon from the 1960’s. You don’t see a lot of Lancias these days either, most of them are iron oxide, I hear, whilst the Allard pays homage to iron oxide by its paint colour.

I spent some time on the FoodBox stand and then we were off to Albany Road and Lateward with Emma, who I hope will be my new council partner for Brentford West. All went well, with the usual smattering of grumbles.

On Monday morning I was in New Road with a couple who are elderly and one bedbound (I think) in a first floor flat atop the narrowest stairs I’ve ever seen. The man told me he had to carry his wife up which he could only do by going up on his bottom. I felt much the same. Trying to help, but housing is so difficult. Then coffee with a friend of mine who has been moved to Chiswick whilst staying in the same flat in Brentford – blooming Boundaries Commission strikes again.

Then a Teams meeting with the Director of Regeneration, trying to get a sense of the options about the Watermans building, which are difficult but it won’t stop me trying.

Then it was Lampton Development board – quite routine – all good – then off to Chiswick where I had been invited to a lecture by Thames 21 and the Chiswick Pier Trust. This is about pollution in the Thames and the lady from Thames21 told quite a detailed story about how they measure it.

They measure pollution in the running river (don’t think I really understand how) and on the dryish bits when the tide is out. They put down a frame in a consistent place and count up what they find. As you can see, one of the awful things is wet wipes. This picture is of how it is/was just down from Hammersmith Bridge.

Tuesday morning I was on the Health Integration trail. Lots of talk about access to GPs but the problem is that there are not enough of them, we are not training enough, the older ones are stressed out and getting ready to retire and a lot of the younger ones are tempted to go off to Australia or NZ when they get paid appropriately for their skills and long training and apparently have an easier life. I think we can do much more to take the work away from doctors onto paramedics and pharmacists. This is happening a bit but needs to accelerate. Oh, would be a plan to go some way to address their pay.

Then I had my monthly update, though the Exec Director I work closest with is on holiday – all right for some.

In the evening it was the Council Meeting in Hounslow House. Apparently Steve Curran’s favourite colour was green so most of us wore some green in his honour. Much of the time was words in memory of him from both sides of the council. Moving. Then there was a report or 3, a number of questions and a couple of motions. By the time we got through all that it was almost midnight when I got home.

In the morning I was supposed to go to Hampstead Heath to see a friend of mine so cycled in the drizzle to Gunnersbury station to catch the Overground. There were a lot of cancelled messages on Overground (or apparently I should get used to calling it Mildmay). I talked to the station man who was helpful and said I had an option to go into town then out again or I could wait for ½ an hour for Overground. Then it started saying to Willesden Junction and the trains to Upminster were disappearing. I decided to cycle home but by now it was not Mildmay but Drippingmarch.

Made it to Thursday, blog day, but I had agreed to go to the FoodBox and do a bit of shelf stacking. A few people away and more stress on the system because it’s Easter. That was good – spent most of the time cutting large egg boxes so they became 6 or 4 rather than 10 or 15. Probably good for the soul if I had one.

Blogged in the afternoon then went to the Watermans where there was some kind of public meeting taking place. There were about 40 people there by my estimate including me (ex trustee) and Rhys Williams (current trustee) plus at least 3 ex-councillors looking of which two are going to stand this month, I believe. Oh, and one ‘Independent Conservative’ – each to their own. It was raucous and I decided there was little point in staying, so I made my excuses and left. Poor old Rhys stayed and no doubt we will compare notes. I have spilt a lot of metaphoric blood trying to get the revival of the Watermans to happen, but at present it looks like it is not progressing. A return to the status quo (or what it was until last Thursday) is not realistic. I am currently spilling a metaphoric more blood to try and get some kind of future for Watermans or an equivalent outfit, until we – I sincerely hope - get a new place built.

Councillor Guy Lambert


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