Greens announce local elections candidates

The Green Party has announced that it will be fielding six candidates in the two Hounslow wards of Chiswick Riverside and Chiswick Homefields. There will also be one Green candidate standing in Ealing borough’s Southfields ward.

Maggie Winkworth, Martin Bleach and Nicole Ruduss are the candidates for Chiswick Homefields. Daniel Goldsmith, Fay Miller and Jane Forrester will be standing in Chiswick Riverside.

Daniel stood for Brentford and Isleworth in the 2015 general election, in which he received 9.4% of the vote, and had previously stood for election as a local councillor in Chiswick Riverside in 2014. He is a keen cyclist and supports Cycling Superhighway 9 (CS9) from Brentford to Olympia, believing that “a top quality local network of cycling lanes in Hounslow, including CS9, will encourage cycling, and reduce car use, accidents and air pollution”.

Maggie is a psychologist who provides counselling. She is particularly interested in the support and development of local mental health services and community projects “which currently struggle to survive, let alone expand as is urgently needed”.

‘Whale’ bags come to Chiswick

It’s a sobering thought that over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than in the whole of the last century. Modbury in Devon was the first town in Europe to ban plastic bags ten years ago. Can Chiswick match its environmental example and become plastic bag free?

Collins fruit and veg stall has teamed up with environmental campaigners to offer ‘bags for life’. Not just stronger plastic bags which take a few more outings to fall apart than the cheapo ones which disintegrate as soon as you look at them, but cotton bags designed by Carolyn Newton at The Whale Company, which campaigns to reduce plastic waste.

By 2050 they reckon there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish and although plastic can be recycled, only 24% of the five million tonnes of plastic used in the UK every year is recycled or reused. We found out only last week that Hounslow Council has not been recycling waste from public bins despite the recycling sign on them, when data scientist Nick Synes blew the whistle on them to The Evening Standard.

Alfie Collins, head of the family fruit and veg company which has been going for 60 years, says customers like the fact that their fruit and veg are loose and they can just put them straight in a bag instead of buying them wrapped in plastic and polystyrene. The stall, which has been on the High Rd for 35 years, is open seven days a week.

The Whale Company, which is registering as a charity, is on a mission is to inspire the next generation to think more creatively about design compatible with a more sustainable future, and promotes connections to nature through sports, the arts and craft.

The bags will be on sale for £10 from today.

Good-bye Kew Bridge pontoon

Another developer’s folly is being removed next week. The pontoon just west of Kew Bridge, on the Brentford side, was installed as part of the St George’s development of apartments beside the bridge. It was built with ‘Section 106’ money – cash from developers which is meant to improve local infrastructure and benefit local people, but wasn’t actually wanted by residents of the new flats, for whom it spoiled the view, or river users.

Paul Hyman, who runs Active 360, the Stand Up Paddleboarding company based at Kew Bridge, says “All local river users will please to see the back of this white elephant. It’s an example of what can happen when people who know and use the river most are not consulted and decisions are made solely by uninformed people with their own interests and agendas in mind. It has made the river much less safe in this area for years and for no gain. The only beneficiaries were the geese who use it as a toilet – surely London’s most expensive”.

What residents did want was access to the walkway underneath Kew Bridge for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Strand on the Green Residents Association have long been campaigning to make the riverside footpath accessible to all.

The ‘Pontoon of Doom’ as local river users call it, which nobody wanted, will be taken down in the week beginning 2nd April. The work will take about four days. And the ability to walk beside the river, in accordance with the 2010 Equality Act? Who knows.

Empire House site up for sale? I do not be-leeive it!

I find myself becoming more Victor Meldrew like with each passing year. But really! The north side of the High Rd opposite Turnham Green has been blighted for several years. Shops closed, mature trees cut down, days and weeks of residential groups spending their time opposing plans to add to Empire House, and now, despite winning the battle, achieving the planning permission and withstanding an attempt at a Judicial Review, the developers aren’t going to build after all.

Estate agents Frank Knight is advertising ‘An outstanding residential led development opportunity in Chiswick with the benefit of a detailed residential planning permission and excellent views across Turnham Green towards the City and the river Thames.’ Yes and very pissed off neighbours.

Karen Liebreich of the Chiswick High Rd Action Group says ‘CHRAG is unsurprised to see that Lend Lease has now decided to sell up. Having blighted part of our High Road by closing down the shops in their frontage; having annoyed every local residents’ group in the area by fighting for a higher, wider and deeply unsympathetic development; having pushed local residents to taking the council to Judicial Review on the treatment of the planning process; having promised much community benefit and delivered precisely zero; having left their site vacant and desolate for two years; our immediate feeling is good riddance. Chiswick High Road Action Group looks forward to an honest and constructive discussion with the new buyer about what they plan for the site’.

The advert describes the site as ‘extending to approximately 0.41 HA / 1.01 acres’ and says it comes with ‘Detailed planning permission for 137 residential units plus up to 7 retail units with associated plant and parking comprising a total Gross Internal Area (GIA) of 14,075 sq m / 151,503 sq ft.’ It also offers the ‘Opportunity to add additional value through a masterplan with the adjoining Sainsbury’s site.’

Back to the drawing board then.

Candidates asked to pledge support for Dukes Meadows

Dukes Meadows Trust is asking candidates standing for election in Chiswick on 3rd May to pledge support for the park and the Trust. Over 200 people have already signed a petition started just a couple of days ago, urging council candidates to do just that.

Chair, Paul Davis explained; “Local elections are in May so this is our once in 4 years chance to get support from our local councillors for the park. We, Dukes Meadows Trust, want candidates standing to know how much people value the park and want them to support it. The next few years are going to be difficult for parks everywhere, due to the budget cuts. We fear a reduction in maintenance standards and commercialisation of the park.

The Trust has done and does a lot to improve and maintain the park, we and the other clubs and organisations based here could do more, with support from our local councillors.We are inviting all the candidates to come and find out about the park and work of the trust and to meet our volunteers. We are also asking voters in Chiswick to let candidates know that they value Dukes Meadows, as a peaceful, high quality open space and want their councillors to support it and the trust, so local people can continue to use and enjoy it”.

They are asking candidates for Homefields Ward to sign three pledges. Click here to read more about the petition.

The building of Brentford FC’s new stadium has begun

The Muttitt family, Robert with his son and daughter Peter and Nicki and granddaughter Sophie were selected to put shovel to soil in the inaugural ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of building work on the Brentford Community Stadium on Monday.

Unlike some residents of Strand on the Green, who can be heard muttering darkly into their beer from time to time about the impact of the Great Unwashed on parking in the area, the Muttitts are happy about the new stadium and looking forward to many happy hours of cheering their team on, in the Premier league, they say rather optimistically.

Their family has history with the club, as Robert’s father Ernie played for Brentford FC in the 1930s, joining from Middlesbrough and scoring 27 goals in 94 games, thus helping them win promotion from the third tier in his first six months at Griffin Park and then to the top flight in 1935. Robert remembers mucking about in the players’ enormous bath as a kid.

Billy Scott, Ernie Muttitt, Len Townsend, Leslie Smith and Joe James practising headers behind the Brook Road stand

Yesterday was more of a photo opportunity than serious spade work, attended by Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Steve Curran, Ruth Cadbury MP for Brentford and Isleworth, fans, staff and players from Brentford FC, representatives from the developer Be Living, the architects and other consultants who have worked on the project. Construction starts in earnest on the 17,250-capacity stadium and 910 new homes after Easter. Here’s the timetable.

3 Apr 18: Construction Starts
2 Aug 19: Pitch Complete
17 Sep 19: Stadium Complete
12 Nov 19: Stadium Handed-Over to Brentford FC

One of the funniest and most effective put downs I have witnessed was when the club’s Chief Executive Mark Devlin met members of Strand on the Green Residents Association a couple of years ago at their AGM. Asked about the influx of football supporters to riverside pubs which would be encouraged by the new stadium, the immaculately suited and booted executive admitted he was rather partial to dinner at Annie’s himself. No one quite liked to point out that they didn’t mean him, of course. But his point was most elegantly made.

I will no doubt be returning to this subject when I find I can no longer park in my road on a Saturday.

The ‘DNA Detective’ researching the secrets of Chiswick’s past

Julia Bell, who describes herself as a ‘DNA detective’ has turned her attention to Chiswick after helping an old lady uncover the story of why she had been abandoned as a baby. Julia’s research led her to Devon Nook Home for Unmarried Mothers in Chiswick, which opened in Dukes Avenue in 1933 for Roman Catholic girls who found themselves in a socially unacceptable predicament. It transpires that 80 year old Anthea Ring’s mother was one of these girls and now Julia would like to hear from others who passed through this institution in the 1930s and 1940s, to see if she can find out what happened to them and their children.

Found under a blackberry bush

Anthea’s own story is tragic. She was found hidden in blackberry bushes on the South Downs in August 1937 with her hands tied, abandoned to die it seems, but the nine month old baby girl was found by a family out on a walk and she was given to a loving couple for adoption. Although Anthea’s own life has been a long and happy one, she has often wondered what led her to be abandoned in this way.

She took a DNA test five years ago, found that she was 92% Irish and got far enough down the road of tracking her DNA that she was able to meet up with a cousin in America. She then met Julia, who with further research worked out that her birth mother was Lena O’Donnell, who had spent time at Devon Nook. What happened next is lost in the mists of time, but Julia has a working theory that Anthea’s mother was betrayed by someone trying to sell the child and the sale went wrong.

What other tales are there to emerge from Devon Nook? Julia would like to know and if you are able to shed any light about any of the home’s occupants, you can contact her through her website

You can read the full version of how Anthea found her mother’s identity, by Claire Bates on the BBC News website here.

Jeremy Vine wades in to the CS9 debate

Transport for London published its report on the public consultation on CS9 last week. They say they received 5,388 direct responses, of which 59 per cent ‘supported or strongly supported’ their proposals. 93 responses were from ‘stakeholder’ groups such as politicians and residents associations. Three quarters of those responding said they were local residents.

‘An additional 941 template emails were received via the London Cycling Campaign website which strongly supported the overall proposals and made suggestions for further improvements. An additional 34 template emails were received from Sustrans which supported the proposals’.

The response has predictably been split and emotional, with Jeremy Vine wading in to the debate, telling the Evening Standard “It’s so sad that taking space away from cars and giving it to bicycles has become this divisive in the 21st century. …“All I want is to be able to say to my young daughters, ‘Let’s cycle to Trafalgar Square’… and be able to do the seven miles on a protected cycleway” He said those against the scheme were in the minority, but far louder.

The comment which has attracted the most ridicule has been that of the Conservative councillors who included in their arguments against the scheme the notion that the cycle path will be used by ‘snatch thieves for planned heists from jewellers’. Good job Marmalade jewellers is in Turnham Green Terrace then, not on the planned route for the cycle path.