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Don’t be an engine idling polluter

One of the issues that members of the Strand on the Green residents association (SOGA) will be raising with councillors and candidates is the issue of engine idling – running your engine while your car is stationary. It’s something which people do without necessarily being aware of the damage they’re doing to air quality and the impact that has especially on children, so SOGA want London borough councils to raise awareness.

Alan McBride, who writes the Strand On the Green residents’ newsletter, says: ‘We have noticed that more and more motorists are leaving their vehicle’s engine running whilst the vehicle is stationary. Sometimes drivers leave their vehicle’s engine running for a few minutes whilst they “pop to the shop” and sometimes drivers sit in their vehicles with the engine running for long periods in order to keep warm. More and more frequently it is becoming the norm to sit in a vehicle with the engine running whilst the driver programs the “sat nav” or checks his or her social media account’. SOGA has written to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and local MP Ruth Cadbury to ask their help with mounting a campaign against engine idling.

Ruth Cadbury replied: “I believe that the air pollution crisis is a national scandal, and that urgent action must be taken. Air pollution is linked to cancer, asthma, strokes and heart disease and in the UK, contributes to the early deaths of up to 50,000 people a year. Stationary idling is an offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.” Leaving your engine running while stationary can incur a £20 fixed-penalty fine, but the problem of course is enforcement. “I applaud the anti-idling campaign days that Westminster City Council successfully introduced, reducing harmful emissions through prompting a simple behavioural change with £80 fines for drivers caught with idling engines. I also support calls for no-idling zones to be made compulsory outside schools, hospitals and care homes”.

There is a London-wide campaign which mobilises volunteers to talk to drivers to persuade them out of their antisocial habit. ‘Our approach is to invite drivers to join our campaign and switch off their engines when parked. When approached in a friendly and non-judgemental way, we find that over 80% of drivers switch off when asked by our volunteers, and many pledge to give up the idling habit for good’.

That’s a pretty high success rate. The actor Nigel Havers has a bee in his bonnet about engine idling and makes it his business to tap on the window of the offending vehicle and tackle the driver. He told Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: ‘Walking from where I live in South Ken into the west End I passed so many chauffeur driven cars, sitting waiting for their boss with the engine running, taxis with the engine running, white vans, the amount of cars that sit idling, doing nothing by the side of the road was extraordinary and I would tap on the window and say “excuse me, do you mind turning your engine off.” 70 – 80% of people told me to, um, go away very quickly but ten – 15 percent were brilliant and said “I hadn’t thought of that, you’re quite right” and turned the engine off’.

If you are interested in joining a campaign to raise awareness of this issue, you can contact idlingaction.london or email info@strandonthegreen.org.uk locally. It worked with smoking and persuading dog owners to pick up after their pets, so who knows, it may work with engine idling.

Who needs Ottolenghi?

The Israeli-British chef Yottam Ottolenghi is often credited with introducing us properly to vegetables, bringing out the best in them and putting them front and centre whether they’re to be eaten on their own or with meat. We’re lucky that his deli is nearby in Notting Hill, but really you don’t have to go even that far to experience a fusion of colourful, healthy, tasty vegetable dishes with unorthodox combinations to delight the palate. The vegetable revolution has come to Chiswick.

Chateau proprietor Anette Megyaszai

‘Chateau Dessert’ is becoming just ‘Chateau’ in recognition that people want fresh, healthy, tasty options. Owner Anette Megyaszai, who since 2013 has sold the most amazing cakes and pastries in her corner café opposite the police station, has refurbished the premises and refreshed the menu over the last year. She’s also just renewed the lease for another 15 years, so with businesses folding left, right and centre on the High Rd, we know she’s here to stay.

‘People who live in Chiswick appreciate good food’ she says. It’s a less transient population than central London, so people are more discerning. ‘They know their food and they don’t want to pay over the odds for it’. They have been telling her that they don’t want to lose the cakes, but they do want a range of interesting savoury dishes as well and her Lebanese head chef Jimmy has definitely risen to the challenge.

20% off brunch or lunch for Club Card holders

The good news for us is that Chateau is offering club card holders 20% off their lunch and brunch menu – 8.00am – 4.00pm seven days a week. The discount is valid for soft drinks as well when ordered with food, but not for alcohol and not for food that is taken away.
Naturally I had to try it on your behalf.

Chiswick Through the Camera Lens

Our exhibition of work by eight photographers who live in Chiswick continues until the end of this week at the Clayton Hotel, Chiswick. If you haven’t already been to see it and would like to, it’s in the hotel atrium, so you can pop in any time. It will be coming down next Saturday, 28th April.

Dancer in Chiswick High Rd – Jevan Chowdhury

This photograph by Jevan Chowdhury is the one which has caused most comment, mostly about the dancer’s welfare. Did he survive the photograph or did he crash headlong into the bus? Jevan tells me no ballet dancers or pedestrians were hurt in the taking of this picture. It looks as if he’s hurtling forward on a collision course with the bus, but the picture is deceptive, in fact he leapt straight upwards from a push-up on the ground by kicking his legs up and landed just as neatly, quite unhurt.

Old Father Thames, The Whale – Julia Fullerton-Batten

Julia Fullerton-Batten’s picture of a whale beached at Strand on the Green has also had locals scratching their heads. The stranded mammal is part of her Old Father Thames project, which will be the subject of a solo exhibition in London in the autumn.

Julia’s pictures are all about the story. She works on projects for several years at a time producing a portfolio of work on a particular theme. Past series include erotic entertainers, domestic servants and feral children, Her images are often moving, shocking, thought provoking, challenging, full of pathos and tension.

You can see a profile of Julia and her work in the This Is Chiswick section of our website.

Monet & Architecture – National Gallery

I went to see the Monet exhibition at the National Gallery at the weekend. It is absolutely fantastic. To see so many of his paintings in one place and see the progression of his work as you go from room to room is a real treat. The exhibition, which opened on 9th April and continues until 29th July, shows how Monet ‘consistently used architecture as a means to structure and enliven his art… his use of built structures providing anchorage, foils for the irregularity of nature and screens for the reflection of light.’

He visited London several times, first in 1871, fleeing from the Franco Prussian war and catching up with his mate Camille Pisarro, who lived in Chiswick. Later in 1899, 1900 and 1901 he painted the series of canvasses of the Houses of Parliament, Charing Cross Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, creating over 100 paintings in all. Monet’s letters from that time, when he was staying at the Savoy hotel show how he was ‘fascinated, and frustrated , not only by the changing illumination but by the added effets of London’s fog and pollution, which obscured the motifs and coloured the atmosphere’.

Rouen Cathedral – Claude Monet

The exhibition includes seven of the 30 pictures he painted of Rouen cathedral. I’d never seen these before and was amazed at how thick the paint is. When you stand close, you can’t see the overall design. It’s only when you’re about five feet away the paintings make sense as structures. The bloke next to me in the gallery went through exactly the same thought process I did – how did he do it? We concluded Monet must have had very long arms.

National disgrace

It is a national disgrace that the Home Office has been hounding and harassing and threatening to deport West Indians who entered this country legally 50 or 60 years ago, who have worked all their lives for employers like London Transport and the National Health Service, paid their taxes, brought up families, and who are now being told they’re here illegally because the Home Office has failed to keep records.

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has kept the pressure up so that politicians across all parties are now on the offensive for the appalling treatment of people, like 61 year old Paulette Wilson who came here from Jamaica when she was 10 and has never applied for a passport, so had no papers proving her right to be in the UK. According to Guardian journalist Amelia Gentleman ‘she was sent to the immigration removal centre at Yarl’s Wood in Bedford for a week, and then taken to Heathrow for deportation to Jamaica, a country she had not visited for 50 years and where she has no surviving relatives’. Only last minute intervention from a charity saved her from being deported. 60 year old Anthony Bryan lost his job when ‘Capita wrote to him informing him he had no right to be in the UK’, saying his employer could face a £10,000 fine if it continued to employ him as an “illegal worker”. He has spent three weeks in immigration removal centres, ‘despite having lived in the UK for more than half a century’.

Amber Rudd has now apologised. Immigration minister Caroline Nokes has admitted they’d ‘made some mistakes’ but pinned the blame on low level staff rather than taking responsibility for her department’s heavy handed bullying. Time and again on the BBC’s Daily Politics show yesterday she said she would make sure senior staff would be handling cases sensitively from now on. It is hard to credit that anyone should think it ok to send someone to a detention centre for not being able to present four types of documentation for each year they’ve lived here, but completely misses the point that civil servants and agency staff carry out Government policy. Caroline Nokes blames her staff. Amber Rudd blames Theresa May. Under her tenure as Home Secretary, Rudd said the Home Office had become “too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes loses sight of the individual”.

Hostile environment

Theresa May has boasted about creating a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants. MP for Brentford and Isleworth Ruth Cadbury told me it’s clear from the cases she gets in her surgery that the Home Office has succeeded in creating a hostile environment for immigrants, legal or illegal. By making employers, landlords and NHS receptionists the gatekeepers of immigration law, they force people to come forward to get Home Office proof of their legal status and “the people on the front line are being forced to make arbitrary decisions”.

Earnie Gibbs had no idea he was considered an illegal immigrant until he applied for a passport two years ago. His parents had come here from Grenada in the late 1950s, answering the call to work in the UK to help Britain get back on its feet after the war. Earnie followed in 1960, aged nine and has lived and worked in Britain continuously. Now living in Isleworth, he has a daughter and grandchildren here. Over the years he had travelled abroad several times on temporary British Visitor passports to go on holiday, but when he applied for a permanent passport, because of a change in the law he was turned down. Ruth says he received a ‘very rude’ letter from Capita telling him he had to ‘go home’ and asking him what plane he would be on. He got a solicitor and two years on has a biometric card proving his right to remain. But it is temporary. It will be reviewed and he doesn’t trust that the Home Office will renew it. Nor is he sure whether he will be allowed NHS treatment in his old age.

This is no way to treat people who have given their lives to this country. On David Lammy’s urging, the Labour party is calling for the Windrush generation to be given permanent leave to remain and to be compensated for the cost of having to fight to prove they came here legally.

The Home Office now has a team of 20 people dedicated to sorting this out over the next two weeks, but with a population of 50,000 people who came here from the West Indies as children in the 1950s and ’60s, even with my poor maths I can see that’s not going to be enough to sort out this mess (250 cases solved per civil servant, per day?) and the hurt and anger caused by it will take much longer to overcome.

Rupa Huq calls for a second Brexit referendum

Rupa Huq MP has called for a second referendum on Brexit. The Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton does not use the ‘R’ word, but in an article for Business Insider she writes:

‘If the cost of Brexit reaches a point where the British people decide it’s not worth it, then they’re perfectly entitled to change their minds about whether it’s the right path. No politician and no government can insist otherwise. The future of the country is for the people to decide’.

You can see the whole article here.

Lib Dems oppose Brexit

Rupa does not reflect her party’s line in calling for a second referendum. The only major party whose public policy it is that British should be given the chance to vote on whatever deal Theresa May reaches with the EU, remains the Liberal Democrats.

Unsurprisingly, this is a major plank of the Lib Dem campaign locally. The Ealing Lib Dems have just launched their manifesto:

‘As the Liberal Democrats are the only party currently represented on Ealing Council who oppose Brexit and are calling on local people to use their vote to send a strong signal to Theresa May that they oppose her version of a hard Brexit’.

As well as pushing for an Exit from Brexit, Liberal Democrats on Ealing Council have promised to push for:

  • Weekly street cleaning
  • A safer Ealing by not closing police stations
  • Protection of local health services by not downgrading or closing our hospitals
  • The provision of truly affordable homes and social housing
  • Engagement with residents and tough negotiation with developers
  • The development of Ealing as a flagship dementia-friendly borough
  • The prevention of an expansion of Heathrow Airport
  • The prevention of unfair Council Tax increases

Image of Boris Johnson on Rupa’s turf during the last general election campaign

Ealing Council may be the first in UK to ban anti abortion protests

Ealing Council may be the first in the country to ban anti abortion protests outside abortion clinics. The cabinet is meeting tonight to vote on the issue after nearly 4,000 residents have signed a petition organised by a group called Sister Supporter.

Anti abortion groups protest outside clinics like the Marie Stopes clinic in Ealing, upsetting women who have appointments there, who have to run the gauntlet of protesters to go in to see their doctor. The protesters, who call their demonstrations ‘vigils’ are usually religious groups.

The practice has gone on in Ealing for some 20 years, but now many councillors think it’s time to put an end to what many see as harassment of women who have made a hard choice to have what is an entirely legal procedure.

Polish Pride and Renew among local election choice

We now have the official list of persons nominated as candidates for the local elections in Chiswick and there are a couple of interesting ones. Maria Kempinska is standing in Riverside ward for the Polish Pride party and Iain Charles Howell in Homefields for Renew, both parties born of Brexit.

Since over 70% Chiswick voted for Remain in the EU referendum, it should come as no surprise that UKIP didn’t consider it worth standing. Renew is the new party which is attempting to offer an alternative to the status quo: “Political parties have failed us… We need a new generation of people from outside politics to stand for election, lead our country and renew the British dream”. They are campaigning for a second referendum on the final deal negotiated with the EU.

Polish Pride is also a new party, launched in March by a Polish prince, millionaire John Zylinski, which claims to represent EU citizens living in Britain. The prince, who became notorious for challenging Nigel Farage to a duel over the former Ukip leaders’ comments about immigration, reckons they can win seats in places with a high Polish population like Ealing. “I intend to field up to 100 candidates in targeted wards in London where candidates can win seats by polling little more than two thousand votes,” he told the Evening Standard.

Does Chiswick Riverside fit that bill? Maria Kempinska MBE, who set up and ran Jongleurs comedy club for many years until it folded in October last year, grew up in Watford, the daughter of Polish refugee parents. What’s curious is that among those who nominated her are Sam Hearn, Conservative councillor for Chiswick Riverside and Julian Tanner, chairman of the local Conservative party. A little odd that the Conservatives should be nominating someone to stand against them.

Could it be that they’re worried about how tight the race is between Conservative and Labour and since there aren’t enough Poles in Grove Park and Strand on the Green for her to actually win a seat, they’re hoping that siphoning off a few Polish votes from Labour might make all the difference? Not at all says Sam, gently chiding my cynicism. Nominating is merely a question of confirming identity, he says. She’s someone they know well and they welcome more voices in the mix of political debate.

Not on the list

Not on the list of candidates any longer is Tom Dragicevic (pictured left), a civil engineer who has lived in Chiswick for 53 years who was on Labour’s provisional list. He’s not now standing and the reasons are slightly opaque. A Labour party source told me he wasn’t selected, despite an appeal. He told me he pulled out because of a family matter. In his place is Tom White (pictured right).

       

Pact between the Greens and the Lib Dems

The Lib Dems and Greens have come to an agreement not to field candidates in every ward, so that each has a better chance of election. In a joint press statement they say: ‘Because the deeply flawed first past the post (FPTP) voting system favours the two largest parties in Hounslow and penalises alternative parties, Hounslow Greens and Hounslow Liberal Democrats have agreed to stand aside in two of the Hounslow wards in May’s Hounslow London Borough elections’.

There will be no Green candidate standing in Turnham Green ward and no Liberal Democrat standing in Brentford ward. The electoral pact does not imply support for each other’s policies locally or nationally, but is merely a pragmatic move because ‘the constraints of the electoral system have forced us to make some difficult choices to get more diverse voices on Hounslow Council’.

Bull’s Head under new management

Barbara took over as General Manager in February and is delighted to be managing a riverside pub. Her influence can already be seen in the pots of primulas outside on the tables and live jazz to mark the Boat Race,

She’s been running pubs for 30 years. Her last pub, the Grange on Ealing Common, was a huge, extremely busy pub with five function rooms and four flights of stairs up to the office and the private living space. Even the dog Puggle (half pug, half beagle) found that a challenge.

Barbara has family connections with Strand on the Green. Her dad’s great aunt had a house here, which he visited as a child and her great grandmother was a char lady in the Bull’s Head. She is related to the Pitts, the eighteenth century statesmen William the Elder and William the Younger, though family lore has it that whatever wealth the family had, they drank and gambled away. Undeterred she has returned to her family’s roots with husband Gary, Senegal parrot Archimedes and Puggle.

Riverside pubs to the rescue!

Most of us were probably given chocolate this weekend, but the staff at the Bull’s Head earned theirs. Two weeks ago ago when Grove Park Primary School was evacuated because of a bomb hoax, more than a hundred children and staff decamped to the riverside at 9.30 in the morning. A teenager was arrested in Watford on suspicion of blackmail and making malicious communications via email, when a blackmail threat was sent to thousands of schools around the country claiming a bomb had been planted in the school grounds and demanding £5,000.

For General Manager Barbara Smith and her staff it was all in a day’s work. The Bull’s Head and next door pub the City Barge took them in and provided coffee for the staff and water for the children and became their base camp until the last child was picked up by their parent at 2pm.

The school responded with chocolates and a lovely book of ‘thank you’ messages and pictures from the children.

Children’s portraits by world renowned photographer

‘Children of London’ is a unique project by photographer Richard Bradbury. Each year he takes pictures of hundreds of London children and publishes two hundred or so in a book, creating a unique record for future generations. A limited edition of 500 stylishly bound hardback copies are sold and auctioned to raise money for Great Ormond St Hospital. So far he has raised £64,551.

Richard is currently looking for children to photograph for the 2018 edition, which will be published in December. To see his some of his amazing pictures and and to find out how your child can take part, have a look at the Children of London feature in This is Chiswick section of The Chiswick Calendar website here.

World Naked Bike Day coming to Chiswick

World Naked Bike Day is coming to Chiswick with a ride along the CS9 Superhighway route on 9 June.

Local organisation CHANCY (Chiswick and Acton Naturist Cyclists) is planning to show their support of CS9 with a “Go as bare as you dare” cycle ride along the CS9 route before joining up with “World Naked Bike Day” in central London.

“One of the biggest complaints against CS9 was it would only be used by people in lycra” said spokesperson Diana Mow. “The great thing about cycling is that people can wear anything, or in our case, nothing… Some of our members will have helmets but it isn’t compulsory”

She added, “Our group is apolitical and with the local elections coming up, we have invited all the candidates to join us on our ride along Chiswick High Road. We are delighted that all parties have accepted except the Chiswick Conservatives. They have insisted on cycling along the A4 instead. However we are grateful for their offer of a shovel and some gravel to fill in potholes along the route. ”

“We fully respect the views of people who don’t like to see naked people on Chiswick High Road, so we will be asking everyone to wear fig leaves when cycling outside the Roman Catholic church. To respect the special sensibilities of Chiswick, these will be fair trade organic fig leaves from Waitrose.”

The Chiswick Calendar understands that not everyone is happy with the naked bike ride and a group called ReimposeClothes has started a petition with slogan “Wear it don’t bare it” to protest against the riders.

Photograph by Tom Amos